Cover image for Taverns and drinking in early America
Taverns and drinking in early America
Salinger, Sharon V. (Sharon Vineberg)
Publication Information:
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xi, 309 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Dutch and English origins : for the "Receiving and refreshment of travaillers and strangers" -- Inside the tavern : "Knots of men rightly sorted" -- Preventing drunkenness and keeping good order in the seventeenth century : "A herd of planters on the ground/O'er-whelmed with Punch, dead drunk we found" -- Eighteenth-century legislation and prosecution : "Lest a flood of rum do overwhelm all good order among us" -- Licensing criteria and law in the eighteenth century : "Sobriety, honesty and discretion in the ... masters of such houses" -- Too many taverns? : "Little better than nurseries of vice and debauchery" -- The tavern degenerate : "Rendezvous of the very dreggs of the people."
Electronic Access:
Table of contents

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E162 .S23 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Sharon V. Salinger's Taverns and Drinking in Early America supplies the first study of public houses and drinking throughout the mainland British colonies. At a time when drinking water supposedly endangered one's health, colonists of every rank, age, race, and gender drank often and in quantity, and so taverns became arenas for political debate, business transactions, and small-town gossip sessions. Salinger explores the similarities and differences in the roles of drinking and tavern sociability in small towns, cities, and the countryside; in Anglican, Quaker, and Puritan communities; and in four geographic regions. Challenging the prevailing view that taverns tended to break down class and gender differences, Salinger persuasively argues they did not signal social change so much as buttress custom and encourage exclusion.

Author Notes

Sharon V. Salinger is chair of the Department of History at the University of California, Riverside

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Salinger (Univ. of California, Riverside) shifts the spotlight from the usual focus on 19th-century US saloons to those in the Colonial period. Employing an admirably sustained comparative approach throughout, she in turn surveys Dutch and English origins, English social customs and law and its legacy, changing ministerial views of inebriation, 17th- and 18th-century tavern life and laws, and Colonial statutes on prohibition, court records, and punishments for excessive drinking. Salinger also explores distinctions between rural and town taverns and the class character of patrons, elite and plebian, in each venue. She does not neglect regional variations, such as those between sectarian and nonsectarian Colonies and between North-South views of drink as manifested in laws, prosecutions, and punishments. Salinger looks at Indian and interracial drinking and the function of taverns as sites of male sociability and places where gambling, cockfighting, and card playing were common. One would have liked greater attention given to taverns as intrinsic to plebian and popular culture and their importance to a daily-lived process. But even with this limitation, Salinger renders a fuller understanding of quotidian existence than we have had before in this conscientious, meticulously researched, and balanced monograph offering both record and interpretation. Graduate students and faculty. M. Cantor University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Dutch and English Origins: For the "receiving and refreshment of travaillers and strangers"p. 8
2 Inside the Tavern: "Knots of Men Rightly Sorted"p. 48
3 Preventing Drunkenness and Keeping Good Order in the Seventeenth Century: "A Herd of Planters on the ground/O'er-whelmed with Punch, dead drunk we found"p. 83
4 Eighteenth-Century Legislation and Prosecution: "Lest a Flood of Rum do Overwhelm all good Order among us"p. 121
5 Licensing Criteria and Law in the Eighteenth Century: "Sobriety, honesty and discretion in the... masters of such houses"p. 151
6 Too Many Taverns?: "Little better than Nurseries of Vice and Debauchery"p. 182
7 The Tavern Degenerate: "Rendezvous of the very Dreggs of the People"p. 210
Conclusionp. 241
Notesp. 247
Indexp. 305