On 21 July 1841 the Paterson Intelligencer made the following proud commentary on the effect of the Washington temperance reform, which was then in its triumphant first flush in Paterson (30): “We question whether there is now a town in the state which can boast of a more sober, quiet and industrious population than our own. Nearly all who but a short time since spent most of their time in idleness about taverns and other places of resort, have become steady industrious citizens, and are busily employed in their daily vocations, while their families, who formerly suffered for the want of the necessaries of life, are now made comfortable and happy.” Paterson was a rapidly growing industrial town, and this was a frank statement of the values of its dominant manufacturing and merchant class of this period. These were also values of the temperance-prohibitionists, who used the Washingtonian phenomenon for their own purposes.
This statement of civic pride implied that Paterson was the moral leader of the State, that it was ahead of Newark. This contrast to Newark was made explicit by the editor, who went on to say that “In Newark the subject of Temperance has been permitted to sleep, until within a week or two back, when a deputation from New York held a meeting in one of the churches in the city, at which one hundred and sixty attached their names to the pledge.” On 12 July 1841, A Washingtonian Temperance Benevolent Society was founded with 119 members.
While the Washingtonian missionaries came to Newark about 2 months later than to Paterson, the editor of the Newark Daily Advertiser, who was also a “friend of temperance,” was already mobilizing his readers for the temperance reform. And, while he gave little attention to it during the Washingtonian period, the editor was prepared to accept the fact that the substantial Catholic Total Abstinence Movement, which was also growing during that period, was another valid approach to temperance. For the period, this was surprisingly broad-minded, but a perusal of the Journal of the American Temperance Union in the early 1840s will show that the temperance-prohibitionist leadership highly esteemed and fully reported the work of Father Theobald Matthew in Ireland, England and (later) in the United States. “I had heard much during the week of the triumphs of the Temperance cause, or rather total abstinence, among the people who “worship” at an unnamed local Roman Catholic Church, he wrote (31). “I confess that owing either to my Protestant prejudices or some other cause, I previously felt misgivings as to any permanent good likely to result from the pushing of the multitude under what I supposed a mere temporary excitement to ‘take the pledge.’ But the scene I there witnessed entirely dissipated all my fears … The clergyman officiating … preached of Temperance and Righteousness, and Judgments to come. I have heard many temperance addresses, but none I think that could exceed the impressive, fervid, and thrillingly eloquent appeals to his auditory, in the strength of God, to fly the destroying angel – Intemperance. 11 He continued, “The effect was powerful. Upon countenances could be traced sore indications of judgments convinced; and the calm and deliberate manner in which they surrounded the alter, and there solemnly pledged themselves to Total Abstinence from all that intoxicates, gave pleasing proof of the deep and sincere convictions that they would be kept faithful to their high resolve…”
That there are few if any reports in the Newark Daily Advertiser in subsequent years, given the fact that the editor had abandoned his prejudices with respect to Catholics (in this respect, in any case), suggests that local parish priests did not seek publicity. Perhaps the rising controversy over public education, religious education, Catholic education and the use of public funds soured the situation. In any case, the editor had come around to the view that taking pledges of total abstinence was perhaps not as useless as he had believed and he was, therefore, prepared to receive the Washingtonians in a positive manner. There is good reason to believe that he was aware of the Washingtonians by mid-May, for on 12 May there was a report about the meeting of the American Temperance Union which was held in Newark that year (32). Theodore Frelinghuysen, lawyer, former U.S. senator, chancellor of the University of New York, soon to be nominated for vice president of the American Temperance Union, gave the major speech. In it, Frelinghuysen not only mentioned the total abstinence movement in Ireland and in Europe, but the “strong, and in good degree, successful efforts of the drunkards themselves in various cities of the U. States to emancipate themselves of intemperance.” He also reported that 15,000 drunkards had been reformed in the country within the last 6 months – probably an exaggeration.
