Many Signed the Pledge: the Temperance Movement of Sixty Years Ago

Article Title
Many Signed the Pledge: the Temperance Movement of Sixty Years Ago
W. K. Reynolds
Page Number
Article Type
Article Contents
MANY SIGNED THE PLEDGE THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT OF SIXTY YEARS AGO Father James Dunphy’s Work in St. John origin of the Catholic Total Abstinence Relief Society An Old Time Procession Father Matthew began his great work of temperance in the city of Cork in the year 1838, and in that city alone over 150,000 of all classes and creeds subsequently took a temperance pledge from him. In time the movement spread through Ireland and to America. In the year 1841 a great temperance movement was inaugrated by the Catholic clergy men in New Brunswick and in the city of St. John the energetic worker was Father James Dunphy, who was in charge of St. Malachi’s church. Having previously brought the matter to the attention of his congregation in his address to them, Father Dunphy began the enrollment of names of those taking the pledges on Sunday, February 7. In order to meet the existing conditions in a time when the use of liquors while the other permitted the temperate use of fermented drinks by those to whom their use was not a proximate cause of sin. On the Sunday in question the pledes were taken by more than 300 persons and during the following week more than 400 others were added to the list. On the next Sunday the number was increased by 300 more making a total of more than 1,000 in eight days. By the first week in March the new temperance society numbered 1208 total abstainers and 85 who were permitted the temperate use of fermented liquors. The temperance wave was not confined to St. John or to the province. It appears to have been felt in Halifax even earlier than here, for by February 21 as many as 2,063 had taken the pledge at St. Mary’s church in that city. In various parts of New Brunswick the movement went forward. At St. Andrews Father Quinn had given the pledge to 170 by the first week in March, while at Miramichi Father Egan had given it to 886. As the season advanced like reports came from other places. By September Father Paquet, of Kent county had given the pledge to 2,764 French 343 English and all of the Indians, 213 in number, making a total of 3,380. On Northumberland all the Indians had taken the pledge of Father Egan. It was understood that the whole of the Indians throughout the country had enlisted themselves in the movement. Upwards of 600 had taken the pledge in Fredericton by the early part of October, and in St. John the membership was more than 3,500. A neat medal was imported by Father Dunphy to be worn as a token of membership. The origin of the Catholic Total Abstinence Relief Society is shown by the following advertisement, which appeared in the Courier of October 30, 1841. ST. JOHN CATHOLIC TOTAL ABSTINENCE RELIEF SOCIETY The intention of the Teetotallers of the City of St. John, in forming themselves into an Association is to enable them to extend that aid and friendship to their fellow men in times of sickness, trouble, distress and death and in which as Members of this Society, they will be entitled. Our principles are- Firstly- If any of our members are sick to furnish medical and other necessary aid. Secondly-If in worldly trouble to do all in our power to alleviate their misfortunes. Thirdly- If in poverty or want to relieve them to a certain extent. Fourthly- If they die in poverty to bury them decently and respectably according to the rules of whatever Church to which they may belong; and Lastly, Upon all occasions to attend the funeral of every worthy member of the Association in as decent and respectful a manner as we possibly can. To entitle members to the benefits of the Society they must be 6 months at least enrolled and pay their dues (and fines, if any) regularly and during that time they must be free from all diseases and distresses at the time of their enrollment and must not appear to have joined the Society with the intention of throwing themselves upon its charity : and above all and before all, they must have kept their pledge sacred and inviolable. By order, John G.Campbell Secretary The officers of this society were : Rev. James Dunphy, president : Francis Gallagher, senior vice president : Thomas McGrath, junior vice president : B. Reynolds, treasurer : J.G. Campbell, secretary. The first public appearance of this society was on St. Patrick’s Day, 1842, then there was a great temperance parade and demonstration. The procession was under the charge of J.R. Fitzgerald, president of the day and he gave considerable flourish to the affair. Fitzgerald was a school teacher by occupation and had come to St. John from Halifax not long before. He was editor of the Mirror and a man of considerable ability. One thousand men were in line, wearing green sashes and meals suspended by green ribbons. They were headed by the hand of the 36th Regiment, and the following had charge of the respective banners: Queen’s banner, Messers, Cummin and Farrel Father Mathew banner, Messers Thomposn and Brandley St. Patrick’s banners, Messaers, P. Gallagher and Pryor St. John’s banners, Mesers, McGirr and Bean Boy’s banners, Mesers, Rooney, McNulty, O’Neill and H. Gallagher Twenty men, marching four deep formed an escort for each banner. The others in the procession marched two deep. After a parade around the streets there was a halt at King Square, where an address was delivered by Mr. Fitzerald. This was followed by cheers for the Queen, Governor Colebrooke, colonel Maxwell of the 36th, Father Mathew and President Fitzgerald. ‘The display in a moral point of view could not be otherwise than pleasing to all who have the regeneration and welfare of the human species at heart,’ said the Courier. Despite the recognized objects of the society, of its expressions of loyalty and the favor with which It was mentioned by the Courier, the parade led to a good deal of what is called party feeling, the attack being led by a paper called the Loyalist, an exponent of the views of the Conservatives. On March 31 the ‘Protestant Conservative Association’ was organized, and a great deal of wholly unnecessary sectarian feeling was excited. On April 1, a meeting of the Catholic Total Abstinence Relief Society was held at the Friary, Horsefield street, with Frances Gallagher in the chair, Resolutions were passed defending the organization from the attacks upon it, and showing it to be purely temperance society which included both Protestants and Catholics in its memberships. The speakers, in addition to the chairman, were John O’Neill, Charles Doherty, P. McCullough, J.G. Campbell, D. Gallagher, N Mr. Thompson, H. Gallagher, Messers McCullough, Rodgers, Cornwell, Cummins, Bean and Brown. The society continued to prosper and do good work in the succeeding years and its branches are found in various parts of the province today. Among those who took an interest in It in the fifties was William F. Needham, M.P.P, an undoubted Protestant, who was vice president at the time Rev. James Quinn was president. The first meeting place of the society was at the Friary, but in 1846 It removed to what was then in the new Temperance Hall, Sydney street, which stood on the ground now occupied by St. Jospeph’s school building. W.K. REYNOLDS