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The Washington herald. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1906-1939, December 20, 1914, Society Section, Image 26

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What Is Whiskey Odd Pages From History
. ,:
"Before they had bread to satisfy
hunger, the James River settlers had
made sour wine of wild grapes,"
wrote Edward Egglcston, in "Co
lonial Times." The production of al
coholic beverage was one of this
country's earliest and most extensive
industries. If the question, What is
wine? seriously agitated the colonists
there is no record of it. But three
centuries later, "What is whiskey and
why" became a burning issue.
WTiat is whiskey? A part of the
"coin of the realm" in the beginning
of the republic and its largest source
of revenue irow. There are other def
initions, complimentary and uncom
plimentary, as to the relations of
whiskey to man, but the above is a
brief historical and economical epit
ome of its relations to the govern
ment of the United States.
Whiskey, usquebaugh, poteen, aqua
vita, water of life, strong drink call
it what you wilt is as old as the
world and has been the subject of
more discussion, more eulogy, more
denunciation, than any other product
of man or nature. Prophets and
poets, preachers and physicians have
praised and prescribed or warned
against and condemned the use of
whiskey, and it remains the one arti
cle of commerce of greatest American
antiquity, and continues to grow in
volume and use.
Abraham Lincoln said that the use
of intoxicating liquors was as old as
the world and was recognized by ev
erybody, used by .everybody, con
demned by nobody. "It commonly
entered into the first draught of the
infant and the last draught of the dy
ing man."
Solomon and the Turks.
In that expression, Lincoln but
paraphrased the proverb of Solomon:
"(.ive strong drink unto him that is
ready to perish and wine onto those
that be of heavy hearts." The use
and abuse of whiskey is not new. nor
is the discussion of it. Only the Turk
has prohibited the use of meat and
strong drink, and the Turk has grad
ually given way jefore the march of
Christian civilization and is now
about to be expelled from Europe.
Whiskey is not an invention of
America. Whatever the name and
method of manufacture of strong
drink in Biblical times, the distilla
tion of whiskey and the name belong
to li eland and Scotland, the home of
virile men who first began the contest
for the rights of men in government,
long before Columbus set out on his
voyage of discovery. The Irish name,
usquebaugh, pronounced "whiskey
baugh." signifies water of life. It has
been the drink of the Irish, Scotch
and English for boo years and is still
favored by them over every other
beverage. But whiskey has had a
long and intimate association with
the United States, which began with
the Pilgrims, whose chief regret on
landing on the point of Cape Cod
hook, in a stress of weather, was that
their stock of Scotch whiskey and
English ale was too low to warm the
bodies and cheer the hearts of the
;.;e:i who, after their long voyage, had
to battle with the elements in getting
to the land. Thr first manufacture
of Xcw England was New England
rum and it became the first article of
commerce with the colonists, both in
Xcw England and Y-irginia. When
corn and rye became successful
cops, the colonists made whiskey as
well as rum.
First Article of Commerce.
That beginning was the precedent
for the extending wave of commerce
and civilization over the American
continent, and whiskey, venison and
buffalo meat went with the old long
rifles and the hardy emigrants, as the
Indians were driven back and the vir
gin soil of America was put t the
plow and compelled to yield the fruits
and grains of civilization. The sur
plus corn and rye were converted into
whiskey, as the most compact product
tl at could be manufactured and sent
to market. Whiskey became the first
article of commerce sent back from
the new country, just as it was one
of the advance agents in opening the
new country. With only blazed trails
through the forests and over the
mountains, as the highways of com
merce, and the back of a horse the
only freight transportation, there was
the necessity for reducing the grain
grown on the frontier to its most
compact form for commerce, and
whiskey became the first subject of
national commerce even before there
were States.
As whiskey was the first article of
manufacture and commerce among
the pioneers it laid the foundation
for many early fortunes and gave
reputation to many estates and plan
tations. It was a foundation, too, on
which there was no stain, for it was
considered honorable to make and
sell whiskey and wine or wine bran
dy. The Virginia colony gave colo
nial encouragement and aid to those
who grew vineyards to produce wine.
Edward Egglcston, in his history,
"The Colonial Times." says:
Won Wafer in His Vineyard.
"Before they had bread to satisfy
hunger, the James River settlers had
made sour wine of wild grapes. In
1632 the growing of five vines was
made obligatory on every planter, and
in 1658 10,000 pounds of tobacco were
promised to him who should first
produce two tuns of Virginia wine.
