Evil Rum

Sons of Temperance membership certificate issued in 1850 by Brookfield’s Benjamin Franklin Chapter.As in the rest of America, drinking was a common practice in eighteenth-century Vermont. Alcohol was part of everyday life, and getting drunk was a common occurrence at public events such as militia musters. Increasingly, though, people began to see drinking as the cause of many of society’s problems. Early in the nineteenth century growing numbers of Vermonters began practicing moderation or complete abstinence.
Middle-class reformers founded the Vermont Temperance Society, which advocated complete sobriety, in 1828. By the late 1830s temperance advocates were working to pass laws making the sale of alcohol illegal. Laws partially limiting the manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages drew heated opposition from some Vermonters, particularly in rural districts. Nevertheless, temperance reformers won when a law mandating the total prohibition of alcohol passed by a narrow margin in an 1853 referendum.

This detail from a mid-1800s temperance pamphlet gives a timetable for drinkers on the road to ruin.

Copyright 2006, Vermont Historical Society.  All rights reserved.
Reproduction of photographs or text without written permission is prohibited.