Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800-1933

Thomas R. Pegram, Author Ivan R. Dee Publisher $24.95 (226p) ISBN 978-1-56663-208-9
In his extensively researched study of the temperance movement, Pegram (Partisans and Progressives) examines ""the relationship between American political institutions and temperance reform."" Although the early colonialists drank copiously, he notes, by the early 1800s many reformers related heavy drinking, which was engaged in by men chiefly in saloons, to an increase in crime and poverty. The author shows how a concern for their families' welfare led women like Frances Willard, who founded the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), to first become involved in temperance and later in prison reform and women's rights. According to Pegram, prohibitionists were most successful in getting laws passed banning alcohol during periods of political unrest. His informed account also points out how certain immigrant groups, such as Germans who visited beer gardens on Sundays, came to regard antiliquor legislation as an infringement of their liberty. In the 1932 presidential election, the majority of voters supported Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had promised, among other things, repeal of the 18th Amendment, and in 1933 Prohibition ended. Like others in Ivan R. Dee's American Ways series (e.g., last year's My Mind Set on Freedom: A History of the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968 by John Salmond), this is a concise, thorough and thoughtful look at a peculiarly American experience. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/24/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-56663-209-6
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