Temperance movement

The Temperance Movement was a movement in several countries, notably the United States, during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Temperance Movement, which can be understood as a distinct from the Prohibition Era, lasted from about 1845 to 1918, with the passage of the Volstead Act.

The movement blamed many of society's ills--including joblessness and domestic violence--on the drinking of alcoholic beverages, and tried to persuade people to abstain from these by becoming teetotalers.

The "temperance movement" existed alongside various women's rights movements, and indeed the Progressive movement, and often the same activists were active in all of the above. Many notable voices of the time, ranging from Lucy Webb Hayes to Susan B. Anthony, were active in the movement. In Canada, Nellie McClung was a longstanding advocate of temperance.

The movement began in earnest in the state of Maine, with the passage of the so-called "Maine law." As with most social movements, there was a gamut of activists running from violent ("Carry Nation") to mild ("Neal S. Dow"). The largest and most influential temperance organization in the U.S. was the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

Some parts of the movement wished to ban alcoholic beverages entirely. Political pressure from the movement eventually resulted in the establishment of Prohibition with the passage of 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a result of widespread disregard for the law, the movement lost much of its raison d'Ítre; by the time it was repealed by 21st Amendment, the failure of Prohibition to control alcohol drinking had largely discredited the Temperance movement, which never regained much popularity thereafter.


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