J. Frank (James Frank) Hanly.

Speeches of the Flying squadron online

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know have known that no man, under the constitution and
the laws of this Republic, or of any State in this Union,
can have a vested right in any phase of the liquor business,
or an inherent right to conduct it for a day or an hour.
The courts of last resort, State and Federal, have held
without exception, whenever the question has been pre-
sented to them, the liquor traffic to be so inimical to the
public welfare, so destructive to the social compact and so
injurious to the body politic that no man may have in it
any right which the people in the exercise of their sov-



ereignty may not take from him at any moment. Knowing
this, the men who have invested money in the traffic have
done so at their peril, precisely as the highwayman acts
at his peril.

Further, as to the economic plea : We live in a dynamic
hour, an hour, every moment of which is throbbing with
rivalry and big with competition. We have bridged the
seas, laid our scepter on the stars, and made the Antipodes
our neighbors. There is no market in any country that is
not contended for by the peoples of all countries. There
is no commercial port of importance anywhere upon the
face of the earth for which the peoples of all the earth
are not rivals. We, here in America, are isolated from
the great Nations of the earth by broad, far-reaching seas,
but, in spite of that, we are eating today fresh meat
killed in Argentina and in Australia ; butter made in
New Zealand, on the other side of the world; eggs laid
in China. There are no more worlds to conquer, no undis-
covered lands. The race is destined to walk forever the
little world that is. Before this century closes the contest
for supremacy will be sharp and tense as life itself. For
us one of two things is as inevitable as time : The Ameri-
can people will sink to the economic and social level of
their rivals beyond the sea, or they will rise superior to
them in efficiency physical, moral and industrial. There
is no choice. There are only these two alternatives. A
drunken people cannot attain the mastery in such a duel.
To win, we will need human machinery of Bessemer steel.
Burned-out sheetiron will not do!

He files another plea, and claims, because of it, the
right to live : The plea of personal liberty. His conten-
tion is that you cannot execute him without injuring your-
self; that if you take his life you will impair your own
liberty and destroy your own freedom. In confidential mo-
ments he will sit down beside you and say to you that he



is so concerned about your freedom, and such a devotee
of human liberty, that he cannot bear to have you take his
life, for your sake, for the sake of your liberty and your
freedom. But when he tells you that, he speaks with a
forked tongue, his lips are white and blistered with per-
jury! He, a devotee of human liberty! He has welded
more chains upon the wills of men than slavery ever put
upon the arms and limbs of men ! He has been the enemy
of liberty from the hour this Nation was founded! He
organized and conducted the first rebellion ever raised
against the flag of this Republic, as early as the Washing-
ton administration !

The supremest liberty God confers upon men is liberty
of the soul to command the body, liberty of the spirit to
command the flesh, liberty of the will to master the pas-
sions and the appetites, heired or acquired. I put it to you:
Did you ever hear of John Barleycorn conferring that kind
of liberty upon any man? Did you?

I saw in Chicago recently one Sunday afternoon a sam-
ple of the only kind of liberty he ever confers upon a
human soul. I saw a stalwart man, of gigantic physical
strength, so highly endowed with the kind of liberty John
Barleycorn confers, that he could not keep his wandering
feet on a twelve- foot sidewalk; so charged with the John
Barleycorn brand of liberty that his tangled legs would
not support his drunken, swaying body another man had
to lead him; so ladened with it that his tongue was maud-
lin, his will could not control his speech. He went down
the street like a jibbering idot, making the air blue with
profanity and obscenity. That may be liberty! It is lib-
erty the only kind this defendant ever confers but in
God's name I want none of it for my children, or for my-
self, not even for my enemy.

He contends under the plea of personal liberty, that
every man has an inherent right to drink what he pleases.



