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A week before Abraham Lincoln invited Stephen Douglas to a series of debates during their famous senatorial campaign of 1858, Lincoln remarked of Senator Douglas, "He says I have a proneness for quoting scripture."[1] Lincoln's frequent appeal to the religious sentiments of the citizenry fostered a lasting connection between their holy obligations and their political prosperity, aimed at minimum to train a people in the habits of self-government.[2] Self-government, however, implies limits or restrictions, and those of necessity must be placed by the very objects of that limitation. Therefore, Lincoln's expressions of public faith at times point toward a restriction of religious expression as it relates to the perpetuation of free government. Paradoxically, Abraham Lincoln's Temperance Address of 1842 frequently cites or alludes to the Bible while highlighting certain vices of religion that must be tempered if religion is to benefit republican life.

Next to his Second Inaugural Address, one would be hard pressed to imagine Lincoln sounding more like a preacher than in his Temperance Address. [3] This was all the more fitting given that Page  [End Page 1] the venue for the speech and attendant festival was the Second Presbyterian Church of Springfield, Illinois. He spoke on the 110th anniversary of the birthday of George Washington at the behest of a society of reformed drunkards that took its namesake from the father of their country.[4] However, too much stress on this point should be avoided. When the state capital moved from Vandalia to Springfield, the state house was still under construction, and so, the Illinois House of Representatives held its first session at the Second Presbyterian Church. [5] Furthermore, senator-turned-historian Albert J. Beveridge records that the Washington Society held their regular meetings at the church, despite a commitment not to be associated "with any political or religious agitation." [6] More to the point, Beveridge states that the speech angered preachers, temperance speakers, and "reformers generally." An example he relates is the reaction of one listener that Lincoln's future law partner, William Herndon, recorded: "'It's a shame,' I heard one man say, Page  [End Page 2] 'that he should be permitted to abuse us so in the house of the Lord.'"[7] Given the religious expression of Lincoln's thought, this response seems out of place. However, Lincoln devotes most of his speech to criticisms of an older branch of the temperance movement given to religious fervor in their public utterances. In particular, he expounds against the errors of seeking to move people to reform by threats of damnation—a practice commonly ascribed to preachers. Lincoln's rhetorical intent in donning the frock of the preacher as he inquired into the "rational causes" of the late success of the temperance movement remains quizzical unless seen in light of his understanding of the requirements of self-government.

In perhaps his most puzzling speech, Lincoln delivers his most direct criticism of the influence of religion on politics. Oddly enough, this comes in a speech rife with biblical rhetoric and is addressed to a crowded church! The address, however, was political, focusing implicitly on the effect of social reform movements on a republican regime, even as it celebrated the recent successes of the temperance movement. Not that this was the overt aim of the speech, for Lincoln introduces his topic as "the Temperance cause" and proposed to examine the "rational causes" that brought it "a degree of success, hitherto unparalleled."[8] Just two weeks earlier, Lincoln had delivered a eulogy for a departed member of the Washington Temperance Society.[9] One would expect that his temperance speech delivered on the birthday of George Washington would serve to praise the gains made by a society of reformed drunkards who took the name of the nation's most revered statesman, and this it did. Long associated with Protestant churches in America,[10] the temperance movement had gathered steam through the 1830s and 1840s. As a result, the annual consumption of alco- Page  [End Page 3] hol dropped by more than half from 1800 to 1840. [11] Nevertheless, the manner with which Lincoln praised the Washingtonians suggests multiple aims, as well as a more qualified opinion of temperance reform as a public movement. [12]

To prepare the way, recall Lincoln's famous statement from the first of the organized Lincoln—Douglas debates of 1858: "In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed."[13] As a lawmaker, he understood that laws would be binding in practice only if the general opinion of the community supported them. Lincoln spoke to reform-minded folk with the locutions of the typical reform speaker, but was subservient to his own understanding of the threat that such rhetoric could pose to public sentiment and the peace of the community.[14] Lincoln's criticism of the old temperance movement, especially as it embodied the religious expectations of a part of the community, focused on the factionalism and discord that would result if bombast and fanaticism instead of discourse and moderation were practiced and encouraged by those at the stump.[15] Page  [End Page 4] Completing his fourth term as a state legislator, Lincoln thus addressed the packed church in his local community with an eye toward educating public sentiment.

Herewith is a brief outline of the speech:

  • I. Lincoln underscores the recent success of the temperance movement.
  • II. Lincoln critiques the early temperance reformers and their tactics.
  • III. Lincoln praises the most recent temperance reformers (the Washingtonians) and their tactics.
  • IV. Lincoln argues that even nondrunkards should sign the temperance pledge.
  • V. Lincoln posits that the temperance movement promotes political freedom.
In short, Lincoln chooses to commemorate Washington's birthday before a society of reformed drunkards by praising the recent success of the temperance movement—in large part because of the Washington Temperance Society—and examining the causes of that success "if we would have it to continue."

But although the speech focuses ostensibly on temperance with regards to liquor, at bottom, it is about temperance or moderation in speech—how citizens go about persuading one another on a given social or political issue. A close reading of the address reveals that the subtext about persuasion simply, and not the overt teaching about temperance advocacy new and old, is the more serious objective of Lincoln. This becomes most evident when one looks at Lincoln's own rhetoric, which fluctuates between plain and unornamented prose and florid and grandiose phrasing. Curiously enough, his speech takes on its most flowery and exaggerated cast when he uses biblical language. Lincoln's Temperance Address, therefore, exhibits both temperance and intemperance in its argument, thus leading the attentive listener (or reader) to draw conclusions about Lincoln's opinion of the respective temperance re- Page  [End Page 5] formers and the movement in general that are not obvious on a cursory reading.

To cite just one example of Lincoln's concern that his speech not only be heard but read, he saw to its publication (appearing one month later, March 25) in the Sangamo Journal. Moreover, in a letter to his close friend, Joshua Speed, he expressed disappointment that few paid any attention to his speech. He thereupon asked Speed to read it with his wife "as an act of charity to me; for I can not learn that any body else has read it, or is likely to."[16] Lincoln even reminded Speed of this request in a letter he wrote to Speed over three months later.[17]

Near the beginning of the speech, Lincoln comments that the "new and splendid success" of the temperance cause "is doubtless owing to rational causes; and if we would have it to continue, we shall do well to enquire what those causes are." [18] He then spends more than half of his time on the evolution of the temperance movement (in nineteen of thirty paragraphs of varying length), contrasting a "new class of champions" and a "new system of tactics" against "the old school champions" and "their system of tactics." Lincoln argues that the early temperance reformers lacked "approachability" because of their occupations; they consisted of preachers, lawyers, and "hired agents," each of whom could be too easily suspected of promoting his or her own agenda: "They are supposed to have no sympathy of feeling or interest, with those very persons whom it is their object to convince and persuade." [19] Page  [End Page 6] The Washingtonians, as a society of reformed drunkards who were drawn primarily from the artisan and unskilled laboring classes, did not carry these occupational hazards to the podium.[20]

As for the "tactics" of the early temperance guard, Lincoln terms them "impolitic and unjust." They pilloried the sellers and drinkers of alcohol in "thundering tones of anathema and denunciation," blaming them for "all the vice and misery and crime in the land."[21] Moreover, given the longstanding and widespread use of "intoxicating liquor," with its attendant sale as a "respectable article of manufacture," one could not fault this use or sale of spirits without indicting the community at large that countenanced it. If any were injured by it, "none seemed to think the injury arose from the use of a bad thing, but from the abuse of a very good thing."[22] In addition, the old reformers presumed "that all habitual drunkards were utterly incorrigible" and, therefore, without remedy. This, of course, belied their professed object of reforming those who most needed it. An approach so devoid of hope, in Lincoln's mind, "never did, nor ever can enlist the enthusiasm of a popular cause." [23] The Washingtonians, on the other hand, extended kindness and charity toward their erstwhile drinking buddies: "They know they are not demons, nor even the worst of men." [24] Foreshadowing the famous concluding sentence of his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln says of the Washingtonians: "They teach hope to all—despair to none."[25]

Lincoln gives his clearest criticism of the vices of religious reform efforts when he evaluates temperance reformers who maintained "that all habitual drunkards were utterly incorrigible, and therefore, must be turned adrift, and damned without remedy, in order that the grace of temperance might abound to the temperate then, and to all mankind some hundred years thereafter."[26] He goes Page  [End Page 7] on to fault these reformers for espousing a system of reformation in which the benefits "were too remote in time, to warmly engage many in its behalf. Few can be induced to labor exclusively for posterity; and none will do it enthusiastically." He states that "there is something so ludicrous in promises of good, or threats of evil, a great way off, as to render the whole subject with which they are connected, easily turned into ridicule."[27]

