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Chapter 18

PROHIBITION.


It has taken nearly half a century to convince the people that only in total abstinence lies any hope of cure for the drunkard. When this doctrine was first announced, its advocates met with opposition, ridicule and even insult. Now it has almost universal acceptance. The effort to hold an inebriate's appetite in check by any restriction that included license, has, in all cases, proved so signal a failure, that the "letting down," or "tapering off" process has been wholly abandoned in inebriate asylums. There is no hope, as we have said, but in complete abstinence.


NO REMEDY BUT PROHIBITION.

Is there any other means of cure for national drunkenness? The remedy of license has been found as valueless for the whole people as restriction for the individual. Appetite, when once depraved, becomes, in the individual, lawless, exacting and unscrupulous; not hesitating to trample on duty, justice, humanity and every public and private virtue. It will keep no faith; it will hold to no pledge, however solemnly taken. It must be wholly denied or it will be wholly master.

As in the individual, so in the nation, State or community. Appetite loses nothing by aggregation; nor are the laws of its action changed. If not denied by prohibition in the State, as by total abstinence in the individual, it will continue to entail upon the people loss and ruin and unutterable woes. License, restrictive permission, tax, all will be vain in the future as they have been in the past. There is no hope, no help, no refuge in anything but Prohibition!

And here we art met by two questions, fairly and honestly asked. First. Is prohibition right in the abstract as a legislative measure? Second. Can prohibitory laws be enforced, and will they cure the evil of drunkenness?

First, as to the question of legislative action. Can the State forbid the sale of intoxicating drinks as a beverage without violating the natural right of certain citizens, engaged in the manufacture and sale of these articles, to supply them to customers who wish to purchase?

We answer, that no man has a natural right to do wrong; that is, to engage in any pursuit by which he makes gain out of loss and injury to his neighbor. The essential principle of government is the well-being of the people. It guarantees to the weak, security against the strong; it punishes evil doers, and seeks to protect its citizens from the evil effects of that unscrupulous selfishness in the individual which would trample on the rights of all the rest in its pursuit of money or power.

Now, if it can be shown that the liquor traffic is a good thing; that it benefits the people; makes them more prosperous and happy; improves their health; promotes education and encourages virtue, then its right to exist in the community has been established. Or, even if the good claimed for it be only negative instead, of positive, its right must still be unquestioned. But what if it works evil and only evil in the State? What if it blights and curses every neighborhood, and town, and city, and nation in which it exists; laying heavy taxes upon the people that it may live and flourish, crippling all industries; corrupting the morals of the people; enticing the young from virtue; filling jails, and poor-houses, and asylums with a great army of criminals, paupers and insane men and women, yearly extinguishing the light in thousands of happy homes? What then?

Does this fruit of the liquor traffic establish its right to existence and to the protection of law? Let the reader answer the question for himself. That it entails all of these evils, and many more, upon the community, cannot and will not be denied. That it does any good, cannot be shown. Fairly, then, it has no right to existence in any government established for the good of the people; and in suppressing it, no wrong can be done.


PROHIBITION NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

How the question of prohibition is regarded by the highest legal authority in the United States will appear from the following opinions officially given by four of the Justices of our Supreme Court. They are expressed in no doubtful or hesitating form of speech:

Chief Justice Taney said: "If any State deems the retail and internal traffic in ardent spirits injurious to its citizens, and calculated to produce idleness, vice or debauchery, I see nothing in the Constitution of the United States to prevent it from regulating or restraining the traffic, or from prohibiting it altogether, if it thinks proper."--[5 Howard, 577.]

Hon. Justice McLean said: "A license to sell is a matter of police and revenue within the power of the State."--[5 Ibid., 589.] "If the foreign article be injurious to the health and morals of the community, a State may prohibit the sale of it."

Hon. Justice Catron said: "If the State has the power of restraint by license to any extent, she may go to the length of prohibiting sales altogether."--[5 Ibid., 611.]

Hon. Justice Grier said: "It is not necessary to array the appalling statistics of misery, pauperism and crime which have their origin in the use and abuse of ardent spirits. The police power, which is exclusively in the State, is competent to the correction of these great evils, and all measures of restraint or prohibition necessary to effect that purpose are within the scope of that authority."--[Ibid., 532.]

That the State has a clear right to prohibit the sale of intoxicating drinks, because this sale not only hurts all other interests, but destroys the health and degrades the morals of the people, has been fully shown.

The question next to be considered is, Can prohibitory laws be enforced? and if so, will they remove from the people the curse of drunkenness?


