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How Alcohol Changed History

Alcohol has been the main factor in changing the course of history, more than once.

We all know what happens if drink a little more alcohol than we should and it’s quite common for people to say and do things that they normally wouldn’t do. Alcohol stops some people from thinking correctly but most of the time the consequences are not serious.

However, several major world events have happened simply because someone was under the influence of alcohol.

The Hanging Of Captain Kidd

In 1701, in London, Captain William Kidd was led to the gallows for murder and piracy. A large group of onlookers sang bawdy songs about the daring way the pirate had made himself rich. The executioner was so drunk that he was having difficulty in preparing his victim for execution and Captain Kidd was too drunk to stand up without support.

The rope snapped and Captain Kidd fell over. A second attempt at execution succeeded but the sheriff in charge was called to account for the drunken performance.


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Boston Tea Party

In 1773 in Boston, Massachusetts, 50 colonials and members of the Committee of Correspondence gathered together with the intention of destroying the tea cargo aboard three ships in the harbor as a protest against the tax levied by the British Government, on the American colonies.

One of the leaders of this group, Edes, made a huge bowl of strong punch to give them all the courage to go ahead with the plan. A few hours later the group was feeling happy, festive and very daring. They staggered to the wharf and, in their drunken state dumped chests of tea into the sea. This drunken episode set off the the American Revolution.

Lincoln’s Assassination

In 1865 John Wilkes Booth began drinking heavily at a bar in Washington. Later, after drinking for a few hours, he went to another bar and ordered a bottle of brandy. He then went on to a saloon next to Ford’s Theatre and drank whiskey.

Wilkes Booth returned to the same bar a few hours later when President Abraham Lincoln’s valet, his coachman and his bodyguard were drinking. A short time later while the bodyguard was still drinking, Booth went next door to the theatre and shot Lincoln. His partner in crime, George Atzerodt, was supposed to shoot Vice President Andrew Johnson but he was so drunk that he had to abandon the plan.

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Battle Of The Little Bighorn

There have been several conflicting stories about the Battle of the Little Bighorn and some of these centre on the amount of alcohol that had been suffered by officers and men before the battle.

It is known that Custer’s second in command, Major Reno, had a full half gallon barrel of whisky on the expedition. It is also thought that the 7th Cavalry troopers replenished the supply of whisky from a steamboat carrying cases of it. According to Indian veterans of this battle, canteens half full of whisky were found on the battlefield.


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