by LIQUOR LAWÑDISCRIMINATORY AGAINST THE POOR. Committee to Oppose the 15 Gallon Law.
Boston: [The Committee], 1838. . 8vo, side-stitiched; title water-stained and soiled; other pages showing evidence of past mold and damp; final sheet with probably wine stains Sabin 24308. OCLC lists 6 copies.This piece is sometimes catalogued under the authorship of Daniel L. Gibbons, the Chairman of the Committee and Gardner Brewer, the Secretary of the Committee and the Publisher. There is a second edition of the same year, found in one copy only (AAS).The temperance issue had been in the forefront in Massachusetts politics for a number of years prior to 1840. As temperance became more of an issue in the 1820s and 1830s, individual towns began to debate whether to restrict liquor licenses. In 1838 the Boston Temperance Society promoted a law prohibiting the sale of liquor in quantities of less than fifteen gallons. The law passed the predominantly Whig legislature and was signed into law by the Whig governor, Edward Everett.The fifteen-gallon law was plainly discriminatory and undemocratic. It was intended to prevent the retail sale of hard liquor in taverns. The poor were thus cut off almost completely from liquor, whereas the rich who could buy in large quantities and drink at home were not affected at all. The law did not limit the purchase of beer and cider, but its discriminatory nature concerned many of the moderate temperance advocates, as well, of course, as the anti-temperance forces.The state election of 1839 hinged on the 15-gallon law. Although Everett's democratic opponent, Marcus Morton, was in fact a temperance advocate, the Whigs were responsible for the law's passage and the issue quickly became a partisan one. In Worcester County, the Whigs were divided on the issue and a group calling themselves the Liberal Whigs split off and supported Morton. The result in 1839 was a slim victory for Morton.The election campaign of 1840 resulted in an apparent reversal of positions on the temperance issue. Utilizing the obvious popularity of the "log cabin and hard cider" slogans, the Whigs pulled out the cider barrel as a symbol of their affinity with the common man's way of life. The Democrats of Massachusetts pointed out the seeming inconsistency of the temperance Whigs and accused the Whigs of promoting intemperance and even of lacing the cider with harder spirits. The Whigs, however, claimed that the cider barrel was merely a symbol, that cider was used sparingly with true sobriety. They likewise accused the Democrats of inconsistency with their seemingly holier-than-thou attitude. However, though some writers and speakers on both sides went to extremes in their accusations, neither side was really inconsistent in its stances on temperance in 1840; temperance and anti-temperance advocates could be found in both parties. (See Andrew Baker. Temperance Issue in the Election of 1840: Massachusetts). (Inventory #: 2415)
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