Temperance Organisations

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XIV (5) start of chapter

In every large city and in most of the considerable towns of America there is a temperance organisation, which offers the usual advantages to those who belong to it. On Monday, March 18th, I had an admirable opportunity of witnessing the display made by the temperance societies of New York; and rarely did I behold a spectacle which was in itself so cheering and consolatory, or of which I felt more truly proud. In the heyday of the temperance movement in Ireland I had more than once seen processions quite as brilliant and imposing, after their fashion, as that which I scanned with eager scrutiny in New York. There was therefore nothing novel in the display, whether in its banners, its decorations, its music, or even its numbers. What did delight me—what I know delighted others, who, like myself, had a national interest in the festival of the day—was to witness so large a body of Irishmen, and the children of Irishmen, presenting in the face of the American people a striking and beneficial example of courage and good sense to their own race; in a city, too, which probably has within it more of risk and danger to sobriety than any other city in the States. Their dress was admirable, even conspicuous where respectability of attire was the rule; and there was that in their air and manner and carriage which elicited universal admiration, and deeply gratified the Irishmen—many of them the most eminent in the city—by whom, on that occasion, I happened to be surrounded. In that enormous procession, roughly estimated, at 30,000 persons, men and boys, there were thousands of sober self-respecting men who were not members of a temperance organisation—not 'teetotallers:' but there were also, I must admit, not a few who displayed in their maundering looks and tottering gait an over-zealous devotion to the Patron Saint of their native land.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

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