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It would require a volume to relate in any detail the liquor laws of the American Colonies. It was the general policy to license the retail traffic and confine it to inns, taverns and ordinaries, as they were variously called-stopping places where travelers could be accommodated with beds, meals and horse-feed. This policy arose and was maintained largely from the fact that such places for the accommodation of travelers and more of them should be encouraged, although they we reconstantly being discouraged by the colonial legislatures and town councils in fixing the price of meals, beds, horse-feed, liquors, etc. Thomann, in his Colonial Liquor Laws, pages 179-80, speaking of Rhode Island, says:

"Experience showed, here as in nearly every other colony, that it was much easier to ordain that a certain number of taverns should be kept in each town, than to offer sufficient inducements for the investment of money in what necessarily must have been an unprofitable and-considering the arbitrary regulation of prices, and other restrictions-a rather insecure business. Some towns had no accommodations whatever for travelers. The absence of a tavern in Warwick called forth the following vigorous ordinance:

"Ordered that the towne of Warwick doe constitute one ordinary or more, to be kept betwixt this and the first of March next ensuing, which ordinary shall make provisions for one or two beds at least for strangers; and in case the towne be defective in the performance hereof, we determine that they shall pay ten pounds fine to be taken by distraynt.'

"This special act was followed by a general law (1661) prohibiting the retail sale of wine and liquors in any house, the owner of which did not keep at least one bed for the accommodation of strangers."

The want of sufficient "taverns, inns and ordinaries, for the accommodation of strangers; for the benefit of men's meeting together for the dispatch of business, and for entertaining and refreshing mankind in a reasonable manner," was felt throughout the Colonies. This arose from the almost universal practice of the legislatures fixing and restricting the prices the tavern-keepers might charge. The following

section of an act of the Colonial legislature of New Jersey is typical of laws in this regard in substantially all of the Colonies:

"That it shall and may be lawful for the justices of the said sessions, where such licenses are to be granted, to fix the several prices of all the several liquors, meat and entertainment for men, and to fix the several sums to be taken for the provender and stabling of horses by every such person licensed to sell and retail by small measures as aforesaid.”

The early emigrants brought with them from their native countries of Europe the notion that men in their business and strictly private and domestic affairs should be regulated and restricted by law. The direction the regulation took depended upon the prevailing opinion in each colony.

While drunkenness was an offense in all of the colonies, as in the European countries from which they came, in Puritan New England the religious opinions and practices of the people was of the first importance and took precedence of everything else.

In Massachusetts church members only were allowed to vote. Absence from church, blasphemy and the desecration of the Sabbath were offenses which were severely punished. The Colonial act of 1634 fixed the retail price of ale and beer at one penny for one quart and prescribed that ordinaries should "not suffer any tobacco to be taken in their houses" under penalty of five shillings. Subsequently, the use of tobacco in any form and the selling and purchasing of the article, if designed for consumption within the colony, was absolutely forbidden. Smoking had long been an offense utterly abhorred in Massachusetts. Innocent pleasures were looked upon by the pious Puritans as evidence of irreverence and impiety and were therefore restricted by law. Dancing was discountenanced and extravagance in dress forbidden. In a very quaintly-worded act the selling and buying of lace was forbidden and it prescribed to a certain extent the fashion for ladies' garments. Sleeves were not to be so short as to "discover the nakedness of the arme," nor so wide as to require an immoderate quantity of cloth.

In Connecticut the prevailing sentiments were substantially the same as in Massachusetts. The following are a few of the Sunday law offenses and the penalties prescribed:

For neglecting the public worship of God in some lawful

congregation, 10 shillings.

For playing or working on the Lord's day, 10 shillings.

For using rude or profane language, 40 shillings.

For traveling on Sunday, unless belated and forced to lodge
in the wilderness or on the highways the night before, 20


For going to or from home, except from or to worship, 5

For drinking in taverns, 5 shillings.

For tarrying outside of church at the time of worship, 3

For loitering or congregating in streets or elsewhere on the

evening before and after the Lord's day, 5 shillings.

Consider the scarcity of money in those days and you will realize the severity of these penalties. Swearing carries eight times the penalty of getting drunk, and traveling on Sunday, "unless belated and forced to lodge in the wilderness or on the highways the night before," four times the offense of a drunken carousal. "Congregating in the streets or elsewhere" on Saturday or Monday evenings, it being near the "Lord's day," is made a criminal offense, no matter how peaceable or important the meeting may be, nor whether it be in the home of a neighbor or "elsewhere." These laws remained and were enforced in Connecticut in the middle of the eighteenth century.

Such in brief are some of the laws enacted by pious, but wellmeaning fanatics, and, as they and similar laws have a direct bearing on matters hereafter to be stated, I refer to them here.

