Iowa History Project
JOURNAL OF HISTORY AND POLITICS
Volume 6, No. 3 July, 1908
THE HISTORY OF LIQUOR LEGISLATION IN
The history of legislative attempts to regulate the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors in Iowa during the period from 1861 to 1878 is characterized chiefly by the efforts, both in the legislature and on the part of temperance workers, to strengthen and enforce the prohibitory law of 1855, and to secure the repeal of the wine and beer clause of 1858 which practically made prohibition a farce. Referring to the operation of this famous clause one writer says that "through the concessions made to native wines and the specious plea for the lighter drinks as a temperance measure, drinks of all kinds were sold."
LIQUOR LEGISLATION DURING THE CIVIL WAR
The temperance movement, which in 1855 resulted in the passage and adoption of a rigid prohibitory law, had been forced farther and farther into the background in the years immediately preceding the Civil War. During the years from 1861 to 1865 it was lost sight of almost entirely. Nor is it strange that, when nearly every home in the State was represented on the field of battle, the temperance question should receive but little attention. One might search almost indefinitely in the newspapers of those years and find but little mention of the matter, except the occasional notice of a temperance lecture or an article on the evil effects of strong drink. The war and the preservation of the Union were the themes which overshadowed all others. It is doubtless true, however, that during these years the various local temperance organizations, such as the Good Templars and surviving societies of the Sons of Temperance, continued to hold occasional meetings, but these were probably more of a social or fraternal nature than for the purpose of active temperance work.
The General Assembly, however, took occasion during these years to touch upon the liquor problem in three acts. The first of these was an act supplementary to the prohibitory law of 1855 and was approved March 20, 1862. It provided that if any person should "by the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors" contrary to the prohibitory law "cause the intoxication of any other person" he should "be liable for and compelled to pay a reasonable compensation to any person or persons who may take charge of and provide for such intoxicated person or persons, and one dollar per day in addition thereto for every day such intoxicated person shall be kept in consequence of such intoxication, which sums may be recovered in a civil action before any court having jurisdiction thereof." Moreover, it was provided that anyone who should be injured as the result of intoxication in another, should have the right to bring suit for damages against the person who had furnished the intoxicating liquor. The property of the seller, "as well as the premises and property, personal or real, occupied and used for that purpose with the consent or knowledge of the owner thereof or his agent", was held liable for the payment of such damages.
On April 2, 1862, "An Act to amend the law in reference to the sale of intoxicating liquors" was approved. It will be remembered that the prohibitory law as amended in 1857 had given the County Judge the power to grant permission to sell intoxicating liquor for mechanical, medicinal; culinary' and sacramental purposes to anyone who had secured the certificates of twelve citizens of the township attesting his good moral character, and who had furnished the proper bond and securities. The act of April 2, 1862, placed further restrictions on this provision, by declaring that "all such permissions hereafter issued by virtue of said Act, shall specify the house in which intoxicating liquors may be sold by virtue of the same, and the length of time the same shall be in force, which in no case shall exceed twelve months." It was provided that the book of sales and purchases kept by the agent granted this permission should be open to inspection by sheriffs, constables or justices of the peace. Upon receiving information that the law was being violated, the County Judge was required to summon the agent to appear and answer for selling in violation of law. In case of conviction the permission to sell liquor was to be revoked and the offender
declared incompetent to hold such permission again within the State for a period of two years. All liquors held for sale contrary to law might be confiscated and destroyed. Finally, it was provided that search warrants might be issued "on the written information on oath, of one credible person, a resident of the County, instead of three, " as had formerly been required. By an act of March 28, 1864, the sale of intoxicating liquors at or within one hundred and sixty rods of the grounds of any "County or District Agricultural Society Fair" was strictly forbidden. Thus it will be seen that in the field of legislation much was done during these four years to make the prohibitory law more stringent. It was of little avail, however, for those who would have been interested in the enforcement of the prohibitory law were putting forth their energies in the endeavor to enforce the unwritten law of American Union upon the seceding South. Under these circumstances dealers in intoxicating liquors undoubtedly did a flourishing business. Under protection of the "wine and beer clause" liquor was sold almost without
restrictions. Leaders in the temperance movement in this State looked upon the Civil War as a great misfortune to their cause, since it gave the liquor dealers opportunity to extend their business unmolested.
From the campaign of 1859, when the Democrats in their State platform declared so emphatically against the prohibitory law, until the year 1865, the temperance question was not mentioned in the platforms of the political parties. On August 23, 1865, the so-called "Soldiers' Convention" was held at Des Moines. This convention was made up largely of bolters from the
Republican party, and the faction thus organized was termed "The Union Anti-Negro Suffrage Party." The fifth plank in the platform adopted by this convention was as follows: That inasmuch as we do not sufficiently know the sentiment of the people of the State in regard to the prohibitory liquor law, we deem it expedient to refer this matter to the different county conventions to take such action in the matter as by them is deemed proper, and to instruct their senators and representatives accordingly.
This moderate declaration would have been less significant had it not been virtually adopted by the Democratic party which, at its convention held on the same day, made no nominations but voted to support the " Soldiers' Ticket", which was headed by Thomas E. Benton, Jr. There is no evidence, however, that the temperance question figured to any considerable extent in the election of 1865.
