|Date(s):||1890 to 1900|
|Tag(s):||Government, Law, Politics, Women|
|Course:||“Rise And Fall of the Slave South,” University of Virginia|
In the 1890s, The Voice, a leading newspaper on temperance, raised its concern on a new issue threatening the temperance movement and specifically women. It seemed that people supporting the temperance movement had overlooked another venue in which alcohol might have been ingested, which could cause harm. The newspaper warned of the use of alcohol in food preparation, specifically in the pleasant sauces and the dishes of home. It was seen as more dangerous because the use of alcohol in food preparation may not be seen as harmful. It would leave one vulnerable to the evils of alcohol in not recognizing that any ingestion of alcohol would be detrimental to his or her life. The article further delved into the relationship between women and whiskey. It claimed that women and whiskey were natural antagonists. Also, the use of any form led to the destruction of the women's home and family and so the article urged women that it was their duty to refrain from the use of whiskey to save the peace and purity of the home. Finally, the article urged the women of the home to drive out the snake of intemperance. It warned against the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes reporting that physicians claim that whiskey did more damage than the human ill itself.
This article illustrates the shift in focus for the temperance movement in the late nineteenth century. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, temperance based many of its assertions upon explicit biblical texts. The temperance movement during these times made it a religious duty resting upon divine sanctions. Many of the anti-temperance organizations and meetings resembled evangelical prayer meetings, with those that signed pledges to sobriety called converts giving testimony and signing hymns praising temperance.
The shift in the focus of the temperance movement began as early as the 1840s with the formation of the Washingtonians and fraternal temperance organizations that did not make religion a prominent issue. Also, the formation of the Christian Women's Temperance Union in 1874 and the Anti-Saloon League in 1893 resulted in a shift in the overall structure basis of the temperance movement. These organizations had Protestant tones, but did not rely upon explicit biblical text as the reason for abstinence, but shifted more towards pragmatic reasons, demonstrated in the article above. Reference to the snake of intemperance makes an allusion perhaps to the devil, but the crux of the article against drinking focuses on more practical reasons, such as detriment to one's health. Prior organizations focused upon the moral aspects that surrounded the temperance movement, while later groups focused on legal means to achieve an alcohol free society. With this type of shift, the explicit biblical arguments did not hold much weight in support of temperance.