thumbnail of The Way It Was; 13
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The way it was presenting eyewitness accounts of historic events material for this series was drawn from the files and papers at the State Historical Society it was guys. Today. Early battles against demon rum. Ever since man in some distant age first discovered the process of fermentation and experienced the intoxicating effects of the liquor still produced there has been a temperance problem. The records of the ancient Oriental civilization contain many references to it. And from very remote times efforts were made by priests sages and law givers in India Persia China Palestine Egypt Greece and Carthage to combat the injury of drunkenness to the individual and society. But the issue appears never to have been so great for the object of so much attention in the ancient world as it came to be in Western countries especially in modern times. Oh oh
oh oh oh oh oh. At the end of the year 1836 leaders of the Temperance Movement estimated that they were in the United States seven thousand temperance societies with an aggregate of about a million and a half members the National Temperance almanac of that year States to three thousand distilleries had ceased operations. Seven thousand merchants had given up the sale of liquor. Ten thousand drunkards have been reformed and one thousand sailing vessels were sailing without spirits on board while the testimony on which these statements rest is one sided. There is little doubt the temperance reformer had made substantial progress in the United States. Temperance progress was not everywhere the same in the new Wisconsin territory of the
early 1830s liquor reform had not yet gained a significant foothold. There was little sentiment for temperance among the men of a mining region. So missionaries concentrated their temperance efforts among the Indians. March 26 the day appointed by the American Temperance Society for holding meetings general I visited the family during the day in the Eve held a meeting and addressed the people on the subject of temperance but be much divided amongst themselves and national difficulties so much occupied their minds that they could not be prevailed upon to form a society intemperance is making fearful progress in this settlement and its dreadful effects are abundantly manifest in their poverty indolence and the exceedingly low state of religion which prevails although a missionary might not measure the progress of his temperance reforms among the Indians
by leaps and bounds. The diary kept by the Rev. cutting Marsh leaves little doubt that there were some small victories. Some guys did two marriages and last was invited to partake of the wedding supper which was served up in excellent style. No strong drink of corridos of any kind were used on the occasion. Good order and decorum Drew veiled amongst all present and there was a large collection. After supper all went home in quietness and peace. A few years ago and it would have been impossible to have gone through with such a transaction without a drunken frolic at the club. Before Wisconsin became a state the only territorial statutes relating to the subject of strong drink was a very simple licensing law which applied to taverns and groceries authorising county town village and city boards to issue licenses with discretion. However as groups of citizens
felt the need to combat liquor in their own communities they would organize temperance societies. These societies were usually against the use of alcohol for anything except medicinal purposes and often even that was prohibited. Despite the fervor of the local groups the real impetus to the Temperance Movement came during the 1840s through the organization of two larger societies. First in
1840 to the Washingtonian Society for the reclamation of drunkards was established then towards the middle of the decade the Sons of Temperance at its inception in Wisconsin the statewide grand division of the Sons of Temperance brought intensity and confidence to the movement. Many prominent men joined the order and it was soon realized that temperance might become a significant force in politics. In time the temperance societies spread the word through their own newspapers and song books and the temperance workers went forth into the community. Their immediate goal being to get as many as possible to sign the pledge of abstinence. Oh brother. Or whatever it is me. There it. Goes.
Everybody sung the dogs through to wander off and off resting on a strike always trying to strike hard time friends. After listening to a moving address I was one of the many who signed a pledge not to use intoxicating liquor as a beverage. I pledge that I have kept for 70 years. The father was a prohibitionist in principle and total inhabitants. He had a reason for hating liquor when he was a child his left eye was put out by a stick thrown by a relative who in a drunken frenzy through life he wore this disfigurement as a reminder that it's not well to put an enemy into your mouth. That you'll steal
away your brains. Just log on to download the gold watch from the drunkard's. Pressing on my room and rants. About this time our village became the home of the noted temperance workers Brown and his sister Emma. They established and for years published a weekly temperance paper the Wisconsin chief. Paper which exerted a strong influence in educating the people to realize the great
and growing evil of the drink habit. Of course the saloon keeper and his following were greatly angered by the attacks on their business in the chief and once when Miss Emma was passing the saloon on her way to the office she was grossly insulted by the saloonkeeper. When her brother came home she told him of the incident and he immediately went to the saloon intending to horsewhip the offender in the melee. A saloon keeper had the best of it and Brown himself was badly beaten up. I have heard very few if any man would equal the moving eloquence of ebony. He spent his time mostly in the field lecturing in here you name it I'm away on the deadly sins of the drink driving and winning his thousands to the signing of the pledge.
