America’s Storied History with Booze and Pipe Tobacco

Back in the very early days here in America the original settlers (some times known as Puritans) were no strangers to brew and pipe tobacco (the classic kind). In fact if you dive into history and check the Mayflower log books they mention their beer supplies were running low (our language) so time to pull the Mayflower into a port that would enable a restock of beer. 

Pipe Tobacco Has been in Vogue in the U.S. Since the Good Old Early Days

Pipe tobacco was central to the colonists lifestyle and in Virginia it was at the time coin of the realm (excuse the pun). But, there were marketing campaigns extolling the evils and risks of consuming pipe tobacco and booze in the early nineteenth century of any kind: beer and hard liquor. 

the black bottom and americas history with pipe tobacco

Drinkers and smokers were extolled to “temper” their habits and to put down the evil drink and tobacco was considered bad because it “dried out the mouth” and made the smoker thirsty for beer or liquor. Go figure. 

In the early nineteenth century the “modern” temperance movement. In the early days of the movement it wasn’t just about booze or beer – many considered smoking, dancing, movies, revealing outfits and staying out late as injurious to health and good moral standing.These people clearly had no idea how to have a good time; or, if they did it must have been pretty boring. 

In fact by the turn of the century it was common to find “temperance societies” in thousands of communities across the United States and women were playing a much stronger role in the movement. Many considered alcohol a destructive force in families and marriages.

The Rise of the Anti Saloon League

The rise of the “Anti Saloon league” (created in the late 1800’s) was considered by many historians to be a reaction to the tremendous urban growth across the U.S. and the rise of the saloon culture and it’s being seen by “puritanical” Americans as being just bad. And factory owners were all in favor of stopping booze consumption, as it contributed to many injuries on the job in their factories and drove down overall production.

early saloon with a smoke and drink in hand

The actual legal prohibition of alcohol had a lot to do with patriotism as it did with morality or religion. In the early 1900’s the beer industry was controlled by families who had immigrated from Germany: Schlitz, Anheuser, Pabst and Miller were all controlled by tycoons who had roots deep in Germany

As a reference point in history, the Volstead Act was passed in 1917 (which triggered Prohibition), just as the U.S. declared war on Germany. Clearly at this point in time, beer and patriotism were aligned as never before. Also, just after the U.S. entered World War I President Woodrow Wilson instituted a temporary war time prohibition to save grain for producing food, versus beer.

But, prohibition was difficult to enforce (we Americans love our booze, pipe tobacco, cigarettes and good times). The illegal manufacture and sale of booze (referred to as “bootlegging”) progress through the next decade and the “speakeasy” (nightclubs) was created and moonshine or bathtub gin made at home helped to ensure Americans had access to booze and good times.

The End of Prohibition and Let the Good Times Roll

Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and the country roared into good times: booze, beer, the black bottom and smoking were all in style and in vogue. Fast forward to the modern era and you’ll find a patchwork of laws, regulations that differ by city, county and state. We are still somewhat of a puritanical culture; just contrast network TV with cable and you’ll get a snapshot of two different worlds.