'Distilled death and liquid damnation' : the temperance movement in Aberdeen, Scotland, 1830-1845
This dissertation will examine the temperance movement in Aberdeen, Scotland, from 1830 to 1845. The main focus will be on the members of the temperance societies; specially, it will highlight their place of birth, age, occupation, religion, political affiliation, whether they were elected to civic office, and their participation in anti-slavery and Chartism. The analysis of these data will help to establish not only who these reformers were, but, more importantly, what motivated them. In addition, the rhetoric that temperance proponents (and their opponents) used to defend and forward their cause will be studied. The study proposes that no one general cause motivated these reformers, but several, and more significantly, that their motivations changed as the movement itself changed. This multicausal interpretation will allow three dominant themes to emerge as influencing reformers: religion, order, and self-improvement. It will further be demonstrated that during the period under consideration temperance in Aberdeen was not one uniform movement, but three distinct movements—anti-spirits, total abstinence, and fraternal. The majority of material for this work was found in the local newspapers. This is one of the strengths of the study, since most national studies have relied on the writings and speeches of the movement’s outspoken leaders, and have glossed over the important everyday support for and opposition to temperance as well as the everyday functioning of temperance organisations at the local level. The location chosen for study will support the modernisation view that temperance was most active in areas experiencing the rapid social changes of industrialisation and urbanisation. The work will also raise new questions about the religious explanation of temperance by examining the role that dissenting, Established, and Free churches played in the crusade. Finally, the study will explore the influence of politics, Chartism, and the anti-slavery movement on the city’s temperance reformers.