John Bartholomew Gough - Encyclopedia

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JOHN BARTHOLOMEW GOUGH (1817-1886), American temperance orator, was born at Sandgate, Kent, England, on the 22nd of August 1817. He was educated by his mother, a schoolmistress, and at the age of twelve was sent to the United States to seek his fortune. He lived for two years with family friends on a farm in western New York, and then entered a book-bindery in New York City to learn the trade. There in 1833 his mother joined him, but after her death in 1835 he fell in with dissolute companions, and became a confirmed drunkard. He lost his position, and for several years supported himself as a ballad singer and story-teller in the cheap theatres and concert-halls of New York and other eastern cities. Even this means of livelihood was being closed to him, when in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1842 he was induced to sign a temperance pledge. After several lapses and a terrific struggle, he determined to devote his life to lecturing in behalf of temperance reform. Gifted with remarkable powers of pathos and of description, he was successful from the start, and was soon known and sought after throughout the entire country, his appeals, which were directly personal and emotional, being attended with extraordinary responses. He continued his work until the end of his life, made several tours of England, where his American success was repeated, and died at his work, being stricken with apoplexy on the lecture platform at Frankford, Pennsylvania, where he passed away two days later, on the 18th of February 1886. He published an Autobiography (1846); Orations (1854); Temperance Addresses (1870); Temperance Lectures (1879); and Sunlight and Shadow, or Gleanings from My Life Work (1880).

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