Cocaine and American Culture Essay

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Cocaine: The Molding of American Culture, 1860- 1914
Cocaine had slowly risen into American Popular Culture, starting with an appeal to the elite class and ending with the Harrison Act of 1914. Employers encouraged the use of the coca leaf among their workers to increase productivity and decrease fatigue. Early physicians would prescribe cocaine to treat everything from morphine addiction to the common cold. Cocaine became a common ingredient in consumer goods. Marketers raved about the amazing effects of cocaine in their advertisements. Early historical figures, including Thomas Edison and Pope Leo XIII, endorsed French coca wine. It was difficult to escape the grasp of cocaine’s spreading popularity. The plant from which cocaine is
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Given the relevant context, it is assumed that coca was of great importance and ranked high among value to these cultures. The coca leaf does not yield the potency to deliver any type of overwhelming effect. The coca leaf in natural form gives the similar effect that a well caffeinated cup of coffee would (Arts and Entertainment Network). It wasn’t until Albert Niemann, a German scientist, extracted and processed the coca leaf ingredients, would it become a potent drug. In 1860, Niemann would rename the results of his extraction, cocaine (Arts and Entertainment Network). In 1863, coca arrives on United States’ shores as an ingredient in a French wine, Vin Mariani. The wine was very successful with consumers. Popular figures, Thomas Edison, and Pope Leo XIII, endorsed Vin Mariani (Spillane 2). President Ulysses Grant would habitually drink the coca wine, to ease the pain of throat cancer, while writing his memoirs (Arts and Entertainment Network). Mark Twain often delivered the cocaine wine to President Grant and indulged alongside him (Arts and Entertainment Network). American physicians begin to use cocaine in medical practices. Cocaine was identified as a drug that depresses the central nervous system; however it had the exact opposite affect. The only general anesthetics available to physicians were chloroform and ether. These anesthetics would induce retching or vomit and did little for pain. Operations that required precision and detail
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