Woman's World/Woman's Empire: The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880-1930

By Ian Tyrrell | Go to book overview

4
Bands of Ribbon White around the World

Patterns of International Support

The sun never sets on the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union," pronounced Basil Wilberforce, friend of Lady Henry and Anglican canon at the first and special British conference of the organization in May 1892. That remark deeply touched Willard as well as Somerset because it gave recognition to the movement's international achievements and conveyed an impression that the WCTU was a moral empire as extensive as Britain's imperial possessions.1 The Anglican temperance reformer was literally correct, since the WWCTU's nominal coverage included every continent, except Antarctica, and many of the islands that dotted the seas in between. Willard's creation did achieve an impressive international representation that partially realized the ambitions of the founder to gird the globe with a white ribbon. The movement's stationery proudly emphasized this symbol of internationalism and united purpose; so too did the noontide hour of prayer. With affiliated national unions in more than forty countries and representatives in many more all stopping to pray for a sober world at midday, the WCTU could take comfort that at any time of the day or night, women were working for temperance somewhere.

Though the American WCTU was the largest and routinely had between 50 and 60 percent of the paid-up memberships during most of the period in question, in both proportional terms and in absolute numbers the WCTU was very active in several other countries. This point is easily obscured if relative population size and stages of development are not taken into account. In the early 1890s, for example, the Australian affiliates had enrolled proportionately almost as many members as the American, while in Natal, per capita membership among white settlers had reached, after four years, the level attained in the United States after twenty years' organizing.2 In the 1890s, it was not the American affiliates but the Japanese

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Woman's World/Woman's Empire: The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880-1930
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Origins of Temperance Internationalism 11
  • 3 - The World's Wctu 35
  • 4 - Bands of Ribbon White Around the World 62
  • 5 - In Dark Lands 81
  • 6 - Sisters, Mothers, and Brother-Hearted Men 114
  • 7 - Alcohol and Empire 146
  • 8 - Peace as A Way of Life 170
  • 9 - A Fatal Mistake? 191
  • 10 - Women, Suffrage, and Equality 221
  • 11 - Women and Equality 242
  • 12 - Prohibition and the Perils of Cultural Adaptation 255
  • Epilogue - Divergent Meanings of the World's Wctu 285
  • Appendix 291
  • Notes 295
  • Index 365
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