Popular Science Monthly/Volume 55/September 1899/Recent Legislation Against the Drink Evil II
|RECENT LEGISLATION AGAINST THE DRINK EVIL.|
X. Quality Inspection.—In my paper in these pages, in 1894, I remarked, "If there is any such thing as a salutary liquor law, not derived from excise or police jurisdiction, it would be, perhaps, a statute insuring the purity of liquor; reviving that old English functionary, the 'ale-taster,' with his care over all drinkables exposed for sale." And surely this would be a legitimate and a constitutional law, as providing for the public safety (which is, after all is said, the origin and summit of all law). To kill a rattlesnake the rattlesnake must first be recognized as alive, and the old cry of the Podsnap that nothing improper exists is fast disappearing. It seems to me that at present, and in view of the fact that Mr. Reed's plan would involve a social and economical plant which could only be accumulated by long and deliberate legislative action, and admitting that the drink evil not only calls for legislative action but has received it for sixty-two years, and so accustomed our communities to expect it; admitting also Mr. Bellamy's and Mr. Reed's basic proposition that there is no reason why any human being should starve, and that it is not public policy that any creature of the State (even if a criminal confined for crime in a State penitentiary) should starve—admitting all these, it seems as if this plan really might be the best and most immediately practicable plan yet. Every State, without any criticism or clamor of constitutionalists against paternal government, appoints its official tester of illuminating fluids, that conflagration may not ensue and the public safety he imperiled by the destruction of the citizens' homes. Why not a State "tester" of the stimulant which may inflame the vital forces of the citizen himself, and so imperil the public peace, which, by all laws, is the public safety? Municipal corporations appoint inspectors of meat, of milk, of fruits, of confectionery, precisely under this constitutional duty of preserving the public health, upon which, most largely of all, the public safety depends. Why not, then, inspectors of the potables which the public drink?
By having liquors examined, and only pure liquors sold, and condemned liquors destroyed, precisely as in the case of unclean or impure meats, milk, fruit, and confectionery; much could be practicably, and in a minimum lapse of time, accomplished to the decrease of the liquor evil. The prohibitionists themselves, by placing and replacing and abolishing and experimenting with all sorts of statutes upon the statute-book, have accustomed us to State regulation of the sale of intoxicants, and, least of all, can complain of yet one more experiment toward the decrease of drunkenness.
Let the national or State government have liquors examined, and those not up to the standard emptied into the sewers, precisely as in the case of milk found filthy, dangerous, or questionable. The Government might also supervise the distilleries and forbid the manufacture of what are called "quick-aging" goods, or "continuous distillation," precisely as it controls the manufacture of oleomargarine. It is not improbable that a commission appointed to this good work might, by just, equitable, and easily-to-be-borne statutes, prescribe a time limit or period after which no spirituous liquors should be sold less than, say, five years old (the age of liquor being said to regulate its irritant and insanitary and to conserve its really salutary and sanitary qualities). I believe (not without consultation and a deliberate exchange of opinion with experts) that the good effects of such legislation would be almost instant; I believe that from pure motives of self-interest alone the distillers and rectifiers of liquors, instead of fighting such a law, would be eager to compete to furnish pure brands of liquor for the State censors, in the certainty that the State must adopt the best and the purest. To-day the public is served with precisely what the publican finds it most to his profit to sell. It may be only dirty water which he sells at a price at which he could (to his own immense profit) sell pure liquor. In every drinking place in the land, to which the public resorts, there are two prices—one price for what you order, and the other for the same "good." I believe that one of these days the world will remember, as curiously as it now remembers the days of the stagecoach or the tallow-dip, a time when a man desiring a dram of liquor was obliged to drink whatever the dram-seller found it profitable to sell him.
