How would you feel if politicians debated with a toast and a drink in their hand? Though it would be hollered as suspicious and unprofessional today on CNN or Fox News, in colonial America, the tavern was the place for talking politics.
The often rambunctious tavern had many uniting qualities. It was the place for both locals and travelers to gather for a hard day’s night (cue the Beatles) with a sweet libation. It allowed the illiterate to be connected to the happenings and events of the day, as the educated read newspapers and pamphlets aloud. It even held meetings to discuss the newly imposed British taxes, “there was a meeting of the principal merchants concerned in the American trade, at the Kings Arm tavern in Cornhill, to consider of an address of his majesty of the beneficial repeal of the late Stamp-Act.” (Glorious News, London Gazette, 1776).
However, Alcohol’s corruptive nature cannot be dismissed. For example, Lord Cornbury, the royally appointed governor of New York and New Jersey in 1702, was infamous for his drunken and greedy personality. Though intoxicants served direct harm through corrupt politicians, it opened the eyes and minds of the public. They realized that the colonies served only to please the few royals and aristocrats of Britain, who could care less about them. Alcohol was a catalyst for revolutionary thought and change, but it served other purposes as well.
Alcohol was an essential aspect not only in the political and social life, but also in the economy. Rum was a corner of the Triangular Trade between Africa, the Caribbean, North America, and England. It provided an exchange for the terrible slave trade, that indubitable made the colonies rich and thriving. It also led to colonial smuggling, Britain noticing the colonies’ value, and the supply of rum in North America.
The culture of alcohol is so deep in our culture not only through the common person of the past or today, but through America’s Founding Fathers. No doubt all of them enjoyed a drink to relax. Samuel Adams had family brewery, and John Hancock smuggled.
This does justify or praise drinking, as its effects can be detrimental, but notes the important role it has in the United State’s History. Alcohol was and still is political, social, economical, and cultural. It not only affects the mind of a person at the moment of absorption but the minds and actions of people who are to come in the future.