Mary Leitch and Margaret Winning Leitch to James Levi Barton, August 30, 1915



Garrochales, [Puerto] Rico, August 30, 1915.

Dear Dr. Barton:

In the presence of this European war, is it not time for leaders of thought, like yourself, to consider whether God has a controversy with these nations?

When the American Government passed the [Fugitive] Slave Law, Abraham Lincoln predicted that God would punish the nation for that act, and he said: -- "Surely every time the slave lifts his manacled hands to heaven it is a cry to God for [judgment]." And he said, "What if, for every drop of blood drawn from the slave by the lash, God should draw a bucket full by the sword?" And He did. Look over the grave stones at Arlington Cemetery. Almost as far as the eye can see there stretches the lines of grave stones. Northern men, as well as Southern men were buried there. Why was that?

The Northerners did not own slaves but they permitted slavery, and because they did that they were equally guilty with the South and they shared in the punishment. Whatsoever a nation soweth, that shall it also reap.

Have the nations of Europe and the United States offended God by great national sins?

Let us look over the history of the past.

In the book, Intoxicating Drinks and Drugs in all Lands and Times, published by the International Reform Bureau, Washington, D.C., the following testimony is given by Rev. Charles Satchell Morris, ([traveler] in South and West Africa, now special agent of the National Baptist Convention, and American Baptist Missionary Union,) "I have [traveled] up and down the coast of Africa in boats that were simply wholesale liquor houses, -- rum in hogsheads, rum in casks, rum in barrels, rum in kegs, rum in demijohns, rum in stone jugs; and the vilest rum that ever burnt its way down human throats.

What an awful charge the vast cloud of butchered African witnesses will have against the civilized world in the day of [judgment]. Africa, robbed of her children, rifled of her treasures, lies prostrate before the rapine and greed of the Christian nations of the world. A slave pen and battle field for ages, Christian nations, instead of binding up her [wounds], like the good Samaritan, [page 2] Instead of passing by and leaving her alone, like the Levite and priest: have come to her with ten thousand ship-loads of hell's master-piece of damnation, rum, that is turning her children into human cinders; that has turned the entire West Coast into one long bar-room, from which no less than two million savages go forth to die every year as a result of the traffic. 'Gin, gin,' is the cry all along the West Coast, and, says Joseph Thompson, 'underneath that cry for gin I can hear the reproach, you see what Christian nations have made us.' Africa sends to Europe palm oil, palm kernels, rubber and coffee; Europe sends to Africa powder and balls to slaughter the body, and rum to slay the soul."

In the same book, the Rev. Theodore L. Cuyler, D.D., in an address before the Ecumenical Missionary Conference in New York City, said: -- "For how many years have ships from Christian ports carried missionaries in the cabin, and rum, fire arms and opium in the hold. Even Great Britain and America have held out to the heathen races the Bible in one hand and the bottle in the other hand; and the bottle has sent ten to perdition where the Bible has brought one to Christ.

Four years ago [Khama], a Christian Chieftain of Bechuanaland, converted under Livingstone, went to London on an extraordinary mission. He went there to tell them that he had made a prohibitory law for the protection of his tempted subjects, the poor [negroes]; but he said, the chief difficulty he had was the smuggling of liquor in by the British subjects; and so he implored Her Majesty's Government to second his efforts by enacting measures to make prohibition successful. Think of it, a converted African savage on his knees before a Christian queen imploring her people not to poison his own nation."

Regarding the opening of American saloons in the Philippines, Dr. Cuyler said: -- "The highest authority with reference to the native races there is my friend President Schurman, of Cornell, who is President of the Philippine Commission.

President Schurman says, 'I regret that the Americans allowed the saloon to get a foothold in the Islands. That has hurt us more than anything else. [page 3] We prohibited the cock fights and permitted the saloon. One emphasized the Filipino frailty, the other revealed the American vice.' and he said, 'It is most unfortunate that we introduced and established the saloons there, for they will not only corrupt the natives, but they will exhibit to the world the vices of our race.

We found them a sober people when we went there, and they are catching our vices, and coming under the [thralldom] of these drinking houses.

One of them said to me, 'you have brought the blessings of civilization, and you have lined our most beautiful avenues with five hundred saloons.'"

