It all began on board ships that were bringing the first Europeans to America back in the 1600s. Alcohol was a very popular drink and was considered a necessity. Water could not always be trusted to be safe. And when onboard a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for a long period of time, fresh water can run out quickly. Back in Colonial times, there were no refrigerators. In fact, electricity would not be invented for several hundred years. Milk would spoil very quickly. Tea and Coffee needed to be imported from Europe. Alcohol, however, could be easily made without a big hassle.
People considered alcohol to be very important. They felt that it prevented many diseases and could even cure them. Children were sometimes even given alcohol to drink. It was believed that giving children a small amount would prevent them from drinking heavily in the future.
Alcohol only became a problem when someone became drunk.
Colonists even used alcohol to gain land from drunken Indians. Indians had never been exposed to alcohol, and so they easily became drunk. Colonists would then take the Indian's land while the Indian was in no condition to fight, or even stop the Colonists. Because of this, the first prohibition laws were set up preventing the selling of liquor to Native Americans. These laws however were not obeyed and were very difficult to enforce.
Many other laws were set up which were aimed more at the drinker than at the seller. There were several different punishments for a person who became drunk. Some people received lectures from ministers. Some received fines. Others were whipped. Liquor however, not only helped the people, but it also helped the economy. It was a very profitable business in America.
During the Revolutionary War,