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Temperance Speeches







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Biographical Sketch

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John Gough, (pronounced "Goff"), was born at Sandgate, Kent, London on August 22, 1817. Gough was an Englishman whose father was a pensioner. Gough was brought to America when his father, who could not pay for John to learn a trade, sent him to America with a family from their village. John's father paid the family 10 guineas so that they would take John to America, teach him a trade and provide for him until he was 21 years old. Once in America, John lost employment and was continually in debt. When the death of his mother occurred and his employment problems continued, Gough turned to drinking. The following lines are how he described his addiction to alcohol, "I was now the slave of a habit which had become completely my master, and which fastened its remorseless fangs in my very vitals." Soon after Gough realized what a mess his life was becoming because of the alcohol, a Temperance advocate approached him and convinced Gough to sign a pledge and come to a meeting. At this meeting that Gough attended, he made his first speech on Temperance (John B. Gough - Sketch of his life work and orations).


Excerpts from Gough's Temperance Speeches

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"The Man Who Drinks Because He is Cold...The Man Who Drinks Because He is Hot"

"Now for a moment let us look at some of the reasons given for drinking, or some of the excuses for taking a glass. We total abstainers have no excuse or apology to offer for our position of antagonism to the drink.

A man once rose in a meeting which I held and said, 'I will sign the pledge if you let me have a little drop when I want it as a medicine.' When a man prescribes for sickness so long in advance, I look at him with suspicion. I said, 'When the doctor prescribes it you may take it.' 'But,' said he, "I don't want to go to the doctor every time I am sick; I want to take a little when I feel I need it; if you let me do that I will join the society, because I think you are doing a great work.' Anyone would give his name in that way, for it would cost him nothing. 'When I feel I need it!' 'It is very cold to-day, I shiver from head to foot; I must have a little something it is so cold, and I need it.' Or, 'It is very hot to-day; dear me! such weather as this swelters a man to death; I must have something to keep me up in such hot weather; I need it.' Another man drinks a little in summer-time because there are insects in the water, and spirits kill them. Another thinks he needs something in winter-time because it is so hurtful to drink cold water" (John Gough, Platform Echoes,122-123).

"Women's Power and Influence"

"I have a strong belief in the rights of women, though I may not be what in the ordinary phrase is styled 'a woman's rights man' (528). The wife has an influence to exert, and it is a most astounding thing to me that so many ladies look askance at the subject of temperance. What is there undignified in doing away with a miserable, paltry custom? It is time-honored and old-fashioned, certainly. What mighty power a woman has for good or for evil; a word of sympathy from her lips goes a great way. Many and many a man has been saved by waking to the consciousness that some tender-hearted, pure woman felt some sympathy for him and some interest in him, though he was debased and degraded" (John Gough, Platform Echoes, 530).


Responses to Gough's Lectures

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