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A Most Stirring and Significant Episode
Religion and the Rise and Fall of Prohibition in Black Atlanta,1865–1887
H. Paul Thompson, Jr.
H. Paul Thompson breaks new ground with A Most Stirring and Significant Episode. This excellent work offers a book-length study of African Americans in the nineteenth-century temperance movement, and is also a welcome contribution to the growing field of literature about temperance and prohibition in the southern United States. Focusing on the freedpeople of Atlanta, Thompson takes seriously the role that religion played in this community’s reform efforts.—Journal of Southern Religion
When Atlanta enacted prohib¬ition in 1885, it was the largest city in the United States to do so. A Most Stirring and Significant Episode examines the rise of temperance sentiment among freed African Americans that made this vote possible—as well as the forces that resulted in its 1887 reversal well before the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution created a national prohibition in 1919.
H. Paul Thompson, Jr.’s research also sheds light on the profoundly religious nature of African American involvement in the temperance movement. Contrary to the prevalent depiction of that movement as being one predominantly led by white, female activists like Carrie Nation, Thompson reveals here that African Americans were central to the rise of prohibition in the South during the 1880s. As such, A Most Stirring and Significant Episode offers a new take on the proliferation of prohibition and will not only speak to scholars of prohibition in the United States and beyond, but also to historians of religion and the African American experience.
H. Paul Thompson, Jr. is associate professor of history at North Greenville University. He is also president of the South Carolina Historical Association.
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