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Temperance

TEMPERANCE.

In classical and medieval thought, temperance, or sōphrosynē, could signify one or more of a congeries of traits, such as moderation, self-knowledge, self-restraint, or independence. These virtues were to be cultivated by the individual. In modern history, however, the meaning of temperance has become narrowed to refer only to limits on the consumption of alcoholic beverages, whether those restrictions are placed by an individual upon his or her personal consumption or by the state upon the habits of those subject to its jurisdiction. The principal agency in accomplishing this change in meaning has been a set of social movements whose origins lie in the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation, but whose full flowering occurred in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Temperance movements have appeared in many societies, drawn upon diverse sources of support, pursued a variety of goals, and enjoyed widely varying degrees of success. In general, however, the temperance impulse in the modern world has been successful, whether its progress is measured by average levels of consumption or by preferences for less intoxicating forms of alcohol.

Temperance as Ideal and Issue

Most of the world's religions embrace temperance from alcoholic beverages as a virtue. For Hindu Brahmins, Buddhists, Jews, Roman Catholic Christians, and especially for Muslims and Protestant Christians, temperance and, for some, abstinence is valued. Tantra Hinduism, Daoism, and Roman Catholicism incorporate alcohol into ritual, among others, but only a few mystical sects, such as Islamic Sufism, celebrate intoxication. As a result, the worth of temperance itself has rarely been at issue in any society, even when social conflict over drinking has been most bitter. Nearly all drinkers regard their own behavior as temperate. Rather, discord over temperance typically arises when one segment of society attempts to impose restrictions upon another's drinkingthat is, when interpretations of the meaning of temperance clash. Temperance can also become involved in a struggle over other issues.

Colonial regimes, for example, have often imposed controls on the drinking of indigenous peoples, even when the introduction of alcohol into native cultures has undermined traditional ways and left native societies vulnerable to imperial domination. The European colonial powers in central Africa sought to compartmentalize the drinking of native laborers in space and time so as to safeguard productivity, and mine owners in South Africa went even further in the same direction when they forced prohibition on their workforces.

As early as the dawn of the nineteenth century, the United States federal government mandated prohibition for Native Americans. But embattled indigenous peoples have also sought to use temperance for their own purposes, as a buttress of anticolonial resistance, as was the case for South African kings, leaders of Native American revitalization movements such as the Seneca Handsome Lake and the Shawnee Tenskwatawa (17751836), and the Indian nationalist movement led by M. K. Gandhi (18691948). In such cases, the hypocrisy of colonial authorities in preaching temperance while allowing, or even fostering, alcohol consumption has given a weapon to those seeking to overthrow or reject their dominion.

In industrial societies, employers have often found it expedient to support controls on workers' alcohol consumption in the hope of habituating their workforce to the discipline of machine production. But militant workers' movements, such as the English Chartists, the Knights of Labor in the United States and Canada, Austrian Socialists, and Spanish anarchists, have realized the value of temperance in mobilizing sober opposition to capital or to capitalist governments. Furthermore, successful revolutionary movements have sometimes included liquor control among their tools for reshaping society, as was the case for the Mexican government in the 1930s and the early Soviet regime.

Temperance has been a subtler instrument in inter-group struggles when classes or professions have deployed it as a means of self-definition or as a vehicle for claims of expertise. In many industrializing English-speaking societies, middle classes have adopted sobriety as a badge of respectability, distinguishing themselves at least rhetorically from allegedly profligate elites on one hand and from purportedly dissolute workers on the other. Among professionalizing groups, physicians in particular have often taken leadership roles in temperance advocacy in societies as diverse as the United States, Britain, Denmark, France, Australia, Imperial Russia, and the Soviet Union. In such cases, as sociologist Joseph Gusfield shows, temperance serves both as a badge of personal rectitude and as an assertion of the fitness of a class or profession to set society's direction.

Temperance Movements

The first temperance campaign in modern history was mounted by Martin Luther (14831546) and his followers as part of the Protestant Reformation, and was directed at the episodic drunkenness of traditional German drinking bouts. It failed, however, and German intellectuals instead came to view unconstrained drinking as a positive, indeed defining, Germanic trait.

