Power and Duty of the State to Suppress the Liquor Traffic,
An Address by the Hon. B. Gratz Brown, Before the Missouri State Prohibition Convention.
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.
People who undertake to dwell together in society relinquish a part of their natural liberty for the good of all, and it is, therefore, in the name and interest of such social carfare alone that society is justified in enforcing its restrictions. But sumptuary laws originate out of a very different hypothesis and look to a very different object. They are imposed upon individuals with direct reference to self, and not out of any protection to the rights of others which are supposed to be infringed. Ostensibly they proceed on the ground, that it would be better for the individual, primitive of his comfort or happiness or virtue, and hence usually emanate from some arbitrary government claiming the right to absolute authority in the premises. Thus the sumptuary laws of England in the 13th and 14th centuries, regulating the clothing to be worn, the dishes to be served at dinner, the styles of architecture to be employed—in short various modes of preserving distinctions of classes in society, were avowedly founded on the idea that the lord of the manor had a property in the vile in and his belongings.
on the contrary, contemplate exclusively the effect of evil practices on others who, by virtue of an equal citizenship, are entitled to protection. They grow out of the principle "you must so use your own as not to harm another." Incidentally they may benefit, it is true, all persons restrained, but that is not their object; and this applies to all restrictive legislation. Thus, when the law undertakes to punish the purveyor of stolen goods, you do not say that it is to legislate men into being virtuous, although honesty is undoubtedly a virtue. And why'! Because you perceive that primarily it is not the moral wrong which is aimed at in the prohibition, but the enforcement of a social discipline essential to the rights of private property. And just so when the sale of alcoholic drinks is prohibited, you do not say that it is to enforce total abstinence on the part of individuals, although that may largely follow the removal of temptation to indulgence; but that its object is to protect society from the curse of drunkenness, the natural consequence of promiscuous sale of intoxicating liquors. The difference between sumptuary and prohibitory laws is therefore apparent. The former operate against the person to regulate his tastes; the latter operate against the traffic to effect its suppression. Prohibition differs in no wise from many other sanitary, quarantine and police regulations, and has no sumptuary feature about it. The citizen may still poison himself with alcohol if he chooses and can get it; but he shall not sell the poison to his neighbors.
In a democratic society such as ours, where government derives all its power from the people, and where it is strictly limited in that power by written constitutions, it may be safely assumed that no action could be had affecting so large and powerful an association as the liquor interest without a most jealous scrutiny as to its authority and rightfulness. Indeed, I might go further, and 6ay that no enactments have ever had to encounter more hostility to break their force, or render them inoperative, than page 3 prohibitory statutes. If therefore, after such ordeal they be found, established in the judicial opinion of the whole country, there ought to be no further carping at them as being indefensible or unconstitutional.
Let me say, then, once for all, that this whole subject has been passed upon by the Supreme Court of the United States, in a number of cases, and it has there been held, that such regulations do not conflict with the reserved power of Congress over commerce between the States, and is a rightful and proper exercise of power reserved to the people of the several States. Whilst some question was made as to importation of liquor in original packages, none at all was entertainted of the power to regulate even to prohibition, when once the package was broken after arrival.
Thus Chief Justice Taney, in the License Cases, (5 Howard, 504,) says: "And if any State deems the retail and internal traffic in ardent spirits injurious to the citizens, and calculated to produce idleness, vice ox debauchery, I see nothing in the Constitution of the United States, to prevent it from regulating or restraining the traffic, or from prohibiting it altogether, if it thinks proper."
Justice Catron goes even further into the logic of the question, and states what is now no longer controverter among legal minds: that license and prohibition rest on precisely the same ground. Of authority, so far as constitutional right is concerned.
"I admit as inevitable that if the State has the power of restraint by license to any extent she has the discretionary power to judge of its limit, and may go to the length of prohibiting sales altogether."
Justice Grier puts it strongly thus:
"It is not necessary to array the appalling statistics of misery pauperism and crime which have their origin in the use and abuse of ardent spirits. The Police Power, which is exclusively in the State, is competent to the correction of these great evils, and all measures of restraint or prohibition necessary to affect that purpose are within the scope of that authority."
Here at Home,
Justice Napton, in the case of Austin vs. State, 10 Mo., 591, says:
"We are not aware that there is any provision in our Constitution which would prevent the Legislature from prohibiting dram selling entirely; nor have the Legislature been prevented from placing such restrictions upon this business as they may think fit. To sell drams without a license is not a privilege which either our citizens or strangers can enjoy in this State. Whenever the Legislature prohibits any calling or profession, it ceases to be lawful."
