has been indicated, the Washingtonian movement took organized form in
the thousands of local total abstinence societies which, almost without
exception, had a mixed membership of former teetotalers and moderate
drinkers as well as inebriates of various degrees. This was the pattern
set by the original Baltimore society. A large percentage of these societies,
presumably, were new societies carrying the Washington name. Many were
old societies, reorganized and renamed. But often the work was carried
on in societies already in existence, without any change in name. Hawkins,
it will be recalled, became the paid secretary of the Massachusetts
Temperance Society. Nevertheless, he was active in the Boston Washington
society. There seemed, at the time, to be no organizational rivalry,
and that must have been true in many communities throughout the years
of the movement. In Alabama, Sellers (18) states, "This organization
[Washingtonian] was never an independent unit, but was attached to temperance
societies already existing."
the other hand, rivalry and mutual resentment between the "old"
and the "new" societies did develop in many communities. Even
in Boston, in the demonstration in which so many societies of all types
participated in May 1844, the old Massachusetts Temperance Society and
the old Massachusetts Temperance Union did not take part (1). Krout
summarizes the difficulties that developed between the Washingtonians
and the older societies in many communities:
the compulsion of popular demand many of the old societies had employed
Washingtonian speakers to revive a waning interest, but they had been
disappointed that the new pledge-signers could seldom be persuaded to
join existing organizations. Wherever Washingtonian workers conducted
campaigns, it was necessary either to form a new society officered by
reform men, or to convert the old group into a Washingtonian abstinence
society. To some who had laboured long in temperance work...it appeared...that
the Washingtonians had no interest in the triumphs of the struggle prior
to 1840. The younger movement seemed to be unwilling to learn anything
from the older. Its membership scoffed at the methods and principles
formerly held in esteem...The old leaders were being set aside. Any
Tom, Dick or Harry could direct the course of the reform. Washingtonian
"Heralds," "Standards" and "Advocates"
were springing up everywhere, and then expiring from lack of funds.
Their existence was too often marked by unpleasant controversies with
other temperance periodicals. The Washingtonians, on the other hand,
charged that the older societies refused to co-operate with them...
evidence of this distrust and cleavage, as well as of the differences
in organization, was given in the Washingtonian Pocket Companion (19),
published in Utica, N.Y., in 1842:
societies make uniting with them, a virtual renunciation of all membership
with any other temperance societies...This is because the principles
of the old, and of our societies, differ so widely - and also to prevent
the old societies from subverting ours...
societies take none but those who have lately made, sold, or used intoxicating
liquors - others receive all except children under a certain age - others
receive even children with the consent of their parents or guardians.
societies omit that part of the pledge which relates to the "Making
and selling, directly or indirectly," and pledge to total abstinence
from using, only. They think it a benefit to bring the maker and vender
into the society first, and then induce them to give up their business.
some cases, the female members of our societies act as a Benevolent
Society, within, or in co-operation and fellowship with us. In others,
the ladies form separate and distinct societies. Their names are numerous...
though no uniformity of organization or procedure prevailed, yet a minimum
of common pattern ran throughout the movement. This might be said to
be (A) the reclamation of inebriates by "reformed drunkards"
- employing the "principle of love" and the total abstinence
pledge; and (B) having reformed drunkards telling their experiences
for the dual purpose of reaching the drunkard and winning others to
the total abstinence pledge.
Baltimore pattern, very effectively reproduced in Boston under the guidance
of Hawkins, seemed to have been the ideal pattern which the majority
of Washingtonian groups approximated in varying degrees. Since records
of the Boston operations have been preserved, the organization and procedure
of that society will be given in some detail.
aggressive missionary work of carrying Washingtonianism into 160 New
England towns during the first 3 months of the Boston society's existence
has been noted. Of even greater interest are the details of the work
with alcoholics, during this same period, as related by Samuel F. Holbrook,
the first president of the society:
Washington Total Abstinence Society was organized on the 25th of April,
1841. On the evening of its formation the officers elected were a president,
two vice-presidents, a corresponding secretary, and a treasurer; after
which there were chosen twenty-four gentlemen to serve as ward committee,
whose duty it was to pick up inebriates, induce them to sign the pledge
of total abstinence, and forsake all places where intoxicating drink
was to be had, and also to visit the families of the reformed and administer
to their wants.
