The Maine liquor law (1865) or, the laws of the Commonwealth-shall they be enforced?
Address before the Legislative Committee, February 28, 1865.
Gentlemen of the committee: The question you have to consider at this time grows out of the question of Temperance,--the interference with the sale, the public sale, of intoxicating drinks.
It is not a new question.
What we call the Temperance cause in this Commonwealth is half a century old; and on the other side of the water, if you analyze strictly the legislation of the old countries, the attempt to limit and prohibit, to a certain extent, in the cause of public protection, the free use and sale of intoxicating liquor, is many centuries old. The new point in the discussion is, that any man should assume that a government trespasses on the rights of individuals when it attempts, at last, to legislate on this subject.
I think I may safely say, that there is no statute-book in the world, no matter how old its first page is,--no statute-book since the discovery of alcohol,--which has not in it a law in regard to this subject; and if you go behind the Christian era, and into the legislation of the older countries, the same attempt is visible, I think, there.
We are not, therefore, trying to gain or clutch any new ground; we are only