Features of The Alcoholic Republic An American Tradition PDF
The Alcoholic Republic An American Tradition PDF-Recreating America’s first fifty intemperate years, when, from 1790 to 1840, Americans drank more alcoholic beverages per capita than at any other time in history, Rorabaugh examines some of the reasons why Americans drank so much
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Description of The Alcoholic Republic An American Tradition PDF
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He graduated from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley with a PhD in 1976. He was a book reviewer and the author of several works of American history. In July 2006 he became president of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society.
He has studied the history of beer in America. Rorabaugh’s 1979 book The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition demonstrated the exceedingly high rate of alcohol consumption in the United States in the early nineteenth century. At the time, Rorabaugh argued, “Americans preferred cider and whiskey because those drinks contained more alcohol than beer, which was too weak for American taste… One can only conclude that at the root of the alcoholic republic was the fact that Americans chose the most highly alcoholic beverages that they could obtain easily and cheaply.”
In his more recent work on the decade of the 1960s in American history, Rorabaugh has suggested a redefinition of “the sixties.” In his 2002 book Kennedy and the Promise of the Sixties, he wrote: “It is possible to argue that the sixties did not begin until 1965, when African Americans rioted in Watts and when large numbers of American combat troops were sent to Vietnam, and did not end until 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned, or even 1975, when the North Vietnamese marched into Saigon.” Rorabaugh identified the earlier half of the decade as distinct both from the 1950s and “the sixties”: “The early sixties, then, is important because it was an in-between time, a short space lodged between a more conservative, cautious, and complacent era that preceded it and a more frenzied, often raucous, and even violent era that followed.”
Dimensions and Characteristics of The Alcoholic Republic An American Tradition PDF
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition (September 17, 1981)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- International Standard Book Number-10 : 0195029909
- International Standard Book Number-13 : 978-0195029901
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 8.02 x 0.64 x 5.35 inches
- Book Name : The Alcoholic Republic An American Tradition PDF
John Walker “This book was recommended to me by Prof. Paul Rahe after I had commented during a discussion about drug (and other forms of) prohibition, using the commonplace libertarian argument that regardless of what one believes about the principle of self-ownership and the dangers to society if its members ingest certain substances, from a purely utilitarian standpoint, the evidence is that prohibition of anything simply makes the problem worse—in many cases not only increasing profits to traffickers in the banned substance, spawning crime among those who contend to provide it to those who seek it in the absence of an open market, promoting contempt for the law, and most of all that post-prohibition, use of the forbidden substance increases, and hence however satisfying prohibition may be to those who support, enact, and enforce it, it is ultimately counterproductive, as it increases the number of people who taste the forbidden fruit.
This is a fascinating view of a very different America: a newly independent nation in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, still mostly a coastal nation with a vast wilderness to the West, but beginning to expand over the mountains into the fertile land beyond. The one thing all European visitors to America remarked upon was that people in this brave new republic, from strait-laced New Englanders, to Virginia patricians, to plantation barons of the South, to buckskin pioneers and homesteaders across the Appalachians, drank a lot, reaching a peak around 1830 of five gallons (19 litres) of hard spirits (in excess of 45% alcohol) per capita per annum—and that “per capita” includes children and babies in a rapidly growing population, so the adults, and particularly the men, disproportionately contributed to this aggregate.
As the author teases out of the sketchy data of the period, there were a number of social, cultural, and economic reasons for this. Prior to the revolution, America was a rum drinking nation, but after the break with Britain whiskey made from maize (corn, in the American vernacular) became the beverage of choice. As Americans migrated and settled the West, maize was their crop of choice, but before the era of canals and railroads, shipping their crop to the markets of the East cost more than its value. Distilling into a much-sought beverage, however, made the arduous trek to market profitable, and justified the round trip. In the rugged western frontier, drinking water was not to be trusted, and a sip of contaminated water could condemn one to a debilitating and possibly fatal bout of dysentery or cholera. None of these bugs could survive in whiskey, and hence it was seen as the healthy beverage. Finally, whiskey provides 83 calories per fluid ounce, and is thus a compact way to store and transmit food value without need for refrigeration.
Some things never change. European visitors to America remarked upon the phenomenon of “rapid eating” or, as we now call it, “fast food”. With the fare at most taverns outside the cities limited to fried corn cakes, salt pork, and whiskey, there was precious little need to linger over one’s meal, and hence it was in-and-out, centuries before the burger. But then, things change. Starting around 1830, alcohol consumption in the United States began to plummet, and temperance societies began to spring up across the land. From a peak of about 5 gallons per capita, distilled spirits consumption fell to between 1 and 2 gallons and has remained more or less constant ever since.
But what is interesting is that the widespread turn away from hard liquor was not in any way produced by top-down or coercive prohibition. Instead, it was a bottom-up social movement largely coupled with the second great awakening. While this movement certainly did result in some forms of restrictions on the production and sale of alcohol, much more effective were its opprobrium against public drunkenness and those who enabled it.
This book is based on a Ph.D. thesis, and in places shows it. There is a painful attempt, based on laughably incomplete data, to quantify alcohol consumption during the early 19th century. This, I assume, is because at the epoch “social scientists” repeated the mantra “numbers are good”. This is all nonsense; ignore it. Far more credible are the reports of contemporary observers quoted in the text.
As to Prof. Rahe’s assertion that prohibition reduces the consumption of a substance, I don’t think this book advances that case. The collapse in the consumption of strong drink in the 1830s was a societal and moral revolution, and any restrictions on the availability of alcohol were the result of that change, not its cause. That said, I do not dispute that prohibition did reduce the reported level of alcohol consumption, but at the cost of horrific criminality and disdain for the rule of law and, after repeal, a return to the status quo ante.
If you’re interested in prohibition in all of its manifestations, I recommend this book, even though it has little to do with prohibition. It is an object lesson in how a free society self-corrects from excess and re-orients itself toward behaviour which benefits its citizens.”
Franklin the Mouse ““The Alcoholic Republic was published in 1979. Mr. Rorabaugh’s work covers the huge spike in American liquor consumption during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Excuse me. The word ‘huge’ doesn’t seem apt. It would be better to write a Holy-Sweet-Mother-Of-Moses-Mega-Massive spike in American liquor consumption. Our ancestors from farmers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, women, and children imbibed. Heck I wouldn’t have been surprised if Kippy the family dog was plowing through a keg or two between pee breaks.
The author covers the most frequently used liquors such as whiskey, rum, gin, brandy, the New England staple of hard cider, beer, and wine. Mr. Rorabaugh also attempts to explain the social, economic and environmental factors that caused this specific period of tipplers. The author uses a lot of conjectures as to the motivations for why many people drank so much. They are plausible factors, but should probably be taken lightly. However, there are many interesting tidbits about customs and social pressure to “drink up” until the Temperance Movement started to get some traction towards the mid-1800s.
On a side note: Mr. Rorabaugh’s psychological explanation on why someone became an alcoholic by specifically drinking whiskey fit to a tee a person I know. Considering the book was published over 35 years ago and made such a accurate assessment about a friend in 2015 is impressive. The book is a quick easy read and embellished with old black-and-white sketches from that time period.”
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