The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 01, 1918, Page 9, Image 9

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The Commoner
fourths -ofthe state legislature will have .rati- t
fled thepropoged amendment and, the country
will be hone dry one year from that time.
Twenty-four j of the states have enacted dry
legislation and they are counted upon to ratify
the. 'proposed amendment without any difficulty.
The dryv drlye will now be concentrated on all of
the other states, with Mr. Bryan leading the co
horts of prohibition.
"As a result of the vote in the house today
Bryan again has mado himself a political leader
of the democratic "party, and has pushed his new
moral issue to the front as a preliminary to the
next campaign. He watched the proceedings all
day from the press gallery of the house, and at
the psychological moment, when it was certain
that the-drys had carried the day, appeared on
the floor of the house.
"Mr. Bryan, entitled to the privileges of the
floor -as a former representative, was surround- B
ed in a moment by more than a scoro of demo
crats whose greetings gave the impression that
congratulations were being heaped upon him fer
tile success of the dry- mov xaent.
"To The Sun correspondent .Mr. Bryan reiter
ated his prophesy of some months ago that the
wet and dry Issue would be a predominant one
In -the next presidential campaign, and predicted -that
the platforms of both great political parties
would adopt strong prohibition planks for their
national platforms.
" 'Within three years at least two-thirds of
the states of the union will have indorsed the
constitutional amendment which congress has
voted to submit to the people Mr. Bryan said. .
'There are now twenty-seven dry states, and the
twelve others necessary to make two-thirds of
the forty-eight states of tLo union will be se
cured without great difficulty. The flght is al
most won.'
"Mr. Bryan pointed out one feature of thj sit
uation which makes it easier for the dry forces
to secure ratification by the legislatures than it
is to amend their own separate constitutions To
amend state constitutions and make the state
dry until it is repealed 't is necessary to secure
a two-thirds majority of both houses of the state
legislature, Mr. Bryan explained. To sepure rat
ification by tW'fetates forthe dry? amendment to
be submitted to the states he showed itvwill re:"
quire only a bare majority in each state legisla
ture of the required thirty-six."
The Washington correspondence of tfie Raleigh
(N. C.) News and Observer, under date of De
cember 17, contains the following;
"The history making event was staged today
under noteworthy environments Speaker Champ
Clark upon rapping the house .to order admon
ished the galleries to forego the opportunity to
give assent or dissent to the debate by hand
clapping or demonstration. 'It is an exciting
question on the floor,' he said, and more often
than'once commanded the members of 'congress,
'Take your seats, gentlemen, and keep them.'
"Immediately to the left ;of the prestf gallery
sat the distinguished statesman who has nation,-.,
alized grape juice the H,6n. William Jennings
Bryan. His rapt attention in the floods of house
.oratory and invective of the 'anti-prohibitionists
was only interrupted by an occasional newspaper
man who would edge up to him and propound a
question. The great Commoner had issued
through the Washington morning newspapers an
advertisement of one-fourth of a page answer-
'ing thev&ttack made upon, the issue by Samuel
Gompers, ,j The funds to.. defray this costly ad
. came outqf the pockets-of Mr. Bryan
as a personal contribution to the cause of pro
hibition -
"The Commoner emphasized the point that the
plea of states' rights from Mr. Gompers was a
feeble attempt and 'comes with poor grace from
one who is defending a business which tramples
rough-shod on the rights of states as well as the
rights of smaller communities whenever they ask.
for aivoiceor a vote.on any proposition connect
ed with the saloons,' He amended his statement
" 'with the' note that Mr. Gompers had done yoe
man service in behalf of democracy and felt sure
that on reflection he would see that the best way.
to win .this war would be to recognize the righf
, of the rule of the people."
' Ajasbington" dispatch to 'the" Christian Sci- v
encerMonitor, Boston, under date. of Dec. 22,
j saysAa advertisement with, si four-column title.
In large type.jread.lng, "An open letter from Mr.
