According to a chart created in 1790 by Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and foremost physician, citizens in the newly-formed United States drank a lot of distilled spirits. An article by Megan Gambino in the Smithsonian web site claims that, by 1830, each person, on average, was swilling more than seven gallons of alcohol per year.
“The tradition in a lot of communities was to have a drink for breakfast. You had a drink mid-morning. You might have whiskey with lunch. You had a beer with dinner, and you ended with a nightcap,” says Bruce Bustard, a curator at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. “There was a fair amount of alcohol consumption by children too.” In fact, drinking was seen as a health benefit, useful to prevent fevers and to ease digestion.
You can read the full article in the Smithsonian at http://goo.gl/0u7tlu.