corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.20.04.02
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Temperance Reform

Resource Toolbox

As an organized movement, the temperance reformation is of very modern origin. For ages, indeed, wise men have deplored the miseries of the habit at whose extinction it aims; yet it is but recently that the enormous magnitude of those evils seems to have been fully apprehended, the true basis of reform recognized, and united and persistent effort made for the suppression of the gigantic mischief.

I. The Habit of Drunkenness. An interesting fact lies at the foundation of the habit of indulgence in intoxicants. Man discovered, long ago, that his mental state is affected by the action of certain drugs, and that they have power, not only to lend increased enjoyment to social hours, but to lessen pain, cheer the desponding, and, for a brief period, lift even the despairing out of the depths. Thus Homer describes the effects of nepenthe (Odyssey, bk. 4):

"Meantime, with genial joy to warm the soul, Bright Helen mixed a mirth-inspiring bowl, Tempered with drugs of sovereign use, to assuage The boiling bosom of tumultuous rage; To clear the cloudy front of wrinkled Care, And dry the tearful sluices of Despair. Charmed with that potent draught, the exalted mind All sense of woe delivers to the wind. Though on the blazing pile his father lay, Or a loved brother groaned his life away; Or darling son, oppressed by ruffian force, Fell breathless at his feet, a mangled corpse; From morn to eve, impassive and serene, The man, entranced, would view the deathful scene." This is a true portrait, and fits our own times as accurately as it did those of Homer. This state, which we have been accustomed to characterize by the term intoxication, or drunkenness, is in reality a combination of two effects, narcosis and exhilaration. Not only when the victim has become visibly drunk, but from the moment when the dose begins its impression, the circulation loses force, the blood cools, physical strength declines, the nerves are less sensitive, mental acumen is dulled, and every power of mind and body is lessened. But at the very time when the drug is working this result, there is a mental exhilaration, a delusive lifting-up of the spirits, which cheats the victim with a false consciousness of augmented powers. He never before felt so strong, or realized that he was so intellectual, so wise, so witty; he never before had so much confidence in his own powers, or contemplated himself generally with so much satisfaction. This delusion continues, and even increases, while he is sinking rapidly into utter imbecility, mental and physical. There are various substances which have less or more of this strange potency. Those chiefly used for the deliberate purpose of producing these effects are alcohol, opium, the hemp poison (Cannabis Indica), tobacco, the coca-leaf, the betel-nut, and the thorn- apple. While the general effect of these substances is the same, there is some variety in their action. Alcohol benumbs the body more rapidly than opium and Indian hemp, and tends more to noise and violence at first, and a paralytic stagger afterwards. The thorn-apple produces temporary delirium as the final symptom. The coca-leaf, tobacco, and the betel-nut are milder forms of the intoxicating principle, and seem to be used chiefly to allay mental and physical disquiet, and super induce a feeling of ease and comfort.

But continued indulgence tends to the formation of a tyrannical habit, whose force grows out of the fact that repeated druggings produce an abnormal condition of the brain and of the whole nervous system. The novice experiences his dreamy joys for a brief space, and then comes out of them in a condition more or less morbid, according to the power of the dose. He generally recovers his usual condition in a day or two, and perhaps has no desire to repeat his experience; but if he repeats it again and again, it will not be long before he finds himself in the clutches of a new appetite, and burdened by a new and pressing want. Now, when the force of the last dose of the drug has been spent, he is in a condition of unrest, mental and physical, which may be only a slight degree of uneasiness, or amount to direst agony, according to the stage which he has reached in his downward road. From this disquiet, or distress, he knows of only one method of quick relief, and that is another dose of the same drug. And so the drug-becomes the tyrant and he the slave. As the coils of the serpent tighten about him, he sinks, mentally, morally, socially. At last he cares only for his drug, or rather is driven to it by the lash of remorse and horror, which come upon him whenever he is not under the spell. He cares not for poverty, rags, and dirt. for cold and hunger. He cares less for his wife and children than a tiger does for his mate or a wolf for his cubs. The pity of the good, the scorn of the brutal, the prayers and tears of those who love him the wrath of the living God, have no power to move him, and in passive and hopeless shame and despair, alternating with brief seasons of attempted reform, he goes down to his doom.

II. Extent and Evils of Intoxication. Thus the Asiatic peoples bear the burden of evil caused by indulgence in opium and the hemp intoxicant. Thus Europe and America groan under the woes inflicted by alcohol. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1879, there were 156,122 retail dealers in ardent spirits in the various states and territories of the Union, and the total receipts from the taxes levied on distilled liquors were over $52,000,000. This is an increase over the previous year of 1082 in the number of dealers, and $2,000,000 in the receipts. The same year, 327,000,000 gallons of malt liquors paid into the Treasury over $10,000,000, making the total receipts from taxes on alcoholic liquors $63,000,000. The increased consumption of malt liquors the same year was 25,000,000 gallons. The total annual outlay in the United States for distilled and malt liquors cannot be less than $700,000,000. In England, during the year ending Sept. 30, 1878, there were 156,589 licensed venders of intoxicating liquors, and, as the report of the committee of the House of Lords shows, the drinking habits of the people cost them the sum of $718,000,000.

