The Women’s Christian Temperance Union

After the Civil War it would be hard to describe the devastation in the South. For one thing, a whole generation of young men were killed. For another, when Lincoln was assassinated Reconstruction took ugly turns under the hands of U.S. Grant, a drunkard. Alcoholism and despair were two major outcomes of that whole period of American history, and in response to it, women like Mrs. Smucker from Orrville Ohio, and Frances Willard. Here is a bust of her found in the Methodist museum at Lovely Lane Church in Baltimore…..

The name of this movement, enshrined on this banner (below) is rather misleading. The ladies were not really urging temperance, but rather abstinence. They were tea-totalers, and they in part are the origins of the holiness movement which led to the founding of schools like Asbury College in the last decade of the 19th century. Many, probably most of these women, like Frances Willard were Methodists who saw their movement as an implementation of John Wesley’s call for social holiness.


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