Gin: The Much Lamented Death of Madam Geneva - The Eighteenth Century Gin Craze

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Also, the presence of women in the movement—not a surprise. I think because any new movement or niche immediately attracted women, because of how many barriers existed in all the established niches. Yeah, Patrick Dillon pulls no punches when it comes to discussing the real problems that Gin caused.

Gin: The Much Lamented Death of Madam Geneva The Eighteenth Century Gin Craze

One famous case that was recounted time and time again involved a woman whose daughter had just been given some new clothing by a charitable soul. The woman and her friend, hammered on gin, took the girl into a field, stripped her bare, and tied her up, leaving her hidden in a ditch. The girl cried, so they returned and tied a rope round her neck, and tightened it a bed, supposedly to stop the crying from being so loud. The poor little girl of three years old, I think it was , was of course found dead — strangled by the rope — the next day. Though, as Dillon also points out, the upper classes were as likely to be constantly drunk too… just on nicer alcohols, on brandy punch and the like.

Gin production went up when gin was banned; alcohol prohibition in the USA was only really effectively true for the poor: Dillon mentions posh clubs buying big supplies in one case, big enough for a decade and a half! When it became law that soju be made with ethanol from industrial byproduct instead of from rice, as had been traditional. In both cases, creating a market dominated by unpleasurable, tasteless booze encouraged people to drink for drunkeness alone, not for pleasure. And, ultimately, because Prohibition is about social control, it creates many criminal niches.

Gin: The Much Lamented Death of Madam Geneva the Eighteenth Century Gin Craze

It might get more effective with advanced technologies or techniques, but this just forces criminals to get smarter. But so would coming to terms with the fact that human beings are frail, are easily fucked-up, are often inestimably hungry and prone to dependency. And that would, by common sense, force people to admit these things about themselves… including those who are addicted hopelessly to religion, to sex, to pornography, and the rest.

The advances made in places like Spain in recent years suggest what a sensible, logical, and more compassionate approach to dealing with this problem would look like. Should be fixed now….

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I would like to read more about the SA: what would you recommend? Hence the leniency on rich white drug addicts, for one thing.


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Gin was popularised in England following the accession of William of Orange in Gin provided an alternative to French brandy at a time of both political and religious conflict between Britain and France. Between and , the Government passed a range of legislation aimed at restricting brandy imports and encouraging gin production. Most importantly, the monopoly of the London Guild of Distillers was broken in , thereby opening up the market in gin distillation.

The production and consumption of English gin, which was then popular amongst politicians and even Queen Anne , was encouraged by the government.

This encouragement was shown in the reduced taxes on the distillation of spirits. Additionally, no licenses were needed to make spirits, so distillers of spirits could have smaller, more simple workshops than brewers, who were required to serve food and provide shelter for patrons.


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Economic protectionism was a major factor in beginning the Gin Craze; as the price of food dropped and income grew, consumers suddenly had the opportunity to spend excess funds on spirits. It is with the deepest concern your committee observe the strong Inclination of the inferior Sort of People to these destructive Liquors, and how surprisingly this Infection has spread within these few Years The British government tried a number of times to stop the flow of gin. The aim was to effectively prohibit the trade by making it economically unfeasible.

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Only two licences were ever taken out. The illegally distilled gin which was produced following the Act was less reliable and more likely to result in poisoning.

By , England was drinking 2. As consumption levels increased, an organised campaign for more effective legislation began to emerge, led by the Bishop of Sodor and Man , Thomas Wilson, who, in , had complained that gin produced a "drunken ungovernable set of people".


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  8. Prominent anti-gin campaigners included Henry Fielding whose "Enquiry into the Late Increase in Robbers" blamed gin consumption for both increased crime and increased ill health among children , Josiah Tucker , Daniel Defoe who had originally campaigned for the liberalisation of distilling, but later complained that drunken mothers were threatening to produce a "fine spindle-shanked generation" of children , and — briefly — William Hogarth.

    Hogarth's engraving Gin Lane is a well known image of the gin craze, and is often paired with " Beer Street ", creating a contrast between the miserable lives of gin drinkers and the healthy and enjoyable lives of beer drinkers. The Gin Craze began to diminish after the Gin Act Historians suggest that gin consumption was reduced not as a result of legislation but because of the rising cost of grain. Landowners could afford to abandon the production of gin, and this fact, coupled with population growth and a series of poor harvests, resulted in lower wages and increased food prices.

    The Gin Craze had mostly ended by