We have tried about everything else. Why not try this? We have conceded to our legislators the right and the jurisdiction. Since we can not adopt Mr. Reed's proposition to feed everybody, why not enter the wedge right here and do the next best or a next best thing—see that the people not only eat proper meats and fruits, but that they drink, if drink they will, pure liquors? And it need be added (however it may appear to be a sop to Cerberus) that it would not antagonize that most powerful class, whose organized and capitalized opposition every other liquor-regulating law which has ever been suggested has at once antagonized, and been obliged in the end to if not conciliate, at least to recognize in the adjustment of equities. Fortunately, we have not to begin our experiments out of whole cloth. Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington have led the way, and made the adulteration of liquor a misdemeanor. (New York, however, has probably negatived the best results of the prohibition by adding that the prohibited adulteration must only be "with any deleterious drug, substance, or liquor which is poisonous or injurious to the health," which is shutting one door and opening another, and relegating to the lawyers and their experts a tedious inquisition as to what the word "poisonous" or the term "injurious to health" may mean, in the course of which the offender would walk free.) The question as to whether it would conserve the public peace as well as the public safety by decreasing drunkenness can only be favorably conjectured. Experience of such a law only can show. To begin with, it would increase the cost of a dram. A glass of true whisky, for example, might be twenty cents instead of ten, and (the law forbidding adulteration) this would probably in itself lessen dram-drinking. In England, many years ago, a similar law was found to eventuate in compelling that only the highest grades of ale should be sold at a certain price. This led to the offering of a second, and then of a third grade, and finally of what was claimed to be a blending of all three grades or an "entire" (which was the origin of the term entire, that later began to be the name of an alehouse—a legend still seen on English alehouse signs). But the law we now suggest, by preventing the blending of three grades of spirits, might, while lessening the sales, increase the excise revenues, and perhaps accomplish whatever may be left to be accomplished in conserving at once the health, the peace, and the income of the State.
That a system by which only pure liquors can be exposed for sale as beverages is feasible, seems already assured, the States of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington having already long since adopted a partial statutory policy of the sort, and the State of New York, in 1896, having followed. In order to demonstrate what these have accomplished, and what improvements can be suggested, there were addressed to the proper officers of each of these States the following questions, viz.:
1. In your State what officer is charged with enforcement of the provisions of its liquor statutes, forbidding adulteration of liquors exposed for sale as beverages? And must such officer be examined as to his experience or as to his competency only?
2. Is his standard of unadulterated liquors established by law, and if so, what is it? Or is the officer's judgment as to what liquor may or may not be sold discretionary according to the circumstances of each case?
3. Is the examination to be conducted by taste or tasting (sampling), the old English method, or by chemical analysis?
4. Is adulteration so defined as to include the mixing of liquor with water, or only with substances or liquids in themselves toxicants?
5. Is the effect of this clause thought to be beneficial? Has it, for example, decreased drunkenness?
To the first question Mr. Samuel P. Sharpless, State Assayer of Massachusetts, reports as follows: "An assayer of liquor is appointed under our public statutes, who is charged with performing such duties as are referred to him. No particular examination prior to appointment is laid down. The presumption is that an analytical chemist will receive the appointment, as in the twenty years in which the law has existed only analytical chemists have received the same."
As to Ohio, Mr. Joseph E. Blackburn, Dairy and Food Commissioner, says: "The office of Dairy and Food Commissioner is charged with the enforcement of all laws governing the sale of food, drink, and drugs. He is not required to stand any examination, and his experience and qualifications are not considered except as to his eligibility as a candidate. It is distinctly a political position, and all the parties nominate candidates for the place."
As to Michigan, Mr. Elliot O. Grosvenor, Dairy and Food Commissioner, says, "The Dairy and Food Commissioner of the State is charged with enforcement of the law relating to adulteration of liquors."
As to Illinois, Hon. E. C. Akin, Attorney-General, writes: "It is the duty of the several State's attorneys to prosecute for violations of this section, on complaint of any one, or by indictment. There is no officer charged with the duty of making examinations or tests of liquors."
