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XVII.

WORK OF THE W. C. T. U.

BY

FRANCES E. WILLARD.

Let me try to set forth the sequel of that modern Pentecost called the “Woman's Crusade.” That women should thus dare was the wonder after they had so long endured, while the manner of their doing left us who looked on bewildered between laughter and tears. Woman-like, they took their knitting, their zephyr work, or their embroidery, and simply swarmed into the drink-shops, seated themselves, and watched the proceedings. Usually they came in a long procession from their rendezvous at some church where they had held morning prayer-meeting, entered the saloon with kind faces, and the sweet songs of church and home upon their lips, while some Madonna-like leader with the Gospel in her looks, took her stand beside the bar, and gently asked if she might read God's word and offer prayer.

. Women gave of their best during the two months of that wonderful uprising. All other engagements were laid aside ; elegant women of society walked beside quiet women of home, school, and shop, in the strange processions that soon lined the chief streets, not only of nearly every town and village in the State that was its birth place,* but of leading cities there and elsewhere ; and voices trained in Paris and Berlin sang “ Rock of Ages, cleft for me,” in the malodorous air of liquorrooms and beer-halls. Meanwhile, where were the men who patronized these places ? Thousands of them signed the pledge these women brought, and accepted their invitation to go back with them to the churches, whose doors, for once, stood open all day long ; others slunk out of sight, and a few cursed the women openly ; but even of these it might be said,

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that those who came to curse remained to pray. Soon the saloon-keepers surrendered in large numbers, the statement being made by a well-known observer that the liquor traffic was temporarily driven out of two hundred and fifty towns and villages in Ohio and the adjoining States, to which the Temperance Crusade extended. There are photographs extant representing the stirring scenes when, amid the ringing of church bells, the contents of every barrel, cask, and bottle in a saloon were sent gurgling into the gutter, the owner insisting that women's hands alone should do this work, perhaps with some dim thought in his muddled head of the poetic justice due to the Nemesis he thus invoked. And so it came about that soft and often jeweled hands grasped axe and hammer, while the whole town assembled to rejoice in this new fashion of exorcising the evil spirits. In Cincinnati, a city long dominated by the liquor trade, a procession of women, including the wives of leading pastors, were arrested and locked up in jail ; in Cleveland dogs were set on the Crusaders, and in a single instance a blunderbuss was pointed at them, while in several places they were smoked out, or had the hose turned on them. But the arrested women marched through the streets singing, and held a temperance meeting in the prison; the one assailed by dogs laid her hands upon their heads and prayed; and the group menaced by a gun marched up to its mouth singing, “ Never be afraid to work for Jesus.” The annals of heroism have few pages so bright as the annals of that strange crusade, spreading as if by magic through all the Northern States, across the sea, and to the Orient itself. Everywhere it went, the attendance at church increased incalculably, and the crime record was in like manner shortened. Men say there was a spirit in the air such as they never knew before ; a sense of God and human brotherhood.

But after fifty days or more, all this seemed to pass away. The women could not keep up such work; it took them too much from their homes ; saloons reopened ; men gathered as before behind their sheltering screens, and swore “ those silly women had done more harm than good,” while with ribald words they drank the health of “the defunct crusade."

Perhaps the most significant outcome of this movement was the knowledge of their own power gained by the conservative women of the churchse. They had never seen a “ woman's rights convention," and had been held aloof from the “ suffragists” by fears as to their orthodoxy ; but now there were women, prominent in all church cares and duties, eager to clasp

hands for a more agressive work than such women had ever before dreamed of undertaking.

Nothing is more suggestive in all the national gatherings of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, that sober second thought of the crusade, than the wide difference between these meetings and any held by men. The beauty of decoration is specially noticeable ; banners of silk, satin and velvet, usually made by the women themselves, adorn the wail; the handsome shields of States ; the great vases bearing aloft grains, fruits and flowers ; the moss-covered well with its old bucket ; or the setting of a platform to present an interior as cozy and delightful as a parlor could afford, are features of the pleasant scene. The rapidity of movement with which business is conducted, the spontaneity of manner, the originality of plan, the perpetual freshness and ingenuity of the convention, its thousand unexpectednesses, its quips and turns, its wit and pathos, its impromptu eloquence and its perpetual good nature-all these elements, brought into condensed view in the National Convention, are an object lesson of the new force and the unique method that womanhood has contributed to the consideration of the greatest reform in Christendom. It is really the crusade over again ; the home going forth into the world. Its manner is not that of the street, the court, the mart, or the office ; it is the manner of the home. Men take one line, and travel onward to success; with them discursiveness is at a discount. But women in the home must be mistresses as well as maids of all work ; they have learned well the lesson of unity in diversity; hence, by inheritance and by environment, women are varied in their methods ; they are born to be .branchers-out." Men have been in the organized temperance work not less than eighty years—women not quite fifteen. Men pursued it at first along the line of temperance, then total abstinence ; license, then prohibition ; while women have already over forty distinct departments of work, classified under the heads of preventive, educational, evangelistic, social, and legal. Women think in the concrete. The cru. sade showed them the drinking man, and they began upon him directly to get him to sign the pledge and “ seek the Lord behind the pledge.” The crusade showed them the selling man, and they prayed over him, and persuaded him to give up his bad business, often buying him out, and setting him up in the better occupation of baker, grocer, or keeper of the reading-room, into which they converted his saloon after converting him from the error of his ways.

