WE herewith present to our readers a report of the doings of National Reform assembled in convention in the city of Pittsburgh, and also a summary of the work of the Association for the past year.
The Convention assembled Wednesday evening, May 11, at 7:45. After the formalities of opening there was a speech by Rev. T. P. Stevenson, editor of the Christian Statesman, and one by Rev. J. P. Mills, the Methodist Episcopal “District Secretary” of National Reform; after which Dr. McAllister closed the evening meeting with a statement and an appeal. The statement was that the Association began the year with a debt of between $2,500 and $3,000, and that the work had been carried forward on so broad a scale that there had been a little added to the debt, although the receipts had been over $7,000. Four men had been laboring all of the time, and three others a part of the time. One man had preached 150 sermons, delivered 60 addresses, and had written articles by the score.
He stated that the successful work in the South had awakened enthusiasm in the North, especially in Pittsburgh. He said: “There is developing one of the grandest movements the world ever saw,—a work that is to bring the North and South together. It will bring together all patriots. If we can unite the Christian sentiment of North and South, we shall bridge what has been called the ‘bloody chasm.’” The appeal was then for funds to carry on the work. “In the South men of all the different denominations are ready to take hold. There ought to be three or four men to go all through the South, to organize the work. The cause is worthy of your confidence and your means.”
“Secretary” Weir is the man who has just made a tour through the South, and an account of his trip was made the special order for the evening session on the morrow.
The first thing after the opening exercises on the morning of the 12th, was the annual report of the Corresponding Secretary. He stated that “the past year has been memorable in the history of the cause, because never before was there such a readiness to receive our speakers. We had speakers at Ocean Grove, at Chautauqua, and at Saratoga. At Saratoga was the most hearty reception. Arrangements have been made for an all-day session at Ocean Grove the coming season, also at a popular resort in Maryland, and near Chicago, and for a three days’ session at Lakeside, Sandusky, Ohio. The Christian Statesman has been placed in 289 reading-rooms of the Young Men’s Christian Association. More than 30,000 of the old series of National Reform documents, and 5,000 of the new series, have been distributed. So that, including the Christian Statesman, there has been circulated by systematic and habitual distribution 2,710,000 pages of National Reform literature.”
“Besides the regular lectureship of the Association, there have been nearly fifty volunteer lecturers, who have given about 100 lectures. The greatest help has been by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Two years ago the Union established a department of Sabbath observance. One year ago, at the suggestion of National Reform, the Union established a department on the Bible in public schools.” The secretary himself had addressed their National Convention, and they had thanked him.” Of the monthly responsive readings of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, three were in the line of National Reform—one on God in Government, one on Sabbath observance, and one on national sins. Miss Willard loses no opportunity to declare that the Government rests on His shoulders. Both Miss Willard and Mrs. Woodbridge addressed the workingmen and introduced National Reform ideas. And not the least gratifying sign is the fact that for the first time in our history the fear of God has found a place in political platforms. And that this opportunity might be made the most of, the following memorial had been framed, and is to be sent to every person that can be reached; to be signed and returned:—
“‘The undersigned, who has sympathized and acted with the———party, desires that the future platforms of that party shall not fail to contain an acknowledgment of Almighty God as the source of authority and, power in civil government, of Christ as the king of all nations, and of the supreme authority of his moral laws; together with declarations favoring the prohibition of the liquor traffic, the defense of the Sabbath, the Christian features of our public education, and a national marriage and divorce law in harmony with the law of Christ. The names of women are desired as well as the names of men!’
“This with the special design of pressing the subject upon the attention of all parties at their next National Convention.”
Also last fall an “admirable draft” for thanksgiving proclamations in the name of Christ had been sent to all the governors, but the request had been complied with in only one instance, and that was Governor Scales, of North California. In conclusion he stated that “never before were there echoes of National Reform from so many, nor so influential, quarters,” and referred to statements made by Dr. Talmage, “Sam” Jones, Joseph Cook, and others.
Next there was given the reports of District Secretaries. Secretary Foster reported 135 sermons, 65 lectures; interviewed 10 presidents of colleges, 30 professors, and 12 editors; preached in 12 Presbyterian and 11 Methodist Churches, and lifted collections averaging $109.78 a month. And the people ready for National Reform!
Secretary Wylie reported for “three months, spent mostly in Michigan and Indiana, especially in connection with the Prohibition Campaign in Michigan. Delivered 25 sermons, 39 lectures, visited 2 annual conferences of the United Brethren Church, and 1 of Free Methodist, and 3 colleges. No difficulty to get a hearing in colleges.”
