Sons of temperance: Pioneers in total abstinence and 'Constitutional' prohibition
Beattie, Donald Weldon
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The Order of the Sons of Temperance (1842-), an offshoot of the declining Washingtonians, was organized to free the intemperate from the slavery of King Alcohol. The Order was divided into Subordinate, Grand, and National Divisions. A pledge to total abstinence required each Son to refrain from manufacturing, purchasing, selling, or imbibing all known and potential intoxicants. Beneficial features were adopted to protect members and their families from the hardships caused by sickness, unemployment, and death. The division room of the Order provided an atmosphere of general education, social activity, and character building. Though its semi-secret character brought protests upon the Sons of Temperance, the Order survived and continues to employ the principle of semi-secrecy (1966). By the 1850's the Order had become international in scope. From the United States, the principles and pra.ctises of the Order moved into Canada. Its philosophy penetrated Great Britain, Australia, the West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand, and Liberia. In the early twentieth century, British Sons influenced the establishment of the Order in Malta, Egypt, India, and Burma. Today (1966), the National Division of North America continues to send passwords to the National Divisions of Great Britain and Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Becoming "champions" of social equality, the Order admitted women, Negroes, and servicemen to its ranks. Lady visitors were permitted in the Order by 1854, and by 1866 women were admitted as members. Between 1863-65, a number of Subordinate Divisions were established in both the Union and Confederate military services. Negroes were admitted to the Order (1866) on a separate but equal basis. Statutory and "constitutionaltt prohibitory schemes became the objective of many Sons during the 1850's, matters which continue (1966) to hold the interest of the Order. Neal Dow, Samuel L. Tilley, William Armstrong, and Henry Wilson labored with many other prominent Sons to establish state, provincial, and national prohibition of the "spirits" traffic throughout North America. Efforts to sustain its greatest membership, 232,233 in 1850, were adopted by the Sons of Temperance. Thereafter, youth temperance programs, such as the Cadets of Temperance, the Band of Hope, and the Loyal Crusaders, were employed by the Order. The practise of disseminating temperance principles through tracts, books, periodicals, journals, and addresses was also instituted by the Sons. Nonetheless, the fragmentation of "closed" and "open" temperance societies, the American Civil liar, the distraction of the Eighteenth Amendment, and internal problems kept the Order from maintaining its earlier membership. There are no comprehensive histories of the Sons of Temperance. John Allen Krout in Origins of Prohibition and J. C. Furnas in Life and Times of the Late Demon Rum have written general accounts of the temperance movement in the United States, particularly in regard to the nineteenth century; they have, however, merely touched upon the history of the Sons of Temperance. Nineteenth and twentieth century sources, both printed and manuscript, including all available records of the Order, have been employed in preparing this dissertation. On the basis of this material the writer has prepared a topical, but chronological, institutional history of the Sons of Temperance of North America.
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RightsCopyright by Donald Weldon Beattie 1966