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cities there are few elections that the saloon and its foreign vote cannot control. The bad element in the foreign life that is steadily flowing in upon us, the saloon only makes worse. And every evil tendency, native and imported, is by the intensity of our American life forced into more rapid development than would be possible. in a lower and less eager country. The saloon aggravates all. In
THE SOUTHERN STATES OF THE UNION the saloon has a rare opportunity for its evil work; it has made the most of it. Emancipation brought great blessings to both races, but it also brought new responsibilities and new dangers. The negro race in slavery was a sober race. As a rule, under the old régime, they could not get intoxicants; for them prohibition was enforced. Emancipation opened the saloons to them. The lifelong restraint seemed to make them eager to exercise their freedom in whisky buying. Of the lower order of saloons in the Southern States the negroes are steady customers. They buy cheap liquors, and therefore the worst. The mass of them are very poor, and dram-drinking keeps them poor. They are ignorant and easily imposed on. The saloonist knows their weaknesses and uses them for his ends; he is master now.
In this case the exception illustrates if it does not prove the rule. The press despatches, giving the result of the recent election in Atlanta, Ga., were evidently not written by a hand over-partial to the Prohibitionists. The despatches dwelt upon the fact that the saloon vote prevailed in every precinct in Fulton County but one, “the South Bend District." The reporter felt that an explanation was due the country, and he added : “In this district is located Clark University, a school for colored people, and the result in this district is attributable to the colored students."
As a rule, the saloons may count on a solid vote from the uneducated colored vote. The uneducated white vote is little if any more to be depended on by reformers. But there are more than six millions of negroes in the Southern States, and thinking people will consider what possibilities of mischief their condition gives to the saloon in politics.
Whatever is weak or bad in our institutions the saloon uses for its profit, and by using makes worse. The best things in our national life are unfriendly to the saloon, and it seeks steadily their overthrow. The saloon hates the Sabbath, because Christian con
science makes Sunday dram-selling illegal and punishable. It wants more of Saturday night's wages than Saturday night's trade affords. The saloon is the natural enemy of the home; if boys are contented at home, they will not spend their time and money in drink-houses. It is the enemy of education, for education abridges its power to delude the people. It is, by instinct, the enemy of the church, for religion does not patronize it nor make peace with it. It hates the Bible, as the inspiration of every movement towards enlightening and lifting up its victims.
The more carefully they inquire into the subject, the more clearly will the true lovers of free institutions, of virtue and religion, see that in the saloon is a great peril to all they hold deara peril only, and that continually.
THE CHAIRMAN: It may add something to the force and significance of what Dr. Haygood has said with reference to the negro vote of the South, to state that he is very familiar with the effects of intoxicating liquors upon the negroes. He is the general agent of the “ John F. Slater Fund,” which devotes the proceeds of a million of dollars annually, to the education of the negroes of the South.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8.
The session was opened with devotional exercises, conducted by Rev. J. G. Butler, D. D., of Washington, and Rev. L. T. Chamberlain, D. D., of Brooklyn. Justice Harlan, of the Supreme Court, presided.
The Chairman: The subject of the first paper to be read this morning is “Perils to the Family," a subject that ought to be one of interest to every citizen of our country: for what concerns the family, concerns not only the safety of the civil government, but in large measure the safety of the church. I take pleasure in presenting to the Conference the Rev. S. W. Dike, of Auburndale, Mass.
PERILS TO THE FAMILY. BY REV. S. W. DIKE, OF AUBURNDALE, MASS.
SECRETARY OF THE NATIONAL DIVORCE REFORM LEAGUE.
I am to make a few suggestions on a subject too great to be fairly outlined in a brief paper.
The object of our study is the simple family of Christian civilization. The essentials of this family are one man and one woman, united in wedlock, together with their children. Other persons may be connected with them by ties of kindred or of service, or this simplest form of the family may become a fragment through the losses of death. But these are accidental relations or natural deficiencies. We are now to deal with the simple, ideal family, which we all hold to be the true family of nature and Christian civilization.
Though it would be agreeable, and even necessary to a complete view of the case, to turn to more hopeful aspects of the subject, the terms of the theme confine us to the perils of this family. Let it also be kept in mind that we have nothing to do here with either the optimistic or pessimistic views as such. It is our present duty to make a simple statement of facts, with some attempt to put them where their deeper meanings can be seen. It may be interesting, and in some degree profitable, to know whether the family life of our people, as a whole or in sections of the country, is better or worse than it was twenty years ago; but the inquiry does not seem to me to be of very great practical use. For, after all we may gain from that point of view, very little light is thrown upon the more important question that is really before us. That question is this:
Is the family in this country where it should be? Has it the integrity and ability to do its appropriate work, and to do this under the peculiar strain modern society is putting upon it? Before this inquiry, all question as to the comparative strength of the family of to-day and of a hundred or less years ago must retreat to a subordinate place in our study.
The main reasons for this Conference, if I understand them, rest on the conviction that our social life is putting all the forces of our Christian civilization to the test, and that the time has come. to measure the perils and examine our resources, We want better churches, better schools, better industrial organizations, and better political institutions; and, as will be seen, I trust, before this paper closes, we want better families as the very foundation of nearly all the rest; and accordingly, we ask, Is the family where it should be ? Has it been studied and guarded and used and improved even as the churches and schools have been ?
I. The perils of the family considered by itself. That is, let us first look at the family merely as one of the things in societysimply as a 'social product, if you please—and see what its perils are. The United States have ten or twelve millions of families. In round numbers, half a million of these are produced every year, through that number of marriages. Now, what is our success in this most important production ? We will take substantially the tests used to determine the success of any business. Everybody, no matter what his opinions may be on ways and means of solution of the problems involved with our subject, will agree that the great ends of our domestic institutions are best served, and that they come nearest their intended objects, when the following chief conditions are most fully met:
First, the number of families annually formed in happy marriages among the adult population of proper age in a country, will bear a high ratio to that population. Secondly, they will be reasonably fruitful in well-reared children, and in the perfected character of the parents through the home life. And thirdly, they will continue pure and strong until the natural end of the union which gave them being, in the death of either husband or wife. I think you can take these conditions, with the careful qualifications which are to be understood as going with them, before any set of people of common intelligence and morality you may meet, and command unqualified consent to their justness. When these conditions are not met, there is something wrong, as every manufacturer, every producer of any sort in the land, as well as the student of vital statistics, can easily see.
Let us apply the last test first, as that is the one most usual,