But oftentimes the drinking man went back to his cups, and the selling man fell from his grace ; the first one declaring, “I can't break the habit I formed when a boy;” and the last averring, “ Somebody's bound to sell, and I might as well make the profit." Upon this the women, still with their concrete ways of thinking, said, “ To be sure, we must train our boys; and not only ours but everybody's ; what institution reaches all ?—the public schools.” Under the leadership of Mrs. Mary H. Hunt they have secured laws requiring scientific temperance instruction in the public school system of thirty States.

To the inane excuse of the seller that he might as well do it since somebody would, the quick and practical reply was, “ To be sure ; but suppose the people could be persuaded not to let anybody sell ? why, then that would be God's answer to our crusade prayers." So they began with petitions to municipalities, to legislatures, and to Congress, laboriously gathering up, doubtless, not fewer than ten million names in the great aggregate, and through fourteen years. Thus the Woman's Christian Temperance Union stands as the strongest bulwark of Prohibition, State and national, by constitutional amend. ment and by statute. Meanwhile, it was inevitable that their motherly hearts should devise other methods for the protection of their homes. Knowing the terrors and the blessings of inheritance, they set about the systematic study of heredity, founding a journal for that purpose. Learning the relation of diet to the drink habit, they arranged to study hygiene also ; desiring children to know that the Bible is on the side of total abstinence, they induced the International Sunday School Convention to prepare a plan for lessons on this subject ; perceiving the limitless power of the Press, they did their best to subsidize it by sending out their bulletins of temperance facts and news items, thick as the leaves of Vallambrosa, and incorporated a publishing company of women.

It is curious to watch the development of the women who entered the saloons in 1874 as a gentle, well-dressed, and altogether peaceable mob. They have become an army, drilled and disciplined. They have a method of organization, the simplest yet the most substantial known to temperance annals. It is the same for the smallest local union as for the national society with its ten thousand auxiliaries. Committees have been abolished, except the executive, made up of the general officers, and “superintendencies " substituted, making each woman responsible for a single line of work in the local, State, and national society. This puts a premium upon personality, develops a negative into a positive with the least loss of time, and increases beyond all computation the aggregate of work accomplished. Women with specialties have thus been multiplied by tens of thousands, and the temperance reform introduced into strongholds of power hitherto neglected or unthought of. Is an exposition to be held, or a State or county fair ? there is a woman in the locality who knows that it is her business to see that the W. C. T. U. has an attractive booth with temperance literature and temperance drinks; and that, besides all this, it is her duty to secure laws and by-laws requiring the teetotal absence of intoxicants from grounds and buildings. Is there an institution for the dependent or delinquent classes ? there is a woman in the locality who knows that it is her duty to see that temperance literature is circulated, temperance talking and singing done, and that flowers with appropriate sentiments attached are sent to the inmates by young ladies banded for that purpose. Is there a convocation of ministers, doctors, teachers, editors, voters, or any other class of opinion-manufacturers announced to meet in any town or city ? there is a woman thereabouts who knows it is her business to secure, through some one of the delegates to these influential gatherings, a resolution favoring the temperance movement and pledging it support along the line of work then and there represented. Is there a legislature any. where about to meet, or is Congress in session ? there is a woman near at hand who knows it is her business to make the air heavy with the white, hovering wings of prohibition for the better protection of women and girls, for the preventing of the sale of tobacco to minors, for the enforcement of the Sabbath or for the enfranchisement of women. Thus have the manifold relationships of the mighty temperance movement been studied out by women in the training-school afforded by the real work and daily object-lessons of the W. C. T. U. Its aim is everywhere to bring women and temperance in contact with the problem of humanity's heart-break and sin, to protect the home by prohibiting the saloon; and to police the State with men and women voters committed to the enforcement of righteous law. The women saw, as years passed on, that not one, but three curses were pronounced upon their sons by the nineteenth century civilization ; the curse of the narcotic poisons, alcohol and nicotine ; the curse of gambling ; the curse of social sin, deadlier than all ; and that these three are part and parcel of each other. And so, “ distinct like the billows, but

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