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Impact of Temperance on Social Movements

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Jennifer Johnston

on 24 July 2015

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Transcript of Impact of Temperance on Social Movements

The temperance movement, though designed to get rid of alcohol, had a larger positive impact on social structures at that time, which can still be seen in today's social structures.
Temperance Movement and Women's Rights
Women's Groups and the Church
Many women's groups used Church's as meeting places to discuss their actions and beliefs. Drunkenness was also looked down on by the church, leading to the church also being supportive of the idea of abstinence from alcohol. Some members of the church were more involved in the movement than others, but the support from it was still there.
Church Temperance Groups
During the Temperance Movement, Churches also created groups similar to Women's groups. An example of this was "The Christian Social Union"(Graham, 127).
Results of Women's Movement
Because the women fought for the right to have a vote and be treated equally, it resulted in women's rights as a whole to move forward, improving over the next century, from getting the vote, to being members in parliament, to abuse being more and more frowned upon
Impact of the Temperance Movement on Social Movements
Many women who fought for Prohibition felt that they could not properly deal with the issue of alcohol and the consequences of drunkenness unless they had the vote and their voices were equal to their male counterparts.
Women's Vote
Although there were many other reasons for women to fight for equality, the want/need to have political influence on those that abused their partners in a drunken state was a driving factor, leading many women to join groups such as "The Women's Christen Temperance Union" (Linda West).
The Church's Influence
Some members of the church and the churches temperance groups, such as Edward Hicks, went around giving lectures about alcohol, the effects of excessive drinking, illegal bootlegging, and preaching the church's view on alcohol. (Graham,129)
The Result of the Church Getting Involved
The lectures that were given did help educate people on why the church wanted be rid of the influence of of alcohol. This did, in fact, influence people to agree with the movement and saw the need to be cautious about alcohol, but there were still those that held their reservations about it, mainly the really rich and the really poor (Graham, 130)
Though the resistance was there, this started the process of healthy drinking and education. The poor and rich that resisted now knew of the side affects of alcohol and now usually only drank at home in private if they decided to drink at all (Graham, 130). Alcohol education is something that is still done today.
Men Involved in the Temperance Movement
Women were the driving force in the temperance movement, but there were also men who were involved as well. Just as there were women's groups, there were groups that let in both men and women in, such as "the International Order of Good Templar's" (Baxter, 101)
Joining the Groups
There were many men who joined these groups of their free will, whether it was because of religious beliefs or it was because they felt strongly against drinking on its own. There were also men who joined because they were forced to, by either their family and/or their social status (Baxter, 103).
Religious Reason's to Join
These groups encouraged both men and women to join and aid in the movement towards prohibition by saying that "they were doing God's work" (Baxter, 103). This tested peoples religious beliefs and devotion to God. According to Megan Baxter, there was a similar amount of people who joined these lodges as those who converted to Christianity (103).
Peer Pressure
There was a lot of pressure, particularly in upper class families, to join these groups and to stop drinking, leading to entire families joining, regardless if they wanted to or not. This was often driven by the women of the family (Baxter, 103). Although this did encourage many to try and attempt to be faithful to their pledge, not all did. Those that did were better at controlling themselves around alcohol, while those that did not, got into a lot more trouble with drunkenness.
Pressure from Society
There was also pressure within the media, such as news papers, where different articles would talk about movement. One articles contained a poem by F.S. Spence (Baxter, 100), which made men feel guilty for drinking.
Would You Sell Yourself For A Drink, Boy?
Would you sell yourself for a drink, boys,
A drink from the poisoned cup?
For a taste of the gleaming wine, boys,
would you give your manhood up?

Would you bind yourselves with chains, boys,
And rivet the fetters fast?
Would you bolt your prison doors, boys,
Preventing escape at last?

Would you wreck your youth and health, boys,
Those blessings God has given?
Would you ruin your life on earth, boys,
And blast your hopes of heaven?

Would you did, with your hands, your grave, boys,
And willingly cast yourselves in?
Would you die a besotted wretch, boys,
In poverty, sorrow, and sin?

Ah, no! A thousand times no! boys,
You were born for a noble end;
In you are your country's hopes, boys,
Her honor the boy must defend.

Then join the great abstinence band, boys,
And pledge yourselves strong against rum;
Stand firm as a rock to your pledge, boys,
And fight till the foe is o'ercome.
by F.S. Spence (Bater, 100-101)
The Importance of the Poem
Its poems such as this that make the men feel as though they are not men if they drink, that they are throwing away their own life and the life of the women in their life if they drink. This pushed many to think twice about alcohol and joining the temperance movement.
The Impact of Men Being Involved
Men being involved not only made them get involved in importance of drinking in moderation, but also the importance of being involved in politics, especially for the younger men, and opened their eyes to how well women could participate in political affairs such as this and how they took things into their own hands.
In Conclusion
In conclusion, the temperance movement was a very important influence that, for the most part, was positive. Some influences did not always have the desired affects on the population, as there were still people that went out and got drunk and smuggled alcohol, but overall there were still some social changes that were positive and are still seen today.
Works Cited
Berk, Leah Ray. "Alcohol,temperance & Prohibition"
Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship
. (Rhode Island: Brown University, 2004)Web. July 20, 2015

Mooney, Elizabeth. "Prohibition and Temperance"
The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan
. (Regina: University of Regina. 2006 Web. July 20. 2015

Baxter, Megan.
"Would You Sell Yourself For A Drink, Boy?" Masculinity and Christianity in the Ontario Temperance Movement
(London: University of Western Ontario, 2011) 99-110

Graham, Neville.
Radical Churchman: Edward Lee Hicks and The New Liberalism
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1998) 127-148

West, Linda. "Nellie McClung (1873 - 1951)"
A Country by Consent
(Ottawa: Artistic Productions Limited, 2011)
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