But this enormous waste, which swallows up so large a part of the earnings of the people, is only the beginning of woes. Vice, crime, pauperism, public evils, and public burdens of every kind multiply in direct proportion to the prevalence of the alcoholic habit. What are usually called the dangerous classes in our cities are its creation. It is a prolific source of political corruption. Powerful in votes and money, and with an instinctive dread of integrity in public men, the liquor interest gravitates to the wrong side of every public question. By its aid bad men are exalted to office, the laws are imperfectly administered, life and property are rendered insecure, and taxes increase. In all Christian lands, the liquor habit and the liquor interest are recognized more and more clearly as the direct antagonists of morals; religion, and every element of the welfare of men and nations. On these grounds the temperance reform bases its argument.

III. History of the Temperance Movement. The first efforts to stay this tide of death date back many years. In all nations-even in ancient times- there were persons who abstained, generally through religious motives, from the intoxicating drinks of their day. Such were the Nazarites among the Jews, and the Vestals among the Romans. All through the ages, excess has been condemned by the thoughtful, while the moderate use of intoxicants was long deemed allowable, if not necessary. Thus the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut, as long ago as 1639, passed laws designed to lessen the excessive use of distilled liquors.

John Wesley was the pioneer of the modern reform. In the year 1743 he prepared the "General Rules" for the guidance of his societies, and in warning his people against the sins of the times he names drunkenness, buying or selling spirituous liquors, or drinking them, unless in cases of extreme necessity. This is one of the rules which, as he declares, "we are taught of God to observe, even in his written Word;" and the rule stands to-day, in the exact words of Wesley, in the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Wesley was equally outspoken in the pulpit. In his sermon On the Use of Money is the following passage:

"Neither may we hurt our neighbor in his body; therefore we may not sell anything which tends to impair health. Such is, eminently, all that liquid fire commonly called drams, or spirituous liquors. It is true these may have a place in medicine . . . although there would rarely be occasion for them, were it not for the unskillfulness of the practitioner; therefore such as prepare and sell them only for this end may keep their conscience clear... But all who sell them in the common way to any that will buy are poisoners general. They murder his majesty's subjects by wholesale, neither does their eye pity or spare. They drive then to hell like sheep; and what is their gain? Is it not the blood of these men? Who, then, would envy their large estates and sumptuous palaces? A curse is in the midst of them; the curse of God cleaves to the stones, the timber, the furniture of them. The curse of God is in their gardens, their walk, their groves; a fire that burns to the nethermost hell. Blood, blood is there; the foundation, the floor, the walls, the roof, are stained with blood. And canst thou hope, O thou man of blood! though thou art clothed in scarlet and fine linen, and farest sumptuously every day-canst thou hope to deliver down thy fields of blood to the third generation ? Not so, for there is a God in heaven; therefore thy name shall soon be rooted out." These bold words were uttered at a time when the use of intoxicating liquors was universal, both in England and America. Thus John Wesley leaped at once to a position which other reformers did not reach in almost a hundred years. Indeed, in regard to another matter, somewhat akin to alcoholic indulgences, he at once advanced to a position towards which his followers in our own day are feebly struggling, but which no Church, as such, has yet reached. He strongly counseled his people not to use snuff or tobacco, and, in regard to his preachers, made it a positive rule that none of them was "to use tobacco for smoking, chewing, or snuff, unless it be prescribed by a physician."

In 1651 the people of East Hampton, on Long Island, resolved, at a town meeting, that no one should retail liquor but such as were regularly authorized to engage in the business, and even then not to furnish "above half a pint at a time among four men." Something like a prohibitory law is said to have been passed by the Virginia colony in 1676, but what the novel experiment amounted to cannot now be ascertained. The practice of providing liquor on funeral occasions generally prevailed; and it was not until about the year 1760 that an earnest combined effort was made by the various churches to abolish it; and even this small reform was not accomplished till many years afterwards.

