Why and How : a hand-book for the use of the W.C.T. unions in Canada - Part 1

Part 1

Why and how: a hand-book for the use of the W.C.T. unions in Canada.

by Addie Chisholm.



It has been said "Woman has a capacity for suffering," and during all the years of the past, in all countries and among all nations, woman has been proving this true. Since the dark day when "there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother," and there came to that mother's heart the agony of bereavement, the human disappointment and pangs, whose torture only the Father G.o.d could understand,--from that day till the present, disappointment, trial and sorrow have entered largely into the life and experience of women. But of all clouds that have darkened their lives and among all sharp swords that have pierced their hearts, the cloud of the liquor traffic has been the darkest, and its blade the keenest. Myriads of women have looked with anguish on sacrifices offered and loved ones slain, not to save humanity or to draw men nearer to G.o.d, but destroyed at the hands of a tyrant as relentless as death, and as pitiless.

In heathen countries, children have been left to float out of existence, an offering to the G.o.ds, while the mother has turned sadly and sorrowfully away; in Christian countries, children have drifted with the tide of social customs, or inherited appet.i.tes for strong drink, out of the boundless sea of evil and wretchedness, while women have wept and wondered, have pondered and prayed.

Mothers have seen their sons, strong and brave in their young manhood, venture on this stream of rapid currents, have watched them with sad eyes, and called to them in pleading and terrified tones, as they were carried on and on by the rushing waters. At last, it was too late even for mother's love to save, and they were drawn into that terrible vortex, from which there is so seldom escape, despairing hands have reached out for help, the cry of the soul has been an appeal for mercy, and another loved one has gone down a victim to the nation's greed and a sacrifice to the nation's sin.

Out from a sheltered, sunshiny home has gone the tender, trusting daughter, in her glad girlhood, her heart all aglow with true hallowed love for him, by whose side she has chosen to spend the coming years. The future has looked so bright, as together they have thought, and planned, and built their airy castles; but the clouds have come and pa.s.sed, and come again and more frequently, till, at length, the young wife has sat continually in their shadow, the brightness and the sunshine all gone out of her life, as her husband has yielded to the influence of strong drink. She has realized that she was a drunkard's wife, her place by a drunkard's side, and, with white lips and breaking heart, she has moaned out her prayer to G.o.d for deliverance. And who will say that the fond mother, sitting in the old bright home, has not felt every pang, every blow that reached the daughter's heart as she saw all that the dear one in loyalty to her husband would fain have concealed. This experience comes home to most of us, and we easily recall not one case but many in which wives and daughters have suffered at the hands of this cruel destroyer.

Homes have been invaded, not with noise of drums and clash of arms, but silently as by the stealthy step of death. Their purity and peace have been destroyed, their idols laid in the dust, and the place that was designed to be a sanctuary for humanity, a rest from the weariness of life and a refuge from its storms, has become, instead, a dreary abode of waiting and watching, of enduring and weeping, often a very Gethsemane to patient loving souls. In time the domestic life of families is destroyed by this enemy, so strong, cruel and determined; in many cases, the elegant abode gives place to a poorer one; the comfortable dwelling is exchanged for all that is comfortless and forbidding, and there is no longer a home. Cardinal Manning, in his address at the temperance congress recently held in England, says: "As the foundation they laid deep in the earth was the solid basis of social and political peace, so the domestic life of millions of our people is the foundation of the whole order of our commonwealth. I charge upon this great traffic nine-tenths of the misery and the destroyed and wrecked homes of our joyless people."

What is true in England is also true in our young country. The "Boys'

Homes" and "Girls' Homes" in our large cities furnish evidence of our destroyed homes. It is safe to say that nine-tenths of the inmates of these inst.i.tutions are there provided with a home at the expense of the public, because strong drink has robbed them of the love and care of father and mother, or both, and taken from their innocent childhood all the delights and happiness of home life. As women, age after age, beheld their loved ones thus taken from them, and saw their homes in the hands of this destroyer, it was not strange that at last there arose from their hearts a cry almost of despair. It was a cry that entered into the ear of G.o.d and brought a dim sense of coming help, a consciousness that G.o.d knew and cared and had something better in reserve. The plough of pain had torn up the fallow soil of woman's heart; the harrow of suffering had mellowed, and tears of agony, wept for ages, had moistened it; now the seed of thoughtful and determined purpose was ready to be sown, out of which was to spring the plentiful harvest of action.

