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Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause: Southern White Evangelicals and the Prohibition Movement

by Joe L. Coker

Availablecloth$70.00x 978-0-8131-2471-1
Religion in the South
344 pages  Pubdate: 12/14/2007  6 x 9  

The temperance movement first appeared in America in the 1820s as an outgrowth of the same evangelical fervor that fostered a wide range of reform campaigns and benevolence societies. Like many of these movements, temperance was confined primarily to the northeastern United States during the antebellum period. Viewed with suspicion by Southerners because of its close connection to the antislavery movement, prohibition sentiment remained relatively weak in the antebellum South. In the decades following the Civil War, however, southern evangelicals embraced the movement with unprecedented fervor, and by 1915, liquor had been officially banned from the region as a result of their efforts. Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause examines how southern evangelical men and women transformed a Yankee moral reform movement into an ideology that was compatible with southern culture and values.

"The Temperance Movement was one of the great American ecumenical events, linking Protestants North and South, liberal and conservative and bridging divisions as deep as the Civil War. With insight and sensitivity, Joe Coker traces the Southern Temperance Crusade, a movement grounded in piety, equality and social responsibility. Excellent research that takes us beyond myths and caricatures." --Bill J. Leonard, Dean and Professor of Church History Wake Forest University Div

"Engagingly written and carefully researched, this study entices readers to explore how and why southern evangelicals abandoned their aversion to prohibition and became the movement's most zealous advocates. Coker's tale is stunningly contemporary; his well-crafted argument helps explain why the religious right became such a powerful political force in the South in the later 20th century. And along the way, we meet in fresh ways the familiar themes of race, gender, honor, and the nature of the church. It's 'must reading' for anyone interested in Southern religion and culture." --Charles H. Lippy, LeRoy A. Martin Distingushed Professor of Religious Studies, U

"This book tells a fascinating story of how prohibition became the moral reform issue that brought evangelical Protestantism to a central position in the South's public culture in the early twentieth century. The author carefully shows how advocates for prohibition adapted to southern culture a reform movement that had begun in New England and was long suspect in the South. This study is highly original in helping scholars understand the interplay between religion and culture in the American South. Its historical insight cast considerable light on how later conservative evangelical reform efforts, from antievolution laws in the 1920s to the moral agenda of the Christian Right, achieved success." --Charles Reagan Wilson, Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Chair of History and Professor of Sou

"In his impressively researched, well argued, and original monograph, Joe L. Coker tells us much that we had not known about how southern white evangelicals became teetotalers and prohibitionists such as the internal evangelical conflict about the 'spiritual' church entering the vulgar world of politics and the recasting of the southern value of honor." --David M. Fahey, author of Temperance and Racism: John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the

"Coker's book is a clear, thoroughly researched, and innovative study that helps us understand the intertwining of religion, politics, segregation, and racism in a way that has eluded most historians. Coker manages to tell a complex story in a clear and compelling fashion that helps us understand both the strengths and weaknesses of a cultural Protestantism that lent its moral certainty to a politics of purity and danger that linked sobriety with white supremacy." --Donald G. Mathews, Professor Emeritus of History, University of North Carolina a

"As thorough, careful, searching, and well-researched an examination of the rise and eventual triumph of the temperance and Prohibition movement in the South as exists in the scholarly literature. Coker shows how a social reform movement of distinctly Yankee origins became part of southern cultural and religious life, to the extent that southern states led the way toward national Prohibition in the early twentieth century. . . . A standout book in southern and religious history." --Paul Harvey, author of Freedom's Coming

"Coker’s work is based on a study of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Nevertheless, he believes that these states were generally representative of the region and his conclusions widely applicable. This will quite likely be tested by future historians, but for now it is a valuable contribution to understanding the post-Civil War South, religion, reform, and prohibition."--Choice

"Coker has written a lively, absorbing book that is clearly written and well researched. This text is a fine starting point for anyone who wishes to understand the history of the southern prohibition movement and its most ardent supporters, white evangelical Protestants."--American Historical Review

"[Coker] successfully argues that the apparent ideological inconsistency was instead a triumph of southern culture, evangelical religion, and, ultimately, racism."--West Virginia History

"Coker’s study is fascinating, and the conflict he describes resonates today in debates about other moral issues. He as an excellent understanding of both New South and Lost Cause motifs in southern history."--Baptist History and Heritage

"All should welcome this more complex view of white southern evangelicals and their relationship to southern society."--American Studies

"Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause will appeal to historians of evangelicalism, prohibition movements, and the fin de siecle South."--Alabama Review

"Coker’s study of evangelicals and Southern prohibition will appeal to scholars and students of Southern history. Students of American religious history may find Coker’s claim that prohibition, and not evolution, is the starting point to modern political evangelism in American to be a notion worthy of a closer look."--The Historian

"Coker achieves the noteworthy end of making prohibition a compelling subject not only for specialists, but also for anyone interested in the American South or Protestant social reform."--Church History

"Coker’s book . . . he makes a compelling case for the role of the church in fashioning the South’s prohibition movement."--Louisiana History