Graham, Sylvester


Health Reformer and Minister

Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian minister and antebellum health reformer, addressed medical, dietary, and sexual aspects of manhood. Graham's emphasis on restraint in these areas meshed well with Victorian concerns about physical purity and bodily discipline in all aspects of life. While Victorian Americans valued self-control and bodily discipline in general, they were particularly inclined to identify these with ideal manhood.

Ordained in 1830, Graham began lecturing that same year for a temperance organization, the Pennsylvania Society for Discouraging the Use of Ardent Spirits. Graham was suddenly propelled into a position of cultural influence in 1832, when, amid fears of a cholera outbreak, he advised Americans of the preventive value of proper eating habits and food preparation. The physical self-restraint that Graham preached represented ...

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