THE WOMAN'S NATIONAL CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION.
During the summer of 1874, when the reaction which had checked the "Crusade" was recognized as something permanent by the more thoughtful and observant of the women who had been engaged in it, they paused for deliberation, and took counsel together. Great victories had been won in the brief season during which they were masters of the field; and now that the enemy had rallied his forces, and intrenched himself behind law, public opinion, politics and the State, should they weakly give up the contest? Not so. They had discovered wherein the weakness, as well as the strength, of their enemy lay, and had come into a new perception of their own powers and resources.
The first step taken was to call conventions in the various States where the Crusade had been active. These were attended by delegates chosen by the local praying-bands. The result was the organization, in some of the States, of what were known as "Temperance Leagues." Afterwards the word "Unions" was substituted for Leagues. Having organized by States, the next thing was to have a National Union. In August of that year, the first National Sunday-School Assembly was held at Chautauqua Lake, near Buffalo, New York. Many of the most earnest workers in the temperance Crusade, from different parts of the United States, and from the various denominations of Christians, were present, and the conviction was general that steps should at once be taken towards forming a National League, in order to make permanent the work that had already been done. After much deliberation, a committee of organization was appointed, consisting of a woman from each State. This committee issued a circular letter, asking the various Woman's Temperance Leagues to hold meetings, for the purpose of electing one woman from each Congressional district as a delegate to a National Convention, to be held in November, at Cleveland, Ohio. A single paragraph from this circular will show the spirit that animated the call.
"It is hardly necessary to remind those who have worked so nobly in the grand temperance uprising that in union and organization are its success and permanence, and the consequent redemption of this land from the curse of intemperance. In the name of our Master--in behalf of the thousands of women who suffer from this terrible evil, we call upon all to unite in an earnest, continued effort to hold the ground already won, and move onward together to a complete victory over the foes we fight."
Delegates representing sixteen States were present at the convention, which held its first session in Cleveland, commencing on the 18th of November, 1874, and lasting for three days. Prominent among its members were active leaders of the Crusade, but, besides these, says Miss Willard, "there were present many thoughtful and gifted women, whose hearts had been stirred by the great movement, though until now they had lacked the opportunity to identify themselves with it. Mrs. Jennie F. Willing presided over the convention, which was one of the most earnest and enthusiastic ever held. A constitution was adopted, also a plan of organization intended to reach every hamlet, town and city in the land. There was a declaration of principles, of which Christianity alone could have furnished the animus. An appeal to the women of our country was provided for; another to the girls of America; a third to lands beyond the sea; a memorial to Congress was ordered, and a deputation to carry it appointed; a National temperance paper, to be edited and published by women, was agreed upon, also a financial plan, asking for a cent a week from members; and last, not least, was appointed a special committee on temperance work among the children. Four large mass-meetings were held during the convention, all of them addressed by women. Mrs. Annie Wittenmyer, of Philadelphia, was elected president; Miss Frances E. Willard, of Chicago, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Mary C. Johnson, of Brooklyn, recording secretary; Mrs. Mary A. Ingham, of Cleveland, treasurer, with one vice-president from each State represented in the convention."
The spirit of this assembly of workers is shown in the closing resolution, which it adopted unanimously:
"Resolved, That, recognizing the fact that our cause is, and is to be, combated by mighty, determined and relentless forces, we will, trusting in Him who is the Prince of Peace, meet argument with argument, misjudgment with patience, denunciation with kindness, and all our difficulties and dangers with prayer."
FIRST YEAR'S WORK.
During the first year six State organizations were added to the number represented in the beginning, including scores of local unions. A monthly paper was established; a deputation of women sent to Congress with a memorial, to which hundreds of thousands of signatures had been obtained, asking for inquiry and legislation in regard to the liquor traffic; a manual of "Hints and Helps," concerning methods of temperance work, prepared and issued; and other agencies of reform, and for the extermination of the liquor traffic, set in motion.
