Shaping the Circle

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EXHIBIT: Cultural Conflict and Acculturation

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Athenaeum Turners in decorated room
Athenaeum Turners in decorated room photo, ca. 1910.

men having toast
Athenaeum, Photo of men having toast.

TEMPERANCE

One of the most pronounced conflicts between the German in Indianapolis and his Yankee neighbors was over the liquor question. Beer and wine had always been part and parcel of everyday German culture, and a social get-together for Gemütlichkeit (having a good time) without the clicking of glasses or steins was simply unthinkable. Immigrants from New England and those of the community who were members of churches with a strict Calvinistic or Wesleyan background did not share this carefree disposition of their German neighbors. Although the rise of the temperance movement was comparatively recent in Indianapolis, the movement had made strong inroads. . . . This temperance movement, which advocated complete abstinence from any intoxicating liquor, became stronger, and just as their exponents were increasing, the Germans were coming to Indianapolis in large numbers, and they became involved in the conflict.

The campaign of 1854 had prohibition as one of the issues. The Democrats took a stand against it, and the great majority of the Germans followed them. But the Democrats had been foolish enough to attack the clergy, and they were badly beaten. By 1855 the first prohibition law of the state was passed. The law prohibited the manufacture, keeping for sale, or selling of any intoxicating liquor, except that cider and wine could be made from domestic fruits. . . . [In 1859, however,] the Supreme Court declared [the law] unconstitutional.

 


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Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB
Comments: speccoll@iupui.edu
URL: http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/special/digproj/circle/exhibit5_2.html

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