As to New York, Hon. Henry H. Lyman, Commissioner of Excise, replies: "The district attorneys of the several counties in this State have direct and exclusive control of all criminal prosecutions against violators of the liquor-tax law, but indirectly the matter of enforcing this section devolves upon the State Board of Health. By the provisions of section 42, chapter 661, laws of 1893, the State Board of Health shall take cognizance of the interests of the public health as affected by the sale or use of foods and adulterations thereof, and make all necessary inquiries and investigations relating thereto. It shall appoint such public analysts, chemists, and inspectors as it may deem necessary for that purpose, etc. Upon discovering any violations of the provisions of the act relating to the adulteration of foods or drugs, the State Board of Health shall immediately communicate the facts to the district attorney of the county where the violation occurred, who shall thereupon forthwith commence proceedings for the indictment of the persons charged with such violations."
To the second question, as to what is held to be adulteration, in Massachusetts the only standard fixed by law is that of the United States Pharmacopœia. Chapter 272, Acts of 1896, undertakes to provide certain standards. But so far not a single case has been brought under this act, since it has not been made the duty of any one in particular to enforce it. The assayer and inspector can only examine such liquors as are brought to him by the proper officers. He has no authority to institute proceedings even if he finds the liquor to be badly adulterated. Such action must be taken by the officers making the seizure. But Mr. Sharpless writes that, in his opinion, the law (section 31 of chapter 100 of the public statutes) providing for taking samples of liquors for analysis contains in its last sentence a clause which renders it inoperative: it requires such samples to be paid for if they are found to be of good quality. Mr. Sharpless adds: "Under this section I have received perhaps on an average twenty samples a year for the past fifteen years. These samples have generally been whisky, gin, brandy, and rum. The Legislature has been repeatedly requested to give the assayer authority to take samples in the same manner as they are taken by the milk inspector, but has as uniformly refused to give him that power."
Ohio reports that the legal standard for liquors is the requirements of the United States Pharmacopœia.
In Michigan the law does not define any standard for adulteration or unadiilteration. Nor is it left to the mere judgment of any officer, "In case of prosecution the fact of adulteration would have to be proved to the satisfaction of the jury by any competent evidence." This is the language of Mr. Samuel A. Kennedy, Deputy Secretary of State. Mr. Elliot O. Grosvenor, the Dairy and Food Commissioner, indicates the nature of the evidence, however, as follows: "If the word 'standard' can be used in connection with the word 'adulteration,' our law does regulate this standard. We send you under another cover a copy of the law concerning liquors, so far as within the jurisdiction of this department, from which you will see we have little or no discretion in the matter." The clause marked by Mr. Grosvenor is as follows: "The law relating to liquors seems to be meant only to prohibit the sale of spirituous or fermented or malt liquors containing drugs or poisons or substances or ingredients deleterious or unhealthful; and provides that each barrel, cask, keg, bottle, or other vessel containing the same shall be branded or labeled with the words 'Pure and without drugs or poison,' together with the name of the person or firm preparing the package. This applies to every package of whatever size—it matters not whether they are put up for immediate delivery or for stock purpose. This includes all bottled ale, beer, rum, wine, or other malt or spirituous liquors, also the bottles used for dispensing over the bar. The State has no standard of proof, but liquors in packages where proof is indicated must test to that proof. Compounds containing nothing deleterious or unhealthful may be sold as cordials. The blending of liquors will be permitted, if spirits or other ingredients are not added. Dealers purchasing and receiving goods not properly branded or labeled are not relieved from any responsibility, if they sell the same without branding or labeling."
In Illinois the standard is not mentioned, but the articles forbidden are plainly set forth by the criminal code of the State, which provides that "whoever adulterates, for the purpose of sale, any liquor used for drink, with cocculus indieus, vitriol, grains of paradise, opium, alum, capsicum, copperas, laurel water, logwood, Brazilwood, cochineal, sugar of lead, or any other substance which is poisonous or injurious to health; and whoever sells or offers, or keeps for sale any such liquor so adulterated, shall be confined in the county jail not exceeding one year, or fined not exceeding one thousand dollars, or both."
