The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

By Mary Baird Bryan; William Jennings Bryan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
THE GRAPE JUICE INCIDENT

HAVE mentioned my aversion to swearing as due to my mother's teachings, my father concurring; and of my aversion to gambling taught by my father, my mother concurring. I am indebted to both for a third moral lesson in which they joined so heartily that I am not able to emphasize the influence of either over the influence of the other. They both abstained from the use of intoxicating liquor and impressed upon me at a very early age the evils that follow from its use. Even before I had any clear understanding of the temperance question I began signing the pledge. I have no way of knowing at what age I first signed--my recollection does not run back so far--

I only know that I have been signing since I can remember. I met, a few years ago, a temperance lecturer who told me that I was among the signers at his meeting when he spoke there in 1872; I was then twelve, but it had by that time become a habit with me. The formative influence of these early habits is well illustrated in this case.

My wife was brought up in the same way and the antipathy toward the use of liquor as a beverage at any time and in any form was so great that she joined me in excluding it from public dinners when I was Secretary of State as we had excluded it from our table in private life. It may be better to speak of the "Grape Juice Dinner" here than to refer to it later in recording my experiences in that office.

When President-elect Wilson invited me to Trenton I surmised the purpose of the invitation was to invite me to become a member of his Cabinet and I discussed with my wife the matter of serving liquors before meeting with the President. We were not willing to violate our custom in

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