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January 14, 2007

Fact for the Day

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

In 1900, more American women were interested in the temperance drive than in getting the vote.

(Source: Patrick Allitt's excellent lecture series "The American Identity.")



posted by Michael at January 14, 2007


Could it be that women in 1900 expressed little interest in getting the vote because it seemed hopelessly far-off?

Posted by: Peter on January 14, 2007 2:55 PM

Probably not. Four states had given the vote to women during the 1890s, so it obviously wasn't a far-fetched notion. But the Temperance movement was very big, very determined, and seemed to have the angels on its side - something like the human-rights movements today.

Posted by: Intellectual Pariah on January 14, 2007 3:52 PM

The two movements, which came to fruition almost simultaneously, are intimately linked.

Prohibition was passed in part to win the favor of women who would soon be voting. The biggest financial backers of the anti-suffragette campaign during WWI were the liquor companies.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on January 14, 2007 8:09 PM

Allitt, that names sounds familiar. He wrote a book which was one of my favorite reads last year: I'm the Teacher and You're the Student. It's a personal account of teaching a one semester class...both insightful and fun. (if you want, you can check out my other favorite reads for 2006).

Posted by: Robert Nagle on January 15, 2007 2:17 PM

What Steve said. Both were considered pro-woman positions. Liquor was considered to be anti-family, and anti-woman. It was probably more a matter of handling the more urgent problem first, since families abandoned or otherwise harmed by drunken husbands were perceived as needing immediate help. The vote for women was making steady progress, but as Steve also notes, there was strong opposition to prohibition, that required commitment and assets to overcome.

Posted by: Lexington Green on January 15, 2007 3:40 PM

People forget that saloons, gambling parlors, and brothels were common in many large cities up until the beginning of the 20th century. Conversely, alcohol, gambling and prostitution were all attacked during this period as threats to the family, and the Temperance movement was seen as an easy cure-all to the “decline of society” (kinda like the war on drugs today).

A fun little article in BBC History Magazine noted that in 1894, a Liverpool brewer named John Houlding was forced to cede control over the Everton Football Club. He was seen as a bad influence, and the temperance element in the city felt that a more moral football club could promote sobriety. As one person of the time noted, football could be “the greatest teetotal agency in the world.”

Houlding got his revenge by founding the Liverpool Football Club, which exists to this day and is sponsored by the makers of Carlsberg Beer.

Posted by: Alec on January 16, 2007 2:45 PM

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