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Today's Fun Historical Fact, Week 2

My research for the new series continues....

From Carl Bridenbaugh's exhaustive (and, at times, exhausting) urban study, Cities In Revolt: Urban Life in America, 1743-1776 (Oxford University Press, 1971) comes this tidbit:

According to Bridenbaugh, "The tavern was the most flourishing of all urban institutions" in the mid-eighteenth century. New York had more taverns and public houses than any other colonial city, reaching a high of 334 in 1752 [roughly one tavern for every 45 people in the city], but that doesn't mean that the other cities didn't engage in their fair share of drinking. In fact, in 1752, the colony of Pennsylvania imported 526,700 gallons of rum and distilled 80,000 more, "and most of this was consumed in or near the city [of Philadelphia]." A generous estimate of Philadelphia's population at the time would come in at around 20,000 people, and even if we assume that only half that rum remained in the city, that puts the annual consumption at about 15 gallons for every man, woman, and child. That's a lot of daiquiris....


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 18th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
I think you're right. And it's surprising, really. I mean, if writers can't appreciate or grasp that level of alcohol consumption, who can...?
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 18th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
You have a point. That said, this is a product of the times and of where in the country said teacher was from. In the late 70s I went to France with a high school teacher and a group of students (from my school in NY) and we had wine and there was no problem at all.
Nov. 18th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
Yes! It was in this era that Samuel Johnson famously opined "There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn."

Then again, he also said of the colonists "Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging." :P
Nov. 18th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking he was pretty much spot on on both accounts....
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Australia, Ghost Gum
David B. Coe

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