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This Alcohol Curse

May 1898 — 16th Annual Conference, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Fort Worth TX


We meet in the attractive city of Fort Worth, providentially situated on the high bluff on the anti-malaria side of the Trinity, and in consequence so much healthier than Dallas.

Eleven years ago when we had our state prohibition campaign, Fort Worth was the only large city in this great commonwealth that gave a good majority for prohibition.

Then our great lawyers and leaders were outspoken for the prohibition of the liquor traffic and for the protection of the home. How are the mighty fallen!

Since then the big brewery has lifted its great chimney higher than any church steeple in the city, and saloons have multiplied in a threefold ratio, while the population has scarcely doubled.

Each year the larger per cent of the profits of the brewery are sent out of the state or out of the nation to the real owners, yet they flaunt their motto, “Patronize Home Industry,” before the public on all occasions.

Looking away from the brewery and its dark, dark shadow, the saloons, gambling dens and nameless haunts of shame, we see Fort Worth a beautiful city much to be desired. A curfew ordinance, a fine home for waifed or orphaned children, a home for the fallen woman or girl; a beautiful Polytechnic college, a finely equipped university; one of the best public school systems in the state; all with buildings to point to and be proud of; fine churches with aggressive, spiritual men to lead out God’s people, business men with push and go; a railroad center giving the city the name “Chicago of Texas.” In this city I resided six years as a teacher; here my son grew to untainted youth. “Fort Worth, with all thy faults, I love thee still.”

Comrades of the White Ribbon army in Texas, from every section of the state, you have come to celebrate our sixteenth anniversary. You come not self-constituted delegates, but each of you duly elected by large constituencies.

You come the chosen leaders in this army of women, battling in the mightiest reform of the age. From the church, where as Sunday school teachers and prompt, regular workers; from well ordered homes where little children urge you on; from avenues of usefulness — you come. Not an idler among you, not an indifferent worker — not one of you a woman at ease in Zion.

You represent that mysterious wonderful manifestation of God’s spirit in the crusade of a quarter of a century ago. Each generation the breath of God inspires human hearts to go forth to battle against some ancient wrong; to lift humanity to a higher plane; each generation has its special reform to undertake; some mighty sin to overthrow; and to each soul there comes the time of testing. When the testing came to Deborah she replied, “I will surely go with thee,” and God rewarded that quick response by a mighty delivery of God’s people.

The girl queen, Esther the Beautiful, yielded to the spirit even to offering her own life for her people. “I will go unto the king tho’ not according to law, and if I perish, I perish.”

In response to angelic voices the mystic maid of Orleans led forth the armies of France, and crowned her king. The same spirit led Catherine Booth to take on the misery of the masses, and taking her children into the pulpit with her, she preached Christ’s gospel all her life, with the im- mediate result to her family — that every child of her family of nine is preaching the same gospel after her.

In the quiet of a teacher’s life our own sainted Frances E. Willard heard this same spirit call, and she laid aside the quiet student’s life, for leadership in this latest and most marvelous of reforms.

What manner of women ought we to be, beloved, who walk in such a company? The same spirit is calling us that down the ages called the others — the call to fight the sin of our own particular time.

One of the most hopeful successes of the past year has been the turning of the light upon Princeton and others of our universities, in respect to the drink and impurity habits among the students, resulting in the closing of the infamous Princeton and the opening of a moral earthquake under Yale and many others of our great universities.

The conscience of the country has been shocked by the disclosures and by the riot of Princeton students demanding beer in language more low saxon than high classic. Thoughtful parents are alarmed at the dangers, and already these universities are falling off in students and safer schools are receiving the patronage.

The demand has been made for safe surroundings during student life, and our universities must accede to this requirement or take the fatal consequences. Christening Battleships.

Kentucky water is just now more popular than Kentucky bourbon! After much controversy in the press, Miss Bradley, daughter of the governor of Kentucky, christened the new battleship named for the state with sparkling Kentucky spring water dipped from the spring where Abraham Lincoln drank as a boy. This brave act of the young lady has given the world a lesson on temperance. The ship will run on water, run with water, and the world knows that it would be safer for the sailors, the ship and the nation’s honor if nothing more noxious than water be imbibed by the crew.

This is not the first ship that our country has had christened with water, nearly a century ago the “Constitution” (Old Ironsides) became the pioneer, and later the “Hartford”.

We hope as long and gallant a service be vouchsafed to the Kentucky as was given to the other two. Good fortune goes with water.

The liquor dealers of Great Britain complained bitterly a year ago that liquor was so little used in the feasts of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. A notable instance was in the great dinner of the poor of London. The lord mayor was offered wine free by the wine merchants, but refused the offer.

In our own country during the past year, according to official records there has been a decided falling off in the use of alcoholic beverages. Liquor dealers attribute this to the “hard times and the bicycle,” but a more reasonable conclusion, it seems to me, is to attribute it to the ever increasing temperance agitation and the teaching of the nature and effects of alcohol in the public schools of our land. About 17,000,000 of school children regularly receive this instruction in the free schools of our land and every teacher can cite instances where the knowledge thus obtained by the children, has by them been taken into the home, and by it the whole family have become free indeed.