The following year (1866) the question was forced into politics in a somewhat more decided manner by the action of the Liquor Dealers' Association. In 1865 this association had imposed dues upon its members for the purpose of raising a fund to be used in fighting the prohibitory law and in influencing elections. At their meeting in the spring of 1866 the liquor dealers complained that not only had their "numerous and urgent petitions" for the repeal of the prohibitory law been ignored by the legislature, but there had even been threats that the law would be made more stringent. As a consequence of this state of affairs they adopted the following resolution: Resolved, That we deem it expedient to make this a paramount issue above all others, and to use all honorable means to bring about the repeal of this fanatical law, and that we for that purpose mutually pledge ourselves henceforth to vote for no candidate, for any office, whatsoever, unless he shall publicly and in writing declare himself opposed to the present liquor law, and that he will exert all his influence to obtain the repeal of the same. This resolution apparently induced the Democrats to place in their platform of 1866 a plank denouncing the prohibitory law, just as in 1854 a similar resolution of a temperance convention had induced the Whigs to embody in their platform a declaration in favor of the enactment of such a law. The plank in the Democratic platform of 1866, as in 1859, declared the prohibitory
law "inconsistent with the genius of a free people, and unjust and burdensome in its operations," and expressed the opinion that it should be repealed. Moreover, in the platform of 1867 this same party not only declared in favor of the repeal of the prohibitory law, but advocated the enactment of "a well regulated license law in lieu thereof.'' It may be added that this policy has been consistently followed by the Democratic party in Iowa ever since the declaration in 1867. During these years the temperance question was entirely ignored in the Republican platforms.
THE LIQUOR LAWS OF 1868
The twelfth General Assembly convened January 13, 1868, and adjourned April 8. Between these dates there occurred on the floors of both houses a lively contest between the forces of license and prohibition, and in the end the matter stood about where it did at the beginning. Petitions to the legislature poured in from both factions. Late in 1867 a petition for a license system and the repeal of the prohibitory law was circulated and it received a large number of signatures, especially in the river counties. This petition, together with the determined attitude which the liquor dealers had assumed, aroused the friends of prohibition to action. A petition for absolute prohibition was circulated and was signed by approximately forty thousand people. Thus it would have been somewhat difficult for the legislature to determine exactly what was the
will of the majority of the people in regard to liquor legislation.
Without going into details it may be said that during this session of the legislature, numerous bills were introduced into both houses, touching upon the liquor problem. In substance these bills varied all the way from a license system with no prohibitions to absolute prohibition of the sale of all liquors, including beer and wine. Indeed, a study of these bills would reveal the attitude which the various groups of people took toward the question at that time. In the end a majority of the bills were either laid on the table or reported upon unfavorably by the committee to which they were referred; but the battle was fought with considerable earnestness by both factions. In the Senate the Committee on the Suppression of Intemperance made a majority report in favor of the passage of a compromise measure of which mention will be made later. Two minority reports were also submitted by members of this committee. One of these minority reports was submitted by two men who desired the enactment of a rigid and absolute prohibitory law, and hence were dissatisfied with the half measure recommended by the majority report. They urged that the prohibition of crimes, such as murder, theft, swindling, forgery, and counterfeiting, was recognized by all as right and proper; and that since the traffic in intoxicating liquors was productive of greater evils than any or all of these other crimes, it should also be prohibited. Moreover, they contended that in cases of this kind "individual rights must be given up for the good of the many." The other minority report was prepared by one member of the committee who was strongly in favor of a license law. He advanced the usual arguments that prohibition had failed as a temperance measure, and that it violated the rights of citizens. In the House of Representatives the sentiment was apparently stronger in favor of prohibition than of a license system. On January 22 the following resolution was introduced:
Resolved, That it is the sense of this House that the present prohibitory liquor law of Iowa should be repealed, and a judicious license law enacted in lieu thereof.
This resolution was immediately laid on the table by a vote of sixty-nine to twenty-seven. Later on the same day another resolution was introduced which reads as follows:
Resolved, That it is the sense of this House that the sale of intoxicating liquors as a beverage is a crime, and as such it can not be licensed, but-should be entirely and unqualifiedly prohibited as any other crime; and if necessary for the suppression of intemperance, we ought to enact a more stringent law upon the subject, and also to provide for its perfect enforcement by creating a State constabulary for this express purpose.
There was an effort made to lay this resolution on the table also, but it failed by a vote of sixty-nine to twenty-eight; and by a vote of seventy to twenty-seven it was referred to the Committee on the Suppression of Intemperance. A comparison of these votes will show that the majority of the members were consistent in their opposition to a license system. Finally, after much debate, two bills received the required majority in both houses and were enacted into laws which were both approved on April 7, 1868. One of these laws was entitled "An Act to Amend Sections 1575 and 1576 of the Revision of 1860 in relation to Permits for the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors." It provided that the certificate of good moral character, signed by
twelve citizens of the township, which the applicant for a permission to sell intoxicating liquors was required to present, must also state the purpose for which it was obtained. Furthermore, the County Judge was not allowed to grant such permission until a final hearing (of which ten days notice had been given) should be held; and the applicant was required to pay the expenses of notice and a fee of two dollars for final hearing. It was provided that at such hearing any citizen of the county might "appear and show cause why such permit should not be granted," and if the judge should consider these objections valid, or that in any other way the law was not being complied with, the permission should be refused.
The other law approved on April 7, 1868, was "An Act in Relation to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors in Incorporated Cities and Towns." Section two of this act made the following provision:
"All incorporated towns and cities not incorporated under the general incorporation law shall have the power to regulate or prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors not prohibited by State law, and such power to regulate shall include the power to assess or impose a tax on such sale."
Moreover, the general incorporation law was so amended as to extend to all other incorporated towns and cities the same privilege which was hereby granted to the special charter communities. This law, as may readily be seen, meant local option in all incorporated towns and cities, but only in regard to the sale of beer, native wine, and cider, since these were the only liquors the sale of which was not prohibited by law. It was distinctly a compromise measure and was not satisfactory to either faction. It fell far short of absolute prohibition and it was by no means a general license law. Thus another legislature adjourned without satisfying either side.
