Women were active in the temperance movement from the early 19th
century and became its driving force in the 1870s. Women often made
up significant portions of temperance organizations and formed all-female
organizations as well. Because women lacked financial autonomy, the
problem of male drunkenness was their problem. The temperance cause
was an arena in which women could resist vulnerability to their husbands
and lack of political and economic freedoms. Many important suffragists
got their start in the temperance movement, which became a "legitimate,"
domestic place for women to enter the public sphere. And, of course,
there was also the small but significant problem of female drunkenness.
A Swell Head. Hand-colored woodcut.
Philadelphia: circa 1860's.
A SWELL HEAD.
How could I ever think, to wed
A man who's always drunken;
Who really has so large a head,
It looks like a ripe pumpkin.
This illustrated comic valentine persuasively suggests that heavy drinkers will have trouble finding love.
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