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RINE, DAVID ISAAC KIRWIN (Kirwan), Methodist minister and temperance lecturer; b. in 1835 in Pennsylvania; d. 1 July 1882 in Detroit, Mich.

David Isaac Kirwin Rine was educated in Pennsylvania and studied briefly at Madison College, Uniontown, Pa. He left to apprentice in the printing trade where he learned, as he said, “to imbibe the genial glass.” By 1865 he had become a Methodist minister in the Pittsburgh Conference and from 1868 to 1871 he served as minister of Second Methodist Church, Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh). In 1871 Rine was implicated in ecclesiastical charges brought against the Reverend John H. Gray, of Christ Methodist Church in Pittsburgh, of scandalous and immoral conduct with a woman of “doubtful reputation.” Although two church investigations found Gray not guilty, both men withdrew from the conference following the widely publicized trial. During the next five years Rine was twice arrested for theft in connection with his alcoholism and on the second occasion he was sentenced to two years in prison. Following his release he started a “patent business” but squandered all his earnings on alcohol. Then, in December 1876, he was converted at a series of temperance meetings in Pittsburgh led by Francis Murphy, a reformed drunkard and founder of the Gospel Temperance Movement.

After 1846, with the passage of the first prohibitionist law in Maine, more and more of the temperance effort in North America had been diverted into political and educational activity in the hope of getting prohibitive legislation passed. By the 1870s temperance work in Canada reflected this preoccupation with prohibition. Murphy’s Gospel Temperance Movement, like other moral suasionist groups which preceded it and unlike prohibitionist organizations, directed its attention specifically at the individual, attempting to win the drunkard from alcohol through the emotional appeals of an evangelical Christian gospel. In Murphy’s view, formed from his own experience, no one was too degraded to be beyond hope. Resolutions of reform were made visible by pledge signing and ribbon wearing, and strengthened by public testimony. After a campaign clubs were formed to provide a form of continuing aftercare. Although the majority of pledge signers were not problem drinkers, the movement did have an amazing success in reaching hard drinkers, and even tavern keepers.

Shortly after his conversion, Rine joined the movement and was soon one of the leaders as it spread from Pittsburgh with the force of a revival. By March 1877 he claimed to have won 35,000 pledges in Erie County, Pa, alone. Rine was invited to St Catharines, Ont., by concerned citizens and following a highly successful campaign there he was invited to Toronto in May 1877 by a committee headed by George MacLean Rose*. Apparently motivated by the desire to create his own movement in Canada, Rine accepted invitations with no guarantee of remuneration, quite unlike many of his contemporaries. His campaign in Toronto took on the proportions of Murphy’s in Pittsburgh, and over the next ten months he carried his message to all the major towns of Ontario, as well as to Montreal and Quebec City. On 15 March 1878, at the height of his success, Rine was arrested near Stratford, Ont., on a charge of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old serving girl. He admitted to “a little playfulness” but vehemently denied the charge. Although it was reduced to common assault and Rine was acquitted by jury, his moral culpability and the adverse publicity destroyed his effectiveness as a temperance leader. In October 1878, following the death of his wife, Rine left Toronto and commenced three years of wandering. Late in 1881 he tried to recapture his success as a temperance lecturer, but was ignored even in Toronto. After ten weeks, during which he exhibited signs of mental instability, he moved on to Detroit. He was picked up there in January 1882, “a raving maniac . . . possessed of the delusion that he owned all Detroit.” He died six months later in the Wayne County Home for the Insane without having regained his sanity.

Rine had duplicated Murphy’s methods of appealing to the true drunkard who was in these years largely ignored by other temperance groups in the political struggles for prohibition. His success was due mainly to “his supreme disregard of all conventional and formal methods.” He couched his lectures in common language and spoke of his own struggles with which the most degraded could identify and which they could use as a source of hope.

A. J. Birrell

Daily British Whig, September 1877–May 1878. Evening Telegram (Toronto), May 1877–October 1878, October 1881–July 1882. Free Press (Ottawa), 20 Sept.–10 Oct. 1877, March–April 1878 Globe, May 1877–October 1878, October 1881–July 1882. Leader, May 1877–October 1878. Montreal Daily Witness, October 1877. Stratford Beacon (Stratford, Ont.), February–May 1878. Stratford Times (Stratford), February–May 1878. R. E. Spence, Prohibition in Canada; a memorial to Francis Stephens Spence (Toronto, 1919). A. J. Birrell, “D. I. K. Rine and the Gospel Temperance Movement in Canada,” CHR, 58 (1977): 23–42.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

A. J. Birrell, “RINE, DAVID ISAAC KIRWIN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 25, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/rine_david_isaac_kirwin_11E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/rine_david_isaac_kirwin_11E.html
Author of Article: A. J. Birrell
Title of Article: RINE, DAVID ISAAC KIRWIN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1982
Year of revision: 1982
Access Date: July 25, 2014