William Jennings Bryan to Hon. Edwin Y, Webb,
Chairmari of the House of Representatives Ju
diciary Committee, on the ponding -national ,
prohibition amendment," appeared in the Wash
ington Post of Dec. 17. At the bottom" was .
printed a note which said:
"This advertisement Is paid fpr by William
Jennings Bryan as a personal contribution to
the prohibition cause."
Following Is Mr. Bryan's letter in full:
Hon. Edwin Y. Webb, Chairman, Committee
of. the Judiciary, House of Representatives,
Washington, D. C.
My dear Mr. Webb: I have just read in the
Sunday Star Mr. Gompers appeal to congress to
postpone the submission of the constitutional
amendment prohibiting the manufacture aiid
sale of intoxicating liquors.
I beg to call your attention to certain impli
cations contained in his open letter which con
vert his appeal into a strong argument in favor
of immediate submission of the amendment:
First: By singling out the nine subordinate
organizations for which ho speaks, namely, the
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners,
United Brewery Workers' Union, Clgarmakers'
International Union, Glass Bottle Blowers'
Union,. International Coopers' Union. Interna
tional Union of Steam and Operating Engineers,
Brotherhood of Stationary Firemen, American
Federation of Musicians, and Hotel and Restaur
ant Employees and Bartenders' International
Alliance, he admits that the Federation of Labor,
as a whole, does not support him in the position
which he takes. In fact, tie expressly disclaims
that 'he speaks officially when he says:
"I do not address you and through you the
judiciary committee as an officer of any organ
ization, but as a man and a citizen," etc.
And of the nine branches for which he as
sumes to speak, only two (which will be men
tioned later) will suffer materially by the adop
tion of prohibition and they only temporarily.
The carpenters, for instance, can not suffer,
because more people can and will build homes,
as is shown in the states that are dry. The
steam engineers and stationary firemen can not
suffer because the money lost to liquor houses
will give Increased patronage to tliorie engaged
in other kinds of business. The cigar makers,
will not suffer because a decreasing percentage
of the total output of cigars is handled by the
saloons already there are twenty-seven states
in" which prohibition has been adopted and sev
eral states will be added to the list next year;
. Coopers will not suffer because more barrels
will be needed for f ood when less money is spent
on drink, and, as for the Bottle Blowers, they
will be kept busy making bottles for milk for
the .babies that are now neglected, and bottles
for the soft drinks which are taking the place
of intoxicating beverages.
Mr. Gompers 'speaks for only a FEW of the
laboring men, for only i. few can, ny any possi
bility, lose employment because of the abolition
of the saloons. Among the nine organizations
mentioned there are, however, two whose mem
bers will be, temporarily affected the brewerv
' workers and the bartenders. They certainly will
'lose their jobs, but with the present demand for,,
labor they will have no difficulty in Ending em
ployment which will pay them better than their
present work and be more satisfactory to them
and their families. ,
In his effort to aid a imall fraction of the la
boring men of the country, Mr. Gompers over
looks the material arid moral welfare of a large
majority of the wage earners who will be blessed
by the banishment of drinking nlaces. Would
it not have been more fair for Mr. Gompers to
have given both sides? Should- he not have re
ferred, for instance, to the prohibition resolu
tions passed by the Locomotive Engineers, num
' bering 70,000? Why does he fail to mention
the increasing support which laboring men are
giving to prohibition in state and nation?
