“This Country Improves in Cultivation, Wickedness, Mills, and Still”: <i>Distilling and Drinking during the Antebellum Period</i>

Bruce E. Stewart

in Moonshiners and Prohibitionists

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780813130002
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135670 | DOI:
“This Country Improves in Cultivation, Wickedness, Mills, and Still”: Distilling and Drinking during the Antebellum Period

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During the antebellum period, alcohol manufacturing was a thriving industry in Appalachian North Carolina and liquor distillers were well-respected members of a community that enjoyed drinking alcohol, especially at social gatherings such as militia musters and election days. Alcohol distilling was first introduced in the piedmont of North Carolina by Scots-Irish migrants who travelled from Pennsylvania down the Great Wagon Road during the early eighteenth century. Homemade whiskey, especially corn whiskey, became the most popular drink in western North Carolina because it was readily available and cheaper than wine or other alcoholic beverages. Like other antebellum Americans, western Carolinans subscribed to the notion that spiritiuous liquors were healthful and nutritious. As such, antebellum distillers saw themselves as entrepreneurs who were merely responding to the demands of the marketplace.

Keywords: North Carolina; antebellum period; homemade whiskey; alcohol distillation; Great Wagon Road

Chapter.  7230 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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