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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36

The Results of Prohibition

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The Results of Prohibition.

A common objection continually reiterated by the opponents of the temperance reform is that "prohibition has been a failure." There is of course, no statute law which is not sometimes violated. The real question involved is, "What are the results of the legal prohibition of alcoholic beverages, compared with ordinary legislation?"


The experience of Maine, the pioneer State, covers now a period of & quarter of a century in connection with prohibitory legislation. We present the evidence of those thoroughly qualified to testify.

In 1872, Governor Perham writes: "In regard to the effect of the Maine Law upon the liquor trade in this State, I think it safe to say that it is very much less than before the enactment of the law, probably not one-tenth as large. In some places liquor is sold secretly in violation of law, as many other offences are committed against the statutes and the peace and good order of society; but in large districts of the State the liquor traffic is nearly or quite unknown, where formerly it was carried on like any other trade."

The Hon. W. P. Frye, member of Congress from the Lewiston district, and ex-Attorney-General of Maine, also (1872) writes: "1 can and do, from my own personal observation, unhesitatingly affirm that the consumption of intoxicating liquors in Maine is not to-day one-fourth so great as it was twenty years ago; that, in the country portions of the State, the sale and use have almost entirely ceased; that the law itself, under a vigorous enforcement of its provisions, has created a temperance sentiment which is marvellous, and to which opposition is powerless. In my opinion, our remarkable temperance reform of to-day is the legitimate child of the law."

The Hon. Lot M. Morrill, United States Senator from Maine, writes: "I have the honor unhesitatingly to concur in the opinions expressed in the foregoing by my colleague, Hon. Mr. Frye."

The Hon. J. G. Blaine, Speaker of the House of Representatives, writes: "I concur in the foregoing statements; and on the point of the relative amount of liquors sold in Maine and in those States where a system of license prevails, I am very sure, from personal knowledge and observation, that the sales are immeasurably less in. Maine."

The Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, United States Senator and ex-Vice President of the United States, writes: "I concur in the statements made by Mr. Frye. In the great good produced by the Prohibitory Liquor Law of Maine no man can doubt who has seen its result. It has been of immense value."

The Hon. John A. Peters, the Hon. John Lynch, and the Hon. Eugene Hall, members of Congress from Maine, substantiate the foregoing testimony.

The Hon. Benj. Kingsbury, Mayor of Portland in 1872, and four ex-Mayors, concur in a statement concerning the diminution of the liquor traffic in the State of Maine, and in the city of Portland in particular, that, "as the result of the adoption of the policy of prohibition, we have to say the traffic has fallen off very largely. [unclear: In relation to that] page 2 tion of the trade is very great, and the favorable effects of the Polish of prohibition are manifest to the most casual observer."

Offer city officials of Portland—judges, City Clerk, Treasurer, and others—testify that the liquor trade is greatly diminished, and is "not one-tenth of what it was prior to the adoption of the Maine Law."

Twelve well-known clergymen of Portland, representing the Congregational, Baptist, Protestant Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, Unitarian, and Universalist Churches, in 1872 unite in the declaration that the trade in intoxicating liquors has been greatly reduced by the Maine Law. They say: "In this city, the quantity sold now is but a small fraction of what we remember the sales to have been, and we believe the results are the same, or nearly so, throughout the State. If the trade exists at all here, it is carried on with secrecy and caution, as other unlawful practices are."

The Hon. Win. S. Putnam, an ex-Mayor of Portland, a Democrat, avowedly opposed to the principles of prohibitory liquor laws, says: "I must in candor state I have had good opportunity to observe the condition of this State in the matter of the use and sale of intoxicating liquors for several years past, as compared with some other States where there are no prohibitory laws, and am certain that the rural portions of Maine are, and have been, in an infinitely better condition with reference to the sale and use of such liquors than similar portions of other States referred to, and are, and have been, moreover, comparatively free from both the sale and use; and this must fairly be considered the result of prohibitory legislation. . . . The law is probably enforced, even in large towns and cities, as thoroughly, at least, as any other penal statute."

The Hon. J. S. Wheeright, Mayor of Bangor in 1872, writes: The law is being enforced throughout the State as never before, and with wonderful success. No resident of our State can have any doubt that the liquor traffic has been greatly repressed and reduced." Concurring in this statement are the names of Aldermen for 1871 and 1872, the City Clerk, the Recorder, and Judge of Probate.

The. Hon. Wolcott Hamlin. Supervisor of Internal Revenue for Maine, writes, 1872: "In the course of my duty as an internal revenue officer. I have become thoroughly acquainted with the state and extent of the liquor traffic in Maine, and 1 have no hesitation in saying that the beer trade is not more than one per cent, of what I remember it to have been, and the trade in distilled liquors is not more than ten per cent, of what it formerly was. Where liquor is sold at all, it is done secretly, through fear of the law."

Fifteen clergymen, pastors of Free Baptist churches in different parts of the State of Maine, unite in the statement, 1872, that "the liquor traffic is very greatly diminished under the repressive power of the Maine Law."

The Rev. A. Dalton, Rector of St. Stephen's Protestant Episcopal Church of Portland, writing of the results of the Maine Law, June, 1872, says: "Many, in the humble classes of society particularly, have correct views, and form good resolutions, which they carry out successfully when not solicited to drink by the open bar. Many wives have assured me of the improved condition of their families through the greater restraints put upon their husbands. Families, whose homes are in drinking neighborhoods, or in streets where formerly were many drunken brawls, have gratefully acknowledged the happy change wrought by the due administration of the law suppressing tippling shops"

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Nye, Esq., late State Constable, unite, 1872. in the following: "If we were to say that the quantify of liquors sold here [Augusta] is not one-tenth so large as formerly, we think it would be within the truth; and the favorable effects of the change upon all the interests of the State are plainly seen every where."