On Feb. 23, 1777, the Continental Congress, then in session in Philadelphia, passed unanimously the following resolution: "Resolved, That it be recommended to the several legislatures of the United States immediately to pass laws the most effective for putting an immediate stop to the pernicious practice of distilling grain, by which the most extensive evils are likely to be derived if not quickly prevented." This, however, seems to have been a war measure rather than an attempt at reform. It makes no mention of present effects, but is prompted by the fear of some future evil, probably a scarcity of grain, caused by the gathering of farm laborers into the army, and the consequent lessened production. In 1789 two hundred farmers of Litchfield, Conn., united in a pledge not to use distilled liquors in their farm-work the ensuing season. In 1790 a volume of sermons, the authorship of which has been attributed to Dr. Benjamin Rush, an eminent patriot and philanthropist of Philadelphia, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, made a powerful impression in regard to the evils of the alcoholic vice, and the physicians of the city united in a memorial to Congress, in which they compare "the ravages of distilled spirits upon life" to those of "plague or pestilence," only "more certain and extensive," and pray the Congress to "impose such heavy duties upon all distilled spirits as shall be effectual to restrain their intemperate use."

In 1794 Dr. Rush published an essay entitled A Medical Inquiry into the Effects of Ardent Spirits upon the Body and Mind, in which he argues that the habitual use of distilled liquors is useless, pernicious, and universally dangerous, and that their use as a beverage ought to be wholly abandoned. Still the blow was aimed at distilled spirits only, and the true ground of reform was not yet reached.

In 1808 a society was formed in Saratoga County, N. Y., which seems to have been the first permanent organization founded for the purpose of promoting temperance. It was called "The Union Temperate Society of Moreau and Northumberland." The members pledged themselves not to drink any distilled spirits or wine, nor offer them to others, under a penalty of twenty-five cents. The penalty for being intoxicated was fifty cents. All this looks ridiculous now; but it was a bold movement for those days, and the projectors of it were, no doubt, duly abused as madmen and fanatics.

Still, the day was dawning. Religious bodies began to awake. In 1812 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church adopted a report which urged all the ministers of that denomination to preach on the subject, and warn their hearers "not only against actual intemperance, but against all those habits and indulgences which may have a tendency to produce it." The General Association of Connecticut, the same year, adopted a report prepared by Rev. Lyman Beecher, which recommended entire abstinence from all distilled liquors. Thus they reached, in 1812, the position which John Wesley occupied and inculcated in his "General Rules" in 1743. The same year (1812), the Consociation' of Fairfield County, Conn., published an appeal which goes one step further. It says, "The remedy we would suggest, particularly to those whose appetite for drink is strong and increasing, is a total abstinence from the use of all intoxicating liquors." This, they admit, "may be deemed a harsh remedy," but they apologize for it on the ground that "the nature of the disease absolutely requires it." The consociation, at the same time, made a practical beginning of reform by excluding all spirituous liquors from their meetings. In 1813 the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance was formed in Boston. The society, however, aimed only to suppress "the too free use of ardent spirits and-its kindred vices," and therefore accomplished little. Still, all these movements called public attention to the evil, and kept men thinking. The spell of indifference was broken, the discussion became more earnest and thorough, and appeals, sermons, and pamphlets began to issue from the press. Foremost among these writers was Rev. Justin Edwards, pastor of the Church at Andover, Mass., who afterwards occupied a still more prominent place in the reform movement. In 1823 Dr. Eliphalet Nott, president of Union College, published a volume of Sermons on the Evils of Intemperance, which greatly aided the reform. In January, 1826, Rev. Calvin Chapin published in the Connecticut Observer a series of articles in which he took the ground that the only real antidote for the evils deprecated is total abstinence, not only from distilled spirits, but from all intoxicating beverages. His position, however, was generally regarded as extreme, and he had few immediate converts to his opinions. In February, 1826, chiefly through the instrumentality of Dr. Edwards, a few friends of the reform met in the city of Boston, and organized the American Temperance Society. The pledge was still the old one-abstinence from ardent spirits-but the movement was nevertheless an advance, inasmuch as the object of the society was to inaugurate a vigorous campaign throughout the country. In April, Rev. William Collier established in Boston the first newspaper devoted to the cause. It was called The National Philanthropist, and was published weekly. This same year (1826), Lyman Beecher published his famous Six Sermons on Temperance, which in burning eloquence and powerful condensations of truth have not been surpassed by anything since written on the subject. The reform was now fairly begun. In 1827 there were state societies in New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Illinois, while two hundred and twenty local societies, scattered through these and other states, enrolled an aggregate of thirty thousand members. Men of the highest character and position were identified with the reform, such as Dr. Justin Edwards, Dr. Day (president of Yale College), Genesis Lewis Cass, Edward C. Delavan, and eminent physicians, such as Drs. Massey, Hosack, and Sewell. About this time L. M. Sargent published his Temperance Tales, thus bringing into the battle a new and powerful weapon.

