Frances Willard

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Frances Willard

Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard (September 28, 1839 – February 17, 1898) was an American educator, temperance reformer, and women's suffragist.


  • A girl of seven or ten years old is held to be the equal partner in a crime where another and a stronger is the principal; because she is in so many ways hampered and harmed by laws and customs pertaining to the past, we reach out hands of help especially to her that she may overtake the swift-marching procession of progress, for its sake that it may not slacken its speed on her account as much as for hers that she be not left behind.
    I brought to the last Council our petition to Congress for the protection of women, which was responded to by raising the age of consent from .......... to sixteen years.

"Why I Am A Socialist" (1897)[edit]

October 26, 1897 — National Convention, WCTU, Buffalo NY

  • Look about you: the products of labor are on every hand; you could not maintain for a moment a well-ordered life without them; every object in your room has in it, for discerning eyes, the marks of ingenious tools and the pressure of labor’s hands. But is it not the cruelest injustice for the wealthy, whose lies are surrounded and embellished by labor’s work to have a superabundance of the money which represents, the aggregate of labor in ay country, while the laborer is kept so steadily at work that he has no time to acquire the education, and refinements of life that would make him and his family agreeable companions to the rich and cultured. The reason why I am a Socialist comes in just here.
  • I would take, not by force, by by the slow process of lawful acquisition, through a better legislation, as the outcome of a wiser ballot in the hands of men and women, the entire plant that we call civilization, all the has been achieved on this continent in the four hundred years since Columbus wended his way hither, and make it the common property of all the people, requiring all to work with their hands to give them the finest physical development, but not to become burdensome in any case, and permitting all to share alike in the advantages of education and refinement. I believe this to be perfectly practical, and, indeed, that any other method is simply a relic of barbarism.
  • I believe that competition is doomed. The trust, whose single object is to abolish competition, has proved that we are better without tan with it and the moment corporations control the supply of any product, they combine. What the Socialist desires is that the corporation of humanity should control all production. Beloved comrades, this is the frictionless way; it is the higher way; it eliminates the motives for a selfish life; it enacts into our everyday living thee this of Christ’s gospel. Nothing else will do it; nothing else can bring the glad day of universal brotherhood.
  • It's (socialism) is God’s way out of the wilderness and into the promised land. It is the very marrow of Christ’s gospel. It is Christianity applied.

Quotes about Frances Willard[edit]

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Bloomer, Carrie Nation, Frances Willard, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, and the later suffragists of whom she [her mother] was one. These courageous women set a pattern not understood yet, standing in their prim strength, in their sweetness and sobriety against cruel ridicule, moral censure, charges of insanity; for there is no cruelty like that of the oppressor who feels his loss of the bit on those it has been his gain to oppress. "Pine knots as we are," Susan Anthony said. They used the only means open to them - they became orators when it was considered immoral for a woman to speak in public; if she went to meetings she was only to listen and learn. But they could use their constitutional right of petition, and they could tramp up and down, getting signatures for the right to work, to get a divorce, to speak in public, to vote.
  • The feminist compilers were no less present-minded. The most ambitious work from their ranks was published in 1893 by Frances L Willard, president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and Mary A. Livermore, a reformer and woman's rights leader…The editors considered the 19th century to be the century of opportunities for women and set out to compile "this rosary of nineteenth century achievement... the self-conscious celebratory tone of the essays and the selection of persons to be included reveal the authors' didactic intent. This volume celebrates women active in religious, welfare and educational work, the kind of women honored in the cultural programs of the women's clubs then springing up in every community in the United States. The omissions are equally telling: there is not one African-American woman listed, and all the famous women to whom any touch of "scandal," such as a divorce, adhered were excluded. Frances Wright, Ernestine Rose, Frances Kemble, Margaret Fuller did not pass the "respectability" test and were omitted.
  • An early example of the now familiar pattern of the white liberal, accused of racism by black friends, grew out of this anti-lynching campaign and involved Frances Willard, the president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, whose earlier abolitionist convictions and interracial work were a matter of record. Mrs. Willard was hesitant and equivocal on the issue of lynching and defended the Southern record against accusations made by Ida B. Wells on her English speaking-tour. Severe attacks on her in the women's press and a protracted public controversy helped to move Mrs. Willard to a cautious stand in opposition to lynching. Black women continued to agitate this issue and to confront white women with a moral challenge to their professed Christianity.
    • Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History’’ (1979)

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