Still later in State ex re Kyger vs. Holt Co. Ct. Fagg, Justice, in deciding that County Courts had unlimited and absolute authority to prohibit and refuse the issuance of licenses if they saw proper, thus expresses the opinion of the Supreme Court.
"It cannot be said with propriety, as we think, that it is the policy of our laws to regard the business of dram-selling in any other light than as a mere privilege granted under restrictions and conditions that clearly imply a tendency to affect injuriously the public morals and therefore not to be encour- page 4 agedaged either by the laws themselves or the courts of the country. The business of the retailer is not a matter of personal right nor one that the interests of the public' at large demand that he should be permitted to carry on.
All Courts of this State
follow unswervingly these decisions up to the present day, and that too without the faintest dissent. Nor do I know of any adjudged case anywhere in the whole country, which denies the power of a State, in the exercise of its sovereignty, to prohibit the sale of liquors as injurious to the public welfare and dangerous to the public peace. If can scarcely be conjectured, however, that any law violative of individual liberties, or citizen rights, or the pirit of free government would have met with this unreserved sanction at the hands of such illustrious jurists. I am entitled therefore, I think, to conclude that the second objection, equally with the first, falls, and that whatever criticism is levelled against prohibitory laws must repose upon considerations of expediency, and cannot take color either from legal or political constructions of the power of the State in the premises.
The present relations of the State, in this country, to the traffic in alcoholic liquors is an inheritance from much older countries, where it grew up in rude stages of society; where its social influence was modified by other causes; where the aims of government itself were but poorly analyzed amid the conflict of encroaching powers; and where the necessities of revenue Were the first requisite, and a levy on so-called luxuries gave the largest return to impecunious dynastic governments. In this manner the public thought of European countries touching the license system has so perpetuated itself that it now claims a prescriptive right to pass unchallenged as the common sense of mankind, and those who question the soundness of that thought either in financial, social or moral aspects are apt to be denied a hearing. This, it will be found, is especially the case with populations coming amongst us from abroad, who, having long held such licenses as liberties conferred by the supreme authority, or franchises commuted in taxes, are prompt to defend accustomed usages as inalienable rights. When they dwell longer with us however, they become more tolerant, both of discussion and amendment in this behalf. It is only their philosophers who never learn anything, or forget anything. But America, with its free government, coming from the people and caring for the people, is destined to revise this as well as many other social problems, and the existence of a chronic idea upon the banks of the Rhine, or the Po, or the Danube, that the traffic in liquor should be licensed for revenue, and not repressed, no more sanctifies it in our eyes than does the commercial treaty of England forcing opium on the Chinese commend that barbarism for imitation.
Precedent vs. Prophecy.
In other words, precedent of such sort, is of no real force in the entirely changed relation here of governors and governed. The financial reason fails before self-imposed taxation; the social question becomes one of waste rather than privilege, and the moral page 5 issues assume a magnitude and grandeur not found elsewhere, from the very potency of public opinion to mould the future for us and our children. There is indeed still more exalted considerations, if it were appropriate to discuss them, which may be thought to depend primarily on the true solution of this question. Richard Cobden long since said: "Every day's experience tends more and more to confirm me in my opinion that the temperance cause lies at the foundation of all social and political reforms," and if, as Emerson hints in one of his remarkable utterances, we are even in this day weaving the garments of a New Time, which shall be, radically, other and different from any that has gone before, in its beliefs, its growths, its sympathies, its disciplines, its rule of life and relation of man to man, does it not behoove us that we lay deep and broad the base of this reform, in the greatest good of the whole, and not suffer it to append as a corrollary of personal abstinence or indulgence.
The License Tax.
In Missouri, the manufacture of alcohol in all its different forms, whether for use in the arts or consumption as a beverage, is left at present entirely to the control of the National Government. But the retail of intoxicating beverages is taken charge of by the State, declared to be unlawful in the first instance, and only permitted where a license has been obtained. The statute is carefully prepared, consists of many sections, purports to be pre-eminently a tax on the occupation, and has stringent provisions for enforcement, if only they were called into effect.
I have experienced some difficulty in arriving at exact results, even as to the mere matter of revenue under this law, from defective statements, poor compilation, and clear evasions attendant upon its loose administration.
