The 18th Amendment introduced Prohibition. Did Frances Willard, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the wider temperance movement achieve anything else?

For example:

  • Did the WCTU have any effect on grass roots political efforts?
  • Did the the movement have any effect on women in politics?
  • Did the temperance movement facilitate action on other social causes?
  • It seems @MarkCWallace has edited my question. Thank you Nov 19, 2015 at 21:42
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    "Nastiest trick ever played on a victorious returning army in the history of mankind." - Anonymous Nov 19, 2015 at 22:12
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    Well if nothing else it certainly put organised crime firmly on the map with a very solid bank balance. Nov 20, 2015 at 16:01
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    I would recommend the first several chapters of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent. I cannot write a summary right now, but it charts the growth of Temperance culminating in several fascinating chapters detailing how Prohibition failed to work.
    – Mike
    Nov 23, 2015 at 0:30

1 Answer 1


One of the major, lasting changes stemming from the temperance movement was the outlawing of prostitution in almost all US states. Prior to the 20th century, prostition was allowed, to various degrees, in the various states.


The temperance movement was not just anti-alcohol, but also anti-"vice" and pro-health. They supported a number of causes, including women's suffrage, anti-child labor, and public sanitation.


They saw alcohol as a particularly pernicious vice, and their work was a major factor in driving US prohibition, and therefore that winds up being what they are most remembered for. But anti-alcohol wasn't the only thing, nor even the biggest thing, on their agenda.

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