Are our attitudes towards alcohol similar to those of temperance advocates in the early 19th century?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The temperance movement of the early 1800s was popular for a number of reasons.  Some in the movement felt that drinking alcohol was simply immoral.  Others thought that it wasn't exactly immoral but that it was (especially when done too much) bad for people in terms of their health.  Others focused less on the health issue and more on the connection between drinking and poverty or on the inability to do a good job at work.

We in the US today clearly do not think of drinking in these same ways today as there is no real push for temperance today.  We do, however, tend to focus on the negative effects of alcohol on health and on society.  It is for that reason that we have campaigns against binge drinking among teens and against drunk driving.  So, our current attitudes towards alcohol are more like the pragmatic views (the ones stressing its effects) of alcohol in the early 1800s.  We do not generally share the moralistic view of alcohol that many had at that time.

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