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Alcohol: Its Influence On American Lives Throughout The Ages

1105 words - 5 pages

Long before the start of colonization in the New World, alcohol had played a significant part in peoples’ lives. Not only was it customary habit to drink on a regular and daily basis but alcohol generally was regarded as part of God’s creation, thus "inherently good." The colonies placed the foundation for the American legacy of alcohol consumption that was to be thoroughly moderated. Moderation was not merely religiously proclaimed but was regarded as task efficient and in relation to economic stability. Although drunkenness was not necessarily stigmatized, throughout the years, government officials began addressing alcohol abuse as a resurging and threatening societal issue. This became more so prominent when industrialization changed the input of work environments, the latter relying more and more on technological processes and on peoples’ capability to coordinate these. Moreover, because of technological developments, alcohol production increased and so did consumption due to availability and accessibility. Merely between a span of thirteen years, during 1900-1913, production of beer alone boosted from 4.6 billion to 7.6 billion liters. Gradually, "drunkenness would come to be defined as a threat to industrial efficiency and growth."
Various laws were passed therefore from as early as 1697 in order to instate officially control over alcohol consumption. It was thus because of an increase in alcohol abuse which was morally disregarded that state officials were motivated to enact laws in this respect. And it was as well because of increased concerns over peoples’ health and work abilities that enactments followed frequently. Laws in relation to alcohol prohibition were means by which the government sought to attain specific ends that ultimately defined the livelihood of society as a whole. It was thus not concerns over individualistic well being alone but contrivances to ensure the effectiveness of interrelated societal processes that motivated alcohol prohibition laws. Alcohol related perceptions gradually turned from moderated propaganda to absolute prohibition when beliefs over its negative effect on people increased substantially. By the nineteenth century, there was a shift in perception regarding alcohol consumption and more often, "alcoholism" as health abnormality was regarded as the foreground for health degradation and human decay. Violence, crimes, mortality began to be associated with alcoholism and surging ideas that "alcohol was addicting and that this addiction was capable of corrupting the mind and body" contributed to further temperance enactments and ultimately prohibition. Even before the Civil War unfolding there had been various law enforcements which proved successful. The post-war circumstances led to a reinforcement of such movements. Insecurities created by the Industrial Revolution, such as rich people seeking financial benefits in the majority’s detriment, a poor majority, led to heavy drinking, as people turned...

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