168 Year Old "Sons of Temperance" Readies to Make a Landmark Change
Three years ago the Sons of Temperance Friendly Society "ceased the effecting of new long term business" which means they stopped offering new insurance to members, but they still have many existing policyholders.
At a Special General Meeting a few weeks ago in Warwickshire, UK, their membership "approved a radical scheme of reorganisation ." Next year, "At the 2011 AGM [Annual General Meeting], members will be asked to adopt a new set of rules reflecting the society's new circumstances." Simply stated, the Sons will cash out their assets and terminate any future insurance payouts.
From its formation in 1842, in New York City as a "Beneficial Society based on Total Abstinence" (from its founding call) members were required to pay insurance premiums. Today their present total assets are over £3,000,000 and their membership is under 6,000 people, almost all residing in the UK. £500,000 is planned to be held over to run the reorganized 'Sons' with the remainder to be distributed to members who bought and still hold policies, many of whom cannot be located.
Immediately upon organizing in September, 1842, the Sons acquired the procedures and regalia prominent to the Odd Fellows and Masons. Today these trappings are long gone. But it will not be until next year that the Sons of Temperance plans to finally end its charter purpose as a "Beneficial Society" which was also originally intended to distinguish it from the unprecedented proto-populistic Washingtonian total abstinence movement that surged into New York in March, 1841.
Nevertheless, in a perspective of institutional purpose and evolution, it might be shown that today's 12 step movement, which has never offered monetary benefits from dues paying, has more in common with the Sons of Temperance movement than it does with the Washingtonian Total Abstinence movement.