Meanwhile he was writing a strong sometimes vitriolic article was managed by his sister Emma his coeditor during these years he wrote and published in his paper two serial temperance stories. These are the days of the publication of temperance stories such as TS Arthur's ten nights in a bar room which at the time had a wonderful popularity. The stories of TS Arthur and other authors filled the pages of temperance newspapers throughout the country. The goal of these stories was education temperance education written in the dramatic manner with thrilling titles and moral endings. They often occupied a prominent place on the front page and the July 7th 1849 edition of The Old Oaken Bucket. The newspaper of the Sons of Temperance one had to look to Page Six for TSR through the story of Sally Lyons first and last visit to the ale house. Mrs. Lyon remained without Only a few moments
taking hold of the door she went firmly in and without appearing to notice her husband went up to the bar and called for three glasses of brandy. After doing this she seated herself at a table near by her husband. Right of course was the surprise of Mr. Lyon. At this apparition he jumped from his chair and stood before his wife just as she had taken her seat at the table saying in an undertone as he did so. For heaven's sake sigh What brings you here. It is very lonesome at home Ralph she replied in a calm but sad voice. Our wood is gone and it is Kolo there. To think of coming to such a place as this if it is
pleasant to me. Anywhere that my husband goes surely I can go. God have joined us together as one. And nothing should divide the three glasses of brandy that Mrs. Lyon had called for her place before her. Bring another glass. Said Mrs. Lyon calmly. My husband will drink with us. Ejaculated. The girl with my husband. Why should you say that around children. Turning to her two little and placing a glass of unadulterated brandy before than it will do you good. As he said this she lifted
her to her. Women my children shall not touch you. And he lifted the glasses from the table and handed them to one of the company around to witness the strange scene. Come Sally. Why should we go round she replies keeping her. There is no fire at home. And it is warm and comfortable here. There is no food there but here is plenty to eat and to drink. I don't wonder that you like this place better than home. And I am sure I would rather stay here. The drunken husband was found. He knew not what to do or to say the words of his wife smote him to the heart for she uttered a stunning rebuke that could not be gainsay. He felt a choking sensation in his trembling knees or heavily
against each other. He said after in an altered and very earnest tone. I know it is more comfortable here than it is at home but I am going home and I intend. To stand for ever. I had solemnly pledged myself before dawn never again to drink the poison that has made me more than half a brood and beggared my poor family. Sally and I don't hurry away from here. The very presence of me in heaven. Why 1849 the temperance forces had become strong enough to get a revised liquor law through the state legislature that instinctive provision of the revised statute of 1849 was that it required the vendor of
liquor to execute a thousand dollar bond on which he could be sued for any damages either to the community or to the individual which might be thought to result from his sale of liquor. Don boards could sue to recover damages in case of Popper's created by drink sold them and a wife might sue to recover damages to herself and children in case of the husband's neglect due to the same cause. The moral reasoning behind this new law for the sale of spirituous liquors was carefully explained by the committee which reported the bill to the state Senate. The Popper ism and crime and degradation generally resulting from the traffic in ardent spirits results as is well known to the injury of the community. The best the most temperate and valuable citizens of the community are equally with the rum seller himself and his victim involved in the expense and the Evos of the traffic. This is not right if the rum seller shall be permitted to
scatter proper resume and crime abroad. It is but just that the expense of such proper ism and crime should fall mainly if not entirely upon him. The new law was lauded by temperance forces across the country and the legislature that passed it was toasted with the praise of the Wisconsin Sons of Temperance. And yet the law was not effective. By the next meeting of the state legislature the opponents of temperance moved to repeal the law. But the Sons of Temperance had become more powerful in the preceding year. And so instead of being abolished the law was strengthened by an amendment but not before a senator Fred W. Horne one of the leading opponents of temperance legislation could present a minority report which proposed to perfect the bill. So that there might be no chance for the miserable wretch to sow's
liquid poison to his fellow man of evading the law and to keep the tippler himself as harmless as possible. Adopting the principle that no man is responsible for his own act but the one who tempted him to commit crime and ruin himself is responsible and your committee trusts that many a poor sinner made by that Doc enter the Kingdom of Heaven in as much as the devil who tempted him is the only one to blame in the matter. I propose that every and all persons who for the space of twenty five years and upwards have been steady drinkers in every part of the globe and by that means may have accomplished their ruin and poverty by degrees. And who shall find their way into this state with but one sixpence in their pocket if that sixpence is paid for liquor. The person so giving or selling the liquor to such person shall support all the orphans and the widow of the man who spent his last sixpence with him. And such liquor
vendetta shall not be allowed to brew at the ruin of such person has been accomplished years ago. And in other countries the words of the law justly triple to such traffic shall cover all cases of this kind. The liquor bill was amended but the amendments that were adopted were pro temperance. The original thousand dollar bond put up by the liquor vendor was made renewable as often as the fund might be depleted by judgments against it. The principle of licensing was abolished altogether and the process of enforcing the statute was somewhat strengthened as some commentators have noted the stronger liquor laws received differing receptions in different parts of the state. The reception of the amended law Incan Osho was enthusiastic a mass meeting there expressing complete sympathy with its objects and resolving in favor of its rigid enforcement. By contrast a mob in Milwaukee.
