The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 223
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bellum reform, and his analysis is a significant contribution to a grow-
ing body of revisionist literature on the subject. The orthodoxy being
revised grew, in the main, out of work on the antislavery movement.
David H. Donald and Stanley M. Elkins, in particular, have described
the abolitionists as an essentially conservative, powerless, frustrated,
displaced elite that sought to control through social reform an in-
creasingly disturbing culture, one they no longer ruled politically or
economically. While he grants that some of the first temperance cru-
saders in Massachusetts were alarmed federalists striving to fasten on
nineteenth-century America their eighteenth-century social views and
moral values, Tyrrell insists that the men and women who later took
over and pushed to temporary success the crusade against alcohol were
basically at ease with their changing culture. Far from, being hostile
to the forces of industrialism and urbanism that were transforming
America, temperance advocates saw in the campaign against liquor a
means of adapting Americans to the demands of a capitalistic, competi-
tive economy. And Tyrrell early on makes the point that the temper-
ance crusade began to advance in the nineteenth century only when
it cut its ties to eighteenth-century social theories and their advocates.
An important part of the revisionist work on temperance has been
a series of sophisticated studies that document the severity of the early
republic's drinking problem. The best of these, by W. J. Rorabaugh,
is appropriately called The Alcoholic Republic. Rorabaugh docu-
ments in ingenious ways the changes both in the quantity and nature
of the nation's consumption of alcoholic beverages in the first half of
the nineteenth century. The result of such work has been to point up
the alarming fiscal, social, and human cost of intemperance in ante-
bellum America and to make more persuasive those works, such as
Tyrrell's, that attempt to address the opponents of liquor on their own
The strengths of Tyrrell's monograph are many. He is most con-
vincing when making his central point: that the advocates, first of
temperance and then of prohibition, saw in their crusade a way of
advancing moderation, frugality, efficiency, and discipline, all, of
course, essential to success in a capitalistic, competitive economy. And
he reminds us that the most persuasive disciples of that new gospel
were men who themselves had foresworn alcohol and who had ad-
vanced themselves socially and economically in that renunciation. His
chapter on the Washingtonian movement, the first organized effort by
alcoholics to help themselves and the forerunner in some senses of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/257/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.