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The Liquor Problem in America., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6575, 20 May 1905
The Liquor Problem in America.
GEEAT VICTORY FOR PROHIBITION
(By Guy Hayi.ee.) Certain writers—especially those interested in the promoli nof trust public houses or the muuicipalisation of the liquor traffic—are continually declaring that "■ Prohibition does nob Prohibit," and that; in the Prohibition States of America " it is as easy to get liquor " as in English towns and cities. Many of those who make these statements have never been within thousands of miles of a Prohibition State, and rely upon the misconstrued evidence of one or two biased witnesses, who attempt to destroy the evidence of such various visitors to Prohibition States during a long series of years as Dr. F. R. Lees, J. H. Raper, Hugh Price Hughes, and Lady Henry Somerset, together with Americans like General Neal Dow, John B. Finch, John G. Woolley, and Miss Frances Willard. Day by day, however, evidence is always coming to hand disproving the statements of the witnesses referred to, and in support «f the efficacy of the Prohibition Laws. The latest comes from Maine, dated March 22nd, 1905. THE VIOLATIONS OF THE LAW IN MAINE. i Before entering upon a short statement regarding the new laws adopted in Maine, I would like to draw the attention of your readers to my letters sent from Portland, Maine, in 1901, and published in the " Alliance News." In those letters I gave a number of cases, showing how the law was violated and the difficulties and dangers attending the sale of intoxicating liquors. The death of Sheriff Pearson took place in 1902, on the eve of another contset, in which he had been invited to become the candidate of both political parties, and doubtless had he lived he would have been re-elected by a very large majority,, bo satisfied were the people of Portland with the honest way he had carried out his duties. A great division of parties, however, took place on Mr Pearson's death, resulting in the election of a Sheriff who seems to have gone in for making money rather than enforcing the law, Much to the disgust of the law abiding citizens, a combination of political circumstances enabled this man to be re-instated at the last election a few months since; but the resources of civilisation were not exhausted by the re-election of Sheriff Pennell, and a renewed determination took hold of the Prohibitionists to seoure the adoption of a law to make such dishonest officials as Mr Pennell carry out their duty, or relinquish their offioe. enforcing the enforcement law. This idea was taken up with much enthusiasm throughout the State. The first way towards securing this end was by the election of a Governor favourable to such a plan of operation. Hence the great body of Prohibitionists supported the election of William T. Cobb. The party Prohibitionists, as usual, nominated their candidates, but Mr Cobb was elected on a record vote by a .majority of over 26,000. In his inaugural address, Governor Cobb declared in favour of additional powers being given to the Executive to enforce the law. Upon the assembling of th£ Legislature, Senator H. H.'Sturgis introduced a Bill giving power to appoint an Enforcement Commission, to consist of three Commissioners, who shall, under the direction • of the Governor, " exercise in any part of the State all the common law and statutory powers of Sheriffs in their respective counties in the enforcement of the law against the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors." These Commissioners are " to bo sworn, and give bonds to the State for the faithful discharge of their duties in the sum of five thousand dollars " (£1,000), and while they hold the office of Commissioner " shall be paid a salary of fifteen hundred dollars '' (.£300) per year and actual expenses." THE FIGHT FOR THE BILL. The liquor interest of America soon became alarmed, and every device was adopted to stop the passage of the Bill. An agitation was commenced . demanding the re-submission of the prohibition law to the voters, that they might once more pronounce upon it. Two thousand five hundred people petitioned for this re-submis-sion, but 36,000 people petitioned against, faying they were satisfied with the Prohibition' Law. The Legislature by a more decisive majority than evor before rejected the proposal, the voting being 101 to 28. Other blocking proposals were introduced, but when the " Sturgis Bill " came before the Senate it was found to be almost unanimously |in favour of the Bill, and on March Bth the Bill was passed by 23 to 5. The measure then came to the House, where the fight raged with increasing \ force until March 17th, when the final vote was taken and the Bill adopted by 77 to 50 ; On March 18th Governor Cobbsigned the Bill and it became the law of the State. The Rev A. S. Bisbee, who has—together with Mr L. M.N. Stevens (president, W.C.T.U.), and others—been strongly supporting the Bill, declares " The Bill has been adopted after the hardest fight the liquor interest ever put up in this State." ANOTHER LAW TO SECURE ENFORCEMENT. It is already known that any person selling intoxicating liquors in Maine is liable to heavy fine and imprisonment, and many there are who hnve had to pay these penalties for breaking the law. There was, however, no punishment for the dishonest Sheriff or other officials. This has now all been altered, by the " Oakes Bill; " passed by both Senate and House this year, and approved by the Governor. In future, the Act states, " any Sheriff, Deputy Sheriff, or County Attorney, who wilfully or corruptly refuses or neglects to perform the duties required of him by the statute may be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, (£2O), or by imprisonment not exceeding one year." These laws will soon have an. effect in securing the better enforcement of Prohibition in those few places in the State of Maine where corrupt offioials have allowed the law to be