“Mrs. Alvira A. C. Ware of Brattleboro was then introduced. She was received with hearty applause. Her address was on the subject:
TEMPERANCE IN THE HOME.
When I first learned that this subject had been assigned me for this evening I thought, can I possibly turn the attention of this audience from the consideration of those interesting subjects which have been talked upon during these meetings, subjects in which all are interested from the minutest detail in regard to all the methods pursued on the farm till the finished product is ready to place before the consumer perfect and attractive. Through all these discussions we have been impressed with the thought that behind all these methods there must be an intelligent, earnest, wide-awake workman. A person whose brain is clouded with intoxicating drink or stupefied with narcotics or weakened by an immoral life cannot succeed as a dairyman.
We have heard a great deal about the abandoned farms in Vermont and are now rejoiced to hear that some are again occupied, that sometimes the people who have lived in cities have been moved to return to their native homes, repair the buildings and begin to improve the farm. Of course they wish to secure the very best of stock, and have no trouble in finding thoroughbred cattle of any breed they may fancy; there are plenty of the very best of horses that are adapted to driving or farm work, plenty of approved and improved swine, plenty of Vermont sheep, and plenty of pure-bred poultry of any variety they may desire, and dogs for hunting, watching or pets. The man may be pardoned if he looks with pride upon his stock of perfect animals.
He finds he must have assistance indoors and out in order to carry out to perfection the methods advanced by experts at the Vermont Dairymen’s Association. As he has little trouble in securing animals that could neither think nor care /or themselves, he may fancy that he can just as easily find competent helpers from among the people, as they are capable of thinking and caring for themselves. The hunt begins. He finds plenty who are willing to work if they can get an easy place and good pay. He also finds some of them are incompetent and sometimes dissipated and immoral. These soon join the large procession of the unemployed. In time he ceases to wonder why so many farms are left desolate, because it is not easy to find competent assistants. This is a serious question for the farmer, and needs to be discussed at every farmers’ meeting until relief is obtained.
But I am to consider only one phase of it. Possibly the most popular farm question just now—or at least it is the most talked about— is that dread disease called tuberculosis. Surely it is a very important one. Naturally there is considerable excitement in localities where it is known to exist and people are watching the results of the present methods of dealing with it. However much may be said in regard to the present scare and excitement being unnecessary, we feel sure that the disease cannot be stamped out without it. But there is a disease among us that is far more dreadful than tuberculosis which can only kill the body, while intemperance can ruin both soul and body, unfits one to labor, to live, or to die, and causes untold misery to those around them. We do not need a microscope to detect its germs or an expert to locate its victims. We are reminded of its presence when we see that it is seemingly impossible for some people to resist the temptation to take a drink and keep at it till they have lost control of themselves and are led into the prevailing vices. How many parents dread to have their children leave home because of the temptations to wrongdoing that everywhere abound. Many a wife knows when her husband goes to the village that it means money spent for indulgence in dissipation and sin, and a cross, miserable husband and father when he returns to his home and neglected work.
In this country of which we boast we ought to receive certain protections for our families that are not granted to us. The parent has a right to expect when the child’goes from home that this government, which was designed to protect its citizens, shall protect that child from harm. They expect it will protect them from wild animals, mad dogs, infectious diseases, murderers and thieves, but know that they will not be protected from temptation to sin and uncleanness, which may ruin them for this world and the next. Well may we ask, are our homes protected as they should be? Large sums of money are paid annually to protect industries, but how much to protect our homes from the curse of intoxicating drinks and its attendent evils? What are we doing about it?
Sometimes when we hear that some terrible crime has been committed by a drunken man we say, “Why don’t they do something to stop such things?” Just who they are is uncertain. An instance of this kind has recently occurred in this state. Sometimes a colony of foreign help is brought into this state to work in our quarries or on the railroads. They are entirely ignorant of our language and unaccustomed to our ways, and find it hard work to get along here. One of our customs they take kindly to, and that is whiskey drinking. Soon the papers announce that such a foreigner, while intoxicated, has murdered his fellow workman. Then we rouse up a little and wonder why our government does not stop the poor, ignorant, shiftless, drunken foreigner from coming here. Now what had this poor man a right to expect as he came to this country, where the government was a government of the people, for the people and by the people? Of course he would be protected from harm. We know that our government allows and encourages and protects the manufacture and sale of the article that caused that man to kill his brother, and gave him the right to die an unnatural death by hanging.