To illustrate the absurdity of threatening men with divine judgment as a public means of fixing their habits or mending their ways, Lincoln relates an exchange between an old-style reformer and a potential thief: "Better lay down that spade you're stealing, Paddy—if you don't you'll pay for it at the day of judgment." "By the powers, if ye'll credit me so long, I'll take another, jist."[28] Ever the jokester, Lincoln alludes to the issue of temperance by having the reformer address the potential thief by the Irish nickname, Paddy. More to the point, invoking the wrath of God—at least when one attempts to reform the personal habits of another—appears futile to Lincoln. Inviting the scorn of the person to be reformed, it tempts him away from reformation while leaving the old-style reformer mistakenly satisfied that he had done all that he could for him. Lincoln believes this poses one of the greatest political dangers for a republic: the creation of a faction within the community that becomes entrenched in its opposition as the sole bearer of truth. Lincoln remarks that the failure of the old reformers came in part from using "the thundering tones of anathema and denunciation" instead of "the accents of entreaty and persuasion, diffidently addressed by erring man to an erring brother."[29]

The famed revivalist Charles Finney "advocated the reproving word as a weapon for moral reform: 'converting these abandoned people [for example, prostitutes] to God by preaching.'"[30] Referred to as "the duty of rebuke" in abolition circles, denunciation of particular moral evils took priority over effecting reform of said evils, for through denunciation, one fulfilled his responsibility to God for the spiritual account of his neighbor: For example, "The question is not so much, how shall we abolish slavery, as how we shall best Page  [End Page 8] discharge our duty ... to ourselves."[31] In this context, the vices of religion involve both a deficiency and excess: religious deficiency evincing a lack of charity toward one's audience and religious excess manifesting an inordinate confidence in one's knowledge of the truth. Without moderation as one appeals to the judgment of one's neighbors and fellow citizens, without temperance in political discourse, the public dialogue essential to a republic becomes strident and fanatical rather than deliberate and accommodating in its pursuit of the common good.

Juxtaposing the new approach of the Washingtonians with the old-school reformers serves not only to highlight the differences between the old and new schools—differences that flatter the new school—but also supplies the discerning listener (or reader) with a guide to examining any attempt at moral or political reformation. This, of course, includes the methods of the Washingtonians. When Lincoln described their methods and results in the same flowery prose he used to denigrate the old reformers, he implied a similarity between the two that suggests a separate aim of Lincoln's speech. For example, commenting on the Washingtonians' success with habitual drunkards, Lincoln states, "On every hand we behold those, who but yesterday, were the chief of sinners, now the chief apostles of the cause. Drunken devils are cast out by ones, by sevens, and by legions; and their unfortunate victims, like the poor possessed, who was redeemed from his long and lonely wanderings in the tombs, are publishing to the ends of the earth, how great things have been done for them." [32] Moreover, that Lincoln fills his rhetoric with a biblical familiarity and tone unsurpassed by any of his other speeches and writings begs one to wonder about the significance or role of the Bible in public speaking. The old reformers adopted the preacher's text and manner, as was typical at the founding of these movements, inasmuch as Protestant church- Page  [End Page 9] es spearheaded the moral reformation of the nation.[33] Lincoln imitates this, but with a craft and precision that questions its use in the hands of men who—for right or wrong—use religion in a way that confuses the public mind.

In contrast to the grandiose biblical language he used to praise the temperance movement, his own observations about the effectiveness of temperance advocacy new and old were the pictures of simplicity: "When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted."[34] The clarity of his message follows from the lack of biblical ornamentation. Even the proverb he quotes to illustrate this point, "a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall," is called "an old and a true maxim" that noticeably does not derive from the Bible. Many biographers have observed that Lincoln was as comfortable employing the precepts of Aesop and other worldly writers (for example, Shakespeare and Robert Burns) as the proverbs of the Bible. An 1843 campaign circular rallying Illinois Whigs to party unity shows Lincoln's concern to educate the public in a manner consistent with both reason and revelation: "That 'union is strength' is a truth that has been known, illustrated and declared, in various ways and forms in all ages of the world. That great fabulist and philosopher, Aesop, illustrated it by his fable of the bundle of sticks; and he [that is, Jesus] whose wisdom surpasses that of all philosophers, has declared that 'a house divided against itself cannot stand.'"[35] By quoting Aesop alongside the Bible, Lincoln shows how an "important, and universally acknowledged truth," whether its source be mortal or divine, is difficult to resist in the political realm. He therefore models the kind of moderation or temperance in speech he hopes to inspire within the temperance movement in precisely those parts of the address in which he shares his true opinion.

Lincoln's first depiction of the temperance movement as a religious people is a benign one: "The list of its friends is daily swelled Page  [End Page 10] by the additions of fifties, of hundreds, and of thousands."[36] This bears similarity with the Old Testament depictions (for example, Exodus 18:21) of the Hebrew nation organized under officials presiding over "thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens." He goes on to describe the movement as "going forth 'conquering and to conquer.'" This alludes to the apocalyptic vision in the New Testament of the first of the four horsemen of judgment (Revelations 6:2b), an archer on a white horse: "And a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to conquer." Lincoln began the speech by observing that the temperance movement was just then "being crowned with a degree of success, hitherto unparalleled" (emphasis added). This militaristic image of the cause of temperance, although a seeming compliment for the recent successes of the cause, at minimum pictures a nation at war and not at peace. Furthermore, what is tolerated during wartime to prosecute the effort would be oppressive for a nation during peacetime. From the outset, Lincoln makes clear that temperance reform as a mass movement does not presage a kinder, gentler nation.

Instead, temperance reform as "a powerful chieftain" goes forth to conquer; what is more to the point, however, it goes forth to fight a mortal battle with spiritual repercussions: "The citadels of his great adversary are daily being stormed and dismantled; his temples and his altars, where the rites of his idolatrous worship have long been performed, and where human sacrifices have long been wont to be made, are daily desecrated and deserted. The trump of the conqueror's fame is sounding from hill to hill, from sea to sea, and from land to land, and calling millions to his standard at a blast." The temperance movement, "transformed from a cold abstract theory," becomes a modern-day crusade; the victorious cause, by right of its might, desecrates the temples and altars of the vanquished. [37]

By identifying the temperance movement with an ever-advancing army, Lincoln implicitly signals the danger this could portend Page  [End Page 11] for politics and hence tips the careful listener (or reader) to an opposing message to that which appears on the surface. Curiously, the device he uses is biblical as well as militaristic, thereby implicating the prevailing political use of religion in the American Republic. In his earlier Lyceum Address, Lincoln called on the faithful to support the government and the rule of law; he would eventually call on them to support the cause of Union during the Civil War. Does this association of temperance reform with war mongering of biblical proportions serve to condemn or applaud the methods of the new reformers?

Lincoln likens the new temperance reformers, led by the Washingtonians, to the Gadarene demoniac in the book of Mark (5:2b–3a): "A man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs," only to be made whole by Jesus casting out the many "devils" that once filled him. Just as a crowd witnessed the transformation of "him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, [now] sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind," so too the ex-drunkards that constitute the Washington Temperance Society have "long been known" to be "victim[s] of intemperance," but now each "appears before his neighbors 'clothed, and in his right mind.'" Each "stands up with tears of joy trembling in eyes, to tell of miseries, once endured, now to be endured no more forever...." Lincoln concludes that the ex-drunkard's testimony contains "a logic, and an eloquence in it, that few, with human feelings, can resist. They cannot say that he desires a union of church and state, for he is not a church member...." This makes the reformed drunkard a leader of a new school that accounts for the late successes of the temperance movement. At the very least, this new school promotes temperance in a manner that avoids the church-state controversy endemic to preachers who promote social or political reforms; for this, Lincoln gives them praise.[38]

Lincoln's reference to the early temperance reformers as "old school" champions is not a casual one, for in 1838, the Presbyterian Church suffered a schism, presaged by heresy trials earlier that Page  [End Page 12] decade, that produced an "Old School" and a "New School" bloc.[39] As the split in the Presbyterian Church occurred only a few short years before Lincoln's temperance speech, his association of the early temperance reformers with the conservative wing of the Presbyterian Church begs discussion. C. Bruce Staiger writes that as the Presbyterian Church sought to minister to the western settlements under its 1801 "Plan of Union," the incorporation of Congregationalists in their endeavor brought in "the liberalizing Pelagian and Arminian ideas of Unitarianism." The result was "a bitter theological quarrel between the strictly orthodox Calvinists of the Old School and the New School group which embraced the 'radical' New Divinity representative of the Congregational influence."[40] The debate centered around the doctrine of original sin, that men are born into the sin of Adam with only a few foreordained for salvation and the rest destined for damnation.[41] Opposed to the strict Calvinism of old guard Presbyterians, the New School held that man possessed free will. Charles Finney, the New School revivalist par excellence, described a man's conversion as an act of his will: "'If the sinner ever has a new heart, he must ... make it himself.'" Moreover, "'All sin consists in selfishness; and all holiness or virtue, in disinterested benevolence.'" [42] Here lies the connection between the Second Great Awakening and the social reform movements that would sweep across America from the late 1820s through the 1830s. [43] Page  [End Page 13]

In addition, Lincoln alludes to the predestination controversy in his discussion of "persuasion" as a more fitting and hopeful means of convincing a person of one's opinion: "On the contrary, assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart; and though your cause be naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder than steel, and sharper than steel can be made, and tho' you throw it with more than Herculean force and precision, you shall be no more able to pierce him, than to penetrate the hardshell of a tortoise with a rye straw." Not only does "hardshell" connote the old school understanding of original sin and predestination, held by so-called "hardshell" or "primitive Baptists" and the like, [44] but "rye straw" alludes to the distilling cereal of rye whiskey, the frontiersman drink of choice. By alluding to the "hard doctrines" of old school, hardshell Calvinists along with frontier rye whiskey, he juxtaposes religious and drinking imagery as a not so subtle critique of old-school rhetoric. To penetrate a "hardshell" with a "rye" straw was a roundabout way of saying that it would be as difficult to force a teetotaling (Old School) Calvinist to drink as it would be to persuade someone to give up drinking through denunciation of the same.