It was the general policy in both the Massachusetts and Connecticut Colonies to exact a heavy import duty and excise or internal revenue on liquors besides a license fee from retail dealers. Laws were enacted to regulate the retail traffic and for the purpose of preventing disorders arising from excessive drinking. In the latter colony in 1673 "custom masters" were empowered to enter and search houses or cellars for liquors upon which the tax had not been paid. After more than half a century of regulation and restrictions the legislature of Connecticut, in 1716, "indulged in melancholy lamentations over the obduracy or drinkers, who, in spite of good and wholesome laws, ‘refused to be reclaimed from their excessive drinking and expense of precious time'."

Four years later a law was passed fixing a duty of 15£ for every hogshead of rum imported (about $1.15 per gallon) and, as a reason for this impost, set forth the fact that the great quantities of rum imported into the colony and there consumed "threaten the inhabitants in many, if not all, their interests;" and that the immoderate use of

rum was a “growing evil beyond the redress of all good and wholesome laws." Thomann, in his work heretofore mentioned (page 171), says: "Like many previous laws, this sweeping act proved to be but a short-lived experiment." An act of three years later provided that "constables or any other person having a special warrant for so doing" should enter and search any private house, the occupant of which was suspected of illicitly selling liquor. How familiar that language sounds in the early part of the twentieth century, although it was a law of one of the American colonies nearly two hundred years ago, and it had no effect toward mitigating the evils arising from the excessive use of alcoholic beverages.

In Massachusetts, just thirteen years after the landing of the Mayflower, a law was passed requiring permission or license from the governor or his deputy to all who sold wine or distilled spirits, and two years later taverns were licensed.

In 1636 a law was passed placing an ad valorem duty of over 16 per cent on wine, ardent spirits and a few other articles; "such wines as the deacons of the church purchased for churches' publike use” being exempt from the duty. An additional duty of 33 per cent was placed on the traffic in the articles. This was designed as a revenue


Drinking-places rapidly increased and the abuse of ardent spirits occasioned much anxiety. This law was soon repealed and distilled liquors made in the Colony only were allowed to be sold and the right to sell was given to but one person in every town. In reference to this law Thomann, in his Colonial Liquor Laws, page 8, observes: "Violations of the new law occurred quite frequently, and inebrity kept pace with these infractions. The courts now began to add the lash to the other means of punishment and correction hitherto in vogue. 'Censured to be severely whipped,' soon became a common sentence, applied not only to drunkards and illicit vendors, but to all sorts of offenders."

In 1644 an excise or internal tax was placed upon French wines purely as a revenue measure.

As early as 1633 the sale of intoxicating beverages to the Indians was prohibited as a prevention against the ferocity of the savages. But in 1644 the General Court―the legislative body of the Colony-"apprehending that it was not fit to deprive the Indians of any lawful comfort which God allowed to all men by the use of wine," ordered that all retailers should be permitted to sell to the Indians "so much as may be fit for their needful use or refreshings."

At this time, says Thomann: "Owing to a scarcity of money, commodities of comparatively stable nature took the place of currency. Wines and liquors were frequently given and readily taken as compensation for agricultural and other labor-a custom much in vogue at that time in some of the northern countries of Europe. * * When they had no immediate need of these liquors, the laborers sold them again in small quantities, and in this way innumerable retailers were created."

Of course both the laborers and their employers who sold them the liquor for their labor were violating the law in selling without a license. But is it to be wondered at that under such a system-the exacting a special tax, licensing the traffic and fixing the retail price— that liquor should be used as money, a medium of exchange, where money issued by the government is so scarce?

In 1648 the General Court enacted that the licensed dealers of Boston and Charlestown, in consideration of one hundred and sixty pounds annually (about $775) paid into the treasury, should have a complete monopoly of the wine-traffic in the two towns in consideration that they sell at the prices fixed by law. Illicit traffic continued and became as prevalent in the two towns as it has been in Maine and Kansas during the last quarter of a century.

Speaking of the effects of these regulations in Massachusetts, history records that: "The consumption of ardent spirits increased, and with it the evils so much complained of, as appears from a severe law against drunkenness (passed October, 1654), in the the preamble to which occurs the following: 'Forasmuch as notwithstanding the great care this court hath had and the lawes made to suppress that swineish. sin of drunkenness, and yet psons addicted to that vice finde out wayes to deceive the laws, etc'."

The impost duty and internal taxes on liquors were gradually increased. Referring to the middle part of the eighteenth century, in Massachusetts, Thomann, page 39, states:

"The import duties and excises on intoxicating beverages, like the same revenues in our time, became the principal means of liquidating the public debt. The excises were frequently mortgaged as security for the payment of public obligations."

No where in America was excessive drinking and drunkenness more prevalent than in Connecticut and Massachusetts Colonies.

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