Behind were the long dreary wastes of agony, marked with the myriad grave mounds of lost loved ones, over which woman's face had bowed low, while the heart within was breaking; before stretched the wide unknown, full of possibilities. Should it unfold the same sad story of patient, pa.s.sive' suffering, or grow bright with the burnished armor and glad with the hopeful songs of women gathering to the battle, filed against the fell destroyer of their hopes? As the Spirit of G.o.d brooded over the primeval void and brought therefrom order, light, beauty and life, so the spirit of suffering brooded above the torn and saddened heart of womanhood, till at last the angel of awakening appeared, and the heart that had dumbly, patiently endured, stirred to the impulse of defence, and opened to the thought of freedom. The hour had struck, the call had come. The "arrow had been hidden in G.o.d's quiver," waiting His time. When His ringers guide to the mark, what can the arrow do but fulfil its mission?



In the history of oppressed nations, it has often happened that years of suffering have but kindled the desire for freedom and kept it alive, fanned by every fresh act of cruelty and injustice, until, at last, it has burst forth in a fire, which has destroyed the wrong, illuminated the right, and the oppressed people have gone free.

In individual lives, there are not wanting those who have come through the white heat of affliction, purified and made free from the bitterness and selfishness of earth and crowned with a n.o.ble purpose-- to relieve the sufferings of others, to be, in a sense, G.o.d's voice, G.o.d's messenger to the helpless, and to be in His hands for the deliverance of the oppressed and enslaved. So in this temperance cause. For years women had asked, as Paul had asked, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and it had seemed that the answer came only in the closer pressing to their lips of the cup of suffering. As they still pleaded, spreading the white wings of prayer over their dear ones, suddenly there came to them the inspiration, which led to the crusade, an inspiration from the heart of G.o.d.

In years past, indications had not been wanting of some such possible uprising, as drops precede the full shower, for, in 1856, at Rockport, Ma.s.s., some 200 women had a.s.sembled and, proceeding to several places where intoxicating liquor was sold, had entered and destroyed the liquor they found. That was an impulse born of suffering, and finding expression in action impulsive and unusual; but, not being followed up by organization, it soon ended. In 1869, in Rutland, Vt., and at Clyde, Ohio, the women organized to suppress the liquor traffic, visiting saloons, securing pledges, holding prayer meetings, etc., but the great movement, which has given to woman new power in this temperance work, and opened up to her new avenues of usefulness, so long closed, is known as the Woman's Crusade. It began about the same time in three different places in the month of December, 1873, Fredonia, N. Y., Hillsboro, Ohio, and Washington Court House, Ohio, were the first scenes of action. There the first contests were waged and the first victories won. Timid Christian women, who had never heard their own voices in public prayer, were suddenly called to the front and a message given them of G.o.d. Dr. Dio Lewis visited Hillsboro in December, 1873, and there gave two lectures, one of them a lecture on temperance, in which he referred to his mother's struggles as a drunkard's wife, doing her best to support her family, and finally, with a few other praying women, visiting the saloon-keeper who sold liquor to her husband, and pleading with him to give up his business, with which request he, at last, complied. At the close of the lecture, Dr. Lewis called upon all, who were willing to follow his mother's example, to rise, an invitation to which about fifty ladies responded. Many gentlemen in the audience promised to stand by them. A meeting was held the following morning in the Presbyterian church, at which Mrs. Judge Thomson was chosen leader. After much prayer and consultation, the ladies started out in procession, seventy-five in number, and proceeded, singing the familiar hymn, "Give to the winds thy fears,"

