Jacob C. White, Jr. "What Rum is Doing to the Colored People" Speech
What Rum is doing for the Colored People
We are all familiar with the effects produced by intoxicating liquors. We hear temperance lectures plainly setting forth the evils of intemperance and admonishing the youth to beware lest they should fall into the net which surrounds them on all sides, and become less than worthless to Society. Notwithstanding the admonitions which are daily given to our young men, we find them frequenting these earthly hells, not only throwing away the time which might be improved with great advantage both to them themselves and to the people at large; but also throwing away their money for that which brings unto them nothing but want, misery, death, and eternal torment. A vast amount of good might be accomplished if the money spent by our young men, for liquor was employed for the purpose of elevating our people and promoting the cause of education among them. Aside from this the Respectable Groggeries are ruining the very class of our people to whom we are to look as warriors who are to fight for our liberty, and our rights, when the heads of our Fathers shall be laid low in the silent tomb, and wrapped in the cold embrace of death. (shall be those who are now so earnestly pleading for suffering humanity, and their immortal souls have taken their flight to receive the recompense for the deeds done in the service of their people.) If True is any people who have a good reason for advocating the passage of the “Maine Liquor Law”, or some other kind of prohibiting liquor, law, it is the Colored people of this country; if for nothing but a matter of policy. So that they should have men to fight their battles and contend with our enemies for our rights, which state of things cannot possibly exist if the grog shops are not suppressed or some measures taken to reclaim our young men who have been so unfortunate as to become addicted to the habit of drinking rum. Let us then do all that we can, to eradicate this evil, and put forth all our energies for the purpose of having the youth trained in such a manner that they will be fitted for usefulness when they grow up to be men + women. When this is accomplished we will see a marked difference in the Colored People of this country, in a political and social point of view.
Jacob C. White Jr.
Phil. Mar. 24th 1854
Jacob C. White, Jr., a proponent of education, detailed the ill effects that rum had on African Americans. In this speech, he notes that legal measures needed to be enacted to prevent the sale of intoxicating liquors.
Image: "American Negro Historical Society, December 30, 1852 - September 14, 1854," Leon Gardiner Collection [0008B], Historical Society of Pennsylvania.