The following week there was a favourable review of a pamphlet by Dr. David Reese entitled “Plea for the Intemperate,” which argued that intemperance is a disease” and that the subject should be treated, not harshly, but medically and with great kindness” (33). (This was not an uncommon medical view during the period.) The reviewer went on to say that “Mr. Hawkins confirms this view of the matter in his effective practical addresses, and in the plea of Dr. Reese we find a medical man of large experience sustaining the same position, and arguing the question like a man of sense as well as a physician.” The reviewer also remarked on the number “reclaimed” in Baltimore, New York, Boston and “cities farther east” due to the efforts of drunkards, along with “friends of the cause,” who were encouraged “to extend an encouraging voice and benevolent hand to the reclaimed.” He contrasted this with the past when drunkards were simply given up as lost. “Now they are becoming not only temperate, but the preachers and ministering agents of the cause.” On 5 June 1941 reports from the Baltimore Transcript summarized in the Newark Daily Advertiser (34) noted that “no idea can be formed of the enthusiasm which pervades that city on the subject of Temperance. It is the all-pervading topic, and the moral revolution which has been effected mainly by the drunkards themselves, is almost past belief.”
So it came as no surprise to the readers of the paper when it was announced that there would be a meeting to promote the temperance cause on Friday evening, 9 July 1841, in the Free (Second) Presbyterian Church, and that a delegation of reformed drunkards from the Washington Temperance Benevolent Society of New York would attend: “Friends of Temperance and persons addicted to drinking habits and the drunkard, dealers and vendors of liquor, are respectfully invited to attend” (35).
The New York Washingtonians continued to have a close relationship with the Washington Temperance Benevolent Society of Newark after it was formed on 12 July 1841; speakers from New York frequently came to Newark. Wright, Pollard and Hawkins of the Baltimore society also visited Newark when they were in New York. When the Newark society called a convention of Washington temperance societies for 17 September 1841, speakers from Paterson, New York and Brooklyn came; the Newark society reciprocated when it attended en masse a Washingtonian convention in New York City on 13 October 1841. When the Newark society dedicated its own hall on 9 December 1841, a speaker from the New York City society was among those who addressed the meeting. When a banner was presented to the North Ward Washingtonians on 28 July 1842, the presentation speech was made by Dr. Reese of New York and the acceptance speech for the Washingtonians of Newark was made by Reverend E. Cheever, of Newark, who was Secretary of the Essex County Temperance Society and pastor of the Free (or second) Presbyterian Church.
Information about the Newark Washington Temperance Benevolent Society and its auxiliaries is Sketchy and sporadically available because there evidently was an editorial policy against reporting the activities of local groups. There seemed to be such a policy in Paterson also, but the owners apparently contributed space in the announcement section and also published an occasional article of interest; the Newark Daily Advertiser was less generous. What we have then, are bits and pieces that are suggestive but often not definitive.
Available evidence suggests that the Newark Washingtonians quickly evidenced the same kind of organizational activity that developed elsewhere. We have substantial information on the Martha Washington Temperance Union which was formed on 14 August 1841. In addition to an address by a missionary from the Baltimore society, speeches and prayers were offered by the minister of the Newark Mariners’ Bethel, Reverend Pilch, and the minister of the First Presbyterian Church, Reverend Ansel D. Eddy. From the very beginning, the society had close ties to the churches; the board of managers was composed of members of 11 different churches. This was done, said the report of the meeting (36), in order to be “empathically a UNION of all classes and denominations throughout the city. Its object is two-fold. By pledging its members to abstain from using, as a beverage, aught that can intoxicate, it gives the weight of its example; by procuring and making up clothing for the families of reformed inebriates, it extends to them the hand of sympathy and encouragement. ‘In union is strength.’ The Board respectfully invite the cooperation of every lady in this city who has a heart to pity or hand to relieve. 11 Plans were also made for the organization of a Junior Martha Washington Society. In the first quarter-year of activity, the Martha Washington Temperance Union had completed 89 articles of clothing, including 6 bed quilts; in addition, 70 articles had been repaired, 80 garments had been given out and 106 had been handed over to the president of the Washington temperance society for distribution. The society had gotten 156 persons to sign their pledge and, with an income of about $56.81, had paid out about $37.17. Clearly their money-raising efforts had been more successful than those in Paterson. By the time the second annual report was made in 1843, there were 4 women’s temperance societies in the City of Newark – The Martha Washington Temperance Union, the Junior Martha Washington Society, the Lady Warren and the Relief. In the past year, the Martha Washington Union had assisted 44 families, made 160 garments and repaired 107; 375 items had been distributed by the members and 108 had been presented to the president of the men’s group for distribution among needy men. The union had received about $51.87 and disbursed about $52.62, so that there was now a slight deficit. (Later reports seem not to be available.)