CAN PROHIBITORY LAWS BE ENFORCED?

As to the complete enforcement of any salutory law, that depends mainly on the public sentiment regarding it, and on the organized strength of its opposers. If the common sentiment of the people were in favor of every man's liberty to steal whatever he could lay his hands on, it would be found very difficult to convict a rogue, no matter how clearly expressed the law against stealing. A single thief in the jury-box could defeat the ends of justice. A hundred loop-holes for escape can always be found in the provisions of a law with which the majority of the people are not in sympathy. Indeed, it often happens that such loop-holes are provided by the law-makers themselves; and this is especially true in too many of the laws made for the suppression of the liquor trade.

Is this an argument against the enactment of laws to protect the people from great wrongs--especially the weaker and more helpless ones? To the half-hearted, the indifferent and the pusillanimous--yes! But with brave, true men, who have at heart the best interests of humanity, this can only intensify opposition to wrong, and give strength for new efforts to destroy its power. These have an undying faith in the ultimate victory of good over evil, and mean, so far as they are concerned, that the battle shall continue until that victory is won.

Judge Pitman has eloquently expressed this sentiment in the closing pages of his recent work, to which we have more than once referred. Speaking of those who distrust the practicability of securing such legislation as will effectually destroy the liquor trade, he says: "They are appalled at the power of the traffic. They see that it has uncounted wealth at its command; that it is organized and unscrupulous; that it has the support of fierce appetite behind it and the alliance of every evil lust; that it is able to bribe or intimidate the great political parties. All this is true; but still it is not to be the final victor. It has all the elemental moral forces of the human race against it, and though their working be slow, and their rate of progress dependent on human energy and fidelity, the ultimate result is as certain as the action of the law of gravity in the material universe. Wealth may be against us; rank may affect to despise us; but the light whose dawn makes a new morning in the world, rarely shines from palace or crown, but from the manger and the cross. Before the aroused consciences of the people, wielding the indomitable will of a State, the destroyers of soul and body shall go down forever."


THE VALUE OF PROHIBITORY LAWS WHEN ENFORCED.

It remains now to show how far prohibitory laws, when enforced, have secured the end for which they were created. On this point, the evidence is clear and satisfactory. In Vermont, a prohibitory law has existed for over twenty-three years. In some parts of the State it is rigidly enforced; in others with less severity. Judge Peck, of the Supreme Court says: "The law has had an effect upon our customs, and has done away with that of treating and promiscuous drinking. * * * In attending court for ten years, I do not remember to have seen a drunken man." In St. Johnsbury, where there is a population of five thousand, the law has been strictly enforced; and the testimony in regard to the town is this: "There is no bar, no dram-shop, no poor, and no policeman walks the streets. It is the workingman's paradise."

Connecticut enacted a prohibitory law in 1854. In 1855, Governor Dutton said, in his annual message to the General Assembly: "There is scarcely an open grog-shop in the State, the jails are fast becoming tenantless, and a delightful air of security is everywhere enjoyed."

In Meriden, the chaplain of the reform school testified that "crime had diminished seventy-five per cent." In New London, the jail was tenantless. In Norwich, the jails and almshouses were reported "as almost empty." But in 1873, the liquor influence was strong enough in the legislature to substitute license for prohibition. The consequence was an immediate increase of drunkenness and crime. Two years afterwards, the Secretary of State declared that "there was a greater increase of crime in one year under license than in seven years under prohibition."

Vineland, New Jersey, has a population of ten thousand. Absolute prohibition is the law of that community. One constable, who is also overseer of the poor, is sufficient to maintain public order. In 1875, his annual report says: "We have practically no debt. * * * The police expenses of Vineland amount to seventy-five dollars a year, the sum paid to me, and our poor expenses are a mere trifle."

In Potter County, Pennsylvania, there has been a prohibitory law for many years. Hon. John S. Mann says: "Its effect, as regards crime, is marked and conspicuous. Our jail is without inmates, except the sheriff, for more than half the time."

Other instances of local prohibition in this country could be given, but these are sufficient.

Bessbrook, a town in Ireland of four thousand inhabitants, has no liquor-shop, and whisky and strong drink are strictly prohibited. There is no poor-house, pawn-shop or police-station. The town is entirely free from strife, discord or disturbance.

In the county of Tyrone, Ireland, no drinking house is allowed. In 1870, Right Hon. Claude Hamilton said: "At present there is not a single policeman in that district. The poor-rates are half what they were before, and the magistrates testify to the great absence of crime."

In many parts of England and Scotland there is local prohibition, and the uniform testimony as to the absence of pauperism and crime is as unequivocal as that given above.


