1902 Encyclopedia > Temperance Societies

Temperance Societies

TEMPERANCE SOCIETIES. [Footnote 158-6] The modern temperance movement may be said to date from the publication at Philadelphia, in 1785, of Dr Benjamin Rush’s essay on "The Effects of Ardent Spirits on the Human Body and Mind," which was republished in the Gentleman’s Magazines of 1786, and had a wide circulation. The distinction which he draws between distilled and fermented liquors has, however, no foundation in fact, the difference being one of degree and not of kind. In 1808 Dr Lyman Beecher and Dr B. J. Clark, both readers of Rush, took action, and the result of the work of the latter was the formation of what is believed to be first modern temperance society. It was formed in Greenfield, Saratoga country, New York, as an anti-spirits association, and still remains a teetotal society. This example was soon followed elsewhere, the early societies all restricting their scope to advocacy of moderation in the use of distilled liquors, and placing no inhibition upon fermented drinks. One society had a byelaw requiring any member who became intoxicated to treat all the other members. The woke made further progress when the America Temperance Society was founded in 1826. Three years later Prof. John Edgar of Belfast called attention to the need for similar work in Irelandl ; and John Dunlop nearly at the same time organized a temperance society in Glasgow. In 1830 the first English Temperance society was founded at Bradford. The habitual use of fermented liquors in England was a prolife source of drunkenness, and the evil was greatly increased by the passing of the Bear Act of October 1830. Hence some of the reformers began to abstain from all forms of alcohol. This new departure found its leader in Joseph Livesey of Preston, a man of singular zeal and benevolence, who with six others signed a pledge of total abstinence on 1st September 1832. The reformers were soon divided over the fierce "battle of the Pledges." Some were willing to pledge themselves to abstain, but not to refrain from providing alcoholic drink for their visitors. After the formation of the distinctive total abstinence organizations, the moderation societies died of inanition. It should be mentioned here that the Society of Bible Christians, founded at Salford in 1809, adopted the rule of abstinence from flesh meat and intoxicants, and that a number of the "radical reformers" were abstainers from a desire to diminished the public revenue, which they regarded as devoted to wrong purposes by the Government of the day. In Ireland Father Theobald Mathew became president of the Total Abstinence Society in Cork in 1838, and the "pledge" was taken from his hands by crowds ; before he died in 1856 between three and four million persons are said to have receive it from him in the course of his journeys. J. S. Buckingham secured the appointment of a committee of the House of Commons, which sat in June 1834, to inquire into drunkenness. The abjective "teetotal" was first used in September 1833 by Richard Turner, a reformed drunkard, to express the thoroughgoing principle of total abstinence, but whether he coined the word, or whether it was merely a stuttering pronunciation of "total," or an old dialect word has been disputed ; Prof. Skeat (Etym. Dict., s.v. Teetotal") believes it is an emphasized form of "total," formed on the principle of reduplication. The early teetotallers were earnest teetotallers were earnest missionaries. In consequence of their efforts societies and leagues multiplied, periodicals were established, and, notwithstanding many failures and apparent retrogressions, the temperance movement progressed. One of the chief forms of thrift amongst the artisan class was that of the friendly society, the meetings of which were usually held at the public-house, large sums being spent (sometimes by rule) on liquor. In 1835 the Independent Order of Rechabites was formed at Salford, and has since had a prosperous career as a working class insurance company on temperance principles. The Phaeni are similar organizations. The sickness and death-rate among members of these bodes is much below that of the ordinary friendly societies. The beneficial effect of abstinence upon health and longevity is shown by the experience of the United Kingdom Temperance Provident Institution, to example of which has led several large insurance companies to all a special section for teetotallers. The statistic of these offices show that the mortality of the ordinary insured is considerably heavier than that of the abstainers. A vehement controversy arose at an early period as to the use of sacramental wine, and the nature of the wines mentioned in Scripture was discussed in innumerable pamphlets. The results has been that in a number of cases the wine now use for sacramental purpose is understood to be unfermented. The cosmopolitan character of the movement was shown by the meeting of the World’s Temperance Convention at London in 1846. The Scotch United Prebyterian Abstinence Society, originated in 1845, was one of the first of the church societies ; and there are now few, if any, religious denominations either in England or America in which such organization are wholly wanting. The Church of England Temperance Society has two sections, one pledged to the temperate use of intoxicants and the other to total abstinence. This method of organizing has found imitators. The enactment of the Maine Liquor Law in America in 1851 (see vol. xv. p. 299) led to the formation, in 1853, of the United Kingdom Alliance, which has for its object the suppression of the liquor traffic by legislation, and with a view to this suggests that a power of local veto should be placed in the hands of the rate-prayers. This proposal took parliamentary form in the Permissive Bill of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, which was ultimately withdrawn and replaced by a "local option" resolution, which has been thrice affirmed by the House of Commons. Temperance cafés, British workmen public-houses, cocoa houses, coffee palaces, tee-total clubs, have arisen in may places as social aids of the temperance movement.

