Temperance Cockades 1840-1860

Prior to the 19th century, drunkards were often considered hopeless addicts. And heavy alcohol consumption was considered standard behavior by many. That began to change in the early 1800s.

America was a new nation still fighting for legitimacy in the first decade of the 1800s. But once peace was established with European nations, Americans could turn their thoughts homeward and consider improving themselves.

Many of America's reform movements began in the 19th century. Temperance was no exception. Reformers and preachers began to weigh in against the sin of drunkenness and for the first time, people began to seriously consider helping alcholics beat their addiction.

Enter the Temperance Movement.

Temperance Fraternities

One of the earliest Temperance societies was the Washingtonian Society, formed by six alcoholics who decided to meet together for mutual encouragement to avoid strong drink. Their format of regular meetings to share stories and encouragement actually foreshadowed the modern Alcoholics Anonymous program.

The Washingtonians grew and their impact was huge, becoming one of the largest movements in America. Men would lecture around the country telling their own stories about what life is like when abusing alcohol, challenging their audiences to take the abstinence pledge. By 1841 Washingtonians claimed over 200,000 members, and by 1842 they had over one million. (US total population in 1842 was only 17 million)

Their success encouraged other Temperance societies such as the Sons of Temperance (and the spin-off Daughters of Temperance). These societies required their members to sign a pledge of abstinence and they worked hard to make more converts. The clubs were also fraternal in nature, meaning that they often provided health insurance and burial costs for members, as well as care for widows (assuming the member had "stayed clean!"). Newly joined addicts who had taken the pledge to abstain were often helped to find jobs and housing. Temperance fraternities were a safety net as well as a reform movement.

Son of Temperance, holding the society's
pledge and wearing the regalia with cockade.
Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

Spreading the Movement

The cause of Temperance quickly grew and became popular throughout the country, North to South and East to West. Even in California, Temperance groups existed in the 1840s.

Though the modern stereotype of white Southerners often makes them out to be alcohol abusers, a case can be made that the movement was even stronger in the South than the North. For instance, slave states members made up 44% of the Sons of Temperance in 1850 - but note that the Sons did not admit African Americans, and the South only represented 32% of the nation's total white population.

As the movement grew, Temperance societies began to link their abstinence idealogy to religion. Unlike the Washingtonians who purposely had no religious dogma, later societies often tied a person's spirituality to their commitment to Temperance. Further, radicals in the Temperance movement began to call for Prohibition, a complete outlawing of liquor in the country.

Not only was the "gospel" of Temperance preached, it was also written. T.S. Arthur **(editor and publisher of Arther's Home Magazine) wrote a widely read book called Ten Nights in a Barroom and What I Saw There. Other authors followed suit with books, pamphlets and cartoons illustrating the evils of alcoholism.

So what happened?

The Temperance movement's first wave withered with the advent of the Civil War. The issue of slavery became more important to reformers and Temperance was given a back seat, not to be revived until the 1870s. It would be this second wave that eventually realized the goal of complete Prohibition.

Temperance Cockades

Naturally what got me interested in this fascinating episode of history was the cockades! One of my customers suggested I research the topic of Temperance rosettes. I had no idea that my research would end up answering a question I long held about one of my own photographs! I had been puzzled by this beautiful photo of a couple in regalia. After comparing the many descriptions of Temperance cockades and collars, I've come to realize that they are most likely wearing Sons and Daughters of Temperance regalia. Mystery solved!

Many of the Temperance societies had their own regalia and almost all pre-1860 societies included cockades of some sort.  Here are some examples from various society rule books.

"The members of this Association shall furnish, at their own expense, a small white silk rosette, with a blue centre, of a fixed and uniform size..."
United Brothers of Temperance, 1847

"The regalia for a member of the National Division shall be a blue velvet collar, with a rosette of red, blue and white; gold button in the centre of rosette; two gold tassels suspended from rosette..."
Journal of the Proceedings of the National Division of the Sons of Temperance, 1844

"The Independent Order of Rechabites appeared in full regalia, preceded by an excellent band of musicians. Their regalia was a white satin collar, with a rosette of white, blue and scarlet ribbon, where it united in front."
Journal of the American Temperance Union 1840s

You'll notice a common color scheme - red, white and blue cockades. A quick look at Temperance posters from the era show many of the cockades had tassels. Though they were generally worn on a special collar, at least one poster shows a lady simply wearing the cockade on her breast.

Need A Temperance Cockade?

Naturally I couldn't fail to offer my customers cockades for such a worthy cause!

If you need a Temperance cockade, or a cockade for any other worthy cause, purchase below or contact me directly for a custom order!

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