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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71

Appendix V

Appendix V.

The prohibitionist party is more active than numerous. It can rarely secure many members in a State legislature; it acts chiefly by influencing the existing parties, and frightening them into pretending to meet its wishes.

One should, however, distinguish between the prohibitionists proper and the temperance men, who are very numerous among Republicans in the north, and Democrats in the south, and who, while ready to vote for local option and a [unclear: high] license law, disapprove the attempt to impose absolute prohibition by [unclear: general] legislation. This is a case where change of country discloses a new meaning for a word. The temperance men in America are not teetotallers or [unclear: prohibitionists].

page 11

Prohibitionists are very warm advocates of women's suffrage. The enemies of the liquor traffic think their voting power would be enormously increased should women get the franchise: hence prohibitionist conventions are nearly always in favour of the enfranchisement of women.

New York (population 5,082,871 at date of report).

In the State of New York the local option law is in force. Under it excise matters are regulated by the people of each town and municipality. Any city, town, or village can, by a majority, vote for local prohibition, but there are no statistics available to show to what extent the option has been exercised in the direction of prohibition. On the whole the prohibition party in this State cannot be held to be largely on the increase. The tendency is rather in favour of the high license system, which, while not injuring the revenue, is looked upon as the surer means of diminishing the evils of the liquor traffic' Under the auspices of the high license party, the "Crosby Bill" was introduced into the Legislature last January, and after undergoing certain amendments was passed by both houses.

The text of salient parts of the Bill is here given in extenso, as being a very good specimen of a high license Bill:—

An Act to further amend chapter 628 of the Laws of 1857, entitled "An Act to Suppress Intemperance, and to Regulate the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors"

The people of the State of New York represented in Senate and Assembly do

enact as follows:—

Section 1.—Section 4 of chapter 628 of the Laws of 1857 is hereby further amended so as to read as follows:—

Section 4.—The Board of Excise in any city, town, or village shall have the power to grant license to any person or persons of good moral character who shall be approved by them, permitting him or them to sell and dispose of at any one named place within such city, town, or village strong or spirituous liquors, wines, ale, and beer, in quantities less than five gallons at a time, upon receiving a license fee, to be fixed in their discretion, and which shall not be less than £6 nor more than £30 in any town or village; and not less than £6 nor more than £50 in any city of less than 400,000 inhabitants. In cities containing 400,000 inhabitants or more, such license shall be of the following five classes:—
1.Liquor license.—To sell liquors of any kind, to be drunk on the premises
2.Wine and beer license.—To sell malt liquors and wine, to be drunk on the premises.
3.Storekeeper's liquor license.—To sell liquors of any kind, not to be drunk on the premises.
4.Storekeeper's beer license.—To sell malt liquors and wine, not to be drunk on the premises.
5.Druggist's license.—Licenses to druggists and apothecaries to sell liquors of any kind for medicinal, mechanical, and chemical purposes only to such persons as may certify in writing for what use they want it.
The fees for said licenses shall be as follows:—
  • For a license of the first class, not less than £200.
  • For a license of the second class, not less than £20.
  • For a license of the third class, not less than £20.
  • For a license of the fourth class, not less than £20.
  • For a license of the fifth class, not less than £20.

Such licenses shall only be granted on written application to the said Board, signed by the applicant or applicants, specifying the place for which license is asked, and the name or names of the applicant or applicants, and of every person interested, or to he interested, in the business, to authorise which the license shall be used; and the license shall be kept posted by the person or persons licensed in a conspicuous position in the room or place where his or their sales are made, and page 12 shall be exhibited at all times by the person or persons so licensed, and by all persons acting under such license, on demand, to every sheriff, constable, or [unclear: officer], or member of police. Any omission so to display and exhibit such certificate shall be presumptive evidence that any person or persons so omitting to display and exhibit the same has and have no license.