Another sign of organizational vitality was the participation of the Newark society in a convention of delegates from all Washington Temperance Benevolent societies in Essex County that was originally scheduled to be held on 25 December 1841. Since there was an Essex County temperance-prohibition meeting on 22 December, this suggests that the two groups had little to do with each other and perhaps were in competition. The selection of Christmas Day for the meeting can be considered nothing less than a flouting of the religious proprieties of the period, and it is little wonder that the convention actually took place on 25 January 1842. There were 54 delegates from societies in Newark, Elizabeth, Springfield, North Belleville, Westfield, Orange, Union, Belleville and West Bloomfield. An Essex County Washington Temperance Benevolent Society was formed, with Abner Campbell of Newark, a manufacturer of looking glass (mirrors), as interim president, Wickliffe Woodruff, also of Newark, a coach smith, was one of the interim secretaries of the county society. The Reverend Mr. Pilch, pastor of the Newark Mariners I Bethel, addressed the group. When the Essex County group met again in February, one of the Newark leaders, J.P. Joralemon (locksmith), was on the nominating committee, and Jacob Johnson (coffee and spice dealer), also of Newark, was elected corresponding secretary of the Essex County society.
Interest in Washingtonianism continued unabated in 1842. A “great temperance meeting” was held on 2 February in the Third Presbyterian Church. “No falling off – no lack of interest was perceptible on this occasion – the work goes bravely on. A more crowded house has seldom been convened on any occasion. The addresses were listened to with deep interest, and the intelligence of the progress of the good cause in other places was hailed with thrilling delight. At the close of the meeting great numbers of both sexes, who had hitherto kept aloof, gave their names to the pledge. There were also some pretty hard customers came up to the scratch. Indeed the influence is like a mighty current – it carries every thing before it” (37). It seems reasonable to conclude that while some of those who signed the pledge were drunkards, a substantial proportion of the signers were moderate-to-light drinkers or were already total abstainers.
By Independence Day, 1842 there were three Washingtonian societies in Newark; in addition to the original (or “parent” society) there was also a North Ward society and a Bethel society. The three societies agreed to plan a celebration based on temperance principles. The planning committee included John P. Joralemon (locksmith), Joseph Burr (painter and glazier), John C. Howell (shoe manufacturer), William B. Donninqton (grocer), Isaac Dennison (car man) and Abner C. Campbell (looking-glass manufacturer) from the parent society, John Rutan (blacksmith), John Scofield (caster) and William Smith (blacksmith and hatter) from the North Ward society, and Garret Ketcham (shoemaker) and Benjamin N. Van Sickell (blacksmith) from the Bethel society. There were, then, a few middle-class persons in this group which was made up mostly of artisans. A conflict between the Washingtonian committee and the self-appointed General Community Committee immediately arose. Three Washingtonian representatives J.P. Joralemon, W.B. Donnington and William L. Meeker (carpenter) met with the General Community Committee, and a compromise was finally reached in a controversy viewed as unseemly by some elements of the population; the compromise was for everyone to march in the same procession and for the two elements of the parade then to go to different churches for the balance of the ceremonies. The nontemperance orator was Senator William L. Dayton; on the Washingtonian side, Thomas M. Woodruff, of New York, gave the oration. “The oration was pronounced with great propr3ety, deliberation, and force, and a better address it has seldom or never been my lot to listen to,” wrote the editor of the Newark Daily Advertiser. “The allusions to former and even present habits – the practice of drinking and enticing others, were kind but perfectly withering to the guilty” (38). In another comment on the celebration, it was noted that there was “less vice and fewer cases of injury… than on previous anniversaries. There was certainly less drunkenness – a gratifying proof of the progress of the Temperance enterprise”(38).
The Independence Day celebration was shortly followed by a “Grand Temperance Celebration” of the first anniversary of the Washington Temperance Benevolent Societies in Newark on 12 July. Again there were quite a few delegates from New York, and the main speaker was Joseph Perry (school teacher and antislavery activist in Paterson). The evening concert in the Free (Second Presbyterian Church was given by members of Hose Company No. 33 of New York City. We also have a report of a series of meetings for the promotion of “Humanity and Temperance” held in Newark late in November of 1842. Again there were speeches by representatives from New York City as well as by F.L. Beers, the local Washingtonian who apparently was regarded as particularly effective. The Liberty Fire Engine Company No. I appeared in uniform, several members of Relief Fire Company No.2 signed the pledge, and there was a brass band recital. As a result an additional 24 constitutional members and 55 pledged members joined.
