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In Their Own Words

April 23, 1742

Ban on Alcohol Difficult to Enforce

William Stephens’ journal entry for this date clearly shows the trouble he and other colonial officials are having in enforcing the Trustees’ ban on alcohol in the Georgia:

“The Flag being hoisted as annually on St. Georges Day, and most of the people assembled at Noon, expecting to drink the Kings health, wherein I observed a better Concurrence and good temper towards one another (as I thought) than appeared for a while past; to Cherish that Humour, and promote Unity, if possible, by any way that I could contribute to it, I ventured to order a Couple of Gallons of Wine for that purpose, and 5 Guns to be fired; tho’ the smallest estimate for rejoicing days would hardly allow it. And I was glad to see them all go off well pleased. The President and Assistants met in the afternoon, and pursuant to their Instructions from the Trust, made choice of 4 persons whom they thought best qualified to keep Publick [sic] houses, and which were thought enough. At the same time they received a Strickt [sic] Charge, how it was expected they should behave, in not suffering the common people to debauch themselves, or keep irregular hours, which if they failed to observe they must expect to be suppress’d. And upon being farther Told, that ‘twould lay much in their power, to put a stop to all that illegal and Scandalous practice of selling Liquors and Spirits in private Corners, by giving information against such, which also would be to their own benefit, they promised to give a helping hand to it. And tis to be wished we may see it.”

Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1741-1743 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), pp. 68-69.