In the immortal words of George Washington, "My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth. My second wish is to get sloshed."
"Beer is proof that Ben Franklin loved us and wanted us to be bifocals."
If you think that modern Americans hit the sauce too much, be glad you weren't alive during Colonial times, aka "the saucy years." (History writers, feel free to use that term in American history textbooks in place of "Colonial America.") The Atlantic recently took a look at the work of Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and an early supporter of temperance. One of the things they found is that early Americans drank a fuckton more than us, starting immediately after the signing of the constitution:
Over the next four decades, Americans kept drinking steadily more, hitting a peak of 7.1 gallons of pure alcohol per person per year in 1830. By comparison, in 2013, Americans older than 14 each drank an average of 2.34 gallons of pure alcohol.
Part of the drinking was a health concern — water back then wasn't always safe to drink. Americans also thought that booze could help various health concerns. According to Ed Crews, writing at History.org:
To their minds, drink kept people warm, aided digestion, and increased strength. Not only did alcohol prevent health problems, but it could cure or at least mitigate them. They took whiskey for colic and laryngitis. Hot brandy punch addressed cholera. Rum-soaked cherries helped with a cold. Pregnant women and women in labor received a shot to ease their discomfort.