Secretary Weir reported that from April 1, 1886, to February 4, 1887, he had addressed in the aggregate over 7,000 people, received  over $500, traveled 6,400 miles, held 97 interviews, and addressed 4 synods, 2 colleges, and W. C. T. Unions in 3 places. All signs he said point to this as the hour when these things should be pressed upon political parties. “If our enemies say these things shall stay out, we must be determined that they shall go in.” He spoke of “the workingmen, whom Socialism, and Anarchism, and Catholicism, are all trying to catch.” But in the Executive Committee the day before it had been decided that National Reform must secure the workingmen, and that they could best be secured through the agitation of the Sabbath, for workingmen do not want to work on the Sabbath.
Secretary Mills reported seven months’ work principally in his own conference, Northern Ohio, and chiefly among M. E. Churches. He published a small sheet himself to help spread his views; gave 12 lectures a month on National Reform direct; collected in all $375.
Secretary Coleman had addressed 9 meetings, 2 ecclesiastical bodies, and 5 colleges. The coming year the way is open to reach twice as many colleges. He said, “The bad are growing worse, and the good are growing better.”
A series of about twelve resolutions was introduced. But neither in the resolutions nor in their discussion was there anything developed that had not been covered in the speeches and reports, except in the one in which the convention complimented the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. One speaker caused a good deal of sparring by saying that he “would not have the ballot put into woman’s hands.” Mr. Stevenson remarked that he foresees far larger results from the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union influence in National Reform than even they themselves realize. Within five years they have bid their hand on the legislation of twenty States, and have secured scientific temperance instruction in the public schools. Another speaker said: “This movement is bound to succeed through the influence of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.”
Another said: “When we get women and Christ in politics, and they will both go in together, we shall have every reform, and Christ will be proclaimed King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The chairman closed the debate on this resolution by saying that “when woman undertakes anything good she will do it. And if she attempts anything bad she will accomplish that. What Ahab would not do Jezebel did. And what Herod would not do to John the Baptist otherwise, his wife caused him to do.” No one attempted to explain just exactly where, in this observation, there lay the compliment to the W. C. T. U. It seemed to the SENTINEL representative that the compliment was rather backhanded. And yet we could not help wondering whether in the end the observation might not prove true and the simile appropriate, even though it be not preeminently complimentary as it stands.
Rev. Mr. McConnel, of Youngstown, Ohio, proposed the formation of “a Praying League, to be composed of all who are interested in this movement, to covenant together to offer a prayer at the noon hour, wherever they may be, every day till our prayer is answered in the abolition of the liquor traffic, and till this nation is made God’s kingdom.” The proposition was heartily endorsed by the convention, and Mr. McConnel was given charge of the concern.
Thursday evening, the closing meeting, Secretary Weir occupied in giving the account of his Southern trip. It began February 24 and closed May 11. During this time he delivered 42 addresses, visited 7 States, traveled 2,800 miles, addressed 7,700 people, collected $157.07, and held 103 interviews, three of which were with the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The others were with preachers, professors, officials of Woman’s Christian Temperance Unions, and editors. Meetings were held in 6 churches of different denominations. Out of the 42 meetings 24 were in these churches; some were even union National Reform meetings. In Raleigh, N. C., the Methodists and Presbyterians united. He gave addresses in 16 educational institutions, 9 of which were colored, and he never had, he said, more attentive listeners. His reception throughout was cordial. “Never,” said he, “was I better treated than by the people of the South. All denominations, every one of them, all gave a hearty welcome to the cause of National Reform.” He only met three people who flatly opposed National Reform, and all three were ministers.
Mr. Weir described the outlook as most promising. He said: “Any man can take National Reform principles and carry them safely and satisfactorily all through the South. In Atlanta, among all the leading people, there was no need to explain National Reform. They understand it, and are ready to join hands with us. I believe it is going to be a walk-over in the South. A confederate brigadier said, ‘I am a Southerner, was a confederate soldier, a secessionist. But all that is past now, and I am ready to join hands with you at once.’ And nine out of every ten will do the same thing.”
Mr. Weir then closed with the impressive appeal: “Don’t we see in this our opportunity—an opportunity such as seldom comes to any cause? It will have a welcome everywhere. Don’t we see how it will build for the unity of the nation? Don’t you see in this the unifier of this nation? Some say prohibition will unite them, but this it is that is to do it.”
And we could not possibly say but that it is true. We have not space for any further comment, but only to remark, that in view of these plain statements of fact in the progress of the National Reform movement in a single year—all given in sober earnest, and none with any air of extravagance nor of braggadocio—how much longer shall the movement have to prosper so, how much longer will it have to grow, before the American people will awake to the fact that the National Reform movement, which bears in its train the union of Church and State, with all the evils that accompany such an illicit connection, is on the eve of a fearful success? How long shall the AMERICAN SENTINEL have to stand alone amongst the journals of the nation in pointing out the dangers that threaten religious liberty in this land of freedom? How long?
A. T. J.