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Temperance And Racism

Temperance And Racism: John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars

David M. Fahey
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Temperance And Racism
    Book Description:

    One hundred twenty years ago, the Independent Order of Good Templars was the world's largest, most militant, and most evangelical organization hostile to alcoholic drink. Standing in the forefront of the international temperance movement, it was recognized worldwide as a potent social and moral force.

    Temperance and Racismrestores the Templars, now an almost forgotten footnote in American and British social history, to a position of prominence within the temperance movement. The group's ideology of universal membership made it unique among fraternal organizations in the late nineteenth century and led to pioneering efforts on behalf of equal rights for women.

    Its policy toward African Americans was more ambiguous. Though a great many white Templars, especially those in Great Britain, rejected the extreme racism prevalent in the late nineteenth century, members in the American South did not. The decision to allow state lodges to rule on their membership eligibility led to the great schism of 1876-87. The break was mended only after British leaders compromised their ideals of universal brotherhood and sisterhood for the sake of the organization's international unity. Drawing on previously unused primary sources, David Fahey reveals much about racial attitudes and behavior in the late nineteenth century on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, and on both sides of the Atlantic.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6151-8
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Readers may wonder why a historian who teaches courses on Victorian England would write a book that deals with the United States and its intractable problem of race relations. Many years ago, while I was studying the drink question in late nineteenth-century Britain, an international fraternal temperance society known as the Independent Order of Good Templars began to fascinate me.¹ The IOGT offered a fresh approach for the study of the temperance movement, the working and lower-middle classes, and gender relations. Gradually I realized that it also provided a new perspective for investigating racism in North America and transatlantic racial...

  6. 1 The Templars
    (pp. 5-31)

    A little over a hundred years after they attained their greatest fame, the Good Templars have disappeared from history books. Only an occasional mention in accounts of the temperance movement reminds us that they existed. Historians of race, gender, and international moral reform have forgotten them.

    Rescuing the Templars from this neglect and obscurity will enhance understanding of the Anglo-American world in the middle and late nineteenth century.¹ In a remarkable amalgam the Templars brought together characteristics associated with other and now better-known organizations as diverse as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Freemasons, the YMCA and YWCA,...

  7. 2 The Adversaries
    (pp. 32-56)

    A struggle between Templars in the American South and in Britain strained the unity of the IOGT and eventually shattered it. Controversy over black membership grew explosive in the 1870s, when large numbers of white southern and British recruits swamped the Templar Order. The unexpected new geographical and cultural diversity unsettled the balance of power and made Templar decision-making about African American membership divisive.

    Contemporaries personalized the dispute as a duel between a Kentuckian and an Englishman. The charismatic John J. Hickman, a farmer turned insurance agent, headed the Grand Lodge of Kentucky and later the international Order. The tenacious...

  8. 3 The Road to Louisville
    (pp. 57-80)

    After the Civil War several paths and tracks crisscrossed on the way to Louisville in 1876. In justifying their behavior, Templar factions quarreled over the relative importance of the resulting controversies in bringing the IOGT to the great schism, each faction assigning blame for the fratricidal disruption to people other than themselves.

    On these intersecting disputes the central collision, affecting all the others, was the struggle over African American membership-especially in the former slave states. White southerners quarreled about how to protect white supremacist policies, by secession or compromise. To mollify critics from outside their region, they created an African...

  9. 4 The Great Schism
    (pp. 81-104)

    The decade from 1876-86 saw angry declarations of principle, fumbled attempts at compromise, invasion and consolidation, pamphlet wars, bitterness, financial crisis and lawsuits, radicalizing of the demand for African American rights, brief-lived black Grand Lodges, frustration and indifference, and in the end new RWGL leaders eager to put the racial controversy behind them. During these years Templar membership shrank in both North America and Britain, but new Grand Lodges flourished outside the English-speaking world in Sweden, Norway, and elsewhere.

    The motives and expectations of the British leaders in 1876 remain unclear. Since early 1874 the membership had dropped precipitously in...

  10. 5 The Black Templars
    (pp. 105-125)

    In contrast to the abundance of information on how white Templars viewed black Templar membership, there is only skimpy evidence about the black Templars themselves and even less about how other blacks regarded the IOGT. Historians of African American organizational life almost never mention the Good Templars, and biographers of blacks who held high Templar office seldom explore this phase of their lives. The general neglect of African American fraternal societies and the black temperance movement helps explain this oversight. Moreover, much of the source material for the black Templars lies buried in British temperance newspapers, not the place where...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 6 The Reunion
    (pp. 126-150)

    After Louisville the quarrel that sustained the great schism became increasingly complicated to explain and difficult to justify. The anger and the distrust remained obvious, but not so the underlying principle in the dispute. Sometimes it seemed only a legalistic excuse to keep fighting. The RWGL and reluctant white southerners made compromises that satisfied nearly all white members in the northern American states and Canada and many other Templars around the world, but not the leaders of the English and Scottish Grand Lodges or their African American allies.

    At the London conference in October 1876, Hickman offered segregated black lodges...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 151-155)

    This book has pursued multiple objectives, the most fundamental of which has been to make the Good Templars visible. It also establishes that studying the IOGT can contribute to a variety of historical discourses: temperance, race and gender relations, internationalism, social class, and the African American experience. The nineteenth-century Templars reflected the search for a new, universal, reformed world order based on human equality of race, gender, and class. The Templars deserve a place in the subject matter of the new social and cultural history.

    In the introduction I spoke about writing the book as a voyage of discovery. Such...

  14. Appendix
    (pp. 156-162)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 163-196)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-199)
  17. Index
    (pp. 200-209)