[rough notes]


cannot find a better source

uly 11, 1901 - At meeting of First presidency and Twelve “[John Henry Smith] Had devoted considerable thought during the night to the question of selling beer at Saltair and wondered if we were not inclined to take rather an extreme view of the case–whether, if we cut off the privilege entirely, we were not to some extent invading the rights of the Latter-day Saints. The revelation on the Word of Wisdom speaks of barley for mild drinks [D&C 89:17]. It is a question that demands serious thought. Have we taken an extreme view of the word of God? Where can we strike the limit, where can we reach the spirit of the Word of Wisdom? (Apostle Heber J. Grant asked Apostle Smith if beer that is intoxicating is to be considered a mild drink. The revelation, he said, forbids the use of strong drink.) Apostle Smith continued and said that the German beer was very light and mild and would not intoxicate, though he conceded that the beer of the United States is of a very different character and will cause drunkenness. Apostle Brigham Young [Jr Spoke]. Topics treated[:] Said that he believed the temperance movement among our people a proper movement. If we give an inch, the people and the world will take advantage of it–and drunkenness is the crying evil of the age. The Word of Wisdom! “Who can cut it off and patch it on for me?” Each must be judge for himself. Many times water, he said, would distress him, while a little Danish beer would bring a feeling of comfort and ease. However, he believed in the Word of Wisdom as we teach it. As to the matter of selling liquor, said that he was simply disgusted with what he saw at Saltair on the occasion of the “old folks” excursion. He came across a lot of old men—members of the church—smoking old pipes and guzzling beer.” First Presidency and apostles agree that Danish beer is not harmful or in violation of Word of Wisdom and release an official statement to the same affect.

http://www.albalagh.net/kids/history/prohibition.shtml However, starting in the late 1700s, some people started being concerned about the amount of alcohol that people were drinking. By 1800, abstinence pledges were introduced in churches. During the Second Great Awakening of the 1820s and 30s, people started drinking less. By 1833, 6000 societies for prohibition were formed in several states. Physicians, ignorant as they were, started to prescribe less dangerous alcoholic items. Many Protestant churches started supporting antiliquor movements. In 1826, Reverend Lyman Beecher, one of the most powerful voices for prohibition delivered six furious sermons condemning liquor.

Colonial Williamsburg Journal, http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/holiday07/drink.cfm

Water, on the other hand, could make you sick. Though the New World had plenty of fresh, unspoiled water, incautious Americans sickened and sometimes died by drinking from polluted sources. … In Europe, where polluted waterways were a bigger problem, people substituted alcohol. It was an easy example for the colonists to follow. … The first beverages of choice were cider and beer. Both were simple to make. For cider, the raw material, apples, was readily available. For beer, they turned to corn, wheat, oats, persimmons, and green cornstalks.

In the late 1700s, Benjamin Rush, a Philadelphia physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, became fascinated with mental illness. Today, he is considered the father of American psychiatry. He took a special interest in alcoholism and penned a work on the topic, Inquiry into the Effects of Ardent Spirits Upon the Human Body and Mind, published in 1785.

The book begins this way:

By ardent spirits, I mean those liquors only which are obtained by distillation from fermented substances of any kind. To their effects upon the bodies and minds of men, the following inquiry shall be exclusively confined. Fermented liquors contain so little spirit, and that so intimately combined with other matters, that they can seldom be drunken in sufficient quantities to produce intoxication, and its subsequent effects, without exciting a disrelish to their taste, or pain, from their distending the stomach. They are moreover, when taken in a moderate quantity, generally innocent, and often have a friendly influence upon health and life.


Malt Liquors- The grain from which these liquors are obtained, is not liable, like the apple, to be affected by frost, and therefore they can be procured, at all times, and at a moderate price. They contain a good deal of nourish- ment ; hence we find many of the poor people in Great Britain endure hard labour with no other food than a quart or three pints of beer, with a few pounds of bread in a day. As it will be dif- ficult to prevent small beer from becoming sour in warm weather, an excellent substitute may be made for it by mixing bottled poller, ale, or strong beer, with an equal quantity of water or a pleasant beer may be made by adding to a bottle of porter, ten quarts of water, and a pound of brown sugar or a pint of molasses. After they have been well mixed, pout the li- quor into bottles and place them loosely corked, in a cool cellar. In two or three davs, it will be fit for use. A spoonful of ginger added to the mixture, renders it more lively and agreeable to the taste.

http://www.hoboes.com/Politics/Prohibition/Notes/Drinking/ pg 64 Notes from Mark Edward Lender & James Kirby Martin. The Free Press, New York, 1982.

