A Look Back at alcohol

legally sold. 

To some, “temperance” means moderation in the use of alcohol; to others, it means total abstinence. 

As readers are certainly aware, it was only at the time of the 2016 presidential election that authorization was given by the voters to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in Hartselle. Throughout the 20th century, such sales were illegal. 

In the earliest days of the community, the 1870s, there were numerous saloons. 

Here are some of the most important activists with respect to alcoholic beverage policy in years gone by:

  • Ephraim Kirby, who was born in the middle of the 18th century, came from Connecticut to settle in Alabama at Fort Stoddert on the Alabama River. He was the author of a pledge that affirmed that the person who signed it would never drink alcohol. He established the first temperance society in the new United States.
  • John Gayle (Sept. 11, 1792, to July 21, 1859) lived in Mobile. He was a Whig, an anti-nullification man, a Presbyterian and, most importantly, a strict prohibitionist.
  • Hardy Foster (May 29, 1792, to Aug. 18, 1848) was born at Foster’s in Tuscaloosa County. In 1848 he became a leader in the first temperance movement in Alabama, joining the “Grant’s Creek” Division No. 106 of the Sons of Temperance.
  • Benjamin Alexander Glass (Oct. 24, 1796, to Oct. 20, 1864), a resident of Selma, was unfavorable to secret orders. He affiliated with none except the Sons of Temperance. 
  • John Joseph Reid was a lawyer born March 16, 1814. He lived in Uniontown and was a leader in the movement for temperance. 
  • Robert Flournoy (May 6, 1826, to Oct. 26, 1896) lived in the small community of Brickyard. A planter and mill man, he was a local preacher in the Methodist church and a pioneer of the temperance movement in Alabama.
  • Frank Hawthorn (Sept. 20, 1835, to Feb. 24, 1876), a physician and a native of Conecuh County, wrote the journal article titled, “Alcohol: Its Action in Health and Disease.”
  • James Benjamin Greene, born Feb. 18, 1861, in Russell (now Lee) County was at one time president of the Alabama Anti-Saloon League, one of the state’s most powerful interest groups.
  • John Green, who lived from March 8, 1790 to July 7, 1882, having been born in the community of Burnt Corn, was a prominent member of the Sons of Temperance.
  • At the time of  William Harris’s (June 6, 1848 to Dec. 26, 1891) death, he was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery. He was an ardent prohibitionist.
  • Benjamin Powell Hunt was a lawyer and editor, born Sept. 3, 1849. He came to Huntsville in February 1883. As a newspaper editor, he was influential in the abolition of the 17 Huntsville saloons then operating.
  • James Hugh Blair Hall was born Sept. 22, 1855, at Hall’s Ferry. He was an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, a Democrat and a Prohibitionist.
  • Charles W. Hare, a publisher and editor, was born at Fatima, near Camden, Wilcox County, Sept. 20, 1857. A biographer, writing when Mr. Hare was still living, noted that, “He has been a consistent advocate of prohibition.”
  • Ira Hobbs was a temperance candidate for the State Legislature in 1868 but was defeated.
  • Richmond Pearson Hobson (born Aug. 17, 1870, in Greensboro) wrote, “The Great Destroyer: Alcohol,” published in 1911.
  • B. B. Comer, governor of Alabama, 1907-1911, persuaded the legislature to pass what came to be referred as the bone-dry law, since it forbade the legal sale of liquor anywhere in the state. During the succeeding administration of Gov. Emmet O’Neal, who opposed such legislation, the bone-dry and other highly restrictive liquor laws were repealed. However, another bone-dry law was passed during the administration of Gov. Thomas Kilby (1919-1923). When Gov. Kilby was mayor of Anniston, he got his city council to abolish bucket shops and vote out saloons under the state local option law. Of course, when the 18th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, the sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited nationwide.

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