The tolerable fitness of the Virginia
climate and soil for grape growing
was proved over and over again by
the vine dressers brought over from
France in the first years, by the
Huguenots, who producedwine on a
small scale for a long time; by the
Palatines on the Rappahannock, and
by many others. Beverley, the his
torian, won a wager of a thousand
guineas by making 400 gallons of
wine from his vineyard of three acres.
Vet, so late .as 1762, subscriptions
were solicited to set on foot a new
beginning of grape culture in Vir
ginia. "Undaunted by climate, the Massa
chusetts immigrants asked for French
vine dressers, in 1629, and later an
inland in Boston Harbor was leased
'.o Gov. Winthrop by the sanguine
General Court for a hogshead of the
best wine that should be made there
annually. In the patroonship 01
Rensselaer at Albany wine was pro
posed, as it was by the Swedish pio
neers on the Delaware. It was at
tempted by French settlers in Rhode
Island and Carolina; the latter prov
ince was expected to supply the
whole demand of the West Indies.
William Penn only hesitated whether
to import foreign wines or to 'fine'
the American ones, and ended by .try
ing both plans, establishing u vine
yard with 2,000 French vines near
Philadelphia. It is unnecessary to
trace further this chronicle of failure
in wine growing. To the end of the
colonial epoch these efforts were re
newed, vine dressers were sent over
and rewards were offered, but no con
siderable quantity was ever made. It
was cheaper at that day to import
from Madeira and Portugal than to
divert labor from the profitable
American staples to grow wine, and
the law of relative cheapness is as
hard to escape as that of gravitation."
Did Not Drink Water. ,
Vet the early attempts at viticul
ture and brandy distillation left their
geographical mark in Eastern Penn
sylvania, where, even though grape
culture tailed, there is still the stream
called the Brandywine, on whose
banks one of the battles of the Revo
lution was fought. ,
Dr. Egglcston says that water was
never used as a beverage by the colo
nists, not even by the women and
children. They had all manner of
light decoctions for the children, but
did not have them drink water, un
less sweetened with molasses. The
men drank whiskey, rum and ale,
and a woman was not considered a
good housewife if she neglected to
brew the family ale and beer. There
' was a still on every plantation and
whiskey and rum were a part of the.
daily rations. They could not have a
christening, a funeral, or the induc
tion of a preacher into his sacred of
fice without these beverages, and the
Ireachers were as much given to their
use as any of the parishioners. The
man who condemned the use of
liquors in those days would have been
worse treated than were the Quakers
for their peculiar religious belief,
and they were banished from most of
the colonies.
But the Quakers were not opposed
to strong drink. They, too, used
whiskey and drew the line on tea.
The leading Quaker of Philadelphia
made a public demonstration of his
opposition to tea when it was intro
duced by taking his wife's tea china
to the public square and breaking it.
The people who gathered about him
begged him to save the china, which
was imported and artistic. They sym
pathized with his condemnation of tea
as the product of the heathen, Chi
nese, but they wanted to save the
English china. The old Quaker was
inexorable and smashed the cups and
saucers as the implements of the
heathen decoction. Preachers and
doctors inveighed against the new
drink, and found in it the cause 01
many ills, especially of the stomach
and nerves. Tea was responsible for
nervous, irritable and lazy women,
and the man who drank tea even at a
social function was considered too ef
feminate to mingle with his fellow
Coffee Likewise Shunned.
Coffee came in for a like abuse,
though not so violent, perhaps, be
cause it came from English settle
ments in the Orient and did not have
its origin in the land of the heathen
Chinese. There are still physicians in
this modern and enlightened age who
profess to believe that both tea and
coffee are greater causes of ill health
through excessive use than any alco
holic drink.
But in the hardy pioneer days,
when wading through the snow in the
forest, or sailing the sea in an open
boat in all kinds of weather were
not considered hardships, they all
drank liquor and refused to drink
water. Perhaps they would have
builded better had they all been tee
totalers, and perhaps not. They did
build well, even though they not in
frequently were drunk and did not
consider even drunkenness a sin, but
laughed at it, and contested as to
which could sit longest at table and
not get under it. The governor of
one of the colonies gave a banquet to
an official delegation from another
colony, and his first act of hospitality
was to lock the door, put the key in
his pocket and announce that no man
would be allowed to leave the room
sober. So what the governor of
Xorth Carolina said to the governor
of South Carolina is not of recent
origin, however much it has been re
peated in later days. The Dutch of
Xew York had their beer and they
were as jealous of it as of their long
pipes and tobacco. Both were con
sidered evidences of manhood and
badges of free citizenship.
