Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Colonial American And Booze

By William Brand
Tuesday, May 10th, 2005 at 10:09 pm in Uncategorized.

OK. I can’t resist this, solidly researched bit of fluff about those allegedly straight-laced founders of America’s colonies. It comes from Alcohol: Problems and Solutions, a website, backed, I am sure by the alcohol industry.

Nevertheless, the facts seem to check out. Here we go…
Puritans To Prohibition

1. The Puritans loaded more beer than water onto the Mayflower before they cast off for the New World.

2. While there wasn’t any cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin pie to eat at the first Thanksgiving, there was beer, brandy, gin, and wine to drink. ”

3. A brewery was one of Harvard College’s first construction projects so that a steady supply of beer could be served in the student dining halls.

4. The early colonialists made alcohol beverages from, among other things, carrots, tomatoes, onions, beets, celery, squash, corn silk, dandelions, and goldenrod.

5. The manufacture of rum became early Colonial New England’s largest and most prosperous industry.

6. Tavern owners enjoyed higher social status than did the clergy during part of the Colonial period.

7. A traveler through the Delaware Valley in 1753 compiled a list of the drinks he encountered; all but three of the 48 contained alcohol.

9. The distillation of whiskey led to the first test of federal power, the Whiskey Rebellion (1794).

10. During the Colonial period, alcohol abstainers had to pay one life insurance company rates 10% higher than that of drinkers. Of course, today we know that abstainers tend not to live as long as moderate drinkers.

11. The laws of most American colonies required towns to license suitable persons to sell wine and spirits and failure to do so could result in a fine.

12. Colonial taverns were often required to be located near the church or meetinghouse.

13. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all enjoyed brewing or distilling their own alcohol beverages.

14. The Colonial Army supplied its troops with a daily ration of four ounces of either rum or whiskey.

15. Abraham Lincoln held a liquor license and operated several taverns.

16. Religious services and court sessions were often held in the major tavern of Colonial American towns.

17. In the 1830’s the average American aged 15 or older consumed over seven gallons of absolute alcohol (resulting from an average of 9 1/2 gallons of spirits, 1/2 gallon of wine, and 27 gallons of beer), a quantity about three times the current rate.

18. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in a tavern in Philadelphia.

19. Alewives in Colonial America brewed a special high proof “groaning ale” for pregnant women to drink during labor.

20. “Root beer” was a temperance product developed in the hope that it would replace beer in popularity…….it did not.

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