The Philosophy Of Prohibition -- By: Charles W. Super

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 076:304 (Oct 1919)
Article: The Philosophy Of Prohibition
Author: Charles W. Super


The Philosophy Of Prohibition

Charles W. Super

He who writes a history of the civilization of the nineteenth century will have to deal with three movements of primary importance. These movements are the crusade against slavery, the agitation for the enfranchisement of women, and the campaign in favor of total abstinence (usually but erroneously called temperance). The first was virtually brought to a close by the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, by President Lincoln, although slavery was not entirely abolished until about the beginning of the twentieth century. The first Woman’s Right Convention met at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Two years later an organization was formed to promote the equality of the sexes in the right to vote and to hold office. The Quakers were the first to affirm the parity of women with men; but in matters of religion only. For a long time total abstinence was advocated by what may be called inhibition; but after it had been demonstrated that voluntary abstinence fails to produce satisfactory results, and the total abstainers had become conscious of their numerical strength, they became prohibitionists. These three movements presented a curious commingling of appeals to the emotions, to the love of gain, and to the reason. At present we are, however, concerned with prohibition only. Although the Prohibition party has always maintained a friendly attitude toward woman suffrage, recent experience has proved that there is no “elective affinity “between the two. Entire states, to say nothing of municipalities, have voted dry in which women were without the franchise, and vice versa.

The Prohibition party dates its origin from a convention that met in Chicago in 1869, at which about five hundred delegates were present. This convention was followed by

another, held in Columbus, Ohio, in 1872, where Presidential candidates were nominated. Whether we agree or disagree with those who attended these conventions; whether we commend or condemn their motives we can hardly withhold our admiration from the zeal with which they pursued their self-appointed object. Many of them came long distances and at no little expense, without the inducements that usually bring men together to promote the cause of a party. It may be stated as a general fact that the devotees of prohibition have from the first been inspired with a spirit of self-denial which made their cause partake somewhat of the character of a religious crusade. The Prohibition party claims, that, notwithstanding its poor showing at the polls, it was the first to embody in its platform many principles that were afterwards adopted and put in practice by the larger parties. Among these were universal suffra...

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