February 24, 2007

The truth about the Temperance Movement

The world now as well as the world back then was and always will be filled with hypocrites.

Recently, I believe last year, you know how every single faction is struggling with each other for a voice in the nation? Well it kinda exploded with a little pop over a whole BART incident. Living in the Bay Area, there are many signs promoting abortion and of course, it brings up complaints, but the Dems get to keep them up because of the free speech clause of the 1st amendment. But when the pro-life faction decided to post a pro-life poster in several BART stations, there was a call from the liberals to have all the posters removed. Well isn't that hypocratic of them? They fought for their voice and won, yet they attempt to stifle the voices of the other. Republicans are wrong! Dont believe a word! Give people a choice! Our choice! The right to abortion! We are right! Forget the saving of the child! It's a big battle, and it'll keep going on as long as i'm alive and then some.

But I was reviewing through my library today for a book to read on the can, and there's alot of book I have not read. I came across a book, "Years of Conscience" which was pretty much an anthology of several works written by muckrakers of the 1900s. But one article really pulled me in.

The "Patent Medicine" Curse
By: Edward Bok

It was an article pretty much outlining the truth about the magic cure-all tonics of the early 20th century. It's amazing how quickly we fell into the trap as ordinary consumers and people. None the less, people were ingesting alarming quantities of opium, cocaine and alcohol when taking these mystical medicines. Around the same time, women began their protest against the evils of alcohol and spirits. In a letter to the magazine that Mr. Bok wrote for, he made a letter obvious how the women protested at his magazine for printing an ad for Root Beer (which contained no alcohol of sorts) yet these same women would chug bottles and bottles of this stuff thinking it helped them get over the Winter bug or the many maladies that apparently attacked many of the women and people took.

Heaven forbid should a temperance movement woman should come across a child drinking a beer! But come winter and the cough that comes along with it, a little of tonic or bitters are prescribed to little junior to cure him.

In a chemical analysis provided by the book, most beers and spirits contain at that time, about 2 to 5 percent alcohol (which is a bit hard to believe, but what the hey, he researched it) whereas some of these miracle medicines contained as much as 50% alcohol. Not to mention uncounted amounts of cocaine and opium. What would mother more likely turn to to help her child? Mothering? or the Cure all?

Take the "Favorite Prescription" for example and from the ingredients contained, there was about

1/2 fluid drachm of Tincture of Digitalis
1/2 fluid drachm of Tincture of Opium
8 drops of Oil of Anise
1 1/2 ounces of Alcohol

*All this is in 9 oz of the aforementioned drug*

These same women who protested the advertising of rootbeer with out any alcohol of any sorts, were chugging at least a bottle or two of this stuff a day. You could even say the temperance movement was one that drank behind its back. Very hypocratic indeed...

So, i'll present a list from the book:

Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable compound 20.6% Alcohol (by volume)
Paine's Celery Compound 21.0%
Dr. William's Vegetable Jaundice Bitters 18.5%
Whiskol, "a non-intoxicating stimulant" 28.2%
Colden's Liquid Beef Tonic
"Reccomended for treating the alcohol habit 26.5%
Ayer's Sarsaparilla 26.2%
Thayer's Compound Extract of Sarsaparilla 21.5%
Hood's Sarsaparilla 18.8%
Allen's Sarsaparilla 13.5%
Dana's Sarsaparilla 13.5%
Brown's Sarsaparilla 13.5%
Peruna 28.5%
Vinol, Wine of Cod-Liver Oil 18.8%
Dr. Peter's Kuriko 14%
Carter's Physical Extract 22.0%
Hooker's Wigwam Tonic 20.7%
Hoofland's German Tonic 29.3%
Howe's Arabian Tonic, "Not a Rum Drink" 13.2%
Jackson's Golden Seal Tonic 19.6%
Meensman's Peptonized Beef Tonic 16.5%
Parker's Tonic "Purely Vegetable" 41.6%
Schekck's Seaweed Tonic "Entirely Harmless" 19.5%
Baxter's Mandrake Bitters 16.5%
Boker's Stomach Bitters 42.6%
Burdock Blood Bitters 25.5%
Greene's Nervura 17.2%
Hartshorn's Bitters 22.2%
Hoofland's German Bitters "Entirely Vegetable" 25.6%
Hop Bitters 12.0%
Hostetter's Stomach Bitters 44.3%
Kaufman's Sulphur Bitters "Contains No Alcohol"
As a matter of fact, it contains 20.5 percent
alcohol and no sulphur at all 20.5%
Puritana 22.0%
Richardson's Concentrated Sherry Wine Bitters 47.5%
Warner's Safe Tonic Bitters 35.7%
Warren's Bilious Bitters 21.5%
Faith Whitcomb's Nerve Bitters 20.3%

So what these people assumed as safe or more wonderful than going to the doctor turned out to be nothing more than repackaged alcohol in dangerous levels. Imagining ingesting any of this garbage and expecting it to work. I can only assume people took the stuff because the alcohol did most of the work. Thanks to the muckrakers, this nation has increased since, its at tentativeness to watch out for dangerous products and to keep the people of this nation informed and safe.


Anonymous said...

The thing is, though, these people had no idea what they were drinking. The FDA was established because of all these drugs masquerading as cures- they didn't have ingredients lists. I guarantee that the guy who did the research found out the alcohol content by reproducing the original recipes, not by looking at the bottles because the bottles didn't say. Notice how many of these things say "vegetable" on them. That's because they were trying to lie about why they made you feel better. And quite honestly, they often were more safe than going to the doctor. Roald Dahl's father had no right arm because in his youth, he dislocated his shoulder, got a drunk doctor who thought it was broken and so they tried to "set the arm" by pulling it into place, therefore severing the tendons entirely. Also, temperance was not about corrupting children, it was about domestic abuse. It was legal to beat your wife throughout most of the 19th century, and the way women saw it, husbands generally beat their wives when drunk. If this was a perfect world, the temperance movement would have been effective, but of course, it was insane. But ignorance is not hypocritical and never will be. And you can't always group the free-speech liberals with the pro-choice liberals, because quite often they aren't the same.

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