As early as 1639 a law was made in Massachusetts to restrain intemperate drinking, and similar laws were passed about the same time in Connecticut. In 1760 the religious societies began to protest against the use of liquors at funerals. In 1756 a duty was laid upon imported spirits in Pennsylvania for the purpose of diminishing their consumption, and in 1772 this act was extended to embrace spirits of domestic production. The first continental congress, in 1774, recommended " the several legislatures of the United States immediately to pass laws the most effectual for putting an immediate stop to the pernicious practice of distilling, by which the most extensive evils are likely to be derived if not quickly prevented." The first modern temperance society was formed in 1789 by 200 farmers of Litchfield, Conn., who, to discourage the use of spirituous liquors, "determined not to use any distilled liquors in doing their farm work the ensuing season." In December, 1790, the college of physicians in Philadelphia memorialized congress "to impose such heavy duties upon distilled spirits as shall be effectual to restrain.their intemperate use in our country." The Methodist church from its foundation in America took decided ground against the use and sale of liquors.
In the latter part of the 18th century the clergy in general began to make active efforts against intemperance. The cause of temperance was also publicly advocated by philanthropists, chief among whom was Dr. Benjamin Rush. But the modern temperance movement may be said to date from 1811, when the efforts for the suppression of intemperance assumed an organized and systematic form, although for 25 years thereafter but limited results were apparent. In that year the general assembly of the Presbyterian church appointed a committee of seven ministers to devise measures for preventing the evils arising from the intemperate use of spirituous liquors. In 1812 this committee recommended that all Presbyterian ministers in the United States should deliver discourses on the evils of intemperance, and that extended efforts should be made to circulate addresses, sermons, tracts, and other printed matter on this subject. In June, 1811, the general association of Massachusetts appointed a committee of four ministers and four laymen to cooperate with the committee of the general assembly of the Presbyterian church and the general association of Connecticut in devising measures for the promotion of temperance.
In 1813 this committee organized the "Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance," which in 1833 changed its name to that of the " Massachusetts Temperance Society," under which title it was incorporated in 1845 and still holds a corporate existence. In 1826 the "American Society for the Promotion of Temperance" was formed in Boston, with Marcus Morton as president. Dr. Justin Edwards of Andover, Mass., became the corresponding secretary in 1829, and travelled extensively, preaching total abstinence and organizing state and local societies. The five annual reports of the society written by him are among the best contributions to the literature of this subject. In 1836 the society became by change of name the "American Temperance Union," with the Rev. Dr. John Marsh as secretary. It was then established in Philadelphia, but in October, 1838, was removed to New York. Although total abstinence was publicly advocated as early as 1820, it was not till many years later that any of the temperance organizations insisted upon this requirement.
The object of the Massachusetts society, as set forth in its constitution, was " to discountenance and suppress the too free use of ardent spirits." Neither the American tamperance society nor its auxiliaries opposed the use of wine, cider, or malt liquors. Total abstinence from distilled spirits, except when prescribed as a medicine, and moderation in the use of the less intoxicating drinks, were the only general requirements. Many of the earlier advocates of temperance, including Mathew Carey, encouraged the culture of the grape and the use of wine as a preventive of intemperance. Dr. Marsh, in his " Fifty Years' Tribute to the Cause of Temperance," says: " The first reformers built a brewery in Boston for the accommodation of members of the temperance society." Even the first national temperance convention, which assembled in Philadelphia in May, 1833, and was composed of 400 delegates from 21 states, including a large number of clergymen of all denominations, simply took the ground that "the traffic in ardent spirits as a drink, and the use of it as such, are morally wrong, and ought to be abandoned throughout the world." Nothing was said of total abstinence from other alcoholic beverages.
At this convention the " United States Temperance Union" was formed, consisting of the officers of the American temperance society of Boston, 23 state societies, and more than 7,000 minor associations. Its object was, by diffusing information and exerting a moral influence, to extend the principles of temperance throughout the world. In 1833 the Massachusetts society adopted a new constitution with a pledge of total abstinence. In 1836 the state society of Pennsylvania, formed in 1827, adopted the pledge of "total abstinence from all that can intoxicate." Demand was now made in all the states that higher ground should be taken; yet few were prepared to include malt liquors in the pledge, believing that beer was necessary and beneficial. The second national convention was held at Saratoga, N. Y., in 1836, when the name of the United States temperance union was changed to that of the "American Temperance Union," with the design of admitting members from all parts of North America. The convention was attended by 348 delegates from 19 states and territories and from Canada. The most marked feature of the proceedings was the adoption of the principle of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks as beverages.
