10 Outrageous Claims Made By The Temperance Movement

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10 Ingredients Included Hemlock And Cockroaches

The written word was a powerful tool for the Temperance movement. Books, pamphlets, and posters all informed the public of the dangers of alcohol. The contents of alcohol were a popular target. The movement had the word of doctors that it was made with various poisonous substances, like hemlock, tobacco, nux vomica, and opium.

These renowned doctors were quoted as saying that alcohol was as poisonous and dangerous as opium and arsenic and had much the same effects on the body. The Temperance movement also pointed fingers specifically at Madeira wine as a prime example of alcohol made from something rather distasteful. Madeira wine was known specifically for its nutty taste, and that was said to come from the bag of cockroaches that was dissolved in every batch. Supposedly, a Pennsylvania winemaker had admitted to the movement what the wine’s secret ingredient was.

9 Drunk People Spontaneously Combust

As far back as before the Civil War, the Temperance movement was adamant about the lasting effects of alcohol on the body. Not the least of these was the flammable properties of the liquid. They preached that those who made a habit of drinking too much would find themselves swimming in alcohol, until it was simply too much for their bodies to handle. They would then, of course, undergo spontaneous combustion.

Once the flammable, alcoholic fumes began leaking out of the skin, any nearby heat source would cause their blood to burn. In fact, physicians were quoted about performing experiments in which they lit alcohol-laden blood on fire and watched it burn until it was all but gone. Doctors were also said to have removed the brains of men who had drank themselves to death, lit them on fire, and watched as they burned like oil lamps.

8 Alcohol Causes Crime Against White People

One of the most vocal supporters of the Prohibition movement was the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1920s, the second incarnation of the KKK added Catholics and immigrants to the groups of individuals on their racist hate list. Since alcohol was important in the cultures of a number of different immigrant groups, it made sense for the KKK to take a stand against it. To that end, the KKK preached that minorities who drank would be even more likely to commit crimes against the law-abiding white man—specifically, they claimed that drunk black men were inevitably going to rape white women.

Bootleggers were common targets for the KKK and it wasn’t unheard of for them to be tarred and feathered as punishment. In fact, the KKK manifesto suggested punishments for those who drank or produced alcohol, including exile to the Aleutian Islands, execution of themselves and their offspring to the fourth generation, and being hung by the tongue from a plane and flown across the countryside. Interestingly, the KKK also preached strong anti-feminist attitudes, but their stance on Prohibition made them so popular with women at the time that the male-only organization soon sprouted a women’s league, the Women of the KKK.

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