The consumption of alcohol has long been a part of American society. As with all of the popularity it held in our society, there were many groups throughout our history, which sought out to stop the distribution and consumption of alcohol. Perhaps the most pivotal group of all in the 19th century was the W.C.T.U., or the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Originating from the unified oppression and abuse that women received as a direct result of the alcohol consumption from their husbands, the WCTU’s main goals were prohibition and evangelism. One article, taken from the Los Angeles Times in 1883, shows the daunting task the women would face, if they were to continue with their efforts. The article states that, in Chicago, “300 churches against 5,242 liquor stores; 400 clergymen, evangelists and lay leaders, and 5,500 bartenders.” (Los Angeles Times) This vastness of alcohol is shown by this excerpt, as the pure numbers outweigh even something as popular as christianity in certain parts of America by a long shot. Also stated in this article was that the women “had as hard a field to till, as was ever undertaken by mortals.”
Two of the major women involved with the WTCU and temperance movement as a whole were Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.These women played a huge role in our society at the time, fighting for things such as suffrage and equal rights, and the temperance movement was a huge endorsement for these women to support. Towards the end of the century, the WCTU had gained much ground, by lobbying for local laws to restrict and control alcohol, and even by starting anti-drinking campaigns that reached nearly every public school in the nation. (PBS) As the WCTU had made may gains towards the success of early prohibition of alcohol, changes in legislation and a complete revamping of American history and society would need more support nationwide than from Christian women alone, it would take an entire nation and even more manpower to bring down the alcohol industry powerhouse.
TEMPERANCE.: W C T U. “The Women of America vs. the Liquor Traffic.” NATIONAL WOMAN’S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION. CALIFORNIA W. C. T. U. LOS ANGELES W. C. T. U., Los Angeles Times, June 12 1883.