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Will you take a solemn pledge to abstain forever from the use of, or giving to others as a beverage, anything that will intoxicate?

Temperance and racism : John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars    Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, 1996 David M. Fahey International Order of Good Templars Membership History Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 209 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 197-199) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Temperance and Racism restores the Templars, now an almost forgotten footnote in American and British social history, to a position of prominence within the temperance movement. Lodge rituals, sociable evenings, and denunciations of drink attracted a largely youthful membership in North America and Britain. 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.

The Templars’ policy toward blacks, however, was more ambiguous. Millions of women and men joined the order after the American Civil War, yet mounting tensions arose over membership for recently freed slaves. The organization split apart in 1876 when Templars in the American South wanted to exclude blacks and those in Great Britain, where racial exclusion offended many members in theory and there were no black or colonial members in reality, could not reach a compromise on the issue.

Spurred by a desire to remain a truly international organization the two sides eventually reconciled in 1887, if losing all the southern white membership numbers could be considered reconciliation. After British Templars recognized they could not force racial inclusiveness in the American South they made the typically British decision to reject racism in principle while supporting segregation in practice. But it was too late ans since they contradicted the Templars’ ideal of universal brotherhood, combined with the years of schism, this spelled the end of international leadership for the order, and their numbers gradually dwindled.


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