The True History of Deacon Giles' Distillery

George Barrell Cheever (1807-1890), The Dream, or, The True History of Deacon Giles’ Distillery and Deacon Jones’ Brewery: Reported for the Benefit of Posterity … (New York: Printed for the publishers, 1848). First published in Salem, February 1835. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 974 (2)


“In 1835 Rev. George B. Cheever, then the youthful pastor of a church in Salem, Mass. published, under the title of Deacon Giles’s Distillery, what purported to be a dream. Daemons were represented as working in the deacon’s distillery, and manufacturing ‘liquid damnation,’ ‘murder,’ ‘suicide,’ etc., for the human employer.”

“The stinging satire took effect. Mr. Cheever was assaulted in the streets of Salem, and was also prosecuted for slander by a certain rum-distilling deacon, who thought he recognized his own portrait in the deacon Giles of the dream. Mr. Cheever was convicted and imprisoned for a few days, but on his release returned at once to the attack in another dream concerning Deacon Jones’s Brewery, in which devils are described as making beer, and, as they dance about the caldron….”


“The assault and the prosecution called universal attention to the affair; the dreams were published everywhere and produced great effect. About the same time another local excitement aided the general cause. Mr. Delavan exposed the methods of the Albany brewers, whom he charged with procuring water for their business from a foul pond covered with green scum and defiled with the putrid remains of dead cats and dogs. Eight brewers brought suits against him, claiming damages to the amount of three hundred thousand dollars, but did not succeed in recovering a dime.”

From Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 10 By John McClintock (Firestone library, BR95 .M335 1873)