News / Arts & Entertainment

    Temperance Music Marked US War Against Drinking

    New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (R) watches agents pour liquor into a sewer following a raid during the height of prohibition in an undated photo held by the Library of Congress.
    New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (R) watches agents pour liquor into a sewer following a raid during the height of prohibition in an undated photo held by the Library of Congress.
    Richard Paul
    Eighty years ago, an unusual experiment in the United States came to an end.  On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. It repealed a previous amendment that had banned the production and sale of alcohol.  It was the end of a political struggle that had raged in the United States for more than 100 years - a struggle that had been argued, in part, through music.

    There were many issues that engaged Americans in the years between the War for Independence and the Civil War -- separation of church and state, U.S. relations with France and England, but while those others came and went, the battle over one subject never let up.  That subject was alcohol.  

    Richard Paul's Feature on Temperance Music
    Richard Paul's Feature on Temperance Musici
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    The war against drinking in the U.S. started in the early 1800s. Before then, Americans had been heavy drinkers. Scott Gac, a professor at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut, and the author of a book about reform in the 19th century, says that in the 1820s and 1830s, American churches started emphasizing the idea that God wanted people to take better care of themselves.

    “They start eating differently.  There are people who actually became some of the first vegetarians in the United States," he explained. "There are people who stop drinking alcohol -- about one in five Americans take a temperance pledge, which is an anti-drinking pledge."

    Temperance advocates preached about the evils of alcohol.

    “The breadwinner in the family was going out, spending what little money he had, and thus creating poverty for his family," Gac said. "His wife had to work, his kids had to go out and beg on the street, so drunkenness was eating at the core of American families.”

    Because the temperance movement came out of the church, a lot of the songs were to the tune of popular hymns.  People would sing these songs at meetings of groups like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, who would go out and smash up saloons with hatchets. By 1900, more than half of the states had gone “dry,” restricting or even banning the sale of alcohol.  Of course there were plenty of people who opposed this idea, and they also expressed themselves in song.

    In the wake of the First World War, Temperance advocates were finally able to get enough votes to put a ban on alcohol into the United States Constitution. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” But the Constitution still protected people’s right to argue that Prohibition was a bad idea.  And they did.  One example is a song from the year Prohibition started about how one used to need a lot of money to get a date, but now all one needed was a secret stash of alcohol in the basement.

    The ban on alcohol only lasted 13 years.  By 1933, the forces of prohibition admitted defeat, the 18th Amendment was repealed, and alcohol flowed freely again in the United States. And that was cause for song too.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.

    New in Music Alley

    Beyond Category: Arturo Sandovali
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 02, 2016 3:53 PM
    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.

    Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of the most exciting musicians in jazz. The multi-Grammy winner takes the Blues Alley stage to perform, and sits down with Beyond Category host Eric Felten to talk about his life in music.