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The public weal. [volume] (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1906-1908, March 01, 1907, Image 1

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Public Hearings on County Option Bill
Swedish Lutherans and other Bodies Urge the Right of the People to Drive the Saloon
from Their Counties—County Option a Prominent Issue in the
The County Option bill had public
hearings Feb. 26 and March 5. Both
took place in the House chamber, the
first before the House Temperance
Committee and the second before the
House and Senate Committees, a
large audience crowding the chamber
in both cases. Many more than a
hundred at the second hearing stood
for hours around the rear of the main
floor. The galleries also were well
filled. Several members of the House,
including two members of the com
mittee, made themselves obnoxious to
the many ladies present by smoking
during the first hearing. The im
provement in this respect at the se
cond hearing may have been due to
the influence of “woman in politics.”
The First Hearing.
It opened with resolutions by the
ministers of the Augustana Synod of
the Swedish Lutheran church then in
session at Minneapolis. Rev. Peter
Peterson, St. Paul, seconded the reso
lutions with an appeal for government
by the people. Dr. Rast, Red Wing,
also a member of the Synod, said that
his people were somewhat averse to
withdrawing from the old parties but
that they -would do so if necessary in
order to secure their rights. Walter
N. Carroll, Minneapolis, exalted the
idea of a government not of force as
of old but by the ballots of freemen.
The question, said he, is not whether
the saloon is good or bad but shall
the people rule? Rev. E. Floreen,
Evansville, declared that he hailed
from the banner Republican county of
the state and added, “We have sacri
ficed our party principles for this
measure.” This was a telling allusion
to the election of Mr. Lobeck, Prohibi
tionist, from that county, largely be
cause of his advocacy of county op
tion. Rev. D. Morgan, St. Paul,, said
that legislators are the servants of
the people. “The people want this
law. The last campaign witnessed the
greatest independence this state or
the nation has ever seen. If our wish
es are not heeded, three times as
many will break away from their
present political affiliations as then.”
At this point Representative Elias
Rachie, Madison, who introduced the
bill, invited the opposition to take part
in the discussion. J. W. Stokes, Min
neapolis, member of the committee,
moved to adjourn for two weeks, al
though the hearing had only then
lasted 35 minutes. Mr. Zollman, St.
Paul, representing the brewers, al
though not so announced, claimed that
the opposition had not understood
that it would have time accorded to it
at this hearing and was therefore not
prepared. Friends of the bill repeat
edly demanded an answer to the ques
tion, Who gave the opposition to un
derstand that they would not be
heard? But they preserved a discreet
silence. The game was to postpone ac
tion as long as possible. Mr. Rachie
boldly stated that if the final hear
ing should not be held and the com
mittee should fail to take action with
in a few days, he would offer a reso
lution in the House to recall the bill
from the committee. The opposition
then consented to meet again within
a week and an adjournment was taken
to March 5.
The Second Hearing
It drifted more into a discussion of
the practicability of prohibition than
the first hearing. The opposition
wisely spoke along this line and the
friends of the measure fell into the
trap somewhat, not fully emphasizing
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the fact that the bill proposed merely
to put the question of saloon or no
saloon up to the people for settlement.
Mr. Zollman, beer generalissimo, intro
duced ,D. C. Smith, Duluth. He de
nounced the measure as unfair in
view of the home rule amendment to
the constitution adopted in 1906. A
declaration that slaughter houses
within the city limits were as bad, if
not worse, than saloons brought down
the house, which, by the way, was
nine-tenths for the bill. There will
continue to be drunkards, said he.
“Educate the people, control the traf
fic; this is the way to deal with this
subject. More liquor is sold and
there are more inmates in the peni
tentiary per capita in prohibition
states than in license states.” This
statement brought Supt. Palmer of the
Anti-Saloon League to his feet, who
indignantly denied the statement and
offered to give figures to back his de
nial, but withdrew while Mr. Smith
continued. “Bishops Potter and Gib
bons, Andrew D. White and Dr. Ly
man Abbott oppose prohibition and
Neal Dow, the father of prohibition,”
declared the speaker none too ingen
uously, “regretted his championship of
that policy before his death.”
