Prohibition or Abolition — What it Means
September 1, 1901 — Carnegie Hall, New York City
God is a politician; so is the devil. God’s politics are to protect and defend mankind, bringing to them the highest good and finally heaven. The devil’s politics are to deceive, degrade and to make miserable, finally ending in hell. The Bible fully explains this. The two kinds of seed started out from Abel and Cain, then Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob. There are but these two kinds of people. God’s crowd and the Devil’s crowd.
The first law given and broken in Eden was a prohibition law. God said: “Thou shalt not.” The devil tempted and persuaded the first pair to disobey. He did it by deceiving the woman. The fact of redemption now is to bring them back to the law of God. What is law? God says that sin is a transgression of law. Blackstone says: Law commands that which is right and prohibits that which is wrong. Law is one, as truth is one. It is not possible to make a bad law. If it is bad, it is not a law. We have bad statutes. Law is always right. Nothing is wrong that is legal, and wrong may be licensed, but never legalized. I find lawyers who do not understand this. I often hear the term legalized saloon.
When I was passing the building of the Supreme Court in New York City, on Madison Avenue, I read an inscription on one of the marble statues representing a judge with a book on either side of the door: Every law not based on wisdom is a menace to the state. This is a false, misleading sentence for all law is wisdom. It might have read: All statutes not based on wisdom, are a menace to the state. Then at the base of the statue of a soldier, on the other side of the entrance, was this statement: We do not use force until good laws are defied. Which ought to read: We do not use force until laws are defied. Such ideas as these are corrupting courts, and biasing the public mind, and the injury is more than apparent to the observer. If law is not a standard, what standard can we have? We must have one. We repeat again: Law commands that which is right and prohibits that which is wrong. Any statute that does this is lawful. Any that does not, is anarchy.
God is truly the author of law. The theocratic form of government was perfect and the only perfect government that ever existed, we need no other statutes than those that God gave. He said: We must not kill a bird sitting on her young; must not see our enemy’s beast fall under his burden and not help him rise. And the refinement of mercy was taught in the statute that said: You must not kill the mother and lamb in one day; must not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk; must not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. The use, and the only use, of law is to prevent and punish for sin. All law has a penalty for those who violate it. Governments that are the greatest blessing to its citizens are those who can prohibit, or abolish the most sin or crime. Crime is not prevented by toleration, but by prohibition. Nine of the ten commandments are prohibitive and begin with: Thou shalt not.
The success of life, the formation of character, is in proportion to the courage one has to say to one’s ownself: “Thou shalt not.” It is not the man or woman who has no temptation to sin, who has the strong character, but the man or woman who has the desire but will not yield to sin. Some people ask: “Why did God make the Devil?” The Devil is God’s fire. Like an alchemist God is purifying souls. The Devil is an agent in salvation. Every Devil in hell is harnessed up to push every saint into heaven.
Those who are counted worthy to enter into the delights of that heavenly land are those who have had their fiery trials, tried and made white. Man would have no credit and could not hear: Good and faithful servant; if he had no temptations to do otherwise, man would be but a mere machine.
God has never used for his work, any but those who prohibit evil. The pilgrim fathers were forced from the mother country because this principle of prohibition burned in their hearts. When England would oppose the colonies, it was prohibition that smashed the tea, over in Boston harbor. George Washington was put at the head of the colonial armies that prohibited, by much bloodshed and suffering, the oppression from the mother country. Our Civil War was the result of the principle to abolish or prohibit the slavery of the colored race. Now we have a worse slavery than England threatened us with or the poor blacks suffered at the hands of their taskmasters. This slavery of soul and body, is one that leads to eternal death. The forces of God are with the abolition, or prohibition of wrong. The forces of darkness and death are with those who are willing to be led captive by the Devil at his will, and to lead others under this grievous yoke of those who are trying to perpetuate the cause of evil.
There are men who desire to be loyal, who are voting for license or in license parties, because they do not stop to think. The people are generally right on all questions. They go wrong more for lack of thought, than for lack of heart. Edmund Burke, the greatest English statesman, said: The people have as good government as they deserve. Because the people have always had the power, and in America especially, they are sovereign. The president and all others in office, are but servants of the people. In another chapter I have given what the Supreme Court says about the impossibility of licensing wrong by law, or according to law.
Hear the language of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created free and equal, that they are endowed by their creator, with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. The licensing of intoxicating drink results in suicide and murder, whether or not the saloon-keeper or state be held responsible. Some one is. Who? The man who consents to or aids by his vote is most criminal. It is said that drink kills a man a minute. Suppose that we had a war that killed a man every five minutes. Would there not be howling for an end of bloodshed. This is more than ten times worse, for the soul is more valuable than the body.
Freedom or liberty in animals is following instinct and underlying appetite. Not so with man; to the reverse. It is the freedom of conscience and will, from the bondage of ignorance of the person, the gratification of appetite and passion. The body is a good servant, but a tyrant when it is master. A man must be master or slave. One must first, like Daniel, purpose in his heart that he will not defile himself. Liberty or freedom is only attained by prohibition of opportunity to do wrong to ourselves or allow any one else to do so. Citizenship not only requires one to obey law but must see that others do so also.
The principles of government are founded on liberty and self-control. Drunkenness is a loss of self-control. Anything that animalizes men, is a menace to the life of the state and prevents the purpose of government. Thus replacing the weapon of destruction in the hands of its foes and the danger is great, because so many citizens are under the domination of their own will and passion. This class is being multiplied by this licensed crime. These willing classes are an integral part of the nation. By licensing rum, we are fostering a power that is increasing the weakness, and preventing the self-control of its citizens. This is conspiracy, treason, black as night. Some plead the revenue of our wealth. Our wealth is in our citizens. The state can not add to its treasury at the expense of its manhood without punishing herself. The state must guard the character of its citizens. It can not make them honest but it must punish dishonesty; can not make them humane, but it must prohibit an act of inhumanity; and should oppose and forbid every license that man would desire or try to obtain that which would allow such gratification of the animal over the moral.
The nation is what its homes are. The family first, then the nation. Nothing can injure an individual or a family that is not an injury to the state. The fight for firesides means a fight for our national life. Our revolutionary sires fought for this. This is the fight that Carry A. Nation is making. It is the heart of love, liberty and peace. Some of these thoughts I have copied from an article I read on a few leaves of a torn pamphlet, no name. But the writer has the true meaning of government. I am a prohibitionist because I am a Christian. I want to get to heaven. None but prohibitionists ever do. Hell is made for those who take license to sin.
Source: The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation, Written by Herself, by Carry Amelia Nation (Topeka), 1908, pp. 254-259.