Temperance movement cartoon: The Drunkard’s Progress, 1826

Numerous reform movements to improve society sprang up in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. The temperance movement attracted reformers who identified excessive drinking as the principal cause of domestic violence, poverty, and the general breakdown of morality. This broadside by John W. Barber, "The Drunkard’s Progress, or the Direct Road to Poverty, Wretchedness & Ruin," was published in 1826 to be displayed in homes, shops, and public spaces to remind people about the dangers of drinking.

Inspired by the cautionary engravings "A Harlot’s Progress" and "A Rake’s Progress" by the English artist William Hogarth (1697–1764), "The Drunkard’s Progress" shows four scenes of an alcoholic’s path to ruin: "The Morning Dram," "The Grog Shop," "The Confirmed Drunkard," and "Concluding Scene." Each scene is paired with a Bible verse and a description of the damage accompanying escalating levels of vice, from "The Beginning of Sorrow, Neglect of Business" through "Poverty, Wretchedness, . . . Beggary, Pauperism, Death" as the home is auctioned off and the family is driven to the alms house.

A pdf of the print is available here.