THE PROHIBITIONISTS AND THE CAMPAIGN OF 1869
After the enactment of the laws of 1868 each side seemed for a time to be resting on its oars. In its practical application it may be said that the local option measure was on the whole more favorable to the friends of license than to the advocates of prohibition. Nearly all the larger cities of the State chose to "regulate" rather than "prohibit" the sale of beer, wine, and cider, and imposed a tax on such sale. Consequently, although the law was not all that the liquor dealers might have desired, for several succeeding years they made no decided effort to secure a more sweeping license law.
The Prohibitionists, on the other hand, soon found that they had gained but little by the laws of 1868, if indeed they were not placed at a disadvantage. Early in 1869, the year in which a Governor was to be elected, some of the more radical temperance leaders caused a small ripple of excitement by suggesting the advisability of forming a third party. This was a bold suggestion for that day, and as might have been expected brought forth violent opposition from the more conservative people. The old idea still prevailed with many that the temperance question should be kept out of politics as far as possible. Moreover, the majority of the Prohibitionists were members of the Republican party and were not willing to leave its ranks. Furthermore, they were convinced that it was only through the Republican party that prohibition could be secured. Nevertheless, the possibility of the formation of a third party caused some anxiety among Republican leaders, as the following extract from an editorial in a Des Moines newspaper seems to indicate:
In this State there has been considerable talk among a portion of the friends of temperance of organizing an independent party .... A third party in this State could do no good, and might do much evil; as it would be too weak to do any more than weaken the great party which has always been the ally and helper of the temperance hosts. . . The Republican party has ever been faithful to the interests of the cause; and has made as much haste with its reform as prudence would justify and common sense would warrant.
Another Des Moines newspaper, while it was opposed to a third party and recognized the Republican party as the best agency through which prohibition might be secured, urged that "the Republican party declare as openly and candidly against License as the Democratic party has declared for License.''
On June 10, 1869, the Republican State Convention was held at Des Moines. Early in the proceedings a communication from a committee of temperance men was read, asking the party to declare in favor of prohibition. The matter was referred to the committee on resolutions, but the committee failed to embody any such declaration in the platform which was adopted by the convention, and the temperance question was entirely ignored. The immediate result may be seen in the proceedings of the State Temperance Convention which met in Des Moines on the evening of the same day, June 10.
There were about fifty accredited delegates at this convention, but no regular organization was effected, nor was anything done except the adoption of a series of four resolutions. Of these the first three were in the nature of declarations in favor of absolute prohibition and pledges to use every effort to secure that end. It was the last resolution that was really interesting in the light of its evolution in the convention. As adopted this resolution reads. as follows:
Resolved, That this Convention pledge its support only to such candidates as will squarely stand on temperance principles, and pledge themselves to carry them out.
As originally introduced this resolution was of a radically different nature:
Resolved, That we cordially endorse the ticket this day nominated by the Republican Convention, and will give it our united and hearty support.
Such opposition was called forth by this endorsement of a party which had absolutely ignored the temperance question that the resolution was quickly withdrawn, and the following substitute was made:
Resolved, That we are rejoiced to see that the Republican State Convention has put in nomination sound temperance men, notwithstanding it ignored wholly the temperance cause; but that this convention pledge its support only to such candidates as will squarely stand on temperance principles, and pledge themselves to carry them out.
It was then moved to strike out all recognition of the Republican party, and the resolution was adopted as first given above. It is evident that the refusal of the Republicans to declare in favor of prohibition had caused much dissatisfaction among the friends of that cause. This convention, perhaps, marks the real beginning of that feeling which in a few years was to result
in the formation of a third party and in forcing the Republican party to take a definite stand on the temperance question. At this time, however, the prohibition issue had not gained sufficient strength to induce many men to leave the party to which they were bound by stronger ties.
There were, nevertheless, a sufficient number who still persisted in the third party idea to keep the question before the people during the campaign of 1869. On the one hand, it was argued that since the Republican party had taken no action, the formation of a third party was necessary if a prohibitory law was to be secured. In reply it was contended that even though the Republican party had "treated the license question rather cavalierly," its candidates were in full sympathy with prohibition and hence it would be foolish to organize a third party. But in spite of all the talk and dissatisfaction the temperance question played little part in the election of 1869. The Republican State ticket received a much larger majority than in the election of 1867. In Marshall, Clinton, Boone, and Clarke counties third party tickets were put in the field, but if they had any effect it was purely local. It was charged that those who thus withdrew from the Republican party did so, not so much because they were wedded to prohibition as because they were disappointed political aspirants and "there was no other issue on which they could manufacture thunder so cheaply."
The Democrats in their platform adopted July 14, 1869, again declared that "in the opinion of this convention the so-called Maine liquor law, which now disgraces the statute books of the State of Iowa, ought to be repealed at the earliest possible moment."
THE LOCAL OPTION LAW OF 1870
The temperance question was treated with much greater indifference by the Thirteenth General Assembly than at the preceding session. No decided efforts seem to have been made by either faction to secure legislation in accord with their views. A few petitions were presented and a few bills were introduced by both sides, but there was not the struggle that was witnessed in 1868. Aside from the ordinary matters of legislation, the members seemed mote interested in the question of woman suffrage, and in the ratification of the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States than in anything else. Consequently a local option measure was passed without much trouble, probably because it seemed the easiest way out of the difficulty. It is interesting to note that nearly all the local option laws in the history of Iowa liquor legislation have either followed a particularly sharp struggle between the contending factions of license and prohibition, or have come at a time when the party in power had no great fear of defeat at the next election.
