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Old 04-10-2011, 06:41 PM
 
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What was the drinking age in early america after the ratification of the US constitution.Just wondering.Thanks in advance
-Westerntraveler
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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I think it varied by gender. For boys, as soon as their fathers thought it was OK for them to drink. For girls/women, never. Boys who were emancipated, I think, were pretty much allowed to do anything that men could do.

According to this source, before Prohibition the drinking laws were either unknown of nonexistent in nearly all states.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._hi...e_age_by_state

It is ironic that "1984" was the year Big Brother required that every state raise the drinking age to higher than almost every other country in the world.

Last edited by jtur88; 04-10-2011 at 06:58 PM..
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:46 PM
 
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i see thanks
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Old 04-10-2011, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Dublin, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
I think it varied by gender. For boys, as soon as their fathers thought it was OK for them to drink. For girls/women, never. Boys who were emancipated, I think, were pretty much allowed to do anything that men could do.

According to this source, before Prohibition the drinking laws were either unknown of nonexistent in nearly all states.

U.S. history of alcohol minimum purchase age by state - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is ironic that "1984" was the year Big Brother required that every state raise the drinking age to higher than almost every other country in the world.
Funny. In California, the drinking age, at least as far back as I can remember, was always 21. I remember joining the Marine Corps at 17 and going to North Carolina. Drinking age there was 18 and what a time we had. When I got back to California, I had to wait 6 months, until I turned 21, to legally drink again
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:58 PM
 
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With water often contaminated, and widespread milk sickness, the most common everyday drink would be weak cider and "small beer."
From wikipedia (i know it can be a flawed source, but this sounds right)
Low-alcohol beer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In more mediterranean countries, watered down wine was common.

There are several books on drinking in the early American republic, including The Alcoholic Republic

The Alcoholic Republic: An American ... - Google Books
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:04 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil306 View Post
Funny. In California, the drinking age, at least as far back as I can remember, was always 21. I remember joining the Marine Corps at 17 and going to North Carolina. Drinking age there was 18 and what a time we had. When I got back to California, I had to wait 6 months, until I turned 21, to legally drink again
California's drinking age has been 21 since Prohibition ended. I think Nevada's was 21 since the end of Prohibition. Arizona, OTOH, used to have a drinking age of 19.
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Old 04-11-2011, 08:02 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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In Wisconsin, the beer age had always been 18, as the state was unwilling to militate against potential sales for its biggest industry. Three towns, Hurley, Hudson, and Lake Geneva, on the state lines, became notorious drinking towns, of considerable disrepute, as binge trips into Wisconsin were highly propitious attractions to drinkers subject to more rigorous drinking laws in the border states. Hurley was a particularly rowdy example of the wild west, as dozens of beer joints lined Main Street to serve the miners, who could walk over from Ironwood, Michigan and escape rigid enforcement of that state's drinking laws.\

It was a strong incentive for boys to apply for their draft cards as soon as they were 18, because presentation of a draft card entitled them to drink and/or buy beer.

As an aside, there was also a brisk flow in the other direction of scofflaws, as Wisconsin prohibited housewives from buying colored margarine, when that product was a new and attractive substitute for Wisconsin's protected butter. Margarine outlets were lined up on the Illinois border like casinos on the Nevada line. Margarine could be sold in Wisconsin, but only uncolored, which looked like lard, and mothers would go to Illinois and buy case lots of it, to fill requests from their friends and neighbors, to bring some back for them. Fireworks, too, which were also banned in Wisconsin. Iowa had gambling punch-boards, too, which were attractive to interstate travelers. State lines were exotic places of commerce in those days. The Missouri state line still does a booming business in cigarettes from people in higher-taxed Illinois.
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:59 AM
 
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There are only three states that had age restrictions on purchase of alcohol prior to prohibition. Georgia (of all places) was 21 as of the late 1800's. Washington state specified "age of majority" which would have been 18 since 1877. Wisconsin established the age of 18 for wine and liquor, but had no restrictions on beer beginning in 1839. In 1866 the law was changed to 21 for all alcohol.

It is of interest that the U.S. Consitution in no way specifies an actual drinking age. In fact alcohol isn't even mentioned outside of Prohibition and its repeal. The 21 year old drinking age is simply a federal mandate tied to highway funding, the individual states specify their own ages.

As others have said, immediately following the Revolution there really weren't such things as laws governing the sale of alcohol. It would have been individual family decisions and chances are most children would have been served either watered down wine or light beer with their family meals like was done in Europe.
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Old 04-11-2011, 12:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goliadh View Post
With water often contaminated, and widespread milk sickness, the most common everyday drink would be weak cider and "small beer."
From wikipedia (i know it can be a flawed source, but this sounds right)
Low-alcohol beer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In more mediterranean countries, watered down wine was common.

There are several books on drinking in the early American republic, including The Alcoholic Republic

The Alcoholic Republic: An American ... - Google Books
This is actually correct, for the most part. Another reason for serving weak beer, ale, cider, or wine was because fermentation was the most reliable way to preserve the harvest of fruits, berries, and some 'herbs'. In the winter months, when fresh produce was unavailable, this was a way to ensure your children were still receiving the nutritional benefits of those foods. Given that researchers are now discovering the medical benefits of moderate amounts of wine and beer, maybe those old folks knew more than we give them credit for.
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Old 04-11-2011, 01:17 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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As mentioned, everyone drank small-beer until sanitary water practices and packaged drinks (f.e. Coca-Cola) became widespread.

Even during the Prohibition, kids tried to get a hold of the strong stuff, though.
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