Is it a matter of pride to our people to know that our national treasury is richer by over one hundred million dollars from the tax on intoxicating liquors in one year? The tax on tobacco amounts to over eight millions of dollars. Oh, the shame of it! Who is to blame for it in this county where government is of the people, for the people? That means you and me. We need to be governed by the people, that means the voters. Let it be read this way—a government of the people, for the people, by the men, men who are voting for protection to property, but neglect to vote for the protection of home.
A reform is needed and who shall begin it if not the fathers and mothers? Notice I said fathers first, then mothers. I will tell you why. It is because the men here in Vermont have a great deal more influence than women. Therefore I say fathers and mothers, begin in the work at home; remove from the home everything that can intoxicate or make one vile or impure. Arouse public sentiment. One cannot do this work alone, one family cannot do it alone. Read a a good weekly temperance paper. How many of that kind of papers do you suppose are taken in this prohibition state? Every enterprising farmer’s families must take more than one farm paper. They of course take their own state paper, the Vermont Farmer’s Advocate, with its short, sensible agricultural articles, its column of fashions, and notes on the Sunday school lesson, and must have the Mirror and Farmer, with its breezy farm articles and crisp editorials andhorse gossip; they must have the New England Farmer and Grange Homes, with its columns of woman’s interests, Grange news and farm discussions; they must still keep the New England Homestead on their list, with its splendid market reports and agricultural articles. Of course they take a local paper, and if they live near the post-office must take a daily paper, and as this is a Republican state the men must have a party organ, so take the New York Tribune to brace up their political tendencies, also read its pages devoted to agriculture. But how many people take a temperance paper? I might go farther and ask how many temperance people take an outand-out temperance paper and read it? If we do not, we may be sure that if we search carefully we shall find somewhere a germ of indifference upon the temperance question, and need to be braced up by reading good rousing temperance papers. Get others to read. Then act as if we believed what we said.
Some of you have noticed in the papers that a reporter from the Boston Herald went through the cities of Maine-to ascertain if the prohibitory law was enforced as it ought to be, and is now causing those cities to see themselves as others see them, by publishing column after column of the easy manner in which this beer-drinking reporter satisfied his appetite. He found there just the condition of things that the majority of the citizens of Maine desired. The fruits of his investigations will probably be apparent at the next November election. Boston has just the kind of a law that the majority of its voters wish and the citizens submit to it because they wish to.
A few weeks ago I stepped into the Union station in that city and noticed a crowd near the door. I ascertained that a poor drunken woman had been found upon the street by a policeman, and all that he could find out about her was that a ticket in her pocket indicated that she lived in a near-by town; so this guardian of the people, with his gloves of white, emblematical of purity, took her to the station and put her in the care of the woman in attendance, while he stood by to see that the people were not polluted by her presence while they waited to put her on the train that would carry her to the place indicated by the ticket in her pocket; and then Boston’s duty towards this weak creature was done. Now what had this woman a right to expect as she came into the city that morning? She was to visit one
of the most noted cities in this country, noted especially for its culture, and would she not be protected from harm? Alas! this erring mortal soon fell into the snares spread over that city by the saloon keepers, who are encouraged and protected by the majority of the voters of Boston. What, protect the saloon keeper while he ruins thousands of people who might be respectable, and not protect one’s own friends? I do not speak of Boston because it is doing any worse things than other license cities, but because one of its great dailies, the Boston Herald, has made such an effort to exhibit the motes to be found in the enforcement of Maine’s prohibitory law, and neglects to look for the beams to be found in Boston’s license laws.
It cannot be pleasant reading for the people in Maine, neither would it be to the people of Vermont were some one to go through this state and report the ease with which whiskey can be procured, and that our laws are not well enforced, laws which protect our homes and our citizens, and benefit humanity. Therefore we need to be awake and in earnest, and living such lives in our homes that our influence for good shall be felt around us, in our schools, seminaries and colleges, so that the students coming from them shall have clear brains undisturbed by whiskey, healthy bodies unpolluted by immorality, and shall cheerfully and willingly meet the work that comes to them, whether it be on the farm or in the city, in the dairy or in the White House, in the kitchen or in the parlor. Wherever it may be, then will they be prepared to work with us for God and home and native land.”
Annual Report of the Secretary of the Vermont Dairymen's Association, by Vermont Dairymen's Association, 1891, pages 135-9