THE MAINE LAW--ITS COMPLETE VINDICATION.

But it is to the State of Maine, where a prohibitory law has existed for over a quarter of a century, and where prohibition has been put to the severest tests, that we must look for the more decisive proofs of success or failure.

On the evidence which Maine furnishes, the advocates of legal suppression are content to rest their case. In order to get a brief, but thoroughly accurate and reliable history of the Maine law, we addressed a letter to Hon. Neal Dow, of Portland, Maine, asking him to furnish us, for this volume, with the facts and evidence by which our readers could for themselves judge whether the law were a dead letter, as some asserted, or effective and salutory. In reply, Mr. Dow has kindly furnished us with the following deeply interesting and important communication:


TESTIMONY OF HON. NEAL DOW.

PORTLAND, October 12th, 1877.

T.S. ARTHUR, ESQ.:

Dear Sir--I will gladly furnish you with a brief history of the Maine Law, and a statement of its operation and effects in Maine, in the hope that the wide circulation of the work you have in preparation may serve to correct the mistaken notion that prevails, to the effect that the law has failed of any useful result, and that the liquor traffic is carried on as extensively in Maine as ever it had been, with all its baleful effects upon the moral and material interests of the State.

In the old time the people of Maine were as much addicted to the use of strong drinks as those of any other part of the country; and the effects of this shocking habit were seen everywhere in shabby buildings, neglected farms and in wide-spread poverty. There were, in this State, magnificent forests of the best pine timber in the world. The manufacture of this timber into "lumber" of various descriptions, and the sale of it, were the leading industries of Maine. The products of our vast forests were sent chiefly to the West India Islands, and the returns were mostly in rum and in molasses, to be converted into rum by our own distilleries, of which there were many among us, in various parts of the State--seven of them in this city, running night and day. This rum, almost the whole of it, whether imported or home-made, was consumed among our own people. It was sent in the way of trade and in exchange for "lumber" into every part of our territory; not a town or village, or rural district escaped, however remote or thinly populated it might be.

The result of this was, that almost the entire value of all this vast industry went down the throats of our people in the shape of rum, either imported or home-made. I have heard men say who had been extensively engaged in this lumber trade, that Maine is not a dollar the richer, and never was, on account of this immense business; but that the people were poorer in consequence of it, and more miserable than they would have been if the pine forests had been swept away by a great conflagration.

The effects of this course of trade were seen everywhere throughout the State. In scarcely any part of it was there any evidence of business prosperity or thrift, but, generally, there was abundant evidence of poverty, untidiness and decay. In the lumbering towns and villages, where the innumerable saw-mills were, the greatest bustle and activity prevailed. The air resounded with the loud noises coming from these mills. Night and day they were "run," never ceasing until the "logs" were "worked up." Relays of hands were employed at all these lumbering centres, so that the saw-mills never stopped even for an hour during "the season," except for some occasional repairs. All these men drank rum; a quart a day per man was a moderate quantity; but a great many of them required two quarts a day. The result of this was, that the entire wages of the men were consumed in drink, except a meagre share that went to the miserable wives and children at home.

Everywhere throughout the State the results of this way of life was to be seen--in the general poverty of the people, and in the shabbiness of all their surroundings. But some persons conceived the idea that all this evil was not necessary and inevitable; that it came from the liquor traffic, which might be prohibited and suppressed, as lottery-tickets, gambling-houses and impure books and pictures had already been. And they devoted themselves constantly and industriously to the work of correcting the public opinion of the people as to the liquor traffic by demonstrating to them that this trade was in deadly hostility to every interest of the State, while no good came from it, nor could come from it, to State or people.

This educational work was carried on persistently for years; meetings were held by these persons in every little country-church and town-house, and in every little wayside school-house, where the farmers and their wives and children assembled at the call of these missionaries, to listen to their burning denunciation of the liquor traffic, which lived only by spreading poverty, pauperism, suffering, insanity, crime and premature death broadcast over the State. The result of this teaching was, that the public opinion of the State became thoroughly changed as to the character of the liquor traffic and its relation to the public prosperity and welfare.

When we thought the time had come for it, we demanded of the Legislature that the law of "license," then upon the statute books, which represented the public opinion of the old time, should be changed for a law of prohibition, representing the improved public opinion of the present time; and, after two unsuccessful attempts to procure such a law, we obtained what we desired, an act of absolute prohibition to the manufacture and sale of strong drink--a measure for which we had labored long and industriously for many years.