Given the Old School Presbyterian connotation to "old school" temperance reform, Lincoln's use of the phrase could not have been missed by his audience—seated as they were in the Second Presbyterian Church of Springfield. He could not have picked a more Page  [End Page 14] coincidental (and controversial) pairing of religious doctrine and social reform. One understands his Temperance Address within a much more religious context, for his discussion of temperance as well as "human nature," "philanthropy," and "[b]enevolence and charity" takes place at a time of great spiritual revival, theological debate, and social and moral reform. For example, Gilbert Hobbs Barnes records that the American Temperance Society, "a product of the Great Revival," preached "the intimate connection of temperance with revivals." [45] Barnes also connects the "new measures" of Finney's religious revivals, including the aid of "a 'holy band' of new converts" in his ministry, with the cause of temperance and abolition (under Theodore Weld's leadership). [46] By the mid-1830s, the effort to prick the conscience of both North and South through pamphlets was deemed a failure. But as the spirit of revival still flourished, Weld turned to its methods for rejuvenating the antislavery movement: "The number of the expanded band [of antislavery speakers] was to be seventy, the number sent out in Bible times to convert the world to Christianity. Their name too was to be 'the Seventy,' and they were to be spread over the North to convert it to immediatism." [47] Thus, Lincoln's temperance lecture, with its religious tone, numerous references to the Bible as well as doctrinal disputes, and allusions to various reform causes that have heretofore been the preserve of church leaders, takes on the guise of precisely those religious reformers he seeks to reform—and this by way of informing public opinion about their relative inefficacy as compared with the more earthen approach of the Washingtonians.

Lincoln makes clear that the nature of man must be understood in order for speeches to be aimed with effect. To draw some conclusions about the appropriate influence of religion in politics, observe his depiction of this nature in the address. He states early on that the temperance cause seeks to "convince and persuade." Unfortunately, the men and methods of the early movement did little to achieve that aim: "Too much denunciation against the dram sellers Page  [End Page 15] and dram-drinkers was indulged in." This Lincoln finds "impolitic," as "it is not much in the nature of man to be driven to any thing." He concludes, "To have expected them [that is, dram sellers and drinkers] to do otherwise than as they did—to have expected them not to meet denunciation with denunciation ... was to expect a reversal of human nature, which is God's decree, and never can be reversed." [48] Old School Presbyterians, strict adherents to the West-minster Confession of Faith, held that man's nature was "wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body." A person could be saved by "God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man; who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it."[49] New School Presbyterians, spurred in part by the controversy over infant damnation for all but "[e]lect infants ... regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit," deviated from their Old School brethren by preaching that repentance was volitional. [50] The problem of predestination, as stated by the famed Congregationalist and moderate New Schooler, Lyman Beecher, was its inability "'to treat converts as reasonable beings.'" [51] Of course, this is precisely where the matter lay, in Lincoln's mind, with respect to the success of the late temperance movement: "If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great high road to his reason...." [52]

At first glance, it appears too strong for Lincoln to say that human nature "is God's decree, and can never be reversed," for that is exactly what the church goers in his audience believed would happen to those whom God saved. Remember the quintessential verse on the subject (2 Corinthians 5:17): "Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." [53] The Bible recognizes the power of God to change man in such a radical way as to make him "born Page  [End Page 16] again," that is, to take on a new nature. Lincoln knew his Bible too well not to know this doctrine. Hence, he must be implying something other than the immutability of man's nature. To begin, he criticizes the early temperance reformers for trying to change men through condemnation rather than entreaty, whereas the new temperance reformers persuaded primarily by their example. New School Presbyterian revivalists Finney and Weld began the practice by enlisting a "holy band" of new converts to spark their revival meetings. These reformed sinners offered an example for the Washington Temperance Society's reformed drunkards, who would hold "experience meetings" in which a few ex-drunkards would give their testimony. [54] Instead of condemnation, potential temperance converts heard the soothing voice of experience beckoning them to a life free of the evils of drink. If drinking could not be driven from man, as man is not wont "to be driven to anything," the more successful alternative proved to be the New School's confidence in the sinner's testimony evincing the way to recovery for all similarly situated.

Moreover, Lincoln says that the old reformers mistakenly believed "that all habitual drunkards were utterly incorrigible."[55] On the one hand, they tried to change men's habits through tirades about the evils of drink, whereas on the other hand, they "damned without remedy" those who would not respond to their calls to quit. Lincoln praises, in contrast, the Washingtonians for their adherence to a Christian doctrine reflected in a verse he cites from a hymn book: "While the lamp holds out to burn/The vilest sinner may return." [56] Their hope in the reformation of man, a belief rejected by Old School Presbyterians, shared the optimism of New School Presbyterians. Lincoln the legislator implicitly takes sides in a religious quarrel, quarrels that history has shown undermine the peace and safety of the community. This illustrates his concern for sectarian strife that creates the possibility for public division, and hence his desire to prevent such a division from occurring. Page  [End Page 17] Lincoln observes what the New School observed: Men are both "heart" and "mind," and thus, one's appeal must take them both into account. This simple truth eluded the old reformers, as their attempts to reform society aim for man's soul and yet manage to miss both the heart and mind.

Nevertheless, the rhetoric Lincoln uses to compare the old school reformers with the new school led by the Washington Temperance Society makes his praise of the Washingtonians equivocal. Taking a step back, recall that only a paragraph earlier, Lincoln referred to drunkenness as "the demon of Intemperance." His next biblical allusion would liken Washingtonians to the Gadarene demoniac: once a "victim of intemperance," now "a redeemed specimen of long lost humanity." Lincoln makes clear that their success comes partly from the reformed character of the Washingtonians. Without the suspected hidden agenda of the preachers (or the suspected "vanity" and "salary" of the lawyer and hired speaker), this new society of reformers gains at least a hearing from those they would reform by virtue of their changed lives. Yet, Lincoln initially gives short shrift to the effort required to effect this conversion, saying "how easily it all is done, once it is resolved to be done." Then, later in the speech, he describes the addiction to alcohol as a "burning desire," "fixed habits," and "burning appetites." [57] Finally, he states, "For the man to suddenly, or in any other way, to break off from the use of drams, who has indulged in them for a long course of years, and until his appetite for them has become ten or a hundred fold stronger, and more craving, than any natural appetite can be, requires a most powerful moral effort." Therefore, the apparent praiseworthiness of the Washingtonians as a reform movement or "cause" is undercut by the conflicting assessment of the alcoholic's addiction, in addition to the heavy-handed biblical allusions that raise suspicions about the political legitimacy of any reform movement linking spiritual and this-worldly or political means.

Lincoln makes the clearest contrast of the good and bad uses of religion in his praise of the Washingtonians for not adhering to one Christian doctrine while practicing another: "As applying to their cause, they deny the doctrine of unpardonable sin." The doctrine of unpardonable sin comes from the New Testament: "'Verily I [Jesus] say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation': Because they [the Page  [End Page 18] scribes] said, 'He hath an unclean spirit.'" (Mark 3:28–30; also Luke 12:10 and Matthew 12:31–32). Although the old school reformers maintained "that all habitual drunkards were utterly incorrigible, and therefore, must be turned adrift, and damned without remedy," the new school reformers "adopt a more enlarged philanthropy." When Lincoln says of the Washingtonians that "benevolence and charity possess their hearts entirely,"[58] he again invites a comparison of the new temperance reformers with the New School Presbyterians responsible for much of the philanthropic and benevolent societies spawned by the Great Revival. Led by New School preachers and converts, for as Barnes notes, "Calvinists—Old-School Presbyterians—seldom appeared as officers in the benevolent societies," these societies extolled "'benevolence as a controlling preference of the mind.'" Accordingly, despite the societies' lack of formal ties with the established churches, "Jealous sectarians insisted that 'these great national societies should assume their proper denomination, and be declared Presbyterian, as they really are in effect.'" [59] With respect to slavery, Staiger demonstrates "the coincidence between New School theology and an antislavery position," observing that "those Synods which had declared against the 'sin' of slaveholding had strong New School leanings." More to the author's point, "opposition to abolitionism was to become the strongest tie between the two groups [the conservative Philadelphia and moderate Princeton groups].... They stood as one in their opposition to the New School premise that slaveholding was sin." [60] Lincoln praises the Washingtonians for not condemning drunkards to the misery of drink but rather having hope that they too can overcome their vice. Their sympathy toward this misfortune of those they seek to free from their vice resembles the hope Lincoln found essential to the reformation of Southern sentiment on the slavery controversy.[61] This takes on particular significance within the American regime of self-government, which necessitates Page  [End Page 19] a shared conviction that one's fellow citizens can be persuaded if they happen to disagree on a particular issue. From this common belief, Lincoln derived the spirit of compromise that averted for a time a civil war.