It would seem that if the State goes into the business of "intoxicating" at all, it ought at least to report accurately to the people—if not the murders, robberies, embezzlements, suicides, divorces, seductions, bankruptcies and promiscuous knaveries incited thereby,—yet at least the revenue got, the alcohol distilled, the aggregate of liquors sold, and the gross earnings of the licensed retailers. All that can be gathered from the Auditor's report is that the total of merchant and other licenses foots up about $250,000 dollars a year, and it is estimated by him that dram shops yield about one-half of this sum. Thus
$125,000 A Year
fully represents the whole outcome of this barbarous system of revenue so far as the State is concerned. It does not begin to pay the costs in criminal cases, which in 1876 were $227,380; nor the expense of the Penitentiary, which for the same period set down at $176,522. Yet both these extravagant outlays may trace paternity largely to the licensed dramshop.
On all other matters of information touching crime and pauperism and intemperance, the archives of the State are rayless and dark, so that it will be necessary to rely upon the more general statistics compiled under national authority.
By reference to the census of 1870 and the classification embracing Missouri, it will be found that the number of distilleries in this State was in that year 91, the page 6 breweries operated 124, the wholesale liquor houses 313, and the licensed
Retail Dealers 5,922.
The population of the State by the same authority was placed at 1,721,295, which would give an average of 290 persons to each vender of intoxicating liquors. The home production of distilled. Spirits was 2,287,285 gallons, of beer and ale 368,968 barrels, and of other alcoholic mixtures 95,000 cases, or about nine gallons to every man, woman and child in Missouri. What of this is retained and what exported cannot be positively known; neither do we know how much more is surreptitiously made which passes no inspection. A close approximation to the actual consumption can, however, be made by a comparison of the licensed dram shop sales of other like communities with our own. Thus, an estimate based on extended statistics in several of the Middle States, shows that each retail dealer must take in not less than $5,000 a year, gross receipts, to support a saloon with its incidental expense of stock, rent and attendance. This corresponds too with other information derived from the retailers themselves, and with the statement put forward in their memorials demanding a reduced license. It is further confirmed by Superintendent Kennedy, of New York, who placed police at 223 licensed dram shops, and found the average visits were 134 daily, with an expenditure of from $16 to $18, or more than $6,200 a year. As this is
A Central Fact,
of grave importance, I may be pardoned for still further verifying it by data at hand.
|Ale, Beer and Porter—|
This divided among the 146,000 retail dealers reported for that year, would give an average of between $4,000 and $5,000; showing the previous estimate to be substantially right. By such triple verification therefore, by the consumption of liquor, the cost of retailing, and the amount of sales, it will be seen that Missouri, with her 5,922 licensed dram-shops, expends for alcoholic drinks the enormous sum of
$29,600,000 A Year.
And this is waste. All other expenditures in which our people indulge bring back in some way or other a return; but this yields nothing either of fruit, or growth, or enhancement. In the original shape it would supply food to thousands of human beings; whilst in a rectified form it is a destroying agent, productive only of 'other ruin. Compare this waste, too, with the wealth, of which we page 7 boast so much, as the result of our industry. Our State ranks among the first in the Valley of the Mississippi as to those great elements which go to constitute productive capacity. Yet this waste is equal to one-fourth of all the farm crops of Missouri, which, according to the census of 1870, was $103,035,759. It is more than one-third of all the capital invested in manufactures, which was $80,257,244. And it is nearly one-half the actual cost of all our completed railroads, which may be set down at $60,500.000. It would seem as though content should sit enthroned amid this abundance. But employers complain of sad
Depression in Business,
and the unemployed parade the red flag, demanding to live more at ease. Think you there is no skeleton in our house of State? There is reason in the cry of distress that goes up from workers who have no work; there is catastrophe in the wants of laborers who will not starve. And yet this vast and cruel waste is three times the sum annually paid to all the farm hands in Missouri, which was returned as $8,797,487, and very nearly equals the entire wages of all our skilled working men, placed at $31,055,445. Applied productively instead of destructively, it would double the earnings of the latter and quadruple those of the former. Invested permanently as a cumulating fund, it would inspire every branch of trade and commerce with inconceivable activity. Diffused through minor industries, it would people our vacant lands, plant homesteads on every quarter section, make labor lord of its own leisure, convert the shaft-sinker into the share-holder, and make money plenty with the toiling million in the only way it will ever get to be plenty, by stopping all waste of the hardest earned wages in the laud, of which there is none so frightful as this entailed by drink. We wonder why hard times continue so long, why no fight of the dawning shows anywhere; but consider how else it to come than by is
If the cost of living leaves no margin at the year's end, how is the man, the family, or the country to get better off? And with workingmen it is a known fact that the majority does not obtain a support from their own labor alone, but are forced to depend on their children for from one-third to one-quarter of the family earnings. The Massachusetts Labor Bureau report contains returns of more than 50,000 workingmen taken at the census of 1875, which show the average annual income from daily wages, earnings of wife and children, garden crops, all combined at $534.99 to each head of family. The average cost of living, on the other hand, is $488.96. This leaves a possible saving of $46.03 yearly, or 8 per cent. What is actually realized, however, is about $16.55, or only 3 per cent. And certainly the industrial condition of Massachusetts will compare favorably with that of any other State. It may, indeed, be taken as a flattering type of the whole country. Thus the dollar of surplus, or the dollar of debt, becomes the vital problem of life, and seeing how small the margin is which separates living from starving, can we wonder, in the face of six hundred millions of wages dedicated to the Still and the dram shop, there should be prostrate industries, and idle hands, and sullen hearts? page 8 The good time coming will as surely need that other order be taken of the saving and the spending.