So 1842 in Newark must be considered a highly successful year for the Washingtonians. The Fifth Annual Report of the Essex County Temperance Society, the principal agency of the temperance-prohibitionists in the Newark area, noted that “No year of our history has ever been so propitious for this cause as the last. Every thing which has been attempted has been successful and secured to the cause new advantages. The movements of the Army of Washington men have been steady, and they are now gaining ground. Tis true, like the Army of the Father of his country as it marched across our soil, there may have been a few unhappy occurrences. But it would have required a miracle to have prevented them. And it is almost a miracle that there have been so few desertions and mutinies. Upon this Army very much (under the guardianship of Heaven) may yet depend”(39). The report then goes on to say that public sentiment is now stronger against making, vending or using intoxicating beverages and that the public is now beginning to treat such making, vending or using as an immoral act. It states, too, that a proposal had been made to prohibit the sale of “strong drink” in public houses on Sunday, but that a favourable report was not expected out of committee this year. The executive committee of the Essex County Temperance Society also reported that the county had been divided into districts with a committee assigned to each. “The object of this movement has been to collect more accurate accounts of the condition of this enterprise, and to convince the members of the Washington societies everywhere, that we are seeking their benefit and success, and as their prosperity did from the beginning depend upon the strong healthful pulse which beat in the public body, so their future prosperity will depend upon the aid and control of the intelligent in the old ranks. We can help one another. And no class can injure either of us, as we can ourselves.” The report cautioned that “No youth or reformed man is safe if he withhold his foot from…the benign influence of religion… Let it be the controlling power and we have nothing to fear. Omit or despite this, and we have every thing to fear, even from our success. This is the cause of humanity, of morals, of common safety, of our country, of the world, and of God.” This statement cannot be called conspiratorial because it was presented to the public, but it does lay out the claims to dominance and leadership of the temperance-prohibitionists, the middle-class respectables, especially the ministers, who were the most influential element of the Essex County Temperance Society. It also makes it clear that the temperance-prohibitionists had organized throughout the country to develop more effective controls over the Washingtonian societies. That the temperance-prohibitionists were now rejuvenated and were looking forward beyond the Washingtonians to the future id further evidenced by the call in January from the executive committee of the state temperance society to form juvenile temperance societies in the public schools to supplement the existing plans and activities in the Sunday schools. The temperance-prohibitionists clearly sought to capture the entire younger generation, a project that would occupy them in one way or another for many years to come.
But if 1842 was a triumphant year for the Washingtonians, 1843 gave evidence that the perfervid atmosphere had begun to cool. The New Jersey Eagle commented on the fact that the Washington’s Birthday celebration had been widely observed but “by more simple methods, better corresponding with the times on which we have fallen”(40). The Independence Day celebration in 1843 was not disrupted by the insistence on a temperance emphasis; the community group had it all to themselves. However, the Washingtonians held a very well-received celebration of their anniversary on 13 July. The planning committee included among others Hiram McCormick (shoemaker(, Jacob May (hatter), Caleb Thayer (painter), Thomas Corey (coach lace maker), Joseph Burr (painter and glazier), J.P. Joralemon (locksmith), David G. Doremus (grocer), John H. Landell (rigger), Jacob Johnson (coffee and spice dealer), James B. Hay (foundry operator), Wickliffe Woodruff (coach smith) and James Cox (book and job printer). While artisans predominated, some middle class persons were also involved in planning the program, especially in raising funds for the event. Among the groups participating in the celebration were Fire Engine Company No. 1, the Lafayette Guards, the clergy of the city and the members of the Essex County Juvenile Temperance Band, who attended at the request of their chief director, Reverend Ebenezer Cheever, despite the fact that his chief aids publicly advised against it because, they said, it was too hot for the children. The children were mainly from Bloomfield, Orange and Newark. The oration was by the Honorable Aaron Clark, ex-mayor of New York City.
