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In Their Own Words

December 04, 1744

Weather and Alcohol Problems Recorded

In his journal entry for this day, Georgia president William Stephens turned to some common troubles for colonial Georgians, the unpredictable weather and the prevalence of alcohol:

“… [T]he great Vicissitude of Weather for several days past, may deserve a little notice: One while hard Rain, with Thunder (uncommon) Lightning &c, during 24 hours with the Wind at East, which Shifting to the N.W. produced hard frost of the like continuance, then returning again to its former point, more rain followed, and so alternately in Extreams, which has made great havock among those Vegetables that were propagating in our Gardens… [N]ow and then we hear of one being Seised with an American Distemper called the Dry Gripes, which very few die of, tho some are Severely dealt with in it… . Many Causes are assigned for this Distemper among the learned; but (perhaps for want of knowing better) I encline to think with those who attribute it to the excessive use of Rum… .”

Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1743-1745 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), pp. 176-177.