Look it, my friends, square in the face, this great spectral fact which is
Haunting our Homes,
and terrifying our small economies, and consider what its forebodings are, under another aspect.
The indebtedness of the State of Missouri as taken from the last Treasurer's Report was: January 1, 1877, $17,248,000, and stands now, if the maturing bonds of 1877 and 1878 have been met, at something over$15,000,000. We perceive then, that the amount consumed in dram drinking in this Commonwealth during each year, is about twice the whole debt of the State. Again, the expenditure of the State establishment, Legislative, Judicial and Executive, sinking fund, interest on bonds, and all eleemosynary institutions was, in 1876 $2,843,950. Hence, it will appear that the amount of wasted wealth dedicated to dissipation each year, is more than ten times the cost of administering the laws, keeping the peace, caring for the unfortunate, and punishing the wrongdoers. And this
Is Called Government!
Under the aegis of our Constitution, we have made wise and, as we believe munificent provision for educating the children of the State, by setting aside one-fourth part of the Revenue Fund for that purpose; realizing, with some additions provided by law, about $500,000 a year. With still greater fortitude the districts tax themselves in addition more than $1,500,000. The 'Superintendent gives the total for 1875, as $2,189,860. But this, it will be seen, is nothing like the sum annually expended for intoxicating liquors—a mere bagatelle compared with the munificent endowment of the dram shops—those nurseries of debauched youth and palsied old age.
The aggregate wealth of the whole State, as shown in its fiscal report for 1876 is $560,777,361, and on this the limit of taxation is about 1½ per cent, in the rural sections, and 2½ in the towns and cities. At times the burden reaches 3 per cent., and then it is felt to be insupportable. But as shown, the annual expenditure for alcoholic beverages is nearly double that or 6 per cent, of the whole capital. With such a tax upon our resources as this latter, can we afford to live honestly or pay our debts?
Governing and Governed
I have given first attention to the matter of domestic economy in considering the relation of the State to the sale of intoxicating liquors, simply because that is put forward by government itself as the ostensible excuse for license. But there are other and higher interests involved in this sanction than any which can be measured by mere money. For permanence and prosperity a democratic government, more than any other, must draw inspiration from the best elements of society. Its rulership must be pure; its citizenship must be untainted, in purpose no less than in practice. To the making of its laws there must be summoned intelligence and integrity; for the rapport of those laws when made, there must be enlisted virtue,' and courage, and conscience. It is thus seen that the State, when confronted with any question of internal administra page 9 tion Affecting directly its citizens, must consider its influence upon them, both as controlling the State and as controlled by it—as governing, and as governed. To the former pertains the active management of affairs, to the latter the experiencing of all public policies. Let us look first at the connection this question may have with the conduct of the State as a ruling power.
Effect on Suffrage.
What immediate effect the sale of intoxicating liquors is likely to have upon the exercise of popular suffrage, that great governing agency in this country, we are not left to conjecture. It may be judged of from the sentence which the State itself has seen fit to pass upon the practice. By a very stringent provision of the law, on all days of general election the sale of alcoholic drinks is absolutely forbidden, the saloons are required to be closed, and any violation is punished as a misdemeanor. Thus the State takes two very important attitudes: First, It declares that dram selling is in its very nature dangerous to any right exercise of citizenship. Second, that the only way to avoid that danger is to prohibit the traffic on all occasions of its exercise. Now, if this be true as regards a mere incipient act of governing, why is it not equally true when applied to a still more elaborate exertion of such authority? If the citizen may not help rule a village when so tempted, how shall he assist at governing a
State or Nation?
