Category: Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
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Whatever may have been thought by a certain class of men, when the writer began his work in Kansas, it is now universally admitted among the Disciples that temperance work is legitimate church work--that the saloon being an enemy to our homes and our families, and the greatest peril that confronts the church and nation, its extinction is a legitimate object of Christian endeavor.


There was a young evangelist prominently engaged with us in our early work whose history is so sad, and whose relations, who are of the excellent of the earth, have already had their hearts so wounded because of him, that I have not been able to bring myself to write his name. He was of Irish descent, and before he became a preacher, or even a disciple, and while learning his trade, he had formed the drinking habit. He was not a young man of brilliant gifts, but they were solid. Moreover, he was humble, patient, industrious and persevering, and, having excellent health and a good physical organization, he gave promise of enduring usefulness. In short, he belonged to that class of young men that, while the people do not spoil them with flattery, yet the church set a great store by them. I can not write the history of his fall, for it was not made known even to his friends; only this, that the time came that he seemed hesitating whether he should continue a preacher, and finally he wholly abandoned the ministry. His wife, who was a most estimable and Christian lady, was paralyzed with grief. At length the shameful truth came out--he was a drunkard! A brother undertook to admonish him of the awful fate that awaited him in the future world, but this apostate and disgraced preacher turned fiercely around and said: "_don't talk to me of hell! I am in hell now_!"

There was living in the neighborhood of the writer a Christian family--though not of the Disciples--who had a boy that they regarded as of great promise, and they did what they could to give him a good education. After he had been for a while a school teacher, he became a lawyer, resident in Atchison, and finally became a politician. He was talented, social, companionable and ambitious, and soon made himself a man of mark, and was petted and courted by the people, and was the idol of his father and mother. All this brought him much into company. But at that time the brewers and saloonkeepers exercised a despotism over the politicians and public men of the city as absolute as is the despotism of the Czar over the Russians. But there was this difference: instead of being slaves to a great monarch, these politicians were tools and lick-spittles to a set of coarse, brutal, low-bred liquor dealers, who were exceptionally ignorant, degraded and vile. These wretched and vicious corrupters of the public morals insisted on controlling every caucus, and that the candidates, of whatever party, should be men well pleasing in their sight. If not, then the fat was in the fire, and the candidate was forthwith slaughtered. The writer of these Recollections has been a Republican as long as there has been a Republican party, and has probably loved the party as well as it has deserved. This party, as is well known, has assumed to be "the party of moral and religious ideas." Now I have known, in cases not a few, men to be nominated for office by this party--men who were respectable and Christian men, and they have told me, and they have made the confession with shame and humiliation--that the party managers have come to them and said, "You are assessed so much for campaign expenses." The pretext was, that this was for legitimate campaign work; and yet they knew that the pretext was a lie, and that it was to constitute a corruption fund, to be put into the saloons. And these men were thus made candidates, to give respectability to the saloonkeepers' party, and, though they did not go into the saloons themselves, they must pay toll to the devil all the same.

It was under such circumstances that this boy, who had been raised in our neighborhood, but had grown to be a man, and had entered upon public life, now became a center of attraction to the hale-fellows-well-met of the saloon and the caucus. The reader need not be told that this gifted young lawyer was walking into the very jaws of death. There were soon alarming rumors that he was becoming dangerously addicted to drink, and his friends entreated him to save himself while he could, and he made promise to his mother and wife to reform. But, alas! it was too late!

I was traveling home from Topeka, and on the railroad train I met a gentleman from Atchison--an intimate friend of this young lawyer--and I was congratulating him on the reformation of our mutual friend. He shook his head, and said: "don't deceive yourself. He tells me that he can remain sober two or three months, but that then he can held out no longer, and, not wishing to make a public spectacle of himself, he buys a bottle of liquor, locks himself up in his room, and goes into a regular debauch. Then, after three or four days, he is able to appear on the streets again."

After a while the friends of this young man buried him. The doctors gave his sickness a respectable name, and reported that he had died of such a disease as decent people may die of, but his friends, with heart-breaking sorrow, knew they were burying a man who had died of a drunken debauch.

I have spoken freely of the evils wrought by our border troubles; but now we had to realize that, taking all the men murdered in our early feuds, and comparing them with the men murdered by strong drink in the city of Atchison, counting man for man, there have been more men murdered by strong drink than by all our border troubles. There have been more women that have had their hearts broken, more children turned into the streets, more fortunes squandered, in the single city of Atchison than in all the Kansas war. But there is another point of comparison. The men who wrestled with each other in that early conflict verily thought they were right. They may have been mistaken, but they thought they were in the right; they therefore maintained their own self-respect. But those who have died in this battle of the bottles and the beer glasses have lost everything--self-respect, reputation, honor, everything; and they went to the dogs and their souls went to perdition.

