Woman's Christian Temperance Union
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During the winter of 1873-74, housewives from New York to Ohio staged "pray-ins" at saloons to protest the perils of alcohol in what became known as the "Woman’s Crusade." Organizers followed up that fall with a national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and there formed the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

Their goal was protection of the family and women’s moral authority through total abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. They targeted saloons -- from which women were excluded -- as a symbol of their overall lack of civil rights.

When Frances Willard became president in 1879, the WCTU broadened its campaign to include such issues as suffrage. It also began to employ political tactics -- not just moral persuasion -- in its temperance quest.

The WCTU grew to become one of the largest and most influential women’s groups of the 19th century. Membership declined after passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919, but the WCTU continues today to work on women’s issues.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Women and Religion
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Women and Religion in American History
Willard, Frances
Smith, Hannah Whitall
Temperance Movement

Singing hymns in front of barrooms in aid of the Temperance Movement- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-90543

Frances Willard portrait- Library of Congress, LC-USZ61-790

Praying in front of a saloon- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-121647

Women's Christian Temperance Union sign- Library of Congress, LC-USF34-081219-D

National WTCU headquarters- Internet Archive- from Women Torch-Bearers by Elizabeth Putnam Gordon
Web Source(s)
History, "Woman's Christian Temperance Union"
National Woman's Christian Temperance Union website
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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