now became necessary to have a place exclusively our own, where we could
bring the unfortunate victim of intemperance, nurse him, and converse
with him, and obtain his signature to the pledge;... [We] were led to
Marlboro Chapel. We obtained Hall No. 1 for a business and occasional
lecture room, and the chapel for a public meeting once a week. Hall
No. 1 was furnished with newspapers from various towns, as well as nearly
all the publications of our own city. A table prepared, and the seats
were arranged in the form of a reading room; a fountain of cold water
and a desk containing the pledge occupied another part of the room.
pledge, for the first week, had two hundred and eighteen names; and
then, as if by magic, the work commenced. And I think it is doubtful
if in the annals of history there is any record of a work of such a
nature and progressing with so much silence, and yet so sure in its
advance. Surely it is the work of the omnipotent God...
gentlemen acting as ward committees were filled with unexampled zeal
and perseverance in the performance of their duties; leaving their own
business in order to hunt up the drunkard;...So attentive were they
to this voluntary duty that in a fortnight we had four hundred names
on our pledge; families in all directions were assisted, children sent
to school decently clad, employment obtained for the husband, the countenance
of the wife assumed a cheerful and pleasing aspect; landlords grew easy,
and in fact everything relating to the circumstances of the reformed
inebriate had undergone a complete change for the better...
reeling drunkard is met in the street, or drawn out from some old filthy
shed, taken by the arm, spoken kindly to, invited to the hall, and with
reluctance dragged there, or carried in a carriage if not too filthy;
and there he sees himself surrounded by friends, and not what he most
feared - police officers; everyone takes him by the hand; he begins
to come to and when sober sign the pledge, and goes away a reformed
man. And it does not end there. The man takes a pledge, and from his
bottle companions obtains a number of signers, who likewise become sober
men. Positively, these are facts. Now, can any human agency alone do
this? All will answer No; for we have invariably the testimony of vast
numbers of reformed men, who have spoken in public and declared they
have broken off a number of times, but have as often relapsed again:
and the reason they give for doing this is that they rely wholly on
the strength of their resolution without looking any higher; but now
they feel the need of God's assistance, which having obtained, their
reform is genuine... (8).
also made some interesting comparisons with the attitudes and methods
of the older temperance societies:
for reclaiming the drunkard that was entirely out of the question; they
must and will die shortly, and now our business is to take care of the
rising generation. And when the hard working women complained of her
drunken husband, the reply was, and from all feeling of good, to, O
send him to the house of correction, or poor house, immediately, and
then we will do what we can for you and your children. Now the great
difficulty was that our temperance friends were, generally, men in higher
circles of life, who would revolt at the idea of taking a drunkard by
the arm in the street, and walk with him to some place where he could
be made sober and receive friendly advice. If the drunken man was noticed
at all, he was taken aside from under the horses' feet and perhaps put
into some house and there left...But the method of reclaiming the apparently
lost inebriate, such as the Washington Total Abstinence Society has
adopted, never entered their heads; it was not thought of until our
society was formed. Then some twenty or thirty drunkards came forward
and signed the total abstinence pledge and related their experience,
and this induced others to do the same; and then the work of reform
commenced in good earnest(8).
"Auditor's Report" contains additional information on the
activities of the Boston society during its first 3 months. After reporting
the receipt of $2,537.10, one barrel of pork, four hams, and a considerable
quantity of second-hand clothing, he referred to the system they had
adopted "of boarding out single persons and assisting the inebriate
and his family who had homes."
addition to not less than one hundred and fifty persons boarded out
[in "three good boarding-houses, kept by discreet members of the
society"], two hundred and fifty families have been more or less
benefited. Families the most wretched have been made comfortable; by
our exertions many families that were scattered have been reunited;
fathers, sons, and brothers have been taken from the houses of correction
and industry, from the dram shops, and from the lowest places of degradation,
restored and brought back again under the same roof, made happy, industrious,
and temperate...Our society at present numbers about 4,000 members...
[about] one third...heads of families... (8).
rounds out the first 2 years' history of the Boston society:
the space of two years after its organization the meetings of the society
were held in Marlboro' Chappel, while the lodging rooms connected therewith
were located in Graphic Court, opposite Franklin Street. From there
they removed to No. 75 Court Street...They also fitted up rooms under
their hall for the temporary accommodations of reformed, or rather,
reforming men. They soon again removed to rooms which they procured
and fitted up in Broomfield Street...
the first two years of its existence the officers and members of the
society held weekly meetings in six different localities in the city
of Boston, namely: in North Bennett Street, Milton Street, Washington
Place, East Street, Common Street, and Hull Street...(8).
glimpse of the activities of this society, 4 years after its founding,
is provided in a memorial petition presented to the State Legislature
the period of its formation to the present time, it has sustained a
commodious hall for holding public meetings...Large numbers of persons,
in various stages of intoxication and destitution, who have been found
in the streets and elsewhere, have been led to the Washingtonian Hall,
where they have been kindly received, and their necessary wants supplied.
