By: Madison Petrella
Similar to the anti-drug campaigns in schools nowadays, during the Prohibition Era campaigns were organized for school children to discourage the consumption of alcohol. These campaigns took the form of elocution contests where these young children were given the opportunity to recite speeches written by prominent leaders of the temperance movement with the hope that the children would take these leaders’ words to heart and be deterred from drinking when they were older. Winners of these contests were awarded silver medals along with the opportunity to move onto higher competitions where they could win gold or diamond ones.
Prohibition came about from the temperance movement, which was a period of renewed religious fervor in America during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Prohibition refers to the period of American history following the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, which not only forbade the selling of alcoholic beverages but also made its manufacturing and transportation illegal. The amendment was repealed in 1933 with the ratification of the 21st Amendment due in part to the increased rate of crime.
The silver medal pictured here is a Demorest Prohibition prize medal donated by an unknown donor. This particular prohibition prize medal was created in 1886 by William Jennings Demorest. He was a well-known leader of the temperance movement, having run for mayor representing the Prohibition Party, and even helped to found a Temperance Town in Georgia named after him.
History.com Staff. “Prohibition.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009.
Schock, Barbara. “The Demorest Medal.” Sandburg’s Hometown, 3 Mar. 2014.
Unknown. “Demorest Prohibition Prize Medal.” Center For the History of Medicine,
The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.