The reform made rapid progress. In 1831 there were state societies in all but five states, while the local organizations numbered 2200. In 1832 Genesis Cass, the secretary of war, abolished the spirit ration in the army, and issued an order prohibiting the sale of distilled liquors by sutlers. This action, however, seems to have been repealed by some one of his successors in office, as we find Genesis McClellan, thirty years afterwards, issuing an equivalent order in reference to the Army of the Potomac. The secretary of the navy also issued, in 1832, an order offering the men extra pay and rations of coffee and sugar instead of the spirit ration. In 1833 there were 5000 local societies, with more than a million of members, of whom it was estimated that 10,000 had been intemperate, 4000 distilleries had been closed and 1000 American vessels sailed without liquor.

This year (1833) is notable for another advanced step. Experience was daily demonstrating the insufficiency of a reform which interdicted distilled liquors only. Not a few drunkards signed the pledge against such beverages and kept it, and were drunkards still. Public opinion was steadily moving towards the true ground total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks. Mr. Luther Jackson, of the city of New York, prepared a pledge of this character, and secured a thousand signatures. To him belongs the honor of inaugurating a new era in the history of the reform. In May, 1833, the first National Temperance Convention was held in the city of Philadelphia. Four hundred and forty delegates, representing nineteen. states and one territory, counseled together three days. Two important conclusions were embodied in their resolutions-first, that the traffic in distilled liquors as a beverage is morally wrong; second, that it is expedient that the local societies should accept, as soon as practicable, the total-abstinence pledge. A permanent society was formed, which, under the name of the American Temperance Union, accomplished much for the cause. The contest from this time assumed a twofold direction-one line of argument and effort aiming to dissuade the people from all use of intoxicants, and the other taking the shape of an attack upon the traffic and the laws which sanction it. Public sentiment was fast approaching the conclusion that instead of being protected by law, under- the pretence of regulating it, the traffic should be prohibited by law. The Grand Jury of the city and county of New York put on record their deliberate judgment that three fourths of the crime and pauperism are caused by the drinking habits of the people, and added, "It is our solemn impression that the time has now arrived when our public authorities should no longer sanction the evil complained of by granting licenses." Several state conventions the same year adopted resolutions of the same tenor as those of the National Convention.

In 1834 Rev. Albert Barnes, of Philadelphia, published two sermons on the iniquities of the traffic; and Samuel Chipman made a personal inspection of the almshouses and jails in the state of New York, and published a report, showing how largely the alcoholic vice was responsible for crowding them with inmates. In 1835 Rev. George B. Cheever, then the youthful pastor of a church in Salem, Mass., published, under the title of Deacon Giles's Distillery, what purported to be a dream. Daemons were represented as working in the deacon's distillery, and manufacturing "liquid damnation," "murder," "suicide," etc., for the human employer. The stinging satire took effect. Mr. Cheever was assaulted in the streets of Salem, and was also prosecuted for slander by a certain rum-distilling deacon, who thought he recognized his own portrait in the deacon Giles of the dream. Mr. Cheever was convicted and imprisoned for a few days, but on his release returned at once to the attack in another dream concerning Deacon Jones's Brewery, in which devils are described as making beer, and, as they dance about the caldron, chanting the spell of the-witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth

"Round about the caldron go;

In the poisoned entrails throw;

Drugs that in the coldest veins

Shoot incessant pains;

Herbs that, brought from hell's black door,

Do their business slow and sure

Double, double toil and trouble:

Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble."

The assault and the prosecution called universal attention to the affair; the dreams were published everywhere; and produced great effect. About the same time another local excitement aided the general cause. Mr. Delavaal exposed the methods of the Albany brewers, whom he charged with procuring water for their business from a foul pond covered with green scum and defiled with the putrid remains of dead cats and dogs. Eight brewers brought suits against him; claiming damages to the amount of three hundred thousand dollars, but did not succeed in recovering a dime. In 1836 a second National Temperancet Convention, attended by four hundred delegates, and presided over by Chancellor Walworth, was held at Saratoga, N. Y. The most important business done was the passing of a resolution that henceforth the pledge should be total abstinence from all that intoxicates. This resolution, though offered by Dr. Edwards, supported by Lyman Beecher, and adopted unanimously by the convention, was not approved by all who claimed to be friends of the cause. Not a few, whose temperance zeal consisted in an ardent desire to reform other people from rum and brandy, while they themselves drank wine without scruple, fell out of the ranks of the reform, and were seen no more. Societies disbanded in every direction, prominent workers under the old pledge became silent when the new one was adopted, and once more the cry of "fanaticism" filled the air, this time with some new voices in the chorus. Still, not until this hour had the reform planted itself on the right ground and grasped the true weapons of its warfare. The people rallied around the new banner, and the work went on with more efficiency than ever before. In January, 1837, the Journal of the American Temperance Union, edited by Rev. John Marsh, was established, and did valiant service till 1865, when it was superseded by the National Temperance Advocate.

