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ID 14837
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The roles and functions of taverns in colonial America
creator
NDC
General history of North America
abstract
There have been many scholars who wrote books and research papers on the temperance movement. Starting early in the 19th century, the primary object of this movement was to reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages by means of the so-called "moral suasion." The movement, however, came to assume a severe, extreame tone in the latter half of the 19th century, becoming the prohibition movement. In the prohibition movement at the turn of the 20th century, which tried to make manufacture and sale of liquors illegal by legislation, saloons were regarded as a prime target to be expelled from the American soil.

But as Madelon Powers suggests in his Faces along the Bar : Lore and Order in the Workingman's Saloon, 1870-1920, if the saloons were viewed from "the other side, the working-class drinkers' side," they were entitled to be reevaluated as an indispensable place for many people, especially immigrant workers. This point of view could be applied to a drinking place in the colonical period: a tavern.

In many history books on the American colonial life, taverns have often been portrayed as a "community center" like a meetinghouse. There is, however, almost no explanation of why and how they were so important for the colonists. The purpose of this paper is to examine the roles and functions of taverns in order to clarify the meaning of the "community center."

Colonial taverns were not only the places for drinking and lodging. They were also the places for entertainment to local people. Those who gathered at a tavern enjoyed themselves with dancing, singing, and watching such performances as "bear baiting", "cockfighting", "human boxing" as well as drinking and chatting.

Taverns functioned as a courtroom. Colonial governments dispatched a judge of the country court from one town to another, more specifically, from one tarvern to another. The judge held courts at the tarvern where he stayed, because there were no other suitable places. Tarverns also functioned as information and business centers. Notices of town-meetings, of elections, of new laws and ordinances, of auctions, and of business transactions were posted therein.

As time went on and a peaceful adjustment of the grievances of the colonies became impossible, and war clouds hung dark and low, tarverns were the "hot beds of sedition". It was in a tavern that various groups of "patoriots" such as the Sons of Liberty held their meetings. It was there that some radical colonists secretly assembled and went out to attack British ships. It was there that recruting officers had their headquarters. It was there that town's arms were secreted.

Thus throughout the colonical period, taverns had been the place where people could come together to discuss freely how to build up "the civil community". In this meeting those who visited there were not only "customers" but also "comrades".
journal title
Memoirs of the Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University. I, Studies in area culture
volume
Volume 29
start page
69
end page
96
date of issued
2003
publisher
広島大学総合科学部
issn
0385-1451
ncid
SelfDOI
language
jpn
nii type
Departmental Bulletin Paper
HU type
Departmental Bulletin Papers
DCMI type
text
format
application/pdf
text version
publisher
department
Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences
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