Lincoln follows by observing that the successes of the Washingtonians rival those of the church, with conversions on both sides from the dregs of society. Lincoln reinforces his point with an allusion to St. Paul's conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a missionary of the early church: "On every hand we behold those, who but yesterday, were the chief of sinners, now the chief apostles of the cause." [62] Paul's first letter to Timothy reads, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.... This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:1, 15). Lincoln continues with further references to the Bible that focus on the deliverance of men from unclean spirits (or demons): "Drunken devils are cast out by ones, by sevens, and by legions; and their unfortunate victims, like the poor possessed, who was redeemed from his long and lonely wanderings in the tombs, are publishing to the ends of the earth, how great things have been done for them." Gleaning from two New Testament passages, [63] Lincoln returns to his original reference to the Gadarene demoniac possessed by a legion of demons. But Lincoln's depiction of "these new champions" dresses them and their late successes in no less biblical garb than the Bible-thumping, early reformers he criticizes. This suggests that for Lincoln, although the method of the Washingtonians—private, moral suasion through "experience" speeches—is above reproach, the temperance movement in general—a public Page  [End Page 20] reform effort open to demagoguery by self-interested parties, including religious leaders—subjects the community to potentially divisive forces inimical to self-government.

That Lincoln may not be the wholehearted advocate of temperance reform as a public movement can be seen in the turn his argument takes, for he now refutes the logical conclusion of his speech to this point: namely, that only a small portion of the public, reformed drunkards, should carry the banner of temperance reform. He states that if they constitute "the most powerful and efficient instruments to push the reformation to ultimate success, it does not follow, that those who have not suffered, have no part left them to perform." [64] He reports that the benefit to the world from a "total and final banishment ... of all intoxicating drinks, seems to me not now to be an open question." [65] He then alludes to a New Testament passage about the method of salvation as a picture of that apparently universal belief: "Three-fourths of mankind confess the affirmative with their tongues, and, I believe, all the rest acknowledge it in their hearts."[66] Following the rhetorical math, if three fourths of the world openly favor getting rid of liquor once and for all, and one fourth (that is, "all the rest") agree with this privately, together this makes for universal teetotalism. In short, if all favor temperance—most do so openly, and the rest privately—then all should contribute to its accomplishment. However, the biblical reference to "tongues" and "hearts" suggests that the open advocates of "total and final banishment ... of all intoxicating drinks" are not sincere and implies that the private advocates of temperance are too bashful to admit the same—in essence, admitting that they are not so sure of their opinion as to court public disfavor. This leaves no one believing in temperance, the logical Page  [End Page 21] opposite of Lincoln rhetorical argument. Why does this follow? Romans 10:9–10 reads as follows: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Here, St. Paul does not proclaim a difference between confession and belief but that confession follows a true conviction of and trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ. In other words, the believer and confessor are one in the same. [67] Lincoln, however, uses this text to distinguish belief from confession, implying that one can confess something that is not truly believed and likewise believe something that is not worth confessing. He makes this contrast between confession and belief clear only three paragraphs later when he challenges the disdain that a Christian might have for joining a "reformed drunkard's society" for fear of the stigma of associating with them: "If they believe, as they profess ..." [68] a hypocrite would profess one thing, while believing another, and thus, Lincoln raises the possibility that many temperance "confessors" pay only lip service to the same, whereas some true temperance "believers" for one reason or another do not admit their convictions publicly. In so doing, he qualifies any of the advice he is about to give regarding nondrunkards and their participation in temperance reform. One wonders just how seriously to take his advice, given his implicit suggestion that what seems "not now to be an open question" about the benefits of banishing alcohol outright may, in fact, prove questionable after more rigorous examination.

Based on the supposed unanimity toward temperance reform as a community effort, Lincoln asks, "Shall he, who cannot do much, be, for that reason, excused if he do nothing?" He goes on to argue that those who "never drink even without signing" the temperance pledge can lend "moral support" to those who must exercise "a most powerful moral effort" to quit the drink. Otherwise, the drunkard struggling to reform would read nonparticipation as a Page  [End Page 22] sign that temperance is not the public necessity some make it out to be and, hence, be tempted back "to his former miserable 'wallowing in the mire.'" [69] Lincoln quotes 2 Peter 2:22, a reference to religious backsliding, to support his claim that "every moral prop, should be taken from whatever argument might rise in his mind to lure him to his backsliding." Objectors counter that "moral influence is not the powerful engine contended for." Lincoln responds with an example to illustrate the power that mere "fashion" has on the actions of men: It keeps women's bonnets off their husbands' heads. He concludes, "[W]hat is the influence of fashion, but the influence that other people's actions have [on our own] actions, the strong inclination each of us feels to do as we see all our neighbors do? Nor is the influence of fashion confined to any particular thing or class of things. It is just as strong on one subject as another. Let us make it as unfashionable to withhold our names from the temperance pledge as for husbands to wear their wives bonnets to church, and instances will be just as rare in the one case as the other."

Curiously, Lincoln began by arguing for moral influence to support the reform of drunkards but concludes by calling for pledge signing to become fashionable. Equating moral influence with the influence of fashion, the conclusion should have been that overt teetotalism by the community—that is, their pledge not to drink—would make it unfashionable for determined drunkards to continue drinking. But even Lincoln admits in the previous paragraph that giving up habitual drinking requires "a most powerful moral effort" to overcome an appetite that "has become ten or a hundred fold stronger, and more craving than any natural appetite can be." Public teetotalism, although it would not undermine temperance by habitual drinkers, would offer little in comparison to the drunkard's own resolve to quit drinking. In his argument to support the reforming drunkard by example, Lincoln moves from making drinking unfashionable to making a refusal to sign the pledge unfashionable. This makes nondrinkers who refuse to sign, as opposed to drunkards, the object of public ostracism, thereby showing the discerning listener that Lincoln does not mean his suggestion to be taken too seriously. To date no evidence has surfaced to show that Lincoln even signed a temperance pledge or joined a temperance society, making his exhortation all the more suspect. Page  [End Page 23]

He goes on to answer the objection of those who fear their reputation would suffer by associating with ex-drunkards in a group such as the Washington Temperance Society: "Surely no Christian will adhere to this objection." Addressing those of his listeners that upheld the proverb "Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33) to the letter, Lincoln draws on their belief that the Creator "condescended to take on himself the form of sinful man, and, as such, to die an ignominious death for their sakes" to illustrate an alternative approach to keeping the faith.[70] By joining a reformed drunkards' society, they submit "to the infinitely lesser condescension, for the temporal, and perhaps eternal salvation, of a large, erring, and unfortunate class of their own fellow creatures."[71] However, this too proves to be a flawed reason for joining, as Lincoln concludes the paragraph, "Nor is their condescension very great." What he meant to be seen as high-minded sacrifice on behalf of Christians who stooped to associate with former drunkards turns out to be no sacrifice at all, for he now says that "such of us as have never fallen victims, have been spared more from the absence of appetite, than from any mental or moral superiority over those who have." Lincoln asserts that those who have avoided addiction to alcohol have done so not from any virtue in their soul but from lack of "appetite."

Of course, this too cannot be taken seriously because it would imply no praiseworthiness of pursuing virtue over vice. He makes his intent clear by following this argument with the now suspect imagery of the Bible (Exodus 11–12): He compares the "demon of intemperance" to "the Egyptian angel of death, commissioned to slay if not the first, the fairest born of every family." The paragraph culminates with yet another biblical reference, which compares the "victims" of intemperance with the valley of dry bones that the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel used to depict Israel's spiritual poverty in the eyes of God. Lincoln states, "Far around as human breath has ever blown, he [the demon of intemperance] keeps our fathers, Page  [End Page 24] our brothers, our sons, and our friends, prostrate in the chains of moral death. To all the living every where, we cry, 'come sound the moral resurrection trump, that these may rise and stand up, an exceeding great army'—'Come from the four winds, O breath! and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.'" Ezekiel 37:9–11 reads as follows: "Then he said unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts." Again, one sees the identification of temperance reform with war, its adherents with an army.

Moreover, Lincoln places the temperance advocates in the position of the prophet Ezekiel, their reform speeches imitating the prophesy of Ezekiel as he called down God's spirit to vivify the nation of Israel: "Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live" (Ezekiel 37:4–5). Hence, to the mass of his audience Lincoln proposes a moral solidarity with their more downtrodden brothers as cause for taking up the temperance crusade. Nevertheless, the underlying message, signaled by his exaggerated appeal to a biblical prophesy, continues to alert the careful listener to the dangers of bringing a primarily theological understanding of a moral issue into the public arena.

Therefore, the temperance cause need only be promoted by the reformed drunks Lincoln praises, and be directed toward those not yet reformed. In short, it seems that the rest of the community need concern themselves little with the movement precisely because the most recent cause of its success had nothing to do with them. One might speculate that Lincoln's express charge for nondrunkards to sign the pledge was a goad to see if the old school reformers really sympathized with the plight of those to whom they direct their fiery speeches.