In 1838 began the legislative war against the traffic a contest which has see many victories and defeats, and will probably see many more before the final victory. In response to growing public sentiment, the license laws of several states were made more stringent. Massachusetts passed a law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic liquors in less quantity than fifteen gallons. In 1839 Mississippi followed with a "one gallon law," and Illinois adopted what would now be termed "local option." The universal agitation on the subject created general alarm among those interested in the manufacture and sale of alcoholic drinks, and they, too, began to organize and collect funds to be used at the polls and in legislative halls to arrest the reform. Still the good cause advanced. Temperance organizations, temperance journals, lectures, and labors of every kind were multiplying. Good news of progress came from England, and from father Mathew, a Catholic priest in Ireland, who had given himself to reform work and had achieved marvelous successes.

In 1840 the "Washingtonian" movement began in Baltimore. Six hard drinkers, who had met for a night's carousal, suddenly resolved to reform, signed a total-abstinence pledge, and formed a society for active labor. They held meetings, recited the simple story of their former errors, and how they were rescued, and invited the most hopeless victims of the vice to join them. Wonderful results followed, the work spread, and in the space of two or three years it is estimated that one hundred and fifty thousand inebriates had signed the pledge. Immense good was done, and yet the movement soon began to wane. The demand for reformed drunkards as lecturers became so great as to bring into the field a crowd of irresponsible men; some without sufficient intelligence for their position, others lacking in principle. These made a trade of the business; they sneered at all workers who had no drunken experiences to relate, abused the churches, and sought to outdo each other in extravagant descriptions of their past lives. Soon that which began as an agonizing struggle for life became a merry popular amusement; the funniest lecturer got the most invitations and the best pay; and the movement, powerful as it was at one time, broke down under the load of the ignorant, unprincipled, and foolish operators who, for their own profit, piled their weight upon it. Still, bitterly as the friends of temperance were disappointed by the collapse of the Washingtonian episode, the general cause continued to advance. In the, ten years ending in 1840, while the population of the United States had grown from 12,000,000 to 17,000,000, the consumption of distilled liquors had fallen from 70,000,000 to 43,000,000 gallons. In thirty years the number of distilleries had fallen from 40,000 to 10,306.

In 1842 the order of the Sons of Temperance was founded in the city of New York. This order is the oldest of the compact organizations which not only pledge their members to total abstinence, but unite them on a plan of mutual systematic relief in times of sickness. During the thirty-eight years of its existence the order has varied greatly in numerical strength. In 1850 it numbered 232,233 members. Suffering severely during the late war, the "Sons" in 1866 numbered only, 54,763. Since that date they are again making progress, and now number about 100,000 members. The Independent Order of Rechabites, a society of similar character, established in England in 1835, was introduced into the United States in 1842, and spread with considerable rapidity. In 1845 another order, the Templars of Honor and Temperance, was established in New York City. This fraternity was originally designed to be a branch of the Sons of Temperance, whose members should pass through various degrees, and be known to each other everywhere by signs and passwords; but it was organized as an independent society. They number about 17,000 members. The discussion in regard to the morality of the license system went on with vigor. In 1845 the matter was by law submitted to the people of Connecticut and Michigan, and the vote was Strongly against license. In 1846 the question was submitted to the people (of the state of New York (the city of New York being excepted); several whole counties voted "no license," and five sixths of the towns and cities gave large majorities in the same direction. In 1846 Maine passed a prohibitory law, which, with many changes, made from time to time to render it more stringent and effective, has remained for thirty-four years the will of the people and the policy of the state, and it is today in full and successful operation, the glory of the commonwealth and the strong defense of its citizens.

For the next ten years (1846 to 1856) the question of license or no license was agitated in almost every part of the Union, but to give the history of the struggle in the several states would require a volume. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Delaware, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska passed prohibitory laws-some of them more than once. In most of these states, if not all, the question was submitted in some form to the popular vote, and the prohibitory principle received emphatic endorsement. In New Jersey, also, the popular voice was strongly in its favor, but the liquor interest succeeded in thwarting the will of the people. In two states, Pennsylvania and Illinois, a small majority appeared against prohibition. The legislative reform was resisted at every step, fiercely, desperately, and by the use of the most unscrupulous means. After the prohibitory law had been strongly approved by a direct popular vote, and passed by' both Houses of the Legislature of New York, in 1854 governor Horatio Seymour vetoed it on trivial grounds. Gov. Seymour of Connecticut in 1853 did the same thing under similar circumstances. In both cases the people at the next election carried their point by defeating those who had temporarily defeated them. In several states the law was declared unconstitutional by the courts. In New York it was set aside in 1856 on the ground that it destroyed the value of property, to wit, of the liquors already in the hands of the dealers. In several of the states the law was passed, submitted to the people for their approval, approved by large majorities, and then declared unconstitutional by the courts, because thus submitted to the people. An attempt was made in 1846 by the liquor interest to settle the question once for all for the whole country. With Daniel Webster and Rufus Choate as their counsel, the dealers in alcohol carried their case into the Supreme Court of the United States; but the unanimous decision of, the court was that each state has a constitutional right to regulate or even totally suppress the liquor traffic.