The Overseers of the Poor of Portland, Hon. John Bradford, Chair man, unite. 1872, in saying: "If liquor-shops exist at all in this city, it is with secrecy and great caution, and the same thing is true generally throughout the State. The favorable effect of this policy is very evident, particularly in the department of pauperism and crime; while the population of the city increases, pauperism and crime diminish; and in the department of the police, the number of arrests and commitments is very much less than formerly."

These important testimonies, addressed to Hon. Neal Dow, and others of like import, which we have not space to quote, are conclusive that Prohibition is not a failure in Maine.

General Dow, who is known as "the father of the Maine law," himself corroborates these testimonies. In 1853, he wrote: "At the time of the enactment of the law, rumselling was carried on openly in all parts of the State. In Portland, there were between three and four hundred rum-shops, and immediately after the enactment of the law, not one. The wholesale trade in liquors was at once annihilated. In Portland, large numbers of men were reformed. Temptations to intemperance were in a great measure removed out of the path of the young and inexperienced."

"The last report of the Attorney-General of Maine," says the Lewiston Journal, "gives us some interesting statistics of the decrease of crime in this State growing out of prohibition and its enforcement. During the year 1800, the prison, jail, and reform-school received 204 criminals. The number sentenced in 1857 was 157; in 1868, 114; in 1869, 189; in 1870, 150; in 1871, 152; and in 1872, only 100. Estimating the average of commitments for the seven years under review, we find it 152. This result indicates the remarkable fact that the crime during the last year (1872, in which the reform movement has gone hand-in-hand with prohibition) is thirty-three per cent, less than the average of the last seven years. It should be noticed, moreover, that the number convicted and sentenced last year is fifty per cent, less than in 1800, and thirty-three per cent, less than in 1871."

What license, liquor-selling State, of equal population, can present as good an exhibit?

Vineland, New Jersey.

One of the best illustrations of the practical workings of prohibition is the Vineland tract, in New Jersey. The settlement of this tract began in 1801. It numbers now, 1873, something owe 10,500 inhabitants. In 1804, by a special act of the Legislature, the citizens were empowered to vote upon license or no license. From the beginning of the settlement, in 1801, no traffic in alcoholic beverages had been allowed. A very large preponderance of the votes have uniformly been given for "no license." Vineland has, therefore, never had an open grog-shop. The population consists of manufacturers and business people upon the town-plot, and of farmers and fruit-growers outside the village limits, gathered from different parts of the United States, from Germany, France, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Italy. At the invitation of the New Jersey Temperance Alliance, Hon. Charles K. Landis, the founder of Vineland, delivered an address before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Assembly. 1873.

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Police Expenses.
1867 $50 00
1868 50 00
1869 75 00
1870 75 00
1871* 150 00
1672 25 00
Poor Expenses.
1867 $400 00
1868 425 00
1869 425 00
1870* 350 00
1871 400 00
1872 350 00

Mr. Landis says: "These figures speak for themselves, but they are not all. There is a material and industrial prosperity existing In Vineland which, though 1 say it myself, is unexampled in the history of colonization, and must be due to more than ordinary causes. The influence of temperance upon the health and industry of her people is no doubt the principal of these causes. Started when the country was plunged in civil war, its progress was continually onward. Young as the settlement was, it sent its quota of men to the field, and has paid over $69,000 of war debts. The settlement has built twenty fine school-houses, ton churches, and kept up one of the finest systems of road improvements, covering 178 miles, in this country. There are now some fifteen manufacturing establishments on the Vineland tract, and they are constantly increasing in number. Her stores in extent and building will rival any other place in South Jersey. There are seventeen miles of railroad upon the tract, embracing six railway stations. The amount of products sent away to market enormous. The poorest of her people seek to make their homes beautiful."

In the light of the foregoing, it is quite apparent that in Vineland, where it has been fairly tried, Prohibition is not a failure.

Greeley, Colorado.

A more recent colony, not yet four years old, founded upon temperance principles, with a perpetual proviso against the liquor traffic, is Greeley. Colorado. Like Vineland, it has a miscellaneous population, about 3,000, and is rapidly increasing in numbers. Efforts have from time to time been made to introduce the sale of alcoholic beverages, but with little success. Not long after the colony was founded, a fair was held, and the proceeds ($91) put into a fund for the poor. Two years and a half afterwards there still remained of this fund unappropriated and with no calls therefor, $84. Meanwhile, several churches, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and Episcopal, three schools, two banks, several extensive stores, two weekly journals and one monthly, and two literary societies, have been established, and are in a flourishing condition. N. C. Meeker. Esq., of the Greeley Tribune, projector (. the colony, writes, Sept., 1873: "No liquor is sold in the town nor on the colony domain. A rum-shop was started the first year, and it was burned down in broad daylight. A few months ago one was opened five miles from town, and one night all the liquor was destroyed."

Prohibition in Greeley also, as in Vineland, is, so far, a decided access.

Prohibition the True Policy.

The facts we have cited demonstrate that the prohibition of the liquor traffic is as practicable as the legal repression of any other form of crime. May it speedily become the legislative policy of both the State and National Governments!

Published by The National Temperance Society and Pub.

* This was the year when the Vineland Railway was building through the place.