Washingtonian Society.doc

Washingtonian Society.doc - WASHINGTONIAN SOCIETY During...

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WASHINGTONIAN SOCIETY During the 1830’s, and especially in the 1840’s, Temperance organizations began to appear all over the country. Some were created to fight for rights and places and some were created to change habits. One of the movements for a change in habit was the Washingtonian movement. The Washingtonian society was arguably one of the most successful and unsuccessful movements at the same time due to its subsequent result. It was founded on April 2, 1840 by six hard drinkers (William Mitchell, David Hoss, Charles Anderson, George Steer, Bill M'Curdy, and Tom Campbell) at Chase's Tavern on Liberty Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Its members were called Washingtonians. They differed from the other movements at the time. The movement was addressed to people who were, or were close to becoming alcoholics. The success of the Washingtonians in establishing a large number of units and followers among reformed drinkers and drunkards was an important element in the development of that most typical American self-improvement institution. On the other hand, it was not your typical Alcoholics Anonymous; rather it was more like a society on its own. Members would seek other drunkards, tell them their experiences with alcohol abuse and how the Society had helped them achieve soberness. They differed from the other movements at the time. Part of its achievement can be credited to its more personal approach towards alcoholism. This was something that most temperance societies lacked at that time. Most temperance societies focused on the individual alcoholic rather than on society's greater relationship with liquor. Public
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temperance meetings were frequent and the main thread was prohibition of alcohol and pledges of sobriety to be made by the individual. Washingtonians understood that those whose lives were damaged by drink often needed material assistance as well as moral sustenance and encouragement. Washingtonian societies paid court fines and put up bonds for drunkards in trouble with the law, found accommodation for them, rented or bought buildings to shelter them until they could find their own lodgings, and furnished food, clothing, loans, and other assistance to reformed drunkards and their families. Its members also had financial problems and needs. They met these needs in two ways. First, Washingtonians turned to wealthy members of the old societies for contributions to their work. The poor were not the only people affected by the alcohol raze of the 1800s. The wealthy were also affected. Members of the society would sometimes meet up with highly influential people in the society. This, however, would
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