The said Board of Excise shall keep a complete record of the names of all persons licensed as herein provided, with a statement of the place licensed and the license fee imposed and paid in each case, which record they shall at all time permit to be seen in a convenient place at their principal office in the city, or at the clerk's office in any town or village. Persons not licensed may keep, and is quantities not less than five gallons at a time, sell and dispose of strong and spirituous liquors, wines, ale, and beer, provided that no part thereof shall be drunk or used in the building, garden, or inclosure communicating with or in any [unclear: public] street or place contiguous to the building in which the same is to be kept, disposed of, or sold. If any person having a license in the 2nd or 4th class shall keep on hand on the premises licensed any intoxicating liquors other than those permitted in his license, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and his license shall be forfeited.

Note.—As will be seen, this Bill was inteuded to apply only to towns whose population was over 400,000—that is to say, only to the cities of New York and Brooklyn. The promoters of the Bill believed that Prohibition could only succeed [unclear: in] rural districts, and was impracticable in large towns and cities.

Favourable View of Prohibition as in the State of Maine (population 648,936).*

The manufacture, sale, and keeping for sale of intoxicating liquors are forbidden in Maine by a law passed in 1851, and by the Constitution of 1884, the organic law being amended by the adoption of prohibition in that year by a large majority of the popular vote. The results of prohibition in this State are looked upon by prohibitionists as most satisfactory, and there is no movement in favour of a repeal of the law. All breweries and distilleries have been suppressed; the liquor traffic has been reduced to one-twentieth part of its former proportions. Grog shops are unknown in smaller towns and villages. It is said that £2,400,000 are saved yearly which would have been spent in drink. The extension of the industries in this State is attributed by some to prohibition. It is, however, still impossible to suppress entirely the liquor traffic in the larger towns; the penalties for keeping liquor for sale, and for other offences of the law being insufficient to prevent the traffic being carried on with profit.

* An entirely opposite view is brought forward in Mr. Goldwin Smith's opinions on the working of the Scott Act in Canada, p. 17 of this Report.

Operation of the High License in Chicago.

In Chicago the operation of the High license system has increased the annual revenue from £40,000 to nearly £400,000. The fee before this system was £10 10s. per annum; it is now £100. Under the operation of the old rate there were in 1882 nearly 6000 drinking saloons in the city; there are now 3900. The diminution in number is apparently small, but it must be borne in mind that the city has enormously increased in population and business since 1883. It is held that the brewers, who largely control the saloon traffic, pay the license for nearly half the number of saloons. Were they to discontinue to do so, a large decrease in the number of drinking places might be looked for. In this city High license has doubtless considerably diminished the consumption of spirituous liquors. Its first effect was the disappearance of bars in groceries, which put temptation in the way of the poorer classes. Small saloons in localities occupied by those classes have been done away with. Such places could pay their way under a £10 10s. license, but had to disappear under one of £100. Intemperance has, it is generally believed, diminished of late years in the city, and this decrease may certainly be attributed for the greater part to the High license system. The almost universal opinion of the citizens is that it has been most beneficial to the community, and as far as legislation can work in furtherance of temperance, it has done so.

page 13

Extreme Prohibition in Iowa.

