Letter from James Brewster, Esq., of New Haven, Ct
"NEW HAVEN, Sept. 5th, 1853.
"Rev. John Marsh, D.D.
Sir:--Enclosed please find a Certificate of the appointment of Rev. D. W. Lathrop and myself, as delegates to 'World's Temperance Convention,' to be convened in your city to-morrow. I regret that a previous engagement will prevent my attendance tomorrow --but I hope to be there on the 7th--and I avail myself of the opportunity to make a few remarks, which may be suggestive, if nothing more.
In the first place--as a word of encouragement to you and others, who have so long and faithfully labored in the cause of Temperance, --it is impossible to compute the blessings which have been the result of your labors; and you will bear testimony that I know something about it from long experience and observation.
"Aside from the moral effect in a pecuniary point of view, one hundred millions would be within the amount which has accrued to New England alone. When the first movement of the Temperance enterprise was commenced, though it contemplated only dispensing with ardent spirits, there was great opposition, and the same arguments in regard to the invasion of 'private rights' were used then as now. While the benefits are not very manifest upon the idle and luxurious rich and the idle poor, still, with the industrious and producing classes of all professions, who work with the head as well as the hands, the benefit has been most manifest-- not only in their elevation in social position, but also in wealth and moral worth. I can now state, from actual observation, that there are very few mechanics or manufacturers in this State, who use intoxicating drink themselves, or allow it in their several establishments. The effect is, that some among the poorest and lowest in social position, have become the wealthiest and most respectable portion of the community. In the city of my adoption and residence, where, forty years since, but a fraction of the wealth was in the hands of the working classes, now the balance of the wealth is in their favor, as well as moral worth. I state these things to show you that the Temperance cause has been a blessing to the producing classes, and that those who labored in this cause have not labored in vain. Indeed, from long experience and observation, I can say, most sincerely, that all the great political questions which have occupied the attention of this nation for the last thirty years, and all the gold of California are of minor consideration in comparison to the benefits which have resulted to this nation from the Temperance reformation alone.
"In my opinion, the evils of intemperance are now (as I before remarked) manifest in the luxurious rich, and the idle poor (mainly the emigrants), who cannot be brought under the influence of 'Moral Suasion' and hence the necessity of the 'Maine Law'. And I look to its benefits in a paramount sense when considered in reference to
[p. 49]the "elective franchise," because the moral and political power is in the masses; how important, then, to rescue this important power and influence from contamination. As an illustration of the effects of intemperance upon the elective franchise, I have only to refer you to your own city.
"I believe, then,--what must be perfectly obvious to every reflecting mind, that the 'Maine Law' is the only antidote to the evil of intemperance, and it seems to follow, by a natural law of progression of the Temperance cause. But once provided, it will be sustained by public opinion.
"I am aware of the opposition to the 'Maine Law' but, as you and I well know, it is not as much as there was to the first movement in the Temperance enterprise. But it must not be regarded, for it is, in my humble opinion, of paramount importance, not only in a pecuniary point of view, but as involving a moral and political question of vital importance to the perpetuity of our institutions of civil and religious liberty.
"Please excuse these few remarks, which have flown out spontaneously, and almost imperceptibly. To the cause of temperance it is, we are able so favorably to contrast the present condition of the producing classes to what they were forty years since.
With great respect,
Your friend and obedient servant,