The nineteenth century is woman's century [a] marvelous promise of the twentieth century.
-- Frances Willard and Mary A. Livermore Preface, American Women
THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY temperance movement provides lessons for us at the end of the twentieth century. A major contribution to the temperance movement's success was the ability of its leaders to appeal to women across socio-economic, racial, religious, and national identities. Everyday women came to accept the tenets offered by temperance leaders, including the necessity for suffrage and other equal rights for women. Leaders from mid-century through the end of the 1800s understood the need to approach women rhetorically on their own terms, accepting their level of consciousness and practical needs. Frances Willard expressed such awareness best:
[I]f we are going to win, there is one individual we have got to win--she is the key to our position--the average woman. For the abstract principle of justice on which the woman question is really based, the average woman does not care a farthing; though for the sake of justice in the concrete she often plays the part of a heroine. If she thinks she ought to want the ballot she will seek it with persevering zeal; but she honestly believes that it is more womanly to cry out against than for it. She has been told this from press and pulpit since her earliest recollection, and she has learned the same doctrine from her husband at home. ( "The Average Woman"623)