Title Image The Temperance Pledge - Thrace Talmon. The Red Bridge: A Temperance Story. New York: National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1878. 
The frontispiece illustration shows a repentant drunkard taking the pledge publicly.


The temperance pledge came in many forms. It was always a promise to be temperate in drinking, but sometimes alcoholic beverages were allowed for medicinal purposes or on special days such as In Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Laurie makes a temperance pledge at Meg’s urging, to which Jo drinks a lemonade toast.the 4th of July (a popular drinking holiday). There was even a special women’s pledge promising not to use alcohol in cooking. People signed individual and group pledges swearing never to drink again, but it is clear that the pledge was sometimes made fairly casually – especially by politicians hoping to win dry votes. Personal pledges might be hung on the wall as a sign of pride or as a reminder to keep the promise.


Jane E. Stebbins. Fifty Years History of the Temperance Cause. Hartford: L. Stebbins, 1874.

American Temperance Union Pledge

We whose names are hereunto annexed, believing that the use of intoxicating liquor, as a beverage, is not only needless, but hurtful to the social, civil, and religious interests of men: that it tends to form intemperate appetites and habits, and that while it is continued, the evils of intemperance can never be done away: do therefore agree that we will not use it or traffic in it: that we will not provide it as an article of entertainment or for persons in our employment: and that in all suitable ways, we will discountenance the use of it throughout the community.


Philadelphia Female Total Abstinence Society Pledge

Believing that the use of all intoxicating liquors both as a beverage, and when mingled with food is injurious to the body and the mind, and that the great prevalence of Intemperance in our Country calls upon mothers and daughters to renounce the use of whatever maintains the evil, the Members of this Society do agree entirely to abstain from all intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and also not to use them unnecessarily in domestic cookery, or traffic in them, and that in all suitable ways they will discountenance their use in the community.


Pennsylvania Catholic Total Abstinence Society Pledge

I promise to abstain from ALL intoxicating drinks, except used medicinally and by order of a medical man, and to discountenance the cause and practice of intemperance.


Pledge for Children

I do hereby pledge myself to abstain entirely and forever from the use of all intoxicating liquor as a drink.


Pledge of the Pennsylvania Society for Discouraging the Use of Ardent Spirits

The subscribers, duly impressed with a sense of the numerous physical and moral evils arising from intemperance, do hereby mutually pledge themselves to abstain from the use of ardent spirits, except as a medicine prescribed by a competent physician; recognizing WATER, as the legitimate and most salutary drink for all men; and viewing drunkenness, whether resulting from the use of ardent spirits, fermented or vinous liquors, as equally reprehensible, and subjecting any signer of this pledge to expulsion from this Association.

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