Rum the Mainstay.
"But there was nothing in the
Xorthrrn and Middle British colonies
wanted so much as rum," says Dr.
Egglcston. "With rum they supplied
their fishing vessels and whale ships;
with rum they traded to Newfound
land, and bought negroes on the Gui
nea coast; with rum they trafficked
for corn and illicit tobacco in the Vir
ginia rivers, and for peltries and corn
in the North Carolina inlets; wiui
rum they cajoled the Indian out of
his wampum and beaver skins, and
with rum they cheered the homely
festivities and solemnities of pioneer
life weddings, house-raisings, husk
ings, funerals, and the ordinations of
new ministers.
"No odium appears to have attach
ed to the contraband trade. No
church discountenanced it, and no
man lost standing by the practice.
Courageous or ingenious smuggling
was probably accounted more honor
able than tame submission to in
equitable laws; it was even defended
in Parliament by Edmund Burke."
Since New England rum was one of
the chief articles of export and trade,
many New England fortunes were
founded on that trade. It is said that
Harvard College had its firs tendow
ments from those who made and sold
Xcw England rum. Girard College
also had its beginning in the trade
of Stephen Girard, who trafficked in
the great American staples of whis
key and rum, and one of the condi
tions left by Stephen Girard was
that no preacher should enter Girard
William Penn, George Washington,
Roger Williams, Samuel Adams,
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison
and others ot the early days were not
averse to the manufacture and sale
of whiskey, wine, rum. and beer, and
were identified with the manufacture
and sale of these products to which
many people now object as the source
of all evil.
The only prohibition against an in
stitution or industry written into the
Constitution of the United States
was that Congress should make no
law respecting an establishment of
religion. Those old builders of a na
tion who did not hesitate to make
whiskey a part of the ration for the
Continental army, and pledge their
fortunes made in rum and whiskey to
the upbuilding of a nation, would not
have an established religion as part
of the foundation. They were pecu
liarly stubborn and independent in
their patriotism in those early days.
Roger Williams' Brewery.
Roger Williams, driven out of
Massachusetts on account of his re
ligion, set up a brewery in Rhode
Island and made beer when he was
not engaged in preaching the gospel.
But today, he is a reckless man who
would assail Roger Williams as an
agent of the devil, as he was then
accused in Massachusetts, not on ac
count of his beer, but of his hetero
dox religion. '
Abraham Lincoln, in his one great
temperance address, said: "From
the sideboard of the parson down to
the ragged pocket of the homeless
loafer, it (whiskey) was constantly
found. Physicians prescribed it for
this, that and the other diseases; gov
ernments provided it for soldiers and
sailors; and to have a rolling or rais
ing, a husking or hoe-down, anything
in short, without it, was postively in
sufferable. So, too, it was every
where a respectable article of manu
facture and merchandise. The mak
ing of it was regarded as an honor
able livelihood and he who could
make most-was the most enterprising
and respectable. Large and small
manufacturies of it were everyhere
erected, in which all the earthly
goods of their owners were invested.
Wagons drew it from town to town;
boats bore it from clime to clime, and
the winds wafted it from nation to
nation; and the merchants bought
and sold it. by wholesale and retail,
with practically the same feelings on
the part of seller, buyer, and by
stander as one felt at the selling and
buying of plows, beef, bacon or any
other of the real necessities of life.
Universal public opinion not only tol
erated, but recognized and adopted its
Just Like a Bank note.
Whiskey was associated with lib
erty in the administration of Wash
ington, and a large part of the country
rebelled against the excise tax on
whiskey then, just as the colonists
became insurgent against the tea tax
a few years earlier. Mc Masters says
that as a bank note was to the man
in Philadelphia, so was a gallon of
whiskey to the man in Pittsburgh.
Whiskey meant ready money and it
was the most compact form in which
the corn and rye of Western Penn
sylvania could be marketed and sent
over the Allegheny Mountains. So
when the First Congress of the United
States followed the recommendations
of Alexander Hamilton as Secretary
of the Treasury and placed an ex
cise tax on whiskey, averaging 10
cents a gallon, the farmers of West
ern Pennsylvania rose in revolt.