Lincoln closes his address with a comparison of "the temperance revolution" with "our political revolution of '76" and presents a supposition regarding their respective merits: "If the relative grandeur of revolutions shall be estimated by the great amount of human misery they alleviate, and the small amount they inflict, then, Page  [End Page 25] indeed, will this [the temperance cause] be the grandest the world shall ever have seen." With the first word, "If," Lincoln already qualifies what he is about to say about temperance in light of the American Revolution. He is not willing to assume without qualification that revolutions should be compared by gains relative to losses. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with Lincoln's appreciation of the founders' achievement. Therefore, one must examine his assessment of the two revolutions in light of the certain appreciation he had for the American Revolution and the not so certain appreciation he had shown for the temperance movement.

First, there is a clear distinction in the language he uses to describe the two revolutions in comparing both the gains achieved and losses incurred by the respective revolutions. He describes the gains of the political revolution of 1776 with little exaggeration and scant rhetorical flourish: "Of our political revolution of '76, we are justly proud. It has given us a degree of political freedom, far exceeding that of any other of the nations of the earth. In it the world has found a solution of that long mooted problem, as to the capability of man to govern himself. In it was the germ which has vegetated, and still is to grow and expand into the universal liberty of mankind." We have seen that Lincoln's true opinions in this address have been seen in those sections in which his rhetoric bore little if no affectation, flowery prose, or biblical hyperbole. Compare now the following paragraph, which describes the miseries inflicted by the American Revolution: "But with all these glorious results, past, present, and to come, it had its evils too. It breathed forth famine, swam in blood and rode on fire; and long, long after, the orphan's cry, and the widow's wail, continued to break the sad silence that ensued. These were the price, the inevitable price, paid for the blessings it bought." Note the personification of the Revolution, "It breathed ... swam ... and rode"; the poetically stressed accents in "breathed forth famine, swam in blood, and rode on fire" and the iambic meter in "the orphan's cry and the widow's wail"; and the alliteration and assonance in "past, present," "forth famine," "widow's wail," "sad silence that ensued," "blessings it bought," and "price, paid." Although the revolution did generate various losses, Lincoln notes that these "evils" were "the inevitable price" of a nation born amidst the ruins of war. These misfortunes always accompany violent struggles, and although they are justly lamented for their immediate effect on the participants, it would be unjust to overstate their cost in light of the "blessings" to be won. In the case of the American Revolution, our forefathers Page  [End Page 26] pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to establish a regime of self-government—an eventual blessing that far outweighed the present cost to life, property, and self-respect.

"Turn now," Lincoln continues, "to the temperance revolution." He now evaluates the temperance cause in light of miseries incurred or avoided, all the while describing the movement with a rhetorical flourish that suggests a less than serious appreciation of its achievements: "In it, we shall find a stronger bondage broken; a viler slavery, manumitted; a greater tyrant deposed. In it, more of want supplied, more disease healed, more sorrow assuaged. By it no orphans starving, no widows weeping. By it, none wounded in feeling, none injured in interest. Even the dram-maker, and dram seller, will have glided into other occupations so gradually, as never to have felt the shock of change; and will stand ready to join all others in the universal song of gladness." [72] In highlighting the glories of the temperance revolution, Lincoln does not remind his audience that both the evils overcome (for example, alcohol addiction) and evils avoided (for example, starving orphans and weeping widows) are the result of merely returning the drunkard to the normal condition of men. Orphans starve and widows weep because of the habits of drunken relatives and not because of a pursuit of some noble end, as was the case for the American Revolutionaries. Of course, drunkards on the mend are a good thing, but the question of virtuous and noble pursuits—such as liberating a people from an oppressor—arises only among those self-controlled enough not to get hooked in the first place. Alleviating this suffering, although certainly a blessing, brings little glory to the drunkard who should not have caused the suffering in the first place. One finds it difficult to praise a man, that is, to call it virtue, for giving up drinking and restoring his family to health and peace when he was the original cause of those evils. We expect him to do no less and to receive no glory since we expect the same for ourselves and the rest of society. We reserve honors for those who rise above the normal expectations of the community to achieve greater goods for their fellow citizens. Lincoln, in setting the achievements of the temperance movement above those of the American Revolution, pays homage to a sympathetic audience but in a manner that does not bear up under closer scrutiny. His rhetoric gives notice to his true understanding of the glories of the American Revolution and the lesser credit due the successes of the temperance cause. Page  [End Page 27]

As if to accentuate these claims further, he states in the next paragraph that the temperance movement is "a noble ally ... to the cause of political freedom." [73] This presents an opposing thesis to the one proposed in this article, which argues that temperance reform undermines public deliberation. Not to worry, for Lincoln reaches the peak of his purposeful, rhetorical excesses in this address in describing how political freedom shall find its consummation with the help of the temperance movement: "With such an aid, its march cannot fail to be on and on, till every son of earth shall drink in rich fruition, the sorrow quenching draughts of perfect liberty. Happy day, when, all appetites controled, all passions subdued, all matters subjected, mind, all conquering mind, shall live and move the monarch of the world. Glorious consummation! Hail fall of Fury! Reign of Reason hail, all hail!" If one did not doubt Lincoln's sincerity in his appreciation of the temperance cause, his statement that "every son of earth shall drink in rich fruition, the sorrow quenching draughts of perfect liberty" (emphasis added) should prove persuasive. To depict all men drinking, albeit from the cup of "perfect liberty," in a speech about temperance illustrates the deliberate ambiguity Lincoln presents about the public hazards of drinking and especially the measures adopted to reform those who did. [74] Moreover, Lincoln would be the last man on earth to believe that reason could attain such control over men and governments that all appetites, passions, and matters would submit to its direction. This deliberately naive view of the future of the world is nothing less than apocalyptic, envisioning "the political and moral freedom of their species," offering yet another clue that Lincoln does not intend this reverie to be taken at face value. Instead, coupled with previous admonitions against similar types of rhetorical excesses with the Bible, Lincoln teaches by example the temptation and hence the danger in applying heaven-sent visions to earth-bound problems. He reforms the reformers in an effort to restore the true meaning and hence exercise of temperance (or moderation) to the benefit of both society and government. Page  [End Page 28]

An indication of the spirit of temperance reform that Lincoln would endorse comes from an 1853 lecture, "A Discourse on the Bottle—Its Evils, and the Remedy," delivered by a close friend of the Lincoln family, the Reverend James Smith. Lincoln heard this speech "with great satisfaction" and the next day joined thirty-eight others in requesting a copy for publication, "believing, that, if published and circulated among the people, it would be productive of good...." [75] Subtitled "A Vindication of the Liquor-Seller, and the Liquor Drinker, from Certain Aspersions Cast upon Them by Many," the lecture focuses on the hypocrisy of those who castigate the liquor seller or drinker as "the only sinner in this matter." [76] Consistency implicates the laws that permit their sale and consumption, Dr. Smith argues, and thus the lawmakers and therewith the public at large who empower them.

The epigram that prefaces the temperance address conveys Dr. Smith's argument in a nutshell: "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that putteth thy bottle to him" (Habakkuk 2:15). Interpreted broadly, the biblical pronouncement applies to anyone who facilitates the drinking of liquor and not merely the direct seller of liquor. By offering a "vindication" or defense of the liquor seller and drinker from "certain aspersions cast upon them by many" (as the subtitle states), Dr. Smith tries to move the temperance campaign forward in a somewhat Swiftian manner. He modestly proposes that those who sell and drink liquor should escape public condemnation as long as the community refuses to acknowledge their own complicity in the liquor traffic: "I have shown you that however guilty he may be before God, he is not a violator of the law of the land; but he is an honest dealer...." [77] Lincoln certainly agreed with the charge of hypocrisy, insofar as his own temperance address highlights that "denunciations against dram-sell- Page  [End Page 29] ers and dram-drinkers, are unjust as well as impolitic."[78] But our earlier reading of Lincoln's Temperance Address gives reason to think that his endorsement of Dr. Smith's address is somewhat qualified.

