"The Temperance Movement in Monmouth, Illinois, 1857-1859"

In the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the Civil War the fortunes of the temperance movement in Monmouth, Illinois, generally followed national patterns. Nevertheless, the local movement was not without its interesting variations. Foremost, perhaps, in view of the way movies and television have made a folk hero of Wyatt Earp, is the story of how Monmouth temperance advocates ran Wyatt's father out of town. More important is the manner in which religious fervor and political ambition intertwined with this effort at social reform through prohibition. However, temperance cannot be understood properly in isolation. It was part of a general desire to change society for the better and must be seen in its relationship to women's rights, the abolition of slavery, and political reform. A look back at the history of temperance in Monmouth may help us to understand ways a democratic culture seeks to regulate the behavior of its citizens, how pressure groups organize, and why it is so difficult for reform movements to sustain the temporary successes they achieve.