The law of 1870 was entitled "An Act to Provide for the Prohibition of the Sale of Ale, Wine, and Beer in Counties, by a Vote of the People", and it was approved April 8. The first and second sections prohibited the sale of "any ale, wine, malt liquors, or beer of any kind, " with the usual exceptions, and provided penalties for selling in violation of law. It was the third section which gave to the law its peculiar character. It was made a duty of the Board of Supervisors of each organized county to determine at their regular June sessions of each year "whether the adoption of the provisions of this act shall be submitted to the legal voters of the county at the ensuing general election." If the Board of Supervisors did so determine they were to give due notice of that fact at least four weeks before the regular election, and the electors of the county were permitted to write or print "For Prohibition" or "Against Prohibition" on their ballots. It was further provided that "if a majority of all the votes cast at such election in said county be 'for prohibition', then, and not otherwise, shall the provisions of this act be in full force in said county from and after the first Monday in January next following such election." In case the majority of votes should be against prohibition then the sale of ale, wine, and beer was to be permitted according to the provisions of the Revision of 1860 and the law of 1868 in relation to such sale in incorporated towns and cities.
By some people this law was received with hearty approval. "The Legislature", declared a Des Moines editor, " in our opinion, made a wise disposal of this question when it left it for each county to decide for itself". It appears that at the October elections in 1870 thirty counties took advantage of the law and voted on the question of prohibition. Of these, seventeen declared in favor of prohibition, ten against it, and three made no report.
The local option law of 1870 was, however, a disappointment to the majority of the temperance party. One writer refers to it as "a splendid exhibition of political legerdemain; of doing a thing and not doing it at the same time." Certainly it would be difficult to find a better example of a paradox in legislation. Obviously either this law was never intended to be enforced
and was a mere trick to get rid of the matter, or the members of the General Assembly were profoundly ignorant of the principles of Iowa Constitutional Law as pointed out in a previous decision of the Supreme Court in regard to a law almost identical with this one. At any rate the law of 1870 was short-lived, for it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Iowa at its December term in 1871, on the ground that it conferred the law-making power on a body to which that power had not been granted by the Constitution of the State. This decision, however, did not affect the validity of the law of 1868 which had given cities and towns the power to regulate or prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors within their respective corporations.
THE LAW OF 1872
The two years from 1870 to 1872 were not marked by any wide-spread temperance agitation in Iowa. The friends of a license system were too well satisfied with the law as it stood to push matters further, and the advocates of prohibition were so disheartened by their repeated failures that they were not as active as before. Nevertheless, the interest in the temperance question was merely lying dormant and occasionally blazed forth in various localities. During June and July, 1870, a series of out-door temperance meetings was held at Des Moines and considerable enthusiasm was manifested. During this year also there was a revival of the Sons of Temperance, an organization which in earlier years had been very influential.
On July 11, 1871, a Methodist convention was held at Iowa City, and at this convention the temperance question was one of the leading topics for consideration. The formation of a third party was strongly opposed on the ground that the desired end could best be reached through the agency of one of the existing political organizations. Moreover the convention declared that
"while we recognize it as the duty of the Christian citizen to obey and enforce existing laws on the subject of temperance, and that moral sentiment must precede such enforcement, yet we will not rest short of a thorough prohibitory law that will ultimately sweep from our soil the accursed traffic.
During the autumn of 1871 a movement known as the Peoples' Temperance Association was inaugurated in several localities; and it became especially strong at Des Moines. These associations were composed largely of men who were or had been addicted to the drink habit, and consequently the movement might be termed one of personal reform rather than for the
purpose of securing legal regulation. Moreover, certain resolutions of the Des Moines association indicate that this group, at least, was not in favor of prohibition nor of the third party idea. They declared that government interference with personal liberty was contrary to the spirit of American institutions, and virtually took the position of favoring a license law.
The Iowa State Temperance Association met at Des Moines, Thursday, January 18, 1872, and among the resolutions adopted were the following:
Resolved, That the friends of Temperance, everywhere, work together in harmony for objects pertaining to the Temperance cause.
2d. That members of this Association work earnestly for the legal prohibition of the sale of intoxicating drinks.
4th. That men or parties that will not stand pledged to this prohibition shall not receive our votes.
5th. That we ask of the present Legislature an amendment to the present statutes that will secure absolute prohibition.
6th. That greater restrictions be placed on this traffic by druggists.
7th. That the sale of wine and beer, and certain "patent medicines " be punished by law the same as intoxicating drinks.
These declarations were not followed by the earnest work to which the members of the convention had pledged themselves, and hence were not productive of any considerable results. An act of the General Assembly entitled "An Act to Amend Article Two of Chapter Sixty four, Revision of 1860", was approved April 6, 1872. This act required all applicants for a permit to sell intoxicating liquors to present "a certificate signed by a majority of the legal voters of the township, city, or ward in which he desires to sell said liquors, that he is a citizen of the county and State, that he is of good moral character," instead of a certificate signed by only twelve persons as had previously been required. Moreover, any person desiring a permit was required to furnish a bond of three thousand dollars with two or more sureties, that he would "carry out the provisions" of the laws. No person holding a permit was allowed to sell liquor "at a greater profit than thirty-three per cent on the cost of the same, including freights," and he was obliged to make monthly reports to the county auditor showing the amount' the cost and selling price, of all liquors sold by him, and the purposes for which they were to be used. Violations of these provisions were made punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars for the first offense, and a forfeiture of the permit upon the second conviction. The sale of intoxicating liquors to minors without permission and to drunken men was forbidden under a penalty of one hundred dollars for each offense.