Organized temperance societies next appeared in Britain and the United States in the early nineteenth century. Although the appearance of such societies derived critical impetus from evangelical Protestantism in both countries, temperance advocacy was by no means limited to evangelicals or to Protestants. By the 1870s, the Church of England had created its own temperance society, and during the same decade in the United States the founding of the Catholic Total Abstinence Union (CTAU) demonstrated Roman Catholic concern with the issue. The CTAU's definition of "temperance" as total abstinence also indicated how far temperance reform had traveled during its first half-century, since early American temperance reformers had first defined only moderation in the use of alcoholic beverages and later abstinence only from distilled spirits as their goal. Many reformers, however, soon moved to appeals for abstinence from all intoxicating beverages and then to a demand for state action to stop liquor sales, or prohibition. By the early twentieth century, movements for prohibition had appeared as well in Britain, in other British settler societiesCanada, Australia, and New Zealandand in Nordic countries. The prohibition cause peaked during the 1910s and 1920s, when various forms of large-scale prohibition were adopted in Iceland (19151922), Finland (19191932), Norway (19161927), Russia and the Soviet Union (19141925), Canadian provinces (varying periods between 1901 and 1948) and by the Canadian federal government (19181919), and in the United States (19181933). In addition, a majority of voters in New Zealand twice supported prohibition (in 1911 and 1919), but the measure was never enacted. For those nations involved, World War I furnished a crucial stimulus for new restrictions on alcohol sales, such as the Carlisle system, a British scheme for government ownership and management of the liquor industry, and the French government's ban on absinthe.

Although temperance reform is commonly thought to have declined following the death of prohibition, new movements have simply taken on novel guises. American National Prohibition had been repealed only two years when a new self-help movement for habitual drunkards, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), grew from the chance meeting of two drunks in Akron, Ohio. AA has since become a worldwide movement, with popular manifestations or imitations in countries such as Mexico and Japan, and its twelve-step method has found application to a variety of habits and afflictions. Since the 1940s, academics following in the footsteps of E. M. Jellinek at the former Yale (University) Center of Alcohol Studies have taken a leading part in alcohol research and policy advice. Employers have continued to offer intervention in their workers' personal habits through "employee assistance programs." Both government policies and new organizations such as Mothers against Drunk Driving and Students against Destructive Decisions have focused on preventing or punishing drunken driving.

Women have often played key roles in temperance reform. In the United States, although women made up a large proportion of the membership of early temperance societies, they generally worked under male leadership. This began to change during the 1850s with the founding of the Independent Order of Good Templars, which soon became an international organization in which women in theory, and sometimes in practice, held equal status with male members. Women definitely seized the initiative in American temperance reform, however, in 18731874, when tens of thousands of women undertook nonviolent direct action against retail liquor dealers, using mass marches and public prayer and song. In the aftermath of the Women's Temperance Crusade, the national Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded, and it soon became the largest organization of American women. Through the visit of an American activist from the Crusade the British Women's Temperance Association, Britain's first national women's temperance society, was established in 1876.

American and British women temperance activists soon began to extend their movement across the world, leading to the establishment in 1884 of the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WWCTU). Although it was always controlled by American and British women, the WWCTU made temperance for the first time an international movement. Through this vehicle advocacy of other issues, such as peace and women's enfranchisement, was also spread.

Despite the common belief that failure of the various national prohibition schemes ended its impact, in fact temperance reform has exerted far-reaching influence upon consumption patterns, in large part because of its protean character and ability to adapt to diverse national cultures. Examples of its adaptability include AA in Roman Catholic Mexico, which in 1997 held the world's second largest number of local chapters; the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart, an Irish Catholic society that at its peak in 1960 enrolled one-sixth of the Irish population and also attracted members in other countries; and the Danshukai societies in Japan, which have altered AA practices to fit Japanese culture. In the older industrialized countries at the outset of the twenty-first century, overall per capita consumption of alcohol was declining from peaks reached during the late twentieth century, and spirits and sometimes wine were being replaced in public preference by less potent beers, even in societies with long traditions of wine drinking. Nevertheless, rising consumption in the developing world, especially in China and India, presents new challenges to one of the world's historically most influential social movements.