I have been a somewhat voluminous writer on many subjects now for forty years, but all this would scarce exceed in amount what I have written in Kansas newspapers, during a series of years, on the single subject of temperance. Besides, I spent much time in lecturing, for the welfare of the church and of the nation was at stake; and yet, what was done by myself was only a drop in the bucket compared with what went to make up, year after year, a great agitation. At length the people became so aroused that the lawmakers at Topeka came to understand that something must be done in the way of temperance legislation; and they gave us a local option law. But crafty politicians obtained that cities of the first and second class should be exempted. This was nothing but mockery. The cities were the very places where the law was most needed, for men from the country went into the city and there they encountered their old enemy, the saloon. And so we kept up the agitation, and demanded that the saloon should be prohibited throughout the State. At length the pressure became so great that the politicians understood a second time that something must be yielded to the popular demand, and they tried another dodge. They said: "We will give you the privilege to vote an amendment to the constitution incorporating prohibition into the constitution of the State." This would at least put off the evil day for two years, for it would take two years before such an amendment could go into operation. But here again was seen the usual treachery. The amendment to be voted on read as follows: "The manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors shall be forever prohibited in this State, except for medical, scientific and mechanical purposes." This was a stumbling-block laid in the way of feeble-minded Christians, for was not this an attack on their Christian liberty to use intoxicating wine at the Lord's table, and would not this be awful? Moreover, it forbade a farmer to manufacture _hard_ cider from his own orchard, and would not this be a _hard_ and tyrannical law? This was vexatious, for we were fighting the saloon, and were not seeking to palter with such frivolous and intermeddling legislation. Nevertheless, in spite of these crafty attempts to excite popular odium against the amendment, it was adopted by a majority of more than eight thousand, and it became the duty of the next Legislature to enact a law enforcing the amendment. Then some of us waited on these "conscript fathers" at Topeka, and entreated them, and supplicated them, and almost got down on our knees to them, beseeching-them to use a little courage and common sense. The House of Representatives was largely made up of farmers and men from the country, and was overwhelmingly in favor of an honest temperance law; but the Senate was largely made up of lawyers and men from the city, and was full of treachery and open and secret enmity. And so the Senate took the lead in making the law, and got up a bill that they purposely made as full of imperfections as a sieve is full of holes, and sent it down to the lower house. It was manifestly the duty of the House of Representatives to amend the bill, but now a great scare was got up. The cry was raised: "There is treachery! treachery! You must adopt this Senate bill without amending it, to the extent of changing the dot of an _i_ or the crossing of a _t_; for if it goes back to the Senate it will certainly be killed." _And yet the Senate had adopted it by an almost four-fifths majority!_

The fact was, that these Senators, with all their bluster and bravado, were trembling in their boots, and dared not face their constituents at home while voting against any temperance law, however stringent, and this gave the friends of the law good warrant to make just such a law as was needed. And so the bill became a law; and then there followed such a farce in the courts as might make us lose faith in our Christian civilization and in our civilized jurisprudence. And it came to be understood that a coach-and-four could be driven through the loopholes that had been left in the law, and saloonkeepers began to remark, "Prohibition don't prohibit." But from this evil we had what must be regarded a providential deliverance. A judge was found who made up in his own integrity and courage whatever was imperfect in the provisions of the law, and his good example was followed throughout the State.

John Martin, a lawyer, resident in Topeka, is a solid, sensible and honest man. His brethren of the Democratic persuasion wanted to make him a candidate for Governor, but because they would not insert in their platform a plank affirming that the law--because it was the law--ought to be enforced, he declined to accept the nomination, and Geo. W. Glick was nominated and elected. Then Mr. Glick, to reciprocate this courtesy, appointed Martin to a vacant judgeship in the Topeka judicial district; and a whisky case came before Judge Martin. The principal witness undertook to play the usual dodge of perjury and equivocation, but Judge Martin stopped the witness and said: "Sir, you are to tell whether the liquor you bought was whisky."

The witness again began to repeat his story of equivocation: "Well, I called for _cold tea_, and I suppose I got what I called for."

"Stop!" said the Judge in a voice of thunder. "This witness is lying! Sheriff, take the witness and lock him up in jail."

The Sheriff had got as far as the door when the witness called out: "Judge, are you going to lock me up?"

"Yes, and I will keep you there till you rot unless you tell the truth."

"Well, I will tell."

The witness was placed again in the witness box. "Now," said the Judge, "was it whisky you bought of this saloonkeeper?"

"_Yes, it was whisky_."

The example of Judge Martin was imitated by all the courts, and incredible sums of money have been collected as fines from the saloonkeepers, who, with the brewers, fought the battle to the bitter end, and appealed their cases to the Supreme Court of the United States. But it has ended in their absolute defeat, and even these gentlemen do now admit that prohibition does prohibit--in Kansas. Since that time the law has been greatly amended, and the saloons have been driven out of the State.

One evil yet remains. Just across the Missouri River from Atchison is East Atchison, and here whisky and beer are as free as water. Of course, this is a great calamity to us, but we wait in expectation and hope that prohibition will yet be achieved in Missouri.

John A. Brooks lives in Missouri; we live in Kansas. This man was once a rebel; we were loyal men. Yet we pray the Father of Mercies to spare the life of this man, to prosper him and keep him, until he shall achieve this great good, not only to Missouri, but to ourselves.

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