Second: Mr. Gompers, by his silence, repu
diates the "personal, liberty" argument the
stock argument of the liquor interests for so
many years. And well he may, for it is an out
cast and 'an outlaw. The publ'c is too well in
formed now as to the evils -Inseparably connect
' ed with the saloons, to tolerate any longer the
- impudent assertion, that anV man's "personal
liberty" Includes the right to demand the es
tablishment of saloons which can not exist with
out impairing the productive power of the com-
- munitypruining homes, impoverishing families,
menacing morals, producing poverty, ,raanufac-
turing criminals, debauching society arid cor
rupting politics, v .' t
Tliird: Jlr. Gompers' feeble &lea for States'
rights comes with poor grace from one who is
defending a business which tramples roughshod
on the rights of states as well as:on tho rights
of smaller communities whenever they ask for a
voice or a vote on any proposition connected
with tho saloons. In Texas the liquor .interests
have recently prevented the submission of a pro
hibition amendment to the stajte constitution,
and they did this in spite of the expressed, wish
of a democratic primary and in spite of the fact
that a large majority of the legislators in both
houses favored submission. In New Jdrsdy the
liquor interests have fought bitterly against
local option and tried to prevent legislation
giving a vote even to cities and towns. Those
who. make a profit out of the liquor' business do
not respect tfee right of ANY community, large
or small, to protect Itself from tho'saloon. The
reserved rights of the states arc necessary to
them and to the nation; we cai?not afford to
jeopardize these rights by linking them with the
fate of tho saloonwe can not afford to chain
them to a corpse.
But Mr. Gompers plea for postponement Is,
when analyzpd, even a more convincing argu
ment in favor of prohibition. He says:
"A largo number1 of Americans, whether na
tives or by adoption, drink beer, and In some
instances light wines, as a part of their daily
meals. Is prohibition or the threat of prohibi
tion calculated to tranquillize and win them to
the support of our Country and the great causa
in which we are engaged or otherwise? Is it
wise to bring so great a controversial question
to the foreground during these crucial days
when we need the. united support, In spirit and
action, of all our people?"
He exaggerates the number of those whose
loyalty to Bacchus and Barleycorn and Gam
brinus is greater than their iovalty to their gov
ernment. I am nt willing toT admit that tho
alcoholic hab!t is so flrml'.ilxed in any Jargo
number of1 our people that their patriotism must
tie measured by tire quart or thajj'it depends up
on,the amount of intoxlcati.ngM'in.uor which they
can obtain. If wo have any 'considerable num
ber of such, then the very existence of this over
. mastering appetite is a menace to the nation; Jt
makes the beer schooner more dangerous than
the German submarine. We had bettor remove
the alcoholic appendix than allow it to imperil
its victims This threat of disloyalty on the part
of the liquor interests ought not to turn the
peoples from their purpose to free the country
from its greatest enemy. If tho advdeates of
beer will not support the government with
words unless the saloons are permitted to aid
. the enemy, wo can better afford to lose their
. vocal support than tolerate their business,
Mr. Gompers cites the action of European na
tions on this question as if it were worthy of im
. itation, evidently forgetting that we have al
ready refused to follow their example and made
it unlawful to sell any kind of intoxicating li
quor to a soldier in uniform. Shall we repeal
that -wholesome law In order to conform to Eu
ropean standards, or shall we continue to set
them an example? Instead of patterning after
the nations that feed alcohol to their soldiers, it
is better to go even farther than we have and
.- restrain those who would, by the manufacture
and, sale of liquor, sap the strength of the men
who must produce food and fashion, tfhe weapons
of war.
Mr. Gompers pleads for unity, but how shall
unity be obtained? By servile submission to a
brewery autocracy whose methods are as unscru
pulous as the methods of the kaiser? No. Let
unity be obtained by applying the fundamental
democratic doctrine of acquiescence ift the will
offctho majority.
Mr. Gompers has in the ..past done ybeman
service in behalf of democracy; I,feel sure that
he will, on reflection, see that the bejst way to
help win the war Is to recognize the right of
the people to rule in the United States as well
as elsewhere, especially when the rights of the
minority are so carefully safeguarded: as to re
quire the endorsement of the' prohibition amend
ment by thirty-six of the forty-eight states be
fore It can become a part of the constitution of
the United States. If the American-people are
not competent to sit in judgment on the question
of saloons, with what consistency can they com
mend popular government to the people of any
other country?
? "Very truly yours,