If he shall not be permitted to vote his own vote when surrounded by the demoralizing traffic of open saloons, by what logic is he held competent to vote a representative vote under like conditions? And again, is the mere act of balloting of more moment than the matured counsel which should attend upon the discussion of all grave questions of State? These are matters I leave for the afterthought of those who suggest that' prohibition is undemocratic—that is, unfavorable to the rule of the people. I would not wish to exaggerate the extent to which the nefarious influence of the dramshop enters into the governing conduct of our citizens, but when consideration is given to the usual appliance for managing parties, and when we recognize how completely our own has become a government of mere parties, it will scarcely be denied by any one that the' Dram-shop is more controlling than the Legislature, inasmuch as it is the pivot of the primaries. It is there that the autocrats of rudimentary politics assemble to carouse over the choice of available candidates and those who do not set'em up on the occasion are pretty apt to be left out in the cold. Indeed, the ward canvass of late years has become substantially
from sample room to saloon, and from grocery to groggery, whilst the deposits of candidates, as has been lately testified in our Courts, are too often left there in escrow to stimulate idle retainers in ballot stuffing, false counting, and voting dead men's names. In the country districts it is little, if any, better; only the drinks are further apart. The whisky shanties at the crossroads, eye-sores of every neighbor-hood where they become established, are by force of' their attractions a resort for those soldiers of fortune who turn the scale in close elections and thereby rule the hour. page 10 Frequently they become, likewise, headquarters for central committees, from whence go forth edicts to shove delegates and pack nominating conventions.
I may illustrate this by an incident.
A late member of our General Assembly visiting, as one of a Committee, the State Penitentiary, inquired of a convict what brought him there. "Whisky," he quietly answered, and then asked in return. "And what brought you to Jefferson City?" Truth compelled the legislator to respond, "I believe it was whisky brought me here too." So it seems that the dram shop influence plays its part conspicuously in recruiting both the
at the State capital. Indeed, it is not going too far to say, that the extent to which the politicians of the country are compromised with the liquor interest, and the associations which fester around its 6ites, have done more than all else to deter men of upright character and business qualification from engaging heartily in political pursuits. They see that the qualities which command success are boon companionship rather than mental capacities, and shrink back from such competition. The result of ex eluding the classes best qualified for public service from public position is only too visible in official delinquencies and violated trusts. Nor is this all, or perhaps the worst feature of such a regime. Defalcations may be borne with. New victims may step into the places of disgraced favorites. But the exclusion of strong convictions and high purposes from the' control of the country, puts a premium upon moral cowardice which candidates for favor are swift to appropriate. It has become a world-wide criticism, that there is less of independent thought among the statesmen of America than those of any civilized people on earth. They sometimes adopt principles which have been pioneered through obloquy into victory, by men they ridicule as radicals but the growth of ideas is always outside of parties. As for any initiation on this present subject from them, rest assured they would rather sin against the Holy Ghost than against the beer barrel.
"This land was once enriched
With politic grave counsel."
But such expression would scarcely fit our degenerate speech. The politic of today is that which creeps and burrows. This is shown signally in the changed relation of the press which has almost lost control over politics. The newspapers of widest circulation scarcely claim a morganatic page 11 Party connection. Day by day the able editor is ceasing to be a factor in shaping our representative system. The machine is run by the bummers and inspired by the dramshops. Where it will all end no one dare predict. I can see no further along, if the present state of things shall continue, than Freedom Drunk, and
That is Communism.
If you turn now to the influence of this liquor traffic upon citizens in the attitude of the governed, in which relation the state is most deeply pledged to their well being, you come upon social facts of transcendent consequence. Whatever virtue shall be possessed by the people in their subject character, whatever shall tend to elevate their lives, to make them more susceptible to duty, more incorruptible, will unquestionably be so much gained in the direction of good government. And all that operates in hostility thereto is a wrong done to good citizenship. It is the recognition of this that causes public opinion to welcome all reforms and induces multitudes to give countenance to them, even though they do not reform them-selves. The aggregate good is plain as the sun that shines; the personal adhesion is put off, or its influence undervalued. And to no reform has the general public ever given more sympathetic greeting than to that which seeks to abate the evils of intemperance. The patient ear listens to the pitying speech which tells its miseries, and all tender emotions gather to the rescue of the fallen ones. Indeed so sacred are the depths of feeling which are sounded by its appeals that many are lot to profane its conquest by any invocation of law. Moral suasion is their talisman. And blistered be the tongue that would speak reproach to such pure enthusiasm. But this is a very practical world where result follows cause with unfailing sequence, and surroundings which have produced intemperance in the first instance are very sure to tempt relapse after enthusiasm shall have subsided.
