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Prohibition in America.

Mr Wm, D. Bryson, writing from lowa to the ‘ Hamilton (Lanarkshire) Advertiser,' makes the following statements with reference to the working of Prohibition in the States “ I presume most of your readers are aware that each State in the American Union elects its own Governor every second year, has its own Legislature (Congress and Senate); and while governed by the laws of the United States Constitution and all laws made by Congress at Washington, may make any State law it deems necessary for itself. Prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors was first inaugurated on this continent by the little Eastern State of Maine many years ago.' Kansas followed suit in 1880; and in the fall of 1883 the subject was brought before a vote of the people of lowa, and carried by over 18,000 of a majority (every male citizen over twentyone years of age having a vote here). The Southern State of Georgia adopted it in 1886, and the State of Missouri has a local option law, the majority of its counties now being prohibitory, Some States have a high license law of l,ooodol (L 200) others 500dol, 250d01, or less. The lowa liquor law came into force in the beginning of 1884, prohibiting the sale of all kinds of intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and the Legislature passed several stringent laws to enforce the same; closed all distilleries in the State without compensation, one at Des-Moines, belonging to Kidd Bros,, being the largest in America, employing over three hundred and fifty men; also prohibited railway companies from carrying liquor into or through the State—but the latter appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which annulled that law as being unconstitutional or prejudicial to the interests of other States. This was a severe blow to the Prohibitionists, as lowa is now flooded with price-list circulars to private parties from wholesale liquor honses in contiguous States, and the railroads now carry in about as much as ever. Considerable difficulty was encountered in shutting up the drink shops in the large towns, as the saloonkeepers combined, and were supported by all the wealthy distillers and others interested in the trade throughout America. But repeated fines and imprisonment ultimately wore the most of them out. There are still, however, several cities where saloons arc openly run. In Burlington, Davenport, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, and others they still defy the law. In the last named city one notorious saloon-keeper, Kinzie Jordon by name, has a swing-board in front of his place, on which is painted ‘ The Hoad to Hell’ in large letters, and above his door 'Nose paint sold here.’ I suspect the magistrates of these towns are elected by the whisky interest, and merely impose small fines occasionally ; but they will have to go sooner or later. The law allows druggists, on giving good bonds, to sell liquors for medicine only, and that is where the Prohibitionists made a grand mistake. Surely, when' they stopped all the manufacturers or distilleries they ought not to have allowed any person to handle it, even for medicine. They have to make a quarterly return to the auditor of State of all liquors bought and sold; but if all that passes through their hands is strictly for medicine only, this then certainly is the unhealthicst State in the Western Hemisphere. But the facts are, anyone who is not a drunkard, and is personally known to the druggist, has only to sign his name, say it is for medicine, and he will get all he wants, it being a very lucrative trade to them at 30c (Is 3d) per gill; and I know of some towns where doctors (?) make a good living by charging 23c (Is) for lines to the drug stores. Then, again, there is no restriction against adulteration here, and it is terribly adulterated by unscrupulous druggists. They can manipulate it, and sell large quantities of ‘ rotgut,’ without the auditor being aware of it. The consumers of this stuff would require to have iron const!* tutions, or they will see more snakes in their boots than ever they were accustomed to. Undoubtedly Prohibition has done a power of good in and around the small towns. It has rid them of idle loafers and desperate characters, and the saloons were a strong temptation to the rising generation to play billiards, cards, and other games for drinks, etc. With regard to the large towns, I will leave your readers to judge for themselves, by giving them the police reports of Des-Moines, the capital city, where, previous to Prohibition, there were over seventy saloons, now there is not one, only drug stores and shebeens. In 1883 the number of persons arrested for intoxication was 425; in 1884 (the first year of Prohibition), 698; in 1885, 555; in 1888, 649. This, it must be remembered, is not the sum total of arrests for drunkenness by a long way, for since the passage of the law special constables have been vested with the power to make arrests and to search houses for liquors, and for each case established they receive a fee of Idol 50c to 2dol 600 (6s to 10s). There are eleven Justices of the Peace, and scores of drunks are taken np by these officials to the Justices that are not recorded in the annual report of the clerk of the Police Court. The profit from the sale of intoxicating liquors is so large here that every conceivable dodge is tried to evade the law. I will only mention one accidentally discovered by the fall and breakage of an egg box from off a railway lorry. Toe shells were filled with whisky, to bo retailed to the initiated at 15c (7£d) each.”

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Bibliographic details

Prohibition in America., Evening Star, Issue 7922, 1 June 1889, Supplement

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Prohibition in America. Evening Star, Issue 7922, 1 June 1889, Supplement