At the same time, capitalism was evolving from mercantilism and industry was gaining ground on agriculture. The domestic system required high amounts of unskilled manual labor which was provided by the vast lower class. Social mobility was infrequent at best for those of the laborers. The wages paid to the poor were inadequate and unfair. The economic bubble caused by the South Sea Trading Company in 1720 was evidence of the weakness and inexperience of the new system of publicly traded stocks and bonds. Economic troubles have always had the potential to lead to substance abuse, but the drunkenness problems faced by city and country dwellers alike in Great Britain throughout the eighteenth century were massive. Gin consumption had become a serious problem and the conservative businessmen clashed with the liberal social reformers over how to solve it.
The opponents of this legislation can be defined as any person or organization who was opposed to the ratification of the Gin Act. This group was composed of distillers, merchants, and those worried about the government infringing upon personal property rights. Of the three often overlapping group
According to British Excise Revenue Accounts, from 1701 - 1751 beer production remained almost completely static while gin production increased sixfold. Beer and port were the drinks of the rich while gin was their poverty-stricken counterpart. The contrast was shown by William Hogarth in his satirical illustrations. In Gin Lane, drawn in 1751, he shows people dying, babies being neglected, tools being sold for gin, and buildings crumbling. On Beer Street however, people are reading, painting, working, and buildings are being built. The book Distilled Liquors: The Bane of the Nation paints a picture of bestial, ragged people littering the streets of London in a drunken stupor instead of working. Many of the British nobles also derided the situation as they saw it. Several county magistrates from Middlesex and a Lord Lansdale all expressed to Parliament the common opinion that the abundance of gin among the lower classes had led to a situation that was detrimental to everyone. While pursuing a path of alcoholism, people had no skills or desire to work, child rearing became difficult, and they had no money to spend on anything except that next fix.
glish calls to arms, but neither posed a serious threat to the government.
There also existed other financial reasons for citizens to oppose the institution of the Gin Act. Since 1689, when the crown opened the distilling trade to certain taxpayers, the government had collected a hefty amount of tax revenue. One member of parliament placed the value of tax money to be lost with the strict regulation of gin at over 70,000 pounds in 1736. Certain of the distillers were worried not only about their money, but the preservation of their human rights that had come to be expected in parliamentary