In New York there is a standard fixed for wines, and sections 46, 47, and 48 of the laws of 1893 are devoted to the definition of pure wine, half wine, made wine, and the adulteration of wines generally. But there is no standard of purity enacted for spirituous or malt liquors, and it is left to the discretion of the inspecting officers whether any liquors inspected and analyzed by them contain any deleterious substances.
As to question third, all the States seem to agree that chemical analysis is the safer, but adulteration seems to be considered by them all as a fact, to be proved by any competent process, even the taster not being barred, as he certainly is not by the clause as to inspection in the State of New York. Mr. Grosvenor, Food Commissioner of Michigan, however, says that the only test recognized by his department would be that made in its own laboratory by its own two chemists.
As to whether the adulteration could be by water only, all our courteous informants refer us to their answer to the question as to standards but Ohio, whose Food Commissioner (Blackburn) replies, "Yes, if the proofage is reduced to less than one hundred degrees." In Massachusetts, Mr. Sharpless says, "In a case brought a number of years ago the court refused to consider water as an adulteration; no recent case has been brought."
As to the fifth and vital question, whether the clause against adulteration tends to decrease drunkenness, Mr. Sharpless adds the following valuable record of his experiences as State assayer in a State which, in thirty years, has experimented with about every known form of liquor statute: "So far as I have observed, the quality of the liquor has but little to do with the question of drunkenness. In some localities where prohibition has been strictly enforced we find that the class who will have liquor is obtaining it in other than the well-known commercial forms. Frequently we find that large quantities of extract of ginger are being consumed. A number of cases have been brought against theof this article, as an alcoholic beverage containing more than one per cent of alcohol. These cases have generally proved successful in stopping its sale. Essence of peppermint and of checkerberry, for example, are favorite tipples. During the past summer a case was found in which 'So-and-so's Drops,' a nostrum, a mixture of ether and alcohol, was being used as an intoxicant. The so-called 'native wines' have given us some trouble. These are essentially a fermented solution of sugar and water, with sufficient juice of some fruit for flavoring and color. When made without the addition of spirits they contain about fourteen per cent of alcohol. They are generally pretty poor stuff. About two years ago we had an epidemic of so-called 'malt extracts.' These, with very few exceptions, were found to be essentially porter. The alcohol in them averaged about six per cent, and they were quite palatable beverages. They contained about seven or eight per cent of solid extract.
"It has been several times proposed here that no liquors should be sold unless their purity was certified to by the State assayer. This I have uniformly opposed, for the reason that, while the State may well prohibit the sale of adulterated liquors, it is no part of its business to certify to the purity of any man's goods; and, unless the State becomes the sole vender of liquors, it has no means of keeping track of them.
