Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery

Spirited Republic

Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History

March 6, 2015—January 10, 2016

photoEsslinger's Repeal Beer Label
(NARA ID: 7788303)
Since the first European settlers arrived, Americans have enjoyed a drink. At times, many of us have enjoyed a lot of drinks. But other Americans, fearing the harm alcohol could do to society and to individuals, have tried to limit or even stop our drinking defining when and where we could consume alcohol.


photoClose the Saloons!
(NARA ID: 16647175)
These two, different views of alcoholic beverages run throughout American history. Sometimes they have existed in relative peace; at other times they have been at war. “Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History” uses National Archives documents and artifacts to show how government programs and policies changed over time and to illustrate the wide variety of views Americans hold about alcohol. The stories they tell echo today’s debates on regulation of drinking and the legalization of drugs.


Preview the Exhibit: “Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History”

“Spirited Republic” was created by the exhibition staff of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, in partnership with the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of HISTORY®, the Lawrence F. O'Brien Family, The Tasting Panel, and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. Additional exhibition funding provided by the Beer Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

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