Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bovina and Prohibition

A quick blog entry commemorating the Ken Burns/Kim Novick Film 'Prohibition.'  As noted in tonight's film, the first serious effort to impose the prohibition of the sale of alcohol was in the 1840s.  In the spring of 1846, all 856 New York towns voted whether or not to ban the sale of alcohol - over 80% of them voted "no license," meaning that the sale of alcohol would be illegal.  Bovina's vote on May 19, 1846 was to ban the sale, with 85 votes for no license against only 25 for license. 

This temperance effort did not last long.  Liquor dealers in 1847 won approval from the state legislature for a second vote.  More than half of the towns that voted 'dry' in 1846 opted to go 'wet' a year later.  Bovina's 1847 vote, though much closer than in the previous year, was still for 'no-license.'  Here's the inspector of elections statement at the end of a series of tally sheets showing that Bovina voted no license in a close tally - 83 for no license, 72 to allow the sale of alcohol (with one blank ballot). 
The state legislature later that year repealed the option law, reinstating state regulation of the sale of alcohol and taking the choice away from the towns and cities.  By January 1848, Bovina was again issuing licenses to retail 'strong and spirituous liquors,' such as this one below to Alexander Kinmouth.
Note:  In my May 10, 2010 blog entry about Bovina and the sale of alcohol, I reported on the 1847 vote, but I had the year wrong.  I had it as 1841, not 1847.

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