Alcohol vs. abstinence: The mule ruled

“The heyday of alcohol drinking began in the 1790s and lasted until the first prohibition efforts in Asheville in the 1830s — an effort backed by women and ministers alarmed by alcohol’s effect on work habits, church attendance and marriage.

“In the 1790s, Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury had just come to North Carolina to start the Great Awakening. He noted how liquor consumption led to excess and distracted from a different kind of spirit; but he could only be cautionary in this regard.

“Whiskey was not only considered a social amenity and a health-giving potion, but also an economic necessity in the mountains.

” ‘A mule could carry about four bushels of corn on the long journey to market,’ Bruce Stewart writes in his book, ‘Moonshiners and Prohibitionists.’ ‘After it was distilled into whiskey, however, a mule could haul the equivalent of twenty-four bushels of corn.’ “

— From “Eavesdropping on an Asheville committee in 1792” by Rob Neufeld in the Asheville Citizen-Times (April 1, 2013)

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