In 1849 the first Civil Damage Law, as it has been called, was passed in Wisconsin, prohibiting the retail trade in intoxicating liquors, unless the vender first gave bonds "to support all paupers, widows, and orphans, and pay the expenses of all civil and criminal prosecutions, growing out of or justly attributable to such traffic." Several other states followed the example of Wisconsin, and these laws have been found to be of considerable practical value.

This same year, 1849, the cause received a new impulse from the presence and labors of father Mathew, the Irish apostle of temperance, who came to America in June, and spent sixteen months of hard work, chiefly among the Irish Catholics. Crowds greeted him everywhere, and large numbers took the pledge at his hands. It is not surprising that a reaction followed this swift success. Many pledged themselves by a sudden impulse, moved thereto by the enthusiasm of assembled multitudes, with little, clear, intelligent, fixed conviction of the evils inseparable from the habits which they were renouncing. The pope, their infallible teacher both in regard to faith and morals, had never pronounced moderate drinking a sin, either mortal or venial; and even occasional drunkenness had been treated in the confessional as a trivial offence. The retail traffic, especially in the cities was more largely in the hands of Irish Catholics than any other class of people. Moreover, the Catholic Church wanted donations of land from city authorities, and subsidies from the public treasury for the support of its sectarian institutions, and it could obtain what it wanted only by a political alliance with the liquor interest. For these reasons the Catholic clergy as a body, seem to have made no vigorous effort to hold the ground which the venerable father Matthew won; and the laity, of course, have felt no obligation to be wiser than their teachers.

During the period named, while the battle was raging in reference to the legalizing of the traffic, and year after year went on as fiercely as ever, the liquor interest received powerful reinforcements from an unexpected quarter. During the twenty years previous to 1840 the immigration from Germany numbered 155,000 persons. During the twenty years between 1840 and 1860 the German immigration numbered 1,330,000. This vast multitude brought with them their predilection for beer and Sunday holidays. Under their auspices the manufacture of beer became a great business interest, and, especially in the towns and cities, saloons sprang up without number, until, in some places, there was a saloon for every score of legal voters. The distillers, brewers, and dealers of all sorts, uniting their forces, became a power in the political arena which no party dared to leave out of its calculations, and before which every mean and mercenary demagogue hastened to fall on his knees.

The temperance cause is so pure, its logic so complete, so utterly unanswerable, that it might have routed all its enemies had the contest gone on without interruption. But while the line of battle, notwithstanding local repulses and temporary defeats, was steadily advancing, its progress was stayed by another overmastering appeal to the patriotism of the people. The series of events which preceded the late civil war were culminating in an agitation which swept all the streams of popular enthusiasm into its mighty current. The same principles and convictions which made men the foes of the alcoholic curse made them feel keenly the national peril; while those who were coining their ill-gotten gains out of the blood of their neighbors could be expected to care little for the life of the nation. Thus, while the true patriot laid aside all else to save his country from the awful peril of the hour, the selfish and traitorous liquor interest had the better chance to plot for the accomplishment of its own sordid ends. Still, while the popular demand for better laws in regard to the traffic in alcohol almost ceased for a time to be felt in current politics, the moral reform made some progress. In 1856 the American Juvenile Temperance Society was founded in the city of New York and the next year a monthly paper for children, called the Juvenile Temperance Banner, was established. In January, 1859, four young men, who had met one Sunday evening in a liquor saloon in San Francisco, suddenly resolved to change their evil course, formed a society which they called the "Dashaways," and inaugurated an extensive movement on the Pacific coast much like the Washingtonian campaign of 1840.