THE PROVISIONS OF THE CODE OF 1873 AND THE LAW OF 1874
During 1872 and 1873 there is even less evidence of any general temperance agitation than during the two preceding years, and hence the events of these years may be passed by without mention here. Such interest as was shown in temperance was purely local and neither resulted in any State-wide movement nor in any radical legislation. The Code of 1873 contained a
consolidated statement of all the liquor laws then in force. In addition to this it contained one new provision which, while it did not affect the State at large, is of interest. The chapter which dealt with the State Agricultural College and Farm contained the provision that "No person shall open, maintain, or conduct any shop or other place for the sale of wine, beer, or spirituous
liquors, or sell the same at any place within a distance of three miles from the agricultural college and farm; provided, that the same may be sold for sacramental, mechanical, medical, or culinary purposes". The penalty for violation of this provision was a heavy fine, or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed thirty days, or both.
The only liquor law enacted by the General Assembly in 1874 was one of seven lines, amending section 1548 of the Code of 1873. That section had provided that any person arrested for intoxication might be discharged by the magistrate and his fine remitted in case he should give "information, under oath, stating when, where, and of whom he had purchased or received
the liquor which produced the intoxication, and the name and character of the liquor obtained." The amendment provided that no person should be thus discharged or have his fine remitted until he had given bond that he would appear "to give testimony in any action or complaint against the party for furnishing such liquor.
THE OHIO WOMAN'S CRUSADE
During the early seventies there was manifest a widespread revival of interest in religious and moral questions, and among these the temperance problem was one of the first to feel the impetus of awakened interest. In December, 1873, there was inaugurated in Ohio a movement which was to sweep with remarkable rapidity over the entire country and produce undreamed-of results. The " Ohio Woman's Crusade", as this movement was called, originated in the towns of Hillsboro and Washington C. H., and as the name indicates, was carried on entirely by women. Gathering in bands of various sizes the women proceeded to the saloons where, after engaging in prayer, they appealed to the proprietors to close their saloons, and in many instances were astonishingly successful. The following account of their labors at Washington C. H., Ohio, indicates clearly the earnestness and persistence with which the work was carried on. The result of eight days of prayer and song was the closing of all saloons and the pledging of three druggists to sell only on physicians' prescriptions. The next week a liquor house in Cincinnati pledged $5,000 to break down the movement. A new man took out a license, and a stock of liquors was forwarded to one of the deserted saloons. The Crusaders followed the liquors and remained in the saloon, engaged in prayer until 11 o'clock at night. They returned the next day and remained without fire or chairs a part of the time locked in, while the would-be dealer went away. The next day a temporary tabernacle was built in front of the saloon, and the women continued in prayer. Before night the man surrendered, and the saloon was closed.
The movement thus inaugurated soon spread over Ohio and then to other States. Its influence began to be felt in Iowa early in 1874. In January seventy ladies of Manchester waited upon the town council and petitioned them to withhold all licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquors; and at Corydon a similar effort was made. At Atlantic the temperance party was successful at the city election largely because of the efforts of the women of the place who were present at the polls and used their influence to secure votes for the temperance ticket. A little later a number of the ladies of Ottumwa made an effort to induce the city council to pass a prohibition ordinance. These instances will serve as examples of what the women were doing all over the State in the interest of temperance reform.
As far as the actual closing of saloons is concerned it can not be said that the movement was as successful in Iowa as it had been in Ohio. But here it had, perhaps, even greater and more far-reaching results in that it brought about a general awakening of temperance sentiment and aroused to action the slumbering forces of prohibition. The most apparent result of the Woman's Crusade in this State was the organization, in November, 1874, of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, an organization which has been a potent factor in the battle for prohibition. Thus, although the Woman's Crusade was of brief duration, it accomplished a purpose.
THE THIRD PARTY IN THE CAMPAIGN OF 1876
Another result of the renewed interest in the temperance question may be seen in its effect upon State politics in 1875. During this year the Democratic party, which since 1869 had been silent in regard to the liquor problem, placed the following planks in their platform: We are in favor of the repeal of the present prohibitory law, and the enactment of a practical
license law, strictly enforced, as the best guard against, and the safest solution of, the evils of intemperance.
That we are opposed to all legislation that restricts any citizen in his individual or social rights and privileges.
The friends of prohibition, realizing that they could expect no assistance from the Democratic party, had called a State Temperance Convention to meet at Des Moines at the time of the meeting of the Republican State Convention, in the hope of inducing that party to take some action favoring prohibition. A preliminary session of this temperance convention was held on
June 29, the day before the meeting of the Republican convention. The declared object of the convention was "to consolidate the temperance vote of the State of Iowa, and to wield that vote as far as possible in favor of such party or candidate as will sustain the prohibitory laws of the State." An effort was made to adopt a resolution demanding of the Republican party that it make some declaration in favor of prohibition, but this resolution was objected to on the ground that it was not the place of this convention to dictate to the Republican convention. However, many members of the temperance convention were delegates to the Republican convention and it was hoped that party would take some satisfactory action. Consequently the resolution was so modified as to declare that " the Republican party of Iowa, having been organized upon a great
moral issue, and sustained in part by the moral sentiment of the State owes it to that moral sentiment as well as to the public weal, to maintain the foregoing principles in its platforms and in the selection of its candidates and in its legislators."
The attitude of the majority of the members of this preliminary session was distinctly opposed to the formation of a third party, and although there was much dissatisfaction as to the course pursued by the Republicans in previous years, it was generally believed that they would not ignore the temperance question in their platform to be adopted on the following day. And so, after passing the above mentioned resolution the convention adjourned to await the results of the Republican convention before taking any more definite action.
