The WCTU and the 19th Amendment

The Women's Christian Temperance Union's Involvement in the Fight for Women's Suffrage

The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was instrumental in the fight for women's suffrage. Though their primary focus was temperance, they saw the right to vote as an essential tool for home protection and women's advancement. The national organization formally endorsed women's suffrage in 1881. The WCTU's unique organizational structure meant that they could approach suffrage work on a state and local level, while their extensive advocacy work for temperance and other social causes gave them a toolkit for successful campaigns.

1873-12-23 00:00:00

Establishment of the WCTU

The WCTU was established in Hillsboro, Ohio after a series of non-violent protests called the Temperance Crusades.

1878-10-31 00:00:00

Indiana Organizes Franchise Department

The Indiana WCTU organized a Franchise Department in 1878.

1879-10-31 00:00:00

Frances Willard Elected President of the WCTU

Frances Willard, second president of the WCTU, brought her "Do Everything" approach to the organization. Under her leadership, the WCTU grew to be the largest women's organization in the world.

1881-10-26 00:00:00

Franchise Committee Organized

1882-10-25 00:00:00

1st Report of the Franchise Department

The new Franchise Department submitted its first report.

1884-10-22 00:00:00

First Suffrage Resolution

"Since law is the expression of the average public sentiment, and but one half of this public sentiment has been expressed in law, we should earnestly work to secure the ballot for women in the interest of more efficient protection to themselves, their children, and their homes; action in this matter, however, shall be discretionary in the states."

1887-03-01 00:00:00

Municipal Suffrage in Kansas

WCTU women, collaborating with the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association, successfully campaign for municipal suffrage for women.

1889-10-19 00:00:00

Willard Asks for Educational Test

In her President's Address, Frances Willard asks that suffrage be contingent on an educational test rather than by gender, a move designed to limit voting by African-American and immigrant voters.

1890-02-18 00:00:00

NWSA and AWSA Merge

The National Women's Suffrage Association and the American Women's Suffrage Association merge into one organization, the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

1890-03-21 00:00:00

Anthony Writes to Willard

Susan B. Anthony wrote to Frances Willard, asking her to mobilize the South Dakota WCTU to aid in the suffrage campaign.

1890-10-26 00:00:00

Suffrage Defeated in South Dakota

The women's suffrage referendum is defeated in South Dakota.

1897-02-17 00:00:00

Death of Frances Willard

Frances Willard dies in New York City on February 17, 1897.

1897-10-29 00:00:00

Lillian Stevens Becomes President of WCTU

Lillian Stevens is elected President of the WCTU.

1898-07-01 00:00:00

Iowa WCTUs Campaign for Constitution Change

The Iowa WCTU joined with the National Equal Suffrage Association in a campaign to eliminate the word "male" from the state constitution.

1899-10-20 00:00:00

Carrie Chapman Catt Letter

At the Annual Convention, the WCTU received a letter from Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Women's Suffrage Association, asking them to leave suffrage work to NAWSA. Catt worried that the WCTU's association with temperance and Prohibition would interfere with the fight for women's suffrage. The WCTU responded by affirming their commitment to working for suffrage as true "White Ribboners."

1903-07-01 00:00:00

Suffrage Defeated in Arizona

The bill for women's suffrage is vetoed by the governor of Arizona.

1904-07-01 00:00:00

Outrage over State Constitutions

As new states entered the Union, the WCTU paid close attention to the language in their state constitutions.

1904-07-01 00:00:00

Suffrage Debates

On a local level, the WCTU used many tactics to spread the word about women's suffrage.

1907-07-01 00:00:00

Work Expands to Young People

The Young People's Branch (YPB) was the youth arm of the WCTU.

1908-10-20 00:00:00

37 States have Franchise Departments

By 1908, 37 of the 46 state WCTUs had Franchise Departments.

1909-10-22 00:00:00

Stevens Separates WCTU from British Suffragettes

Lillian Stevens, in her address to the convention, condemned the militant tactics of the British suffragettes.

1910-07-01 00:00:00

Petition Work in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma WCTU is heavily involved in a petition campaign for women's suffrage.

1911-10-10 00:00:00

California Grants Women's Suffrage

California voted to give women the right to vote.

1912-05-03 00:00:00

Women's Suffrage Parade In New York City

A parade in favor of women's suffrage was held in New York City.

1912-11-05 00:00:00

Kansas Grants Women's Suffrage

Thanks in large part to the efforts of the WCTU, Kansas granted women suffrage.

1914-07-01 00:00:00

Automobile Street Meetings

WCTU women in North Dakota held automobile street meetings to spread the news about women's suffrage.

1914-10-31 00:00:00

Anna Gordon Elected President of the WCTU

Anna Gordon was elected President of the WCTU after the death of Lillian Stevens.

1915-07-01 00:00:00

Carrie Chapman Catt Becomes President of NAWSA

Carrie Chapman Catt becomes President of the National American Women's Suffrage Association

1916-07-01 00:00:00

Formation of National Women's Party

Alice Paul, inspired by the work of British suffragettes, forms the National Women's Party.

1916-07-01 00:00:00

Campaign for Suffrage in West Virginia

A referendum for suffrage in West Virginia was defeated. Lenna Lowe Yost, former president of the West Virginia WCTU, was instrumental in the campaign.

1916-07-01 00:00:00

Florida Franchise Department

Florida forms its franchise department, one of the few states in the Deep South to do so.

1916-11-07 00:00:00

Jeannette Rankin Elected to Congress

Jeannette Rankin, first woman to hold national office, is elected to Congress from Montana.

1917-01-02 00:00:00

Fraud Investigations in Iowa

The WCTU funded an investigation into fraud in the 1916 referendum on women's suffrage in Iowa.

1917-11-07 00:00:00

Deborah Knox Livingston Heads Maine Suffrage Campaign

Livingston, head of the Franchise Department, was asked by the NAWSA to head the suffrage campaign in Maine.

1917-12-02 00:00:00

National Amendment Takes Precedence

The WCTU shifts their attention to a national suffrage amendment.

1919-06-04 00:00:00

Suffrage Amendment Passes the Senate

The Susan B. Anthony Amendment passed the Senate and was sent out to the states for ratification.

1920-03-10 00:00:00

West Virginia Ratifies 19th Amendment

Lenna Lowe Yost, the Washington correspondent for the WCTU, was heavily involved in the ratification fight in West Virginia.

1920-08-15 00:00:00

Tennessee Ratifies 19th Amendment

Tennessee is the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, making it law.

1920-09-23 00:00:00

Christian Citizenship

After ratification, the WCTU's attention shifts to educating women voters in "Christian Citizenship."

The WCTU and the 19th Amendment

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