This weekend we are gearing up for another 4th of July celebration. A day we celebrate the birth of our nation and the signing of a little known document called, The Declaration of Independence! As American’s we pride ourselves on the history of our nation. We celebrate our independence with fireworks, barbecues, beach days, baseball games, parades, sparklers, bonfires, friends, family, picnics, and last but not least alcohol!
When you think of our founding fathers you don’t typically hear about their drinking habits and how alcohol played a significant role in the establishment of our freedom from England or how alcohol was a major part of the lives of our American Fathers. When you consider your 4th of July plans for this weekend, you might want to let history repeat itself and do as our founding fathers did, get a little tipsy!
Drinking alcohol was part of the colonial culture, they consumed more alcohol than any other era throughout history. It was common behavior to be publicly drunk while still in control. However, Complete intoxication was still frowned upon! Most colonials would drink beer or cider with breakfast and whiskey, punch, or wine throughout the day. Water was considered unhealthy and only the poorest of towns people would consume this dreadful beverage. Our founding patriots were no different, and lead the trend on alcohol consumption in America. Here is a breakdown of some of the most influential and drunk persons of history:
We all know George was the commander-in-chief of the continental army, and the first president of the United States. What the history books generally don’t focus on is his love for wine, cider, and dark porter beers. Washington was known for suppling his troops with rum and whiskey during the war. He made sure that his soldiers were provided with alcohol even before his officers. What a great guy!
His love for booze didn’t stop there, he built a whiskey distillery on his property at Mount Vernon, which later became the biggest distributor of spirits in the United States; proving to be and one of his most successful business ventures. Washington was often seen tipsy or “merry” at his social gatherings. He enjoyed entertaining his guests with barrels of his finest home brewed beers and whiskey. This guy knew how to have a good time!
Thomas Jefferson was famous for drafting the Declaration of Independence. It is said that he drafted this document in three short days! What you won’t find in most history books is he drafted The Declaration of Independence from a table at his favorite tavern where he drank his most coveted beverage, wine. His drink of choice was a fine Portuguese wine called Madeira. Madeira ranges in flavor from a dry wine to a very sweet wine. This was a popular wine of the colonial times and was often the “go to” beverage on long voyages across sea due to its long shelf life and ability to withstand high temperatures. It was shipped to the states in droves and enjoyed in large quantities among the villages.
Elegant Thomas was famous for his over the top dinner parties. Guests knew they would be served the finest foods and a never ending stream of wine and whiskey. Jefferson loved his booze so much he built his very own winery and brewery at his estate, Monticello. He had the most prestigious fully stocked wine cellar, and was sure to never run low on wine! Partying with Jefferson was all class in a glass!
We are all guilty of using the term “John Hancock” when referring to our signatures. This coined term stems from the largest and most memorable signature on the Declaration of Independence. Johnny went above and beyond the call of duty when signing his name on the document, siting it was in effort to assist the near-blind King of England. Historians speculate that maybe John Hancock was just a little bit sauced when he signed his name! See, John had a fine love for beer and hard cider. He built himself a reputation throughout New England and was often see drinking himself into an oblivion at his favorite Boston brew houses.
John Hancock was a successful business man with a degree from Harvard. He used his influence and his money to smuggle booze into the country and sell it at discounted rates throughout the colonies. He was well known for his Anti-British drunken rants and the term, “Hancock Drank Here” was coined from his stationary position at a barstool. Everyone in New England shared a pint or ten with Hancock!
Discovering electricity and inventing the first pair of bifocal glasses may be Ben Franklin's claim to fame, however his love of booze, wine and beer should be duly noted. Franklin was quoted many times reciting poetry in regards to his love of alcohol. He was so fond of getting twisted, he once said, “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” He couldn’t be more accurate! Much like Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin had a passion for Madeira. He began drinking this cultured wine at the ripe age of 19 and reportedly housed over 1000 bottles of this liquid gold in his personal collection. That a boy Ben!
The moral of this story is our founding father’s we're a lot like us. They knew how to have a good time with friends, celebrate the moments in life worth remembering, and weren’t afraid to get a little sideways when drafting monumental documentation that ultimately shaped our country into what it is today. So, this 4th of July holiday let loose, celebrate the birth of our country like a true patriot! Cheers and Stay Safe!