Last Updated 26 Apr 2017

Gin Act DBQ

Category Acts
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In eighteenth-century England, the English saw a huge rise in the popularity and sale of Gin. Gin slowly (from 1701 to 1751) gained much favor over beer and peeked in 1741 out consuming beer times six (Doc. 1). As Gin sales started to take over the sale of beer, the government saw this as an opportunity to make taxes and restraints on the sale of Gin to benefit the government. As this persisted, The Gin Act of 1751 was instated. This act is one way that the government made sure that Gin sale did not get out of hand.

Although in the preamble of the Gin Act of 1751 it states that Parliament assembled, ever attentive to the preservation and health of your Majesty’s subjects, I believe that Parliament had a more financial goal rather than health goal. As these restraints and taxes were brought upon people who produced Gin, there were mixed feelings on how these restraints would affect the community and the common welfare of the people. Citizens used many aspects of society to gain ground behind their opinions on the restrictions on the sale of Gin.

Many citizens were in fact for the restraints because of the occupation they worked, the religion they belonged to, or the position they held in government. Other citizens felt the exact opposite. Many felt that the restrictions of Gin sale were not just and would not allow for citizens “relief or support of nature” (Doc. 8). Others were pushing towards a more neutral view on if Gin was bad or good. This type of people was indirectly affected by the sale of Gin but wanted to have their opinions stated.

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Amongst the many motives that citizens had to favor the restrictions on Gin, one was to better the common welfare of the people. William Hogarth showed so perfectly, in his work Gin Lane that he believes that Gin degrades the people which degrade the city. In his painting of Gin Lane, he shows how much people don’t care about their city and their fellow neighbors. He shows this through the many buildings falling apart and many drunken people. He is showing how much Gin is ruining the city and the people (Doc. 11).

William Hogarth then shows through the painting of Beer Street how much better of an idea to slow the consumption of Gin and up the consumption of beer would be. It depicts a calm very clean and orderly city. Although drinking and enjoying themselves, all the citizens of the city are all cohesive and working their job as they should (Doc. 12). People were worried since the production of Gin has gone up significantly and that the price has gone down that drunkenness would become the characteristic of the people.

Meaning all the poor would get drunk and corrupt the city life and generations to come because of the low Gin price (Doc. 13). Since a majority of people in England worked long and hard weeks, gin was considered harmful because people would work so many hours that when the weekend would come, they would come drink glass after glass until they were cursing at each other and quarreling and making a scene (Doc 3). gin lowered people's morals and made their behavior more atrocious as well as destroying some of the Kings men which was not attractive to the common person (Doc 7).

It was once stated in a speech at Parliament that “Gin not only infatuates the mind but poisons the body; it not only fills our streets with madness and our prisons with criminals”. This just shows how much people believe that Gin is to blame for vagabonds on the streets and criminals. These people are worried about their well being and want to support restrictions on the sale of Gin. Some citizens approved and supported the sale of Gin in England. England at that time had already gone through the Agriculture Revolution.

The new technologies brought by the Revolution had tripled England's wheat supply and had forced the sale and demand of wheat to plummet. People supported gin because it could help them as well as their government by providing relief from the over production of wheat. This remedy would in turn produce more demand and improve sales (Doc 1). Even England's climate aided in the sale of gin. Englishmen and women at that time worked very long hours either in their home or working for another family.

When it came time for the weekend, gin was considered a relief or an out to people’s problems. Since England's weather was often foggy, cold, and damp, gin would relieve people from their hardships (Doc 8). William Pulteney is a great example of someone who needed Gin sales to go up because it depended on his finances. Pulteney was a landowner who probably had wheat on the land; therefore he obviously was against the restrictions and for the sale of Gin because if Gin sellers didn’t want his wheat anymore because beer took Gin over, he would be kicked off his land (Doc. 4).

Many people saw how easy government put these taxes on Gin, so why couldn’t they do the same to property. People felt very violated after this (Doc. 5). Grain was distilled to make Gin and Daniel Defoe felt that this was a great way to support Gin and to gain from it too (Doc. 2). There was also a neutral side of people who really didn’t care if Gin was good or bad but they were indirectly affected by it and demanded a say. On one account, John Wesley, a Methodist who believes that drunkenness is a means of removal from religious society, therefore is strongly against the mass sale of Gin.

This is just one example of how Gin indirectly affected a religious man. Another person who could get stuck in the crossfire is someone in a government position. A member of parliament who is always worried about the King and if he is pleased, is obviously against the restrictions but in a different way. This member of parliament is mainly only worried about the King and really has not correlation to Gin except in the pocket book. In eighteenth century England, government was attempting to restrict the sale of Gin throughout England.

Many people did not want Gin and were for restriction on Gin either because of how it reflected on the city or how it affected someone’s job. Others strongly though that Gin was helping the economy and was keeping wheat owners in business. There was also a part of people who took a more neutral stand on weather Gin was good or bad. Although many opinions on this topic, all were centered on the way the person lived and their position in society.

Gin Act DBQ essay

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