"It has been my practice during my term of office never to give a certificate in regard to a liquor to any one but the officers authorized to ask such a certificate. In other words, the only way a private person can get an analysis of liquor made by the State assayer is to take it to the chief of police of his town or city and make a complaint in regard to it; as the assayer is paid by the State for his work, it would obviously be wrong for him to do work which he might have to revise in his official capacity.… I may perhaps be allowed to add a few words as to what is defined in this State as an intoxicating liquor. When the State assayer of liquors was first appointed he soon became convinced that some limit must be fixed to the allowable amount of alcohol contained in a liquor. After consultation this amount was fixed at three per cent by volume at 60° F. This law remained in force several years. Soon after it was found that a large amount of beer was being made which contained about 3.5 per cent of alcohol. This was a palatable beer, and the venders gave the officers much trouble. The regular trade, who were selling lager beer and ale, and paying for the privilege, were also much opposed to its sale, and the Legislature was asked to reduce the limit to one per cent by volume. This at one stroke destroyed a large amount of illegitimate trade. The Massachusetts law, as it now stands, is that ale, porter, strong beer, lager beer, cider, all wines, and any beverage containing more than one per cent of alcohol, by volume, at 60° F., as well as distilled spirits, shall be deemed to be intoxicating liquor, within the meaning of the license provisions, and this section of the law has been decided by the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth to be constitutional. The question is never raised now in the court as to whether a liquor is actually intoxicating; the only question being, Does it contain more than one per cent of alcohol? If it does (and as a matter of fact cases are very rarely brought in which the sample does not contain at least two per cent of alcohol), the court has no power except to convict, if it be proved that the article was kept for sale. The result of this law has been that the sale of beer, with the idea that it is possible to convince the court that it is not intoxicating, has entirely stopped. Some few attempts are made to produce a beverage that shall contain less than one per cent of alcohol. And several brands are on the market which, when cold, taste very well, but which contain only about 0.85 per cent of alcohol. Generally the only test made in regard to liquors is as to the amount of alcohol that they contain; or, rather, whether the amount of alcohol exceeds one per cent, that being the maximum amount that can be sold without a license. Such examination is generally made by distilling the liquor and determining the alcohol in the distillate.
"The whiskies examined have in Massachusetts, as a rule, been free from any substance more injurious than the alcohol they contain. They have generally (as well as the other distilled liquors examined) been of standard strength—that is, they have contained about fifty per cent of alcohol, and as a rule have not given much over the amount of residue allowed by the Pharmacopæia. As you will see by the foregoing remarks, the provisions of the Massachusetts liquor law, so far as adulteration is concerned, are practically a dead letter. I have been repeatedly before the Legislature asking for such modifications of the law as would enable me to make an intelligent study of the subject; but it seems satisfied to allow the matter to stand as it now is. Several difficulties arise in regard to any enforcement of the law. One of these—that samples must be paid for, and there is no appropriation to pay for them—I have already pointed out. In the second place, the State Board of Health (which has full power to inspect liquors under the food act) has discovered that the chief adulteration is water in distilled liquors, and that this, together with a little burned sugar and sirup, is practically the only adulteration. Large amounts of rectified spirits are used in the preparation of whiskies for the market, where the whisky is used only as a flavoring material. But such manufactured whiskies meet the requirements of the Pharmacopæia better than the genuine article, being more free from the higher alcohols and ethers than a pure whisky. The only point in which they do not agree is that they are not three years old. But the only method for determining the age of a liquor that I am acquainted with, is the brand on the barrel. It certainly can not be determined by any chemical means."
But, with the exception of Massachusetts, where Mr. Sharpless points out clearly the reason why the law against adulteration is a dead letter, all the reports speak encouragingly. Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio believe that the operation of the provision will do genuine good. Says Food Commissioner Blackburn, of Michigan, "It is my opinion that this law has and will decrease drunkenness, for the reason that pure liquor will not create the unnatural appetite that compounded, adulterated, or artificially prepared liquors do."
The State of Washington sends no report. There is a provision in the South Carolina law providing that liquors shall be "pure"; but, as the State is the dispenser of liquors, the operation of this clause has not been considered exemplary for the purposes of this article, Mr. Lyman, in New York, thinks that sufficient time has not elapsed to fully pronounce as to the benefits of the law.
