Accommodating the Republic

Taverns in the Early United States

By Kirsten E. Wood

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones, 3 tables, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7554-1
    Published: December 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7553-4
    Published: December 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7555-8
    Published: November 2023

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People have gathered in public drinking places to drink, relax, socialize, and do business for hundreds of years. For just as long, critics have described taverns and similar drinking establishments as sources of individual ruin and public disorder. Examining these dynamics as Americans surged westward in the early nineteenth century, Kirsten E. Wood argues that entrepreneurial, improvement-minded men integrated many village and town taverns into the nation's rapidly developing transportation network and used tavern spaces and networks to raise capital, promote innovative businesses, practice genteel sociability, and rally support for favored causes—often while drinking the staggering amounts of alcohol for which the period is justly famous. White men's unrivaled freedom to use taverns for their own pursuits of happiness gave everyday significance to citizenship in the early republic. Yet white men did not have taverns to themselves.

Sharing tavern spaces with other Americans intensified white men's struggles to define what, and for whom, taverns should be. At the same time, temperance and other reform movements increasingly divided white men along lines of party, conscience, and class. In both conflicts, some improvement-minded white men found common cause with middle-class white women and Black activists, who had their own stake in rethinking taverns and citizenship.

About the Author

Kirsten E. Wood is associate professor of history at Florida International University and the author of Masterful Women: Slaveholding Widows from the American Revolution through the Civil War.
For more information about Kirsten E. Wood, visit the Author Page.


"Wood has done an extraordinary job of perfecting such a complicated and sprawling historical explanation."—John Lauritz Larson, author of Laid Waste! The Culture of Exploitation in Early America

"[Wood] significantly highlights the continuing importance of taverns to American culture and politics."—Charlene Boyer Lewis, author of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic