[Friday] Afternoon Session
At three o'clock the Convention reassembled to the number of about two thousand people.
The first speaker was Mr. VICTOR HANOT, of Belgium, who said:
That as they had the American aspect of the Temperance question this morning, it was but right that they should now be introduced to the European. He was a German, he said, and begged the indulgence of the audience for the imperfect language in which he was compelled to address them. This, however, he was determined should not be an obstacle in his--way, for he was resolved that his ideas should be fully understood. There were, he continued, two principles in the world--the principles of good and evil, as represented by God and the devil. Now, all efforts to restrain the liberty of man he considered as evil in its character and would be productive of the most disastrous results. No such efforts succeeded, or ever would. We have as many thieves now in the world as we ever had; and just so is it with the Maine Law--there will be just as many drunkards after it is passed as before it. In the old country the question of temperance has not arrived at the same position which it occupies here. There, the people are straggling for political liberty, and they cannot give so much of their attention to it. The people are divided there into republicans and despots, while here they are divided into the two classes of drunkards and those who do not drink. There is political liberty here, but there is no social liberty. There are many who cannot get work here, and who are forced to steal for a living. Now, I say, give the individual more social liberty, remove the obstacles which beset his path, give him land, and provide him with the means of living.
Rev. Mr. FRAUGH, of New York, proceeded to speak in favor of the Maine Law. He called upon the temperance people to unite in one solid mass and get in unison and he had no doubt of their ultimate success. He wanted the World's Convention and similar societies to walk up to
[p. 48]the work manfully and bravely. The State of New York, he predicted, would give seventy thousand majority in favor of the law, when it would come before the people.
Mr. Sabin, of Pennsylvania, adduced some valuable statistical matter bearing upon the Reform. One item, well worthy of being mentioned, referred to the fact, that only 10 per cent. of the wholesale price of liquors was accorded to the workmen for their labor in manufacture, while in other branches from 35 to 90 per cent. constituted the laborer's proportion. He also stated the fact, that $74,000,000 were spent for liquors in America, each year. The speaker introduced the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the enactment of a law in its general provisions to the Maine Law would be eminently conducive to the natural prosperity of any and every State adopting it; because the amount per cent. paid to the laborer for the production of alcoholic beverages does not average more than ten per cent. whereas in the manufacture of useful articles, such as clothing, furniture &c. an average of not less than fifty per cent. is paid got their manufacture. Therefore, if all money that is now spent in the production of liquors were devoted to useful purposes there would at once be a demand for labor which would more than counterbalance any momentary loss occasioned to a certain class by the enactment.
The President next introduced Dr. De Wolfe, of Maine.
I am, said [h]e, a citizen of Maine, and I flatter myself that I feel as proud as Paul did when he said "I am a Roman citizen." [Loud applause.] It will be anticipated, I suppose, coming from head quarters, that I may say something about the Maine Law. I am sorry that I am so poor a representative from that noble State of which I am proud, but I will refer somewhat to the law and its workings--what it has been and what now exists in relation to it. I will say, further, that I now speak mostly, or shall attempt to, for your gratification. I am not, my friends, so great a stickler for laws as some. I have but a very small veneration for law, but I will give you to understand my views on this matter. I think I know somewhat of the condition of the people, and I am willing to give them what they will have. It is policy of course. If they will not partake of the kind of food I want to give them, let them have that which they think they need, and all I ask of them is allow me to eat my food and to drink my water, to think for myself and to speak for myself; but, at the same time, I am willing to bear the burthens of others. I came up to New York not as a representative in this Convention, but as a delegate to the partworld Convention; but my sympathies are with the whole world, and I know no line of demarcation that separates me from all mankind. [Loud applause.] Hence I address myself to you as brothers and sisters, and when I say that, of course I shall feel that you are ladies and gentlemen too. I merely throw out this suggestion, to let you know, for fear that you may misconstrue, my position.
[p. 49]I have worked long and hard for the Maine Law; I have worked hard for its execution, and bear honorable stripes for its existence and for its execution. I have been a mark to fire at; I have been somewhat martyred in this matter I do not boast, for I have only done duty, and perhaps hardly that. I have my life threatened a coat of far and feathers has been frequently promised me, but the nearest they came to that has been to tar and feather my sign; and had the hardihood, as some people though, to leave it up there as the representative of the characters who put the tar and feathers there, until time effaced it. [Applause.] I have had my windows broken, my store-door covered with filth, and my name sent out as evil, and every other attempt has been made to destroy me, because I loved temperance. But all these things made me rejoice, because I feel that I have, to a certain extent, been counted worthy of their indignation from rum people. You know that we have fought long and hard to get the prohibitory law in Maine. We have had every obstacle that human ingenuity could throw in our way, to impede our progress, in order to defeat the Maine Law; but, nevertheless, is despite of their continued perseverance we have succeeded. I will refer, for the encouragement of this State, and somewhat to their advantage, as they are striving for the Maine Law, to some of the objections and the means that were used to prevent our achieving this glorious end. When this matter was broached in its incipient stages and before we had the law as it now, is there was a great deal of talk about its effect, and a great deal of threatening of what would be done to those who supported the measure. Our opponents threatened that if this law were brought about,--if they were robbed of their rights, as they called them, they would no longer remain citizens of the State of Maine, but that they would leave it until the law was repealed. An individual replied very happily to them: "If," said he, "your determination is never to return until that law is repealed, in all probability you will never come back again; and while you are about it, you may congratulate yourselves, and repeat the ballad of Uncle Jonas Cox, of Botany Bay, who undertook to make the best of all things:
‘True patriots, why fear? be it understood,
We leave our country, for our country's good.’
