Alcohol, by 900 A.D., was making its move from out of the religious arena into the political one. The old trick of getting your enemies drunk and then killing them was a much newer one then, and even the King of England (literally) fell for it.
This assassination by ale occurred in 946 A.D., after Edward the Elder was invited to a feast along with his friends in Gloucestershire.
The king and his company got drunk and could not defend themselves against their political enemies, and were murdered on the spot, thus affecting the entire future of British history.
By 1100, Italy had developed brandy from wine, giving political opponents even more to choose from.
During the 1200s, the process of alcohol distillation is translated by scientist Albert Magnus from technical to layman's terms, making large scale manufacture possible. As could be guessed, after this "recipe for the world" example, things really take off and there is no turning back.
We can see, then, that by the first millennium, human beings on this planet were already caught by the new vice of drugs and alcohol. They could squirm, but they were hooked.
The Magna Carta is signed in England in 1215. This important document includes a section that condones and encourages alcoholism by a clause that refers to what the proper size of beer-handles should be.
The forerunner of Budweiser beer gets its evil start in 1256: In Bohemia, the massive breweries at Budweiser are started up, and function under the direction of one man - not a radical scientist or priest - it is instead Ottokar II, the King of Bohemia himself.
In 1496, the government of England caves in and officially allows widespread use of alcohol, stipulating only that justices of the peace will have the authority to determine where alcoholic drinks could be sold. This marks the first British "licensing law," giving license, then, to the many forms of "demon rum," with minimum control.
Not to be outdone, the Scottish produce their first whiskey in 1500. Five years later, its production is placed under the jurisdiction of the Royal College of Surgeons; presumably, a college medical student in Scotland is at least as trustworthy as a justice of the peace in England.
Speaking of England again, it is not until 1606 that its government takes the bold step of declaring public intoxication to be a criminal offense (Luckily, Edward the Elder was already dead for 600 years, or they'd have to throw their own king in jail).
No wonder New Yorkers are historically such pains in the neck - their best town is named after a bunch of mean drunks. In 1609 explorer Henry Hudson (of Canada's Hudson's Bay fame) met a group of Delaware indians who were fishing on an island.
He lost no time in introducing them to gin, the future white man's firewater of choice. The island was subsequently named Manahachtanienk, which means, "place where we got drunk."
The island's name was later shortened to Manhattan, in New York City, where you can still do a bit of fishing - if the locals aren't already snapping at you.
In 1607, just one year after Britain finally outlawed public drunkenness, New World soil received its first distilled alcohol in the colony of Virginia.
Still destined to remain a British colony for another 170 years, in 1609 Virginia was already working on a revolution in brewing, as they advertised for workers in England who might like to lend their (600 year) expertise to the fledgling colony.
However, it was the colony of Massachusetts that beat Virginia to the dubious honor of having the first fully functioning brewery in the colonies, when one was built under the guidance of Captain Sedgewick in 1637.
Less than 350 years later, Massachusetts would be the site of the most famous beer-swillers in entertainment history on a TV show named after a popular British drinking expression: "Cheers."
England throws the bar doors wide open in 1688 by decreeing that anyone, after first paying a small tax for the privilege, may practice alcohol distillation. To complete the cycle, England further allows in 1830 that, with a small tax paid, the sale of beer by anyone can proceed without any license from a justice of the peace.
In France, the Benedictine monks are already known for their successful experiments with grape fermentation for wine, when in 1679 one of the monks develops yet another twist - a slightly less harmful mixture they name "champagne."
The monk's name? Dom Perignon. No word as to whether or not he got a kick from it, or if it tickled his nose.
In 1758, a 26 year old candidate, while trying to get himself elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, distributes 75 gallons of rum to the voters of his district. The candidate wins without difficulty and in later years will go on to become President of the United States. The bribing young lad is George Washington.
Rabid constitutionalists studying "dry" rulings related to it (and we don't mean the prohibition amendment of the 1920s) take note - there should be no use of distilled alcohol in the United States today, because America's forefathers also banned it.
The First Continental Congress declared the following in 1774:
"Resolved: that it be recommended to the various legislatures immediately to pass laws, the more effectually to put a stop to the pernicious practice of distilling."
Apparently, however, the "various legislatures" who would have carried this out were gotten to by the emerging liquor lobbies that have haunted us even since.
In 1860, modern day scotch whiskey is created in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is carried out by Andrew Usher who blends two "rugged whiskeys."
In 1864, great man of medicine Louis Pasteur helps give birth to millions of future alcoholics by applying his pasteurization process in the wrong area.
After finding that the souring of European wine was due to a parasitic growth (phylloxera), he determines that the growth could be eliminated by treating it for a few minutes at 50 to 60 degrees centigrade.
Before Pasteur steps in, the entire European wine industry is being declared dead. This is one "patient" the good doctor should have lost.
In 1914, an organization in Sweden takes over the monopoly on all distribution and sales of alcoholic beverages; the organization is the government of Sweden itself.
In 1920, Frenchman Henri Murger's "Bohemian" movement of the 1840s grows a new crop of converts in the U.S. The "roaring" '20s become the "smoking and drinking" '20s, as the permissiveness of the time regarding cigarette and alcohol use is especially reflected.
This occurs mainly in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. The "20th century Bohemians" are forced to taper off a bit from the abuse of these substances in 1930, shortly after the stock market crash, when funding for users and dealers alike is drastically curtailed.
In 1925, the notorious image of alcoholic Russians is created by their own post-war government. Vodka, which had been banned by the Czar up until the time World War I started, is now forcefully re-introduced by the new Russian regime, which (like Sweden just a decade earlier) runs it as a state-owned monopoly.
In 1929, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre occurs, as seven men are machine-gunned to death by gangsters. In the future, the reason for the victims being there in the first place is often glossed over:
They are black marketeers waiting for a Prohibition-era shipment of "illegal" alcohol to sell (after watering it down) to a high-paying public.
In 1930, Charles "Lucky" Luciano solidifies the black market of alcohol and drugs, as he organizes a nationwide crime cartel. With this one major move, the main groundwork is now laid for the future of all illegal drug trade.
In 1933, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signs into law the 21st amendment to the constitution, which thereby repeals the 18th amendment.
This move, however, is too late for the public good; Luciano's crime cartel is so powerful by now that former Prohibition-era concerns simply move into and take over the new "legitimate" alcohol business, bringing with them their trademark practice of shoddy quality and over-inflated prices.
Go To TOBACCO: Part 1