40 Historical Markers on the Road to Prohibition

Last Call. Simon & Schuster

39. Liquor Used to Be a Near Constant in American Life

The British were never slouches at drinking, but in 1839, British traveler Frederick Marryat marveled at American drinking habits in A Diary in America: “I am sure the Americans can fix nothing without a drink … If you meet, you drink; if you part, you drink; if you make acquaintance, you drink; if you close a bargain you drink; they quarrel in their drink, and they make it up with a drink.

They drink because it is hot; they drink because it is cold. If successful in elections, they drink and rejoice; if not, they drink and swear; they begin to drink early in the morning, they leave off late at night; they commence it early in life, and they continue it, until they soon drop into the grave”. Or as historian W. J. Rorabaugh put it: “Americans drank from the crack of dawn to the crack of dawn”.