While drinking was acceptable to most Americans, it had its critics. Methodists had, in the 1780s (along with the Quakers) “denounced” distilled spirits “for religious reasons”. Their tenet of abstinence spread as their sect “experienced an explosive growth in numbers after the Revolution.” In Litchfield County, Connecticut, “some two hundred of the “most respectable farmers,”… concluded that drinking on the job did more harm than good and, in 1789, discontinued the customary liquor rations for farm labor. In 1808, a small group in Moreau, New York, founded the nation’s first temperance society, also citing the deleterious impact of liquor on farm productivity.”

pg 36-37 Notes from Mark Edward Lender & James Kirby Martin. The Free Press, New York, 1982. [Speaking of Benjamin Rush] He had a “long-standing friendship with Anthony Benezet and early Methodist leaders”. He saw that “the movement from beer, cider, and other light alcoholic beverages to distilled spirits had not resulted in new social controls to limit drinking excesses.”

p. 46 Notes from Mark Edward Lender & James Kirby Martin. The Free Press, New York, 1982. “the period from the 1790s to the early 1830s was probably the heaviest drinking era in the nation’s history.” Mean absolute alcohol intake frose from 5.8 gallons in 1790 (people aged 15 or older) to 7.1 gallons per year in 1810; it held at that level, “with minor fluctuations”, until “at least 1830.” Samuel Dexter noted in 1814 that “the quantity of ardent spirits… surpasses belief.” While he was the president of the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance, his data “closely approximate modern consumption estimates”. By 1800, about half the absolute alcohol consumed was distilled liquor. It was well over half by 1810. In 1830, 4.3 gallons were hard liquor and 2.8 were beer, cider, or wine.

A search for the word “mild” in the Journal of Discourses brings up a single reference:

Journal of Discourses. Building Up and Adornment of Zion By the Saints. Remarks by President Brigham Young, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 23, 1862. http://jod.mrm.org/9/282

Nevertheless, wheat for man, corn for the ox, oats for the horse, and rye (not for whiskey) for fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

notice that whiskey is specifically forbidden – beer is not

11 references to beer

http://jod.mrm.org/18/70 Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Old Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Aug. 31, 1875.

Now I want to say a few words to the sisters, though I will say that I do not feel the least like chastising either my brethren or my sisters this morning. I feel kind, and I do not want to say words to them that they would think harsh or unkind. But I will say, to both brethren and sisters, that whenever any of us spend means needlessly, say to the amount of one cent, dime, or dollar, we consume it upon the lusts of our flesh. Here is a man, for instance, who has an appetite for tobacco, and, during a year, he spends ten or twenty dollars in cigars and tobacco, which do him no good, but injure him; do you think that such a man will be brought to an account hereafter for that waste? Such means does not go to build temples, or to help to sustain Elders who have gone abroad to proclaim the gospel; it is not applied to assist in feeding or clothing their wives or children, to find them a little fuel in the winter, when it is cold, or to get them a cow, so that they can have milk and a little butter to make them more comfortable; but it is spent in the purchase of tobacco and is utterly wasted; and they who get rid of their means so foolishly will most surely be brought to account therefore. The same may be said of money spent in the purchase of beer. It is a mild drink, and is very pleasant and agreeable to a great many; but when a man pays his fifty cents, his dollar or his ten dollars for beer it goes into the hands of the grocery keepers and they send it off, and it does no good to the community. The beer itself does no good, it injures the system of those who habitually indulge in the use of it, and, whether they think of and realize it, or not, they will be brought to account for the means they have thus wasted.

John Taylor, 1862 http://jod.mrm.org/10/49

Many of you have doubtless heard people talk, and say, “Why I thought I could get a living better, get more money and clothes and everything I needed.” Yes, this is the way many felt, and they came here to the gathering place of the Saints with a view to get rich, that they might eat and drink, get plenty of beer, spirits and wine, such as was made in the old countries and in the Eastern States, whereas men should come with a feeling to build up the kingdom of God. Not that you need be united with the Temperance Society, for our religion comprehends all that is good in that society. Is there a temperance society or principle necessary? We have it. Is there any good principle in the Peace Society? We have it with us; it is all comprehended in our holy religion.

