Sons of Temperance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
'Sons of Temperance' Procession, Hill End, New South Wales, a gold mining town in Australia, 1872.

The Sons of Temperance is a brotherhood of men who promoted the temperance movement and mutual support. The group was founded in 1842 in New York City.[1] It began spreading rapidly during the 1840s throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

United States and Canada[edit]


The organization originally had a highly restricted membership. In order to become a member (called a “brother“), a man had to be nominated by an existing brother. Three other brothers would then investigate his life to determine if they thought he was worthy of membership. The Sons of Temperance required a two-dollar initiation fee, an amount equal to a week's wages of an ordinary worker. In addition, the weekly membership fee was six cents. It had secret rituals, signs, passwords, hand grips and regalia.

Currently, membership in the Sons of Temperance has three degrees, Love, Purity, and Fidelity.

Membership of women[edit]

Women were initially admitted only as guests.[2] For a while a female auxiliary, the Daughters of Temperance, were active. These were first created in the English chapters of the order after a public outcry against females meeting with males in secret lodges. Daughter of Temperance lodges were created that worked with, but were not governed by the Sons of Temperance. The idea soon crossed the Atlantic to North America.[3] At the 22nd Annual Session held June 21, 1866 at Montreal, "ladies" were admitted to full membership.[2]

Membership of Blacks[edit]

A proposal to form a separate division of black members was voted down in 1844.[2] In Ohio, the Grand Division admitted a black member in 1849, raising the issue of social equality.[2] In the years following the American Civil War, two Grand Divisions and a number of subordinate divisions were formed exclusively of "colored members."[2] By the early 1880s, "most" divisions initiated members with "no distinction on account of color."[2]

Benefits of membership[edit]

Sons of Temperance Fountain installed at Centennial Exhibition in 1876 and relocated to Independence Square, Philadelphia.

The constitution of the Sons of Temperance required the brotherhood to pay thirty dollars to cover the burial costs of any brother who died. In short, the organization acted as an insurance company. It required the payment of fifteen dollars for the funeral costs of a member's dead wife. A bylaw required fellow brothers to visit any sick brother at least once a day, and one of the orders of business at each meeting was to identify any brothers who were ill.

Growth of the organization[edit]

The organization had approximately 5000 chapters by the 1850s.[4] The chapter at West Columbia, South Carolina was housed in the Mount Hebron Temperance Hall.[5]


The Order of the Sons of Temperance was introduced into the United Kingdom in 1849, the first division being formed in an area of Liverpool known as 'Old Gory'. By 1855, it was sufficiently widespread that a charter was granted by the parent body for the institution, on 6 April 1855, of the National Division of Great Britain and Ireland.

The arcane ceremonies, etc. have long since been modernised.

The society has ceased the provision of life insurance, savings, etc. as evidenced by their website but is continuing its social, fraternal and educational activities.


The Order was established in the then colony of New South Wales by a Dr Hobbs, Baptist minister.[6] In 1868, a National Division was established, with Bro George Lucas as first Most Worthy Patriarch (MWP). Over the years they agitated on issues around temperance, and set up a Friendly Society. The Friendly Society now appears to have ceased. At present they are concentrating on education and furthering the temperance cause. As a teetotal society they are continuing, and will be enhancing, their social, fraternal and educational activities.[7]

A jubilee group portrait order of Sons of Temperance Corio branch (Geelong). The hall of the Sons of Temperance, with the date 1878, is in the background.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Latest (2015) archived capture of Official web site
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cary, Samuel Fenton (July 1884). Historical sketch of the Order of the Sons of Temperance. Sons of Temperance.
  3. ^ Stevens, Albert Clark, 1854- The Cyclopædia of Fraternities: A Compilation of Existing Authentic Information and the Results of Original Investigation as to More than Six Hundred Secret Societies in the United States New York : E.B. Treat and Co., 1907 2nd ed., p.410.
  4. ^ MacColl, E. Kimbark (1979). The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915-1950. Portland, Oregon: The Georgian Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5.
  5. ^ "Mount Hebron Temperance Hall, Lexington County (3041 Leaphart Rd., West Columbia)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved June 2014. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ Sons of Temperance: Our Order In New South Wales,, accessed 14 June 2013
  7. ^ Sons of Temperance: Who are the Sons of Temperance,, accessed 14 June 2013

External links[edit]