The Union Temperance Song Book

Boston: Isaac Tompkins. 1843. First. The Union Temperance Song Book. A Collection of Songs for Picnics & Temperance Meetings.  Prefaced by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Temperance Union, Gardner B. Perry writes: "This new collection of Temperance Hymns and Songs is published under the sanction of the Mass. Temperance Union. Every successive year strengthens our conviction of the important aid rendered to our cause through the medium of proper music. Hearts are often reached this way, which all other influences have failed..."  First edition with woodcut vignettes, and 50 temperance hymns and songs, 1843.  80 pages. 12mo, amateur contemporary limp calf decorated in blind, sewn spine; title and first leaf margins chipped with loss, several other margin tears, mild spotting and significant foxing. 
4.4 x 6.25 inches (11.2 x 15.9 cm.).

During an American era so fervently charged with activism, Temperance was by far the largest reform movement from the early to mid 1800s.  Advocates for this rampant campaign against alcoholic drinks ranged from members of the church to militant feminists, from freethinkers to fundamentalists, from the wealthy to the poor.  In 1826, adherents to the cause founded the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance, its purpose being to urge people to sign a pledge of abstinence. The Society soon became a pressure group that lobbied for state-level prohibition legislation.  By 1834 over one million people had signed the pledge, and roughly 5,000 state and local temperance societies had formed in America, corresponding with the social, economic and political turmoil in the years following the end of the Revolutionary War.  The movement's message was directed to people of all ages and hundreds of thousands of children joined the movement, enlisting in what was called the "Cold Water Army."  Many Temperance unions and groups employed the use of 'songbooks' and hymns, with the hope of sustaining public commitment to alcoholic abstinence through temperance songs at rallies, meetings, churches, and at home.


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