"Tom Tinker" became ubiquitous and
a synonym of liberty and independ
ence. Every man who posted a no
tice of protest in the woods or clear
ings or along the roads signed him
self "Tom Tinker," and in that name
declared for whiskey and liberty
against excise and English laws made
by Americans as well as by English
men. The people of. Virginia, Xorth
Carolina and South Carolina sym
pathized with the farmers of Western
Pennsylvania in their opposition to
the excise tax, because they all made
whiskey, considered rye whiskey a
purely American product, and a part
of the new republic. It was the great
American beverage, typical of the in
dependence that had dumped the tea
into Boston Harbor. President
Washington and Congress had a
whiskey rebellion on their hands
within four years after the beginning
of the new government, and it was
so threatening that the President not
only raised an army, but accompanied
it as commander-in-chief as far as
Bedford, Pa. The whiskey rebellion
was put down without bloodshed, but
by a compromise, for Congress hur
riedly enacted a law to try the cases
in the State courts, in case the al
leged violations were fifty miles dis
tant from a Federal court, and later
the objectionable tax was repealed.
Effect of the Whiskey Rebellion.
That rebellion, ' however, associated
whiskey with the spirit which made
the republic and carried its conquest
into the West. It was the chief com
mercial product and part of the food
of the Western pioneer, and W re
sented the Federal tax on whiskey as
he would have resented a tax on the
rye or corn from which it was made.
It was his marketable form of those
products of the soil and he was
ready to defend it with his life. The
still was the most familiar object of
the frontier farm, 'ind .the whiskey
produced was the currency of the
times. The man who paid the tax
was looked upon as weakling, and he
who tried to collect it a government
hireling, attempting to take from the
free man his birthright of freadom.
The whiskey rebellion went into the
history of the country, not as a riot.
but as a protest against unjust taxa
tion. Whiskey remained fret from the
Federal excise for half a centurv. It
was nuy.le, marketed and used all 01 er
the country and the Federal gnvirn
ment did not impose another tax until
il was jd the throes of another rebel
lion, and its very life at stake. The
civil war quickly drained the Treas
ury, consumed all that could he raised
by customs taxation and all that
could be borrowed, and Secretary
Chase turned to whiskey and tobac
co, just as to tea, coffee and every
other thing in sight. The whiskey tax
produced more revenue than any
othcr tax, and it was increased from
20 cents a gallon, to 50 cents, to $1,
to $1.50, and to $2, and at the higher
rates produced frauds and scandal, a
reduction to 70 cents in 187b. reducing
the frauds and restoring the revenue.
It was such a good revenue producer
that the tax was retained after other
internal revenue taxes of the civil wir
were repealed. For twenty years the
tax has been held at $1.10 per proof
gallon, the rate which experience has
shown to be the greatest revenue pro
ducer. Above that rate illicit pro
duction cuts the taxes collected, and
below that rate, while greater quan
tities might be made and tax paid, the
total revenue by experience is not so
large. The present Federal tax tends
to confirm James A. (arfileds state
ment that the government tax on
liquors is at once the most equitable
and salutary of all methods of na
tional taxation. It now produces
nearly one-third the ordinary reve
nues of the government, and has
made whiskey as intimately asso
ciated with the upkeep of the govern
ment as it was with the early das
of the nation's independence.
What the Tax Has Yielded.
The tax on whiskey has in the last
fifty years put more than $5,000,000.
000 money into the Treasury of the
United States, or enough to pay the
cost of the civil war, and it is annual
ly contributing enough to pay the
pensions of the defenders of the
Union, and to support the army and
navy. The withdrawal oi this na
tional revenue now would entail a
revolution in national finance which
would extend to every nook and
cranny of the fiscal system.
The question of what i- whiskey
and what are the results oi drinking
it has been discussed for many years,
and on it there arc libraries oi litera
ture, much of it pure fiction, but
labeled scientific and statistical in
formation. "Bobby" Burns created
the character of "John Barleycorn,"
and John has been serving as a hor
rible example and an agent of the
devil ever since, but the horrible ex
ample has not discouraged the use of
whiskey. It has, however, discour
aged drunkenness, and encouraged a
more temperate use of all beverages,
whether alcoholic or nonalcoholic.