The reports from State Unions, made to the first annual meeting, held in Cincinnati, November, 1875, were, in most cases, highly encouraging. In Ohio, a large number of local unions were formed, nearly two hundred friendly inns established, while reading-rooms, juvenile societies and young people's leagues were reported as multiplying all over the State. Indiana showed effective work in the same direction; so did Illinois. In both of these States many local unions, reform clubs and juvenile organizations came into existence, while the work of temperance agitation was carried on with untiring vigor. Iowa reported fifty local unions, eleven juvenile societies, seven reform clubs and six coffee-houses and reading-rooms. But, how better can we sum up the results of this year's work, and how better give a clear idea of the new forces which were coming into the field under the leadership of women, than by giving an extract from the first annual report of the corresponding secretary, Miss Frances E. Willard:
"Briefly to recapitulate, bringing out salient features, Maine has given, since the Crusade, the idea of the temperance camp-meeting, which, though not original with us, has been rendered effective largely through the efforts of our own workers. Connecticut influences elections, has availed itself of petitions and given us the best form on record. New York has kept alive the visitation of saloons, and proved, what may we never forget, that this is always practicable, if conducted wisely. In the relief and rescue branches of our work, the Empire State is perhaps without a rival. The women of Pennsylvania have bearded the gubernatorial lion in his den, and the Hartranft veto had the added sin of women's prayers and tears denied. Maryland and the District of Columbia prove that the North must look to her laurels when the South is free to enter on our work. As for Ohio, as Daniel Webster said of the old Bay State, 'There she stands; look at her!'--foremost among leaders in the new Crusade. Michigan is working bravely amid discouragements. Illinois has given us the most promising phase of our juvenile work, and leads off in reform clubs. Our best organized States are Ohio, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Iowa. By reason of their multiplied conventions of State, district and county, their numerous auxiliaries, their petitions and their juvenile work, Ohio and Indiana bear off the palm, and stand as the banner States of our Union up to this time, each of them having as many as two hundred and fifty auxiliaries.
"Our review develops the fact that of the forty-seven States and Territories forming the United States, twenty-two States have formed temperance unions auxiliary to the Woman's National Union. Of the twenty-five not yet organized, twelve are Southern States and eight are Territories; while of the remaining five, three are about to organize State unions, and have already flourishing local unions. So, that, without exaggeration, we may say we have fairly entered into the land to possess it. To bring about this vast result of organization, and to maintain it, there have been held (not to mention conventions of districts and counties, the name of which is legion,) forty-five State conventions of women, almost all within the last year.
"The number of written communications sent out during the year from our Western office to women in every State in the Union, is nearly five thousand. This is exclusive of 'documents,' which have gone by the bushel from the Eastern and Western offices, and also of the incessant correspondence of our president. Either president or secretary has spoken in nearly every State in which our organization exists. During the summer months, conventions, camp-meetings and local auxiliaries in large numbers have been addressed by officers of our National and State Unions in all of the Eastern and Middle and in many of the Western States. Noteworthy in our history for the year, is the monster petition circulated in nearly every State, presented to Congress on our behalf by Senator Morton, of Indiana, and defended in an eloquent speech before the Finance Committee by our president."
THE SECOND YEAR'S WORK.
The second annual meeting of the "Woman's National Christian Temperance Union" was held in Newark, N.J., in October, 1876. From the reports made to this meeting, we take the following interesting statements, showing how actively the work, for which this great National Association was organized, has been prosecuted.
Twenty-two State unions were represented at this meeting, and local unions were reported as having been formed for the first time in Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas, preparatory to State organizations. An International Temperance Convention of women had been held in the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, from which resulted an International Woman's Temperance Union. A summary of the work of the year says:
"In almost every organized State, the request of our National Committee that ministerial, medical and educational associations be asked to declare their position in relation to temperance reform has been complied with. In every instance, the ladies have been courteously received, and in no case has the declaration of opinion been adverse, and in many, most hopeful to our cause. The letter of Mrs. Wittenmyer to the International Medical Convention recently held in Philadelphia, secured the important declaration against alcohol made by that body.
"In February, our president, accompanied by Mrs. Mary R. Denman, President of New Jersey W.T.U., made a trip to Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana, in the endeavor to enlist our Southern sisters in the temperance work. Large meetings were addressed and several local unions organized.
"In the month, of May thirty-six temperance meetings were held in the State of Ohio, by the corresponding secretary, who has also made a trip through Michigan, and spoken in all the Eastern, Middle and several of the Western States since the last meeting.
"Our recording secretary, Mrs. Mary C. Johnson, has visited Great Britain, by invitation of Christian women there, for the purpose of introducing our Gospel work. Going in the spirit of the Crusade, Mrs. Johnson's labors have awakened an earnest spirit of inquiry and activity among the thoughtful and comparatively leisure class. During her six months' absence in England and Ireland, she addressed one hundred and twenty-one audiences and conducted forty prayer-meetings.
"'Mother Stewart,' of Ohio, has also visited England and Scotland this year, under the auspices of the Good Templars, and much good has resulted from her labors.
