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Glimpses of Fifty Years: The Autobiography of an American Woman, by Frances Willard, 1889

Frances Willard’s biography details her long career as an educator, suffragist, and temperance activist. She led the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Prohibition Party before founding the World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in 1883. The WCTU used slogans and banners in parades and demonstrations to help spread its message and influence legislators.

Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Let us clasp hands in the wide sisterhood of the World’s WCTU, . . . working steadily for the overthrow of the use and sale of alcoholics and narcotics the world around, and remembering the watch-words, Prevention, Education, Evangelization, Purification, Prohibition.

Frances Willard, Glimpses of Fifty Years: The Autobiography of an American Woman, 1889

limpses of Fifty Years: The Autobiography of an American Woman, by Frances Willard, 1889 limpses of Fifty Years: The Autobiography of an American Woman, by Frances Willard, 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 It was ratified in 1919 but later repealed.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