Men have ceascKto drink whiskey
straight and have no prejudice
against plenty of water in their-highballs.
The result is that the man
who takes a highball and the man
who takes a glass of beer or wine
consume about the same amount of
The propaganda against liquor has
not apparently discouraged its gen
eral use, and more whiskey is now
Made and consumed than ever before
in the history of the world. The in
creased manufacture and consumption
in this country has hern equal to
that of Europe, and according to the
records of consumption "John Bar
leycorn" would appear to he as much
of a myth as "Tan o' Shanter," an
other of Burns' creations. Certainly
jirohibition in the Southern States
has had little effect on the use of al
coholic liquors, and il is charged by
the prohibitionists that the reason
for this is that their own prohibition
bills, in order to be passed at all,
must have provision for personal use
shipments of liquor. Therefore,
while the saloon may cease as a li
censed institution, the distribution
and use of liquor continue.
A Sociologist's View.
Speaking of prohibitionists and
their assault on alcoholic liquors, es
pecially the "liquor traffic," a sociolo
gist recently said:
"Weak human nature has always
favored the idea of casting out devils
on the plea that some outside agency
is responsible for the devilment in the
man. The Puritans of old held the
witches responsible for introducing
the evil spirits which made men go
wrong, and the Puritans of today hold
whiskey responsible. It is one of the
oldest and most abused superstitions
employed by men to excuse them
selves for breaking the law, and it
has always had a greater or less ef
fect on stern sentimentalists who
want to reform the world with a club
or with fire.
"Physiology, psychology, sociology
and criminology have demonstrated
that alcohol is no more responsible
for the weaknesses, physical and
mental, and the criminal tendencies of
men than were the witches at Salem
for the evil spirits which took pos
session of the weak, hysterical and
lawsbreaking men of that day. The
highest authorities in physiology, the
world over, have found that alcohol is
a food. The prohibitionists, with the
pervcrscness of the Puritans, declared
that alcohol is a poison.
"The psychologists have studied
the problem and find that alcohol is
no more responsible for insanity than
is total abstinence, but the prohibi
tionists continne to assert that alco
hol is filling the insane asylums.
"The highest authorities in crimin
ology, after years of studying the rec
ords of criminal courts, penitentiaries
and jails, deny that alcohol is respon
sible for murder, burglary, highway
robbery and assault, but find the
causes of crime far more deeply laid.
The prohibitionists, however, assert
that alcohol is the father and mother
of all crime just as the Puritans of
Salem slaid all the evils of the place
on the witches they burned.
"The sociologists have found that
alcohol is no more responsible for
poverty than pink ribbons and the
moviesbnf the prohibitionists con
tinue to believe that the prohibition
of alcohol would make Carnegies,
Rockefellers and Morgans the rule
rather than the exception.
"The world-wide fictions 01 the pro
hibitionists are pleasant to the ear of
thc man who falls out of the proces
sion and to his friends who seek to
find some other cause than his own
inherent weakness or folly; and ex
periments have been made with prohi
bition for sixty years with the result
of adding deceit, false witness, sus
picion and general disrespect for the
puritanical law. Wherever prohibi
lion has been by the mandate of the
law over a community that did not
believe in it, there has been failure
and defeat of the law by deception or
by open revolt."
The views quoted find some war
rant in American statistics.
Maine has had prohibition written
in the State constitution for half a
centurv and there is a greater per
centage of arrests for intoxication in
Maine than in Xew York or Pennsyl
vania, and bootleggers in Maine claim
10 be among the most influential
molders of public opinion. Kansas
has prohibition and ryansas has a
greater percentage of insane than has
Ohio or Xcbraska. Kansas also has
one of the highest divorce rates in the
country, with a very high percentage
01 divorces granted for drunkenness
and cruelty to wives. Xorth Carolina
has prohibition and Xorth Carolina
has a higher percentage of illiteracy
than has Kentucky, the home of the
still. Oklahoma has prohibition and
( iklahoma has a smaller percentage
of churchgoers than another State in
the Union. All the prohibition States
complain of poverty more than do the
States which have no such laws to re
strict the freedom of habit of the peo
ple. A Committee of Inquiry.
