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A Lesson From Women's History

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

When browsing for the history of women in America, it is noticeable the past depends on which website you visit. Today we can rearrange history to paint our pictures. This is not a good thing. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Suzan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott; are women referred to when abortion, women's vote, or Women's rights issues arise. The women's suffrage movements and Christian women's groups are made out to be opposed to one another. Were they?

My research of the Christian Women's Temperance Union leads me to an answer to the question. In 1874 the CWTU was formed. Protecting their families was their mission. Women having rights in their homes was a strong motivator. In 1879 Frances Willard took over the leadership. Alcohol devastation of families made the prohibition of alcohol a primary goal. This topic alone separated the "suffrage groups" for many years. The groups were aware the women's vote would never be passed by men when the right to alcohol would be at risk when women could vote. Letters between organizers show the WCTU refused to stop their advocacy of prohibition. Today we have a right to alcohol; however, their concern was valid. Our prisons overflow due to charges related to the abuse of mind-altering substances. For two decades Willard led the WCTU which became one of the largest influential women’s groups of the 19th century. January 17, 1920, the amendment went into effect. As the PBS article stated " Americans were about to discover that making Prohibition the law of the land had been one thing; enforcing it would be another."

In 1920 the women's groups could finally unify on many topics. Working together on issues of the women's vote among many others paved the way to success.

Can women today lean from the history of women?

Often today we behave like crabs in a bucket. Climb your way to the top and others in the bucket will put you back down. Is it possible to recognize the potential each woman presents? Can we tip over the bucket and release the talents previously contained?

There are still issues today which require unity to pave the way to success.

Be brave and fierce but always remain humble.


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