Woman's Christian Temperance Union


Woman's Christian Temperance Union

:"WCTU" redirects here. See WCTU Railway for the rail line in White City, Oregon.".

History and purpose

The purpose of the WCTU is to combat the influence of alcohol on families and society. Frances Willard, a noted feminist, was its second president. They were inspired by the Greek writer Xenophon who defined temperance as "moderation in all things healthful; total abstinence from all things harmful." In other words, should something be good, it should not be indulged in to excess. Should something be bad for you, it should be avoided altogether; thus their attempts to rid their surroundings of what they saw (and still see) as the dangers of alcohol.The WCTU perceived alcoholism as a consequence of larger social problems rather than as a personal weakness or failing. Thus the WCTU was very interested in a number of social reform issues including: labor, prostitution, public health, sanitation and international peace. As the movement grew in numbers and strength, members of the WCTU also focused on suffrage. The WCTU was instrumental in organizing women's suffrage leaders and in helping more women become involved in American politics. Willard pushed for the "Home Protection" ballot, arguing that women, being the superior sex morally, needed the vote in order to act as "citizen-mothers" and protect their homes and cure society's ills. At a time when suffragists still alienated most American women, who viewed them as radicals, the WCTU offered a more traditionally feminine and appropriate organization for women to join. Suffragists who emerged out of the WCTU used constitutional arguments to support their bid for enfranchisement and cited the Fourteenth Amendment. They claimed that American adult women had the right to vote because they were individuals and were thus entitled to enjoy all the rights of an American individual. By making this argument, suffragists were perceived as less threatening to social order, appealed to American pride and were successful in presenting their message of extending voting rights to all American adults.

The WCTU created a significant response throughout the United States. In 1878, Matilda Bradley Carse became the president of the Chicago branch. During her time as president, Carse founded many charities and managed to raise approximately $10,000 a year to support them. She started the Bethesda Day Nursery for working mothers, two kindergartens, the Anchorage Mission for erring girls, two dispensaries, two industrial schools, an employment bureau, Sunday schools, and temperance reading rooms. Carse also founded the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, a stock company which published written material ranging from books, to brochures and tracts on various social reforms and temperance.

The WCTU also formed in Canada in 1873, in Ontario. In 1885 Letitia Youmans founded a nationwide organization which was to become the leading women's society in Canada's temperance movement. An Australian arm commenced operation in 1882, it was important in both the temperance and women's suffrage movements.

In 1885, WCTU missionary Mary Greenleaf Clement Leavitt went on a tour of New Zealand and helped establish WCTU branches there. Having turned down the offer to become the first president of the WCTU, Leavitt went on to be named Honorary President in 1891 in Boston. Operating as a freelancer, Leavitt helped establish WCTU branches in the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Madagascar, India, China, Madeira, Mauritius, Ceylon, Siam, the Straits Settlements, Korea, Japan and Europe. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=k8cCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA431&lpg=PA431&dq=%22mary+clement+leavitt%22&source=web&ots=8k2k0sNg8a&sig=Uf1wNXPR6SyuNHvttDf7z_MPz7g&hl=en#PPA432,M1 The American Monthly Review of Reviews, Albert Shaw, 1897] ] A branch for children was formed, called the Loyal Temperance Legion.Citation
last = McWhirter
first = Luella F.
contribution =
year = 1915
title = Famous Living Americans, with Portraits
editor-last = Webb
editor-first = Mary Griffin
volume =
pages = 231
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=mcsCAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA225&dq=%22anna+adams+gordon%22&lr=#PPA225,M1
place = Greencastle, Indiana
publisher = C. Webb & Company
id =
]

Led by Kate Sheppard from 1887, the New Zealand WCTU was a major force behind the campaign for women's suffrage. This resulted in New Zealand women being granted universal suffrage in 1893. [Atkinson, Neill (2003), "Adventures in Democracy: A History of the Vote in New Zealand", University of Otago Press, p.89.] In April, 1887, WCTU member Susanna M. Salter of Argonia, Kansas became the first woman mayor elected in the United States.

In addition to campaigning against alcohol, the WCTU addressed social ills stemming from drunkenness and domestic violence. It also campaigned for reforms that would improve the status of women in society, such as the right to vote. The WCTU was a major force in Prohibition-and was also influential in creating laws banning prostitution and recreational drugs in the United States.

Although the WCTU had chapters throughout North America and had hundreds of thousands of members, it did not initially accept Catholic, Jewish, or African-American women, or women who had not been born in North AmericaFact|date=September 2007. Today that is no longer the case. In fact, today men may also join the organization as honorary members.

In contrast to the WCTU's stated aims, not all large-scale Christian groups and movements believe the consumption of alcohol to be inconsistent with practice of Christianity (see Christianity and alcohol).

Current status

The main requirements for joining the WCTU include signing a pledge of abstinence from alcohol and paying membership dues.

Current issues for the WCTU include alcohol, which the organization considers to be North America's number one drug problem, illegal drugs, abortion [http://www.wctumd.org/issues.html] and gay marriage [http://www.wctu.org/resolution_-_marriage.html] . The WCTU has warned against the dangers of tobacco since 1875. They continue to this day in their fight against those substances which they see as harmful to society. The WCTU strongly supports banning same-sex marriage, which it sees as a negative influence on families; in general, it is opposed to gay rights [http://www.wctumd.org/whatsnew.html] .

The WCTU publishes a quarterly journal entitled "The Union Signal"; the journal's main focus is as a digest of current research and information on drugs. [http://www.wctu.org/publications.html] . The WCTU also attempts to encourage young people to avoid substance abuse through participation in three, age-divided suborganizations: White Ribbon Recruits for pre-schoolers; the Loyal Temperance Legion (LTL) for elementary school children; and, the Youth Temperance Council (YTC) for teenagers.

ee also

*Frances Willard
*Anna Adams Gordon
*Mary Hunt
*Scientific Temperance Federation
*Temperance movement
*Ida B. Wise
*Margaret Bright Lucas
*Matilda Carse
*Carrie A. Nation

External links

* [http://www.wctu.org WCTU Official Website]
* [http://www.wctumd.org WCTU of Maryland]
* [http://www.facethetears.org Face the Tears Project]
* [http://www.wctusocal.com WCTU of Southern California]
* [http://www.drugfreelifestyles.com.au/welcomepage.htm WCTU of Australia]
* [http://www.mewctu.org WCTU of Maine]
* [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~wctu Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Victoria, Inc.]
* [http://www.franceswillardhouse.org The Frances Willard House Historical Association]
* [http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/wctu.html Religious Movements Homepage Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)]
* [http://www.fum.org/QL/issues/9706/Helme.htm Friends (Quaker) United Meeting: WCTU in Our Heritage]
* [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/WW/vaw1.html The Handbook of Texas: WCTU]
* [http://gos.sbc.edu/w/willard.html Address Before The Second Biennial Convention Of The World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, by Frances Willard, President (October, 1893)]
* [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/WCTU-growth.html Modern History Sourcebook: Woman's Christian Temperance Union: Growth of Membership and of Local, Auxiliary Unions, 1879-1921]
* [http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/92/ “We Sang Rock of Ages”: Frances Willard Battles Alcohol in the late 19th century, by Frances Willard]
* [http://www.nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/research/manuscripts/organize/woman-temperance.htm Woman's Christian Temperance Union (Nebraska Chapter) records] at the Nebraska State Historical Society
* [http://www.cityofevanston.org/about/history.shtml]

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

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