So much hypothetical, sentimental
and unreliable discussion of alcohol,
both pro and eon. had been put before
the people of this country that in
180.1 the committee of fifty, composed
of distinguished men. was organized
to studv the subject from every pos
sible scientific and sociological oint
of view, and some years later it pub
lished the results. Among the mem
bers of that committee of fiftv were:
President Charles W. Eliot, LL. D
Harvard University, Cambridge,
Mass ; Hon. Carrol I). Wright, A. M.,
LL. 1)., Clark College, Worcester,
Mass.; Prof. Felix Adler. New York,
X. V.; Bishor F'dward G. Andrews,
D. D., Methodist Building, Xew York,
X. V; Prof. W. O. Atwatcr, Wes
Icyan University, Middlctown, Cor.n.;
Dr. J. S Billings, Astor Library, Xew
York, X. V.; Charles T. Bonaparte,
Baltimore, Md.; Prof. H. P. Bow
ditch. Harvard Medical School. Bos
ton, Mass.; Rev. Prof. Charles A.
Briggs. D. n Xew York. X. V ;
Prof. R. H. Chittenden. Sheffield Sci
entific School, Xew- Haven, Conn.;
Rt. Kev. Thomas Conaty, D. D., Los
Angeles, Cal.; William E. Dodge,
Xew Vork. . V.; Rev. Father A. P.
Doyle, Paulist Fathers, Xew York, X.
V.; Rev. Father Walter FZUiot, Paulist
Fathers, Xcw York. X. Y.; Prof.
Richard. T Ely, University of Wis
consin, Madison, Wis.; Daniel C.
Gillman, Baltimore. Md.; Rev. Wash
ington Gladden. D. D.. Columbus.
Ohio; Richard W. Gilder, esq. Xew
York, X. Y. ; President James MeAli
ter. Drexel Institute. Philadelphia,
Pa.; Kt. Rev. Alexander Mackav
Siiuth. D. 1), Philadelphia, Pa.; Prof.
J. J. McCook. Trinity College, Hart
tord. Conn.; Rev. T. T. Mungcr, D.
O., Xew Haven, Conn.; Robert C.
Ogden, esq., Xcw York, X. Y'.; Rev.
Prof. Francis G. Peabodv. D. D.,
Cambridge. Mass.; Rt. Rev. H. C.
Potter, D. D., Xew York. X. Y.: Rev.
W. I. Rainsford, Xew York, X. V.;
Jacob H. SchifT. Xew York, X. V.
As will be noted from these names,
the committee represented various re
ligious denominations, and contained
physicians, scientists, lawyers, teach
ers and students of history. The
committee had no theory to work out
or 0cjudicc to prove or to disprove.
Their purpose was not to try alcohol
on the numerous indictments of the
professional temperance reformers, or
to defend alcohol.
Report in Ten Volumes.
The committee recognized 'hat.
with all the agitation of the years few
facts and little scientific knowledge
had been contributed to the temper
ance subject, and they felt that the
subject should be treated with the
same kind of investigation given to
any other great matter of fact. They
gave ten years to the investigation
and sought the aid of the most promi
nent physicians, physiologists, chem
ists, penologists and sociologists in
the world. Their report, published in
1905, filled ten large volumes and it
covered every phase of the drink
question, from the chemical analysis
of alcoholic drinks to the responsi
bility for crime, disease and poverty.
It is the one complete consideration
of this question from reliable data
on record,, and the report is a cyclo
lcdia of information. The following
extract from this report considers the
effect of alcoholic drinks:
"The question as to the amount of
alcoholic drinks which can be used
freely by the average adult without
producing bad results is a difficult
one, because individuals differ greatly
in their susceptibilities to injurious
effects' from such drinks. It seems
probable that there is such an average
permissible quantity of alcohol, the
minimum estimate of which is a glass
of wine or a pint of beer in the twenty-four
hours. The English standard,
as formulated by Anstie, is the equiv
alent of one and one-half ounces of
absolute alcohol per day, or about
three ouncs of whiskey, or half a bot
tle of claret or Rhine wine, or four
glasses of beer, it being understood
that this is to be taken only at lunch
and dinner, and "that the whiskey is
to be well diluted.
"At least one-third' of an ounce of
alcohol, diluted to 10 per cent, must
be taken before any departure from
the normal course can be detected in
the average adult, and while the ef
fects vary with the dose, it has yet to
be shown that harm is done when the
dose is less than that required to pro
duce an effect in psychology and
physiological tests of divergence
from the normal.
