To Manufacturers and Venders of Intoxicating Drinks
To you we may, perhaps, be allowed, in the inspired language of Paul to the people of Athens, to say, "The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." We trust your business was begun in ignorance of your duty to yourselves and your fellow-men; but the time of that ignorance is past; there is now a full blaze of light around you, showing how odious and hurtful the manufacture and sale of intoxicating drinks are! Are you, notwithstanding, prepared to hold on, and continue? Before you finally decide, let us for a few moments reason together.
1st. As to the manufacture:
We are ready to admit, and do admit, that all manufactures which are useful should be encouraged. But we think that all manufactures which are injurious should be stopped. Indeed, this is the law of the land, as we shall presently see.
We ought not to be called on to show that your business is injurious; it is properly for you to show that it is useful. But we assume the burden of showing that it is injurious. Beyond all doubt the turning of grain and fruit into intoxicating drink is diminishing the great staples necessary for life and comfort. Generally, the grain grown in the United States is not more than sufficient for the supply of our own people and others dependent upon us. In many parts of the United States, the distillery is the cause of want to the laborer. He and his wife and his little ones want bread, that some unthinking distiller may make whiskey. This, in itself, is enough to condemn the business. The manufacture of brandy from peaches and apples, and of wine from grapes, is perverting the bountiful goodness of God, and by man's devices turning it into evil, and that continually. Peach and apple brandy are the most destructive of life of any kind of alcoholic drinks. The fiery quality of the liquid acting upon the fiery character of the
[p. 37]summer blood, leads to disease, and excites to violence. A year abounding in these products, is regarded as a year of a bountiful crop of assaults and batteries, and now and then bedews the land with the blood of slain humanity. The wine, the result of the vintage, is less immediately injurious, but in the end perhaps more so. There is no propriety whatever in destroying the rich cluster, that man may drink and be drunken. As God gives it, it is one of the most delightful of his gifts. But when the wine press is trodden, there is nothing more calculated to destroy men. The great patriarch Noah first trod the wine press, drank of the juice of the grape, and was drunken! Can you, manufacturers of the present day, hope for a better fate?
The immorality of such a business is so apparent, that it need not be now noticed; it may, perhaps, receive a passing thought when we speak to venders.
The manufacturer is only supported by the spurious proposition that it is a money-making business! This we deny, and ask farther proof. None can be given. The history of the manufacturer will show that no man ever made money at the business. On the contrary, it will appear that distillers have generally become paupers themselves, and their families drunkards! Examine, and if you find this to be true, we implore you to quit your business.
You, too, if reasonable men, ought to ask what effect has the manufacture? On a neighborhood, it is as blasting as early frost or mildew; all around are in rags and wretchedness. From its fires are lighted that fire which burns through time and through eternity! Beyond your neighborhood, the liquid poison is spread all over the land. You supply the cause of all the strife, violence and blood which every good man so much deplores. Can money justify you in this? Did the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas for his master even justify him to himself or to the world? No, oh no; he perished, as you will perish, declaring that he had delivered the innocent to death! Would you, like Vespasian, take the tribute, because the piece of gold did not smell of its origin?
2d. Venders of intoxicating drinks! how stands the matter with you? Is there any propriety in your following a business which floods the country with crime, pauperism, misery and death? You will, we know, admit that these are the plain consequences of your business. But you undertake to still the pleadings of conscience by saying, "I do not make people drink; if they will drink, and in consequence of it, crime, pauperism, misery and death result, I am not responsible." Take care, friend, you are on dangerous ground. The Scripture says to you and the manufacturer, "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness." Do you not in every sense, put the bottle to your neighbor? Do you not make him drunken! Do you not strip him literally of his means, and look upon his nakedness? Is not the
[p. 38]woe uttered by the everlasting Jehovah upon you? How can you prosper? How can you live and escape punishment? The avenger is every day treading fast upon your heels, and unless you repent and fly to the city of refuge, you will fall beneath his sword!
Suppose you were acting as an apothecary, and a man was to come to you and buy poison, and say to you, "I intend to take this drug I buy of you, and slay myself, or intend to give it to another," think you you would be guiltless? No; the dread realities of a court-house would make you know you were an accessory before the fact to the crime of murder! How much better are you in foro conscientiae, as a vender of intoxicating drink, when you know it leads to the commission of crime, of murder!
"This may be so," says the vender, "and still it is my means of making money, and it is my own, and I have the right to use it as I please. Here, too, the manufacturer joins in and says, "I indorse that proposition." We repeat to the manufacturer, and say to the vender, it is no safe means of making money; on the contrary, it often impoverishes the manufacturer and vender, and sends them and their families out into the world poor and stricken down by the curse of God. We here again appeal to facts, and say to you, search the history of your business, and if our statement be true, fly from it as you would have done from the burning cities of the Plain. But friends, we deny your assertion, that you can use your own as you please. The law says, "Sic utere tuo, ut alienum non laedas"--"so use your own as not to hurt another." Can you manufacture and sell intoxicating drink without hurting some one? The answer is on the face of the whole earth--No! If you cannot, then your business must cease. A business or exercise of right which injures others, cannot be allowed. Butchering meats, slaughtering pens, tan yards, tallow chandlers, lard melting, pest houses, are not allowed in the heart of populous cities. In the country the rapacious proprietor cannot dam the water on his own land, and thus flood his neighbor. These instances show that of common right the use of one's own is limited, so as not to hurt another.
The right of society to stop the manufacture and sale is too obvious to be questioned. The decisions of the Supreme Court, and of almost every court in the United States, have so ruled. It is wonderful, indeed, that any contrary opinion should have been entertained. The State Legislatures have all power, which is not denied to them, or which is not granted to Congress. Read the Constitution of the State in which you live, and that of the United States, and you will find that the legislative power of the States is in this respect unrestricted.
Is it for the good of the people to stop the manufacture and sale? If it is, the Legislature of every State has the power, and it is their duty to do so; and we hope that many of you, "seeing the right, will the right pursue!" If you, however, will not, murmur not
[p. 39]when the law shall write, "Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther."
For the Committee,
JOHN BELTON O'NEAL.
The Committee on Credentials reported:
That certificates were handed them from the 9th Ward Neal Dow Association of New York--one bearing the name of Wendell Phillips. The Committee received them, supposing it to be a regular Total Abstinence Society existing in this city; but they have since learned from good authority, that it was a new creation formed after the Convention had assembled, for the purpose of sending delegates to this Convention. They cannot consider such certificates as regular credentials, and therefore not entitling the holder to a seat.
The report was adopted.
On motion of Hon. SAMUEL F. CARY, of Ohio, the resolutions reported by the Business Committee, and which were laid upon the table yesterday, were called up and considered separately.
Resolutions 1 to 6 inclusive, were adopted. For the 7th, Mr. CARY proposed a substitute, which was adopted.
Adjourned to 3 P.M.