Thursday, July 18, 2013

Staying Sober, 1830s Style

In 1830, the Macon Weekly Telegraph of Macon, Georgia, printed a letter under the perhaps not totally accurate headline “Temperance”, advising the newspaper’s readers on how to avoid drunkenness. Signed, “A Friend to Temperance,” the letter’s author revealed that he fell into his former drunken ways by “taking a dram in the morning” on the recommendation of an old neighbor, who was fond of morning drams himself. 

“I was told that a glass of bitters before breakfast was an excellent thing to give a body an appetite”, the writer related, and admitted that it did indeed make his blood circulate faster and his appetite stronger. So, he adopted the plan and “every morning took my bitters, mint julip, or gin cocktail.” 

Before long he found his appetite so stimulated that he ate breakfast to excess, and by mid-morning, heavy and languid, needed another dram to pick him up. And then another glass before the afternoon dinner, and a few more afterwards, and the next thing he knew he was never sober at any point of the day.

He tried total abstinence on multiple occasions but kept lapsing back to his old ways. The solution? Never take a drop of spirituous liquor before breakfast, nor anytime afterwards on an empty stomach. By keeping to this rule and drinking only after a hearty meal he had been able to avoid drunkenness for over five years. 

Just passing this along as a public service.

“Temperance”, Macon Weekly Telegraph (June 26, 1830), p103

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