I have heard him say it heard him say it many times
and I have answered back, as I now answer back, that
whether a man has an inherent right to drink what he
pleases, depends upon what he pleases to drink. And I am
prepared to demonstrate the correctness of the answer.
I will take you, my friend, as an illustration :

You have a daughter splendid, beautiful and fragrant
as a morning in June, with all its music and sunshine
a daughter fit to be mated to an Apollo, a King! I come
to you and say to you: "I am a man of lawful age, I am
sound of body and clean of soul. I love your daughter.
I want her for my wife, and I ask you to give her to me,
to give her to me, body and soul." I am putting to you a
supreme question one that makes you thoughtful and
if you yield assent at all it is only upon the condition that
I will go with you and with her, into God's holy temple,
and before His high altar, and in the presence of His min-
ister and under the ordinances of the church and the laws
of the Commonwealth in which we live, and pledge myself
in solemn compact and covenant pledge myself to her,
and to you, that if you give her to me I will love, cherish
and defend her with my life. That is the condition. I as-
sent to it. I go with you, and with her, into God's holy
temple, and in the presence of His minister, under the
solemnity of the ordinances of the church and the laws of
the State, I solemnly enter into that compact and sign and
seal it with my honor.

Then I take her away. You have given to me the dearest
treasure of your life, given her to me and I have ac-
cepted her under the sanction of the highest and holiest
of covenants. But the next day I come back to you and
say to you, that, notwithstanding this covenant, and the
solemnity in which I entered upon it, in the name of per-
sonal liberty I have a right to drink a thing that will make
it impossible for me to perform my part of the covenant



come to you and say I have a right to drink a thing that
will send me home to her, your daughter, whom I have
so taken, a frenzied fiend ; send me home to her to beat her
flesh and scar her soul that in the name of personal lib-
erty I have a right to drink a thing after I have taken her
to myself and through her begotten children that in the
name of personal liberty I have a right to drink a thing
that will put the fire of degeneracy into her children's
blood, the frenzy of insanity into their brain, and the rack
of palsy into their hands. Men and women, hear me!
That thing is not liberty ! It's crime ! Crime before God !
Crime before man!

I might continue this address for hours, but time pre-
cludes. I beg only a closing word.

There are many reasons that impel me to participation
in this great Nation-wide campaign, so many that I could
not name them to you, though I held you here until to-
morrow's dawn, but among them there is one primal rea-
son, masterful and compelling; one which, if there were
none other, alone would send me forth a flaming brand
among you in this behalf. It is found in the inexpressible,
infinite wrong the liquor traffic daily does the childhood of
my country. I lay no claim to high moral courage. On
the contrary, there have been times in my life when I did
not have an ounce of moral courage to spare. Indeed, in
all humility I confess to you that there are moments in
my life when I do not have enough of it ! But coward
though I may have been and am, I am not coward enough
to go my way in silence, and live my life in snug content,
and not cry out against this thing that daily wounds the
babyhood of the land that gave me birth. I could not go
to my grave in peace, knowing what I know, if I did not
cry out against it ; if I did not try to stir the hearts of men
and women, to make dumb tongues speak and dead feet
start; if I did not endeavor to crystallize public opinion



and to give an edge of steel to the will and purpose of my
countrymen! It is for this, above all other reasons, that I
am placing this defendant upon trial in the forum of Amer-
ican opinion, and demanding a verdict of guilty at the
Nation's hands !



WHY does the liquor traffic still exist in the Amer-
ican republic? The reasons are many and varied.
Complete answer can not be made in the time
allotted me. But here are five, two primal, each of the
others important, and all, taken together, controlling:
First, The Use of Intoxicating Liquors is a Racial Evil
deeply rooted, old as David, old as Lot, old as Noah,
woven into the texture of our mortal being by sixty cen-
turies of indulgence and carousal. Creeping through our
arteries ebbs the poisoned blood of six thousand years of
excess and of passion, a curse-ladened, sin-impoverished,
disease-infecting stream, transmitted from sire to son for
two thousand generations ; a thirst-begetting, will-impair-
ing current, drained from the veins of drunken queens,
inebriate kings, imbecile nobilities, and rum-besotted peo-
ples, depleting the physical and mental vitality, wrecking
the nervous system, blunting the moral sensibilities, weak-
ening the moral stamina of each generation, putting the
conscience to sleep, awakening appetites beyond control,
and setting passion on fire.

