W.C.T.U.

April 27th, 2009

WATSONTOWN WOMEN’S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION

The Watsontown Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was an organization of Christian women banded together for the protection of the home, the abolition of the liquor traffic and the triumph of Christ’s Golden Rule in custom and in law. It was organized December 12, 1884 by Miss Grace Weiser, Evangelist, in the Presbyterian Church. From a mere handful of women, with Mrs. Dr. Joseph Hunter as first president; then Mrs. Elizabeth Follmer; followed by the untiring Mrs. Dr. J.R. (Rebecca) Housel, the membership grew and became very influential. It was the desire of the organization that all women, expecially the young women, wear the White Ribbon of abstinence of alcohol. The national organization began the crusade against alcohol in 1874, in part, because of the lack of women’s civil rights. At that time, women could not vote and in most states women were not able to control their own property or have custody of their children in case of divorce. There were no legal protections for women and children, prosecutions for rape were rare, and the state-regulated “age of consent” was as low as seven. By 1894, under “home protection” the WCTU was endorsing women’s sufferage. The WCTU has proposed, supported, and helped establish: protection of women and children at home and work; women’s right to vote; shelters for abused women and children; the eight-hour work day; equal pay for equal work; founding of kindergartens; assistance in founding of the PTA; federal aid for education; stiffer penalties for sexual crimes against girls and women; uniform marriage and divorce laws; dress reform; women police officers; and much, much more.

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Last Modified: 04.27.09

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