XI and XII. High License and Local Option.—Certainly the examination of these statutes and reports of their results in forty-nine States and Territories leaves it beyond question that so far the very best results have accompanied the combination of these two provisions. Perhaps the best example is in the largest of the communities to be affected—viz., in the State and city of New York. Here, by separating the plebiscitum or referendum into four local options—viz., (1) selling liquor to be drunk upon the premises where sold, (2) selling liquor not to be drunk upon the premises where sold, (3) selling liquor by apothecaries only on physician's prescription, (4) selling liquor by license granted to "hotel keepers" only—the result obtained has been, I think, precisely what I contended for in the paper of five years age, namely, the value of liquor has been recognized, and its sale provided for without denying its dangers as a temptation, or the disastrous effects of drunkenness. To use the exact words of the commissioner's report: "The tendency is to recognize the propriety of the sale of liquors by hotels and pharmacists in many communities where they will not, by their votes, approve the sale by saloons and groceries; and while there are now twenty less absolutely 'no-license' towns than when the law took effect, there are very many less saloons and groceries where liquors are dispensed." And this while not in any way compromising or dallying with the proposition which the prohibitionists and temperance societies insist upon (and which is all they have as a basis for their claims), viz., the consequences of intoxication and the public policy of its prevention. To show that, as a fact, an equivalent result has been reached in every State in the Union where high license and local option are united, would unduly tax these pages. But one or two prominent examples are of the paradoxical results—as gratifying as they are paradoxical—that the fewer the places where liquor is sold the larger the revenue to the State, and the less the drunkenness, may be cited. In the State of New York in two years of high license the reduction in selling places was 5,484; the increase of revenue to the State was $9,094,646.01; the decrease in the number of arrests was 22,689. In the city of New York alone the reduction in places was 1,204; the increase of revenue was $3,549,851.90; the decrease in the arrests for drunkenness was 3,044. Similar results are reported invariably as the fruit of high license elsewhere in the United States. In the city of Chicago, under an exceedingly high license, the reduction in one year was 200 in the number of saloons, while the increase of revenue was $1,250,000; and yet the decrease in the number of arrests was 1,217, Contrast this result with the condition of affairs in the triple-steel-barred prohibition State of Maine! Says an ex-Mayor of Portland: "I went into office perfectly free; I think I enforced the law impartially with all the vigor I could control.… I looked it all over to see what I had accomplished; I found that I had driven out of the business one set of men, and another had come in worse than the first. I found that the young men were establishing club rooms. Not only did they become drinking places, but they brought in gambling and other vice. While I was driving liquor out of the ordinary shops I was driving it into houses and kitchens, where even children dealt in it.… I am sorry to say it, but the law makes perjury alarmingly common; it opens up … an avenue for bribes.
"The local authorities could not be trusted to enforce the law. The price of liquors has been lessened and the quality is worse.… To those who shunned the open bars the apothecary shops supplied liquor by the bottle as often as desired.… Then arose pocket peddlers, young men who loiter about the street supplying customers from the bottle with a drink known as splits—a concoction of the cheapest alcohol mixed with a dash of rum and coloring matter, which produces a dangerous form of intoxication.… At the city agency the question 'Medicine?' and the answer 'Yes,' was quite sufficient, and throngs of people were constantly waiting with flasks to be filled.… 'Bars,' 'Eating Houses' (so called because protected by the police), 'Kitchen Bars,' 'Pocket Peddlers,' 'Hotel Bars,' 'Apothecary Shops,' 'Bottling Houses,' 'Express Companies,' 'Clubs,' and the 'City Agency.'"
But all these, under the very eye of the late Hon. Neal Dow, were powerless to convince the Hon. Neal Dow that his policy was not a massive and monumental success, and to the end of his days the good old man delivered glowing eulogiums upon its exalted benefits to a suffering and liquor-ridden world!