The traffic and the causes that feed it, and in turn are
fed by it, are a part of our heritage from the past, en-
cumbrances upon our ancestral estate. We are still paying
the price of our fathers' sins. The debt is not yet canceled.
Payment is heavy and slow. Being a racial evil, its eradi-
cation is an evolutionary movement, a growth into which
the "process of the suns" must go. It is not to be put off
in an instant and at the word of command. It must be
outgrown. It can not be sloughed like a worn-out skin.
It is too deeply embedded in the structure of our being
for that.

In keeping the traffic, we are piling up for our posterity
the same old heritage of woe our ancestors piled up for



us. As an evidence of the inheritance the present genera-
tion is preparing for those that are to follow it, I submit :

The fact that the death-rate in France has come to ex-
ceed the birth-rate, and that the consequent depopulation
of France is due more than to any other single factor to
the excesses of her people in the use of intoxicating liquors ;

The fact that in Manchester, England, during the Boer
war, out of twelve thousand recruits, eight thousand were
rejected as virtually invalids, and only twelve hundred
one in ten were regarded as entirely fit. Fully sixty
per cent, of all offering their services were rejected, and
the physical impairment of London's population is even
worse. The demands of the present war are daily accent-
uating these conditions.

The fact that in Russia drunkenness had become such
a widespread social evil, eating away the lives of whole
generations, ruining the organism not only of women and
children but of men, that the government has been com-
pelled as a sheer military necessity to inhibit the traffic.

And the final fact that conditions abroad are being dupli-
cated in every great city here.

I have presented briefly and imperfectly the primal rea-
son why the liquor traffic still exists in America, and why
it will continue to exist here and elsewhere for years to
come. I now crowd it into a single sentence : Sixty cen-
turies of indulgence and dissipation! Science, medicine,
and sociology affirm it. Every laboratory of research pro-
claims it.

The second reason, more subsidiary than primal, but
still important, lies in the enormous foreign population
that has recently been incorporated into our citizenship
and the social life of our people (ten million immigrants
in twelve years ! one out of every nine in our entire popu-
lation) ; and in addition, the prolific progeny of these ten
millions which has been born since their arrival here,



a turbulent, engulfing, continuing stream. These new-
comers are alien to our traditions, unsteadied by training
or qualifying associations, and many of them the most
ignorant, discordant, and recalcitrant of the Old World's
corrupted and overflowing masses. The world is not their
friend, nor the world's law. Their hands are against all
authority. This country is to them nothing more than a place
to get their daily bread. They are ignorant of its history,
strangers to its institutions. Its flag is but a meaningless
rag. They bring with them Old World ideals and Old
World habits. Unacquainted with liberty there, they abuse
it here, mistaking their new-found freedom for license.
Habits, the gratification of which was held in restraint
there for lack of means, find opportunity here for almost
unrestrained gratification. Congregated in the congested
districts of the great cities and impaired by the past's un-
toward heritage, they constitute a ready-handed means
through which and by which the liquor traffic has been
able to fasten itself like a vampire upon the social and
political life of the nation. If the question of the traffic's
annihilation were left to the Anglo-Saxon and native-born
citizenship of America, its end would be quick and decisive.
The accuracy of this conclusion is demonstrated by the
fact that the traffic is already barred from the rural dis-
tricts and smaller towns and cities of the entire country
by the affirmative action of the people residing there.
Rural America is dry in sentimejit and in fact. Only urban
America is wet. This is conclusively demonstrated by the
recent State-wide elections in the States of Colorado, Vir-
ginia, West Virginia, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.
The rural population of the country is American, three to
one. The urban population is foreign-born, in many cities
two to one, and in some three to one.

The Federal excise tax is another potent reason why
the liquor traffic still continues. The exigencies and neces-



sities of war coerced the reluctant consent of President
Lincoln to the levying of a heavy excise tax on the manu-
facture and sale of intoxicating liquors. With him it was
a war tax, levied in a necessitous hour. But the traffic
was prompt to comprehend the value of the bribe offered
the American conscience through the apparent relief from
the burden of general taxation an excise tax afforded, and
quick to recognize the worth of the badge of legitimacy
governmental sanction and certificate would give it.

