Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider? – Colonials Outlaw Inebriation For All and Alcohol For Some

This is the next installment in our continuing series, “Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider?”

____________________________________________________

It’s easy to think that Prohibition was the first attempt to legally control alcohol consumption, but it’s not. Almost as long as there has been alcohol in America, there has been alcohol control. In Colonial America that legal control was exerted through anti-intoxication laws, dispensing licenses, and access control.(1)

Pennsylvania, for example, took intoxication very seriously. Drunkenness was officially illegal throughout the entire eighteenth century.

In 1700 the Pennsylvania Assembly passed, “The Law Against Drunknenness and Healths-Drinking.” It expressly outlawed, “every person disordering or abusing him or herself with drink unto drunkenness, and every person suffering such excess at their houses, and every person that shall drink healths [toasts] which shall provoke people to excessive drinking…” In January 1706, the Assembly passed the similar, but slightly reworded law, “Act Against Drunkenness and Drinking of Healths.” The 1779  “Act for the Suppression of Vice and Immorality,”  continued to outlaw intoxication using very similar language as the “Act Against Drunkenness,” (see Section IV). In 1786 the Assembly felt that the 1779 law was not, “fully and duly executed and enforced…” and passed, “An Act for the Prevention of Vice and Immorality and Unlawful Gaming and to Restrain Disorderly Sports and Dissipation.” Section III, yet again, stated that no one shall drink to intoxication.

This concern over intoxication spilled into taverns. We think of early American taverns as places flowing with drunken fun. They certainly were, but they were also places for public discourse, education, and entertainment. They were central to their communities and were seen as places where community standards needed to be upheld. Tavern licenses were granted to those seen as being a, “sober and fit person to keep a house of entertainment…” As specified in the tavern license, part of a tavern keeper’s job was to prevent indecent behaviors, including drunkenness, in their establishment.

Tavern License 1755

During most of the eighteenth century, tavern keepers were also to keep alcohol from Indians. 1755 Pennsylvania tavern license. Courtesy of the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA.

 

Tavern License 1826

Seventy years later, Indians are no longer a concern and the wording is different. The intent remains the same though – no drunkenness allowed in the tavern. 1826 Northampton County, Pennsylvania tavern license. Courtesy of the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA.

Though everyone was legally expected to refrain from drinking to excess, colonial American leaders felt they needed to limit certain people’s access to alcohol. They passed additional laws prohibiting Indians, enslaved people, servants (indentured, domestic, and apprentices), and even working class white men from having ready access to hard liquor.

Indian Prohibition October 28, 1701

“An Act Against the Selling of Rum and Other Strong Liquors to the Indians.” Passed October 28, 1701. The Charters and Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania

__________________

A Supplementary AC T to a Law of this Province, intituled, An Act that no Public-house or Inn, within this Province, be kept without Licence.

“A Supplementary Act to a Law of This Province, Intituled, An Act That No Public-House or Inn, Within This Province, Be Kept Without Licence.” Passed August 26, 1721. The Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania.

__________________

Iron Workers

“An Act for the better regulating the Retailers of Liquors near the Iron Works and elsewhere.” Passed March 5, 1726. The Acts of the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania.

At the same time they’re passing these laws, gentry men’s drinking habits are getting a pass. Middling and gentry men could drink whatever they wanted and to excess, often in social, all-male gatherings.

Tuesday CLub

The genteel could run riot, but no one else could. “Mr Neilson’s Battle With the Royalist Club,” attributed Dr. Alexander Hamilton. Maryland Historical Society.

Like many laws attempting to prohibit sin and vice, there was more hope than success in them. Whether at home or at the tavern, people drank what they wanted and got drunk.

NEXT TIME: The temperate beginnings of Temperance.

************************************

  1. The majority of other alcohol-related laws covered production, sales, and taxes.
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider

Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider? – An Exploration

prohibition title slide

This is the first post in a series based on my talk, “Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider?”

______________________________

American cider’s recent resurgence has people asking if it was so popular before, why did it go away?

Most cidermakers will say that Prohibition killed cider. Prohibition is the popular name for the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution which outlawed alcohol production. The story generally says cider was America’s drink, but Prohibition suddenly ended that.

Cider Prohibition Statements

A quick Google search turns up thousands of hits saying similar things.

It wouldn’t be until the 1990s, 60 years after repeal, that cider began its current recovery.

This timeline certainly suggests Prohibition ended, or at least interrupted, our cider culture. But it’s not a very satisfying answer. Prohibition didn’t affect our taste for beer, wine, or spirits. So what was going on? Did Prohibition really prohibit and inhibit cider?

Over the coming weeks we’ll explore how Temperance, pests, new apple products, changing popular tastes, market competition, and Prohibition influenced American cider culture.

I hope you’ll come along!

NEXT TIME: Early Americans attempt to keep drinkers in their proper place.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider

A Sparkling Cider Surprise

I got home from work, eagerly selected a recently acquired sparkling cider, and walked a few steps into the kitchen. I untwisted the cage, but before it was over the cork, the bottle exploded and a three-foot stream of cider shot straight out of the bottle.

Photograph Not Available
(but it did look fantastic)

By the time it was done most of the cider was all over the counter and floor, leaving only this

img_20180702_193036306

Our recent heat wave had primed the bottle. Besides not diffusing it by chilling, my opening technique may have been a little hasty. I should have done this:

Or perhaps next time I’ll combine my interest in cidering and fencing and do this:

There are certainly enough swords and cider laying around my house to perfect my technique.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider

Upcoming Prohibition Presentation at the 2018 PA Cider Fest

PA-Cider-Fest-HomeI’m pleased to be presenting at the 3rd annual PA Cider Fest on June 23rd. This year, I’m offering my talk, “Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider?”, at 12:30.

Prohibition is often blamed for abruptly ending American cider, yet it didn’t change our taste for beer, wine, or spirits. Find out how Prohibition did and did not change our cider culture.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider

That’s Not What I Ordered

I bought Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard: A Cultural History, but I got this:

IMG_20180424_064021758_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg

Am I on a list now? Who am I kidding? I’m already a member.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider

Upcoming Talk at the Bachmann Publick House

On April 7th, from 5 to 7 pm I’m offering my “Cider: Pennsylvania’s Once (and Future?) Favorite” followed by a cider tasting at the restored 1753 Bachmann Publick House in Easton, PA.

bachmann

The program is $8 for Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society members and $12 for non-members. For more information check this out.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider

Cider History Round-Up: 19 March 2018

Cider and alcohol history dropping around the internet.

Aspall cider snapped up by Molson Coors after eight generations of family business

How Did the Modern Apple Come About

How to Prevent Drunkenness, 1612

How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider