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.

Outrage over State Constitutions

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

Suffrage Defeated in Arizona

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

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.

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."

Lillian Stevens Becomes President of WCTU

Lillian Stevens is elected President of the WCTU.

Death of Frances Willard

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

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.

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.

Municipal Suffrage in Kansas

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

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."

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