In 1868 the Good Templar order we introduced into England from the United States, where it had come into existence several earlier. In England it made rapid progress, until it was seriously checked by a dispute arising out of the Negro question; but the two sections have again reunited (1887). Good Templary is the free masonry of temperance, with ritual, password, grip free-masonry of temperance, with ritual, passwords, grips, &c., closely modelled on those of the old secret societies. It has had a remarkable extension in Great Britain, the United States, the British colonies, and in Scandinavia, its aggregate membership now reaching over 623,000. One of its results has been the foundation of a temperance orphanage of Sunbury-on-Thames. Side by side with the general movement there has been a special movement against the use of alcohol as medicine, and the tendency of medical teaching now favours at least restriction of its use as at therapeutic agent. The London Temperance Hospital for the non-alcoholic treatment of disease was opened in October 1873. The importance of training the young was early recognized by the leaders of temperance reformation, and the labours of Dr R. B Grindrod of Manchester and Mrs Carlile of Dublin led to the formation of bands of hope, which are now found in connexion with many places of worship. The juvenile temples of the Good Templar order also work in the same direction. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, founded in the United States in 1874, is one of the latest forms of temperance activity. A branch was organized in Great Britain in 1876 ; and in 1883 the World’s Women’s Temperance Union came into existence.

The temperance movement has now branched out into a multitude of organizations in the United Kingdom, of which the Railway Temperance Union, the post-office temperance societies, and associations connected with the army and navy are types. The organizations of a more general character are the United Kingdom Alliance, which is very active in the dissemination of teetotal doctrines generally, the National Temperance League, the Scottish Temperance League, the British temperance League, the Scottish Permissive Bill Association, the Irish Temperance Legue, and the Irish Association for the Prevention of Intemperance. There are also large district and country societies. Next to these come the secret orders, of which the Rechabites, Sons of Temperance, Sons of the Phoenix are large benefit societies. The Independent Order of Good Templars is non-beneficiary, and seeks in its "lodges" to provide social attractions, and at the same time to train the members in temperance work ; it is probably the largest voluntary association in the world. There are societies in connexion with the various religious bodies of which the Church of England Temperance Society, the Catholic League of the Cross, the Baptist Total Abstinence Society, are prominent instances.

The oldest organization in America is the Sons of Temperance (1842), now numbering about 80,000 members. The Independent Order of Good Templars (1851) is the largest, its membership approaching 100,000. Both these, as also the Royal Templars of Temperance (1877) and the Templars of Honour ad Temperance (1845), are mutual benefit societies. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the National Temperance Society and Publication House (New York), and the National Prohibition Party are active in educational work. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union is the outgrowth of the "the Women’s Crusade" (1872), a remarkable uprising among the women of Ohio and Pennsylvania against the liquor traffic. The organization was effected i8n 1874, and has since spread throughout the United States, its membership now (1887) numbering 207,000. Its influence has been widely felt in legislature and in elections in which prohibitory laws have been voted upon. With the exception of the Church Temperance Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church, which has the "double basis," all the temperance societies of the United States are based on the doctrine of total abstinence ; and, with the additional exception of the Father Mathew Total Abstinence Societies of the Roman Catholic Church, they all advocate the principle of prohibition. Amendments embodying the idea have been inserted in the State constitutions (by popular vote) of Maine Kansas, and Rhode Island. In Vermont and Iowa the legislature has enacted statutory prohibition, which is still in force. In other States local prohibition prevails to a large extent, chiefly in Georgia Mississippi, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Bibliography.—The literature of the subject is very extensive and may most conveniently be classed under the following heads. (1) HISTORY : P. T. Winskill, History of the Temperance Reformation ; One Hundred Years of Temperance (New York. 1886) ; Dorchester, Liquor Problem in all Ages (New York) ; Willard, Woman and Temperance (Hartford) ; Shaw, Great Temperance Reforms (Toronto). (2) THEOLOGY ; Dawson Burns and F. R. Lees, Temperance Bible Commentary ; J. Smith, The Church and the Temperance Reformation ; Samson, Divine Law as to Wines (Philadelphia). (3) GENERAL : A. Gustafson, The Foundation of Death ; R. B. Grindrod, Our Nation’s Vice ; D. Burns, Bases of the Temperance Reformation ; Grindroid, Bacchus ; B. Parsons, Anti-Bacchus ; Powell, Bacchus Dethroned ;Baker, The Curse of Britain ; J. Dunlop, Philosophy of Drinking Usages(1839) ; The Political Prohibation (New York, 1887) ; Pitman, Alcohol and the State (New York) . (4) POLITICAL ECONOMY : F. R. Less, Argument for the Prohibition of the Liquor Traffic ; W. Hoyle, Our National Resources ; Hargreaves, Our Wasted Rosources (New York). (5) SCIENCE : J. Livesey, The Mall Liquor Lecture ; P. Burne, Teetotalle’s Companion ; W. B. Carpenter, Physiology of Temperance and Total Abstinence ; A. A. Reade, Study and Stiuluanis ; Miller, Alcohol, its Place and Power ; Id., Nephalism ; B. W. Richardson, Cantor Lectures on Alcohol ; Hargreaves, Alcohol and Science (New York). (6) FICTION ; novels and tales embodying teetotal principles have been written by Mrs Henry Wood, Mrs H. B. Stowe, Mrs. C. L. Balfour, Mr John Habberton, Mr Edward Jenkins, Mrs S. C. Hall, Mrs Ellis, and many others. (7) PERIODICALS : The temperance periodicals issued in Great Britain now number about fifty. [--]


158-6 The manner and degree in which they law has in recent years regulated the sle of intoxicants is described under LIQUOR LAWS (vol. xiv. p. 688).

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