The fraternal ties of the Newark Washingtonians with nearby groups continued. Thus, when the Bloomfield Washington Temperance Society celebrated its first anniversary on 22 August 1843, the various Newark societies were represented and George Dunn of Newark (railing and dash manufacturer) read the Drunkards Declaration of Independence. The principal speaker was the Honorable William Halstead, ex-congressman from New Jersey, who took a forthright stand for legal prohibition of alcohol sales on Sundays.
But these brave celebrations could not obscure the fact that a decline had set in. In September, the Newark Washington Temperance Benevolent Society made the following announcement (41): “TO THE PUBLIC: The glaring increase of intemperance within the last few months makes it imperative that the friends of temperance, more particularly the Washingtonians, should do all in their power to eradicate the growing evil. Grog shops are multiplying in all parts of the city, and drunkards and drunkenness increase in the same ratio. And unless something be done to check its onward march, the same dreadfully heart-rendering scenes which formerly disgraced our city must again be witnessed among us,” it warned. “This being the case, it becomes the friends of Temperance to be energetic in their efforts to destroy the pestiferous influence of the already annihilated millions of the human family. In order to accomplish this object, the members of the Washington Temperance Benevolent Society at their last meeting, came to the determination to hold a public meeting on Friday evening next, Sept. 15th…” At that meeting a speaker from Jersey City “made some excellent remarks, in which he attributed the ill success of Washingtonianism to an apathetic feeling on the part of Temperance men. He said that the best way to bring grog sellers to their senses, when moral persuasion fails, is to apply the strong arm of the law; this method had been adopted in Jersey City, and had received the sanction of all right minded men. He advised the Washingtonians of Newark to pursue a similar plan” (42). A resolution was then passed stating that the City council should deny licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquors. A second resolution was passed that called for visiting all persons selling alcohol and trying to persuade them to abandon its sale. Some of the members of the committees of visitation were William T. Meeker (shoemaker), H.T. McCormick (shoemaker), Charles Prout (coach maker), James B. Hay (foundry operator), John C. Howell (shoe manufacturer), William Backus (tin ware and stove dealer), Abner Campbell (looking-glass manufacturer), David Pierson (coach lace weaver), John P. Joralemon (locksmith), Jacob Johnson (coffee and spice dealer), and the Reverend Mr. Warren. Another large public meeting was held in November 1843 at which the principal speaker was the Honorable George S. Catlin, member of congress from Connecticut, a reformed man and a Washingtonian. He attacked, among other things, “Rum drinking and rum drinkers of every grade from the fashionable wine drinker to the degraded gutter-drunkard; and proved that the former although now perhaps boasting of his ability to take care of himself, was on the downward road, and would ere long, unless he changed his vicious course, sink to the miserable condition of the latter”(43). He also attacked rum sellers: “Avarice,” he said, “drove men to offer to their fellows, this liquid damnation, though they Knew at the same time that they were carrying ruin and death to their neighbour’s dwellings.” Catlin then went on to say that “it was the duty of all to endeavor to roll back the tide of intemperance and make our country what in truth she professed to be the “land of the free, and the home of the brave’; then might we enjoy all those blessings and comforts which it was man’s inherent right to enjoy, unalloyed, and should become a happy, benevolent and prosperous people.” This was typical Washingtonian fare, for the most part. But then a circular which included an appeal to the legislature to forbid the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday was read by Jacob May from the executive committee of the Temperance Society of the Sate of New Jersey. James Cox (book and job printer), corresponding secretary of the Newark Washingtonians commented that “The memorial is a well written document, and cannot fail to convince those who are willing to be convinced of the enormity of trafficking in ardent spirits at any time, and more particularly on the Sabbath!” It is clear from the records of these meetings that the Newark Washingtonians, while still committed in some measure to a moral suasion approach, had also begun to subscribe to the legal suasion stance of the temperance-prohibitionists.