violated for the money they have corruptly received. SHERIFF PENNELL AND THE NEW LAWS. Violators of good laws are generally known to be cowards; so it has proved in Portland. No sooner were these laws upon the statute book—still young and with teeth not yet developed—than Sheriff Pennell sent private circulars round to the "Joints," "Blind Pigs," and other illegal sheebeens, giving them three days' notice to clear their stookof liquor out of the city of Portland, The loss of his position as Sheriff, and the fear of fine and imprisonment, it would seem, has soon brought Sheriff Pennell to his senses, and the liquor sellers—together with the " Jointests "~ have gone back to Boston whence they came. " The Boston Transcript," of March 20th, says:— " When the steamer, ' Calvin Austin,' came up to her berth this morning, from Portland, Maine . . . whisky, ale, beer brandy, cordials—all formed part of the steamer's cargo." These, the report states, " had been hastily packed up by the saloon keepers, druggists, and kitchen bar-room proprietors of Portland and its vicinity; who thus evaded a possible seizure of the stuff following the passage of the ' Sturgis Bill' in the Maine Legislature, and the attitude of Sheriff Pennell, of Portland, towards the sale of liquors in that city in the future." THE PORTLAND PRESS ON THE VICTORY. The Portland "Evening Express," of March 20th, says the " Sturgis Bill" is the natural offspring of Sheriff Pennell's own strange course." He ". alone among delinquents was wont to take strangers round and boastfully show them where his pets were permitted by him to defy the authority of the State. Those, therefore, who do not like the Sturgis law, and who are disturbed by Sheriff Pennell's action under it, should remember that he, more than any man in the state, is responsible for i*-, and that it requires of him no duty or action whatever other than what was incumbent upon him from the moment he took office." Similar expression of opinion has been given by other newspapers. THE BIRTHDAY OF GENERAL NEAL DOW. What was more fitting than that the celebration of this great victory should take plaoe upon the 20th March, the birthday of the father of the Prohibition movement, General Neal Dow, and the honoured and beloved leader of its forces in America for over 50 years ? Speoial meetings for rejoicing have been held all over the State lof Maine, Portland, Bangor, Leviston, Waterville, and other large centres have celebrated the victory with characteristic energy and earnestness. Senators, Representatives, ministers, Temperance leaders, and others have joined in the general expression of satisfaction. The Maine newspapers are full of the question, showing the great interest tabeu in this significant victory. Suoh an event in Maine has, moreover, given increasing interest to this year's celebrations of General Neal Dow's birthday throughout the United States and Canada, THE PORTLAND CELEBRATION. The Portland celebration took place in the Williams Hall, under the auspices of
the ' Arcana Lodge of Good Templars, and -■ the Press state " therß was a large attendance." Mr W. E. Bradish presided, Mr WV G. Harbley led the singing, and the Key, A.. S. Bisbee read a Psalm and offered a thanksgiving prayer. The Key. John Collins, an old superannuated Methodist minister, said "the only word he could use after the revolution of the last few years and the last few days was ' Hallelujah.' Praise be to God for this hour. I have written to the Governor, thanking him for this law, and he has answered me." Mr Bradish said "the people ought to rejoice, as we are doing, over this new state of affairs. There is not a rum shop open here now," "We have no more sheriffmade law," said a man in the audience.. The Rev A. S. Bisbee, in a splendid speech, said, " The rum sellers are up against something now they've never had before, for they are hemmed in on every side. The Supreme Court will close in ou them, and the prison doors behind them. The moral nerve and fibre of this State stands for good government, as baa been shown by our Legislature. The death-knell of the" grogshop nuisance has been sounded, and the law ia going to be enforced, even if a bartender is Sheriff." THE BE9T ANBWER TO CRITICS. Having failed to shake the evidence that "Prohibition does Prohibit," in all places where (honest officials faithfully carry out the law, some writers descend to very strong language aboat us. The latest declaration of this kind I have seen is published in the "British Friend," for January, 1905, in whioh a writer says, " Stataments continue to be made by a few extreme temperance advocates which show that they have come perilously near to a point where advooacy of Prohibition is • more esteemed than simple-truth." This is the statement of one who seems to glory ia the law-breakers and corrupt offioials ol! America whom the Prohibitionists are endeavouring to destroy. I can only say, as one who has now visited—three times— both Prohibition Statesl and numbers o£ cities and towns under " No License," that the " simple truth " is, no law has yet been found so effective as Prohibition to suppress the liquor traffio and all its evils. The American Temperance reformers will tell you that Prohibition, carried out by opponents of the law, is a thousand times more successful than any license law yet invented carried out by friends and supporters of license. These new laws from Maine are, however, the best answer to these critics, and those who carp about " Prohibition does not Prohibit." It might just as well be said—and with as much truth-because our laws against theft do not stop stealing, the law is a failure, and ought to be abolished. I am sure the Temperance forces of the United Kingdom will join with me in giving three oheera for the Temperance workers of Maine and their latest victory for Prohibition. 5 250
The Liquor Problem in America., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6575, 20 May 1905
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