Then, account must be taken of the regular quarterly temperance lesson in the Sunday school, the importance given total abstinence by the Christian Endeavor and other young people’s societies in the church. . .

Bad men would have us believe that to be virtuous we must be ignorant, and that the least contact with such women that they hold themselves free to consort with would be to us a profanation.

On a low plane and for sordid ends primeval men wrought out by fiercest cruelty virtue as the only tolerated estate for one-half the human race. On a high plane, and for the noblest purpose Christianity working through modern women yet make virtue the only tolerated estate of the whole human race. The manhood of America is the noblest and the most masterful on earth because it has most mastery of itself — nor is there any explanation of this fact so adequate as that our every day religion has so developed woman and refined man, that men think of us with respect and reverence. But the outworking of this mightiest of reform which in the last analysis we have perceived to be part and parcel of the great temperance movement, is no more in the interest of woman than of man, for they “rise or fall together dwarfed or god like, bond or free.”

No true reformer among women has harsh and bitter thoughts of men, their inheritance from the dark ages, unsung by Christ or science, the two blessed revelators, is their misfortune rather than their fault, as ours is also, but working side by side, be it theirs as ours, to restore to this pitiful world the Eden it has lost. — Willard.

Once more this nation is involved in war, this time for humanity’s sake, to rescue the struggling Cubans from savage barbarities and extinction through the slow process of starvation and other unspeakable methods adopted by Spain.

War at any time is a terrible disaster, but, “thrice armed is he whose cause is just,” and our boys are hastening to help this struggling neighbor of another race, and the language of whose thanks they would fail to understand.

In this war God has no doubt great truths to teach. Perhaps in this way the nations and the world are to be shown more clearly what inhumanity to man is. That every soul that cometh into the world has a right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Perhaps God will open the eyes of this people to see in every city of our own country the “reconcentrados” of the liquor traffic and strong, efficient arms be raised to free the miserable families of the drunkard and the fallen women who are enclosed in walls more adamantine and guarded by circumstances more relentless and cruel than Spanish soldiers raise around the starving Cubans.

God grant this may be! Then indeed we are not far from that glorious time when “He shall take the government upon His shoulders, whose right to reign it is”.

The saloon shall slink away from his righteous glance, impurity’s unutterable crimes shall cease and all people shall dwell safely. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Even upon the bells on the horses shall be “holiness unto the Lord.”

America must be saved from this trinity of evil — drink, gambling and impurity — these three in one, for they are one, because we stand for more to other nations than we stand even to ourselves.

That America marks the highest level, not only of national well-being but of intelligence and happiness, which the race has yet attained, is the judgement of those who look not at the favored few, for whose benefit the world seems hitherto to have framed its institutions, but at the whole body of the people. Bryce says: in America there is the largest liberty, Christianity, the highest civilization yet attained by any race, hence conclude(s), “He does most to Christianize the world and to hasten the coming of the kingdom, who does most to make thoroughly Christian the United States. I do not imagine an Anglo-Saxon is any dearer to God, than a mongolian. My plea is not to save America for America’s sake, but save America for the world’s sake. — Strong.

“The ever feminine draweth on, “and our justice loving brothers have called women to their side in equality in four states, and in modified equality in most of the states.”

The latest state to grant ballot privileges to women is Louisiana, our nearest neighbor to the east. In the new constitution just adopted, tax-paying women have be granted the right to vote upon all questions submitted to tax-payers. Do you wonder that Texas women are asking, Why should we be taxed without consent?

Who are against the ballot for women? For there is no argument stronger on one side than a consideration of those who are opposed to us. Always the saloons, the gambling houses-haunts of shame the ignorant, the foreigner newly arrived. Besides these there are of reputable people, certain ecclesiastical classes and also certain conservative temperaments.

As to arguments against granting franchise to women, Sir Wilfred Lawson, England’s reform leader, thus sums up.

We do not like the woman’s vote,
The reason why we can’t denote,
But still we can repeat by rote,
We do not like the woman’s vote.

Of one thing we are positively certain, king alcohol will never vacate his throne in the politics of our nation until the home forces are brought into action. The saloon will never go until the home is welcomed at the ballot box. Victor Hugo says:

“Only remembering that Napoleon, as conqueror of the world, was out of harmony with the nineteenth century, can we understand the battle of Waterloo. Waterloo, the hinge of the nineteenth century! A disappearance of the great man was necessary for the advent of age, and He, who cannot be answered back, took the task.

Waterloo was the catastrophe of human genius contending with divine purpose. Out of harmony with the nineteenth century and the man of destiny was defeated.”

Out of harmony with the twentieth century is this alcohol curse, and it must go, and woman’s ballot is the Blucher that shall come up to save the day.

Humanity has never succeeded running contrary to the designs of the Creator. As long ago as Eden God declared, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and the world’s long experience but verifies this conclusion of the Creator.

