West Indies dry gripes love

West Indies dry gripes

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  • "West Indies dry gripes" sounds much more exciting than "lead poisoning," though.

    June 23, 2010

  • The earliest concerns about alcohol in America arose in the medical community in the 1740s. Physicians, particularly Philadelphian Benjamin Rush, noted a new disease then called the West Indies dry gripes. Unbeknownst to Rush, the disease was actually lead poisoning that resulted from the use of lead in the stills that West Indies distillers used to create their rum.

    —Sarah Hand Meacham, Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 123

    June 18, 2010