The temperance movement, which flourished from the early nineteenth century through the early twentieth century, attempted to limit or eliminate alcohol consumption. Although both men and women drank alcoholic beverages, temperance reformers generally focused on male drinking because they considered intoxication harmful to dominant middle-class constructions of manhood. Drinking, they believed, profoundly threatened social order by preventing men from being responsible citizens and patriarchs.

Many Americans of the colonial and Revolutionary periods objected to excessive drinking on the grounds that it challenged two traits thought basic to manhood: moderation and moral autonomy. But a substantial social movement against alcohol began only during the 1810s and 1820s (particularly in industrializing New England), sparked by the development of a market economy, the increasing mechanization of production, the emergence ...

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