One of the earliest state societies was that of Connecticut, organized in May, 1829. In the same year state temperance societies were formed in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Virginia, and Illinois. In May, 1831, there were 19 state societies, with 2,200 known local societies formed on the plan of total abstinence, and embracing more than 170,000 pledged members. In 1832 the war department abolished the " grog " ration, substituting coffee and sugar. - As early as 1832 the license question began to be agitated, and a strong public opinion against license laws was soon formed. In 1837-8 a bill introduced in the Maine legislature to repeal all license laws of the state, and to forbid the sale of ardent spirits as a beverage in less quantity than 28 gallons, was lost by one vote in the senate. In Tennessee a law was passed repealing all acts licensing tippling houses, and making the retailing of spirits a misdemeanor punishable by fine at the discretion of the courts. In Massachusetts the sale of spirituous liquors in less quantity than 15 gallons, except by physicians and apothecaries, was forbidden. Laws were also passed in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, either restricting the sale or leaving it to a vote of the people of each town whether liquor selling should be licensed.
The third national convention, composed of 560 delegates, assembled in July, 1841, and resolved "that the license laws are at variance with all true political economy, and one of the chief supports of intemperance." Largo conventions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts declared against granting licenses, and in favor of providing by fine and imprisonment for the effectual suppression of the traffic. In 1846 New York voted against license by a large majority. Vermont gave a majority of 8,000 against license, and many towns in New Hampshire voted against it. In Rhode Island every town but three, and in Connecticut two thirds of the towns, declared in favor of "no license." In Pennsylvania 18 counties voted on the question, and generally against license. In Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin about half of the counties opposed it. The agitation of the question of license resulted in a strong public sentiment in favor of prohibition. In March, 1847, the supreme court of the United States unanimously decided that prohibitory laws "were not inconsistent with the constitution of the United States, nor with any acts of congress;" and that it was within the police powers of the states to restrain or prohibit the traffic in intoxicating drinks.
Maine was the first state to prohibit by law the sale of strong drinks. A prohibitory law was enacted in that state in 1846, with only ordinary fines for its violation. The " Maine law," drafted by Gen. Neal Dow, provided for the seizure and destruction of liquors held for illegal sale; fine and imprisonment for the illegal manufacture or sale of liquors were prescribed in 1851. This law was repealed in 1856, and a stringent license law substituted; but after an experience of two years of license, with increase of poverty, crime, and public disorder, contrasted with the previous years of prohibition, an enactment was passed and submitted to the people, and prohibition again became the policy of the state, being ratified by a majority of 22,952. Delaware was the second state to enact a prohibitory law, which was submitted to the people and ratified in 1847; but in 1848 it was declared unconstitutional by the supreme court for being so submitted. In May, 1852, Rhode Island passed a prohibitory law, which was declared unconstitutional by Judge Curtis of the United States circuit court. It was amended in January, 1853, and was repealed in 1863. In 1865 a law was passed allowing town councils and boards of aldermen to grant or refuse licenses.
In 1874 the license clause was repealed, and prohibition reenacted; but in June, 1875, the prohibitory clause was again repealed. Massachusetts passed a prohibitory law in 1852, which was declared unconstitutional in some of its provisions, and a new law was passed in 1855, which remained till 1868, when it was repealed and license substituted; but the prohibitory law was again enacted in 1869, cider being excepted. In 1870 the law was altered to allow the free sale of lager beer, ale, porter, and strong beer, in every town in the state where the citizens did not vote to prohibit it; but in 1871 the law was again changed so that malt liquors might not be sold in towns without a vote in its favor, cider being still exempt. In 1873 the beer clause was repealed, thus restoring the prohibition of both malt and spirituous liquors; but as apothecaries were permitted to sell, the law of 1855 and 1857 was not fully restored. In 1875 the prohibitory clause of the law was repealed, and license substituted. The Vermont legislature in 1852 passed a prohibitory law, which was ratified by the people in 1853, and still remains.
In 1850 Michigan prohibited the sale of liquor by a constitutional provision; and in 1853 a prohibitory law was enacted and ratified by a popular majority of 20,000. In 1854 the law was pronounced unconstitutional by half of the judges of the supremo court, because it had been submitted to the people. The law was reenacted in 1855, and was changed seven times previous to 1875, when the prohibitory law was repealed and a tax law substituted. In 1853 Chief Justice Williams of Connnecticut drafted a prohibitory law, which was passed by the legisla-lature, but was vetoed by Governor Seymour. But in 1854 a bill was passed prohibiting the sale of liquors by a vote of 13 to 1 in the senate and 148 to 61 in the house. It was repealed in 1872. A prohibitory law was enacted in Indiana in 1853, with a clause providing for its submission to the people, which the supreme court pronounced unconstitutional. In 1855 another prohibitory law was passed, but it became null because the supreme court was equally divided as to its constitutionality. In Iowa a prohibitory law was passed by the legislature in 1855, and ratified by the people. This law still exists, with some modifications in regard to fermented liquors.
