The Temperance Movement in America had its roots in the 18th century. Benjamin Rush, a Founding Father of the Republic, designed a ‘Moral and Physical Thermometer’ illustrating the degeneration associated with excessive alcohol intake. Protestant reformist groups increasingly espoused the cause; their pleas for moderation evolved into a call for total abstinence and outright prohibition. A high proportion of female participation was a feature of the movement and for many women it was linked with the campaign for female suffrage. Support was strongest in the South and Midwest and weakest in urban centres, with opposition particularly from Catholic and Jewish communities. Groups such as the Anti-Saloon League were politically astute and mobilized a Prohibition bloc-vote to ‘turn’ counties, and then states, dry. Kansas became the first state to outlaw alcoholic beverages in its Constitution (1881): by 1913, nine states were dry; by 1917, 18 states.
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