Thus, where does Lincoln's sympathy with the Reverend James Smith's temperance advocacy lie? It lies first and foremost in the preacher's refusal to turn a blind eye to the culpability of those who are quick to assign all blame to the sellers and drinkers of liquor. In the book of Matthew, Jesus warns, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," and tests the sincerity of the fault-finder by asking, "why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but consider-est not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:1, 3) As one would expect from a preacher, the Reverend Smith applies these biblical principles to a public issue that too readily divides the community into blameless and blameworthy camps. He concludes that "it is the duty of all who have in any way contributed to place temptation before him [the 'inebriate'], as an act of justice to the wronged, to labor for his emancipation from his cruel thraldom. Until this be done, that aweful woe in the text [Habakkuk 2:15] must rest upon us as a people, for in the sight of God, we are all guilty." [79] In similar fashion, Lincoln's political career reveals a concern that the citizenry not become factious in its pursuit of justice. Even after seven states had "seceded" from the Union, the newly inaugurated President Lincoln reminded a loyal Pennsylvania delegation to "act in such a way as to say nothing insulting or irritating. I would inculcate this idea, so that we may not, like the Pharisees, set ourselves up to be better than other people."[80] Of course, the foremost testimony of Lincoln's political humility is his magisterial Second Inaugural Address, with its biblical exhortation to "judge not that we be not judged" and concession of national responsibility for the enormity of slavery, for which God "gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came...."[81]

Second, the Reverend Smith calls for "charity and forbearance" on the part of "all the friends of humanity," as he tries to unite disparate elements of the temperance movement. Members of the "old Temperance," Washingtonians, and Sons of Temperance, former members of the aforementioned groups, and those who never Page  [End Page 30] joined a temperance society but who worked toward the same end should stop their bickering and name-calling and consider each other "a valuable fellow-laborer in the same great work, and heartily accept of his co-operation." [82] Of the Springfield Washingtonians, Lincoln observed, "Benevolence and charity possess their hearts entirely," noting that their sympathy and hope for the dram-drinker served as a most persuasive entreaty for their reform. [83] More generally, Lincoln recognized that the perpetuation of self-government required a citizenry that trusted one another and was able to compromise politically without gainsaying the motives or patriotism of others. This comes to light most clearly in the conclusion of his First Inaugural Address, where Lincoln addresses what he calls "my dissatisfied fellow countrymen": "I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory ... will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."[84] This hopeful, conciliatory plea demonstrates his desire to preserve the Union through peaceful cooperation and not military coercion. In his Second Inaugural Address four years hence, Lincoln would famously proclaim, "With malice toward none, with charity for all," in an attempt to heal the nation's wounds at the close of a devastating civil war.[85]

Finally, Dr. Smith closed with a benediction that Lincoln would repeat in one form or another throughout his presidential years: "Perseverance in the work, and a dependence upon the Divine blessing, will infallibly secure a final and glorious victory."[86] The Reverend Smith's hope was that "the people may be thoroughly informed on this great subject, and prepared to act as rational men, who are accountable to God for their use of the high privilege, which, as free men, they enjoy, of saying through the ballot-box, how they desire to be governed, and what laws must be enacted Page  [End Page 31] and enforced." Lincoln spent his adult life promoting an informed citizenry by delivering speeches as a private citizen as well as a state and federal officeholder. Moreover, his promotion and practice of civic virtue consistently called to the public mind their responsibility to act as a nation under divine providence. Witness his closing words in his first annual address to Congress: "With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us."[87] He repeated this idea in the concluding paragraph of his Second Inaugural Address: "With firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in...." [88] Thus, Lincoln shares the Reverend Smith's conviction that human endeavors can and should be carried out with the hope of divine approbation and support.

As for their differences, the most significant would be that Lincoln would not agree with the Reverend Smith's ultimate remedy for intemperance—"a law altogether abolishing the liquor traffic, except for mechanical, chemical, medicinal and sacramental purposes." Admittedly, Lincoln was an avowed teetotaler. Albert Beveridge relates a telling exchange on the subject between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. At a reception hosting Douglas during the congressional campaigns of 1854, Lincoln declined a drink, whereupon Douglas exclaimed, "Why! are you a member of the Temperance Society?" Lincoln replied, "No! I am not a member of any Temperance Society ... but I am temperate in this, that I don't drink anything."[89] Moreover, hearing that Lincoln only served "Adam's ale" (cold water) to the committee notifying him of his nomination as presidential candidate of the Republican Party, a journalist and temperance advocate inquired of Lincoln's temperance sentiments. In a letter explicitly marked confidential, Lincoln refused to comment on his temperance beliefs, but stated, "Having kept house sixteen years, and having never held the 'cup' to the lips of my friends then, my judgment was that I should not, in my new position, change my habit in this respect." [90]

However, Lincoln never turned his personal habits regarding alcohol into a public campaign for the prohibition of the liquor Page  [End Page 32] traffic.[91] In fact, his Temperance Address chastised the early temperance reformers for denouncing sellers and drinkers of liquor without considering their "pecuniary interest, or burning appetite": "It is not much in the nature of man to be driven to any thing; still less to be driven about that which is exclusively his own business ..." [92] Needless to say, the Reverend Smith did not consider the sale or drinking of liquor as a private affair.

In addition, Lincoln's praise of the Washingtonians as the "new champions" to which "our late success is mainly owing" reflects a belief that moral suasion and not legal sanction provides the most effective means of promoting temperance among the population. As Ian R. Tyrrell explains in Sobering Up, "the Washingtonians renounced all reliance on legal measures. Their pledge required abstinence from the use of liquor as a beverage, but unlike the ATU [American Temperance Union] pledge, it did not demand personal abstinence from the manufacture and traffic in liquor."[93] Does this Page  [End Page 33] imply duplicity on Lincoln's part? Not if one considers that even the Reverend Smith recognized that any law proposed for the abolition of the liquor traffic must be "so framed that no principle of the constitution of the State, or of the United States, be violated." [94] This raises the issue of personal freedom versus the public good and, hence, requires public debate over the extent to which personal intemperance constitutes a threat to the health, safety, welfare, and morals of the community. Lincoln would agree with Dr. Smith's recommendation that if this law were to be presented for public approval, "the most vigorous exertions should be made to secure that end by spreading information on the subject, broadcast throughout the land." Without agreeing with Dr. Smith on the outcome of this plebiscite on prohibition, Lincoln can fully endorse the idea that a proposal directly affecting the lives and fortunes of every citizen should receive a hearing at "the bar of public opinion."

Reading the temperance lecture of the Reverend James Smith in light of Lincoln's own temperance address shows that religious reform efforts in the political arena can pose problems for a republic if not tethered to a principled understanding of the nature of self-government (both private and public). As Dr. Smith noted in his discourse on the bottle, bringing the salient issues of the day before "the bar of public opinion" was all important for communities based on the consent of the governed. Or as Lincoln himself put it, "Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much." [95] How Americans seek to change their government will determine what kind of government they preserve over the long haul. Abraham Lincoln's raison d'être, the perpetuation of American self-government according to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, informed his understanding of the temperance movement of his day. We do well to remind ourselves of it. Page  [End Page 34]

