3) Reform in the Progressive Era
The first decades of the twentieth century witnessed a swell in support for anti-liquor legislation that culminated in the Prohibition era of the 1930s. Not surprisingly, liquor was chief among the "bad habits" denounced from pre-Prohibition Chautauqua platforms.
A keyword search on liquor provides the 1914 promotional literature for Malcolm R. Patterson, then governor of Tennessee. The materials claim that the governor is:
The most commanding figure and the most brilliant speaker now enlisted in the American anti-saloon campaign . . .His own story of his part in the greatest crusade of modern times is so convincing, so reasonable, so eloquent, so effective that great audiences in the largest cities all over the Union, during the past six months have been swayed and carried as by a storm and have actually subscribed more than two millions of dollars in the form of a five year endowment to the anti-saloon league, and the liquor traffic is gradually retreating to its final destruction. Yet Governor Patterson's manner and methods are not of violence or vituperation. He loves the liquor dealer as a man, but hates his business. His argument is economic, logical, reasonable, and his oratory sublime.
- Who do you think would have been likely audience members for Patterson's oratory?
- Why might the promoter have wanted to assure that Patterson's argument is "economic, logical, (and) reasonable?" What is the effect of the juxtaposition of this description with the preceding comparison to a "storm?"
- Why might a Chautauqua promoter want to note that Patterson "loves the liquor dealer as a man?" What do you think that this assurance was intended to mean to prospective audience members?
- What techniques does the promotion use to make Patterson and his cause appealing?
- What does this promotion suggest about the techniques and the success of the anti-saloon campaign?
- What role does religion play in Patterson's argument? What is the role of his status as governor?
- What present day causes carry the furor suggested by this piece?
Following the first and second world wars, there was no shortage of speakers with military experience. As such, the agencies' talent rosters included many speakers who brought the social stature of military experience to temperance lectures. The Subject Index heading, World War, 1914-1918 - Personal Narratives, yields fourteen items including promotional materials for Col. Dan Morgan Smith.
Presented as a speaker whose experiences in the trenches lent excitement and weight to his talks on the virtues of temperance, Smith's "tributes from the press" include the following commentary:
"The fight is not over," said Col. Dan Morgan Smith, leader of the "Battalion of Death" in the World War, before a great audience Sunday afternoon in St. Paul's Church. The Anti-Saloon Army is fighting for the same humanity and for the same Constitution for which we fought in France, and the Anti-Saloon League will keep on fighting until the beverage use of liquor is wiped out. Col. Smith is a persuasive orator, and drove home facts and logic in unassailable fashion.
- What does Smith mean when he says, "The Anti-Saloon Army is fighting for the same humanity and for the same Constitution for which we fought in France?" Do you think that this is a reasonable comparison?
- What role does Smith's military background play in his argument? How do you think that Smith's background might have contributed to the effect of his presentation?
- Do you think Smith's military experience makes him a more credible lecturer on the subject of temperance?
- How would you characterize the tone of Smith's rhetoric?
During the 1930s, with the battle against liquor seemingly won through Prohibition, Chautauqua speakers turned their attacks upon other personal vices. For instance, a search under the Subject Index heading, Drug abuse, yields the publicity materials for Juanita Hansen, the ex-silent film star:
Whose Colorful Career Took Her from the Heights of Film Fame to the Depths of Suffering Known Only to Drug Addicts, and Who Valiantly Won Back Health and Strength, is Dedicating the Rest of Her Life to Fight the Dope Evil in a Campaign of Education and Warning.
- What is the tone of this piece regarding drug abuse? How might this tone contribute to the promotion of Hansen's presentation? How might it contribute to the presentation itself?
- Are there differences between the techniques used in promoting temperence and those used in preventing drug abuse?
- How might Ms. Hansen's "fame" help in delivering her message?
- Do present-day stars engage in such campaigns? How are their efforts different or similar to Ms. Hansen's?