"If all substances known to be in
jurious in large doses are to be en
tirely given up on the assumption
that small doses are also injurious,
then all condiments and spices must
he removed from our tables. Even
sugar in concentrated solution is a
powerful cell poison. Certain poisons
are normally present in our tissues in
such quantities that they subserve no
harmful, but rather a beneficial pur
pose. Such are the active principles
of the thyroid gland and of the su
prarenal capsules, both ot which are
far more powerful poisons than alco
hol: that is, their lethal dose is sev
eral hundred times smaller.
"There are good grounds for be
lieving that alcohol itself is always
being produced in small quantities in
the course of bacterial fermentation
in the intestinal canal; that it is, in
fact, normally present in the healthy
Some Other Drinks.
In a table given in the report,
showing the proportion of alcohol
present in certain drinks, there are
included a few of the so-called patent
medicines which have a large sale in
the New England States. Of these
the committee of fifty said: "It will
be seen that some of these drinks,
under the names of bitters, celery
compound, sarsaparilla, etc., contain
a greater percentage of alcohol than
ordinary w ines and beers and are con
sumed in quantities so large that they
must be classified as. beverages rather
than as medicines, under which name
they are commonly sold. The sale of
these beverages is greater in those
States having prohibitory liquor laws
than in those not having them, and
their popularity is due almost entirely
to the stimulating effects of the alco
hol which they contain. They are not
used for social purposes.
"It is difficult to give a satisfactory
definition of a poison, for there is no
substance which is always and every
where a poison. The term is relative;
conditions and circumsances of vari
ous kinds must always enter into its
conception. Xo one would maintain
that a cup of delicately flavored tea
is in any sense injurious oc poisonous
to the average healthy adult, and yet
caffeine, the active principle of this
cup of tea, is a poison as surely as al
cohol. The term poison belongs with
equal propriety to a number of other
food accessories, as coffee, pepper,
ginger, and even common salt. The
too sweeping and unrestricted use of
this term in reference to alcoholic
beverages immediately meets with
the reply that if alcohol be a poison,
it must be a very slow poison, since
many have used it up to old age wit!'
apparently no prejudicial effects on
Food a Poison.
The committee of fifty invited the
opinions and results of experiments
from the best known physiologists of
the world and they did not find any
respectable authority who declared
alcohol to he a poison. They found
it classed as a food, a predigested
tood. an aid to the digestion of other
food, and a food product of hieh
value. The committee also found the
statements attributing to alcohol 75
per cent of the pauperism, crime and
insanity to be untrue, after consult
ing with the authorities in charge ot
almshouses, jails, penitentiaries and
asylums and studying the records oi
those institutions, as well as securing
the opinions of eminent sociologists,
alienists and criminologists. The
committee studied the conditions of
saloons in all parts of the country,
patronized by all classes of people,
and found the common report and
impression of saloons as erroneous as
the exaggerated statements as to the
responsibility of alcohol for disease,
crime and poverty.
On this subject the committee's re
port says:
"The fact that the saloon is more
than a mere drinking place, and that
it supplies many legitimate wants be
sides the craving for intoxication,
should be frankly recognized, and
ought to be of help to those who are
engaged in practical efforts to coun
teract the evils of intemperance
This part of our investigation has
been carried on mainly thcough the
agency of social and university set
tlements, and these institutions are
already taking advantage of the
knowledge gained in their daily ex
perience with the poor to offer at
least some of those counteracting at
tractions and positive forces without
which the driving out of the spirit of
drink will he of no avail."
The committee expressed its disap
proval of the alleged tempe-ance text
books introduced into many pnblic
schools, saying:
"With regard to these educational
methods, it is important to observe
1 hat they receive little or no support
from the members of the medical
profession, who, by their training, are
especially qualified to judge of the ac
curacy and value of the statements as
to the physiological action of alcohol
which form the important features of
the text-books in question."
Whiskey has thus had not onlv its
intimate part in the life and history
of the American people, but it has
been the subject of a vast deal of dis
cussion, lawmaking, and scientific in
vestigation. The committee of fifty
estimated that 80 per cent of the adult
population were users of liquor to
some extent. Whatever a man's
views on whiskey, whether he be tee
totaler or prohibitionist, the drinker
of an occasional highball, or the
physician who prescribes whiskey as
a medicine, he will find the history
of the great American drink an inter
esting sidelight on the development
of the American people.
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