Deliver me from Evil.
It will not be disputed that excessive dram drinking fostered by exposure of liquor for sale at every available point, in the countless saloons, which invite to the social glass, at the cheaper bar rooms that retail only intoxication, down in the wine vaults, or back in the beer houses, has produced habits of indulgence not admirable by any "means in the influence either upon body or mind. Treating and being treated have become chronic evils. The drink question meets you in every quarter, and at every hour. It salutes you before breakfast if you go to market, upon the street as you hurry to business, before you go upon 'change, on 'change after change, at luncheon, at dinner, promiscuously thereafter till supper, and even in the interludes of amusement if you venture to concert of opera. I believe it has not yet invaded the church, but some of the laity looks very askance at the parson if he exceeds his allotted thirty minutes. Consider, too, other nations have various forms of Salutation, as, "May you ever prosper," "Peace is with you," "Christ has arisen." We mostly say," What do you drink?" The effect of all this' is terrible. It makes it almost impossible to reform, when the habit threatens, without a sacrifice at the same time of all social intercourse. It generates alternate exhilaration page 12 and depression of the mental equilibrium entirely fatal to any sound judgment or persistent purpose. It works its own miracle of creating a craving for more with every new satiation, and substitutes an
in the stead of natural tastes. Indeed there is nothing known within the whole realm of science that has the power to degrade men and women like alcohol. It is easy to see then how, surrounded by so many incentives, such multiplied temptations, those who wish to emancipate themselves from the cruel habit are drawn back into indulgence. And it is still easier to understand how having such fatal fascination for its victims it benumbs conscience and then leaves them open to any crime that may tempt. Thus both as a remote and as a proximate cause, the liquor traffic become the prolific parent of nearly all the crime which afflicts the State. This is established by statistics of large and varied embracement, which leave no room for any doubt. The literature of prohibition is full of such exhibits, and I might cite you abundant illustration, from the earliest testimonies of Sir Matthew Hale to the latest reports of the numerous boards of Public Charities. But the present is scarcely fit occasion for such review. Frederic Hill, Inspector of Prisons in England, declares that he was within the truth when stating "as the result of extensive and minute inquiry, that in four cases oat of five where an offense has been committed, intoxicating, drink has been one of the causes." Elisha Harris, in our own country, writing on prison discipline, says "full eighty-five per cent of all convicts give evidence of having in some degree been prepared or enticed to do criminal acts. Because of the physical and distracting effects produced upon the human organism by alcohol." Of 34 murders in one year, in Philadelphia, 30 came of drink. Of 32,775 commitments, 25.551 were traceable directly to intemperance. Of 75,692 arrests in New York City, 34,696 were for
Drunkenness and Disorder.
In fact, all the annals of penitentiaries, houses of correction and jails but confirm what you see so patent in daily police reports, that intoxication and crime go hand in hand down the slippery paths to perdition. And this moral plague is contagious, constantly spreading, making its conscription younger every generation. But the blunted moral sense which breeds dishonesties among individuals, when brought into contact with the State turns its employ into rings of plunder and combination for spoils. Those who have witnessed the growth, in late years, of the sentiment that robbery of the State is no robbery unless punished, will not need to be told that it finds its culmination in that organized association, known as the lobby,. Whose trade is corruption, whose appliance is human weakness, and whose bible is the bottle?
The effect however of this opens traffic in intoxicating drinks is visible in the
Morals of Public Thought
long before it takes on any violent types or depravity. What the state licenses the community will persist in regarding as right. Thus all reverence for law is undermined in those who still believe it wrong, and all faith in morals is page 13 shaken with such as stickle for the law, so that obedience to authority, which constitutes good citizenship, finds itself embarrassed either in accepting or repudiating legalized intoxication. Indeed, it goes much further, for we thus have the state as a teacher of morals inculcating by way of a first lesson, that the beginnings—whether of virtue or vice, are, in-its estimation, matters, of indifference. How early the seeds of disobedience are sown by such teaching may be well learned from reports of the Boston public Schools, where, by careful inquiry, it has been shown "among the causes for truancy that which so far transcends all others as to be considered the cause of causes, is the early use of intoxicating drinks." Such is the attestation of Mr. Philbrick, for so many years Superintendent. If to this be added the
of the dram shops, for they are the rendezvous of riper profligates ambitious to encourage the young to emulate their courses, some idea may be formed of the antagonism thus interposed to any higher moral and psychical development. Even if the great object of government then was merely the suppression of crime, without other or nobler purpose, does it not sap the very foundations of its strength and permanence by sanctioning the license system? Is it not equally Fatal as a policy of state, to the governing and the governed?