It was rather a matter of rejoicing than otherwise, that such individuals would leave our State, but we did feel some regret when we thought that they would go somewhere else, and other people would be cursed with them. There are some difficulties in the way of the execution of all laws. A few radical reformers will present an idea and dwell upon it until a portion of the people will take hold of it, and a sufficient portion will rally around until they will elect a Legislature that will give them a law. But when you get a law, it is the expression of a Legislature, which is not always a popular expression of the people, and there is no too much truth in the idea that a law cannot be effectually enforced until the people are prepared for it, and until they brought up to that position when they love truth more than error. Let us lay aside private interests and social relations, and be willing to be delegates to be shot at--willing to stand in the van of the fight, to bear the blows and receive the insults
[p. 50]of the enemy; and, when that is done, the law can be executed; but it takes a a long while to bring people up to that point. The best manner to meet our opponents is upon political ground. There has been a reaction in the State. While temperance men have slept, the enemy have sown tares. Our opponents have been lavish with their treasure and with their talents, and there is some reason to fear that in the next election they will triumph.
The speaker made allusion to Mr. Pillsbury, the Governor of Maine, and complained that he secured his election entirely from his having kept the voters well supplied with liquor during the canvass.
It was resolved to adopt a fifteen minute rule for the afternoon.
C. C. Burleigh, of Connecticut, in the absence of the Chairman of the Business Committee, introduced the following resolutions, which were, on motion, to be incorporated with the resolutions previously introduced, and then pending before the Convention:
Resolved, That we urge our fellow-citizens to petition Congress so to modify our Tariff laws as that they shall no longer protect and justify the importation of intoxicating liquors into State which have prohibited, or may hereafter prohibit the sale and diffusion of such liquors.
Resolved, That a natural, proper and efficient counteraction to the appetite for debasing indulgence and pernicious excitement is to be found in providing for all legitimate and healthful sources of pure, innocent, elevating pleasures of social and spiritual enjoyment; and, therefore, the library and reading-room--the lyceum and music hall--galleries of paintings and sculpture--social assembly-rooms and pleasure grounds--should take the place of the bar-room and rum-cellar.
Resolved, That sound political economy concurs with sound morality in condemning the manufacture, sale and use of intoxicating drinks, since their cost to the consumer exceeds the actual cost of their production in a proportion five times as great as obtains in the case of useful articles; therefore, if the money spent for alcoholic beverages were devoted to the purchase of articles of utility, the present extravagant profits of distillers and run-sellers would be employed in cherishing legitimate branches of productive industry, which give to the labor bestowed upon them five times as great a proportion of their price as now goes to the labor for producing alcohol.
Resolved, That the officers of this meeting, together with its Business Committee, be constituted a permanent Committee, with power to call future Conventions, based on the same principles as this, wherever and whenever they deem it advisable to do so, and to initiate any other measures which they may judge best for the advancement of the Temperance cause.