See also Religion and the State .

bibliography

Barrows, Susanna, and Robin Room, eds. Drinking: Behavior and Belief in Modern History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Blocker, Jack S., Jr. American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform. Boston: Twayne, 1989.

Blocker, Jack S., Jr., David M. Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrrell, eds. Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2003.

Blocker, Jack S., Jr., and Cheryl Krasnick Warsh, eds. The Changing Face of Drink: Substance, Imagery, and Behaviour. Ottawa, Canada: Histoire sociale/Social History, 1997.

Gusfield, Joseph R. Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement. Rev. ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986.

Heron, Craig. Booze: A Distilled History. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2003.

Kurtz, Ernest. Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. Rev. ed. Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 1991.

Tyrrell, Ian R. Woman's World/Woman's Empire: The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Jack S. Blocker Jr.

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Temperance

Temperance

Source

Drinking Habits. In the years following the Revolution efforts were made to alter American drinking habits. This was a departure from the attitude that an alcoholic beverage was necessary to fellowship. In the South and West it was considered proper for a family to keep a full bottle of liquor for guests; not to do so was to be inhospitable. In the North hardened cider was the common table beverage, and it was customary for a man to fortify himself with a glass of it several times a day. Clergymen took drinks between services and lawyers before going to the court. Liquor was present at communal tasks, such as corn huskings and barn raisings, and also at festivities. It was also a part of slaves festivals and celebrations. The temperance groups that appeared at the turn of the century were responding in part to the impact of technology. Improvements in the distillation process allowed for the production of stronger distilled drinks. Higher-proof liquor in itself made it dangerous to drink in the customary way. In addition the groups were trying to contest the moral evils of heavy alcohol consumption, which they believed resulted in laziness and disrupted family relations.

Early Groups. In 1789 the first temperance group was formed by two hundred farmers in Litchfield, Connecticut. They pledged not to drink alcoholic beverages during the farming season. Their goal was not to change the behavior of others or to stop consuming alcohol. Rather, these farmers changed their own behavior to improve their work. Another group was the Temperance Society for Moreau and Northumberland, formed in Saratoga County, New York, in 1808. After 1810 concerted efforts on the state level began to appear. By 1818 there were a large number of such organizations, such as the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance and the Connecticut Society for the Reformation of Morals, both founded in 1813.

Source

Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 17901840 (New York: Harper, 1988).

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Temperance

634. Temperance

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) organization founded to help alcoholics (1934). [Am. Culture: EB, I: 448]
  2. amethyst provides protection against drunkenness; February birthstone. [Gem Symbolism: Kunz, 5859]
  3. Anti-Saloon League successfully led drive for Prohibition (1910s). [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 357]
  4. Jonadab enjoined his people to abstinence. [O.T.: Jeremiah 35: 511]
  5. Nation, Carry (Amelia Moore) (18461911) hatchet-wielding saloon wrecker. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 253]
  6. Prohibition (19191933) period when selling and consuming liquor was against the law. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2710]
  7. Rechabites pastoral people who abstained from all wines. [O.T.: Jeremiah 35:519]
  8. Samson consecrated to God in abstinence. [O.T.: Judges 13:45]
  9. Volstead Act 18th Amendment, passed by Congress to enforce Prohibition (1919). [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 286]
  10. Womans Christian Temperance Union society of militant housewives against drinking (20th century). [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 357]

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temperance

tem·per·ance / ˈtemp(ə)rəns/ • n. abstinence from alcoholic drink: [as adj.] the temperance movement. ∎  moderation or self-restraint, esp. in eating and drinking.

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Temperance

Temperance

of cooks: a company of cooksBk. of St. Albans, 1486.

