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"Only dead fish swim the stream" stephen graham " - Whytee

Spirits of America Review

  • Date Submitted: 02/07/2013 01:07 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.8 
  • Words: 4073
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As I read this book it became apparent immediately that drinking really was an American pastime. Alcohol was ever present in the individuals and the family’s daily rituals, fully embedded in everyday life. Strong spirits were believed to have profound effects that were beneficial to the individual on many levels. It also held specific social connotations; having a presence in schools, courtrooms (which I find to be really odd) and ultimately having influence on judgment, fairness and objectivity. The reason given or used to validate and promote this behavior was alcohols ability to focus the mind on the business at hand.
Alcohol was used interchangeably with money early on. Fines were made in the form of whiskey and individuals were often paid in the form of Whiskey also, especially in the early days of our country. One quarter of an individual’s income was spent on the purchase of alcohol and to fuel the fires of consumption it was believed that alcohol was medicinal in a cornucopia of ways this concept dating back to the ancient Greeks. Yet the life sustaining fluid water was seen to have no value for consumption and was considered to be the drink of pigs and cows and horses, this is attributed to the fact that the water sources were not healthy. Yet this is the one fluid we cannot live without a very ironic note on the beliefs of the individual of the time and the social precedent which can be set with a collective perspective.
The clergy drank believing drunkenness equaled divine visitation and settlers who were steeped in insecurity and fear of the unknown used it to cope and the Native Americans eventually began using alcohol in many of the same ways. Whiskey brought a boon of economic benefits garnering more profit than the raw products of the fields. It was easy to transport, easy to store and it had a longer “shelf life” than other products which could be affected by moisture and exposure over time.
Then there was the Whiskey Rebellion, which was...


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