All things are double, one against another, and He hath nothing imperfect. So look upon all the works of the Most High, for they are two and two, one against another.” — Ecclesiastes, xiii 24, xxxiii:15.

It is hopeless to attempt the solution of the problem of humanity by limiting ourselves to the analysis of manhood only. The creation of womanhood completed the design of the Father of all. In ancient temples the lesson of duality is taught by pillars on either side of the entrance. Solomon taught the same by the pillars of strength and beauty, Jachuis and Boaz.

This duality has been joined together by God since creation, and man has made great bungling in all his at- tempts to put them assunder.

We stood ready for the train in a quaint, tile-roofed, one-story Mexican city, at the foot of the glorious mountain Orizaba. Around us lay the coffee fields and banana orchards fruited deep. The tree trunks of the deep shad- owed Almeda are veiled with fairy ferns, that cling where ever a decaying leaf may give them their sustenance. Shepherds are leading their flocks of sheep and goats up the deep mountain side.

Above the Almeda, above the shepherds, above the  cross-capped lower mountains, Orizaba lifts her graceful form with a snowy reboza across her beautiful shoulders — grandest of Mexican mountains, highest peak on the North American continent.

Midway between us and that silvery peak lies the marvellous elevated plain, that under a tropical sun gives the balmy climate of spring throughout the year, richest and most to be desired of any plain upon the round earth.

We leave this lower plain with its heavy, and perchance fever-laden air, its microbes, its swiftly growing and speedily decaying vegetation, for that heaven blued central plain above us. The train moves in, drawn by a heavy double engine — Anglo-Saxon thought expanded in power — an engine built to pull heavy loads, built for climbing. No light, flippant holiday engine can make the mighty climb before us.

We can see our destination high above us — a mile as a bird flies.

There is a rugged path leading from this city in the valley, up to that town clinging on the heights, and those who are equipped for mountain climbing, and have learned to spring from rock to higher steep, can ascend that height, reaching the higher town, and wait for the long laboring train to pull up the more circuitous route. Those who climb the shorter, steeper path must climb unburdened, but this track for the heavy train was built for a purpose, to carry the travel and traffic of a great nation. We start off at right angles to our destination but soon we swing back toward the city we just left, but leaving it below us. Around us is the vegetation of the tropics-glossy orchids peep from the granite walls, or wave us a hasty recognition from their thrones on the branches of the broad-leaved trees. As we ascend, the vegetation of two zones mingle in a bewildering maze-the dark, thick-leaved evergreen of the hot countries hobnob with the pine of the temperate zone — brilliant hued tropical flowers set out with gaudy frills and fringes, bow and wave to the paler sister flower of a cooler clime. As we whirl ’round rugged mountains, fertile valleys suddenly open before us with white-clad peons, busily at work in fields of corn. We dash across deep ravines whose snow-fed mountain streams are so far below us we cannot hear their song and shout as they hurry to the sea.

We vanish into dark, smoky, dripping tunnels but to emerge again into glorious sunlight with a wider view from a loftier vantage-ground. Cool breezes come down from the eternal snows above.

Our strong double engine is pulling grandly, with never a moment of hesitation or a backward slide.

For two never-to-be-forgotten hours, we ascend in the most wonderful manner, swinging around mighty curves, retracing, but ever on a higher plain, back and forth, in and out, but ever and always up, up, up!

The engineering skill elicits exclamations of praise.

We admire the mighty engine, as if it were alive. At the end of twelve miles of track and over two hours of time we reach the town that hangs on the edge of the wonderful elevated plain and exchange our magnificent engine for a simple light running one, since little strength is needed now. The train will almost run itself along the beautiful undulations that mark the route to the City of Mexico.

To me this is a type of the temperance movement. We stood in the microbe-laden valley of universal drinking -our destination prohibition-up yonder in the heights. It is only a mile away.

But that mile is up — up nearer the heights of God.

We who have caught the heavenly vision and are shod for the climbing, possessing heads that dizzy not, nor hearts that palpitate and fail, can easily ascend the height by the shorter, steeper path. But the greater mass of humanity not equipped for mountain climbing must be dragged up, and it takes lifting forces to do it. The powerful double engine of education and agitation, public sentiment and the equal ballot, the Christ love yoked to human endeavor, pulling to the last ounce ’round the mountain path, over marvelous bridges, uniting differences of opinion, leading into dark, dripping tunnels of discouragement to flash out upon a higher plane, marvelous with the vistas above and below, and inspirited by fresh impulses wafted down from the glittering heights above.

It may be a long way but it is a most wonderful way.

Similar feats of engineering are repeated again and again as new chasms must be bridged, invincible granite mountains must be tunnelled — of you can’t go round or go over, go through, is as true in reforms as in engineering.

The pull is at last ended, the steep is climbed, our destination reached-prohibition for the state, protection for the home, that higher plane of purity and the Golden Rule where God wants his people to be.



Source: To the Noon Rest: The Life, Work and Addresses of Mrs. Helen M. Stoddard, by Fanny L. Armstrong (Butler, IN: H.L. Hagley, 1909), pp. 107-121.