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Windham County Connecticut
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"Windham’s Bi-Centennial 1692-1892; A Memorial Volume of the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Town of Windham, Connecticut, containing the historical addresses, poems, and a description of events connected with the observance of the two hundreth anniversary of the incorporation of the town, as held in the year 1892." Published by the Committee, Hartford, CT, 1893

Windham’s Second Century ­ Windham in Reforms:


The interest of Windham in the Abolition agitation was intense, and one typical reminiscence is at hand. During President William Henry
Harrison’s administration 1840-44, Aaron Phelps attempted to give a course of three anti-slavery lectures in the old Methodist church on the
site of the present Atwood Block, and when the Rev. Moses White was pastor. The first lecture passed off quietly. The second night a mob
gathered, but spent their wrath on the church after the meeting was over, by breaking windows, etc. The third night their proportions had
grown to a well-organized mob, and as I am informed, they gathered at the Congregational church, and when the speaker was well under way,
marched under the lead of Charles Scoville to the M.E. church. There Scoville approached the desk with followers, presumably to drag the
speaker out, when young Orrin Robinson, tall and strong, interfered, and taking Scoville by the arm, quickly marched him back again through the crowd and into the street before the astonished mob had time to collect its wits sufficiently to know what was the matter. But the reaction soon came, and serious trouble was imminent. Edwards Clark of Windham Green read the riot act, Robinson was arrested, tried and sentenced to a term in Brooklyn jail. Constable William H. Hosmer set out for Brooklyn with his prisoner, but finding he had forgotten necessary papers he requested young Robinson to walk on alone while he returned for the papers. Robinson trudged cheerily along, and when asked by one whom he met where he was going, promptly replied “to Brooklyn jail.” He was soon overtaken by the constable and placed in durance vile. To return to the meeting which the mob had broken up, it is gratifying to add that Aunt ‘Rushy Robinson cheated them of their victim, the speaker, by dressing him in her cloak and taking him to her home. Some of the leading citizens of the town took part in the mob. We are all quick now to condemn the bigotry of those old days. It is always the bigotry and intolerance of the present that we need to guard against.
[Corrections and Additions in the back of the book state: The Abolition disturbance occurred in the spring of 1837.]
Windham has never been a strong temperance town. From the days of Windham flip and West India wet goods, when “Bacchus” sat aloft as the type of the tavern’s hospitality, down through the “Sodom” of early Willimantic, the orgies at the Hebard tavern, the killing of Calvin
Robinson by a drunken driver, and the stabbing of the Corcoran boy at Mrs. Daley’s, the pages of our history have been often blotted with the
blood of the victims of alcohol. All along the years I find record of the wreck of some of the brightest minds in the community, because of
the social popularity of drinking. The Washingtonian movement swept the town like wild-fire, as it did elsewhere, and wrought much good among individuals. The brilliant but unfortunate George S. Catlin, led in another temperance reform movement which profoundly stirred the people bud did not exert a lasting influence. The Maine law had its day and for a time was very effective, but people expected too much of the law, and too little of themselves. Along in the ‘70s came the famous Good Samaritan movement, and moral enthusiasm ran high for a time with good effect. The great incentive force to intemperance in later days, has been the pernicious license system, introduced to restrict the evil, but
proving instead a bulwark and a fostering influence. We are seeing a new light in this reform, shining from out the new scientific truths about alcohol. The intelligent man of to-day who will permit himself to recognize this truth, refuses to drink because he knows better than to
cripple his physical and mental powers. In the public schools we teach the children these new truths, and in the family. But for some reason we have persisted in keeping the authority and influence of government against scientific truth and social aspiration. During the past year we
of Windham have made an attempt to place government in harmony with what we know our best interest as a community demands. Some ground has been gained, but a firmer effort is needed. It is a mistake to license or tolerate public vices in any form.

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