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The Constitution of the Deerfield Temperance Society
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Up until the early nineteenth century, liquor was commonly consumed by Americans. In New England, hard cider was found on the table at meals and drunk by people of all ages. Gin, rum and whiskey were additionally consumed by men once in the morning and once in the afternoon to help them through the workday, and alcohol was found at all social engagements. By the 1820s, possibly in response to economic and social upheavals following the Revolution, the per capita consumption of alcohol reached a peak of four gallons of pure alcohol annually, which contributed to many social problems.
<BR>The first rumblings of the temperance movement in America began in New England as early as 1810 but the movement did not become visible until the late 1820s. The Deerfield Temperance Society was organized in 1834, and required all members to refrain from "distilled spirit as drink" and prohibited them from serving it to others. They were also obliged to discourage use of it in the community. Through the efforts of men and women in the temperance movement, by 1840 per capita consumption of alcohol had dropped to one half gallon annually.
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