The Republican State Convention convened at Des Moines on June 30, and as was expected the question of prohibition was one of the leading topics for discussion. Early in the proceedings a resolution declaring that the party was opposed to the repeal of the prohibitory law was introduced by General Weaver and was referred to the committee on resolutions. The resolution was reported back by the committee with a substitute resolution to the effect that "the State has the right, and it is its duty, to provide such legislation upon the subject of the liquor traffic as will best protect society from the evils of intemperance." This was followed by the introduction of a number of substitute resolutions and much debate. General Weaver warned the party not to disregard the temperance question or they would lose many supporters. Mr. Potter of Scott County, on the other hand, urged that to place a prohibition plank in the platform would be to alienate thousands of voters throughout the State. He closed his argument by presenting a resolution which declared that "as the questions involved in the suppression and regulation of the liquor traffic have never been a test of Republicanism, it is inexpedient now to make any distinction relating thereto, and we leave the subject to be passed upon by the proper tribunal, the people in the election of members of the Legislature." A motion to lay the whole matter on the table was now made and carried, and the convention adjourned without placing in the platform any reference to prohibition or the temperance question.
That same evening the temperance convention reconvened and held a session which lasted far into the night. To those who were opposed to a third party and who had looked to the Republicans to espouse their cause, the failure of the party to do so was a keen disappointment. Nevertheless, they were still opposed to the organization of an independent party and early in the
meeting introduced a resolution to that effect. A sharp debate followed and when the resolution was put to a vote it was defeated. Another resolution was immediately introduced favoring the formation of a temperance party and this in turn was debated and finally adopted. At this point many of the members of the convention withdrew. A platform was then drawn up and adopted after much debate by the remaining members of the convention, and an executive committee was appointed to make nominations for State officers and provide for the further organization of the party. This committee subsequently nominated Rev. John H. Lozier for Governor, but it does not appear that they made nominations for any other State officers.
The platform adopted by this convention consisted of a preamble and six resolutions. The reasons for the formation of the new party were stated in the following words:
WHEREAS, The legal prohibition of said traffic and use of liquors is the prime duty of those who frame and execute laws for the public welfare; and,
WHEREAS, The existing political parties, in their State platforms, have either ignored or repudiated the foregoing principles, the one declaring for license, the other refusing to pass a resolution opposed to the repeal of the existing prohibitory law of our State; therefore,
Resolved, That the temperance people of Iowa are, by this action of these political parties, forced to seek the promotion of their objects by such organizations and combinations as may prove most effective for the success of the temperance cause, without reference to previous political affiliation.
In addition to this declaration the convention in its platform expressed approval of the policy of the administration "in the settlement of difficulties between ourselves and other nations, by arbitration," declared against "the desecration of the Christian Sabbath by public amusement," favored "maintaining our free public school system at the expense of the whole people," and
called upon the temperance people of the State to organize and put forth their efforts to secure the election of legislators and officers who were favorable to prohibition.
Thus a Prohibition party was launched upon the political sea in this State. But it played a very insignificant part in the campaign of 1875. In spite of the dissatisfaction because of the attitude of the Democrats and Republicans, only a few of the more radical Prohibitionists were willing to leave the parties of which they had so long been members. Moreover, the majority of the conservative Prohibitionists regarded the third party as worse than useless. Consequently John E. Lozier, the Prohibition candidate, received only seven hundred and thirty-seven votes, while the Republicans elected their candidate, Samuel J. Kirkwood, by an even greater majority than had been given to Cyrus C. Carpenter in the previous campaign. An effort was made during the campaign to alienate votes from Kirkwood on the ground that he favored a license law, but it is evident that this attempt was not very successful. A similar effort was made to discredit
Shepherd Leffler, the Democratic candidate, by the charge that he advocated a high license law which would operate in favor of wealthy saloonkeepers, but it is doubtful whether many votes were influenced thereby. It is evident that the Prohibition party in its debut in Iowa political society did not make a very favorable impression nor attract to itself many ardent admirers. An incident which occurred during the progress of this campaign shows the determination of the friends of prohibition in one locality at least. At Mitchellville a man named Smith purchased a business lot and began the erection of a building to be used as a saloon, contrary to the wishes of the citizens of the place. Repeated protests and warnings failed to induce him to desist. One night a party of citizens gathered and marched in two lines to the partially completed building. "
The leader clapped his hands together; a move was made for the building, and in less than fifteen minutes the thing was leveled to ground and the lumber scattered over the commons. The foundation was picked up, carried back some distance and pitched into a pond. The company re-formed in two ranks and disappeared." Shortly afterward a mass meeting was held, at which the citizens declared that "We will not have any such business carried on in Mitchellville if it is in
our power to prevent it—and it is."
A reference to the Journals of the Senate and House of Representatives for 1876 will reveal the fact that at that session of the General Assembly an earnest effort was made, both by the license men and the friends of prohibition, to secure legislation in accord with their views. Many petitions were received and one especially, protesting against the repeal of the prohibitory law, contained a large number of signatures from all parts of the State. Many bills were introduced in both houses, but none of them was enacted into a law. Consequently, although it was recognized that the existing law was ineffective, no additional provision was made, and, to use the words of one editor, the State was forced to continue with "a prohibitory enactment in the Code, and liquor in most places flowing as freely if not so cheaply as water."
The events of the early months of 1876 are comparatively unimportant. On January 19, the State Temperance Association held its annual session at Des Moines, declared in favor of prohibition, and elected officers. In April the ladies of Cedar Rapids organized what was called a "Reform Club", rented and furnished a room and supplied it with reading matter, music, and other means of entertainment. The purpose was to provide a place which would possess all the attractive features of the saloon with the exception of liquor and thus draw from the saloon many who went there primarily as a place for social gathering. This, as will be seen, was an idea which was later adopted and carried out in many parts of the State. On April 26 the Iowa State Brewers' Association met at Burlington and among other things declared that "We will support only those
candidates without regard to party, who are not in accordance with the narrow- minded element of prohibitors.
