Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition

By Norman H. Clark | Go to book overview

5
Protest
and Reform

describing the transition toward urban complexities, Robert H. Wiebe, in The Search For Order, 1877-1920 ( 1967) called the United States of the nineteenth century "a society of island communities," each one secure in the confidence that it could "manage the lives of its members." Each was also confident in "the belief among its members that the community had such power." This confidence rose from the values and expectations which followed easily from the intimate, face-toface relationships among groups and individuals, and it failed during the 1880s and 1890s. In a society of tightly connected industries and cities, according to Wiebe, the very processes of industrialization and urbanization so altered the circumstances of work, family, and community that the vital relationships became alarmingly distant and impersonal. The old cohesions began to slip. And with the increasingly blatant challenges to pietist values, the slippage became vastly threatening to the middle class. These people, then, in their enduring "search for order," shaped a new basis for functional stability in what Wiebe calls "bureaucratization"—the linkage of groups and individuals into associations, agencies, and voluntary organizations for social action, which, through a centralization of impersonal authority, might impose what they regarded as the absolutely essential expectations of social discipline.

Looking closer, Wiebe distinguished between at least two articulate responses to disorder in the half century after Reconstruction. The first, protest, he sees as the reaction of confused and often frightened people who felt an impending

-68-

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Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Indulgences and Disciplines 1
  • 2 - The Cup of Woe 14
  • 3 - Moral Stewardship and Social Disorder 25
  • 4 - Counterculture 45
  • 5 - Protest and Reform 68
  • 6 - A League of Pietists 92
  • 7 - Tables of Law 118
  • 8 - Resistance and Social Change 140
  • 9 - Repeal Politics 181
  • 10 - Legacies of Prohibition 209
  • Acknowledgments and Sources 227
  • Index 237
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