The amount of service which has been rendered within the last four years,
by this society, cannot be readily appreciated. A multitude of men who,
by intemperance, had been shut out from the friendly regard of the world,
found in the hall of the Washingtonians, for the time being, a comfortable
asylum; and these men departed thence to resume their position as useful
citizens. About 750 such persons have found a temporary home at Washingtonian
Hall, during the year just closed, nearly all of whom, it is believed,
are now temperate and industrious members of society(8).
already noted, this society reported having received 56,380 members
up to January 1848. According to Harrisson, the central meetings were
held each week uninterrupted at least to 1860. Whether an "Asylum"
for inebriates was maintained during the intervening years, the writer
cannot ascertain. But in 1858 a "home for the Fallen," representing
perhaps a renewal of activities was being maintained on Franklin Place.
It was moved to 36 Charles Street in 1860 and renamed the "Washington
Home." Conducted by a separate "executive committee,"
it nevertheless was operating on Washingtonian principles.
much for the Boston society. Apparently Hawkins and his associates had
laid a more sound foundation than was achieved in many communities.
for organization and procedures elsewhere, perhaps the best clues are
given in the 1842 Washingtonian Pocket Companion (19), "Containing
a Choice Collection of Temperance Hymns, Songs, Etc.," - containing
also the following directions "For Commencing, Organizing, and
Conducting the Meetings, of a Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society."
The Commencement. - Wherever there are a sufficient number of drinkers,
to get up what is commonly called "a spree," there are enough
to form a Society. It only needs one or more individuals, (If an inebriate,
or moderate drinker, but resolved to reform, all the better,) to go
to those persons, and to others who make, sell or use intoxicating drinks
and explain to them the principles and measures of this great reform,
and persuade them to agree to take the pledge at a meeting to be held
at some convenient time and place mutually agreed on. In all these efforts,
the utmost gentleness, and kindness, and patient perseverance, and warm
persuasion, should be used. At the meetings, appoint a Chairman and
a Secretary - if reformed inebriates, all the better. After singing
a hymn or song, let the Chairman, or other person, open the meeting
by stating its objectives - relating his experience in drinking, his
past feelings, sufferings, the woe of his family and friends, the motives
and reasons that induce him to take the present step, and appeal warmly
and kindly to his companions, friends and neighbours to aid him in it
by doing likewise. The Secretary, or other person may follow with a
like experience...Other persons can be called on to speak, until it
is time to get signers to the pledge. Having read the pledge...invite
all who wish to join to rise up, (or come forward,) and call out their
names that the Secretary may take them down. Publicity and freedom are
preferable to private solicitations, whisperings, and secrecy in giving
the names...Then let the Chairman or other person, first pledge himself,
and then administer it to the rest.
this, a hymn or song may be sung, and remarks and appeals be made, and
other names be obtained. After all have been obtained to take the pledge,
let them again rise up, and let the Chairman, or Secretary, or other
person, give them THE CHARGE - a solemn address on the nature and importance
of the obligations they have assumed and on the best mode of faithfully
discharging them. Then let a committee be appointed to draft a Constitution
to be presented at the next meeting.
THE ORGANIZATION. - At the next meeting, after singing, let the Constitution
be reported, and amended, if necessary, until it suits those who have
taken the pledge at and since the last meeting. Then adopt it. It should
contain the following, among the needed provisions. Preamble - A simple
statement of the prominent evils of intemperance, and of the resolution
of the signers to aid in extirpating their root. Some prefer a Parody
on our National Declaration of Independence for this purpose. Article
1 - The name of the Society, always using the distinctive title, "Washingtonian,"
in that name. Article 2 - Declaring that love, Kindness and moral suasion
are your only principles and measures, and disavowing denunciation,
abuse, and harshness. Article 3 - Forbid the introduction of sectarian
sentiments or party politics into any lecture, speeches, singing, or
doings of the society. Article 4 - Providing for offices, committees,
and their election. Articles 5, 6, and 7 - Duties of officers and committees.
(One of these should be a committee to relieve the poor, sick and afflicted
members and families of inebriates.) Article 8 - Provide for by-laws,
and alterations of the Constitution. Article 9 - Provide for labours
with those who violate their pledges, and the withdrawal of members...