This State passed a Prohibition law, which took effect on the 4th July, 1884. By it no person shall manufacture or sell, directly or indirectly, any intoxicating liquor, with certain exceptions. The sale by the importer of foreign intoxicating liquor imported under the authority of the United States law, and in accordance with such law is allowed, provided it remains in the original casks or packages, and liquor can be manufactured to be used for mechanical or medicinal purposes. The fines are £20 or thirty days for first offence, and £40 or sixty days for second offence against the law. Any citizen, except hotel or saloon keepers, may sell or buy liquor for mechanical, medicinal, culinary, or sacramental purposes, after having procured a certificate from a majority of electors, and having filed a bond of £400 with sureties. Record books of such sales must be kept. A limit of profit on such sales is fixed at 33 per cent. The law prohibits the sale or giving away of any liquor to minors or drunkards without order of guardian, parent, or family physician. No intoxicating liquor may be mixed with wine, beer, or cider for sale. No person shall own or keep with intent to sell, any intoxicating liquor. A warrant for search, on sworn information, will be issued, and all liquor found will be seized and destroyed. No liquor can be brought into the State by rail or otherwise without a copy of certificate of authorisation of sale. A further law of 1886 provides that a district or country attorney or any citizen may bring suit to abate a saloon or nuisance, and, if successful shall receive £4 to be collected from the defendant; and pending action a judge may issue temporary injunction against it, violation of which is subject to a fine of from £60 to £200, destruction of stock of liquor, closure of saloon, and forfeiture of chattels. The finding of liquor is presumptive evidence of intent illegally to sell. Persons under this Act who shall again engage in liquor traffic shall be subject to a term of imprisonment of from three to six months. All railway companies and other carriers carrying or delivering liquor shall be fined £20 and costs, unless provided with a certificate from the County Auditor for each package, and any shipper of liquor misleading such carrier shall be similarly fined. The strict enforcement of this prohibition law has been found to be a matter of great difficulty.

Difficulty of Securing Reliable Data (Extract from Mr. H. G. Edwardes' Report from Washington, November 4th, 1889).*

"I should have been glad had I been able to report more directly on the practical working of the Liquor Laws in this country, that being the point to which much importance is evidently attached in His Lordship's despatch; but Her Majesty's consular officers have been, with a very few exceptions, unable to supply me with reliable data which might show the results, successful or otherwise, of the several kinds of legislation adopted with the view to the promotion of temperance, such data being almost entirely unobtainable. Any opinion on this point must be arrived at from hearsay and an appreciation of surrounding circumstances."

* Mr. H. G. Edwardes reports as Secretary of the British Legation at Washington.

Opposition to Prohibitory Legislation in Pennsylvania.

While Mr. Edwardes' Report was in preparing, matters were in a ferment in Pennsylvania, and he says that "public sentiment has been astir in view of the approaching day for the vote by the people on the proposed amendment to the Constitution enacting absolute prohibition of the brewing, distilling, sale, and use of intoxicating beverages within the State. It would appear, however, that as the day for the vote draws nigh the tendency of public feeling is more and more against the adoption of prohibition. The strength of the prohibition party in Pennsylvania is in the farming districts, while in those districts where the larger cities are situated the vote will be against prohibition. Her Majesty's Consul is of opinion that, in view of the universal discussion of the question that has taken place, an adverse vote will crush for ever the idea of total prohibition in the State. Public sentiment has increased from day to day in opposition to all laws which may vex the citizen and interfere with individual liberty of action, and it is predicted that the result of the election will be a majority of from 60,000 to 70,000 against prohibition." Actually, Prohibition was rejected by an overwhelming majority.

page 14

Operation of Stringent Legislation Illustrated.

A very stringent part of the law in Pennsylvania prohibits all persons, [unclear: with] or without a license, to furnish by sale, gift, or otherwise, to any person [unclear: are] spirituous, vinous, malt or brewed liquors on any day of elections, [unclear: and] a Sundays. A violation of this law is made a misdemeanour, subject to a fine of [unclear: and]less than £10, or more than £100 and imprisonment of not less than [unclear: twenty] more than ninety days. This section is virtually a dead letter so far as [unclear: priva] residences are concerned; but all hotels, grocers, and other dealers in wines, [unclear: spirit] and malt liquors obey the law to the letter, fearful of the loss of their [unclear: license] well as the infliction of the fine and imprisonment. It is a curious fact [unclear: the] reports show an increased number of cases of delirium tremens and a [unclear: greatest] number of deaths therefrom in the prisons and houses of correction under this [unclear: law.] This is attributed to its rigid execution, thereby causing intemperate persons [unclear: and] habitual drunkards to resort to places where spirits are secretly sold of [unclear: very] inferior and far more dangerous character.