This Week in Texas Methodist History Feb. 12
Dallas Methodist Church Hosts State Temperance Meeting, Feb. 12, 1875
On Friday, February 12, 1875 delegates from various sections of Texas assembled at the Methodist church in Dallas, located at the corner of Commerce and Elm, to formulate plans for the Texas Temperance Society. The president of the Society was Prof. W. H. Scales, a Methodist preacher and head of the Dallas Female College.
There had been temperance societies in Texas since the days of the Republic, but the disturbances of the Civil War had disrupted their activities. This meeting in 1875 was intended to re-organize the movement to stem the flood of alcoholic beverages that seemed to flow so freely in Texas. Scales was elected to assume the presidency of the organization.
A resolutions committee was appointed and went to work preparing resolutions to be voted on by the plenary body. The body adjourned for the noon hour and reassembled at 3:00 p.m. Two resolutions passed easily, but the third resolution threw the convention into disputes. The resolutions committee offered a resolution that the Temperance Society should be turned into a political party. This was to radical a step for the delegates who rejected the resolution.
Throughout the temperance movement that morphed into the prohibition movement, there was an internal argument between the proponents of legislation and the proponents of persuasion.
The convention adjourned on Saturday after naming an Executive Committee chaired by W. S. Coleman of Harrison County, with with N. M. Burford and M. B. Franklin of Dallas, E. Finch of Johnson County, and James Burke of Harris County.
The geographic diversity of the Executive Committee is an illustration of the impact of railroads. The lack of gender diversity is also notable. The temperance/prohibition movement received its greatest momentum when women assumed more leadership roles. The movement achieved its goals through constitutional amendment.