Immediately preceding the civil war its existence had
been seriously imperiled. A number of States had hedged
it about with limitation and restriction, and a number of
others had inhibited it altogether. Civil war alone had
stayed the movement for its extinction. It knew that
with the return of peace and the dissolution of the perils
of war its right to exist would again be challenged.

In the guise of a burden-bearer it sought the shield of
governmental sanction and protection, believing its exist-
ence would be thus assured, and if so, willing to pay for
the boon, to confess itself an evil and to submit to regula-
tion, regulation which it knew would not regulate, regu-
lation which has broken down and failed whenever and
wherever tried, from then till now.

The necessitous hour, because of which alone Mr. Lin-
coln consented to the principle, passed away, but the tax
remained. The bribe succeeded. And the principle of
governmental sanction for cash-in-hand-paid became the
settled policy of all government, federal, state, and municipal.

For fifty years the children of the Nation have been
largely educated through the price paid by the traffic in
municipal and state revenues for the privilege of ravishing
their bodies, breaking their wills, impairing their intellects,
and corrupting their morals. Enormous revenues have
long been paid by the traffic into public treasuries, and in
exchange therefor it has received governmental protection,



until it is now more strongly entrenched as an institution
among our people, and is a more monstrous peril to the
physical, industrial, and moral efficiency of the Nation, than
slavery ever was :

Until a commerce has been established, "which," in the
forceful language of ex-Vice-Presidcnt Fairbanks, "strikes
at the very heart of all we hold dear; which debauches
men, undermines the very foundations upon which the
home rests, and imperils our social order, and threatens
the moral fiber of the community itself;"

Until, risen superior to all authority and to the law
itself, it regulates and controls the governments of great
cities, dictates executive messages, usurps the preparation
and the writing of legislative enactments, and disputes the
sovereignty of the State itself.

The amount of the annual bribe the traffic now pays to
the American conscience is more than two hundred million
dollars in federal revenue alone. If to this be added the
annual bribe in state, county, and municipal revenues,
the sum would be greatly augmented. The effect has been
to deaden the civic conscience of the Nation, to embed
the traffic in the financial affairs of all government, and
to give it the sanctifying seal of legality. With this gi-
gantic revenue ever before them, men are wont to believe
that they are thereby relieved to that extent from the bur-
den of taxation. They do not see beyond the traffic's bribe
of up-heaped gold. They do not pause to count the cost
and ruin, or to calculate the loss in physical, mental, in-
dustrial, and moral efficiency the traffic occasions, its en-
ervating blight, its moral degradation. For the sake of
two hundred million dollars of revenue they are content
to pay an annual drink bill aggregating a thousand seven
hundred and fifty million dollars ! Our most worthy gov-
ernment has not yet attained to that nobility that impelled
the emperor of a heathen nation nearly three quarters of



a century ago to say to those who were urging him to
license the opium traffic, "No, I will not take a revenue
from what represents the vices and misfortunes of tny

For the sake of one dollar in revenue the Federal Govern-
ment is content to see its citizens squander eight dollars
and seventy-five cents in the consumption of an article
that injures every high quality of citizenship they possess,
and adds an incalculable burden of crime, dependency, and
taxation. It condones the sin because the sinner contributes
to its coffers. The moral effect has been and is disastrous. Our
conscience has been deadened until we are willing to dethrone
manhood for revenue, and to discrown womanhood to escape
taxation. This brings us to the fourth point, or to the second
primal reason, Our Absorbing, All-Consuming Love of
Money. We tolerate the traffic because of its high return on the
labor employed and the capital invested, and defend and pro-
tect it because there is money in it for those directly engaged
in it. We are so eager for wealth that we do not hesitate to
destroy manhood in the making of it; it is more sacred than
motherhood, more beloved than childhood. To obtain it we
despoil the heritage of the one, and trample upon the heart
of the other. We are more censurable than were our
fathers. Apprised of the evil, we accept it, silencing our
conscience with the profit it brings, and hesitating not,
though every coin we receive is salt with tears, every bank-
note odorous with blood.