This is it did the residents of the main proponent of the bill at night in his absence raised a general commotion and then proceeded to demolish windows and other breakable articles. The mob was reported to have been made up largely if not wholly of Germans but some of the best Germans in the city publicly denounced the outrage and demanded the apprehension and punishment of the ringleaders. Unfortunately the German papers condoned the action of the mob. After the publication of the law. A monster protest was held in Milwaukee and a series of vigorous resolutions presented by the editor of the folks freind was adopted and these resolutions denounced the law as impracticable foolish odious and illiberal. The Yankee German division over the question of temperance was destined to prove fairly permanent but both sides became skeptical of the new law when after a year's trial it proved out in forcible the temperance people wanted to repeal it and adopt an out and out prohibition law. The
1851 legislature did repeal it but substituted an act which was a frank return to the principle of licensing the liquor traffic. The Prohibitionists acknowledge the 1851 law as a triumph for the opposition and continued their fight for a Prohibition Bill. Their strength was great enough so that when their petitions went to the state Senate the report of the majority committee reasoned in favor of prohibition. All laws have their foundation in the public good. And as all impose restraint and all deny the right to do wrong the law which should establish the fact that the sale of liquor is wrong would be plainly a principle of right and has a precedent in every other law directing and influencing the conduct of man. It's useless to talk of correcting the effect so long as the cause is protected and to legislate against intemperance is to give life and effect to that over which we have no control.
The majority committee accompanied their report with a full fledged Prohibition Bill. The upshot of the matter however was that a prohibition law was not passed. Many reasons have been suggested for this the increase in the German population of the state. The partial disintegration of the Sons of Temperance attacks on its membership as a dangerous secret order disintegration from within the organization over the question of abolition and so on. Nevertheless the prohibitionists had no thought of abandoning the struggle. Dear Brother Eaton comfortably Well all we are is a people making some progress and doing well. Meetings well attended have commenced a temperance Lyceum none but temperance people to be connected with. It promises well. One of our grog shops has banished liquor and the owner is a member of our society. The other grog seller and his wife are now on
trial for petty laws. It is alleged against them that they have instigated several boys in and about the village to various that buying of their stolen property. The excitement is great. I hope it will eventually lead to an increased opposition to liquor selling. The Prohibitionists continued their fight until in 1853 the legislature passed a bill submitting the question of prohibition to the voters in the November election. However the people would vote only on whether or not they wished the legislature to enact a prohibition law. It was a hard fought campaign which followed. It was charged in the prohibition press for example that many Milwaukee Germans in order to show the contempt in which they held the ideas of their opponents went to the polling places with an enormous arm long horns filled with beers slung from the shoulder from that canteen they regaled themselves
until it was empty when they walked up to the beer wagon standing conveniently in the street and replenished their horns and returned strengthened for the conflict. When at a later time the Germans complained of the Yankees in liberality and their fanatical disposition to force others to accept their customs. The Prohibitionists were prone to remind the Germans of that episode. The Prohibitionists won the election. However they were unable to get a prohibition bill through the legislature. A strong reaction set in against what was considered the treachery of the state Senate. This citizen reaction created the atmosphere for the next US political campaign and influenced the liquor question locally in many parts of the state. A group of women in bearable stirred by the story of a drunkard who threatened to murder his wife proceeded to clean out all the liquor from the grog shops of that
village. Six of the most prominent women who were arrested for destroying property and were taken before a beard just to see him probably to sack and remanded to jail. The incident created widespread excitement inducing many women of the state to take special interest in the prohibition campaign by the legislative session of 1855 a bill prohibiting the sale but not the manufacture of liquor was passed. However the governor vetoed it and the legislative majority for prohibition was not large enough to overcome his action thus subsided a movement which had lasted six years to control by law the tendency of men to become tipplers and drunkards. But as one commentator explains the liquor issue was not dead. Not that the prohibitionists now gave over their efforts to bring about the desired reform. But such efforts after 1855
became increasingly futile. Other states both east and west went over to the prohibition basis and Wisconsin would undoubtedly have done so had the Yankee element continued dominant. The relative decline of that element and the corresponding increase in the number of Germans was responsible for the firm establishment of licensing as a policy in this state. The year 1855 marks the entrance of the Republican Party to power in the governorship and therefore from the campaign of 1856 the Republican leaders sought to suppress the issue of prohibition and they had last convinced the Germans that the licensing policy was safe in Republican hands. After all in 1856 Francis Willard was only 17. Carrie Nation was 10 and John Banstead wasn't to be born for four years yet.
The glorious. The way it was presenting eyewitness accounts of historic events. Today early battles against demon rum. Material for the series was drawn from the files and papers of the State Historical Society it was Scott's. Consultant for the series was planned by betting on music by contemporary
production Ralph Johnson. This is the national educational radio network.
The Way It Was
Episode Number
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-d21rkj7m).
Series Description
"The Way It Was" is a radio program which presents eye witness accounts of notable topics throughout American history. Each episode begins with a description of a specific event, person, or historical topic, followed by several dramatic readings of witness testimonies found in the files and papers of the state historical society of Wisconsin. The program was originally released in 1969, and was re-broadcast from the program library of National Public Radio.
Radio Theater
Local Communities
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-37-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:08
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The Way It Was; 13,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
MLA: “The Way It Was; 13.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <>.
APA: The Way It Was; 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from