International Organisation of Good Templars

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"Good Templars" redirects here. For the short story by Louisa May Alcott, see Good Templars (short story).
IOGT membership certificate, Michigan, 1868 [1]

The IOGT International (formerly known as the International Organisation of Good Templars and International Order of Good Templars and the Independent Order of Good Templars) is an international non-governmental organisation working in the field of temperance. It is based in Sweden, a country which had very strict alcohol policies and laws in the past.

History[edit]

The IOGT originated as one of a number of fraternal organizations for temperance or total abstinence founded in the 19th century and with a structure modeled on Freemasonry, using similar ritual and regalia. Unlike many, however, it admitted men and women equally, and also made no distinction by race.

In 1850, in Utica, New York, Daniel Cody founded one such organization, the Knights of Jericho. In 1851, a lodge of it in Oriskany Falls (then known as Castor Hollow), a village near Utica, was visited by 13 members of another Utica group. Under the leadership of Wesley Bailey, it was decided that these two lodges form the Order of Good Templars. The motto of the renamed organization was "Friendship, Hope and Charity".

Over the next year, 14 additional lodges were established. By the summer of 1852, a convention was called in Utica to establish a Grand Lodge. During this, a dispute broke out between Wesley Bailey and Leverett Coon, who had established a lodge, Excelsior, in Syracuse. Coon left the meeting and his lodge supported his actions by seceding as the Independent Order of Good Templars, with the motto altered to "Faith, Hope and Charity". They shortly merged back, the resulting group continuing under the name Independent Order of Good Templars.

Small assembly building of the IOGT lodge in Vågå, Norway. Built 1908.

The Order first grew rapidly in the United States and in Canada. In 1868, Joseph Malins returned to his native England and established a Birmingham lodge, from which IOGT spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Within three years the Order spread to Ireland, Wales, Australia, Malta, New Zealand, France, Portugal, South Africa, Bermuda, Belgium and East India. By 1876, it had established itself in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Madras, British Honduras, British Guyana, Jamaica, Malacca, China, Japan, Sierra Leone, St. Helena, Argentina, Trinidad, Grenada and the Bahamas. This was followed by lodges in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Germany and Jerusalem.

From 1900 and onwards, further groups were set up in the Netherlands, Burma, Nigeria and Panama.[2]

In an attempt to modernize its image the IOGT changes some of its titles and ritualistic features in the 1970s. Use of regalia and rituals began to diminish or were eliminated. Instead of "Order", the group became the International Organisation of Good Templars. The title of "Chief Templar" was changed to "President" and local units were given the option of calling themselves "Chapters" rather than "Lodges". Instead of three degrees, only one, the Justice degree, was worked by 1979, and the ritual is no longer secret.[3]

Membership[edit]

In 1875, after the American Civil War, the American senior body voted to allow separate lodges and Grand Lodges for white and black members, to accommodate the practice of segregation in southern US states. In 1876, Malins and other British members failed in achieving an amendment to stop this, and left to establish a separate international body. In 1887 this and the American body were reconciled into a single IOGT.

Women were admitted as regular members early in the history of the Good Templar. In 1979, there were 700,000 members internationally, though only 2,000 in the country of the IOGTs origin, the United States.[4]

In Europe, it has a youth division, ACTIVE.

Member organisations[edit]

As listed on the website of IOGT International.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vignette (top): The parable of the Good Samaritan. Vignettes (clockwise from bottom): "First drink - social. Second drink at a bar. Drinking & gambling. Goes home drunk to young wife. Pawns his clothes. Poverty & delirium. Recovery - signs the pledge. Prosperity & happy home."
  2. ^ History of IOGT, Derek Rutherford, National Council, USA
  3. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press pp.147-8
  4. ^ Schmidt p.147

Further reading[edit]

  • David M. Fahey, "How the Good Templars Began: Fraternal Temperance in New York State", Social History of Alcohol Review, Nos. 38-39 (1999)
  • David M. Fahey, "Temperance & Racism: John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars" (University Press of Kentucky, 1996).

External links[edit]