Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sylvester Graham (1794-1851)

Sylvester Graham was an early advocate of dietary reform in the United States and was most notable for his emphasis on vegetarianism and the temperance movement, as well as dietary habits.

Born in Suffield, Connecticut in1794, Sylvester Graham was the youngest of seven children from his septuagenarian father’s second marriage. After the death of his father and his mother’s emotional breakdown, Graham lived with various relations well into adulthood.

Like many New England residents forced into a landless, wage-earning status, Graham worked on neighbors’’ farms and in mills, moved in and out of schools, and was bounced among his older siblings until he was twenty-nine.

It was not until his early thirties that Graham settled on a career in the ministry. He soon exchanged the pulpit for the lecture hall, however, when he became general agent of the Pennsylvania Temperance Society in 1830.

Having overcome a lengthy illness in the early 1820s, by 1829 Graham began preaching about a variety of reformist ideals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. At the forefront of Graham’s speeches were calls for temperance, sexual abstinence and dietary reform.

In 1829, Graham invented what would become known as ‘Graham bread; made from unsifted flour and free of chemicals such as chlorine.
Sylvester Graham (1794-1851)
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