In September, 1876, there occurred an event which in itself, but more especially in its results, was significant. Early in that month a number of the leading temperance workers met at Clear Lake for the purpose of consulting "upon the best means of carrying on the temperance work in Iowa." All the various temperance organizations and many churches were represented at this meeting; and the result of the deliberations was the formation of the Iowa State Temperance Alliance, an organization which embraced all the various temperance agencies and which was in its subsequent history more effective, perhaps, than any other similar organization in the history of this State. Articles of incorporation and by-laws were drawn up and adopted, and the former were signed September 4, 1876, by the following incorporators: James P. Pinkham, Albert Boomer, John Hogarth Lozier, Mrs. M. F. Gray Pitman, Isaac Brandt, Josiah F. Kennedy, James Wright, J. Ellen Foster, M. M. Myers, R. W. Keeler, and Wm. H. Fleming.
The articles of incorporation stated that the purpose of the Alliance was "to promote the cause of Temperance in the State of Iowa." It was proposed "to secure a permanent fund, not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars, for the benefit of this corporation." The fourth article declared that "This corporation shall not be made the ally of any sect, nor of any party not in full accord with its principles, nor shall the funds be used except for the purposes set forth herein." The private property of members was not to be held liable for the debts of the corporation. Des Moines was made the place of business. Anyone might be come a member by signing the articles of incorporation and paying a fee of one dollar; membership could be retained by the payment of an annual fee of one dollar, and any person paying into the treasury ten dollars or more was entitled to life membership. No other taxes than the annual fees were imposed upon the members. The officers were to consist of a President, Secretary, Treasurer, two General Agents, and a Vice President and a Director from each Congressional District, and were to be chosen annually, with the exception that the directors were to serve three years. The annual meeting of
the corporation was to be held "on the first Tuesday after the third Monday of January of each year."
The plan of endowment which was adopted at this same time provided that the fund of the corporation should be raised " by gifts, grants, devises, bequests, membership fees, and collection of money, personal property and real estate," and that it should be loaned "upon real estate securities of the first class, the principal to remain inviolate, the annual accruing interest
only to be used as hereinafter provided.
It is very evident that the Iowa State Temperance Alliance, being, as the title suggests, an alliance of all the various temperance organizations was a distinct advance over anything of the kind that had previously been attempted in this State. It brought together all the scattered forces under a definite plan of action, without depriving any organization of its identity, and provided, moreover, for permanent headquarters from which the work could be directed at all times. Furthermore, it recognized the fact that the work could not be carried on successfully without money, and so provision was made for a fund which would be adequate to the needs. Indeed, the formation of this Alliance may be regarded as one of the important events in the history of prohibition in this State.
During 1876 the National Prohibition Party was organized and at the November elections of that year, Green C. Smith, the Prohibition candidate for President of the United States, received ninety-nine votes in Iowa.
THE CAMPAIGN OF 1877
Early in 1877 it became evident that an
effort would be made to force the temperance question into the political arena
in a more decided manner than in 1875 when the Prohibition party had for the
first time stepped into the field. A convention of the Woman's Christian
Temperance Union was held at Sabula, May 13 to 16, 1877. At this time a petition
"was drawn up, to be circulated for signatures and presented to the
political parties when they assemble in convention, asking them to nominate for
officers men whose views upon temperance accord with those of the Union.'' While
the writer has found no evidence that this petition was actually presented at
either of the State conventions, it is nevertheless an indication of the
determination of the temperance workers to force the political parties to take
some notice of their cause. Pursuant to a call by the State Temperance Alliance
a State Temperance Convention met at Des Moines, May 29, 1877. In the
discussions there was expressed considerable opposition to continuing the
independent party idea, but at the same time there was much objection to John H.
Gear, who it was generally conceded would be the Republican nominee for
Governor. The platform contained a rehearsal of the evils of intemperance and a
strong declaration in favor of absolute prohibition. It favored woman suffrage
and complained that the laws of the United States protecting liquors imported
from foreign countries crippled "the power of the State governments in
enacting and enforcing such legislation as is and may be demanded by the people.
" In addition to the platform a resolution was adopted which provided for
the appointment of a central committee which was to call a Prohibition
nominating convention in case the two leading parties should not espouse their
The Republicans at their State Convention evidently decided that the time had come for them to recognize the temperance issue, for it was with but little opposition that a plank was adopted declaring the party to be "in favor of the rigid enforcement of our present prohibitory liquor law and any amendment thereto that will render its provisions more effective in the suppression of intemperance." The growing strength of the Greenbackers doubtless had as great effect in inducing the party to take this stand as the threatening attitude of the Prohibitionists. It was feared that the party might need all its vote at the coming election.