first to the drug stores, and then to the hotels and saloons, which they fearlessly entered, asking permission to sing and pray. In nearly every case, the permission was given during that first day, and a few saloon-keepers yielded to the entreaties of these earnest Christian women, and promised to give up selling liquor. As the days went by, the thirteen drinking places of the town were reduced to three, while in Washington Court House, Ohio, in one week, yielding to the persistent appeals of the "praying women," all the drinking places were closed, the three drug stores selling only on prescription. Here, while the ladies went in bands from place to place, meeting often with insult and abuse now that the saloon-keepers had recovered from their first surprise, the gentlemen remained in the church to pray. As the fresh toll of the bell announced that another prayer had ascended to heaven in their behalf and for their success and protection, these women were encouraged and became strong to do all that they felt had been committed to them. After a time their approach to a saloon or hotel was the signal for the doors to be locked and entrance was denied them. Then, outside, on the public pavement, in the snow of a bitterly cold December, they knelt and prayed for the saloon-keeper and his family, that he might see his error and be persuaded to do right, for those who were in the habit of frequenting that saloon, and for the downfall of the liquor traffic.

It was not very long before the liquor-sellers found that prayer, even outside their premises and outside of locked doors, was having its effect, and in order to put a stop to it, they lodged complaints against the women, the burden of which was that they were obstructing the highway and interrupting business. Off the sidewalks, therefore, the women went, and in deeper snows, and with more dauntless faith, prayed on, singing, occasionally, a song of praise and thanksgiving.

To a few cities belongs the disgrace of imprisoning some of these n.o.ble Christian women, yet in all this, "a form like unto the Son of Man" was with them, and the unseen presence was their stay. They were soon released, however, and found that the news of their arrest and imprisonment had only increased the interest of all and the anxiety of many concerning this work. Requests for a.s.sistance came from other cities and States, to which the ladies of Hillsboro and other places responded, till in almost all of the Northern States there was a common crusade against the liquor traffic. For about six months this remarkable movement lasted, meeting with varied success and closing saloons and bars of hotels in 250 towns and villages.




Gradually these active workers in the temperance cause, conscious of having received a mighty power, a special baptism at the hands of G.o.d, for a special work, began to look for something abiding in organization when this unusual movement should have ceased, something in which all Christian women could unite for work in this special cause. In the winter and spring of 1873-74 this wonderful movement, known as "The Woman's Crusade," took place. In August of the same year many of these crusaders were gathered together at Chatauqua, to spend a few days there in the tented grove, on the occasion of the First National S. S. a.s.sembly. As they talked over the work done, and the work which the world still had need of, the thought came to one of the band of the possibility of uniting all the women of that land in temperance effort. Acting on this suggestion steps were at once taken to form such an a.s.sociation. A public meeting was held on the grounds, afterwards a prayer and a business meeting, at which latter a committee of organization was formed, and a circular letter authorized, asking "The Woman's Temperance League" of the North to hold conventions for the purpose of electing delegates to an organizing convention, to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, Nov. 18th, 19th and 20th, 1874. At this convention in November Mrs. Jennie F. Willing presided, three hundred delegates and visitors were present, and amid much enthusiasm the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union took its place with the hosts of the Lord, to lead on to victory. Its first officers were: President, Mrs. Annie Wittenmeyer; Vice- Presidents, one from every State; Rec. Sec., Mrs. Mary C. Johnson, N.Y.; Cor. Sec., Miss Frances Willard; Treasurer, Mrs. W. A. Ingham, Ohio. A const.i.tution and by-laws were adopted, the preamble to which read as follows:

"The Christian women of this nation, conscious of the increasing evils, and appalled at the dangers and tendencies of intemperance, believe it has become their duty, under the providence of G.o.d, to unite their efforts for its extinction."

This is the thought that since then has nerved the W. C. T. U. women in every city, town and village of the neighboring States,-- "Appalled at the tendencies and dangers of intemperance," to combat this evil they have given their time and strength, their influence and their prayers.

For five years Mrs. Wittenmeyer presided over this society of earnest workers, and during this time contributed greatly to its success by her wise and loving counsel, endearing herself to the hearts of all.

In 1879 Miss Frances Willard was chosen president, and under her able administration and remarkable skill in leadership 100,000 women organized in unions are now marching onward to the goal of prohibition, bearing with them the hopes and prayers of many who would be in that procession if they could. We know that in the houses of many, even of the liquor sellers, sit pure women whose prayers go up quietly, but none the less sincerely, and with no less faith than those of the white ribboned army, for the downfall of the liquor traffic, and for the triumph of the gospel of peace and goodwill to man.

