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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

FATHER MATHEW TOTAL ABSTINENCE SOCIETY

FATHER MATHEW TOTAL ABSTINENCE SOCIETY

The FATHER MATHEW TOTAL ABSTINENCE SOCIETY, organized in Cleveland in 1851, had its roots in the Catholic Total Abstinence Society founded at ST. MARY'S ON THE FLATS in 1840 by Rev. Peter McLaughlin. Fr. Theobald Mathew's TEMPERANCE work in Ireland inspired a revitalized movement among local Catholics; Bp. AMADEUS RAPPE was among those who invited him to the U.S. Fr. Mathew addressed large Cleveland audiences on 3 and 10 Aug. 1851. Many, including the bishop and the clergy, took the pledge of the "T-totalers"; the next week the mayor and city council reportedly promised abstinence, along with an estimated 5,000-6,000 Clevelanders during the 2-week visit. The Father Mathew Total Abstinence Society claimed 180 members in 1852. The society reorganized on 3 May 1857, with Bishop Rappe as president; over the next several years, the Cathedral school 3rd-floor auditorium became known as Father Mathew Hall. With as many as 1,200 members in the 1860s, the society continued to meet into the late 1880s. Cleveland hosted Catholic Total Abstinence Union national conventions in 1872 and 1889. By 1870 a second society had formed: the Father Mathew Total Abstinence & Benevolent Society of NEWBURGH, which met until ca. 1896.