By October 1843 signs began to appear that the Washington Temperance Benevolent Society of Newark was having difficulties. The recording secretary, John H. Landell (rigger), complained that the committee appointed to visit the various parts of the city in an effort both to persuade and to collect statistics had been negligent, though another committee had gathered the information anyway. Landell voiced his complaint in strong language: “I will here state that the progress of the Society is somewhat dampened by some of our members, who, not content with being idlers themselves, seem to delight in finding fault with every one who refuses to be as idle, and is well-known that there is an immense deal of labor necessary to the success of an association of this kind, and where this labor falls upon a few, as is often the case, they must neglect other duties or let the Society suffer; therefore idlers should not find fault”(44). He added, “There is yet another subject which I wish to direct your attention to. It appears there is yet a disposition shown by a great number of our constitutional members not to pay their regular monthly dues, which are the main support of the Society, and now that the inclement season is approaching, it is their especial duty to be more punctual. There is yet a great number of poor inebriates to be looked after, and perhaps many of our own members may need assistance, and if the regular dues are paid we will be able to meet any emergency…” Landell continued, “The operations of this Society are confined to the reformation of the drunkard, and as far as its influence has extended, it has answered the purpose intended.” Apparently, he believed that members had kept the pledge even though they had not been attending the business meetings. His remarks make clear that certain classical organizational problems had begun to emerge – failure of members to pay their dues, failure of members to attend the meetings, failure of committees to complete their assigned tasks, a perception by those who continued to be active in the organization that other less active members were carping and criticizing and not “pulling their weight.” Landell was one of those who was still committed to the original Washingtonian concern for drunkards rather than to the emergent interest in governmental intervention.
Landell complained again about lack of membership activity in his next quarterly report in January 1844 (45): “It appears that many who were most active in our meeting but a short time since have now lost all their activity and are generally the first to complain of the Society’s proceedings.” He went on to say that “there appears to be a retrograde movement with some of our pledged members who, I am sorry to say, have broken the pledge, and again sunk into their old habits. I would urge upon all the members to take the old path, and visit such as have been unfortunate.” Finally, Landell commented that “There is, Sir, another evil to which I wish to direct your attention: that is, to the low, disgusting, Jim-along-Josey songs, which are occasionally sung at our public meetings, to the no small annoyance of the respectable part of the audience,” calling attention to the fact that some of the members of the society were repelled by the lack of respectability of the behavior of the rest. (There is little doubt that the “Jim-along-Josey” songs came out of the popular drinking culture of the day.)
We have a few useful membership statistics for this period. The Newark society distinguished between persons who merely signed the pledge and those who signed the society’s constitution and committed themselves to paying dues. Landell (45) struck out at the constitutional members for not fulfilling their obligation to participate and at the pledged members for their tendency to “backslide” into drinking. There 3657 pledged male and female members of the Newark Washingtonian Society in mid-October 1843 and 3849 pledged members in mid-January 1844 – a growth of 192 persons. There were 356 constitutional members in mid-October 1843 and 366 constitutional members in mid-January 1844, a growth of 10. Statistics on the Washingtonian conversion of drunkards, however, must be regarded as grossly exaggerated and should be viewed in part as propaganda tools; in societies that did not differentiate between pledged and constitutional members probably about 10 could be regarded as constitutional members and not all these were ex-drunkards or heavy drinkers.
It seems likely that some of the failure in participation by the members may have been due to the fact that temperance fraternal orders had become organized in Newark. In July 1843 the Independent Order of Rechabites announced the existence of a chapter in Newark and invited participation by all those of “good moral character” between the ages of 18 and 50. The Rechabites were a beneficial as well as a benevolent society. “The benefits accruing to persons who belong to this order are not confined to sickness – they are more extensive. If a brother be unfortunate, and at the same time deserving, his necessities will be relieved; and if he come from a distance, or be traveling, like assistance is afforded him should he need it”(46). The order was open to total abstainers only. The notice was signed by Abner Campbell and James Cox, both of whom had been active in the Newark Washingtonians.
The Sons of Temperance had also been active among the Newark Washingtonians. The sons of Temperance had begun to organize in September 1842 in New York City, and in November, 20 persons from Newark joined the New York Division Number 1 on the understanding that as soon as feasible they would organize Division Number 1 of New Jersey. The final organizational meeting of the Sons of Temperance took place in New York City on 10 December 1842, and at that meeting the charter of Newark Division Number 1 of New Jersey was confirmed. The Sons of Temperance was formed expressly to recruit Washingtonians, and so there can be little doubt that most, if not all, of its early Newark members were Washingtonians. Among those I have been able to identify were James Cox, William L. Meeker (carpenter), William B. Donnington (grocer) and James B. Hay (foundry operator). The Sons of Temperance, a beneficial and fraternal society which required total abstinence of its members, quickly became a much larger order than the Rethabites. One of the appeals of the Sons of Temperance undoubtedly was the fact that at the local or division level, new officers were elected every 3 months, giving everyone an opportunity to participate. By 21 November 1843, when Newark Division Number 1 of New Jersey celebrated its first anniversary, it had 90 members. Though there can be little doubt that the fraternal orders absorbed the energies of many members of the Newark Washington society, some persons were active in several organizations. James Cox, for instance, was active in the leadership of the Washingtonians, the Sons of Temperance and the Independent Order of Rechabites.
By then end of the year, the Washingtonians of Newark were clearly on a downward slide. In addition to the dynamics of membership participation and the diversion of members into fraternal orders, there was also a theory offered by the temperance-prohibitionists to account for this decline. The Sixth Annual Report of the Essex County Temperance Society (47) commented that “The movement of the Washington Associations are less active than last year. Those among them, who from the beginning were opposed to religious addresses being made in their meetings, begin sadly to experience the unhappy effects of such opposition, and the friends of Religion and Temperance are more than ever convinced that we have no perfect security for a reformed or pledged man, or youth, but in deep implantations of religious principles.” While cast in terms of religious belief, the temperance-prohibitionist clergymen argued that only if the Washingtonians provided the temperance-prohibitionist leadership easy access to their meetings could drunkard reform be successful. But we know that the temperance-prohibitionist leadership advocated not only religious faith (and the Protestant variety, at that), but also political policies which were directly at variance with the original Washingtonian principles of strict moral suasion.
The downward slide of the Newark Washingtonians was hastened by an internal power struggle (48-51). The immediate focus of attention was on accusations that Joseph Burr, then president of the society, had abused his position and either taken advantage of or absconded with some of the money of the young ladies, of the Lady Warren Society which was engaged in a fund-raising project for the Washingtonians. There was a nasty charge that Burr had manipulates the situation so that the money was to be given to him “as a token of appreciation for his work as president of the Washington Temperance Benevolent Society” rather than dedicated to charitable purposes as advertised. Burr attested that both charges were incorrect. At the next meeting of the Washingtonians in February 1844, despite objections, Burr was again declared president. Whereupon the following members offered their resignations as officers of the society: C. Thayer (painter), Jacob May (hatter), Hiram McCormick (shoemaker) and J.H. Landell (rigger). The faction also included Thomas Corey (coach lace weaver), J.R. Jilson (hatter), James Cox, J.P. Joralemon, Reverend James Gallagher (pastor, Universalist Church), David Pierson (coach lace maker) and F.L. Rogers (printer). Apparently in anger, Burr then resigned and new officers were elected. These included Angus Campbell, D.G.
Doremus, W.H. Backus (tin dealer), John C. Howell (shoe manufacturer, Nelson Prout (coach maker), Philo Sample (harness maker), Henry Force (saddler) and John Roff (shoemaker). Campbell was an opposition sympathizer but did not yet play his hand. On 25 April there was a rump meeting of the dissident faction at the house of Caleb Thayer, at which a resolution was passed. “That the members of the Washington T.B. Society proceed to the Temperance Hall (formerly occupied by them) tomorrow evening and reassert their rights, and henceforth endeavor, by all honorable means, to re-establish the society on a pure “Washingtonian basis”(52). The next night the group proceeded to the hall where Campbell took the chair and called the meeting to order; then there was a resolution that the proper officers of the society take their seats, whereupon Campbell stepped down and Caleb Thayer took the chair as first vice president, there being at the moment no person whom the Washingtonian strict constructionists recognized. John P. Joralemon was then elected president of the society. In their published statement (signed by James Cox, David Pierson, F.L. Rogers and J.H. Landell) the group summed their grievances as follows (52):
“It is unnecessary to recur to the causes which have been the means of impeding the progress of the Washingtonian reform, as they are too well known to need repetition here. Suffice it to say that the Washingtonians, who formerly carried on the work, were unceremoniously driven from their hall by overpowering numbers, by men who seldom or never lent them their aid, and whose views in reference to the true Washingtonian spirit were in direct opposition to their own. The Washingtonians left the society entirely free from debt, and also with a surplus of 30 or 40 dollars in the treasury. They gave their opponents a fair chance to try the experiment, that the public might be enabled to see how the thing would work in their hands; and the result has been (as we knew it would be) an entire failure. They have left the society in debt and in a measure broken up. Consequently, at the earnest solicitations of the friends of Temperance, (and more particularly of the ladies) the Washingtonians have determined to rally in their strength; and they do so with the conscientious belief that the Glorious Cause which they advocate cannot possibly prosper in any other hands; and also with a full knowledge that the public will not give their countenance and support to any fictitious abortion which may raise its head under the honored garb of Temperance. Relying then, on the benevolence of the public, together with their own exertions, they have, as will be seen by the above proceedings, come to the determination of pushing forward the work to perfection. It is time something was done, for during the late season of inactivity, drunkenness has been alarmingly on the increase, and many who might have been saved by timely assistance, have probably sunk so low in degradation that it will need desperate effort to redeem them.”