Has God no [controversy] with the nations at war? For example, is He not taking from Belgium in blood and treasure what Belgium took from the Congo Free State through the Rubber Traffic? In the report of the Ecumenical Missionary Conference held in New York City in 1900, (published by [illegible] the American Tract Society,) H. [Grattan Guinness], M.D., of London, President of The Regions Beyond Missionary Society, said regarding the rubber traffic on the Congo: -- "The Arab slave trade in Africa has been bad, but I declare to you that I decline to believe that any worse atrocities were ever perpetrated by the Arabs than have been perpetrated by the Belgian Officials in connection with the rubber traffic in Africa. The Government of the Congo Free State was and is a large trading company. It is greatly to their advantage to get as much rubber as possible, and to get it at as low a price as possible. They, therefore, under the pretext of taxation, demanded of the natives an [enormous] amount of gratuitous labor. The rubber traffic was forced on the people at the point of the rifle. If the natives did not bring in a stated quantity their villages were burned and they themselves were shot down like dogs.

I know personally what I am talking about perfectly well. When a commissioner of a district did not wish personally to superintend the work of destruction, he gave [illegible] cartridges to some of his native soldiers and sent them out to kill the people, and said, 'no do not waste the cartridges, and to show that you have not wasted them I shall expect you to bring back a right hand for every cartridge used.'

At one of the Stations of the Congo I have known of eighty hands to be brought back in one day, and seventy hands to be brought back the next day. [page 4]

One day at one of our mission stations a poor woman was being driven with a [basket] on her back containing hands. One of the Lady Missionaries stopped her and [illegible] said 'put down that basket and let me see what you have there.' The hands were counted on the ground. There were nineteen. In that basket were the hands of women and little children. The [man] who was driving the woman with a strip of [hippopotamus] hide was terribly angry because one hand had been lost on the way."

Again, Is God taking from Great Britain in blood and treasure what Great Britain took from China through the opium traffic which she forced upon China at the cannon's mouth? The Rev. J. Hudson Taylor, Sup't of the China Inland Mission, in an address before the Centenary Missionary Conference in Exeter Hall, London, (published by Revell) said: -- "After eighty years of missionary work in China, we are thankful for 32,000 communicants; but after 80 years of commercial labor there are 150,000,000 of the Chinese who are either personally smokers of the opium, or sufferers from the opium vice of husband or father or wife or mother or some relative. You may go through China, and you will find thousands, -- I can safely say tens of thousands -- of towns and villages where there is but small trace of the Bible or of Christian influence, but you will scarcely find a hamlet in which the opium pipe does not reign. Ah! we have given China something besides the gospel; something that is doing more harm in a week than the united efforts of <all> the missionaries are doing good in a year."

We heard the Rev. J. Hudson Taylor speak at a meeting in London in the year 1887 on the subject of the opium traffic in China. He warned the people of Great Britain that God would call them to account for the evils of that traffic, He said: -- "The Government of God is just. The Government of God is retributive. God will surely punish this nation for the curse she is inflicting on China. There may be some here who will live to see that day."

Into how many countries has British rum been shipped and forced on unwilling people.

Take the case of Madagascar. Years ago the Prime Minister of Madagascar complained bitterly of the terrible importation of rum into that island against his wish, and of the terrible devastation it was working among his people. [page 5]

The sale of intoxicants by white traders was, he said, weakening and debasing the youth of the country, and as far as his government was concerned it would gladly prohibit the admission of a single bottle into the country, but the British would not allow this, and 10,000 barrels were imported annually into the island of Madagascar in order that the sugar planters of [Mauritius] might have a market for their rum the British Gov't compelled the Gov't of [Mauritius] to sanction the importation of rum.

The Christians of Great Britain have had it in their power for a generation at least to put a stop to all these great National evils. They were sufficient in numbers and influence to have formed a balance of power, and they could have put in or kept out any political party according as they undertook to carry out the necessary reforms, Not to act, not to protest to the extent of one's power and influence and complicity with evil.

God has said that He will visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. The children of these Christians who failed to put a stop to those evils, -- the flower of the British nation, -- are [today] in the trenches.

It has been stated in the public prints of Great Britain that whenever a [illegible] large brewery is made into a Limited Liability Company more offers to take stock came from ministers and clergymen than would have taken up the whole stock!

Should not the Christians of Great Britain find out how their ministers and clergyman stand on the temperance question, and refuse to listen to any man who does not stand squarely on the right side?

Turning to the United States, we find it stated in the Christian Endeavor World of August 10, 1915, that 38,000,000 gallons of whiskey were manufactured in the United States last year, and that fifteen billion cigarettes were manufactured in the United States last year, and that eight billion five hundred million cigars were manufactured in the United States last year.

