Battling demon rum : the struggle for a dry America, 1800-1933 /

Thomas Pegram's narrative account of the fight to regulate alcohol traces the moral and political offensives of the temperance advocates, and shows how their tactics and organization reflected changes in the nation's politics and social structure. The failures of prohibition enforcement sh...

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Main Author: Pegram, Thomas R., 1955-
Format: Book
Published:Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, ©1998.
Series:American ways series.
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Related Information: Book review (H-Net) 
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Review by Choice Review

Jack S. Blocker's American Temperance Movements (CH, Jul'89) is centered around social reform. Pegram's book, while covering much the same ground, focuses on "new approaches to political action and shifting expectations of government" entailed in temperance reform over the 19th and early 20th centuries. The author is well aware of the relevant historiography; his "Note on Sources" is an exemplary introductory guide. His book reflects the current directions of the literature: the antebellum rise in alcohol consumption and the shifting economic, social, and religious context out of which temperance reform emerged; the general avoidance of reform by party leaders before and after the Civil War; the rising role of middle-class women, particularly after the war in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU); the effective nonpartisan lobbying of the professionalized Anti-Saloon League (ASL); and the ironic failure of the Prohibitionists to secure their legislative success. Coverage of the generally disorganized political opposition to temperance reform is significant and welcome. Finally, the book is smoothly written. It is a pity that the publishers did not see fit to include illustrations and an annotated chronology; these features would add to the effectiveness of what is still a fine introductory overview. Recommended. All levels. D. F. Anderson; Northwestern College (IA)

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In his extensively researched study of the temperance movement, Pegram (Partisans and Progressives) examines "the relationship between American political institutions and temperance reform." Although the early colonialists drank copiously, he notes, by the early 1800s many reformers related heavy drinking, which was engaged in by men chiefly in saloons, to an increase in crime and poverty. The author shows how a concern for their families' welfare led women like Frances Willard, who founded the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), to first become involved in temperance and later in prison reform and women's rights. According to Pegram, prohibitionists were most successful in getting laws passed banning alcohol during periods of political unrest. His informed account also points out how certain immigrant groups, such as Germans who visited beer gardens on Sundays, came to regard antiliquor legislation as an infringement of their liberty. In the 1932 presidential election, the majority of voters supported Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had promised, among other things, repeal of the 18th Amendment, and in 1933 Prohibition ended. Like others in Ivan R. Dee's American Ways series (e.g., last year's My Mind Set on Freedom: A History of the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968 by John Salmond), this is a concise, thorough and thoughtful look at a peculiarly American experience. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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