Notes

  1. "Speech at Springfield, Illinois (17 July 1858)," in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Blaser, 9 vols. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1955), 2:510 (hereinafter cited as Collected Works; all emphases in original except where otherwise noted). return to text
  2. For an introduction to the supportive role Lincoln saw religion playing in the preservation of the American regime see "Address before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838)," ibid., 1:108–15. return to text
  3. Lincoln's "First Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions (6 April 1858)," ibid., 2:437–42, delivered before the Young Men's Association, surpasses his Temperance Address only in its number of biblical quotations. Nevertheless, as a lecture on the historical development of man's improvement of the earth and his condition, it bears little resemblance to a political speech—unlike the Temperance Address. See also his "Second Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions," delivered on February 11, 1859, and thereafter on at least two other occasions. Ibid., 3:356–63.return to text
  4. For a history of the Washingtonians and their connection to the larger temperance movement, see Ian R. Tyrrell, Sobering Up: From Temperance to Prohibition in Antebellum America, 1800–1860 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979), chaps. 7–8. See also Robert H. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), chap. 4; Jack S. Blocker, Jr., American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989), chap. 2; and Mark A. Noll, One Nation Under God? Christian Faith and Political Action in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), chap. 8. return to text
  5. Earl Schenck Miers, ed., Lincoln Day by Day: A Chronology, 1809–1865, 2 vols. (Washington: Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission, 1960), 1:124; Paul M. Angle, "Here I Have Lived": The Story of Lincoln's Springfield, 1821–1865 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1935), 75, 83–84, 87.return to text
  6. Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1858, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1928), 1:325 n. 2. Beveridge also notes that the Springfield chapter of the society organized itself on December 20, 1841, just two months prior to Lincoln's address. Paul M. Angle records that the Springfield chapter reached seven hundred members only three months after Lincoln's address; William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Herndon's Life of Lincoln: The History and Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln (Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1942; New York: Plenum Publishing Corp.—Da Capo Press, Inc., 1983, with introduction and notes by Paul M. Angle and new introduction by Henry Steele Commager), 206 n. 17. The original society started in Baltimore in 1840; Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 159–60; Clifton E. Olmstead, History of Religion in the United States (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1960), 355. A few years after his address before the Washington Temperance Society, Lincoln helped schedule a temperance speech by T.S. Fairchild—"a talented and eloquent young gentleman, eminently qualified to advance the cause of virtue and temperance & to promote the best interests of society"—at the Illinois Hall of Representatives. "Request for Use of Hall of Representatives for a Temperance Lecture (25 January 1845)," Collected Works, 1:343.return to text
  7. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1858, 1:329 n. 2.return to text
  8. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:271.return to text
  9. "Eulogy on Benjamin Ferguson (8 February 1842)," ibid., 1:268–69.return to text
  10. See Olmstead, History of Religion in the United States, 354–55, and Note 4 regarding the Washingtonians in particular. Anson Phelps Stokes cites Benjamin Rush in 1785 on the role of churches in promoting public temperance: "I am disposed to believe that the business [that is, temperance] must be effected finally by religion alone. Human reason has been employed in vain.... We have nothing to hope from the influence of law in making men wise and sober. Let these considerations lead us to address the heads of the governing bodies of all the Churches in America." Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States: Historical Development and Contemporary Problems of Religious Freedom under the Constitution, ed. Anson Phelps Stokes, 2 vols. (New York: Harpers & Brothers, 1950), 1:40.return to text
  11. John Niven, The Coming of the Civil War, 1837–1861 (Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1990), 42. Niven summarizes as follows: "The movement was so effective that that by the 1840s the temperance lobby became an important political force on the state and local level." return to text
  12. My interpretation of the Temperance Address owes much to Harry V. Jaffa's argument in Chapter 10, "The Teaching Concerning Political Moderation," in Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982, 1959). return to text
  13. "First Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Ottawa, Illinois (21 August 1858)," Collected Works, 3:27. return to text
  14. Cf. John G. West, Jr., The Politics of Revelation and Reason: Religion and Civic Life in the New Nation (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996), 96, 122, which argues that in the formative years of the American republic, some reform movements were led by evangelicals who made political appeals "without making religious doctrines the focus of their efforts." West adds, "Even when they did tie their political discussions back to the Bible, however, the 'biblical' principles they cited most often coincided with the 'natural' principles accepted by free thinkers and deists."return to text
  15. This would also apply to those who would use such measures to enervate the growing immigrant population, which would fall especially hard on the wave of Irish and German Catholics then entering the country; see Richard H. Sewell, A House Divided: Sectionalism and Civil War, 1848–1865 (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988), 40–41; James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York: Ballantine Books, 1989), 32–33; Niven, The Coming of the Civil War, 69–70. Don E. Fehrenbacher notes that there was "a strong scent of nativism" to a prohibition law passed by the Illinois legislature in 1855 but rejected by popular referendum. Prelude to Greatness: Lincoln in the 1850's (Stanford: Stan-ford University Press, 1962), 13. return to text
  16. "To Joshua F. Speed (27 March 1842)," Collected Works, 1:283. "Fortunately, it is not very long and I shall deem it a sufficient compliance with my request, if one of you listens while the other reads it."return to text
  17. "To Joshua F. Speed (4 July 1842)," ibid., 1:290. "I have made you a subscriber to the [Sangamo] Journal; and also sent the number containing the temperance speech." return to text
  18. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," ibid., 1:271.return to text
  19. Ibid., 1:272. "The preacher, it is said, advocates temperance because he is a fanatic, and desires a union of Church and State; the lawyer, from his pride and vanity of hearing himself speak; and the hired agent, for his salary." The observation about lawyers (read: politicians) was not lost on his political rivals, as seen in an article published in the Illinois State Register, the Democratic newspaper of record: "They [temperance societies] are almost sure, in the end, to be turned from their original purpose, and made to promote the election of some political demagogue. Does any rational man believe for a moment that Abraham Lincoln, William L. May, B. S. Clements, and Edward D. Baker, have joined the Washington society from any other than political motives? Would they have joined it if it had been exceedingly unpopular?" "The Washington Society, "Illinois State Register, 11 March 1842, 2; Paul M. Angle, "Here I Have Lived": The Story of Lincoln's Springfield, 65. Contrary to the claim of the Illinois State Register, there is no record that Lincoln actually signed the pledge or joined the Washington Temperance Society (see Note 6). return to text
  20. Blocker, American Temperance Movements, 41–42.return to text
  21. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:273.return to text
  22. Ibid., 1:274. For a history of the evolution in thinking about alcohol consumption from the American colonial period through the 20th century, see Paul Aaron and David Musto, "Temperance and Prohibition in America: A Historical Review" in Alcohol and Public Policy: Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition, eds. Mark H. Moore and Dean R. Gerstein (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1981), 121–81.return to text
  23. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:275.return to text
  24. Ibid., 1:273.return to text
  25. Ibid., 1:276.return to text
  26. Ibid., 1:275. Lincoln borrows from St. Paul: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" (Romans 6:1). The context of the original verse suggests that the old school reformers' condemnation of habitual drunkards is analogous to the person who continues in a life of sin under the perverse reasoning that it will produce more of God's "grace," that is, forgiveness. Verse two reads as follows: "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" return to text
  27. Ibid., 1:275–76. return to text
  28. Ibid., 1:276.return to text
  29. Ibid., 1:273.return to text
  30. Cited by Gilbert Hobbs Barnes in The Antislavery Impulse, 1830–1844 (New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1933), 25.return to text
  31. Ibid., 25, 101, 210 n. 19. To his credit, Finney recognized the excess to which public rebuke could be taken: Only if exercised in a spirit of love and not hate, and especially within the context of a revival of religious devotion, could denunciation be of good effect. For example, "If abolition can be made an appendage of a general revival of religion, all is well.... I fear no other form of carrying this question will save our country." Relating temperance reform and religious revival, Finney stated, "We made temperance an appendage of the revival in Rochester.... I was almost alone in the field as an Evangelist. Then 100,000 were converted in one year, everyone of which was a temperance man." Ibid., 162, 275 n. 4.return to text
  32. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:276.return to text
  33. "For the older temperance regulars, temperance and religion had to go hand in hand through the leadership of religious temperance men." Moreover, "They would direct the benevolent work to the ultimate task of saving souls." Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 198–99.return to text
  34. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:273.return to text
  35. "Campaign Circular from Whig Committee (4 March 1843)," ibid., 1:315. In his last official debate with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln remarked, "The Bible says somewhere that we are desperately selfish. I think we would have discovered that fact without the Bible." "Seventh and Last Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Al-ton, Illinois (15 October 1858)," ibid., 3:310. return to text
  36. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," ibid., 1:271.return to text
  37. "If a city was conquered, the gods were supposed to have been vanquished with it." Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study on the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), 144. Exodus 34:12–14 reads as follows: "Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God...." (See also Deuteronomy 7:5, 12:1–3; 2 Kings 11:18; and 2 Corinthians 23:17.)return to text
  38. Cf. Lincoln as he repeats the position of professed antislavery men who nevertheless side with the Democratic Party in holding to the policy of "indifference" with respect to slavery: "We must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the Tract Society or the other societies, because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!" "Speech at New Haven, Connecticut (6 March 1860)," Collected Works, 4:21.return to text
  39. For an examination of this split as it related to the political tensions of the times (slavery, in particular), see C. Bruce Staiger, "Abolitionism and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837–1838, "The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 36 (December 1949): 391–414, and Mitchell Snay, Gospel of Disunion: Religion and Separatism in the Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997; originally published by Cambridge University Press, 1993), chap. 4. See also the definition of "New School Presbyterians," in Dictionary of Christianity in America, eds. Daniel G. Reid with Robert D. Linder, Bruce L. Shelley, and Harry S. Stout (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 819–20; Louis Weeks, "Presbyterianism" in Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience: Studies of Traditions and Movements, 3 vols., eds., Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988), 1:502–03. return to text
  40. Staiger, "Abolitionism and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837–1838," 393.return to text
  41. For a brief history of this doctrinal development within the Presbyterian Church, see Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 3–12. See also Olmstead, History of Religion in the United States, 311–14, 189–90 (for discussion of the preceding generation's dispute over the doctrine of original sin and the free will of man). return to text
