Temperance Movement in Lawrence

3510062The library owns a small collection of temperance ephemera.

 Beginning in the 1890s the city had annual elections where licensing the sale of intoxicating liquors was always an issue.  The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, a youth group from the Lawrence Street Congregational Church, issued a series of newsletters called The Good Citizen asking voters to mark “no” on their ballot.  The Band of Hope pushed their neighbors to “take the pledge”.  Temperance advocates felt that their fastidious neighbors in surrounding towns would look on Lawrence as “an unhealthful, immoral, and dirty city”.  The principal of Phillips Andover Academy was quoted as saying, “The evil to which the saloon ministers directly and indirectly are at present so serious that I prefer to have young men of the academy do their shopping in Boston instead of Lawrence.”(The Good Citizen 1891)

The Father Mathews Catholic Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society formed in 1869 with 32 male members, and a sister organization formed later. By the end of the century the men’s society had 400 members and its real estate was valued at $10,000.  Fr. Mathews’ Hall, located at 200 Oak Street, had reading, smoking, and billiard rooms on the first floor and a comfortably furnished meeting room on the second floor.  Fr. Mathews was Theobald Mathews, an Irish Capuchin priest who had led an enormously popular total abstinence movement in Ireland.  He visited America in the 1840s where he was entertained at the White House by President Zachary Taylor and toured 25 states where he gave the pledge to half a million people, both Catholic and Protestant.  He visited Lawrence in 1848.

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