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Fourth of July: Our Founding Fathers Drank Three Times as Much as We Do

Ron Gerelli/Express/Getty Images

The Fourth of July holiday is one of the best holidays for drinking. It’s hot out there. And, beer is cold.

But, this tradition is not new. In fact, the people in colonial times drank three times as much booze as we do now.

Historians have pointed out that people back in the day didn’t binge drink. They weren’t playing beer pong or doing shots.

Instead, they enjoyed drinking all day long. Beer at breakfast. Why not?

Supposedly, right after the Constitution was ratified, consumption of alcohol increased for 40 years, hitting a peak of 7.1-gallons of pure alcohol per person per year in 1830.

By comparison, these days, Americans each drank an average of 2.3-gallons.

But before you go out there and try to catch up by polishing off a fifth of Jagermeister, keep in mind that early Americans had either no access to clean water, or a water supply that was contaminated. They had to drink alcohol because that was the only liquid they could be sure was safe. In other words, they drank to stay hydrated, as silly as that sounds now.

One forefather, Dr. Benjamin Rush was the first to acknowledge a problem with all this heavy drinking.

Rush “cautioned against the then-common use of spiritous liquors to guard against the effects of heat or cold, or to relieve the effects of fatigue,” wrote the researcher Brian S. Katcher in the American Journal of Public Health in 1993. One of his major scientific contributions was describing alcoholism as a progressive disease, Bustard said. And “he was one of the first people, certainly in this country, to propose some sort of place where the drinker could go away to get sober.”

What’s wrong with a beer at breakfast? Or a little splash of something-something in your morning coffee? Oh… There IS something wrong with that?

Next: The Amway Family Fireworks are This Saturday in Downtown Grand Rapids

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