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trol men of different preferences. The travelers in a stage coach will often permit the majority to decide whether the coach shall travel all night, or tarry by the way; but any man would feel outraged should the majority decide what he shall be permitted to eat. The Turks deem wine dele . terious, and in addition, its use is irreligious; but even Turkish despotism has never prohibited the sale of wine to men of a different faith. The United States Constitution, also, attempts to restrain majorities to matters of general concernment; hence all direct taxes are prohibited, except where the taxes are to be borne by the majority ratably with the minority. In our license restraints, the tax of self-denial is not borne by the majority ratably with the minority ; but all the self-denial is borne by the minority. Looking at these constitutional provisions as the elucidation of a principle, may we not infer therefrom, that instead of deeming the restraint of excise licenses justified by the absence of any direct constitutional prohibition against such restraints, we ought to deem the restraints proof conclusive that our new Constitution should prohibit the exercise of such a power. The whole system of excise should be abolished. It is a miserable attempt to extort money by the sale of special privileges." Nay, worse, the privilege is not the purchase of any right, but the purchased redress of a public wrong, the license merely remitting a person into the pursuit of his own happiness in his own chosen way, which is one of the inalienable rights of man, our own Declaration of Independence being the judge. The Bible prohibited the Jews from boiling a kid in its mother's milk. We should imitate this benevolence, and not permit the beneficent majority principle of our Government to be perverted into an instrument of personal oppression. The outcasts, whose depredations on society have consigned them
to our prisons, are hopelessly controlled as to what they shall eat, and what they may drink, and how they may employ the energies with which God has endued them; but imagination can conceive no more perfect liberty than is permitted us by the theory of our Government. Shall we perfect its practice to the extent of the theory, or shall we permit enthusiasts to erect among us a dietetic tyranny ? The question is no longer speculative; it must be answered by our actions, and it should be answered understandingly; because, though we may personally care nothing for the restraints of the license law, we ought to care for the preservation of all our liberties.
THE MAINE LIQUOR LAW.*
The capacity of man for self-government is the great experiment which all our States are trying, and its success rests on the ability of every man to govern himself. Would you make a son trustworthy, trust him; would you make him him capable of taking care of himself, leave him to make experiments for himself; and what is thus wise in a family is wise in a nation. When we allow every man to vote, we necessarily admit many who exercise the power unskillfully; but all become thereby educated as rulers, and to the influence of universal suffrage, our country, despite the opposition of the exclusively wise, extends to the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and twenty-seven millions of human beings fill the expanse with railroads, churches, printing presses and happy families.
Published in 1854.
So when our States abolished standing armies and an armed police, we necessarily withdrew restraints from unworthy individuals, but we thereby educated law-abiding characteristics in all, till an unarmed constable is become more potent with us than a file of soldiers in countries which rely for good order on physical coercion. In no country is the chastity of women thrown so entirely on their own integrity as with us, and in no other country are the purities of the domestic relations so rarely violated. Let, then, no impatience of any existing evil interfere with self-control which already has advanced temperance from the condition of a suppliant to the potency of a threatening aggressor. We fill our country with schools, academies and colleges, but beyond the worth of all literature is the practical art of self-restraint which can be taught only by the license to choose between good and evil. The inhabitants of France are the best intellectually educated people of Europe ; still so little has their self-control been cultivated, that the freedom of the press is found incompatible with social order, while we, from the effect of habit, continue calm amid personal criminations of a press wholly unrestrained.
Nothing is more instructive than to note the progress of foreigners in the art of self-control, under the influence of our liberty. They are exasperated often in our cities by over-zealous men, who abuse the public highway by preaching opinions that are designedly obnoxious. Citizens accustomed to the annoyance, have learned to discipline their conduct thereto, while newly-arrived emigrants resent the injury by personal violence. One of these preachers has lately been twice imprisoned; but we had better tolerate the nuisance as a practical discipline in the art of self-control.
Such are some of the principles by which the Maine law question should be judged. No person objects to the punishment of a man for any injury his drunkenness may inflict on others, but objections exist against placing a straight jacket on a sane man in advance of a possible future mad
When a modified Maine law was formerly enacted, drunkenness exhibited itsself beyond all precedent, stolen fruit being proverbially sweet, and persecution ever begetting proselytes.
Our State has had several successive Constitutions, and they evince our gradual progress in the science of selfgovernment. Our Constitution of 1846 exceeds all its predecessors in unshackling personal conduct.
Men can incorporate themselves to establish banks, insurance companies, railroads, &c., while formerly corporate powers were deemed too dangerous to be entrusted to private volition. Prohibitions are now shifted on to the law-makers. They cannot grant special charters, or pass any law that shall create “offices for the weighing, gauging, measuring, culling or inspecting any merchandise, produce, manufacture, or commodity whatever;" and thus each man must rely for personal protection on cultivating the faculties which God has given him. Even the care of his own soul is for the first time left to his unbiased discretion, no person being any longer punished for infidelity by being “ rendered incompetent as a witness on account of his opinions on matters of religious belief.”
The Bible says that a man would be injured, should he gain the whole world and lose thereby his soul. Most of us believe this, still no man demands now legislative inter. ference with religious faith. Indeed, we are accustomed to compare, with no little vain glory, our liberty of conscience with the sectarian intolerance of all other nations;
and petitions have been presented to Congress, that our Government should compel foreign countries to give to our citizens abroad the religious privileges they possess at home. If, then, each of us is permitted to jeopard his own soul out of respect to personal freedom, in cases, too, of atheism, deism, and blasphemy, which hazard his eternal reprobation and the involvement therein of his children, we cannot consistently restrain personal freedom where the evils are only the liability of using to excess intoxicat- ' ing drinks.
We greatly mistake the Maine law question when we look only at its effects on drunkenness. Good and evil are so interwoven, that every liberty must be condemned if tested by the evil which it permits. We mistake it equally when we test it by its effects on hop-growers, grain-growers, cattle-dealers, butchers, shopkeepers, forwarders, teamsters, coopers, real estate, &c. Underlying all these is the greater question of self-government; not one man governing another, but each man governing himself. Even Adam was permitted the liberty of eating the forbidden fruit, for barren indeed would have been his total abstinence had it depended on coercion. The people can express their views explicitly on the subject at the approaching election. The Maine Law is the only practical issue the election is to decide, and let no fog which politicians may raise, cause the Arctic of the day to be obscured and run down.