Among the novel devices among the statutes of States classed as licensing sales of liquor (or which have rejected prohibition) may be mentioned the following: Apothecaries may sell without a license if they keep records of sales. Purchasers of liquor must make affidavit of the purpose for which they require the liquor. Physicians prescribing liquors must make affidavit that they are required by the case they are attending. Public officers who tolerate or refuse to prosecute are fined, Name of owner of premises where liquors are sold must be painted in large letters on outside window with the word "owner" added. A provision that any one may sell liquor, but that the Legislature may provide in any way it sees fit against "the evils resulting therefrom." No barmaids, or dancing, gambling, or oil paintings on premises where liquor is sold. The provisions that eatables must or must not be sold where liquor is retailed are about numerically even. (It will be remembered that the New York ["Raines"] law at first abolished free lunches, but insisted that while one must not have food with his liquor on week days, he could not on Sundays have it without—the last provision still being enforced). Similarly, in some States, liquor dealers must not keep lodging houses, while in others they must. West Virginia says that a tavern or hotel must not be used as a liquor-selling establishment only, and that a refusal to give diet or lodging to any one demanding it will forfeit its license to sell liquor. One State (Colorado) recognizes the so-called "gold-cure," and authorizes "the person most interested," or the county, to send habitual drunkards at county expense to "any respectable gold-cure institute." In Illinois a drunkard is by law a vagrant, and drunkenness is a cause for divorce. In Louisiana the excise man who makes an erroneous estimate of the amount of business done (Louisiana regulates the liquor business according to sales only, disclaiming any preventive or reformatory object) is removable from office. In Tennessee applicants for license must state the amount of business they intend to do. Kentucky regulates the price of liquors sold, being the only American State so doing (except that South Carolina says that the price of a potion shall not be "more than fifty per cent above," or if used as a medicine "more than ten per cent above," the cost thereof to the seller—rather a difficult matter to approximate). Arkansas prohibits sales within three miles of a church, schoolhouse, or academy. The sales of liquor to Indians is prohibited, and the exclusive right of army officers to purchase it is conserved, at the proper frontiers. Texas inserts in her statutes a fine for keeping a "blind tiger" (defined to be a place "where intoxicating liquors are sold by any device whereby the party selling or delivering the same is concealed from the person buying or to whom the same is delivered"). And, in Kansas, twenty-five reputable women must unite with twenty-five reputable men in applying for a license to sell liquor. No State or Territory mentions the size or quantity of liquor to be sold at any price, as is the European custom.
It would seem, therefore, that, with the exception of the State of Maine alone, all the American Commonwealths are gradually harking back to the standpoint of the earliest liquor laws. Moderation (temperance) in drinking was the public policy. Leaving out the act of the British Parliament, in the year 1735 (which gave Governor Oglethorpe the right to prohibit the importation of ardent spirits into Georgia, which was not a measure to prevent intoxication, but to give a monopoly to Governor Oglethorpe), the first temperance association was that founded by Dr. Rush; and it is related that the venerable president, upon being elected, rose with a glass of brandy in his hand and gave the toast: "Gentlemen, fill your glasses. Let us show the world that we know how to drink in moderation."
To sum it all up. Why, since we can not set out with a club or a headsman's axe to reform mankind; since there are substantial rights to adjust and innocent parties to protect, why is not the proposition to prevent by law the exposure of adulterated liquors for sale as beverages the best so far suggested? Is there another which at the same time is constitutional, equitable, peaceable, and so conservative of the public safety, which creates no law-breaking class out of honest citizens, sheds no blood (as blood was shed in South Carolina in 1875 because men of Anglo-Saxon breed could not be readily made to concede that a man's house was not his castle), and which imports no new doctrine into American policy?
I, for one, believe that, with it, the solution of the drink problem would be in sight. High license and personal damage laws are two thirds of it. If a man desires to sell liquor let him pay one or two thousand dollars, or other substantial sum of money, to the school or the police or the poor fund of his neighborhood. Let him be liable in damages, as are common carriers or any others who deal in conveniences or commodities in which there is possible risk to the community, for what is injured by his operations. As to the remaining third of the remedy: the sole objections to local option (viz., that it may be abused at the polls, where the total-abstinence interest might be as capable of a wrong use of money or of other undue influence as the liquor interest, or that it might be inconvenient to the public) are fully met by making adulteration impossible and providing for a compulsory, rigid, and universal inspection of liquors exposed for sale as beverages.
And then, besides, it will be unnecessary to burn down our village to roast our pig.
- Vide Commonwealth vs. Brelsford, 161 Mass., 61.
- Annual Report of the New York State Commissioner of Excise, 1897-1898, p. 716, Id.