At the time of the enactment of this statute, now known as the MAINE LAW the world over, the liquor traffic was carried on extensively in the State, wholesale and retail, precisely as it is now in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and in every other State where that trade is licensed and protected by the law. The Maine Law went into operation immediately upon its approval by the Governor, and by its provisions, liquors kept for sale everywhere, all over the State, were liable to be seized, forfeited and destroyed, and the owners to be punished by fine and imprisonment. The municipal authorities of the cities and towns allowed the dealers a reasonable time to send away their stocks of liquors to other States and countries, where their sale was permitted by the law.

The liquor-traders availed themselves of this forbearance of the authorities, and did generally send their stock of liquors out of the State. The open sale of liquors came instantly to an end throughout all our territory, and where it continued, it was done secretly, as other things are done in violation of law. The manufacture of intoxicating liquors was entirely stopped, so that in all the State there was absolutely none produced, except cider, which might be made and used for vinegar.

The effect of this policy of prohibition to the liquor traffic was speedily visible in our work-houses, jails and houses of corrections. The jail of Cumberland County, the most populous of the State, had been badly over-crowded, but within four months of the enactment of the law there were but five prisoners in it, three of whom were liquor-sellers, put in for violation of the law. The jails of Penobscot; Kennebec, Franklin, Oxford and York were absolutely empty. The inmates of the work-houses were greatly reduced in number, and in some of the smaller towns pauperism ceased entirely.

But, during all this time, in every part of the country, reports were industriously circulated that the law was inoperative for good, and that liquors were sold in Maine as freely and in as large quantities as before the law. These false statements were industriously and persistently made everywhere by those interested in the liquor trade, and by those impelled by appetite or passion. It is sufficient for me to say here that the Maine Law, from the first, has been as faithfully executed as our other criminal laws have been, though there has been, at certain times, and in certain localities, considerable complicity with the violators of it, on the part of many officers of the law, so that the Legislature has at last provided heavy penalties for the punishment of prosecuting officers, justices of the peace and judges of municipal and police courts, in case of failure in their duty. I am glad to be able to say that the judges of our higher courts have, from the first, been true to their duty in the administration of this law, as of all others.

In much the larger part of Maine, in all the rural districts, in the villages and smaller towns, the liquor traffic is absolutely unknown; no such thing as a liquor-shop exists there, either open or secret. The traffic lingers secretly only in the larger towns and cities, where it leads a precarious and troubled life--only among the lowest and vilest part of our foreign population. Nowhere in the State is there any visible sign of this horrible trade. The penalties of the law, as they now stand, are sufficient to extinguish the traffic in all the small towns, and to drive it into dens and dark corners in the larger towns. The people of Maine now regard this trade as living, where it exists at all, only on the misery and wretchedness of the community. They speak of it everywhere, in the press, on the platform, and in legislative halls, as the gigantic crime of crimes, and we mean to treat it as such by the law.

For some years after the enactment of the law, it entered largely into the politics of the State. Candidates were nominated by one party or the other with reference to their proclivities for rum or their hostility to it, and the people were determined in their votes, one way or the other, by this consideration.

Now, the policy of prohibition, with penalties stringent enough to be effective, has become as firmly settled in this State as that of universal education or the vote by ballot. The Republican party, in its annual conventions, during all these years, has affirmed, unanimously, its "adhesion to prohibition and the vigorous enforcement of laws to that end;" and the Democratic party, in its annual convention of this year, rejected, by an immense majority, and with enthusiastic cheers, a resolution, proposed from the floor, in favor of "license."

The original Maine Law was enacted by a vote in the House of eighty-six to forty, and in the Senate by eighteen to ten. There have been several subsequent liquor laws, all in the direction of greater stringency; and the Legislature of this year enacted an additional law, with penalties much more stringent than any which had preceded it, without a dissenting vote. No one can mistake the significance of this fact; it was an unanimous affirmation of adhesion to the policy of prohibition, after a steady trial of it and experience of its results for more than a quarter of a century. And, since that time, the people have passed upon it at the late annual election by an approval of the policy and of the men who favor it--by an immense majority. If it be conceded that the people of Maine possess an ordinary share of intelligence and common sense, this result would be impossible, unless the effect of prohibition had been beneficial to the State and to them.

