“The long fight to abolish drink” — Wisconsin State Journal editorial from the year 1904

This Wisconsin State Journal editorial ran on July 22, 1904. Used with permission.

Intemperance dies hard. The fight has been on in this country for only a little over 100 years.

Slavery was wiped out in active agitation of less duration … . But to abolish drink is to overwhelm both avarice and appetite.

The people of Wisconsin voted prohibition, and the Legislature declared for it. But Gov. Barstow vetoed the measure. …

At the end of the last century and later the use of spirits was universal. Indeed, some of our older people still living remember when liquor was on every sideboard, when every grocer sold it, and when it was the important feature of tavern life. It was used freely at every table, and the simplest form of hospitality called for it.

At parties, weddings, funerals, at the opening of court and the dedication of meeting house, and in the harvest field, spirits were omnipresent.

It had a double function. It was supposed to promote sociability, and the belief was general that liquor meant strength for the worker. In some communities, the town bell rang at certain hours as a signal to take a drink. …

As a consequence of this cheap, abundant, popular drinking, the fruits of drunkenness were (everywhere) … .

In 1785, Dr. Benjamin Rush printed his “Inquiry Into the Effects of Ardent Spirits on the Human Body and Mind.” … It was by such a man that drunken America was called to its senses. Dr. Rush’s “Inquiry” was the opening gun of a revolution which since that time has been waged with varying fortunes to eliminate drink from the life of the American people.

You can read the original Wisconsin State Journal article here: http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/editorial/the-long-fight-to-abolish-drink—-state/article_80fecb5a-84d4-57e9-aa22-3a53b8894c2d.html#ixzz3CE4niOe4