The Temperance Train & Political Cartoon

by Emmet G. Coleman (1907 & 1915, The Temperance Song Book)

with Scott Schwartz, director and archivist

Emmet G. Coleman was a newspaper editor for the Twin City Times of Basic City, Virginia.  He was also a composer of temperance songs and hymns.  The majority of his songs served as music propaganda for the campaign rallies of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) and its children’s organization, the Loyal Temperance Legion.  Coleman’s song, The Temperance Train, was included in the Union’s The Temperance Song Book. 

“The Temperance Train” by Emmet G. Coleman, featuring Gina Piroli, Julie Stewart, Ron Rose, and Lisa and Janet Penner. Benefit Concert at The Old Church Hall in Portland, Oregon on April 15, 2011.

The song makes extensive use of nonsense words as sound effects to portray the sounds of a train riding the rails.  Unlike other simpler temperance songs, this piece was composed as a humorous showpiece for advanced singers in the W.C.T.U.  Also included in a reprint of Coleman’s book is this political cartoon that illustrates alcohol and Prohibition as both demon and angel.  Its caption reads, “Good Heavens! Are you the Demon Rum? No; I’m the Angel of Prohibition!”