"Our union has circulated the petition to Congress for a Commission of Inquiry into the costs and results of the liquor traffic in America, and to the Centennial Commissioners praying them not to allow the sale of intoxicants on the Exposition grounds. The desired Commission of Inquiry has been ordered by the Senate in response to the wish of the united temperance societies of the land, but the subject did not come before the House at the last session.
"Our paper has constantly increased in its hold upon the local unions, whose devotion to its interests augurs well for its future success.
"The number of documents scattered among our auxiliaries cannot be accurately stated, but is not less than twelve or fifteen thousand, and the correspondence of the officers by letter and postal-card, will not fall short of the same estimate. To correct misapprehensions, it should, perhaps, be stated that no officer of the National Union has received a dollar for services or traveling expenses during the year."
A WORKING ORGANIZATION.
To meet annually in convention and pass resolutions and make promises is one thing; to do practical and effective work all through the year is quite another. And it is just here that this new temperance organization exhibits its power. The women whom it represents are very much in earnest and mean work. What they resolve to do, if clearly seen to be in the right direction, will hardly fail for lack of effort. In their plan of work, one branch particularly embraces the children. If the rising generation can not only be pledged to abstinence; but so carefully instructed in regard to the sin and evil of intemperance, and their duty, when they become men and women, to make war upon the liquor traffic, and to discountenance all form of social drinking, then an immense gain will be had for the cause in the next generation, when the boys and girls of to-day will hold the ballots, make the laws, give direction to public sentiment and determine the usages of society.
LOOKING AFTER THE CHILDREN.
To what extent, then, are the State and local unions looking after the children? Writing, as we now are, before the third annual meeting of the National Union, and, therefore, without a general report of the year's work before us, we are unable to give a statement in full of the important temperance work which has been done with and for the rising generation. But, from official and other reliable sources of information, we are in possession of facts of a most gratifying character. In the State of Minnesota, as the result of woman's efforts, they have had for several years a "Sunday-School Temperance League," and their last annual report gives seventeen thousand as the number of children already "pledged to abstain from all intoxicants as a beverage." Says their report for 1877, "We have carried the work into sixty-one new schools, held sixty-three anniversary meetings and temperance concerts, instigated about one thousand addresses in the Sunday-schools, secured six thousand six hundred and seventy-four signers to our pledges, and one thousand and fifteen to our constitution."
In most of the larger towns throughout the United States where active local unions exist, juvenile unions, bands of hope or temperance associations by some other name, have been formed among the children. These have, in many cases, a large membership; often as high as from five to six hundred. In Rockford, Ill., the juvenile union numbers over eight hundred boys and as many girls. The pledge taken by these children includes, in some localities, tobacco and profanity as well as intoxicants.
THE WORK OF REFORM AND RESCUE.
In the work of reform and rescue, the State and local unions are very active, especially in the larger towns and cities. In the smaller towns, religious temperance meetings are held weekly, and in the larger cities, daily, and sometimes twice a day. Chicago has as many as eighteen meetings every week. In Chapters XIX. and XX. of the first part of this volume, we have described at length, and from personal observation, the way in which these temperance prayer-meetings are generally conducted, and the means used for lifting up and saving the poor drunkard.
What are known as "Reform Clubs," have grown out of the efforts made of these praying women, to hold in safety the men whom they have been able to rescue. These clubs are numerous in New England and the Western States, and have a large membership, which is composed exclusively of reformed men. The common platform upon which they all stand is: 1. Total abstinence. 2. Reliance upon God's help in all things. 3. Missionary work to induce others to sign the pledge. In Newark, N.J., there is a club with a membership of over six hundred reformed men, nearly all of whom have been rescued in the past three years, through the efforts of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of that city.
In an interview with Mrs. Wittenmyer, President of the National Union, who had received reports of the third year's work from the various unions, we learned that, after deducting from the returns all who were known to have broken the pledge, ten thousand remained as the number reported to have been saved during the year, and who were still standing in the strength which God had given them. The larger part of these rescued men had united themselves with the church, and were earnestly endeavoring to lead Christian lives.
KEEPING ALIVE A SENTIMENT ADVERSE TO THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC.