The New-York legislature passed a strong prohibitory law in 1854, which was vetoed by Governor Seymour. The next year the law was again passed, and its constitutionality was affirmed by the court of appeals in 1856. In New York city the mayor did not attempt to enforce it. New Hampshire passed a prohibitory law in 1855, which is still in force. Illinois also passed a prohibitory law, with a clause providing for submitting it to a vote of the people, by whom it was defeated. - The fourth national convention assembled in 1851 at Saratoga, and passed resolutions in favor of prohibitory laws, and advised that an appeal should be made to the people in states where the legislature would not enact such a law. The fifth convention, held in 1865, recommended the use of unfermented wine by the churches in the communion, deprecated the use of alcoholic liquors as a medicine, and urged the medical profession "to substitute other articles in the place of alcohol as far as in their judgment it can be wisely done." A committee appointed by this convention organized in 1865 the "National Temperance Society and Publication House," which has its headquarters in New York, and is engaged in the publication and distribution of temperance literature.
The sixth convention, at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1868, urged the friends of the cause "to refuse to vote for any candidate who denies the application of the just powers of civil government to the suppression of the liquor traffic." The seventh convention, held at Saratoga in 1873, declared "that the time had arrived to introduce the temperance issue into state and national politics," and " to cooperate with existing party organizations where such will indorse the legislative policy of prohibition and nominate candidates pledged to its support, otherwise to organize and maintain separate independent party action." The eighth national convention was held in Chicago in 1875. It resolved "to nominate and vote for such candidates only, state and national, as will unqualifiedly indorse and sustain the .prohibition of the liquor traffic," and "that whenever suitable nominations are not otherwise made, independent prohibition candidates be nominated." Political action was early taken by temperance organizations, many local officers being elected in various states as temperance candidates; and in 1854 the candidate of the temperance party for governor in New York, Myron II. Clark, was supported by the remnant of the whig party, and elected.
In 1872 the Hon. James Black of Lancaster, Pa., was nominated for president, and received votes in New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. - Total Abstinence Societies. The " Washingtonian Temperance Society" was formed in Baltimore, April 5, 1840, by six men of intemperate habits, who signed a pledge of total abstinence with the determination to urge others to do the same. The number of members rapidly increased, and at the first anniversary of the society more than 1,000 reformed drunkards marched in procession. Similar societies were formed in various parts of the United States, and speakers travelled through many states, advocating the cause. It is estimated that 150,000 decidedly intemperate men signed the pledge and gave up drink. The first division of the " Sons of Temperance" was organized in New York city in 1842, by John W. and Isaac Oliver. The order increased with great rapidity, numerous divisions being organized in every state and territory, and in Canada and Great Britain. The strength of the order reached its maximum in 1850, when there were in the United States, Canada, and England 87 grand divisions and 6,097 subordinate divisions, with a total membership of 238,903. In 1873 there were 42 grand and 1,836 subordinate divisions, with 82,299 members; the number of members in Great Britain was 11,116. The basis of the organization is: 1, a strict adherence to the principles of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks; 2, the payment of regular dues to form a common fund for cooperative temperance agitation, mutual aid in sickness and distress, and funeral expenses.
The " Temple of Honor and Temperance" was organized by prominent sons of temperance, and designed as a higher branch of that order. The first temple was instituted in New York city in 1845; a national temple was organized in 1846. In 1848 all connection with the sons of temperance was severed, and the temple of honor assumed an independent position. In 1855 there were 343 temples, with 13,860 members. In 1874 there were 20 grand temples, with 315 subordinate and 110 inner temples, the total membership being 16,923. The order stands firmly by total abstinence as the only rule of personal duty, and prohibition as the true policy of the state. The "Independent Order of Good Templars" was formed in 1852, on the basis of total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and the absolute prohibition by law of the manufacture, importation, and sale of intoxicating liquors for beverages. The society has passwords, signs, grips, and signals. There are four degrees: the subordinate degree, degree of fidelity, degree of charity, and grand lodge degree. Each grand lodge is the head or legislative body of the state or territory where it exists, and is composed of representatives from the subordinate lodges within the jurisdiction.
