Temperance Images from the 1800s

by Darcy O'Neil on December 2012

The temperance movement most likely started shortly after alcohol was first consumed. Chronic alcohol consumption is a bad thing, and during the 1800s it was out of control in many places. To paraphrase Newton's third law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Where there was a drinking problem, the Temperance Leagues intervened. Unlike the glossy TV shows of today, like "Intervention", the 1800s was a time of print graphics. The artists were no less talented than today and they did create some very compelling illustrations. One of my favourites is called Woman's Holy War, but all of the graphics below are impressive, whether you agree with their message or not.

Don't forget to check out these great Temperance illustrations from the 1800s, some of the first drinking and driving illustrations and some patent medicine illustrations from the late 1800s, early 1900s.

Temperance Images from the 1800s

Woman's holy war. Grand charge on the enemy's works

The "Holy War" was the nineteenth-century crusade for temperance and prohibition, whose advocates were mostly women. Here a young woman in armor on a horse leads the destruction of alcohol. [1874]

Temperance Images from the 1800s

King Alcohol

King Alcohol and skeleton standing on barrels of alcoholic beverages, moderate drinkers, drunkards and their graves. [1820-1880?]

Temperance Images from the 1800s

Bar of destruction 1874

Skeleton bartender serving rum to the patrons. [1874]

Temperance Images from the 1800s

Alcohol death is a British temperance image.

Drawing shows a macabre Medusa with a skeletal head, dressed in a tunic, holding aloft a goblet of wine and exhorting a crowd of people. Behind her stands a devil who joins in the exhortation. [Between 1830 & 1840]