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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36

Commission of Enquiry

Commission of Enquiry.

The following is the Bill referred to on the 21st page of this pamphlet, which, having passed the Senate of the United States, is before the House of Representatives for consideration:

"A Bill to Provide for the Appointment of Commissioners on the Subject of the Alcoholic and Fermented-Liquor Traffic and Manufacture.

"Be it enacted, etc.: That, for the purpose of obtaining information which may serve as a guide to the system of legislation best fitted for the District of Columbia, the several Territories of the United States, and other places subject to the legislation of Congress, in reference to the question of revenue from the manufacture and sale of alcoholic and fermented liquors, and the effect of the use of such liquors upon the morals and welfare of the people of such District, Territories, and places, there shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a commission of five persons, neither of whom shall be the holder of any office of profit or trust in the General or a State Government, and all of whom shall not be advocates of prohibitory legislation or total abstinence in relation to alcoholic or fermented liquors. The said commissioners shall be selected solely with reference to personal fitness and capacity for an honest, impartial, and thorough investigation, and shall hold office until their duties shall be accomplished, but not to exceed one year. It shall be their duty to investigate the alcoholic and fermented liquor traffic and manufacture, having special reference to revenue and taxation, distinguishing as far as possible, in the conclusions they arrive at, between the effects produced by the use of distilled or spirituous liquors and the use of fermented or malt liquors, in their economic, criminal, moral, and scientific aspects, in connection with pauperism, crime, social vice, the public health, and general welfare of the people; and also enquire and take testimony as to the practical results of license and restrictive legislation for the prevention of intemperance in the several States, and the effect produced by such legislation upon the consumption of distilled or spirituous liquors and fermented or malt liquors; also to ascertain whether the evils of drunkenness have been increased or decreased, and whether public morals have been improved thereby. It shall also be the duty of said commissioners to gather information and take testimony as to whether the evil of drunkenness exists to the same extent, or more so, in other civilized countries, and whether those foreign nations that are considered the most temperate in the use of stimulants are so through prohibitory laws; and also to what degree prohibitory legislation has affected the consumption and manufacture of malt and spirituous liquors in this country.

"Sec. 2. That the said commissioners shall serve without salary, shall be authorized to employ a secretary at a reasonable compensation, not to exceed $2,000 per annum, which, with the necessary expenses incidental to said investigation, in all not exceeding $10,000, of both the secretary and commissioners, shall be paid out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, upon vouchers to be approved by the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury. It shall be the further duty of said commissioners to report the result of their investigation and the expenses attending the same to the President, to be by him transmitted to Congress."