John M. Townley, mayor of Fergus
Falls, was very much excited over the
$j.2,000 revenue now annually derived
from the saloons of that city. F. C.
Massey, city attorney of East Grand
Forks, said that the removal of sa
loons from that hub of hell (he didn’t
give it that name) which had been
opened depending on present condi
tions would injure business. He did
not stop to explain what his city’s
chief business is. County option has
no logical foundation. The speaker
had attended Hamline University sev
eral years and that prohibition suburb
had been troubled with several blind
pigs. It is putting it very mildly to
say that the speaker would never
have made this declaration before a
Hamline audience, as the editor of
The Public Weal, who has made that
burg his home for over twenty years,
is in position to know.
A number of protests were made at
this point that the opponents of the
bill were taking the entire time. It was
finally agreed, however, that they
should have still more time, after
which the friends of the measure
would have another turn. The bill
was then opposed by C. O. Daly, City
attorney of Mankato; Theo. Splane,
Rochester and Ed. Lees, Winona, who
seemed to think the prosperity of his
beautiful city depended upon the
$47,000 contributed annually by its
saloons, the breweries and the barley
raised in the county. He said: “I
speak for the best business interests
of Winona to a man.” According to
this' statement either godliness is not
profitable unto all things in south
eastern Minnesota or the Christian
people of Winona are not working at
their religion.
Rev. Peter Peterson, who a week be
fore had spoken for the ministers of
the Swedish Lutheran church, pre
sented resolutions favoring the meas
ure which had unanimously been
adopted by the synod, representing
400 congregations whose session in
Minneapolis was just closing. “We do
not object,” said he, “to municipal con
trol of the saloon question if the vil
lages and cities will also confine the
results of the saloon within their lim
its. But unfortunately, while they re
ceive the saloon revenue, the entire
county is compelled to suffer the pov
erty and crime which results from the
saloon and to pay a large share of the
cost of caring for the one and punish
ing the other.
Rev. F. M. Eckman, Center City,
said: “We do not ask you to vote out
Minneapolis Treasury Looted by Brewers
Bill to Legalize a Big Steal Railroaded Through the Legislature and Promptly Signed by
the Governor—Geo. W. Higgins, Prohibitionist, the Only Hennepin Member
Who Voted No.
If the average man were not ac-!
customed to being treated as the prop
erty of the saloonists, Minneapolis
would be up in arms over the passage
of the bill legalizing the illegal pay
ment of over $200,000 to the brew
eries of L.at city for proportionate
amounts of license fees in cases where
a license had been cancelled. The story
runs something like this:
As a penalty, when licenses are re
voked or cancelled for any cause, the
law of the state provides that no re
fund shall be made. But the attorney
of the biggest brewery in Minneapolis
is a member of the City Council; so
he forced through an ordinance some
four or five years ago, permitting the
return of the money. Like most ordin
ances of that kind, it was slid through
quietly and few people outside of the
Council and probably few of those in
side knew what had been done, but
a few officials, obedient to the ordi
nance and disregarding the law, paid
back to the brewers the amount above
C. W. Purple, an attorney, fell onto
tne fact that the people had been rob
bed of this amount, instituted a suit
and had the ordinance set aside, and
then instituted a suit against the
breweries to compel them to repay the
people’s money into the treasury.
The situation was awkward; hence
the brewers went to their usual
friends —the aldermen —and told them
that something must be done. The
aldermen, in turn, went to the Legis
lature as the only body that could
give them remedy; hence the Henne
pin county delegation gathered in a
hastily called meeting behind locked
doors, and the attorney of the city
of Minneapolis arose before them and
told them how the people of the city
of Minneapolis (from whom he re
ceives his pay) could be duped out
of more than $200,000 if they would
introduce a bill which he had prepared
—or the brewers had prepared for
him—and rush it through.
