Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

4
The Women's Christian Temperance Union

This reminded her of a story of a little girl who said that God made Eve by taking the backbone out of Adam. She thought women had had the backbone ever since, particularly with regard to the Temperance question.

W.C.T.U. lecturer, Dunedin, 1889.

'For God, home and humanity'

W.C.T.U. motto.

IN May 1885 Mrs Mary Clement Leavitt, travelling envoy for the Women's Christian Temperance Union of the United States of America, delivered a lecture in Christchurch on 'Woman, Her Duties and Responsibilities'. 'She considered that woman, as an integral part of humanity, was entitled to freedom under the law of God, and to take the positions her faculties suited her for.' 1 Above all, women were entitled to full political rights in the state. It was Mrs Leavitt who thus produced the spark which set off a suffrage campaign in New Zealand.

During the early 'seventies the Women's Christian Temperance Union had spread rapidly among American women, for whom the temperance movement was performing a function similar to that in New Zealand. Under the influence of many outstanding personalities, and in particular of Miss Frances Willard, the Union had evolved a broad programme of social and humanitarian activities. Woman's desire to act, to exert herself in a public cause, had been released by her feelings on temperance. Frances Willard had seen this as 'a means of drawing together large numbers of women hitherto not receptive to the issue of greater rights for women, into an activity which could lead them in that direction.' 2 Under her guidance, the Union had interested itself in all spheres of concern to women, including feminist agitation. Many Union members accepted women's suffrage willingly,

-27-

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Women's Suffrage in New Zealand
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Preface to the 1987 Edition vi
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • I- The New Woman 1
  • 2- Early Parliaments and Women's Rights 12
  • 3- Women and the Temperance Movement 21
  • 4- The Women's Christian Temperance Union 27
  • 5- The Suffrage Movement Gathers Way 36
  • 6- The Movement in Full Swing 46
  • 7- The Politicians' Dilemma 60
  • 8- The Debate on Women's Suffrage 74
  • 9- Success 86
  • 10- The First Election 96
  • II- Liberals, Teetotallers, or Feminists? 108
  • 12- Post Mortem on the Suffrage 119
  • Afterword (1987) 123
  • References 127
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 150
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