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Southern Prohibition

Race, Reform, and Public Life in Middle Florida, 1821-1920

Lee L. Willis

Publication Year: 2011

Southern Prohibition examines political culture and reform through the evolving temperance and prohibition movements in Middle Florida. Scholars have long held that liquor reform was largely a northern and mid-Atlantic phe­nomenon before the Civil War. Lee L. Willis takes a close look at the Florida plantation belt to reveal that the campaign against alcohol had a dramatic impact on public life in this portion of the South as early as the 1840s.

Race, class, and gender mores shaped and were shaped by the temperance movement. White racial fears inspired prohibition for slaves and free blacks. Stringent licensing shut down grog shops that were the haunts of common and poor whites, which accelerated gentrification and stratified public drinking along class lines. Restricting blacks’ access to alcohol was a theme that ran through temperance and prohibition campaigns in Florida, but more affluent African Americans also supported prohibition, indicating that the issue was not driven solely by white desires for social control. Women in the plantation belt played a marginal role in comparison to other locales and were denied greater political influence as a result.

Beyond alcohol, Willis also takes a broader look at psychoactive substances to show the veritable pharmacopeia available to Floridians in the nineteenth century. Unlike the campaign against alcohol, however, the tightening regulations on narcotics and cocaine in the early twentieth century elicited little public discussion or concern—a quiet beginning to the state’s war on drugs

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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pp. ix-xii

Writing a book is always a collaborative effort. A work by a single author is actually the product of many people who provide advice, suggest ideas, and impart editorial wisdom. This book would never have been completed without the help and support of family members, friends, colleagues, and mentors who encouraged me in myriad ways...

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pp. 1-14

Evaluating his ministry in the late 1830s, Methodist itinerant Peter Haskew feared that his labors in territorial Florida were futile. Few souls attended his services, and some people verbally accosted him in the streets. He felt besieged by sodden tipplers when he boarded at taverns...

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One. “To remain dram drinkers and tipplers”: Taverns, Temperance, and Political Culture in Territorial Florida

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pp. 15-40

“Of all vices,” wrote Francis de la Porte, the Comte de Castelnau, after his visit to Middle Florida in 1837–1838, “intemperance is the most common one, whose effects are the most to be deplored.” On an extensive scientific journey throughout North America, Castelnau primarily commented on the flora and fauna of the area, but also discussed southern frontier culture. “...

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Two. “We have got no billiard saloon”: Temperance in Antebellum Florida

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pp. 41-66

Florida’s temperance movement could not sustain the initial enthusiasm that the Washingtonians delivered in 1842. The societies that reformers created that summer and fall gradually lost momentum and by decade’s end, they had all but disappeared in Florida...

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Three. “Drinking and gamboling”: Alcohol, Temperance, and the Civil War

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pp. 67-81

The Civil War and Reconstruction rendered Middle Florida’s religious and political culture almost unrecognizable to its antebellum past. The ruling planter aristocracy lost its primary source of political and social capital, enslaved people...

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Four. “In close communion with John Barleycorn”: Race, Reform, and Reconstruction

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pp. 82-101

The Civil War was a major setback for the temperance movement in Middle Florida and the United States generally. The political and social flux of Reconstruction, however, would ultimately refocus the movement and set the state on the path toward prohibition. Arguably, emancipation had the biggest impact on temperance...

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Five. “Kill the beast and save the boys”: Local Option in Leon County

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pp. 102-128

In 1905, Jane Chittenden fretted as she envisioned her betrothed son’s wedding invitations and the impression that they would have on recipients. A woman of prominent standing in Tallahassee, Chittenden did not want anything on the invitations to misrepresent her social status — particularly to northerners on the invitation list. The wedding would take place at the Methodist church on McCarty Street, a wide boulevard in downtown Tallahassee...

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Six. “Good order”: Local Option in Franklin County

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pp. 129-153

Throngs of townspeople lined the docks along Apalachicola’s Water Street. On a clear February afternoon in 1915, they awaited the landing of King Retsyo I, the ceremonial monarch and parade marshal for the city’s fi rst annual Mardi Gras Carnival. To the crowd’s delight, the masked king disembarked from the steamboat...

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pp. 154-158

In the spring of 1915, Florida legislators debated whether or not to pass a Prohibition Submission Bill, which would mandate a statewide dry referendum to voters. Rallying on behalf of the bill, Florida chapters of the Anti- Saloon League (ASL) and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) organized a parade and rally on the east portico of the Florida state capitol...


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pp. 159-190


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pp. 191-202


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pp. 203-209

E-ISBN-13: 9780820341835
E-ISBN-10: 0820341835
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820329277
Print-ISBN-10: 0820329274

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos, 6 maps, 7 tables
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 780034526
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Southern Prohibition

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Subject Headings

  • Florida -- History -- 1865-.
  • Florida -- History -- 1821-1865.
  • Temperance -- Florida -- History -- 20th century.
  • Temperance -- Florida -- History -- 19th century.
  • Prohibition -- Florida -- History -- 20th century.
  • Prohibition -- Florida -- History -- 19th century.
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