THE NAKED TRUTH

(The following ad appeared in the Idaho Democrat on February 24, 1886, and also in later issues. It was also published in the Idaho Republican for a number of issues. It was written by James N. Lawrence, owner of a saloon he named "The Naked Truth Saloon." His reason for so naming it was that he had a blackboard just outside the front door, and when someone was injured or killed as a result of a drunken brawl, or some girl seduced to a life of shame through the influence of alcohol, he posted the facts for passersby to read. Mr. Lawrence was a prominent business man in Boise, Idaho and was very liberal to various churches. He would allow no alcohol of any sort in his home, and refused to touch it himself. He retired from business near the turn of the century to his ranch near Star, Idaho where he died in 1911. This is probably the most famous liquor ad in all history – – at least it is the most truthful.)

Having just opened a commodious shop for the sale of liquid fire, I embrace this opportunity of informing you that I have commenced the business of making drunkards, paupers, and beggars for the sober, the industrious and respectable portion of the community to support. I shall deal in familiar spirits, which incite men to deeds of riot, robbery, and bloodshed, and by so doing diminish the comfort, augment the expenses and endanger the welfare of the community. I will undertake, at short notice, for a small sum, and with great expectations, to prepare victims, for asylums, poor farms, prisons, and the gallows. I will furnish an article which will increase accidents, multiply the number of distressing diseases, and render those which are harmless, incurable. I will deal in drugs which will deprive some of life, many of reason, most of property, and all of peace; which will cause fathers to become friends. and wives widows, children orphans, and all mendicants. I will cause many of the rising generation to grow up in ignorance, and will prove a burden and a nuisance to the nation.

I will sometimes even corrupt ministers of religion, obstruct the progress of the gospel, defile the purity of the church, and cause temporal, spiritual, and eternal death. And if any should be so impertinent as to ask why I have the audacity to bring such misery upon the people, my honest reply is "MONEY." the spirit trade is lucrative, and some professing Christians give it their cheerful countenance.

I have a license, and if I do not bring these evils upon you, somebody else will.

I have purchased the right to demolish the character, destroy the health, shorten the lives, and ruin the souls of those who choose to honor me with their custom. I pledge myself to do all I have promised. Those who wish any of the evils specified brought upon themselves and their dearest friend, are requested to meet me at my bar, where I will, for a few cents, furnish them with the certain of so doing.

— Via Oxnard Observer Foot in mouth

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