The next year a similar reform organization, originating in Chicago, spread through the state under the name of the Temperance Flying Artillery. In 1862 the spirit ration in the United States navy, which was made optional in 1832, totally ceased by order of Congress; and coffee was substituted for whiskey in the army of the Potomac. The friends of the cause were everywhere active in their benevolent labors among the soldiers and sailors during the war. The fifth National Convention, held at Saratoga in August, 1865, organized the National Temperance Society and Publication House, whose headquarters are at 58 Reade Street, New York, and which, by its two periodicals, the National Temperance Advocate and the Youth's Temperance Banner, and its numerous volumes and tracts, has been an efficient instrument in enlightening and stirring the public mind. In April, 1866, Congress voted to banish the liquor traffic from the Capitol and the public grounds at Washington, and the next winter a Congressional Temperance Society, Hon. Henry Wilson president, was organized. In 1868 the "Friends of Temperance" and the "Vanguard of Freedom," the one a society of white people and the other of the freedmen, were organized in the South. In July, 1868, the sixth National Convention met in Cleveland, Ohio. Its most important resolution declares that the temperance cause "demands the persistent use of the ballot for its promotion." In 1869 women began to form associations for the suppression of the traffic. The first were organized in Rutland, Vt.; Clyde, O.; and Jonesville and Adrian, Mich. This was the beginning of a tidal- wave of enthusiasm which culminated in the Ohio crusades, and crystallized in the establishment of the Woman's National Christian Temperance Union. The churches were actively at work. "Bands of Hope" were formed among the children. The iniquities of the license system, and the wisdom of separate political action on the part of temperance men, were everywhere discussed; and the liquor-dealers, in alarm, were busy organizing leagues and collecting funds, because, as they confessed," of the damage being done to the liquor business."

In January, 1873, the Hon. Henry Wilson introduced in the United States Senate a bill providing for a Commission of Inquiry, whose aim was to secure a thorough investigation of the evils of the alcoholic habit, and ascertain what measures are most efficient in removing or lessening those evils. This bill has been repeatedly brought forward in Congress, backed by memorials from all parts of the country, but has been defeated every time by the influence or the liquor interest. The guilty alone fear the light. In August, 1873, the seventh National Convention was held at Saratoga. It declared again that the legal suppression of the traffic is the only effective policy, and that the time had arrived "fully tit introduce the temperance issue into state and national politics," but counseled the friends of the cause to cooperate with existing political parties "where such will endorse the policy of prohibition." In the winter of 1873-74 a novel movement began which, under the name of the Woman's Crusade, attracted universal attention. In the town of Hillsborough, Highland Co., 0., the liquor trade was doing its deadly work, and at the same time the enemies of that traffic were earnest in their labors to lessen its ravages. At a public meeting, Dr. Dio Lewis, of Boston, told how a drunkard's wife, forty years ago, after long and fervent prayer, gathered a band of Christian women and waited upon the liquor-dealer, imploring him to give up his dreadful business, and how their prayers were answered.

The next day seventy-five Christian women, led by Mrs. E. J. Thompson, a daughter of ex-governor Trimble, began a systematic visitation of the drug- stores, hotels, and saloons of Hillsborough, and continued it till victory crowned their efforts. In eight days all the saloons were closed. The work spread from town to town and from city to city, in not a few encountering fierce opposition, but moving on in triumph, and accomplishing great and permanent good. This wonderful movement spread into other states, reclaiming thousands of inebriates, closing thousands of saloons, and giving a mighty impulse to all forms of temperance work.

At this present time (January, 1880) the reform seems to be even more prominently before the public mind than it was before the war. The iniquities of the traffic have been urged upon the attention of the legislatures of the states, and the laws are constantly changing, generally for the better, occasionally for the worse, as Israel or Amalek prevails, so that it is almost impossible to classify them. Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ohio, and North Carolina prohibit the traffic in all intoxicating liquors. Iowa prohibits the traffic in distilled liquors, but not in wine and beer. Rhode Island, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and the District of Columbia are under Local Option laws. The people of Kansas are to vote this fall (1880) on a proposed amendment to the State Constitution, which, if adopted, will prohibit both the manufacture and the sale of alcoholic intoxicants. Some of the states, as New York, Ohio, and Illinois, have Civil Damage laws, which make the dealers responsible before the courts for mischief done by means of their wares. Nevada has no law on the subject. In many of the states special laws give particular counties or towns the power to prohibit, by popular vote, the trade in alcohol. Experience has given ample demonstration that where prohibitory legislation is fully sustained by public sentiment the liquor traffic can be stamped out as thoroughly as any other form of crime. All through the land the active friends of temperance, with scarcely an exception, are fixed in the conviction that the common traffic in alcoholic drinks is a crime against society, and that to license it is to commit another crime against the public: welfare. This conviction grows more intense from year to year, and from this position it may be safely predicted that there will be no retreat.

During the last decade the field of battle bas become as broad as the national domain, and new and powerful forces have come into the contest. Previous to 1860, there were only about half a score of local temperance societies among our Catholic population. Now there are probably a thousand, with an aggregate of 200,000 members. The Woman's National Christian Temperance Union, which grew out of the Ohio crusade movement, and was organized in 1874, has spread its network of societies over more than half the United States, and, by its conventions, publications, and earnest labors, is wielding a powerful influence. . The Independent Order of Good Templars, which originated in Central New York in 1851, leads all the other compact temperance organizations in numbers and continued success. It now has about 400,000 members in the United States, and perhaps 300,000 more chiefly in England and her colonies. The friends of temperance are organized, more or less thoroughly, in every state of the Union. Forty-one newspapers, the organs of the various temperance bodies, are disseminating information on all sides.