It was largely through the effort of the W. C. T. U. women that the State of Kansas, on Nov. 2nd 1880, adopted the amendment to the const.i.tution of the state, prohibiting the manufacture or sale of all intoxicating liquors, except for mechanical or medicinal purposes.

In Ohio, in 1883, the whole campaign for the const.i.tutional amendment was planned and directed by the president of the W. C. T.

U., Mrs. Mary Woodbridge. In this she was ably a.s.sisted by all the W.

C. T. U. women throughout the state. Such was the earnestness and spirit of sacrifice manifested that when, at one convention, the question of finance was discussed, it was unanimously decided that they would _go without gloves_ for a certain time, that they might have more money for this campaign. It is worth while for us to observe here that, in this contest, great importance was attached to the distribution of temperance literature. We are told that leaflets, cards, and circulars went out "by the bushel." Printed appeals were sent to all corporations and companies of any size, sermons were preached on the subject not on Sunday only, but in some places on every day of the week. On the day of the vote the ladies visited the polls, furnishing lunches to all, and gave out the ballots for the amendment. Over $20,000 was raised in that State during that year for the work undertaken by the W.C.T.U. Although they were not successful in gaining the amendment, the returns show that in many counties fraudulent count had been made, and it is believed by those in a position to know that an honest count would have carried the amendment by a large majority. As it was it received 323,167 votes, while the license amendment received but 98,050. A majority of any votes cast at the general election was necessary for adoption. In Florida the pa.s.sage of the Local Option Bill was due, as one of their legislators testifies, to the influence of the W.C.T.U.

For five years the women of Iowa, under the leadership of Mrs. J, Ellen Foster, had planned, pleaded and pet.i.tioned against the licensed system of that state. On the 27th June, 1882, the people adopted the const.i.tutional prohibition amendment by a majority of 29,759, the Supreme Court however declared that on account of some irregularity in the legislative steps of the pa.s.sage of the amendment, it was of no effect and void. In March 1884, however, the Iowa Legislature pa.s.sed a prohibiting law, which came into force on July 4th of the same year. And so another victory has been gained by the temperance women of the United States, and prohibition has been secured to another important state of the Union.

For years the N.W.C.T.U. has been pressing for the insertion of one temperance lesson per quarter in the International series of Sabbath- school lessons, but without success.

At the recent I.S.S. Convention, which met in Louisville, Ky., yielding to the appeal so eloquently urged by Miss Willard, the convention recommended that the committee on preparation of lessons be instructed to include the quarterly temperance lesson in their series.

Temperance text books have been added to the books of the public schools in Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. This has been done under the management of Mrs. Mary Hunt, aided by the presidents of the different State Unions. This victory was the result of a systematic plan laid down by the N.W.C.T.U., the princ.i.p.al points of which are mentioned.

The N.W.C.T.U. has also established at Chicago, a national organ, "The Union Signal," edited by Mrs. Mary B. Willard, which is considered to be one of the best conducted papers known. These are some of the successes gained by this society of active Christian women, the contemplation of which led J. B. Gough to declare that "after forty years of observation, he believed the W.C.T.U, was doing more real, solid work, than all other temperance societies combined."

The work of the N.W.C.T.U. is cla.s.sed as follows, each department being under the control of an active lady superintendent:--

Heredity and Hygiene.

Scientific Temperance Instruction.

Sunday-school Work.

Juvenile Work.

Free Kindergartens.

Temperance Literature.

Suppression of Impure Literature.

Relation of Intemperance to Capital and Labor.

Influencing the press--"Signal Service" work.

Conference with Influential Bodies.

Inducing Physicians not to Prescribe Alcoholic Stimulants.

Efforts to Overthrow the Tobacco Habit.

Suppression of the Social Evil.


Prison and Police Stations.

Work among Railroad Employees, Soldiers and Sailors.

Use of the Unfermented Juice of the Grape at the Lord's Table.

Young Woman's Work.

Parlor Meetings.

Kitchen Gardens.