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Stake Meetinghouse, Ephraim, Saturday Afternoon (Quarterly Conference), May 31st, 1884. http://jod.mrm.org/25/194

But not so when the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached. It always did produce a separation between the righteous and the wicked. It drew the line of distinction. It was always like putting yeast into a beer barrel. It sets it to working, and whoever has examined a beer barrel while the beer is working in it under a microscope, will see the way that the beer works itself clear. It is by the different properties it contains running in different directions. You will see the liquid full of little animals running in different directions, and it continues to work in this sort of a way until it becomes clear. Well, the working of beer in a barrel reminds me of the preaching of the Gospel in the earth. …

John Taylor. 1881. http://jod.mrm.org/22/290

If they choose evil let them choose it. We talk sometimes about the influence of saloons, of whiskey and beer, and all these kinds of things. Cannot you Latter-day Saints let them alone? If you cannot you are not fit to be Latter-day Saints and you will not be so long. If the world choose to wallow in these things, let them wallow. But would an Elder in Israel and a saint of God disgrace himself by being found in such dens? Yes, many have, but they have got to repent and turn round a short corner and purge themselves from these things, or they will be severed from the Church and kingdom of God, and they will have no association among us.

BY. 1876. http://jod.mrm.org/18/230

A gentleman, well known to you, told me that he had occasion to wait fifty minutes on one of our streets, near a beer saloon, and during that time he counted six women come out, three or four of them had either children in arms, or walking by their sides. What do you think of that, sisters? It is a disgrace to the name of lady. Is it any more a disgrace in woman than in man? Yes, because he is by nature coarser and more prone to such wickedness than she is. Woman is altogether of a finer nature, and has stronger moral inclinations; it is not natural for her to indulge in wickedness that man takes common delight in. It is a disgrace and a burning shame in an Elder in Israel to allow himself to become intoxicated; and further, it is shameful in an Elder to frequent and help sustain these saloons, these sinkholes of vice. How would the Savior, were he to come among us, regard such men who are supposed to be engaged in the work of building up Zion? It would be fair to believe that, as he disposed of the moneychangers who contaminated the Temple, by as he said, turning it into a den of thieves, so likewise the Elder, who would lend his influence to turn Zion into a den of drunkards and gamblers, should be cast out as one unworthy to be engaged in so important a work.

John Taylor 1857. http://jod.mrm.org/5/112 They do not love the truth. In most of these places they have rejected the Gospel, and they listen not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. Many asked about their friends, and if their was any speculation on foot. I could get thousands to immigrate to this Territory for speculative purposes; and committees waited on me to learn what inducements are held out to settlers. I could get thousands to come here, if we would give them good farms, and furnish them cattle, and work their farms for them until they got started, and let them carouse around, and have all the lager beer they could drink.

George Q. Cannon. 1880. http://jod.mrm.org/22/98

There was a time when we were driven by mobs, and our faith was tried in various ways. It is necessary that there should still be trials to test the faith of this people. There are no mobs now, we do not have our houses burnt down now, or our cattle shot down. But shall we be without trials? No. Why? Because it is necessary—at least I accept it as necessary in the providence of God—that there should be liquor saloons, etc., so that Latter-day Saints who make so many professions can, if they want to drink beer and get drunk, or go in and play billiards and gamble, or go to other places that are worse—can do so. “But,” says one, “I thought in coming to Zion I was coming to a place of purity where none of these things existed.” If that had been the case how would you have been tried? It is necessary you should be tried for a while in order to develop your strength. We have to be brought in contact with the world, and we have to show the world that there is something connected with our religion which is enduring.

John Taylor. 1884. http://jod.mrm.org/25/84

Regarding Salt Lake City, where he resided for some time, he states: “The criminal record of Salt Lake City, for 1882, shows that in a population of about 25,000, divided between Mormons and non-Mormons as 19 to 6, the total number of arrests was 1,561, of which 188 were Mormons and 1,373 non-Mormons. Of the 66 houses, where beer and liquor were retailed by the glass, 60 were kept by non-Mormons, and the remaining 6, nominally Mormons, were not entitled to participate in the sacraments of the Church by reason of their calling. The 15 billiard rooms and bowling alleys, and the 7 gambling houses were all kept by non-Mormons. The 6 brothels had non-Mormon proprietors, and they were filled by 31 non-Mormon inmates.” There is nothing in this to be proud of; for it would be a pity if we could not live better than they do. We have gathered here, not for speculative purposes, as is sometimes charged, but to worship God, to keep His commandments, and to be instructed in the laws of life. There is no cause for boasting on our part in regard to these things; but I refer to them to show how fallacious their ideas are in regard to these matters.