  42. Cited in Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 11.return to text
  43. Barnes lists several of the early aims of "the Great Eight" societies that would take shape under the leadership of the Great Revivalists such as Charles Grandison Finney and protégé Theodore Dwight Weld: promoting home and foreign missions, distributing Bibles and tracts, funding Sunday schools, promoting temperance, and converting sailors. He notes, "the benevolent empire was dominated by 'New-School' Presbyterians, liberals of the Great Revival." Ibid., 17, 18. See also Staiger, "Abolitionism and the Presbyterian Schism," 397: "Although Finney devoted himself almost exclusively to revivalism, his doctrines lent themselves to a great interest in social reform. Theodore Dwight Weld, a convert of Finney's, shaped this interest into another revival, one in which slaveholding was identical with sin." Weld would go on to become the great temperance speaker of frontier America, as well as write Slavery As It Is, an 1839 book from which Harriet Beecher Stowe mined details for her 1852 literary bombshell, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Joan D. Hedrick, Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 230.return to text
  44. For derivation of the "hard shell" label and its theological import, see "Baptist Churches in U.S.A." and "Primitive Baptists" descriptions in the Dictionary of Christianity in America, 110–11, 940, respectively, and "Primitive Baptist" in Handbook of Denominations in the United States, ed. Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill, 9th ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985), 51–52. return to text
  45. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 17–18.return to text
  46. Ibid., 7–8, 18, 80. "Sanguine hope pervaded the [temperance] movement. 'The intimate connection of temperance with revivals' made the downfall of liquor and the conversion of the nation a single object, to be obtained within a decade or so, and to be followed by the conquest of the world"; "Weld's methods were the 'New Measures' of Finney in the Great Revival, the form and spirit of a protracted meeting." return to text
  47. Ibid., 100–01, 104–08. See also Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling, "The Temperance Reformation," 81–104.return to text
  48. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:272–73.return to text
  49. G.I. Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964), 53, 88. return to text
  50. Ibid., 91.return to text
  51. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 5. return to text
  52. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:273.return to text
  53. 2 Corinthians 4:18 reads as follows: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." See also John 1:12, 13; 3:3–6. return to text
  54. Blocker, American Temperance Movements, 43; Olmstead, History of Religion in the United States, 355.return to text
  55. Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:275.return to text
  56. Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707), Book I, Hymn 88, cited in Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, ed. Don E. Fehrenbacher, 2 vols. (New York: Library of America, 1989), 1:860, n. 86.20–21. The actual source may have been the Missouri Harmony, published by Morgan and Sanxay in Cincinnati, as described by Carl Sandburg: "It was a collection of psalm and hymn tunes, and anthems, from eminent authors...." Abraham Lincoln, Sangamon ed., 6 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1950), 1:181. return to text
  57. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:272, 275.return to text
  58. Ibid., 1:274–6. As "practical philanthropists" (ibid., 1:274), the Washingtonians personify that "sympathy with the suffering, and of devotion to the progress of the whole human race" that typified the great reform movements of the 1830s. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 3. return to text
  59. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 11–19, 208 n. 5.return to text
  60. Staiger, "Abolition and the Presbyterian Schism," 391, 395, 398.return to text
  61. It was this hope that, surprisingly, New School Presbyterians did not hold out in their crusade to free American slaves. Although originally striving for "immediate abolition, gradually accomplished" through appeals to both northerners and southerners alike, the movement soon embraced immediate abolition, simply; this involved a redirection of their appeal to the North primarily and through petitioning Congress. Barnes, The Antislavery Impulse, 48–49, 79, 104, chaps. 11–13.return to text
  62. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:276.return to text
  63. The first is Mark 5:18–20: "And when he [Jesus] was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, 'Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.' And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel." The second is Luke 11:14, 24–26: "And he [Jesus] was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.... [Jesus said,] 'When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, "I will return unto my house whence I came out." And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.'"return to text
  64. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:276.return to text
  65. As President, Lincoln would give the same assessment when he agreed to add his name to a "Presidential Temperance Declaration" signed by ten other American presidents. Its author, Edward C. Delavan (a former wine merchant, now temperance reformer), had been collecting presidential signatures for the declaration since 1833. It states, "Being satisfied from observation and experience, as well as from medical testimony, that ardent spirits, as a drink, is not only needless, but hurtful and that the entire disuse of it would tend to promote the health, the virtue and happiness of the community: we hereby express our conviction, that should the citizens of the United States, and especially all young men, discountenance entirely the use of it, they would not only promote their own personal benefit, but the good of the country and of the world." "Temperance Declaration [c. 4 July 1861]," ibid., 4:420.return to text
  66. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," ibid., 1:276–77.return to text
  67. As if to stress this point, the apostle Paul follows with the statement: "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be shamed" (Romans 10:11; emphasis added). He does not qualify this belief by saying it must be confessed in order to be effective; rather, he uses confession as a sign of preceding belief or faith: to wit, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?" (Romans 10:13–14a; emphasis added). return to text
  68. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:277.return to text
  69. Ibid., 1:277.return to text
  70. The relevant Bible passage reads as follows: "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being in found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:3–8).return to text
  71. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:278.return to text
  72. Ibid., 1:278–79. return to text
  73. Ibid., 1:279.return to text
  74. Cf. the namesake of the Washingtonian Society in his "General Orders" (18 April 1783), which called for a cessation of hostilities between the United States and Great Britain. The order concluded with a call to toast the successful termination of the Revolutionary War: "An extra ration of liquor to be issued to every man tomorrow, to drink Perpetual Peace, Independence and Happiness to the United States of America." George Washington: A Collection, ed. W. B. Allen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1988), 238. return to text
  75. "To James Smith (24 January 1853)," Collected Works, 2:188 and n. 1.return to text
  76. James Smith, "A Discourse on the Bottle—Its Evils, and the Remedy" (Spring-field, Ill.: Privately printed, 1853, 1892), 5 (out of nine unnumbered pages). The Lincoln family began renting a pew in the Reverend Smith's First Presbyterian Church of Springfield the previous year. Wayne C. Temple, Abraham Lincoln: From Skeptic to Prophet (Mahomet, Ill.: Mayhaven Publishing, 1995), 47–48. In 1850, the Reverend Smith had conducted the funeral service for the Lincolns' second child, Ed-ward; as President, Lincoln would appoint the Scotsman to the U.S. Consulate in Dundee, Scotland. Edgar DeWitt Jones, Lincoln and the Preachers (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1948), 30–34, 178; "To William H. Seward (14 January 1863)," Collected Works, 6:58 and n. 1; "To William H. Seward (9 January 1863)," ibid., 6:51–52 and n. 1.return to text
  77. Smith, "A Discourse on the Bottle—Its Evils, and the Remedy," 5.return to text
  78. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:274.return to text
  79. Smith, "A Discourse on the Bottle—Its Evils, and the Remedy," 7.return to text
  80. "Reply to Pennsylvania Delegation (5 March 1861)," Collected Works, 4:274.return to text
  81. "Second Inaugural Address (4 March 1865)," ibid., 8:333.return to text
  82. Smith, "A Discourse on the Bottle—Its Evils, and the Remedy," 8.return to text
  83. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:274.return to text
  84. "First Inaugural Address—Final Text (4 March 1861)," ibid., 4:271.return to text
  85. "Second Inaugural Address (4 March 1865)," ibid., 8:333. In an 1862 letter to a sympathetic Louisianian, Lincoln's fervent defense of the military's actions in Louisiana and exhortation to the people of Louisiana to "reinaugurate the national authority" almost overshadows his sympathy expressed at the close of the letter: "I shall do all I can to save the government, which is my sworn duty as well as my personal inclination. I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing." "To Cuthbert Bullitt (28 July 1862)," ibid., 5:346.return to text
  86. Smith, "A Discourse on the Bottle—Its Evils, and the Remedy," 9.return to text
  87. "Annual Message to Congress (3 December 1861)" Collected Works, 5:53.return to text
  88. "Second Inaugural Address (4 March 1865)," ibid., 8:333.return to text
  89. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1858, 2:241–42.return to text
  90. "To J. Mason Haight (11 June 1860)," Collected Works, 4:75. For the fullest examination of Lincoln's teetotalism, see William H. Townsend, Lincoln and Liquor (New York: The Press of the Pioneers, 1934). return to text
  91. Merrill D. Petersen, Lincoln in American Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 247–51; Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1858, 1:249–50, 268–69, 288–89, and 2:293–96, for an account of Lincoln's role in 1838 in presenting a petition of Sangamon County "praying the repeal of all laws authorizing the retailing of intoxicating liquors"; his subsequent votes on the subject as a state legislator the following year; and his abstaining from the issue as a public figure in 1855. Benjamin P. Thomas writes, "Except for three temperance speeches, Lincoln took no part in the manifold social and reform movements that swept the country in the forties." Abraham Lincoln: A Biography (New York: Random House—First Modern Library Edition, 1968), 111. Cf. the testimony of William Herndon: "But, nothing daunted, Lincoln kept on and labored zealously in the interest of the temperance movement. He spoke often again in Springfield, and also in other places over the country, displaying the same courage and adherence to principle that characterized his every undertaking." Herndon and Weik, Herndon's Life of Lincoln, 206. See also the dubious claims made by James B. Merwin, among which was that Lincoln and he campaigned together for prohibition during their canvass for Richard Yates's reelection bid in 1854: "Mr. Lincoln's political friends were alarmed for him because of his radicalism on the temperance question, and made a combined effort to silence him, but he continued in the fight." J.T. Hobson, "Lincoln as Prohibitionist," in Footprints of Abraham Lincoln (Dayton, Ohio: The Otterbein Press, 1909), 57–67, generally. No speech by Lincoln even alluding to temperance reform exists from that period of Lincoln's public life, whereas most almost exclusively focus on the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its repeal of the Missouri Compromise—the issue that led Lincoln to run for Illinois State Representative in 1854 to support Yates and the anti-Nebraska effort in general. For the context of the Yates campaign as it related to Lincoln's temperance advocacy, see David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 169–73.return to text
  92. "Temperance Address (22 February 1842)," Collected Works, 1:272.return to text
  93. Tyrrell, Sobering Up, p. 199. The Springfield pledge read as follows. "The undersigned, being desirous of carrying out the principles of temperance, do pledge our honor that we will abstain from all intoxicating drinks" (emphasis in original). Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County, eds. Newton Bate-man and Paul Selby, 2 vols. (Chicago: Munsell Publishing Company, 1912), 2:993 (Part One). The original Washingtonian pledge read as follows: "We, whose names are annexed, desirous of forming a society for our mutual benefit, and to guard against a pernicious practice which is injurious to our health, standing, and families, do pledge ourselves as gentlemen that we will not drink any spirituous or malt liquors, wine or cider." Blocker, American Temperance Movements, p. 43.return to text
  94. Smith, "A Discourse on the Bottle—Its Evils, and the Remedy," 7.return to text
  95. "Speech at a Republican Banquet, Chicago, Illinois (10 December 1856)," Collected Works, 2:385. return to text