Moonshiners and Prohibitionists: The Battle over Alcohol in Southern Appalachia

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Homemade liquor has played a prominent role in the Appalachian economy for nearly two centuries. The region endured profound transformations during the extreme prohibition movements of the nineteenth century, when the manufacturing and sale of alcohol — an integral part of daily life for many Appalachians — was banned.

In Moonshiners and Prohibitionists: The Battle over Alcohol in Southern Appalachia, Bruce E. Stewart chronicles the social tensions that accompanied the region's early transition from a rural to an urban-industrial economy. Stewart analyzes the dynamic relationship of the bootleggers and opponents of liquor sales in western North Carolina, as well as conflict driven by social and economic development that manifested in political discord. Stewart also explores the life of the moonshiner and the many myths that developed around hillbilly stereotypes.

A welcome addition to the New Directions in Southern History series, Moonshiners and Prohibitionists addresses major economic, social, and cultural questions that are essential to the understanding of Appalachian history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Stewart uses the alcohol debate in southern Appalachia to add fresh insights into the understanding of southern history and expand the breadth of alcohol studies research."— Choice" —

"Stewart offers readers a unique perspective on the consequences of Appalachia's political, economic, and social transformation during the 19th century and its impact on the communities and residents of western North Carolina."—Appalachian Journal" —

"Though many historians have emphasized the role that outsiders played in developing popular Appalachian stereotypes, Stewart reveals that early anti-liquor crusaders in the region's towns contributed their share as well."— West Virginia History" —

"Stewart tracks important shifts in popular sentiment, politics, and laws about making and drinking alcohol from the early 1800s to the early 1900s."—Now and Then" —

"The author contends that distillers played a vital economic role in the isolated mountain communities. It was this geographical isolation that made moonshining profitable...Stewart does a fine job of telling his story."— The North Carolina Historical Review" —

"This insightful book is certain to serve as a model for future studies on the antiliquor movement."— The Journal of American History" —

"A fresh and insightful study that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the Appalachian South, the antebellum and post-bellum temperance movements, and the wider South. This fascinating work will certainly generate lively discussions."— Journal of East Tennessee History" —

"In this masterly study Bruce E. Stewart explains a facet of the antiliquor crusade that scholars have ignored, namely, the changing perception people had of alcohol distillers: from manufacturers of a legitimate product to impediments to economic and social progress."— Journal of American History" —

"Sheds light on a region and a topic that have been egregiously under-examined. Regional studies such as his offer a more nuanced understanding of the historical liquor question in modern America."— American Historical Review" —

"Perhaps the greatest achievement of Moonshiners and Prohibitionists is that it wrestles with the topic of moonshine as a serious academic subject." — Gastronomica" —

" Moonshiners and Prohibitionists is a much-needed contribution to our understanding of the complex social, economic, religious, and cultural issues underlying the prohibition impulse that swept the South between 1880 and 1920." — Journal of Southern History" —

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813130002
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Series: New Directions in Southern History Series
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 1,470,871
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce E Stewart is assistant professor of history at Appalachian State University. He lives in Boone, North Carolina.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Introduction 1

Part I The Beginnings of Antialcohol Reform, 1790-1860

1 "This Country Improves in Cultivation, Wickedness, Mills, and Still": Distilling and Drinking during the Antebellum Period 9

2 Select Men of Sober and Industrious Habits: Alcohol Reform and Social Conflict during the Late Antebellum Period 31

Part II The Golden Age of Moonshining, 1861-1876

3 "Is There Any Way to Get at the Distillers?" The Fall and Rise of the Moonshiners, 1861-1868 63

4 "They Tax Us and Give Us Negro Civil Rights": Moonshiner Violence and the Politics of Federal Liquor Taxation, 1868-1876 87

Part III The Road to Prohibition, 1870-1908

5 Civilization Requires Prohibition: The Beginning of the End for the Moonshiners, 1870-1882 117

6 "These Big-Boned, Semi-Barbarian People": Creation of the Myth of Violent Appalachia and Its Consequences, 1878-1890 149

7 "Afloat on the Tide of Improvement": The Uplift Movement and Rise of Prohibition Sentiment in Rural Communities, 1885-1900 171

8 "Wilt Thou Send the Revenues Down upon the Distillers": A Political History of Prohibition, 1882-1908 189

Conclusion 215

Notes 221

Bibliography 283

Index 315

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