A Boozy Nation: Temperance, Prohibition, and America's Struggle Over Alcohol

Nov 14, 2023, 6:30 PM

Many states, like Montana, take pride in their local craft brewing, distilling, and wine-making cultures. The idea that the Constitution once outlawed the production and consumption of alcohol in the United States seems absurd, given those impressive figures and today’s culture around alcohol. Concerns over alcohol and its impact on society, however, stretch back to the earliest days of the nation. In this lecture, historian Cody Patton will present a long history of Prohibition and show that to nineteenth-century reformers, anxieties about alcohol touched nearly every aspect of society, ranging from concerns over home life and inebriated voters' impact on the republic, to fears of the liquor monopoly and an intoxicated industrial labor force. Rather than seeing Prohibition as an aberration, Dr. Patton’s talk re-frames the efforts to outlaw alcohol as a serious—but over burdensome and ultimately failed—attempt to fix many of the most pressing social and economic problems of the late nineteenth century.

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