Alcohol has been a part of the American character from the early colonial times. European customs brought alcohol over to North America and along with it a double standard of drinking and masculinity. "Having a drink" became integrated into almost every American activity: having a drink to steady one’s nerves; buying someone a drink to get to know them better; having a drink to warm up; making a toast to celebrate a special occasion; drinking when depressed all sorts of reasons to consume alcohol.
For much of America’s history, drinking alcohol was considered at least as American as apple pie. With the shift to stronger alcohol content beverages, it took a while for American culture to recognize there was a problem. By the 1830s the average American consumed three times what people do currently and Americans spent more money on alcohol than the total expenditures of the federal government.
For much of this time drinking to excess was considered acceptable: for a long time it was considered acceptable that a man could drink when angry or depressed. Keeping in line with many laws that allowed a husband to "discipline" his wife, blaming the alcohol and not the man was considered acceptable when a beating went too far.
Read the material in the following web site, Unintended Consequences, and view the video segment [Put your cursor over the following for the directions on how to bring up the video clip] -> "A Nation of Drunkards" to get an overview of the prevalence of alcohol in American life.
Answer the following questions;
1. What were the 2-3 reasons used to justify making alcohol illegal in America?
2. Identify 2-3 unintended consequences of Prohibition, and explain the effects of each.
3. For much of this time excessive drinking was considered entertainment, even comical to have a supporting
character in plays, movies, and television programs, slurring his words, staggering, and eventually falling all
over himself to the peals of laughter from onlookers. How have times changed?
4. How have distilled, more powerful alcoholic beverages, changed the nature of social drinking? How does that
affect those in the business of selling alcohol? [Such as you in your future position in hospitality]
5. Analyze the statements made by historian Catherine Murdock in her description of alcohol and masculinity.
Catherine Gilbert Murdock, a historian said, Alcohol consumption at that point [that it was in early America]
was a sign of masculinity that took away masculinity.
Explain what she meant by her statement, and if you agree or disagree.