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THE CHURCH IN RELATION TO TEM
CONGRESSMAN RICHMOND P. HOBSON
My theme is “The Church in reference to the temperance movement.” It is a great privilege for any individual to come and take part in this great Congress. I believe it is a peculiar privilege to have the chance that I have to take up the question of the church in its relation to temperance.
My approach to this subject is purely scientific. I was brought up as a scientific man, and I have used my exertions in this line to establish the facts and the truth. I have been able to command the resources of our Government and the Library of Congress and its staff, who got me, practically, all the information in the world on that subject. I have given up other things at long intervals to investigate and establish the facts. My mission here is to bring to you, in as short a compass as I can, the results of that scientific investigation.
The cardinal fact that stands forth as the result of research of modern times, is that alcohol is not the simple hydro-carbon which it has been supposed to be, but that it is a toxin, a waste product, an excretion of a living organism, the lowest germ, and therefore must come under the great biological law that a toxin of one form of
life is poison to every form of a higher life, and since the yeast germ is a very low order of life, it follows, beyond the realm of discussion, that alcohol must be at all times and under all circumstances, a poison to all animal organisms, and practically of all plant organisms, substantially a poison to all living things, a deadly poison of the proto-plasmic principle of life.
Investigation shows that there is no food value, and can be no food value in alcohol. There is no medicinal value for external use, except in rare cases, in the use of a narcotic poison. Alcohol has been definitely classed with ether and chloroform as a narcotic poison, but, furthermore, it interferes with the white blood corpuscles that destroy the disease germs. The alcohol passes as alcohol into circulation, and paralyzes the white blood. One drink for the time being will make every white corpuscle drunk, and while it is in that condition, it cannot compete with the deadly disease germs continually coming in from the air, water and food. The result of investigation shows that the deaths from pneumonia will be in proportion to alcoholic conditions of the blood. Deaths from consumption are directly in proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed; and to sum it all up, the results of hundreds of thousands of investigations show that forty-four per cent of all the deaths that occur are due to this cause. There are a thousand deaths every year out of every 61,000 of population, but out of the same number of total
abstainers only 460 deaths. 440 deaths out of every thousand are due to this cause.
It means, when applied to practical life, that alcohol kills about 700,000 American citizens every year. It slaughters our people at the rate of nearly 2,000 a day. It is difficult for the mind to grasp the magnitude of this slaughter. If a Titanic disaster could happen every day for 365 days of the year, the number of the dead would lack 200,000 of being the number that alcohol slaughters in America every year.
I have sought to get the measure by comparing it with the destructiveness of war.
Investigation goes to show, and I have the results, I think, that war has killed and wounded on the battlefield, about 2,800,000 men since the world began to record the history of all the battles in every land. Alcohol is actually killing today in America more men in one year than all the wars of all the world of all nations has done in 2,300 years. We are appalled by the slaughter when a ship goes down. We are staggered by the slaughter of a great battle, but think of it! If all the ships that have ever sunk beneath the angry waves of the ocean were sunk at one time, and all the men that have fallen upon the soil of all lands of all times were combined in one, they would not represent the dead and the dying that each year of our Lord now registers in the United States of America alone as the result of this great destroyer. I know what a calamity it is if a nation be overtaken by modern war, un
prepared. This is a source of deep interest to us, when a country is continually unprepared for war. I know what a calamity it would be if some military nation were to declare war against us today. But I want to tell you as a cold, scientific man who has made these investigations—I tell you it as a patriotic citizen—I would rather see every nation in the world declare war against America today—I would rather see my defenseless country compelled tomorrow morning to turn and face the combined simultaneous invasion of all the armies of the world, than to see this great internal destroyer continue unchecked his deadly ravages throughout the land.
But appalling as is this record of the direct destruction of life, it only tells a part of the cost.
The scientists who met three years ago in London to investigate this subject described alcohol as a debilitating proto-plasmic poison, which is used as a beverage, and is destructive and degenerating to the human organism. Why did they use that horrible word degenerating? Because in all the investigations the fact appeared that the characteristic of this toxin is that not only like every toxin, will it attack all living tissue, but it has an affinity for the tissue associated with evolution, and the effect is like a hot iron on the flesh, it sears it. The characteristic of alcohol is that it is deadly in its attack upon that tissue. A plant evolving along certain lines, if watered with alcohol mixed with water, will revert back to the wild state. The
domestic family, evolving along certain lines, if brought up on alcohol from infancy, will be wild, and talk like heathen.
You have the red man on the reservation; let him get drink and it is not long before he wants to turn savage again. Take the black man, and let him indulge in excesses, and it will not be long before he is a cannibal again. The result of my observations, is that the black race in its destiny will largely be determined by whether or not you eliminate this great destroyer. If you do, the future will give beautiful and glorious results; if you do not, we will see a multitude of instances of the lapses which now unfortunately occur to startle the nation. You take a white man, of any type, an evolution of the highest kind, a tender-hearted man, and let him come under this toxin, and it will not be long before he will pass from the high type to semi-civilization. The noblest man that ever lived can be dragged down to the lowest level by this destroyer. Temperate drinkers at the age of 20 live on the average, only 13 years more; 28,000,000 American citizens wounded, that would be classified as dangerously wounded if wounded in war. What an appalling consideration,
But that is not the only crime. The future of the life of the species is put in jeopardy. When parents are degenerates, this thing will not only smite them, but will blight their offspring. If you water a fruit tree with alcohol, there will be a blight in the flower. If you bring up animals