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temperance

temperanceabeyance, conveyance, purveyance •creance • ambience •irradiance, radiance •expedience, obedience •audience •dalliance, mésalliance •salience •consilience, resilience •emollience • ebullience •convenience, lenience, provenience •impercipience, incipience, percipience •variance • experience •luxuriance, prurience •nescience • omniscience •insouciance • deviance •subservience • transience •alliance, appliance, compliance, defiance, misalliance, neuroscience, reliance, science •allowance •annoyance, clairvoyance, flamboyance •fluence, pursuance •perpetuance • affluence • effluence •mellifluence • confluence •congruence • issuance • continuance •disturbance •attendance, dependence, interdependence, resplendence, superintendence, tendance, transcendence •cadence •antecedence, credence, impedance •riddance • diffidence • confidence •accidence • precedence • dissidence •coincidence, incidence •evidence •improvidence, providence •residence •abidance, guidance, misguidance, subsidence •correspondence, despondence •accordance, concordance, discordance •avoidance, voidance •imprudence, jurisprudence, prudence •impudence • abundance • elegance •arrogance • extravagance •allegiance • indigence •counter-intelligence, intelligence •negligence • diligence • intransigence •exigence •divulgence, effulgence, indulgence, refulgence •convergence, divergence, emergence, insurgence, resurgence, submergence •significance •balance, counterbalance, imbalance, outbalance, valance •parlance • repellence • semblance •bivalence, covalence, surveillance, valence •sibilance • jubilance • vigilance •pestilence • silence • condolence •virulence • ambulance • crapulence •flatulence • feculence • petulance •opulence • fraudulence • corpulence •succulence, truculence •turbulence • violence • redolence •indolence • somnolence • excellence •insolence • nonchalance •benevolence, malevolence •ambivalence, equivalence •Clemence • vehemence •conformance, outperformance, performance •adamance • penance • ordinance •eminence • imminence •dominance, prominence •abstinence • maintenance •continence • countenance •sustenance •appurtenance, impertinence, pertinence •provenance • ordnance • repugnance •ordonnance • immanence •impermanence, permanence •assonance • dissonance • consonance •governance • resonance • threepence •halfpence • sixpence •comeuppance, tuppence, twopence •clarence, transparence •aberrance, deterrence, inherence, Terence •remembrance • entrance •Behrens, forbearance •fragrance • hindrance • recalcitrance •abhorrence, Florence, Lawrence, Lorentz •monstrance •concurrence, co-occurrence, occurrence, recurrence •encumbrance •adherence, appearance, clearance, coherence, interference, perseverance •assurance, durance, endurance, insurance •exuberance, protuberance •preponderance • transference •deference, preference, reference •difference • inference • conference •sufferance • circumference •belligerence • tolerance • ignorance •temperance • utterance • furtherance •irreverence, reverence, severance •deliverance • renascence • absence •acquiescence, adolescence, arborescence, coalescence, convalescence, deliquescence, effervescence, essence, evanescence, excrescence, florescence, fluorescence, incandescence, iridescence, juvenescence, luminescence, obsolescence, opalescence, phosphorescence, pubescence, putrescence, quiescence, quintessence, tumescence •obeisance, Renaissance •puissance •impuissance, reminiscence •beneficence, maleficence •magnificence, munificence •reconnaissance • concupiscence •reticence •licence, license •nonsense •nuisance, translucence •innocence • conversance • sentience •impatience, patience •conscience •repentance, sentence •acceptance • acquaintance •acquittance, admittance, intermittence, pittance, quittance, remittance •assistance, coexistence, consistence, distance, existence, insistence, outdistance, persistence, resistance, subsistence •instance • exorbitance •concomitance •impenitence, penitence •appetence •competence, omnicompetence •inheritance • capacitance • hesitance •Constance • importance • potence •conductance, inductance, reluctance •substance • circumstance •omnipotence • impotence •inadvertence • grievance •irrelevance, relevance •connivance, contrivance •observance • sequence • consequence •subsequence • eloquence •grandiloquence, magniloquence •brilliance • poignance •omnipresence, pleasance, presence •complaisance • malfeasance •incognizance, recognizance •usance • recusance

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