For all practical purposes, the activities of January through April 1844 were the signal for the abandonment of the Washingtonians as a significant force in Newark. The notice of the May meeting, signed by James Cox, does not mention the name of the society (it is incorrectly referred to as the “annual meeting”); the third anniversary celebration in July was apparently conducted with its usual procession and oratory, but it must have been a hollow shell – the society simply dropped from sight and there are no further reports of it.
Meanwhile, we have some evidence that the Washingtonians had been bypassed. In the spring of 1844 a general temperance meeting was announced (53) at which there would be a lecture displaying Dr. Sewall’s plates, drawings much used by the temperance-prohibitionists showing the effects of alcohol on the internal organs of the body. The sponsors of the lecture included the following: E. Cheever, A.D. Eddy, John S. Porter )pastor, Reformed Church), William R. Weeks (pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church), William Bradley (pastor, Central Presbyterian Church), H.H. Brinsmade (pastor, Third Presbyterian Church), James Scott (pastor, Reformed Church), William Roberts (builder), Lyndon Smith (physician), Asa Whitehead (attorney and counselor), Fred T. Frelinghuysen (attorney and counselor-nephew and adopted son of Theodore Frelinghuysen), William B. Kinney (editor, Daily Advertiser), William Penrrington (Governor of the State of New Jersey), Silas Condit (president of a local bank) and the Honorable Joseph C. Hornblower (Chief Justice of New Jersey). Clearly, the temperance-prohibitionists respectables were pushing ahead with their own program and no longer needed the Washingtonians; the disappearance of occasional mention of the society may be specifically related to the fact that the editor of one of Newark’s principal papers at the time was a temperance-prohibitionist.
Finally, we have one last sign that the Washingtonians had lost their ability to influence events in Newark. On 4 June 1844 a temporary planning committee was announced for the upcoming Independence Day celebration. For the first time that decade, the names of the committee members were appended-presumably to demonstrate that it had the overwhelming support of the citizenry and perhaps as a kind of defiant statement directed to the temperance-prohibitionists. (The planning meeting was held in Stewart’s saloon.) As the following list of committee members, representing 20 of the total, makes clear, the opposition included a goodly number of the middle-class persons as well as some artisans: James Miller (carpenter), D.P. Woodruff (clerk), E.T. Hillyer (attorney and counselor), Stephen G. Sturges (slater), O.S. Boyden (machinist), E.G. Faitout (grocer), Robert Trippe (druggist), Joel W. Condit (grocer), Horace E. Baldwin (jeweller), Ira Merchant (sash and blind), Isaac Baldwin (builder, Ebenezer Francis (currier), Charles Spinning (carpenter), John C. Little (merchant tailor, Stephen Conger (physician), Henry Duryea (hatter), A.0. Boylan (attorney-at-law), Stephen K. Ford (coal dealer), Theodore S. Jacobs (clerk), William A Baldwin (sheriff), Charles T. Day (clothier), Edwin Ross (baker), Timothy B. Crowell (editor, New Jersey Eagle), James Tucker (currier), Alexander Dougherty (leather), Stephen G. Crowell (dry goods), William S. Pennington (attorney-at-law, not the Governor), and David D. Dodd (cap manufacturer). (It seems likely that the sides taken by the editors of the two newspapers reflect their politics – the Daily Advertiser was a Whig paper and the Eagle was probably a Democratic paper. ) Thus, some respectable citizens opposed the temperance-prohibitionists in this matter; whether the basic difference between the two sets of antagonists is interpretable in terms of “status politics” as Gusfield (54) and Donald (55) argue is beyond the scope of this paper.
Posted with permission from Alcohol Research Documentation, Inc., publisher of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol (now the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs [www.jsad.com])