By Clara Dykstra
The temperance movement, which ultimately was the cause of prohibition, dates back to the early 19th century. Its goal was to crackdown on alcohol consumption. An early leader of this movement was Lyman Beecher, a renowned minister from Connecticut. He began preaching against liquor in 1825, and his lectures became reasonably well known. In 1826, the American Temperance Society was formed and had a profound effect on the temperance movement. It was conveniently formed at a time when many Americans were beginning to revive forgotten religious practices and devotion. In just over a decade, 1.5 million members participated the group in over 8,000 local clubs. Catholic and protestant groups began actively supporting the cause, and these Christian groups described alcohol as a “moral evil.” The civil war caused many people to turn their attention away from temperance and to racial issues. It wasn’t until the 1870s that people recommenced their interest in the issue, and several significant groups were formed. The most notable of these is the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). It was very influential throughout the nation and had over 100,000 members. Many supporters of the temperance movement made a point to link domestic violence and several health issues to excessive drinking, which caused supporters of the progressive movement to join. Soon prohibition was supported widely throughout the nation, on the basis that America would be more successful and productive with the ban alcohol. Supporters of the movement came from all different backgrounds and professions. From liberals to conservatives and from businessmen to theologians, thousands of people were fighting for a nation-wide ban on alcohol.
Photograph from the Women's Christian Temperance Movement
WWII support poster
Progressives believed that alcohol was setting our nation back from achieving its full potential