All the great religious denominations among us have given emphatic utterance to their sentiments, not only endorsing fully the principle of total abstinence, but some of them declaring, as did the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872, that they "regard the manufacture, sale, or the using of intoxicating drinks morally wrong;" recommend the use of unfermented wine on sacramental occasions; and record their conviction that the traffic in alcoholic beverages should be suppressed by the strong arm of the law. There probably is not in Christendom any other body of people so large, and so free from the use of intoxicants, as the evangelical Protestants of the United States. The agitation among us cannot cease till the right is victorious.

IV. The Temperance Cause in Foreign Countries. The first temperance society in the British Isles was formed in New Ross, Ireland, in August, 1829. A society was formed at Greenock, Scotland, in October of the same year. Early in 1830 a society was organized at Bradford, England. The reform began, as in America, in opposition to the use of distilled spirits only; but in 1833 a society was formed at Preston, England, on the principle of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks. The British Association for the Promotion of Temperance was formed at Manchester in September. 1835, on this basis; and the new pledge in a few years wholly superseded the old. This organization afterwards changed its name to that of "The British Temperance League." It is still laboring, with accumulating power. The United Kingdom Alliance was formed in 1853, and is still in vigorous operation and doing excellent service. Its specific aim is the "total legislative suppression of the traffic in intoxicating beverages." The form of law which the Alliance is laboring to secure is one giving "the rate-payers of each parish and township a power of local veto over the issue of licenses." A bill, drawn up by Sir Wilfred Lawson, in accordance with this aim,' has been offered in Parliament every year since 1863 without success, but not without encouraging gains. The Alliance, meanwhile, is spending a hundred thousand dollars annually in advocating the measure. The Scottish Temperance League, formed in 1844, combines both branches of the work- the reform of the victim and the legal suppression of the traffic. The temperance sentiment of the Scottish people found expression, in 1854, in what is called the "Forbes McKenzie Act," a law which closes all public- houses in Scotland during the whole of the Sabbath, and on other days of the week from 11 P.M. to 8 A.M. The League has an income of about $35,000, maintains a vigorous Publication House, and keeps eight or ten lecturers constantly in the field. The Irish Temperance League was organized in Belfast in 1859, for "the suppression of drunkenness by moral suasion, legislative prohibition, and all other lawful means." It has an income of about $10,000, publishes a journal, and employs agents to labor throughout the island. The women of Great Britain have also organized a Christian Temperance Association, meeting for that purpose at Newcastle- on-Tyne in April, 1876, and they are engaging heartily in the good work.

In Sweden a temperance society was formed in Stockholm in 1831, and some five hundred more in various parts of the kingdom during the next ten years. King Oscar himself became a member, and also caused tracts and papers to be regularly distributed in the army and the navy. Great benefits have followed among the people, and the reform is still progressing. In Australia, Madagascar, India, and China the reform has begun its work, which, we trust, will never cease, in all its broad field, till the enormous vice and crime at whose extinction it aims shall be found no more among men.

V. Literature. Many valuable works have been published which treat of the matters that form the basis of the temperance movement, among them the following: Beecher [Lyman], Six Sermons on Temperance (1823); Nott, Lectures on Temperance (1857); Permanent Temperance Documents (1837-42): Bacchus (Lond.); Anti-Bacchus (ibid.); Carpenter, Physiology of Intemperance; Wilson, Pathology of Drunkenness; Pitman, Alcohol and the State; Richardson, Alcohol, and Temperance Lesson Book; Farrar, Talks on Temperance; Lee, Text-book of Temperance; Crane, Arts of Intoxication; Hargreaves, Our Wasted Resources; Lizars, Alcohol and Tobacco; The Prohibitionist's Text-book; Bacchus Dethroned; Hunt, Alcohol as a Food and Medicine; Patton, Bible Wines, o0 Laws of Fermentation; Richardson, Action of Alcohol on the Body and on the Mind; Edmunds, Medical Use of Alcohol; Richardson, Medical Profession and Alcohol, and Moderate Drinking; Storey, Alcohol, its Nature and Effects; The Centennial Temperance Volume. (J. T. C.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Temperance Reform'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/t/temperance-reform.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, April 2nd, 2020
the Fifth Week of Lent
There are 10 days til Easter!
ADVERTISEMENT
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
 or 
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

 
Prev Entry
Temper
Next Entry
Temple
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology