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SAINT NIHAL SINGH.
O India, as to the rest of the world, the American decision to abolish the liquor traffic from every square inch of American soil is a startling politico-social development. No other nation has had the courage to take such drastic action. Even under the stress of war, European peoples contented themselves with stopping the consumption of certain forms of liquor, such as vodka in Russia and absinthe in France, lowering the percentage of alcohol in intoxicating beverages, and curtailing the hours during which liquor could be bought. The American refusal to compromise with liquor in any way, therefore, is an epoch-making event in the world's history.
The legislative decree by which the American will to suppress the liquor traffic will be enforced has taken the shape of an amendment to the United States Constitution. The Congress passed it on December 17, 1917, and specified that it must be ratified by the legislatures of the requisite two-thirds of the States composing the Union within a period of seven years.
Within 13 months the amendment, which prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation and sale of alcoholic liquors of all kinds any where in the United States except for purely medicinal and industrial purposes had been ratified by 36 of the 48 States comprising the American Union. On January 16, 1919, the House of Representatives and Senate formally announced the ratification of the amendment.
It matters comparatively little whether traffic in liquor ceases within a few weeks or within a few months. The main thing is that the victory has been won-won by constitutional agitation. People in America, and outsiders who closely follow American events are greatly surprised at the rapidity with which the
prohibition movement gained support during the last few years.
Agitation for the suppression of the liquor traffic began in America 80 years ago. As long ago as 1846, a law to prohibit liquor was passed in the State of Maine. Five years later, a much more drastic Act was passed providing for the confiscation and destruction of intoxicating liquor, and has been in force ever since, with the exception of the years 1856 and 1857. The States of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut followed the example of Maine.
Similar attempts were made in the States of New York and Indiana, but failed. Prohibitory laws were passed in both States, but were declared unconstitutional.
In 1869, the prohibition party was formed to carry on organized agitation for prohibition, as it was felt that the liquor interests constituted a tremendous disrupting force in American politics, and unorganized opposition had little chance against such a wealthy and resourceful combine. Though the leaders of the party had right on their side, and though they were zealous and determined men, they appeared to accomplish but little for many years. They did, indeed, convert many individuals to their cause, and here and there a State went "dry" (prohibitionist.) But until quite recently the movement did not capture the American imagination, and remained more or less inert.
When I first went to the United States about fifteen years ago, all sorts of jokes were cracked at the expense of prohibitionists. Talk of fifteen years! Less than half a dozen years ago, when Mr. William Jennings Bryan gave his first official dinner as Secretary of State in Dr. Wilson's first Cabinet and astounded the Washington world by substituting unfermented grape juice
and other "soft" drinks for the usual wines and spirits, he was lampooned by caricaturists and writers in newspapers, large and small all over the United States.
In the early days of my sojourn in the United States, I used to hear all sorts of stories about the irregularities that occurred in prohibition States. I was told, for instance, of a "dry" town in Louisiana where one of the doctors has his consulting room in a chemist's shop. Day-long men streamed into his office and described their imaginary symptoms, and he solemnly provided them with prescriptions for liquor which the chemist immediately filled. They drank a "dose " on the spot, and carried the rest away for consumption outside. I was also told of "dry" towns where railway trains came in loaded with jugs, bottles, cases and barrels, shipped by express companies from " wet areas to private individuals who
shipment of liquor into "dry" States, irregularities would continue, and they therefore were bending all their efforts to secure such an enactment. As I shall show later, they succeeded in that object in 1913.
I had not been in the United States long when I began to notice that the attitude of the American people towards drink was changing. Some of the young men who, not so very long before, had indulged in jokes about people who were "on the water wagon" and drinking "buttermilk," I found, were not so facetious on the subject as they used to be. Upon probing the matter, I discovered that these young men had learned that they could not afford to crack jokes, because their bosses had made up their minds that they would have no employees who drink liquor, no matter how moderately, and since they valued their positions, abstinence from liquor had ceased to be a joke so far as they were concerned.
At first I was inclined to believe that the employers who thus frowned upon liquor were exceptional, but I soon changed my mind. I heard again and again, of instances of employees being sacked because they would not or could not give up drink, and of others who failed to get into large works and offices because they were suspected of drinking. I noticed that Americans who controlled railway employees, electricians and other workmen who used delicate tools, and bank clerks, were particularly relentless in closing the doors of their works and offices to persons who drank, no matter how moderately.
A man who might, by any chance, have been drinking, the railway companies declared, ought not to be trusted with the lives of hundreds of men, women, and children. The bank directorates felt that they could not depend upon the honesty of a drinking man, who might at any time be led into temptation that would make him an enemy to society. Managers of workshops knew, from actual experience, that it was a physical
waited on the station platform to claim them.
I saw, with my own eyes, enough to confirm my suspicion that all was not right in prohibition districts. For instance, in a "dry dry" town in the State of Iowa where I lived for several months, I used to see many evidences of the surreptitious consumption of liquor. Empty whiskey and beer bottles lay hidden in bushes, hedges and alleys, where they had been thrown after their contents had been stealthily imbibed.
When I asked prohibition leaders for an explanation, they told me that, though irregularities: were grossly exaggerated by the partisans of the liquor interests, yet it was quite true that some did occur. They ascribed them partly to the laxity of officials charged by the State or County with enforcing the prohibitory laws, who winked at such practices and often enriched themselves by helping topers to evade the law. But much of the mischief, they averred, was caused by the peculiar conditions regarding inter-State commerce prevailing in the United States. So long as there was not a specific law prohibiting the
mpossibility for a man who drank to have a steady hand, and his fumbling with tools would result in actual monetary loss to them.
The women members of workers' families, I found again and again, appreciated the teetotal policy even more than the men did. This is not to be wondered at, for the men who worked under abstinence from liquor enforced by their employers returned to their homes as soon as they finished work, bringing their money with them intact, instead of hurrying off to a liquor shop to have a drink or drinks and coming home with lightened purse, and, more often than not, drunk.
The southern States of the American Union which have a large negro population, the coloured people,. in some districts, outrumbering the whites by four to one, adopted prohibition because liquor led to inter-racial fights and to murders, rapes, and other crimes. The leaders of the negro community were even more anxious than the white man to protect their people from the ravages of alcohol. Thus it came to pass that farsighted persons of both races espoused the cause of prohibition. Indeed, until quite recently most of the prohibition territory was in the south.
The prohibitionists found that they were able to gather under their banner many diverse interests, all enthusiastically contributing towards the success of the cause, as soon as they began to ask for the suppression of alcohol, because it lowered efficiency, bred crime and destroyed homes and wealth instead of continuing to carry on merely a moral crusade. Industrialists and commercialists, theologians, ethicists, moralists, men of science, and sociologists worked side by side, each giving his best to bring about the desired end.
The momentum gained from this conjoint effort galvanized the movement. By the exercise of local option and the passage of special State laws, county after county and State after State banned liquor.
Persons who painted a black picture of financi
al ruin resulting from the closing down of brewing and distilling establishments have been proved to be scare-mongers. In "dry" States, breweries and distilleries have, with little confusion or loss of time, been transformed into factories for the production of malted milk, vinegar, unfermented grape juice, and similar harmless articles, and, under the new regime, continue to pay large dividends. Drink shops (saloons) were rapidly turned into shops for selling harmless goods and proved successful.
One of the strongest arguments employed by the anti-prohibitionists was that the State would suffer seriously by losing the excise revenue that the liquor traffic had brought in. But these critics forgot perhaps conveniently-that, freed from the curse of drink, the capacity of the people to bear taxation would increase, as would also their purchasing power, so that revenue from other departments would expand, and more than offset the loss of exise.
Wherever alcohol has been banished in America, poverty and dependence upon charity have been reduced, homes show signs of affluance, the deposits in banks, especially savings banks, have risen and facilities for education have increased. In every such place crime shows remarkable dimunition. Convictions for disorderly conduct, vagrancy, assault and battery, and even more serious crimes such as rape and murder, have greatly decreased. For instance, I was told sometime ago that for two weeks after Helena, Arkansas, went
dry" there was not a single arrest. The business men of Little Rock, another Arkanas city, declare that their business has benefited from prohibition, and they would not change back to the old order of things if permitted to do so.
In 1913, the prohibitionists won a tremendous victory when the Webb-Kenyon law was passed prohibiting the importation from one State into another of liquor" intended to be received, possessed, or in any manner used " in violation of any
law of the State into which it was imported. That measure gave the individual States a powerful instrument to make prohibition effective within their confines. But the United States Supreme Court is the final arbiter in America, and the law remained practically inoperative until three years later when that body decided that it was constitutional.
By that time (the end of 1916) 25 States had gone "dry." Putting such portions of "wet" States as had gone "dry" under local option, together with the "dry" states more than 85 percent of the total area of the country, containing more than 60 per cent of the people of the United States has subscribed to the principle of prohibition.
The war gave the movement an added impetus. American captains of industry saw how the consumption of liquor had been cut down in various European countries in order to increase the output of war-materials, and many of those who had refused to take any interest in the prohibition movement became its active supporters. But for
such conversions to the cause it would have been difficult to secure the passage of the amendment for nation-wide prohibition passed by the United States Congress of December 17, 1917.
During the later stages of the struggle, and after the signing of the armistice, another factor came into operation that greatly helped the cause. Everyone interested in the preservation of peace and order realised that the liquor shop was the place where not only crime was born, and political corruption bred, but also that it was the hatching ground of revolutionary plots. Many powerful persons who had, in the past, sneered at prohibitionists as "cranks" but who were afraid of "Bolshevism, forgot their prejudices as soon as they realized this danger.
If the American earnestness in regard to ridding the nation of the evils of drink continues as it gives promise of doing, there is every reason to hope that the passage of the prohibition amendment to the Constitution has really sounded the death knell of the liquor traffic in the United States.
FROM VIENNA TO PARIS-1815 TO 1919
MR. G. SRINIVASA AIYAR.
ISTORIANS of the Nineteenth Century preferred to date its birth at the fall of Napoleon in 1815. For about quarter of a century Europe had been shaken to the very foundations of its polity; and on the fall of Napoleon, the political architects planned the reconstruction of Europe in the Congress of Vienna. In their anxiety to repress revolutionary and republican movements, the despotic monarchs and reactionary politicians of the Vienna Congress sought to restore the old European polity of Empire and absolutism. The political history of the nineteenth century
Europe has been a story of repeated efforts to remodel the political design of Vienna to satisfy the demands of democracy and nationality, and has culminated in the collapse of the continental empires and the triumph of the democracies of the West. The Peace Conference has met in Paris to record the progress and achievement of democracy during a century and to plan the political reconstruction of the world on the basis of self-determination. From the Congress of Vienna to the Paris Conference-has been the progress of the century. 'From Vienna to Paris' sums up the progress of the world from
despotism to democracy; from absolute empire to popular republic; from the repression of nationality to the triumph of nationality, leading to the peace of the world. The Congress of Vienna restored and perpetuated old despotic systems of Government on the continent; strengthened the empires and tightened their hold on subject peoples; and suppressed the forces of nationality which had done their work with the fall of Napoleon. The Paris Conference seals the doom of despotism and empire, stimulates and fosters democratic forces and guarantees the rights and liberties of nations. The very change in the venue of the Congress indicates the difference in character between the settlement of 1815 and that of 1919. The Capital of the oldest Imperial Dynasty in Europe, the stronghold of reactionary despotism and the seat of the Government of an empire over oppressed nationalities, Vienna was the select sacred spot dedicated to the old order; nor can a more congenial birthplace be chosen for the new order of popular liberty, national rights, and international peace, than Paris-the heart of the Republic, the capital of France and the mothercity of Western arts and civilisation.
It is interesting to note a similarity of aims in the two settlements separated by a centurycorrection of the offender against peace and establishment of universal peace. In 1885 France was reduced to her pre-war size; and to cure her of her violent distempers, her political regimen was prescribed by the allied powers; in 1919 the Central powers are to be reduced in size and in strength, and they are ordering their constitution at the bidding of the Associated Powers. As in 1815, the losses, the miseries and the sufferings of the war have led men to devise means and machinery to maintain permanent peace.
More striking than the similarity of arms is the difference in methods and machinery between the settlements of Vienna and of Paris. The politi
cal regimen prescribed for France in 1815 was reversion to Bourbon monarchy; and Europe was to be made safe for absolutism and empire by crushing the liberal and national movements in Italy Hungary and Poland. In 1919 the Germans are gathering materials for the construction of a socialist republic from the debris of a fallen empire; independent national states with popular governments born of self-determination rise up in Central Europe; France and Italy come by their own and get back the severed parts of their mutilated body; and the heroic soul of Belgium shines in the red glory of war to illustrate the triumph of justice, liberty and right: the world is to be made safe for peace and democracy. The international machinery devised by the political architects of a century ago for the establishment of European peace and order was the Holy Alliance-an unholy combine of the despots of the continent to kill liberty and progress; the peace of Europe was to be vested in the custody of the despots. The international machinery sought to be set up in 1919 for the preservation of the peace of the world is a League of Nations, a body of representatives of the nations; the peace of the world is to be the business of the peoples. From the Holy Alliance to the League of Nations' sums up the onward march of the world in the century.
DEATH IS EVERYWHERE
BY CLOUDESLEY BRERETON.
Death, death is everywhere. Where'er we tread, We stir the dust of myriads long since dead. Our food and drink, of life the staff and stay Are but the finished products of decay. Our marble halls, with all their quarried stonesWhat are they but the bleached and whitened bones Of countless generations, piled on high, Hecatomb upon hecatomb to the sky. Barrows the dead have built themselves ?-The Earth Is one o'erflowing cemetery,-its girth One seamless zone of graves. There's not a rod Upon its surface that cries not to God For some life sacrificed. We mortals are But mites and midges on a moss-grown star, Frail ephemerides that breed and craw Among the middens of this festering ball.