Women's Crusade

The Woman's Crusade was a temperance campaign in the United States in 1873-1874. It was a series of non-violent protests fighting against the dangers of alcoholism.[1]


Many women in Cleveland, Ohio were inspired by a speech given by Diocletian Lewis to fight against the vices of alcoholism.[2] Annoyed by their drunk husbands, many of the women involved wanted a way to express their opinions on alcohol.[3] Their goals included using methods of prayer, song, and exhortation to close as many saloons possible. Ohio was the major place in the crusade with a third of the crusaders, but the crusade spread to over 900 different communities in over 31 states in the United States.[2]


The main temperance reformer of the movement was Eliza Daniel Stewart, referred to as "Mother Stewart".[4] She was a key figure in the crusade. Another figure of the crusade was Eliza Jane Thompson, who pushed the crusade by going to saloons and praying and asking the owners to pledge to stop selling alcohol.[4] They asked saloonkeepers to get rid of all their alcohol and to enter a new business.[5]

The Women's Crusade gave women the opportunity to get involved in the public sphere. In the crusade, women used religious methods because they had the most experience in that area. The movement left a lasting impact on woman's involvement in social history and led to the creation of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.[2] Although many people were hesitant about allowing women to be involved in the Temperance Movement, women had many breakthroughs throughout the movement which led to the closure of many saloons across the United States.[6] The movement gave women the opportunity to advocate for their rights while they fought for temperance with their growing voice in the public sphere.[1]

The Crusade in Xenia, Ohio

In Xenia, Ohio, there were over a hundred saloons.[7] People gathered around these saloons and started throwing all types of alcohol into the street saluting to God to give up alcohol. A major event of the crusade was when Steve Phillips, owner of the Shades of Death (a saloon), surrendered his saloon to the movement. The closure of the Shades of Death was considered the major component of the crusade in Ohio and helped shape the Temperance movement by leading to the closure of many more saloons.[8]

The Crusade in South Charleston, Ohio

Women marched throughout the street in the cold winter checking to make sure that no sells were made in the saloons. They had routines of prayers and business meetings throughout their long days on the move. Distinct lines of marching were created on the streets to perform hymns outside of the saloons, also many of the marchers had prepared pledges for the saloonkeepers.[9]

The Crusade in Berea, Ohio

Women organized into a women's league and they wrote their own constitution, concerning their views on alcohol. One prominent stop in their march was the saloon of Thomas Chope. They were able to get into his saloon and they conducted a prayer in the middle of his saloon. These prayers became known as "pray-ins". One challenge that the women faced was the refusal of some saloonkeepers to open their saloons to them. One case is where saloonkeeper, Martin Cummins, locked his saloon's doors, so the women were unable to enter. In cases like this, the women prayed outside the saloons to send their message about alcohol.[10]


  1. "Early history". Women's Christian Temperance Union. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  2. Kennedy, Robert C. (2001). "On this day". New York Times Learning Network. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  3. "Women's Temperance Crusade 1873-1874". 19 April 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  4. Masson, Erin M. (1997). "The Women's Christian Temperance Union. 1874-1898: Combating Domestic Violence". William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law. 3. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  5. Teaching, Mitchell Shelton, The Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in. "Woman's Crusade of 1873-74 | Temperance & Prohibition". prohibition.osu.edu. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  6. Musto, ed. by David F. (2002). Drugs in America : a documentary history. New York [u.a.]: New York Univ. Press. pp. 87–89. ISBN 0-8147-5663-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. Karen., Blumenthal,. Bootleg : murder, moonshine, and the lawless years of prohibition. ISBN 9781466801585. OCLC 865473905.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. Teaching, Mitchell Shelton, The Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in. "The Woman's Crusade in Xenia, Ohio | Temperance & Prohibition". prohibition.osu.edu. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  9. Teaching, Mitchell Shelton, The Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in. "The Woman's Crusade in South Charleston, Clark County, Ohio | Temperance & Prohibition". prohibition.osu.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  10. Robertson, Karen (17 March 2017). "The Saloon Raid: The Women's Crusade Comes to Berea". Ohio History Connection. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
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