And here I might properly rest this analysis, were it not that there is one great element of society which revolves in a sphere of its own, and is scarcely to be classified under either of these aspects—I mean the families of the people, the centers of domestic rather than public life. The dramshop law is not merely a menace, it is a crime against the
The State first licenses the sale of intoxicating liquors and then declares habitual intoxication cause for divorce. This is separation made easy, and ninety-nine out of every hundred cases which occur in our Courts rest that ground. It is not the question here whether drunkenness is sufficient cause, but if it is how the government can excuse itself for Upholding and legalizing the traffic which causes drunkenness? And where one family is thus dissolved by a legal edict, in consequence of such induced intoxication, how many thousands upon thousands die out, or are virtually destroyed, which make no outward sign? It is in the heart of the mother and the terror of the child that this dread visitant first finds recognition. It is over ruined hopes, and broken promises, and lost respect and wounded love that drunkenness invades the home, and when once there it is only a question of how long before every affection which binds that family together will be trampled out of being. And the future of citizenship is thus accursed before it is born into time. Equally fatal likewise is it to the health of offspring—that fruit of marriage out of which the State survives. The
of liquor is as well known in medicine as that of any pulmonary disease and society at large tolerates after a fashion and provides for the decrepitude of children thus begotten in alcohol by furnishing asylums for the idiotic and insane. Mental obliquity in some form is page 14 sure to crop out in its scions. Dr. Ray, a very high authority, in his work on" Hygiene" says "another potent agency in vitiating the quality of the brain is habitual intemperance, and the effect is far oftener contained in the offspring than in the drunkard himself." Dr. Howe says "that of the cases of idiocy not one-fourth can be identified as born of even temperate parents." In other words persistent functional disturbance at last brings about organic change and thus permissively the state contributes to
Degeneracy of Type
in its members. The National Medical Association, at Detroit, expressed its sense upon this point by a resolution declaring in express terms that "the use of alcoholic liquors entails diseased appetites and enfeebled constitutions upon offspring." Sir H. Thompson, a practioner of European reputation, recognizing the same fact, says "I have no hesitation in attributing a very large proportion of some of the most dangerous and painful maladies which come under my notice to the ordinary and daily use of fermented drink, taken in the quantity conventional deemed moderate." And it is this Indus of disease which so often spreads itself through two or three generations of imbecility before it takes on final forms of madness. In brief, it is the mental leprosy of our people. In the Islands of the Sea the lepers are corralled apart and forbidden to propagate. With us, on the contrary, ardent encouragement to beget scorbutic children is state policy.
What has been advanced will have been said too little purpose if it fail to convince you, that in all the relations whom this liquor traffic bears to the State, it is altogether indefensible and should be prohibited. Whether viewed economically or politically or socially—whether as a matter of morals or of policy—in what guise sever it be seen there is no redeeming feature about it. Can it then be suppressed by the State, and if so, by what best method, are the questions which at once crave answer?
Prohibition a Success.
Prohibition, it must be borne in mind, is a fact to be made good, not merely a law to be passed—a thing to be accomplished practically, and not a mere theory to be left to die from want of enforcement. And first, then, let me say that its feasibility is just as apparent as the suppression of any other condemned practice among men. Indeed the sale of intoxicating drinks is more capable of prevention than any single vice of individuals; for 6ales require a large number of customers to make them profitable, and numbers cannot engage in such violation of law without discovery. If only the government be sufficiently in earnest, and its officers be reliable, there cannot be any difficulty about stamping it out as easily as a cattle pest. This talk, then, that prohibition is a failure, is all bosh. It has been a success in many lands, and wherever vigorously set about; and to-day is more of a success in Maine than any law against any crime involving equal prospective gain. There are, no doubt, some evasions of the most stringent statute known to our age, but certainly not a hundredth part so many as there are infractions of our license page 15 law, which only aims to collect a tax.
