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Judge Sweat's Whiskey Speech

I consider the greatest speech in American political history to be the Gettysburg Address, as do most people.  Here is what I consider to be the second greatest.  Noah S. Sweat Jr., a Mississippi legislator, lawyer, and judge delivered the speech to the Mississippi Legislature in 1952 when they were considering legalizing liquor.  Noah S. Sweat Jr. was known as Judge Sweat.  Here is Judge Sweat's speech.

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time.  However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy.  On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be.  You have asked me how I feel about whiskey.  All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

If when you say whiskey, you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children;  if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation and despair and shame and helplessness and hopelessness --- then I am certainly against it.

But if, when you say whiskey, you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes;  if you mean Christmas cheer;  if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning;  if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy and his happiness and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies and heartaches and sorrows;  if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our pitiful aged and infirm, to build highways and hospitals and schools, then I certainly am for it.

This is my stand, and I will not compromise.


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This page last edited on 18 Oct 2008.