Neal Dow Was a Buzzkill

Whether you enjoy a stiff drink or a craft beer from time to time is none of our business. But at least you have a choice about it — no thanks to Neal Dow.

Dow (1804-1897), who lived in this 1829 house in Portland, Maine, was a literal buzzkill.

“Dow authored the “Maine Law”, the first state act outlawing the sale and consumption of alcohol in 1851 which inspired similar legislation across the nation and resulted in the national implementation of Prohibition in 1920,” says the Portland Landmarks website.

Dow rained on any wine lover’s parade, just like the rain came down this day in Portland.

He was elected Mayor of Portland in 1851 and 1855, and was a Civil War General for the Union Army. Dow, also a United States general and prominent Republican, was also an abolitionist and provided shelter for Black folks fleeing slavery.

“Dow’s involvement in the Temperance movement catapulted him to international prominence, sparked his political career, and forever linked him with the history of American social reform,” says the website.

A candidate in the presidential election representing the Prohibition Party in 1880, he received about 10,000 votes.

He lived in the house until his death at 93 years of age. Dow’s son, Fred, gave the building to the Maine Woman’s Christian Temperance Union to continue the work of his father.

“The WCTU began in the early 1870s, focusing on social reform, especially the fight against alcohol consumption, which they saw as the major cause of poverty, family instability, and crime,” says the website, adding that the building is still maintained by the group today.

While WTCU activity had lessened over the years, but there were attempts to revive it in 2013, after Maine legalized marijuana.

In 1973, the Neal Dow House was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Note: My mom took a day trip by herself, so I’m not in any of the Portland pictures.

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