Document 21F: "Two Suggestions," New York Daily Tribune, Sept. 5, 1853, p. 4.

[p. 4]


   The great Convention of friends of Temperance which was held in our City last week was characterized by a freedom and energy, a liberality of sentiment and breadth of view, not often equaled. It is well known that a very considerable discrepancy of view with respect to practical measures was here represented for, while a great majority of the speakers as well as bearers are ardent advocates of the Maine Law, a very able and respectable minority, including Lucy Stone, Charles C. Burleigh, Wm. L. Garrison and perhaps some others, are of the Quincy and Phillips school of Abolitionists, who on principle refuse to vote under a Constitution which they esteem pro-Slavery and iniquitous, and hence are naturally led to undervalue the Maine Law, as any restrictive enactment against the Liquor Traffic. To admit that such law would do great practical good would seem to condemn their own course in declining to vote.

   But one suggestion not embroiled in the original Resolves reported by the Business Committee was very promptly and heartily responded to on all sides. It was that of Rev WM. H. CHANNING, developed in his speech of Friday morning and embodied in a resolve submitted by him, which as modified by the Business Committee and adopted by the Convention, reads as follows:

Resolved, That the 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 pleasure, 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 barroom and rum cellar.

   As originally drawn, Mr. Channing's resolve took a wider range, specifying a pure and elevated Drama as one of the legitimate instrumentalities of Temperance and other Moral Reform. It was not deemed advisable by the committee to burden a principle wherein all were agreed, with a question of detail whereon difference of opinion would naturally be developed, and so the resolve was modified as above; but the fundamental proposition was very heartily welcomed and accepted. The friends of Reform have too long been misrepresented as enemies of all festivity, of needful recreation and innocent enjoyment. The cause of Reform has too long suffered, in the view of the unthinking and ill-informed, by reason of such imputations. We are glad that ground has been broken that looks towards the effectual dispelling of popular misconception on this head.

   "Let me make the songs of a people, and I care not who makes the laws," is a trite observation. The champions of Reform and Enlightenment have too long overlooked the amusements and relaxations of the People, passing them by as of no account, when in fact they are among the most fruitful sources of popular opinion and character. As the great Marlborough frankly avowed that he has read English History mainly in the plays of Shakespere [sic], so there are thousands in every urban community whose notions of life and manners, of ethics and politics, have been picked up at theaters and similar resorts for entertainment. Ought these to be surrendered to loose thinking and false teaching? Is the wise and expedient that this be suffered to continue? What "Uncle Tom's Cabin" has effected in the novel-reading world, we already know; why may not the same story, as adapted to the stage, achieve an equally wholesome change in the corrupted atmosphere of the play-house? Is it not possible to have a Drama freed altogether from the accessories of Alcoholic stimulants, and from a circumvallation of gaming-houses, grog-shops and darker dens of sin and crime! And might not such a Drama prove a powerful helper in speeding onward the car of Reform! These are questions which earnest minds are now pondering-—to what effect we shall see hereafter.

   --The other suggestion made at the Convention that seems to us important and fruitful is that of Mrs. C. I. H. NICHOLS of Vt. who, with reference to the current evil that the Maine Law cannot be enforced in cities, because it is opposed to public opinion, remarked that "it was not public sentiment but public cowardice that prevented such enforcement." There was never a truer word spoken. Traverse any of the smaller cities of Maine or Massachusetts wherein the Rum Traffic is now prosecuted in defiance of the Law, and ask each voter. "Is it your pleasure that the Law of Prohibition should be strictly enforced!" and two-thirds would answer, Yes. But to desire its enforcement is one thing; to take a prominent part in enforcing it, quite another. Men who would very gladly see Rum banished and extirpated, shrink from provoking the hostility of its satellites: they fear that the respectable and influential seller may deprive them of patronage in business, or cut off their accommodations at the Bank, or "spot" them whenever they shall be candidates for office; and those who care for none of these things are yet afraid of having their trees girdled, or their cattle poisoned, or their houses bedaubed with filth, by the lower-law dispensers of Alcoholic vengeance. And so the Law goes unexecuted, and thousands are corrupted not by virtue of public sentiment, but of public cowardice. There must and will be an end of this.

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