Lesson 6 Document 10
The Moral Thermometer from Benjamin Rush's An
Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors on the Human Body and the Mind.
Boston: Thomas and Andrews, 1790.
Rush first published his Inquiry as a newspaper article in 1784. Its
anti-alcohol message was hugely popular, and the book, in various editions, sold
more than 170,000 copies by 1850. According to Rush, "A people corrupted with
strong drink cannot long be a free people." He hoped to start a temperance
movement so that by the 20th century " a drunkard…will be as infamous in society
as a liar or a thief, and the use of spirits as uncommon in families as a drink
made of a solution of arsenic or a decoction of hemlock."