Ellen G. White & Charles C. Peavey

Temperance Singers sang hymns in front of saloons to aid the Temperance Movement

In colonial America, informal social control in the home and community helped maintain the expectation that the abuse of alcohol was unacceptable. Alcohol abuse was treated with rapid and sometimes severe punishment. Following the Revolutionary War, the new nation experienced cataclysmic social, political, and economic changes that affected every segment of the new society. Social control over alcohol abuse declined, anti-drunkenness ordinances were relaxed and alcohol problems increased dramatically.

In 1784, one of the foremost physicians of the period, Dr. Benjamin Rush, argued that the excessive use of alcohol was injurious to physical and psychological health (he believed in moderation rather than prohibition). Probably because of this influence, about 200 farmers in Connecticut formed a temperance association in 1789. Others were formed in Virginia in 1800 and New York in 1808. By the end of the decade there organizations in eight states.

The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and within 10 years it claimed more that 8,000 local groups with over 1,500,000 members. Churches began to promote temperance. Between 1830 and 1840 the Temperance Society became the Abstinence Society claiming the best way to prevent drunkenness was to eliminate the consumption of alcohol. With the passage of time other groups were formed such as the Sons of Temperance, Anti-Saloon League, the National Prohibition Party and others. A couple of prominent voices of the time were Lucy Webb Hayes (wife of President Rutheford B. Hayes) and Susan B. Anthony. Temperance singers sang hymns in front of saloons and bars to aid the Temperance Movement. The famous evangelist Billy Sunday staged a mock funeral for John Barleycorn and then preached on the benefits of prohibition.

The citizens of Battle Creek, Michigan supported the efforts of temperance of the Battle Creek Reform Club, which included six hundred members, and the Womens Christian Temperance Union, which included two hundred and sixty members. Ellen White states: "God, Christ, Holy Spirit and the Bible were familiar words with these earnest workers. Much good had already been accomplished".

Mayor Austin, W.H. Skinner (cashier of the First National Bank) and Charles C. Peavey, along with others, planned a temperance meeting to be held on July 1, 1877 in Battle Creek, Michigan. They secured a massive tent and invited Ellen G. White (founder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church) to speak.

Ellen White states: "By invitation of the Committee of arrangements, Mayor Austin, W.H. Skinner (cashier of the First National Bank) and C.C. Peavey, I spoke in the mammoth tent Sunday evening July 1, upon the subject of Christian temerance. ...Although I spoke ninety minutes, the crowd of fully five thousand persons listened in almost breathless silence."

Many Peavey descendants from most all lines took part in the Temperance Movement. Dominant participants were: James Peva, Rev. Jacob Peavey, Rev Harry Marcellus Peavey, all in Maine; along with Circuit rider Evangelists John Langdon Peavey in New York and Mahlon Davis Peavey Wisconsin.

Sources for Temperance Movement