Grandma and I got into a discussion this evening about terms that refer to what are variously called nowadays bars, saloons, taverns and pubs—-dispensaries of alcoholic beverages. We reached a dead end with the following question. When the English colonies were founded New England in the 1600’s, the usage “pub” for public house was prevalent in England, as it is today. Yet that usage never seems to have taken hold in the US, even in New England, except recently to indicate a specialization in English beers and customs. Why didn’t the thoroughly British colonists bring the usage here? How did “tavern” become the favored term? (I think we can omit Puritan influence from the discussion, but maybe I’m wrong.) And where did the term “bar” come from?
We are not being frivolous; this is a serious—-perhaps unimportant—-but serious question.
okay, i did some serious wikipedia research for this.
first off, they are called bars because the counter is called a bar. nothing much else there. now, the reason for taverns instead of pubs: for one, a tavern could occasionally house lodgers, while a pub could not, so it is possible taverns saw more use in the colonies, as people could come across on boats and not yet have a place to live. (there’s also some distinctions between inn and tavern, but those are less important)
also, it may be that the word ‘pub’ simply didn’t grow here. these places used to be called ‘public houses’, apparently, and so ‘public houses’ may have been here for some time, but went away after some period of time for various reasons.
finally, out of pure conjecture and really really faint rememberings of us history, it could be that pubs simply didn’t work in the colonies. pubs are the center of life for british villages, but the colonies weren’t villages, they were colonies. i believe the center of the colonies were things like town hall and such. nobody had time to go and get drunk in a pub together, especially with all the fighting going on. people probably just brewed their own alcohol for a while or something, and then the colonies and britain were just… different. things don’t work here like they do there.
if anybody who follows me has actual knowledge on this, go for it. i’m just kinda conjecturing and concluding without any real proof beyond a five minute wikipedia binge.
Mmkay, longroadstonowhere, you have a good base, but that last part isn’t it.
Taverns were more popular here, and it was because they had lodging inside of them. That being said, it wasn’t because people who were first coming over here needed someplace to stay. That would’ve been a waste of money, after all - you didn’t come over here to look for a job, you came over here to create your own job.
Or, you know, not get killed from religious oppression. Either one could be true.
But either way, new immigrants wouldn’t stay at taverns. Taverns were popular because when people travelled to visit each other, sometimes they had to stop along the way. Even when the U.S. was only the thirteen colonies, we were still significantly, significantly bigger than England. Or sometimes, some of our most intelligent (and richest) men would travel to see each other so they could do things like discuss how totally unfair it was for England to tax us without giving us a seat in Parliament, and they needed a place to stay that was a neutral location that didn’t have their wives.
In England, however, people never really traveled all that much. Most people didn’t have the money to travel, and those who were rich enough could make it to the one inn in riding distance… or just stayed with other rich people they knew along the way. Taverns weren’t as necessary.
So here in America, taverns were handy things that could be used as both a bar as well as a place to stay. They functioned as pubs, inns, and the taverns that they were, and they were absolutely the public meeting space that the colonials used when they wanted to get pissed off at how England was taxing them to be born or to die. (Paper taxes! You literally couldn’t get a birth/death certificate if you didn’t have the money! You couldn’t legally be born or die if you were super poor! They may not have lasted particularly long, but they did exist.)
Now, I will admit that some of this is conjecture based off of my base of knowledge of U.S. history. My base of knowledge of U.S. history is pretty awesome, but if anyone has any evidence to contradict what I just said, I’m more than willing to believe that what you have to say is true instead~