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Title:Temperance Reform in the Cotton Kingdom
Author(s):Carlson, Douglas Wiley
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Abstract:The study of antebellum reform movements has usually focused upon the North because the hub and the bulk of reform activity was located there, and because Southern states expressed opposition to what they branded as fanatical social ideas, most notably abolition. The prominence of abolition among the varieties of reform, in conjunction with Southern defense of the peculiar institution has contributed to the general conclusion that the reform movements did not penetrate the South, a fact which constituted another important feature of distinctiveness between the two regions.
The history of the temperance movement, however, one of the most successful of the reforms, challenges or at least qualifies that generalization, for it achieved a notable record throughout the South as well as the North. Specifically, in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, states representative of the Cotton Kingdom, where investment in and commitment to slavery was presumably as great as anywhere else, the temperance movement established itself as an important cultural expression. Temperance was acceptable in the South because it did not challenge established social institutions as did some of the other reforms.
A study of the movement in these states reveals that its ideology and phases of development paralleled those in the North. As in the North, the Southern temperance movement was grounded upon the widespread acceptance of republican ideals concerning a healthy society, and the efforts of the revivalist churches to produce sober, upright citizens and church members. As the movement was popularized and democratized by the Washingtonians and the Sons of Temperance, it came to express middle-class aspirations for respectability and social mobility. In the late 1830s and again in the early 1850s, Southern temperance forces, like their counterparts in the North, pressed for prohibition or restrictive legislation. In sum, the study of temperance in the Cotton Kingdom reveals it to have been a significant expression of reform sentiment in that region, and therefore represents an element of social and cultural commonality with the North during the antebellum period.
Issue Date:1982
Description:331 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8209551
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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