The American temperance movement began early in the 19th Century, and grew stronger at mid-century. Despite their reputation as hard-drinking "border ruffians," the Bogus Legislators were not immune to temperance influence. In 1851, Maine adopted the first statewide prohibition law, an "Act for the Suppression of Drinking Houses and Tippling Shops, " and by 1856 a dozen northern states had laws prohibiting sale or possession of intoxicating beverages. There were, however, many legal challenges and uneven enforcement, which resulted in repeal of many of the early state laws. [Stampp, 1857, 131]

Carrie Nation

A controversial temperance advocate from Medicine Lodge, Kansas, she was arrested more than 30 times for destruction of saloons.

One of the first actions of the Bogus Legislature was passage of an "Act to prevent the sale of intoxicating liquors, and games of chance, within one mile of the Shawnee Manual Labor School, in the Territory of Kansas," introduced by William Mathias. [House Journal, 39] No doubt the legislators wanted to demonstrate their own sobriety as well as their respect for the grounds the Methodist Mission. Governor Reeder vetoed the act as part of his first veto of all legislation passed at Shawnee Mission, [House Journal, 67] but the Legislature quickly overrode. [House Journal, 73]

During the session free-state partisans Perry Fuller, J.H. Hughes, Levi Doty and G.F. Kezer petitioned the Bogus Legislature for " a law prohibiting the sale and use of intoxicating liquor among the Indians." Their petition was referred to the select committee working on a broader dramshop law and a specific provision concerning Indians did not reemerge. [House Journal, 240]

"An Act to Restrain Dramshops and Taverns, and to Regulate the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors," was passed by the House, after amendments lowering the cost of a license and taking out one section of the proposed law. [House Journal, 264] The act provided that a special election be held on the first Monday of October 1855, and every two years thereafter, in every township and incorporated city determining whether dramshops and tavern licenses would be issued for the subsequent two years. The vote was to be either "In favor of dramshop," or "Against dramshop." Even if a community had voted "in favor", before any license was granted a majority of householders had to petition for the specific license. In a city authorized by its charter to grant licenses, the county tribunal must first have granted permission. The fee for a license was to be not less than $10 or more than $500 per year.

Penalties were established for violation of the Dramshop Law: selling without a license, a $100 fine; for second or subsequent offenses, $100 and not less than five nor more than thirty days in the county jail; selling to a slave without the consent of his master or selling liquor on Sunday, the same penalties and forfeiture of the license. A bond in the sum of $2,000 was required not to "keep a disorderly house" or violate any of the prohibitions against selling, for which suit could be instituted against the principal or sureties.

Like many of the laws passed by the Bogus Legislature, enforcement of the Dramshop Law was rare. In Lawrence, the first direct action by temperance activists in America was taken when Margaret Wood and Susan Spencer raided a saloon and destroyed its alcohol in 1856 (1855?) Public opinion about the dramshop law remained mixed. Amendments were passed in the 1859 legislature allowing suit against those providing liquor to an intoxicated party who injured persons or damaged property. Married women were allowed to sue under the law and the sale of liquor to a married man against the wishes of his wife was barred. There is no record of a married woman exercising her veto power or of suits under the amended law. [Ward, Women and the Temperance Sentiment]

The Temperance Movement in Kansas, spearheaded by the Women's Christian Temperance League, culminated in an 1879 prohibition amendment to the state constitution. Although Kansas was the first state to bar alcohol sales in its constitution, sentiments remained mixed. The vote carried by a close 92,302 to 84,304. [Connelley, History, Ch. 54]

Charles Clark