The grand lodges meet annually and elect representatives to form the right worthy grand lodge, whose province is .to legislate upon all matters of general interest to the whole order. In 1875 there were 60 grand lodges within the jurisdiction of the order; there are grand lodges in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere, besides subordinate lodges in China, India, Japan, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Africa, and the West Indies. The total membership is estimated at 735,000. In England, where the order has its greatest numerical strength, there are 3,618 lodges, with 166,708 members. - Great Brit - ain. The temperance movement in Great Britain was begun by John Dunlop, a justice of the peace for Renfrewshire, who devoted him • self to the cause in Scotland in 1828, and in 1829 formed the first temperance society near Glasgow. The first total abstinence society was organized at Dunfermline in 1830. In Ireland the cause was first advocated by the Rev. George Whitmore Carr, who organized a society at New Ross, county Wexford, in 1829. The first total abstinence society was formed at Strabane in 1835. Father Theobald Mathew began his labors at Cork in 1838, and soon extended them not only to all parts of Ireland, but to England and Scotland. The total abstinence society formed by him in 1838 contained 1,800,000 members in 1840. The consumption of whiskey in Ireland decreased from 12,500,000 gallons in 1838 to 6,500,000 gallons in 1841. In 1843 the number of persons pledged to total abstinence exceeded 5,000,000. The active movement against intemperance in England began in 1830, when the first society was formed at Bradford by Henry Forbes, a merchant.
Other societies were organized during the same year at Warrington, Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds; and in 1831 the " British and Foreign Temperance Society " was formed, with a pledge " to abstain from distilled spirits except for medicinal purposes." This society, which had for its patron the bishop of London, and among its vice presidents bishops, admirals, and other persons of high official rank, held for many years a prominent place in the temperance movement. At first these societies did not oppose the moderate use of wine and malt liquors. The first total abstinence society in England was formed at Preston in 1832.
In 1835 it was estimated that 48,000 persons had signed the pledge in England, and that 2,000 drunkards had been reformed. In 1835 the "British Association for the Promotion of Temperance" was formed in Manchester, on the principle of total abstinence, and the "British Teetotal Temperance Society" in London; in 1836 the latter was united with the " New British and Foreign Temperance Society for the Suppression of Intemperance." Weekly meetings were held in various parts of London, with great success. The moderation movement finally died out, and "teetotalism " was firmly established as the best means of suppressing intemperance. Up to 1839 the new British and foreign society had two pledges; in that year the American pledge of total abstinence was adopted. In. 1840 the two general societies adopted the principle of total abstinence, and the cause spread rapidly throughout the United Kingdom. At this time about 500,-000 members were enrolled in the societies of Great Britain, while the adherents to total abstinence numbered more than 2,000,000. In 1842 the two parent societies in London were dissolved, and the "National Temperance Society" was organized, which recognized all total abstinence societies, of whatever form of pledge.
In 1843 Father Mathew visited London, and in six weeks administered the pledge to about 70,000 persons. In August, 1846, a world's temperance convention was held in London, and was attended by 300 delegates, including 25 from North America. The most marked progress was made by the temperance cause from 1851 to 1856. The " London Temperance League" held monthly meetings in Exeter hall, and free lectures were delivered in all parts of the city; 3,000 petitions were sent to parliament, and 30,000 tracts distributed. The "United Kingdom Alliance" was formed in 1853 for the " total and immediate suppression of the traffic in all intoxicating liquors as a beverage;" it has since prosecuted its labors with great vigor and success by means of lectures, petitions to parliament, publications, etc. The alliance has given its hearty support to the "permissive bill," which has often been brought forward in parliament in recent years, but without success. The object of the bill is to prohibit the granting of licenses to sell liquor whenever two thirds of the rate payers of any parish shall by vote so determine. Numerous organizations are now actively engaged in various parts of Great Britain in promoting the cause of temperance.
Chief among these are : the "National Temperance League," formed in 1854 by a union of the national temperance society with the London temperance league; the "British Temperance League," whose operations are chiefly in Lancashire and Yorkshire, its headquarters being at Bolton; the " Western Temperance League," established in 1837 and reorganized in 1858, embracing 284 societies, the operations of which extend to nine English and three Welsh counties; the " North of England Temperance League," with 125 societies in Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and the Cleveland district of Yorkshire; the " Irish Temperance League;" and the " Scottish Temperance League," which in 1873 had issued 70,000 volumes and 630,000 tracts, besides a weekly and a monthly periodical. The United Kingdom alliance has its executive council resident in Manchester. England and Wales are divided into districts superintended by resident agents. Its operations also extend to Scotland and Ireland in connection with the " Scottish Temperance and Permissive Bill Association," the " Irish Temperance and Permissive Bill League," and the "Irish Permissive Bill Association." The " National Association for promoting Amendment in the Laws relating to the Liquor Traffic" directs its efforts toward obtaining amendments of license laws.
Various enactments have been passed by parliament, and committees of inquiry appointed with the view of diminishing the evils of intemperance. These efforts have been directed toward the restriction of the liquor traffic rather than its prohibition.