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Archives & Special Collections: Dr. Nott's Temperance Lectures


During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the US experienced a religious revival called the Second Great Awakening.  This movement advocated conversion to Protestant Christianity through dramatic camp meetings that strengthened members' religious convictions.  At the camp meetings, speakers preached about the wondrous  nature of God.  Camp goers were often profoundly affected by their words, often falling to the ground and professing eternal allegiance to a newly found Savior.  Once converted, members would volunteer for a religious organization in order to advance social or political reforms using the Bible as a guide.  This Second Great Awakening also contributed to the growth of social activism that dubbed this period in US history as the "Age of Reform."

One of the major themes during the Age of Reform was temperance. Dr. Eliphalet Nott, President of Union College from 1804 to 1866, actively participated in this reform movement through his "Lectures on Temperance," espousing the poisonous attributes of alcohol.  Dr. Nott also worked to prevent drinking by discouraging Schenectady businesses from selling alcohol to Union students in particular.  The efforts of Dr. Nott provide researchers an opportunity to examine the social questions of the early nineteenth century and contrast them with the ongoing struggles over alcohol and drinking on campus through the years. 

Primary Sources

Nott, Eliphalet. Lectures on Temperance. Albany: E.H. Pease, 1847. UR N915lt (Special Collections) or HV5182.N670 1847 (Hattie).

Nott, Eliphalet. Lectures on TemperanceNew York: Sheldon, Blakeman, 1857. UR N915lt 1857 (Special Collections) or HV5182.N680 (Hattie).

Laws of Union College 1795-1877 (Scrapbook). [q] UA L42 1795-1877 (Special Collections).

Laws of Union College (Collection of Pamphlets). UA L42 1795 (Special Collections)

Less, Frederic Richard. Essays Historical and Critical on the Temperance QuestionLondon: William Tweedly, 1853. HV5182.L4420 (Hattie).

Nott, Eliphalet. Ten Lectures on the use of Intoxicating Liquors. Albany: C. Van Benthuysen, 1846. Print.

Pearson, Jonathon. Pearson Diaries, 1856-1863. Entry: February 28, 1859. UTP361d 2004 v.1-2 (Special Collections)

Concordiensis, "No Beer Drinking Allowed, by Eliphalet Nott," December 6, 1938. 


Secondary Sources

Blocker, Jack S. Jr. American Temperance Movement: Cycles of ReformBoston: Twayne Publishers, 1989. 

Hislop, Codman. Eliphalet NottMiddletown, Ct.: Wesleyan University Press, 1971. 

McGehee, Larry Thomas. "Changing Conceptions of American Higher Education, 1800-1860: Ideas of Five Frontier Presidents on Transplanting and Transforming Collegiate Education." Ph. D. diss., Yale University 1969. UJ2 N915 M145 1970 (Special Collections) also located offsite. 

Marsden, George M. The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established NonbeliefNew York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Pegram, Thomas R. Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800-1933Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1998. 

Walters, Ronald G. American Reformers, 1815-1860New York: Hill and Wang, 1997.