HOW to CONDUCT the MEETINGS. - After the meeting has come to order,
always open with a hymn or song. Transact the business of the society
with the utmost order and dispatch....Then call for speakers. Let there
be as many "experiences" as possible, interspersed with brief
arguments, appeals, exhortations, news of the progress of the cause,
temperance anecdotes, &c. Consult brevity, so as to have as many
of the brethren speak, as possible - the more the better....And always
be sure to call for persons to take the pledge, when the audience feel
in the right spirit. While the pledges are being filled up for delivery,
pour out the warmest appeals, or sing the most interesting hymns or
songs. If any member or other person violates the rules or order, or
transgresses the principles and measures of the society, remind him
of it in good humour, gently and kindly...KINDNESS must be the very
atmosphere of your meetings, and LOVE the fuel of all your zeal, and
PERSUASION the force of all your speaking, if you would have your society
do the most good... (19).
more revealing is the definition, contained in the same Pocket Companion,
of the principles of the Washingtonian movement in terms of its differences
from the older societies.
All the former Societies directed their efforts mainly, if not wholly
to the prevention of intemperance.
while it embraces all classes, sexes, ages and conditions of society
in its efforts, makes special efforts to snatch the poor inebriate from
his destructive habits - aims to cure as well as prevent intemperance.
It considers the drunkard as a man - our brother - capable of being
touched by kindness, of appreciating our love, and benefiting by our
labours. We therefore, stoop down to him in his fallen condition and
kindly raise him up, and whisper hope and encouragement into his ear,
and aid him to aid himself back again to health, peace, usefulness,
respectability and prosperity. By the agency of SISTERS in this labour,
we endeavour to secure the co-operation of his family in our effort...
Other societies generally were auxiliary to a Country - that to a State
- and that to a National Society...
[makes] each society independent...
Before the Washingtonian Reform, not only the poor drunkard, but many
of nearly every other class in society supposed to be in the way of
the [temperance] cause, were denounced as enemies - held up to public
indignation and reprobation, threatened with the withdrawal of votes,
pecuniary support, or public countenance;...
teaches us to avoid this course...We believe with the American Prison
Discipline Society, that "there is a chord, even in the most corrupt
heart, that vibrates to kindness, and a sense of justice, which knows
when it has been rightly dealt with." We have tried kindness with
the poor inebriate of many years continuance - we have found it powerful
to overcome the induration of heart caused by eight years of the world's
contempt...Hence we adopt the law of kindness - the godlike principle,
"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good," in
our labours to win the maker, seller and user of intoxicating liquors;
and we disavow all compulsions, threats, denunciations, hard names,...or
malice or ill-will toward them...In short, "Moral suasion, not
force - love not hate, are the moving springs in the Washingtonian Creed"
hymns and songs contained in this Pocket Companion are likewise revealing.
Most of them are simply adapted Christian hymns and temperance songs,
appealing basically to religious and patriotic sentiments. In the preface
it is frankly stated that only such hymns and songs have been included
which introduce no "sectarianism, party politics, denunciation
or harshness," or which contain no "phrases and sentiments
which all Christians could not conscientiously sing." The central
emphasis is probably contained in the following hymn on the "Power
is the strongest tie Love softens all our toil, that can our hearts
unite; and makes our labours blest; Love brings to life and liberty
it lights again the joyful smile, the drunkard chained in night and
gives the anguished rest.
its commands, Let love forever grow, We quickly supply each need; Intemperance
drive afar, With feeling hearts and tender hands A heaven begin on earth
below Bind up his wounds that bleed. And banish strife and war.
principle of love and sympathy for the drunkard is, in countless references,
considered to be the distinctively new feature introduced by the Washingtonians
- and their central principle. John B. Gough attributed the success
of the movement to "the true spirit of Washingtonian sympathy,
kindness and charity...predominant in the bosom of this great Washingtonian
Channing, Unitarian Clergyman, in underscoring this principle, also
calls attention to the other distinctive feature of the Washingtonian
movement - the role played by the "reformed drunkards" themselves:
was wholly new, both in its principles and its agents. It laid aside
law and punishment, and made love, the new commandment, its own. It
dared to look upon moral power as sufficient for the work of human regeneration
- the living moral power in the drunkard, however degraded he might
be. It had faith in man...[and so] the drunkard became a moral teacher...
he rose from the lowest depths of degradation, and became an apostle
of the highest sentiment in his nature; viz., the love of man, the acknowledgment
of the inborn dignity of man (9).