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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36



Section I. From and after the year of our Lord 1900 the manufacture and sale of distilled alcoholic intoxicating liquors, or alcoholic liquors any part of which is obtained by distillation or process equivalent thereto, or any intoxicating liquors mixed or adulterated with ardent spirits or with any poison whatever, except for medicinal, mechanical, chemical, and scientific purposes, and for use in the arts, anywhere within the United States and the Territories thereof, shall cease; and the importation of such liquors from foreign States and countries to the United States and Territories, and the exportation of such liquors from and the transportation thereof within and through any part of this country, except for the use and purposes aforesaid, shall be, and hereby is, forever thereafter prohibited.

Sec. 2. Nothing in this article shall be construed to waive or abridge any existing power of Congress, nor the right, which is hereby recognized, of the people of any State or Territory to enact laws to prevent the increase and for the suppression or regulation of the manufacture, sale, and use of liquors, and the ingredients thereof, any part of which is alcoholic, intoxicating, or poisonous, within its own limits, and for the exclusion of suck liquors and ingredients there from at any time, as well before as after the close of the year of our Lord 1900; but until then, and until ten years after the ratification hereof as provided in the next section, no State or Territory shall interfere with the transportation of said liquors or ingredients, in packages safely secured, over the usual lines of traffic to other States and Territories wherein the manufacture, sale, and use thereof for other purposes and use than those excepted in the first section, shall be lawful: Provided That the true destination of such packages be plainly marked thereon.

Sec. 3. Should this article not be ratified by three-fourths of the States on or before the last day of December, 1890, then the first section hereof shall take effect and be in force at the expiration of ten years from such ratification; and the assent of any State to this article shall not be rescinded nor reversed.

Sec. 4. Congress shall enforce this article by all needful legislation.

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In order to justify legislation of any kind restricting the manufacture and use of alcoholic liquors, J believe it to be necessary to maintain these propositions:

First. That it is the duty of society, through the agency of government, which is the creature of society, to enact and enforce all laws which, while protecting the individual in the full possession and enjoyment of his inalienable rights, tend to promote the general welfare, and especially whenever that welfare is impaired or threatened by any existing or impending evil, it is the duty of society to enact and enforce laws to restrict or destroy that evil. It may be proper to observe that no law can promote the general welfare which deprives an individual of an inalienable right, when that right is properly defined, or which impairs the enjoyment thereof, whether of life, liberty, property, or the pursuit of happiness. But society has inalienable rights as well as individuals, and the right to such legislation as will promote the general welfare, in its true sense, is one of them; and the inalienable rights of individuals and the inalienable rights of society at large are limited by, and must be construed and enjoyed with reference to, each other.

Second. While society has no right to prevent or restrict the use of an article by individuals for purposes which are beneficial only, yet if that use, beneficial to some, is found by experience to be naturally and inevitably greatly injurious in its effects upon others and upon society in general, then it becomes the duty of society, in the exercise of its inalienable right to promote the general welfare and in self-defense to social life, just as the individual may defend his natural life, to prohibit, regulate, or restrict the use of that article, as the case may require. This principle is daily applied in laws which control the manufacture and use of gunpowder, nitro-glycerine, dynamite, and other things of great and dangerous potency, the unrestrained use of which, even for useful purposes, has been shown by experience to be destructive to the inalienable rights of others. This results from the common principle of law that every man must so enjoy his own rights as neither to destroy or impair those of another, and it is the great end for which government is instituted among men to compel him so to do.

Third. No person has a right to do that to himself which, impairs or perverts his own powers; and when he does so by means of that which society can reach and remove by law, to such extent as to become a burden or a source of danger to others, either by his example or by his liability to commit acts of crime, or to be essentially incapacitated to discharge his duties to himself, his family, and society, the law, that is, society, should protect both him and itself. A man has no more right to destroy his inalienable rights than those of another, or than another has to deprive him of his own. The laws restraining the spendthrift in the destruction of his inalienable right in property and punishing suicide (as the common law did, by forfeiture of estate, etc.), or attempted self-murder (as the law does now), are familiar examples of the application of this principle.

These are elementary principles of law and of common sense. They are corner-stones of all just government. To these principles every member of society is held to have given his assent. They are unques- page 5 tioned, so far as I know, by any one who believes in any law. They are axiomatic and indestructible as the social organization itself.

Fourth. The use (unless medicinally) of alcoholic liquors to the extent of intoxication or poisoning—which, as will hereafter be seen, is the same thing as intoxication—is an injury to the individual; it inflicts great evils upon society at large; it is destructive to the general welfare; it is of a nature which may be greatly restricted, if not destroyed, by the enforcement of appropriate laws; consequently such laws should be enacted and enforced; and this should be done in our country, either by the States, or by the General Government, or by both, if such laws can be made more efficient thereby.

I believe this proposition to be true, and respectfully ask candid attention to the facts and observations which follow.