Type of Document Dissertation Author Willis, Lee L. URN etd-04072006-133821 Title The Road to Prohibition: Religion and Political Culture in Middle Florida, 1821-1920 Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Elna C. Green Committee Chair Albrecht Koschnik Committee Member John Corrigan Committee Member Neil Jumonville Committee Member Suzanne Sinke Committee Member Keywords
- Political Culture
Date of Defense 2006-03-27 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis dissertation examines southern political culture and reform through the evolving temperance and prohibition movement in Middle Florida. Though scholars have long held that liquor reform was largely a northern and mid-Atlantic phenomenon before the Civil War, a close look at this plantation belt region reveals that the campaign against alcohol had a dramatic impact on public life as early as the 1840s. White racial fears inspired antebellum prohibition for slaves and free blacks. More stringent licensing shut down grog shops that had been the haunts of common and poor whites, which accelerated gentrification and stratified public drinking along class lines.
Therefore the campaign against alcohol had intended and unintended consequences. Incidents of drunken violence decreased over time, but so did democratic access to political discourse that had characterized territorial public drinking. By the early twentieth century, most of the state had passed local option prohibition laws and gone dry county by county. In 1916, Florida became the only state to elect a Prohibition Party candidate for governor, Sidney J. Catts. One year later, voters mandated statewide prohibition in advance of the Eighteenth Amendment.
Race and gender mores also shaped and were shaped by the temperance movement. Restricting blacks’ access to alcohol was a theme that ran through the temperance and prohibition campaigns in Florida, but more affluent African-Americans also supported prohibition, indicating that the issue was not solely driven by white desires for social control. Women in the plantation belt played a marginal role in comparison to other locales and were denied greater political influence as a result. Limited female involvement in reform helps explain why woman suffrage lacked support in the state. Though Florida complied with the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, the state legislature did not ratify the measure until 1969.
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