The Chairman then called on Mrs. Emily Clark, of New-York, who spoke as follows:
Mr. Chairman and Friends--I doubt if I am able to fill this hall with my voice or not, but, under any circumstances, there is great allowance to be made for the imperfect elocution of ladies. However, as I took my lessons in oratory out in the open air, standing upon the stamp of a tree, and surrounded by the birds and squirrels, I may not trespass upon you too much. I will do my best--I will speak loud, and if I make myself heard I am certain that the people will not condemn me on that account. (Applause.) To have my name respected in Metropolitan Hall, I shall apply myself to the chief topics before the Convention. The experience of the past is now before us, and we know how we have passed from step to step of our progress, until we have reached--as Mr. Barnum told you yesterday--a grand crisis. If we now abate our exertions or relax our efforts to remove the deep seated curse--the great and giant evil, which is careering over the Empire State, it will be ruined and overwhelmed by it. (Applause.) But we have now gone so far that we possess a mighty lever in our hands, which, if worked at the ballot-box, by the hearty good will of true American citizens, the ruin of intemperance must be stayed, and the evil I have alluded to cease, and I say man if we, if you, neglect to so wield it, you and I become responsible for the frightful results which will ensue. (Applause.) I will here introduce a parable from an Oriental tale:--" and it came to pass in the East that one man was powerful either for good or for evil, but he inclined to the evil, and so signed a decree; and this destroyer went forth to the work of death, prompted by the love of gain; and sword in hand he desolated the land, until thousands perished. And bloodshed was upon the fields; but yet did he go on until three hundred thousand persons had fallen, and thirty thousand people each year perished; and still his cry was--‘Give, give’ And he who had the power did not relax until the land was dripping with gore." You may transfer the scene from a Pagan to a Christian land, and place the time in the nineteenth century, and make rum the destroyer, and then you can account for the victims. (Cheers.) My friends, each of you is a man in power, as this one; each of you gives the decree, and your forefathers have sent it forth for centuries; you give the licenses to the rum-sellers, and the blood of the victims is upon your heads and dripping from your hands. I beseech of you go up to the ballot-box, vote for the Maine law, and thus wash yourselves clean from this gore for ever. (Loud applause.) Neither the fearful wreck of manhood, nor the destruction of all that is noble, generous, and manly in youth, nor all the suffering of womanhood, nor all the miseries of childhood are so great but they can be remedied by a temperance ballot-box. The drunkard is a man you create, by licensing for money the rum-seller to do the work of death from year to year. The work of reform must be utilitarian, and you have to lay the axe to the root, and not act like the Irishman who greased the buggy all over except the wheels and pins of the axle. It is thus we talk about temperance, but when the ballot-box is presented, we fail to effectually support it. If I understand my physical organization and my relations thereby to life, so must I equally understand my moral obligations, which no one can or dare despise. The enforcement of this law is one of them. We are assembled here to-day upon a platform to advocate the Maine law by the force and power of a
[p. 52]previous education; and when the law has been in operation for twenty years, every one will wonder why it was so much opposed. Let us not quarrel about the means. The drowning man is not particular as to the description of rope which he is aided by, and so let it be with the Main Law, which should be advocated as the exigencies of the moment require.
The President announced, as the next speaker, the individual who had published the first Temperance newspaper in the United States: William Lloyd Garrison, of Boston.
Mr. Garrison stated that in long years past he had been an active worker in the cause of Temperance, and though his efforts had been drawn more especially into other channels of reform, that yet his interest in it had been as warm as ever. When he was an active worker, the teetotaler was unpopular and looked down upon. Now, he could see thousands in a single Convention engaged as active members. If any one thing would disqualify him from speaking for Temperance as he once did, it would be that he was unaccustomed to talk upon Temperance to people who appreciated its value.
But now Chancellors, Judges, Politicians, Doctors of Divinity and office-seekers of all kinds were coming forward to the work. It was certain evidence of its growing popularity. At the conclusion of Mr. Garrison's remarks, he called upon all who had either personally or by their relatives been the sufferers by the use of alcoholic drinks, to rise. Fully two-thirds of the audience responded to his call.
Mrs. F. D. Gage, of Missouri, next addressed the Convention. Mrs. G. said:
The President has announced me as coming from Missouri; but I beg to state that I do not appear as a representative from there, as I have been only there a few months and am comparatively a stranger. I know little of the Temperance cause there or how it stands; but I trust that I have learned so much to night, in my capacity as a looker-on, as will enable me to shed an Eastern light upon it when I return. I have come a long journey for this purpose, and I shall, I hope, be able to carry back glad tidings to my home in the Far West. Enough has been said here to night, if experience did not before convince you of it, to prove that the cause of Temperance is right, and that intemperance is wrong and leads to evil. Mrs. Gage here related an incident which occurred to her in her travels. A deck hand fell from a western steamboat and was drowned, notwithstanding every effort to save him. When inquiry was made about his fate, his fellow hands said "Oh, he was only a drunkard!" She continued--This great cause is the life-boat. Thirty thousand are going down yearly. Shall we hesitate to save them? Let us not
[p. 53]differ about the means, whether it be the Maine law or the Carson league, but lay hold upon it, and we shall eventually succeed. [Applause.]
Rev. Mr. Armstrong, of Saratoga, who organized a Temperance Society as early as 1808, next favored the Convention with some pathetic reminiscences of the effects of Rum-drinking.
Mr. Clark, of Rochester, being called upon, sang an appropriate Temperance song.
Mr. Booth, of Wisconsin, being called, next addressed the Convention. He spoke of the present state of the Temperance movement in his State, and of the enactment of the Maine Law being submitted to the popular vote in November next. His remarks were interesting and to the point.
Mr. Williams, of New York, introduced the following resolution:
Resolved,--That a Committee of five be appointed to prepare an Address from this Convention to the friends of Temperance throughout the world, declaring and enforcing the practical duties which at this hour especially devolve upon the advocates of the Temperance Revolution in America.
Dr. Snodgrass, as the author of a resolution of the supplementary series reported by the Business Committee, took occasion to call attention to its drift, which was, the necessity of bringing national legislation to the aid of local prohibitory laws, such as that of Maine.
Dr. S. also presented a written communication on the same subject, which it was voted to publish. The same disposition was made of a communication from Mr. S. W. Wheeler, of Providence, R. I.
The Convention adjourned at 7 P. M.