While we were earnestly at work in bringing up the public opinion of the State to the point of demanding the prohibition of the liquor traffic, as a more important political and social question than any other or all others, I was startled at hearing a gentleman of the town of Raymond declare that in his town the people consumed in strong drink its entire valuation in every period of eighteen years eight months and twenty-five days! "Here are the figures," he said; "I know the quantity of liquor brought into the town annually. I am so situated that I am able to state this accurately, beyond all possibility of doubt, except that liquors may be brought here by other than the ordinary mode of transportation without my knowledge; but the quantities stated in this paper (which he held in his hand), and their cost are within my knowledge." This was part of a speech to his fellow-townsmen, and his statement was admitted to be true. Now there is not a drop of liquor sold in that town, and there has not been any sold there for many years. This statement may strike us at first blush to be tremendously exaggerated, that the people of any locality should consume in strong drink the entire value of its real estate and personal property in every period of less than twenty years. But let us examine it.

We learn from the Bureau of Statistics that the annual liquor bill of the United States is seven hundred millions of dollars. This does not include the enormous quantity of "crooked whisky" which has been put upon the market with or without the knowledge, consent, assent or complicity of our public officers, from the highest to the lowest. The drink bill of the United Kingdom, with a population smaller than ours, is more than this by many millions. This valuation--seven hundred millions of dollars--is the price, by the quantity, taken from the figures as they come into the public office, while the cost to the consumers is vastly greater. Now, this sum with annual compound interest for ten years, amounts to the enormous figure of eight billions nine hundred and forty-four millions one hundred and forty-one thousands of dollars--almost nine thousand millions of dollars! For twenty years the amount is twenty-five billions two hundred and forty-five millions six hundred and eighty-one thousands of dollars. Twenty-five thousand two hundred and forty-five millions of dollars and more; actually as much, within a fraction, as the entire value of the personal and landed property of the United States! My friend of Raymond may well be credited in the statement made to his fellow-townsmen.

Now, as the result of the Maine Law, in Maine, the wealth and prosperity of the people have greatly increased. This can be seen in every part of the State, and is obvious to the most casual observer who knew what Maine was before the law of prohibition and knows what it has been since and down to the present time. Evidences of industry, enterprise and thrift everywhere, instead of the general poverty, unthrift and shabbiness of the old rum-time.

The share of Maine of the National drink-bill would be about thirteen millions of dollars, and but for the Maine Law, we should be consuming our full proportion; but now I feel myself fully warranted in saying that we do not expend in that way one-tenth of that sum. A mayor of the city of Portland, in a message to the City Council, said: "The quantity of liquor now sold is not one-fiftieth part as much as it was before the enactment of the law." The difference, whatever it may be, between the sum we should waste in strong drink, but for the law, and that which we actually squander in that way, we have in our pockets, in our savings banks and in our business, so that Maine has suffered far less, financially, during this crisis than any other part of the country.

I have said the drink-bill of Maine, but for prohibition, would be about thirteen millions of dollars annually, in proportion to that of the whole country. Now, this sum, with annual compound interest at six per cent., in ten years will amount to one hundred and seventy millions three hundred and nineteen thousand five hundred and twenty-eight dollars, and in twenty years to four hundred and sixty-three millions eight hundred and fifty-four thousand four hundred and twenty dollars--more than twice the entire valuation of the State by the estimate made in 1870, which was two hundred and twenty-four millions eight hundred and twenty-two thousand nine hundred and thirteen dollars. There was a reason then for the fact, that in the old rum-time the people of Maine were poor and unthrifty in every way--and for that other fact, that now they are prosperous and flourishing, with a better business than that of any other State, proportionately.

Notwithstanding the fact that in Portland a great conflagration destroyed ten millions of dollars in 1866, burned down half the town, and turned ten thousand people out of doors, the prosperity of the city has been steadily on the increase. Its valuation, in 1860, was twenty-one millions eight hundred and sixty-six thousand dollars, and in 1870, twenty-nine millions four hundred and thirty-nine thousand two hundred and fifty-seven dollars. In the last year the increase in valuation, in spite of the hard times, was four hundred and eighty thousand dollars, while Boston, with free rum, has lost more than eight millions, and New York and Brooklyn has experienced an immense depreciation.

I think I have said enough to satisfy every intelligent, unprejudiced man that the absolute prohibition and suppression of the liquor traffic has been in the highest interest of our State and people.

I am very truly, yours,

NEAL DOW.


And here we close our discussion of the most important of all the social questions that are to-day before the people; and, in doing so, declare it as our solemn conviction, that until the liquor traffic is abolished, and the evils with which it curses the people removed, all efforts at moral reforms must languish, and the Church find impediments in her way which cannot be removed. The CURSE is upon us, and there is but one CURE: Total Abstinence, by the help of God, for the individual, and Prohibition for the State.

THE END.

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T.S. Arthur

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