The Greenbackers held their State Convention at Des Moines on July 12, and in their platform demanded "that all legal means be exhausted to eradicate the traffic in alcoholic beverages, and the abatement of the evil of intemperance. " The Democrats, on August 29, repeated their time-honored declaration in favor of a license law and the repeal of the prohibitory
None of these declarations by the three parties in the field seemed to satisfy the radical Prohibitionists, for the Central Committee called a nominating convention which met at Oskaloosa on August 30. The platform adopted at the May convention was affirmed and Dr. Elias Jessup of Mahaska County was nominated for Governor. The Republican candidates for all the other officers were approved —thus furnishing another indication of the opposition to Gear.During the campaign earnest efforts were made to discredit Gear and attract votes to the Prohibition candidate. On the other hand, it was charged that Jessup was a temperance man by trade and not by conviction and that this was the case with many of the Prohibition leaders. It was urged that the Republican party had done all that could be expected of it and that its candidates were bound to support the platform, whatever might be their personal beliefs on the temperance question. And so the battle of words was waged until the day of election. Gear was elected by a large plurality, although he did not receive a majority, and the Prohibitionists gave Jessup 10,565 votes, an alarming increase over the meager showing in the previous gubernatorial
THE BLUE RIBBON MOVEMENT
The year 1877 marks the beginning of a temperance re" form movement which in the following year swept over the entire State and contributed largely to the popular agitation in favor of prohibition, although its promoters were opposed to prohibitory measures. The principle upon which the movement was based was a direct appeal to the judgment of men addicted to the use of intoxicating liquors and its aim was to induce a voluntary abandonment of the habit. The work was introduced by a number of lecturers who went from place to place until they had covered nearly all sections of the State. Those who took the total abstinence pledge were given a blue ribbon which they wore as a sign of the stand they had taken, and from this custom the movement received its name. The work of the lecturers was followed in almost every case by the
organization of a "Reform Club" very similar in nature to the one already mentioned as having been formed by the ladies of Cedar Rapids.
These temperance lecturers were received with great enthusiasm at nearly every place they visited. At Des Moines Mr. John W. Drew met with great success. "This city is having a remarkable revival in temperance interest", stated one newspaper. "Thousands are signing the pledge, and donning the colors of abstinence and self-control." At Clinton the opera house was
filled to its utmost capacity for several evenings by people eager to hear the lectures. Nearly four thousand people signed the pledge and a fund of $1300 was raised, "to be used in fitting up a reading and entertainment room on strictly temperance principles. " When the lecturers, Messrs. Drew and Getchel, left the city they were escorted to the station by a long procession led by a brass band, and the train departed amid rousing cheers. And not only in the cities was the movement successful, but the smaller places also were carried by storm At Delmar the lectures of Messrs. Rowell and Hoofstitler resulted in the signing of the pledge by a large number of people, among whom was a saloon-keeper who proceeded to his saloon, took down the sign, and emptied the beer into the street." At Manchester all the saloons except one were closed as a result of the blue ribbon movement.. The instances here enumerated are only illustrations of what was accomplished all over the State by this remarkable wave of reform.
A "Blue Ribbon Jubilee" was held at Marshalltown on June 27, 1878. It was attended by fifteen thousand people, according to one account, and was under the charge of John W. Drew, the lecturer. The city was decked in gala attire and at night was brilliantly illuminated. "The jubilee ended with a grand torch-light procession through the streets, and a magnificent display of fireworks. Two thousand persons signed the pledge during the day." similar jubilee was held at Des Moines on September 28, 1878. A long procession, carrying banners, marched through the streets, headed by a band and a series of floats depicting the progressive decline of the drunkard. A mass meeting was held at one of the opera houses and much enthusiasm prevailed. A scheme to disrupt the Blue Ribbon movement was exposed late in the fall of 1878. It was charged that the scheme originated with a certain Des Moines clergyman and that it was eagerly adopted by a group of professional temperance men who saw in the Blue Ribbon movement no opportunity to further their own ends. The plan selected was the formation of what were called "Black Ribbon Clubs", which were strictly secret organizations. Their ostensible object was to
secure prohibitory laws, but the real purpose seems to have been to keep alive the Prohibition party and thus satisfy the political ambition of its leaders. It was hoped that many of the Blue Ribbonites would be drawn into this organization and thus they would be able to sap the strength of a movement which had never received the approval of the radical Prohibitionists, because it was in no sense a political movement.
This counter movement does not seem to have had any decided immediate effect at any rate, for an enthusiastic Blue Ribbon convention was held at Waterloo on January 15, 1879. There were nearly two hundred delegates present and the reports given at that time indicate that there were thirty-eight Reform Clubs in the State. The resolutions expressed opposition to making temperance a partisan question, but favored every effort to elect temperance men in the existing parties. Further amendments to the prohibitory law were recommended and also the rigid enforcement of the law as it then existed.
The influence of the Blue Ribbon doctrine was felt for many years, although as a State-wide
movement it soon lost its identity in the agitation for a prohibitory constitutional amendment.
THE TWO-MILE LIMIT LAW OF 1878
Although an earnest effort was made to
secure the enactment of a law imposing absolute prohibition, the only liquor law
passed by the General Assembly which convened in January, 1878, was one which
was approved March 25. It was "made unlawful for any person by himself, his
agent or employee, directly or indirectly to sell to any person ale, wine, beer
or other malt or vinous liquor within two miles of the corporate limits of any
municipal corporation", with certain exceptions; and furthermore it
prohibited the sale of such liquors "upon the day on which any election is
held under the laws of this state, within two miles of the place where said
election is held. " The power of municipal corporations to "regulate,
prohibit or license the sale of ale, wine and beer" was declared to extend
two miles beyond the corporate limits. This law was generally obeyed without
resistance and was recognized as beneficial by both Prohibitionists and license
men. At some places, however, there was strong objection to it. At Dubuque, for
instance, on election day there were posted in front of many of the saloons
placards bearing the words, "Closed by Updegraff's Two-Mile Law", in
the hope of creating sentiment
against the law.
This act closes the period in the history of liquor legislation in Iowa which this paper has attempted to discuss. The year 1878 marks the beginning of the movement for a prohibitory constitutional amendment which will be considered in a subsequent paper.
DAN ELBERT CLARK.
THE STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF IOWA
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