Knowing the true and living God, we stoop to worship
the idols of the Tnarket-place. Possessing freedom, we
value only that which figures in the price current.

With knowledge that there is no nobility but character
and service, we are satisfied to write our history in a cash-
book, and to weigh all questions of right and wrong in
balances of trade. We recognize no higher law than inter-
est and cupidity. Possessed by a consuming love of the



sensual, we prefer property to principle, and money profit
to moral sentiment. Taking advantage of our weakness,
this predatory and destructive traffic has entrenched itself
in the sordidness of our natures until it is financially im-
pregnable. Because of this it still exists.

The Colossal Power of the Traffic its ability to injure
men and parties is a fifth reason why it still exists. It
possesses gigantic wealth, owns vast resources of property
and capital, more than two -thousand millions of dollars,
and touches the financial interests of many men in every
section of the country. Grown rich and endowed with
colossal and irresponsible power, it holds an impudent and
arrogant lordship, demands the reins of government, and
does as it wills with the authority of great cities. Its every
instinct is predatory and destructive. It intimidates and
corrupts officials elected by the people to enforce the laws
of municipalities and of commonwealths, and overrides the
law when it wills. An abbot of unreason, a lord of mis-
rule, it takes its ease, and riots at pleasure. There is no
law made for its regulation or control that it respects ;
no ordinance it does not infract ; no constitutional provi-
sion, however solemn or sacred, that it does not trample
upon ; no day so holy that it does not desecrate it. It has
no religion but the greed of gain ; no patriotism, no love,
that the lust of gold does not corrupt ; no pity that avarice
does not strangle. It knows richer streams of profit than
obedience to the law can bring it. The king of anarchy,
it keeps its forces organized and compact, round as a can-
non-ball. All act together every brewer, every distiller,
every saloon keeper, and the manager of every associate
evil. Politicians in and out of office fear it, those who
make platforms, and those who are ambitious. Bold and
unscrupulous, it coaxes, wheedles, and cajoles; it coerces,
bullies, and intimidates, by parade of its members and its
power, and if necessary, corrupts and bribes, until licensing



boards and city officials yield to its demands. Then, once
in the saddle, every restriction laid upon it becomes mean-
ingless and impotent. The most sacred holidays are
openly desecrated. Forbidden hours are unobserved.
Windows are darkened with screens. Liquors are sold to
minors. Wine-rooms are operated, and gambling is per-
mitted. Punishment rarely if ever follows. Licenses are
not revoked. Existing licenses are renewed, and the mo-
nopoly is continued. All that has been provided for in
advance. When arrests are made and convictions found,
the guilty perjure themselves when necessary in their ap-
plications for renewal of licenses. Licensing boards make
no investigation, and the renewal is granted.

Because of its power to injure them, men in business, in
professions, and in politics, men who hate it at heart, bow
before it, worship at its unholy shrine, and weakly do its
bidding. For this reason it continues to exist.

But it will not always be so. I have an imperturbable
faith that its domination in this land is to end; that its
death is as certain as the evolution of the race, as inevitable
as the purposes of the Almighty. Nobody is stronger than
everybody. No combination of brewers, distillers, saloon
keepers, and politicians can prevail over the people, once
the people are welded by the indignation of insult. An
institution founded upon human wrong can not abide. It
may stand for a while, but in the end it will go by the board.
Arrogant and powerful as it is, its days are numbered.
We ourselves shall be privileged to see the dawn of the
dynamic hour when its power shall be broken. A force
is gathering that will find a way to overthrow it, or will
make one, make one though party ties be rent and party
affiliations be sundered.

Increasing numbers of men are coming to believe the
traffic in intoxicating liquors to be wrong, wrong not
only in its abuses, but wrong in its very nature, wrong

Online LibraryJ. Frank (James Frank) HanlySpeeches of the Flying squadron → online text (page 3 of 27)