This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Alcohol in the days of your ancestors

Our attitude towards the consumption of alcohol keeps changing with every generation. Fermented spirits, including wine and liquor, have been part of the human experience for thousands of years. Having alcohol on hand in a household in the days of your ancestors was always as common as we would have a bottle of aspirin today. And since our attitude towards alcohol has changed so much since the days of our ancestors, we find it funny, and even amazing, that the pilgrims, even the children, drank beer.

In my opinion, our ancestors were always a little bit stoned. In a world before the invention of pain medications, like aspirin, and modern dental practices, people were hurting. A lot. And a small dose of alcohol, while not a pain-killer per se, made them want to get on with their life.

Humans have always partaken of mind-altering drugs. When the altering effects are minimal, such as in caffeine, we just encourage only adults to take it, assuming their maturity will be all that is needed to avoid damage to themselves. Yes, caffeine is a drug, and I am taking some now - in coffee, but it is so commonplace that we rarely give it much thought. And in the days of our ancestors, it was the same with alcohol.

Sure, a lot of people have abused drugs - since the beginning of civilization. But it your great-great-great grandfather Hezikiah carried around a flask of whiskey while out plowing the north forty, you really shouldn't picture him with a lampshade on his head saying, *Woooo! Let's party!* But, like all drugs, there is a balance. A shot or two of whiskey helped Hezikiah with his rheumatism, but if he drank the whole flask, he would get drunk, pass out, and be unable to do the chores. And it did happen - as it still happens today.

If you read a book from the 1800s where someone is given a glass of brandy to help revive them, don't be surprised. A little bit of alcohol, for medicinal purposes, was common in the days of our ancestors. And mostly that's how they used it.


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