Saturday, November 22, 2014

52 Ancestors #49 - Even The Drunkards Thank Us

Rev. Freeman Yates was my first cousin, 4 times removed. He was the son of William & Dorcas (Hall) Yates, and the grandson of William & Martha (Morgan) Yates, my fourth great-grandparents. The 19th century featured many reform movements but one of the strongest and longest lasting was the temperance movement, a precursor to the era of Prohibition of the 1920s. Maine was the first state to ban alcohol thanks to temperance reformer, Neal Dow. While researching my Yates ancestors I came upon the following article about a speech that Freeman Yates gave on the subject. 

Wisconsin Free Democrat (Milwaukee, WI), Wednesday, January 28, 1952, Vol. 8, Issue 8, Page 2. The Maine Liquor Law – No. 5 - Accessed on GenealogyBank, June 19, 2013

Remarks from the National Temperance Convention held at Saratoga Springs on the 20th of August, 1851. The Rev. Freeman Yates, editor of the Gardiner Fountain, spoke as follows:
“Under the old law, we could not get evidence. Men who drank would perjure themselves. The whole system of grog-selling was one of deceit and fraud. We formed a law to meet the enemy in every quarter. Mr. Dow received suggestions in his work from all parts of the State. But our Governor vetoed the bill on its first passage. The veto was his winding-sheet. This year it was passed by a two-third vote, and Governor Hubbard gave it his assent. I will show you its operation in Augusta, which has been called the great rum-hole of the State. (Here Mr. Yates read an extract from the Augusta Age which declared that every hotel and liquor shop had voluntarily cleared itself of the forbidden article.) In Bangor, said Mr. Yates, they have met with a most serious difficulty in carrying out the law. The director of the almshouse has usually employed sixty men, the victims of strong drink, to get in the hay. This year, these have been so scarce that he had to hire a set of sober men, at the city’s charge, or not have the hay gathered. (He then read from a Bath paper to show the operation of the law there.)…We hear nothing in Maine now, for mere moral suasion. All good men are for protection by law. Even the drunkards are with us; and they thank us, for removing the temptation, and that they now live and die sober men.”

I'm not convinced that the drunkards were thankful for removing the temptation. It also makes me chuckle that the almshouse now had to find sober men to get in the hay because drunk men were so scarce. 
Thank Goodness for the Maine Law!
William & Martha (Morgan) Yates
Moses & Martha (Whittle) Yates - brother of William Yates, Jr. - father of Freeman
Gilbert W. & Laura (Emmons) Yates
Estes G. & Eva D. (Hayes) Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

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