The next morning the bill was intro
duced, and without a word of explana
tion as to what it meant, except a
statement to the Legislature that it
affected Hennepin County and Henne
pin County only, a motion was made
the saloon but let us say whether it
shall eixst in our county. Politicians
do not ignore the rural vote in the
campaign. Let the legislature accord
us our rights as well.” Rev. J. N.
Brandell, Cannon Falls, called atten
tion to the fact that it was the liquor
interests wnich were chiefly opposing
this measure. Although he came from
a strong Republican district, Mr. Vox
land, Prohibition candidate for the
legislature had given Dr. Gates, the
winner (the speaker did not mention
names) a close run because the peo
ple were not certain they could de
pend upon the Republican candidate
to work and vote for this measure.
Nels T. Moen, Ada, was amused at
the enthusiasm for law enforcement
exhibited by the speakers opposed to
the bill. Alluding to the charge that
blind pigging would result from county
option, he said that should Mayor
Townley show the same vigor as he
had claimed to have displayed toward
the law-violating brewers of his city,
where would a few blind piggers be?
He showed from his experience as
county attorney that the evil results
and expense resulting from insanity,
poverty and crime caused by the sa
loons of villages were visited upon
the entire county and that the county
should, therefore, have the privilege
of saying whether or not the saloon
should exist. Supt. Palmer gave some
telling figures on the relation of li
cense to crime and poverty and made
an earnest plea that manhood be pre-
by W. I. Nolan, who has often been
used to serve these interests, that the
rules be suspended and the bill given
its second and third reading and plac
ed on final passage.
People from all parts of the House
began to inquire the import of the bill,
it was again stated that it referred
only to Hennepin county, and the
speaker put the question. When the
ayes had been heard, the speaker call
ed for the nays and declared the mo
tion carried before the nays could be
heard, although it takes two-thirds of
the House to suspend the rules, and
a hearty nay was recorded. A num
ber rose to their feet and, addressing
the chair, demanded a roll-call. Mem
bers sought to interrupt the roll-call
and ascertain why, after all, the Legis
lature was rushing on in such a heed
less and unintelligent manner, but of
course the roll-call having been start
ed, the speaker called them to order.
A number of Republican representa
tives told your correspondent that
they were morally certain that not
to exceed thirty people responded af
firmatively to the roll call, but the
Republicans who were present and not
voting were recorded in the affirm
ative and the party lash depended
upon to keep them quiet.
The next day a motion was made
to re-consider, but the bill had been
hurried on to the Senate, and before
the House had been in session a half
hour there were those ready to rise
to a point of order against the motion
to re-consider, on the ground that the
bill had already been rushed through
the Senate, where there were but two
dissenting votes, and that ft had al
ready received the signature of the
It is to be remembered that this
measure had nothing to do with the
moral (or rather immoral) phase of
the liquor traffic. It was merely a
revenue measure where the breweries,
contrary to law, had stolen over $200,-
000 from the city, and the city repre
sentatives, including the city attorney
and every member of the Hennepin
county delegation excepting Geo. W.
Higgins, Prohibitionist, voted to legal
ize the theft.
ferred above dollars. Gustav Eide,
Sec. of the Minnesota Total Absti
nence Association, Dr. Allen, repres
enting the Good Templars, and Sen
ator Chas. Halvorson, Dawson, also
Mr. Rachie then announced that the
friends of the bill desired no further
time and insistei upon early action
by the committee. The opposition
claiming that they needed additional
time to present their views, adjourn
ment was taken to Friday, the Bth
inst. at 2 o’clock.
The Senate Temperance committee,
by a vote of eight to one, recommend
ed that the Senate county option bill be
indefinitely postponed. Senator Elwell
made a minority report. Senator
Campbell, chairman of the Temper
ance committee, moved the adoption
of the majority report. Senator
Thorpe moved the adoption of the
minority report as a substitute. The
motion was lost by 23 to 47 and the
majority report was then adopted.
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