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Frances Willard, photograph, ca. 1889

A leading reformer of the early Progressive Era, Frances Willard devoted her life to women’s higher education, woman suffrage, and the prohibition movement. She became the first woman to be represented in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection when Illinois commissioned a sculpture of her by Helen Farnsworth Mears and submitted it in 1905.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Frances Willard, photograph, ca. 1889

The Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition

The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transport of alcoholic beverages. It was the product of a temperance movement that began in the 1830s. The movement grew in the Progressive Era, when social problems such as poverty and drunkenness gained public attention. Groups like the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874 and led by Frances Willard, made prohibition a national issue and pressed Congress for action. In 1917 Congress approved a resolution for a prohibition amendment. It was ratified in 1919 but later repealed.

This alcoholic drug adds poverty of the blackest, dreariest, and most hopeless sort to the list of its offenses. Such is its power that men will take bread money from their families and make it blood money for drink.

Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas, Speech to the U.S. Senate, July 30, 1917