Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sons of Temperance

I've written on this blog previously about a temperance crusade called the Murphy Movement that reached the Ozarks in early 1878 and was very prominent for a few months before the movement lost some of its fervor. The Murphy Movement, however, was just one of several temperance campaigns that took hold in the United States during the 1800s and early 1900s.
One of the early temperance organizations was the Sons of Temperance, which was organized in New York in 1842. It not only promoted abstinence and lobbied for prohibition but also served as a fraternal organization for its members. For instance, members (called brothers) were expected to visit any fellow member who became sick. The group even acted as an insurance company of sorts, since the bylaws of the organization also required it to pay $30 to cover the burial costs of any brother who died. The group was selective in admitting members, and the brothers practiced secret rituals and had secret signs, passwords, hand grips, and regalia.
A chapter of the Sons of Temperance was organized in Springfield in 1849. By 1851, the Sons of Temperance and other prohibitionists succeeded in getting an ordinance passed outlawing dramshops (i.e. saloons) in Springfield. The law lasted only a few months, but the question of prohibition remained a contentious issue in Springfield and elsewhere for many years, culminating, of course, in passage of the Volstead Act that ushered in prohibition nationwide.    


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