For the further information of all those skeptics who are so doubtful about prohibition, I may refer them to Sweden where, in a population of three and a half millions of people, only 450 places of open sale are allowed, and those under a most rigid supervision. In England, the report of the Committee of the Province of Canterbury, embracing upwards of a thousand parishes, shows that there is neither public house nor beer shop known. In Scotland, many extensive estates and large industrial establishments have adopted the system as a purely business enterprise, and its effect has been a miracle of prosperity. In the United States, owing to the timidity of political parties, and the immense control acquired by the liquor interest, the experiment has only struggled up, here and there, as a demand of the people, over and above the head of parties; but wherever tried faithfully, it has been a success.
Four Prosperous States
have Prohibition now engrafted on their codes, and the dram sellers there, if any there be, do not complain of its non-enforcement, or make light of its severe penalties. In many whole sections of other States, where local option obtains, there is absolute suppression effected. In a number of counties of Missouri, and conspicuously in Clay, there is not a dram shop tolerated. And if I wished a signal instance I might cite you here at home to the only large iron industry now in operation, that has not baulked its labor in all the panic times, and bid you note well the fact that for long years, throughout its five and twenty square miles of territory, no drop of liquor has ever been permitted to be sold.
How to Establish it
is the other and more involved inquiry. Elsewhere, communities have only arrived at a solution of the problem after laborious effort and much disappointment, so that no doubt, we too shall have to struggle up out of difficulty into triumph. Yet let not this be any discouragement, for no cause was ever well won that was not well fought. The fact of prohibition may be reached in various ways, all dependent, however, on a pronounced public opinion to inaugurate and maintain it. To accomplish that, agitation is first of all necessary—agitation by all ways, incessant, unflinching agitation. Neal Dow says that before the State of Maine was convinced, it was sown all over knee deep with prohibition literature. As the people of Missouri are the swiftest in the world to arrive at conclusions and adopt a true policy, it may not take so much discussion; but the facts will have to be broadly stated and freely disseminated. Again; no element of repression can be safely disregarded. In the agricultural districts, hostility to all drunkenness is so well established as a sentiment that it is ready to take oh forms refusing to issue permits. To this end the present dram-shop law offers.
By one of its provisions no Judge of any County Court is permitted to issue a license to any drain shop unless it shall be first petitioned for by a majority of all the tax-payers of the township, town, or city block. Furthermore it is required that this petition be renew. page 16 [unclear: the] 4th day of July, in [unclear: every] year or the license shall he void and the traffic unlawful, this affords fitting opportunity to test the sense of every neighborhood, to arraign delinquent courts in every county, to enforce the law as to all its prohibitory features. Not one in fifty of the 5,922 dram shops in Missouri is to-day entitled to remain open. Let this be the celebration then, to which all men in Missouri opposed to drunkenness shall address themselves by way of organized protest at the anniversary of the nation's independence, and if you will do so with the spirit of your fathers in 1776, you will achieve a deliverance for the State second m importance to none that has yet been accomplished.
A Constitutional Amendment,
embracing prohibition and so framed as to be self-operative, will, more directly than any other method, present this question to the people of the State. It has, too, the great advantage of an immediate appeal, and of permanency when adopted. It can be insisted upon now, without disturbing the sensitiveness of existing parties or necessitating their political antagonism. It should, therefore, be urged in every district at the coming canvass, and no man should be permitted to go to the Legislature, if he can be defeated, who will not pledge himself to have submitted such a constitutional amendment to a vote of the people. This is, in very truth the right of petition in its largest sense, which the people have reason to demand, and those candidates who refuse assent to so democratic a request, maybe set down as fit only to be driven from public life. The agitation of such an issue in the pending election will make clear to the State that this is not a mere vapid parade of sentiment, but means business. It will notify the politicians to set their houses in order and prepare to enlist anew. "Under which king, Bezonian!"
"Speak or Die!"
To insure prohibition, however, neither laws nor constitutions are sufficient. Behind all these there must be rigid enforcement civil proceedings for redress, criminal arraignment for punishing and the entire appliance which comes of legislations intent to effect Suppression of the traffic. This can only be sustained by political association pertinent to that end. And as the cause of prohibition more and more approaches supremacy it will formulate itself into partisan shape. For, after all, it is with men we have to deal, and men in power only respond to organized sentiment. I counsel, therefore, that you prepare the way, even at this early day, for the "Prohibition Alliance," which is to rule the future of Missouri in despite and over the head of all other associations opposed to its behest. In politics as in nature the law of life is "the survival of the fittest," and politicians should understand, and if they do not yet realize it, should be taught the lesson anew, that such organization as will not respond to the vital issues of the age must be content to disappear.