A Hasty Defence of the Farmers and Distillers of York County

Publication Year: 1833

A Hasty Defence of the Farmers & Distillers of York County, Against the Aspersions of Temperance Societies, etc. (York: Printed by W.C. Smyth, [1833]).
PHS Call number: PAM HV 5106 .P4 W6 1833

Reading suggestions

See especially pages 10-12, “Great Public Meeting in Opposition to Proscriptive Temperance Societies.”

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Source note

This document is a written account of a meeting that took place on November 12th, 1833. Attendees of the meeting are listed as being farmers and other citizens of York County, Pennsylvania, and the goal of the meeting was to respond to the accusations, demands, and actions of temperance societies. Henry Wolf is listed as chair of the meeting, and Jacob Welzshoffer (sometimes spelled “Welzhoffer”) as secretary. All of the attendees listed are men.

Historical Context:

At the time this document was written, Pennsylvania’s economy was largely based on agriculture, with unusually fertile land allowing cultivation of wheat, corn, rye, and other grain crops. Transporting grain from farms to cities was expensive and slow, but distilling these same crops into alcohol allowed for easier and cheaper shipping. The state’s alcohol industry thus brought large profits to farmers and also benefited distillers, tavern owners, and distributors of alcohol.

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Reading questions

1.    Based on the title of this source, do you predict that it is pro-temperance or anti-temperance?

2.    In the group’s third resolution (page 11), they claim that alcohol has other uses besides being consumed in beverages. What are these uses, and why are they important?

3.    The fourth resolution points out that temperance societies condemn consumption of whiskey and brandy, but allow the use of wine. Why, according to the writers, is this hypocritical? What does it say about temperance advocates?

4.    On pages 11 and 12, the group’s seventh and eighth resolutions take aim at the clergy’s involvement in temperance. What role, if any, do you think churches had in the Temperance Movement at this time? What direct action against pro-temperance clergy, merchants, and other businessmen does the group advocate?

5.    In the last resolution (page 12), the farmers and distillers outline the potential effects of the Temperance Movement. If temperance advocates have their way, what will these effects be?

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Source type
History Topics
19th Century Social Reform
Time Period
Slavery, Sectionalism, and Social Reform (1815-1861)