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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8


Ladies and Gentlemen:—

I propose to discuss this evening the relation which the State bears to the liquor traffic. I say the State because, under our republican forms, the State is sovereign to deal with matters of domestic administration subject only to certain limitations in the Constitution of the United States. It is the source of power from which authority flows to all subordinate municipalities to tax, to license, or to' prohibit the' various avocations of its citizens, and, however it may see fit to delegate the same, must be held responsible, in the first instance, for a proper and salutary control.

Objections made to any interference on the part of the State with the sale of alcoholic beverages usually take one of two forms:

First—That all such regulation partakes of the nature of sumptuary enactment, and is therefore foreign both to the spirit of the age and the genius of our government.

Second—That it is volatile of personal rights; no such power ever having been delegated to the government, and hence is at war with our constitutions, State and National.

As a good deal of stress is laid upon both grounds of opposition, especially among political managers, it may be well to consider their force and truth at the very outset of this inquiry. Indeed it will usually be found that those who are defeated by the overwhelming mass of testimony, as to the ill effects upon society of this liquor traffic, take refuge in loose general theories and misapplied terms of reproach.