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Wooster Digital History Project

The Temperance Movement in Wooster


by Jacob Kowall

The American temperance movement lasted from the early nineteenth century up to the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.  Religiously and politically motivated, the movement was led by Protestant Anglo-American men and women who wanted to bring reform to the nation that they perceived as being in a state of moral decay.  Temperance efforts often focused on German, Irish, and Italian immigrants who came from countries where alcohol consumption was a part of culture and daily life.

The Temperance movement first gained momentum due to the efforts of late nineteenth century social reformers in Ohio.  The two leading groups of the movement, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League, both began in Ohio.  Seeing these nearby developments as an opportunity to enact social change, women in Wooster fought to end the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city altogether.  The efforts of proponents of temperance had a major effect on the liquor and beer industry of Wooster, though they ultimately failed in their goal of eradicating alcohol use from the city.