A Mirror for the Intemperate, ca. 1830

A primary source by Henry Bowen

“A mirror for the intemperate” broadside, Boston, ca. 1830 (Gilder Lehrman CThe temperance crusade against liquor consumption was a central element of reform movements of the antebellum period. It drew support from middle-class Protestants, skilled artisans, clerks, shopkeepers, free blacks, and Mormons, as well as many conservative clergy and some Southerners who were otherwise hostile to reform. This broadside, “A Mirror for the Intemperate,” reflects the movement’s concerns that alcohol consumption led to economic waste, polluted youth, crime, poverty, and domestic violence.

“A Mirror for the Intemperate,” printed in Boston, ca. 1830, features illustrations, poems, and extracts exemplifying the dangers of alcohol. One illustration features a barroom scene where a brawl has broken out. Another shows a “moderate drinker” being overtaken by a many-headed “hydra monster” representing alcohol. Each of the monster’s heads represents a type of liquor—brandy, rum, whiskey, and gin—and a lady temperance takes on the monster, killing it one head at a time.

The broadside also features an “Extract from the dying Declaration of Nicholas Fernandez, who, with nine others, were executed in front of Cadiz Harbor in December, 1829, for Piracy and Murder.” Fernandez blames his fate on “the habitual use of ardent spirits” and warns parents to teach their children “the fatal consequences of Intemperance.”


Parents into whose hands this my dying declaration may fall will perceive that I date the commencement of my departure from the paths of rectitude and virtue, from the moment when I become addicted to the habitual use of ardent spirits—and it is my sincere prayer that if they value the happiness of their children—if they desire their welfare here, and their eternal well being hereafter, that they early teach them the fatal consequences of Intemperance!

Questions for Discussion

You are seeing this page because you are not currently logged into our website. If you would like to access this page and you are not logged in, please login or register for a gilderlehrman.org account, and then visit the link that brought you to this notice. Thanks!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to get free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Add comment

Login or register to post comments