Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1847. Unbound. This four-page folded letter contains a two-page printed circular with a blue Sons of Temperance seal and a one-page manuscript letter. The circular is signed in print by Philip L. White and Fred. A. Fickhardt and datelined “Philadelphia, November 16, 1847”, The letter is datelined “Phila. Dec 7/47” and signed by White. It bears a blue “10 Cts” Philadelphia postmark also dated December 7th and was sent to the Reverend J. P. Weston, leader of Maine’s temperance movement, in Gardiner.
The Sons of Temperance, a semi-secret organization dedicated to “free the intemperate from the Slavery of King Alcohol,” was divided into Subordinate, Grand, and National Divisions. It was established in 1847 on the bones of a prior temperance group, the Washington Temperance Society which had fractured into ungovernable pieces over prohibition, religion, politics, and abolition. To become a Son, members had to pledge not to manufacture, sell, or drink any intoxicants. Before being accepted for membership, an applicant’s lifestyle was thoroughly investigated and had to be approved by a panel of members. One of the biggest benefits of membership was the organization’s beneficial services which provided insurance in case of illness, unemployment, or death. These were funded by a two-dollar initiation fee and six-cent per week dues. While this might initially seem insignificant, by 1850, the Sons had over 230,000 members, so its coffers must have been full.
This circular addresses attempts to mollify members of the Maryland Grand Division who were apparently dissatisfied with management of the benevolent fund. The letter informs Weston that the next quarterly meeting would not be held in Waterville and alludes to the resolution of some undescribed controversy.. Very good. Item #010098
(For more information, see Beattie’s “Sons of temperance: Pioneers in total abstinence and 'Constitutional' prohibition,” Chapman’s “The Mid-Nineteenth-Century Temperance Movement in New Brunswick and Maine,” and One Hundred Years of Temperance: A Memorial Volume of the Centennial Temperance Conference Held in Philadelphia, Pa., September 1885, all available online.)
Scarce. At the time of listing, no similar circulars are for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub shows none have appeared at auction. OCLC shows none held by institutions, however some libraries hold reprints or digital copies of a Sons of Temperance circular distributed in Nova Scotia..