As in the rest of America, drinking was a common practice in eighteenth-century
Vermont. Alcohol was part of everyday life, and getting drunk was a common
occurrence at public events such as militia musters. Increasingly, though,
people began to see drinking as the cause of many of society’s problems.
Early in the nineteenth century growing numbers of Vermonters began practicing
moderation or complete abstinence.
Middle-class reformers founded the Vermont Temperance Society, which advocated complete sobriety, in 1828. By the late 1830s temperance advocates were working to pass laws making the sale of alcohol illegal. Laws partially limiting the manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages drew heated opposition from some Vermonters, particularly in rural districts. Nevertheless, temperance reformers won when a law mandating the total prohibition of alcohol passed by a narrow margin in an 1853 referendum.
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