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

By Ian Tyrrell | Go to book overview

8
Peace as a Way of Life

Of all the diverse crusades the WCTU embraced in the 1880s, none had such immediate international relevance as peace. Peace between nations entailed a commitment to international cooperation and understanding. Peace could, under these circumstances, be a powerful vehicle for criticism of the nation state and its operation. In an era of imperial expansion, the need for arbitration between nations was a pressing one, but to advocate the peaceful settlement of international difficulties risked identification in the minds of more simplistic patriots with the nation's enemies. By the same token, to advocate peace involved, under certain circumstances, a critique of imperialism itself, where national aggrandizement depended, as it usually did, on the military subjugation of colonial peoples. Inexorably, the WCTU found itself drawn by its peace commitments into these controversies and faced the charge of unpatriotic behavior. The irony was that the WCTU's own definition of peace depended on and actually advanced notions of cultural imperialism.

C. Roland Marchand makes the generally valid point that "the participation in and support of the peace movement by many . . . women's organizations" was "often merely pro forma and lacking in commitment."1 If this were true of the WCTU's efforts in the international arena, then studying the contribution of women's temperance reformers to the peace movement would make little sense. There was indeed no need for grass-roots financial support for the peace movement, since a handful of wealthy and committed activists were willing to take so much of the work upon themselves. But these peace reformers in the WCTU did succeed in organizing peace departments in a large number of states and were able to use the organizational clout and numerical strength of the WCTU to push the cause of peace in ways far from nominal in their levels of commitment. By 1894, just seven years after inception of the work, twenty-four states and the District of Columbia had been organized, though only seventeen of these reported to national superintendent Hannah Clark Bailey that year. By 1916, thirtythree states were organized with twenty-two reporting, and by 1921, thirtyfive states were involved. This must be contrasted and compared with other departments. Temperance and labor, which has received much more atten-

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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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