Address of the Southwestern Temperance Convention
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Of the Southwestern Temperance Convention, to the People of the Southwestern Portion of the United States.
Fellow Citizens,—Being instructed by the resolution of the South-western Temperance Convention, commenced at Natchez on the 21st inst., to draft an address to the people of the South-western portion of the United States, on the claims of the Temperance cause upon patriots, philanthropists, and Christians, we beg to call your attention to the subject.
Patriotism requires the sacrifice of every indulgence whereby the best interests of our country are endangered, and the prompt and cheerful contribution of every effort, whereby a national evil may be removed, a national calamity averted, or a national benefit secured.
Philanthropy is but a more extended patriotism by which all mankind are embraced in one family, and the citizens of the whole world regarded as compatriots and brethren.
Christianity is "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men." The best interests of our country consist in the health, peace, prosperity, and happiness of her citizens, in the conscientious morality and rectitude of the community, and in the general diffusion of correct and useful information. That intemperance is destructive of health would be amply proved by the expressed opinions of the most distinguished members of the medical faculty throughout our own and other countries, even though the melancholy annals of this vice in the United States permitted a doubt on this subject to exist. Previous to the formation of Temperance societies, 50,000 drunkards died annually in this country, and it is a well ascertained fact that the diseases engendered by strong drink among parents do not end with the first generation, but are transmitted to their unfortunate offspring; thus entailing upon them a long catalogue of constitutional infirmities, sapping the foundations of physical soundness, and ruining the national health. "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge."
Intemperance is opposed to peace. It is an established fact that nine-tenths of all the assaults and batteries, duels, assassinations, and murders that occur, can be traced directly to the influence of intoxicating drink. Almost every act of violence and bloodshed of which Americans were ever guilty, has been committed when the passions were inflamed and the reason subdued by it. Intemperance is destructive of national prosperity. The drunkard is a gangrenous excrescence upon the face of society, known and felt by all to be a hinderance to every plan of moral or physical improvement. It has been satisfactorily shown that the increase of intemperance in the same ratio that it had increased for some years previous to the formation of Temperance Societies, would, in less than eighty years, have rendered every qualified voter in the United States a drunkard. It is unnecessary to ask, could such a country be denominated prosperous? It is the opinion of the superintendents of some of the most extensive alms-houses in the United States, that seven-eighths of all the pauperism in the. country is the result of intemperance; and it is believed that the observation of every one will lead to the same conclusion.
Is intemperance destructive of happiness? Ask the 30,000 families scattered through our country, who are reduced by it to misery and want. Ask the poor, wretched, disgraced, and degraded drunkard himself, robbed of his wealth, his reputation and his peace of mind, and enduring the scanty remnant of existence, which is only rendered tolerable by those intervals of oblivion,! which are purchased by the certainty of sudden destruction. It is known to all who have ever attempted to influence the moral feelings of men, that there is no one cause which exerts a more deplorable influence in deadening the moral sensibilities, blunting j the perceptions of right and wrong, and completely killing the j conscience, than the vice of intemperance. It debases and pollutes the public manners, and obliterates all respect for the common decencies of life. It makes men dishonest in their dealings. Many an individual, who was once scrupulous and exact in giving to every one his due, will now resort to any—the most unjustifiable expedients, to obtain the means of gratifying his appetite for drink. The drunken father will neglect his own wife and family, and the drunken mother will forget her suckling child. Who, then,! would look to an intemperate and dissipated community for anything which requires fostering care, or assiduous attention,—for the perfection of the arts, or the cultivation of science?
Intemperance does no good, but a vast amount of harm. It is to a fearful extent an American vice. It originates altogether in moderate drinking. If none but the intemperate made use of intoxicating liquors, after the present generation there would not be a drunkard in the land. Intemperance is destructive of the best interests of our country; it is therefore patriotic to give up the indulgence. Already intemperance has destroyed more of our countrymen than pestilence or the sword; it is therefore a national evil, and patriotism requires that we lend our aid to remove it. Intemperance, as we have seen, threatens to reduce our favoured country to a nation of drunkards. Could the most fruitful imagination fancy a national condition more truly infernal, or a national calamity more awful! Patriotism, therefore, demands that we do what can be done to avert it.
The cause of Temperance, however, is not bounded by considerations of patriotism: it is peculiarly the cause of philanthropy. It is perhaps the only subject upon which men of every political party, of every religious creed—the subject of every form of government, and the citizens of every country, can meet and agree. In this they can all feel that they are united in the noble enterprise of doing good to mankind, and we hail it as the harbinger of that day, when men "shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks; when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Upon the Christian, the cause of Temperance makes the most imperious call for support and advancement; upon the professor of that mild and holy religion whose principle is—" if meat cause my brother to offend, I will eat no more flesh while the world standeth, lest I cause my brother to offend." "It is good neither to drink wine nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." Philosophy and experiment both show that the principle of total abstinence is adequate to remove the evil that is upon us, and to avert that which is threatened. A long and disastrous experience has proved that no other principle is adequate to produce these erects. Does it not then follow that patriotism, philanthropy, and religion, all give a clear verdict in favour of total abstinence, and that the cause of Temperance has an indisputable claim to the favour of every individual who loves his country, his fellow-creatures, or his God?
Fellow-citizens—in compliance" ,n the requisition of the convention, we submit these considerations and the cause in which we are embarked, knowing that a word is sufficient for the wise— hoping that the views herein expressed will receive your candid deliberation, and feeling confident that if they should meet your approbation, you will not hesitate promptly and effectively to act
- S. P. Andrews,
- H. E. Morrill, Committee
- O. Eastman,
- Stephen Pearl Andrews, H. E. Morrill, and O. Eastman, “Address Of the Southwestern Temperance Convention, to the People of the Southwestern Portion of the United States,” Journal of the American Temperance Union 1, no. 7 (July 1837): 98-99.