What part of these are being sent to the Non-Christian world to harm and demoralize Non-Christian peoples? [page 6] The Christians of this country could easily [illegible] [force the] balance of power, if needed. Has not the time fully come for the Christians of every country to demand decency and righteousness in politics?

These great evils [exist] only by the will of the people.

"The vote falls into the ballot box
As softly as snow falls on the sod;
Yet executes the freeman's will;
As lightnings [do] the will of God."

In this great task the pulpit must be the leader.

Hon. Henry Blair, Ex. United States Senator from New Hampshire, Author of the prohibitory amendment to the National Constitution, The National Sunday Rest Bill, The Education Bill, The Nation Labor Department Bill, etc. in an address quoted in the book Intoxicating Drinks and Drugs in all lands and times, said: --

"The present seems to me to be a time for consultation among the forces which make for man in his conflict with alcohol. This conflict has been strong and deadly for a century. Alcohol is gaining upon man. What is to be done? Every great battle is necessarily a close one, and turns upon some decisive thing done at a critical time.

Our faith in God and belief in the ultimate triumph of His cause even unto the ends of the earth, involve the conclusion that alcohol will be destroyed, but when, and how? Evidently there must be some great change in the general plan of battle, or the handling of the forces, or both; and the whole future of the Temperance Reform, and all that is involved in it, must be seriously [affected] by what is or is not now done by us.

There ought to be a council of war held, here and now.

Sometimes I think we fail to comprehend fully what a 'big job' we have undertaken, Mr. Lincoln, you know, found out gradually that he had a bigger job on his hands than he at first thought for. So did we all. So did the whole nation, -- both sides, for that matter.

And something is accomplished when we find just what we have got to do; for then, as Mr. Lincoln and the nation did, we will go to work and do it. [page 7] I believe that a world embracing plan is necessary, and that all the great agencies of Christian civilization should unite and cooperate with each other like allied armies in a continental war.

It was thus that the slave trade was swept from the earth, and inasmuch as alcohol is now an article of universal production, interchange and consumption among the nations, its transportation can be effectively controlled only by the combined action of the commercial powers; and we must certainly aim to secure in all civilized nations the public sentiment and government action which will [cover] the whole world, and we will strive for this with a special sense of responsibility in our own country.

The pulpit has been the pioneer <and principal promoter> of the great steps taken by our nation in civil, social and moral reform. It is the business, as well as the inclination of the American pulpit to do right and to be aggressive.

The pulpit was the real leader of the people up to and through the Revolutionary War. Giving due credit to all other man, organizations and agencies, ever since the Revolutionary War, and [today], the pulpit has been and now is the real leader of the American people whenever they are led toward higher and better life.

With this power goes corresponding responsibility. If, in the future, the Temperance Reform is to be more fortunate than in the past, there must be more general, united and efficient action for its promotion by the pulpit than there has been in the past.

If the pulpit, regardless of all denominational distinctions, could unite for the promotion of this great cause, and would make it a part of their primary work, support it by regular presentations to their congregations, calling for contributions to its support, as they do for missions, the Bible Societies, and other general causes, the future of the Temperance Movement would be as sure as the triumph of the Gospel by the Eternal Word of God.

And why, when the eradication of the influences of alcohol is a condition precedent to the triumph of Christianity -- I ask, why is it not the first duty of the pulpit to organize for Temperance Reform? [page 8] There was a time when the churches did nothing toward Foreign Missions, and, of course there were no Foreign Missions. The pulpit changed all that. The clergy organized the Missionary Societies and preached the Christian duty of their maintenance; and now the whole world is familiar with the story.

If the clergy of all denominations, or at least <of> the great ones, would take upon themselves to organize the American, or the World's Temperance Society, or still better, would organize both; and united such Societies with International ties, in [due] time of development, and then insist that they be supported like other branches of Christian work by all who profess to recognize Christian, or even humanitarian obligations, I think that the most important advance movement that can be suggested would have been made.

The past has been full of enthusiasm and discussion.

Whether the future will be but a repetition of the past depends upon another question, to wit, whether the Temperance Reform can be put on a business basis, like the missionary and educational institutions of the church.

More than half the human race are under the control of Governments founded upon the Christian faith; and it would not be many years before that faith would dominate the world if the pulpit would do for the Temperance Cause what it is already doing for the cause of missions at home and abroad."

<Very truly yours>

Mary & Margaret W. Leitch [signed]