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From the days of the fur trade, one constant thread weaves its way through the tumultuous history of frontier British Columbia, Washington and Oregon—the war over liquor. Between 1840 and 1917, the whisky wars of the west coast were fought by historical heavyweights, including Matthew Baillie Begbie (the “Hanging Judge”) and Wyatt Earp, and a contentious assortment of murderous whisky traders, angry Natives, corrupt policemen, patronage-loving politicians and trigger-happy drunks.
Liquor was a serious and life-threatening issue in 19th-century west coast settlements. In 1864 Victoria, there were at least 149 drinking establishments to serve a thirsty population of only 6,500. Despite various prohibition efforts, the trade in alcohol flourished.
Recreating British gunboat arrests, the evangelistic fervour of Billy Sunday and the tireless crusade of the Anti-Saloon League, author Rich Mole chronicles the first tempestuous and tragic struggles for and against having a drink in the Pacific Northwest.