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Cambridge as a no-license city.

Frank Foxcroft.
That a city of more than eighty thousand inhabitants should for ten ears in succession vote against the licensing of saloons implies the existence of conditions sufficiently novel and interesting to repay study. No caprice, either of enthusiasm or of indignation, can account for such action. It is to be explained only by a deliberate purpose, grounded in sound reason at the beginning, and sustained and justified by results. Cambridge voted in favor of license for five years after the local-option law became operative; the possibilities of that system were fully tested, and the first majority against license, at the election in December, 1886, expressed the protest of public sentiment against saloon arrogance, lawlessness and corruption. Those days are now., happily, so far in the past that few, perhaps, outside of the number of those who were directly concerned in city administration, recall vividly how exacting were the demands of the saloon interests, and to what an extent their evil influence was felt in city politics and government. A striking illustration of this influence was given in the act of the Board of Aldermen of 1886 in granting a license to the Dewire saloon on Kirkland Street, in spite of the remonstrances of the residents in that vicinity, and in accordance with the declaration of the Chairman of the Committee on Licenses, that moral interests were entitled to no consideration in such matters. At about the same time, two saloon [230] murders, one of them the act of a saloon-keeper, directed public attention to the moral fruits of the liquor traffic, as the Dewire incident had done to its political influence. These occurrences were prominent factors in the election of 1886, in which a majority of 530 in favor of license the preceding year was changed into a majority of 566 against it.

The history of the no-license movement in Cambridge usually is traced no further than the appointment of the Citizen's No-license Committee in 1886, and the cooperating work of the ministers and churches. But there were two earlier organizations which contributed to the result. One of these was the Home Protection League, which conducted the no-license campaigns in the first five years, and in the first election of the series came within six votes of carrying the city against the saloons. The other was the Law and Order League, composed of about two hundred conservative citizens, and organized in 1883 for the purpose of assisting in the enforcement of the liquor laws. The League adopted the policy of beginning at the top, and it spread dismay among the saloon-keepers when, at its first swoop, it corralled and convicted six of the most conspicuous and influential of their number who, prior to that time, had secured immunity by a social or political “pull.” The work of the League was attended by the difficulties incident to such undertakings, but it was continued three years, until changed conditions made reorganization desirable, and its influence on the public mind was educational.

The Citizens' No-license Committee was appointed in 1886 at a public meeting of citizens opposed to the granting of licenses in Cambridge. It was composed of twenty-five members, five from each ward, and has been recommissioned for the work of conducting the campaigns in each succeeding [231] year. It began at once the publication of a campaign paper, called the Frozen Truth, which was sent by mail to all names on the voting list. It undertook a house-to-house canvass of the city; distributed circulars and appeals; held public meetings; and provided checkers, distributors and carriages for the polls. The committee of ministers, representing all of the Protestant and several of the Catholic churches, has cooperated with the Citizens' Committee in each campaign, by organizing union meetings and in other ways. The energy and effectiveness with which this work has been done deserve all praise. Meanwhile the Citizens' No-license Committee has attended to what may be called, in a broad sense, the political phases of the work, and has prosecuted its campaigns with a close attention to registration, canvassing and rallying of voters which has commanded the admiration of experienced campaigners. It has been generously supported by public subscriptions, which have been prudently expended and rigorously accounted for.

The principles tacitly adopted by the Committee and steadily adhered to may be briefly indicated. The question at issue has been limited to that of saloons for Cambridge. General theories of legislation have not been discussed. No inquisition has been made as to individual beliefs or habits. The platform has been kept broad enough to hold any man who, for any reason, does not want the licensed saloon in Cambridge. There has been no denunciation of men holding a different view, but a patient and, in many instances, a successful attempt to convince them by demonstrated results. The appeal has been made every year to moderate men, at first as an experiment, then in the interest of fair play, and later to sustain a system whose benefits had become obvious to most fair-minded men. The Committee [232] never las recognized any social, political or religious differences. It has included in its membership Republicans, Democrats, Prohibitionists and Independents, but never has found time to discuss politics. Catholics and all denominations of Protestants have worked together in its membership with mutual respect and goodwill. It has never taken sides with any municipal party or candidates. It has had but one thing in view, the use of every honorable means to bring out the largest possible no-license vote.

As to results: The 122 saloons which used to exist in Cambridge with the sanction of the law have been closed. Most of them have been occupied for other business purposes or have been remodelled as dwellings. There are, of course, some places where liquor is illegally sold, but they are not numerous, and there is no trace anywhere of an open liquor traffic. The enforcement of the law is almost uniformly thorough. honest and impartial, and it is sustained by a strong public sentiment. After the first no-license victory, a Citizens' Law Enforcement Association was formed, for the purpose. not of conducting prosecutions, butt of assisting the authorities and of keeping the public informed. Its membership was not limited to no-license men, but included voters who had voted for license, but whose respect for the dignity of law w — as stronger than their individual opinions on the license question. It was useful for a time, but its activities have not been needed of recent years.

That Cambridge has prospered under no-license cannot be disputed. The rate of increase in valuation has been nearly double that of the preceding license years, and the growth of population also has been nearly twice as rapid as under license. During five license years, 101 new houses, on the average, [233] were built each year. In 1894, in spite of the hard times, there were 494 new houses built. In 1894, also, the deposits in Cambridge savings banks were larger, by more than $600, 00000, than in the last year of license. The Chief of Police and each of the three police captains have given public testimony to the improved condition of the streets and the falling-off in drunken violence which have resulted from closing the saloons; and physicians, large employers of labor, school teachers and Protestant and Catholic clergymen have testified to improvement in the condition of the people. As to the effect of no-license upon local business, 266 business men in all departments of trade signed a public statement in December. 1841, declaring their conviction that no-license had promoted the material interests of the city and expressing the hope that the policy would be continued.

Following is a record of the vote each year. It will be seen that the no-license majority since 1886 has ranged between 486 and 1503, but never has been large enough to justify a relaxation of effort:


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