Wilkinson Scrapbook Article #45

In this article by William Wilkinson’s scrapbook “One Hundred Great and Near-Great Events, Person and Places in Rochester History” (1947) he tells about about early meetings to get people to stop drinking alcohol.

The CURSE of Ardent Spirits

In 1827 the Rochester Presbytery resolved that the temperate use of ardent spirits (booze) ought in all ordinary case, (12 to a case) to be avoided and discouraged. In 1828 the first local public temperance meeting was held in the Monroe County Court House. Doctor Joseph Penney, the versatile pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, fed the agitation among the clergy; and Ashbel Riley, among the laymen. It is claimed for Doctor Penney, that he also preached the first temperance in Ireland; and for Mr. Riley, that he made over 8,000 temperance addresses in Europe and America, always at his own expense. So intense was the drive against drink that, by 1830, social drinking was banned from church groups. Several bars in the village were closed, after a two-hour speech at a powerful temperance meeting in the Brick Church in 1831, to a vast and breathless audience. It was declared that intemperance made 30,000 drunkards, 200,000 paupers, and 20,000 convicts.