Letters written to convention
LETTER FROM SAMUEL W. WHEELER
PROVIDENCE, R. I., Aug. 31, 1853.
To the President of the Whole World's Temperance Convention in New York City:--
Having been delegated to your Convention, and circumstances being such as to hinder my being present, (which I very much regret) I take liberty to speak to you by letters.
I have been eighteen years an active laborer (for the most of that time) in the Temperance cause. From the year 1833 to 1841 I think there was in this city a rapid advance among the people in the principle and practice of Total Abstinence from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks; and the cause has never stood to well as it did at the latter date since; that was about the height of the Washingtonian movement with us. The regular systematic licensing had been abandoned by our city authorities; and intoxicating drinks were only sold by authority, by the apothecaries and a few ethers. Legislation has in my opinion retarded the progress of the cause; I do not say or believe that a law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating drinks, would not be of great service, if it could be executed as other laws are; and in this way only; by shutting up the places where liquors were sold, it would hinder the lower classes of people from getting it as a beverage; and would thus prevent much pauperism and crime. But we still have the example of the rich and powerful, whose influence, over-rides all mere law that ever can be made on the subject. Indeed I think the class of persons I allude to, are far more to blame than the mere keepers of tippling shops--but I did not take my pen, for any lengthy communication --my main object was to call attention to a fact in all the MAINE LAWS, that have been enacted--and that fact is, that they all provide for the appointment of agents for the sale of the accursed stuff, for medicinal and mechanical purposes. In my opinion intemperance and its evils can never be done away so long as there are any places authorized to be kept for such purposes. I furnished an article for our temperance paper, about these agencies, and the sale in them of some thirty kinds of liquor for a medicine! The leading temperance men here are evidently in favor of the City Rum Shop.
I enclose an article which was published in July 1852 soon after our City Agency was established. I hope the Convention will be united in condemning the use of liquors as a medicine--and I know there will be men in the Convention who will and can satisfy all who may be present, that there is no need of the use of alcoholic liquors as a medicine.
I hope you will have a Convention of earnest, uncompromising men and women, and who will be the means of much good in the direction in which you are laboring.
May God and his good spirit guide you all.
SAMUEL W. WHEELER.