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1873 Woman's Crusades.
Early WCTU.
Frances Willard.
Willard House.
National Presidents of the WCTU.


The women of Fredonia, New York are credited with being the first of the women's groups to visit the saloons, under the leadership of Mrs. Esther McNeil.  Subsequently, on December 22, 1873, they were the first local organization to  adopt the name, Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

Hillsboro, Ohio is credited with being the birthplace of the Woman's Temperance Crusade. Dr. Dio Lewis gave a lecture on Temperance at the Hillsboro  Music Hall on the evening of December 23, 1873. On the morning of December 24, 1873, under the leadership of Mrs. Eliza Thompson, daughter of a former governor  and wife of a highly respected judge, seventy women arose from their knees and  started from the Presbyterian church to the saloons.

Click on the image to see a larger view."Walking two by two, the smaller ones in the front and the taller coming  after, they sang more or less confidently, 'Give to the Winds Thy Fears,' that heartening reassurance of Divine protection now known to every WCTU member as  the Crusade Hymn. Every day they visited the saloons and the drug stores where  liquor was sold. They prayed on sawdust floors or, being denied entrance, knelt on snowy pavements before the doorways, until almost all the sellers capitulated." Where Prayer and Purpose Meet by Helen E. Tyler

Mother Thompson's name soon became a symbol of the heroic women in hundreds of cities and villages who went out from all types of homes to brave the insults  and dangers of invading the saloons in behalf of the temperance cause.

Spectacular publicity was given to the early Ohio Crusades by the press in Cincinnati, Chicago, and New York, as well as in other large cities. Stories and  cartoons appeared in Harper's Weekly. Dr. Dio Lewis lectured in the state for  two weeks in February and repeatedly told the Hillsboro story.

Washington Court House, Ohio, a neighboring town to Hillsboro, actually  claimed victory before Hillsboro, as they reported seeing the village gutters  run with the liquor from all the saloons.

The Crusade spread amazingly and was summarized by Sarah K. Bolton of  Cleveland, a successful writer of the day: "In fifty days it (the Crusade) drove the liquor traffic, horse, foot, and dragoons,out of two hundred and fifty towns and villages, increased by one hundred percent the attendance at church and  decreased that at the criminal courts in like proportion." Women  Torchbearers by E. P. Gordon

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