Another and most important branch of the work of the "Woman's Christian Temperance Union," is that of arousing, keeping alive and intensifying a sentiment adverse to the liquor traffic. So long as the State and National Governments give the sanction of law to this traffic, they find their efforts to save the fallen, utterly unavailing in far too many instances. In an appeal made by the women of the State Union to the voters of Massachusetts, under date of August 15th, 1877, the curse of this traffic is exhibited in words of solemn earnestness. The document is strong and convincing, yet temperate and respectful. We copy it entire as presenting arguments and considerations which every humane and Christian voter in the land should lay deeply to heart:
"The Woman's Christian Temperance Union comes to you with a solemn and earnest appeal.
"Our mission is the redemption of the Commonwealth from the curse of intemperance. During the past year we have labored incessantly for this end, and have expended nearly twenty thousand dollars in efforts to rescue the perishing, and to educate public sentiment in favor of total abstinence.
"In this work we have met numerous obstacles--the apathy of the people, the inherited and depraved appetites of drunkards, and the perilous social customs of the day, which are indorsed by the practice of many otherwise excellent people. Worse than all these combined is the influence of the licensed dram-shop. We can arouse the indifferent to action; we can enkindle in the drunkard aspirations for a better life than that of debauchery; we hope, in time, by constant agitation, to change the social customs of the day. But against the influence of the licensed dram-shop we are powerless. We have no ability to cope with this most formidable enemy of virtue, prosperity and good order.
"A long and bitter experience compels us to say that the most untiring efforts to reclaim the drunkard have, in many instances, proved unavailing, because his demoralized will has been powerless to resist the temptations placed in his path by the sanction of the State.
"Worse, if possible, even than this--the licensed dram-shop is instrumental in creating a new generation of drunkards. For thither resort our young men, the future hope of the country, who speedily fall before the seductions of the place, their habits of sobriety are subverted, their moral sense is blunted, their will palsied, and they drift rapidly into the appalling condition of habitual drunkenness. The licensed dram-shops are recruiting offices, where another army of drunkards is enlisted, to fill the ranks depleted by dishonored deaths--and the great Commonwealth extends over them the ęgis of its protection, indorsing them by the sanction of law. The people of Massachusetts drink annually twenty-five million dollars' worth of intoxicating liquors. Only God can furnish the statistics of sorrow, poverty, disease, vice and crime, begotten by this fearful consumption of strong drink.
"Under these discouraging circumstances, men of Massachusetts, we appeal to you! The licensed dram-shop is the creature of political action. We are wholly destitute of political power, by which it must be overthrown. Anguished by the peril of fathers and brothers, husbands and sons, we appeal to you to make good the oft-repeated assertion that the men of the State represent and protect the women of the State at the ballot-box. We beseech you to make earnest efforts to secure the repeal of the license law at the next election, and the enactment of a law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors as a beverage.
"We are sure we speak the sentiment of the Christian people of this State, and of all who stand for morality, thrift, virtue and good order, when we say that the great State of Massachusetts should not take sides with the drunkard-maker against his victim. If either is to be protected by law, it should be the drunkard, since he is the weaker, rather than the rumseller, who persistently blocks the pathway of reform.
"We know that we utter the voice of the majority of the women of the State when we plead the cause of prohibition--and the women of Massachusetts outnumbers its men by more than sixty thousand. It is women who are the greatest sufferers from the licensed dram-shops of the community--and we pray you, therefore, voters of Massachusetts, to take such action that the law which protects these drinking shops may be blotted from the statute book at the next election."
This appeal from the Christian women of Massachusetts is signed by Mrs. Mary A. Livermore, President, and Mrs. L.B. Barrett, Secretary of the State branch of the Woman's National Temperance Union, and shows the animating spirit of that body. No one can read it without a new impression of the wickedness of a traffic that curses everything it touches.
But not alone in Massachusetts are the women of the "Union" using their efforts to shape public opinion and influence the ballot. In all the States where unions exist, this part of the work is steadily prosecuted; and it cannot be long ere its good results will become manifest at the polls in a steadily increasing anti-license vote, and, ultimately in the ranging of State after State with Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire on the side of prohibition.
INFLUENCE ON THE MEDICAL PROFESSION.
In still another direction important gains have been realized. But for the efforts of the Woman's National and State Temperance Unions we should scarcely have had the declaration of the International Medical Congress of 1876, adverse to the use of alcohol as food or medicine. Early in their work, the women of the "Union," seeing how largely the medical prescription of alcohol was hurting the cause of temperance, and being in possession of the latest results of chemical and physiological investigation in regard to its specific action on the body, sent delegations to various State medical associations at their annual meetings, urging them to pass resolutions defining its true status as a food or a medicine and discouraging its use in the profession. With most of these medical associations they found a respectful hearing; and their presentation of the matter had the effect of drawing to the subject the attention of a large number of medical men who had not, from old prejudices, or in consequence of their absorption in professional duties, given careful attention to the later results of scientific investigation. As a consequence, many physicians who had been in the habit of ordering alcoholic stimulants for weak or convalescent patients, gave up the practice entirely; while those who still resorted to their use, deemed it safest to be more guarded in their administration than heretofore.
ACTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CONGRESS.
But the crowning result of this effort to induce the medical profession to limit or abandon the prescription of alcohol, came when the International Congress, one of the largest and ablest medical bodies ever convened, made, through its "Section on Medicine," the brief, but clear and unequivocal declaration already given in a previous chapter, and at once and forever laid upon alcohol the ban of the profession.
Official communications were addressed to this body by the National Temperance Society, through its president, Hon. Wm. E. Dodge, by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, through its president, Mrs. Annie Wittenmyer, and by the New York Friends' Temperance Union, asking from it a declaration as to the true character of alcohol and its value in medicine.
The following is the full text of the memorial of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union:
To the Chairman and Members of the International Medical Congress:
"HONORED SIRS:--I take the liberty, as a representative of the Woman's National Christian Temperance Union of the United States, to call your attention to the relation of the medical use of alcohol to the prevalence of that fearful scourge, intemperance.
"The distinguished Dr. Mussey said, many years ago: 'So long as alcohol retains a place among sick patients, so long there will be drunkards.'
"Dr. Rush wrote strongly against its use as early as 1790. And at one time the College of Physicians at Philadelphia memorialized Congress in favor of restraining the use of distilled liquors, because, as they claimed, they were 'destructive of life, health and the faculties of the mind.'
"'A Medical Declaration,' published in London, December, 1872, asserts that 'it is believed that the inconsiderate prescription of alcoholic liquids by medical men for their patients has given rise, in many instances, to the formation of intemperate habits.' This manifesto was signed by over two hundred and fifty of the leading medical men of the United Kingdom. When the nature and effects of alcohol were little known, ft was thought to be invaluable as a medicine. But in the light of recent scientific investigations, its claims have been challenged and its value denied.
"We are aware that the question of the medical use of alcohol has not been fully decided, and that there is a difference of opinion among the ablest medical writers. But we notice that as the discussion and investigation goes on, and the new facts are brought out, its value as a remedial agent is depreciated.
"A great many claims have been brought forward in its favor, but one by one they have gone down under the severe scrutiny of scientific research, until only a few points are left in doubt. In view of this, and the startling fact that tens of thousands die annually from its baneful effects, we earnestly urge you to give the subject a careful examination.
"You have made the study of the physical nature of man your life-work, and you are the trusted advisers of the people in all matters pertaining to the treatment of diseases and the preservation of life and health.
"You are, therefore, in a position to instruct and warn the masses in regard to its indiscriminate use, either as a medicine or a beverage.
"We feel sure that, true to your professional honor, and the grave responsibilities of your distinguished position, you will search out and give us the facts, whatever they may be.
"If you should appoint a standing committee from your own number, of practical scientific men, who would give time and thought to this question, it would be very gratifying to the one hundred thousand women I represent, and most acceptable to the general public.
"I am, with high considerations of respect,
"Your obed't servant,
"Pres't W. Nat. Chris. Temp. Union.
"Philadelphia, Sept. 6th, 1876."
How was this memorial received? Scarcely had it been presented ere a member moved that it be laid on the table without reading; but ere the vote could be taken the voice of another member rose clear and strong in the question whether that body could afford to treat a hundred thousand American women with such a discourtesy! And the motion to lay on the table was lost.
A vote to refer to the "Section on Medicine" was largely carried; and to that section the petitioners took their case, and were not only accorded a gracious and respectful hearing, but, after a full discussion of the subject, a declaration against the use of alcohol, as a substance both hurtful and dangerous--possessing no food value whatever, and as a medicine, being exceedingly limited in its range. All the points in reply were passed upon unanimously by the section to which the matter was referred, and afterwards by the Congress in full session, with but a single dissenting vote, and the result officially communicated to the president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. An official notification of the action of the Congress was also sent to Hon. Wm. E. Dodge, president of the National Temperance Society.
Other aspects of the work of this young and vigorous organization might be given; but enough has been presented to show that its agency in temperance reform is already far-reaching and powerful; and to give assurance that if the spirit which has influenced and directed its counsels so wisely from the beginning, can be maintained, it will achieve still greater and more important victories for the cause of temperance.