Ohio Women's Temperance Society
Established in 1853, the Ohio Women's Temperance Society was an early temperance organization in Ohio.
During the early nineteenth century, many citizens of the United States became convinced that many Americans were living in an immoral manner. These people feared that God would no longer bless the United States and that these ungodly and unscrupulous people posed a threat to America's political system. To survive, the American republic, these people believed, needed virtuous citizens who did not engage in immoral acts.
As a result of these concerns, many people became involved in reform movements during the early 1800s. One of the more prominent reforms was the temperance movement. Temperance advocates encouraged their fellow Americans to reduce the amount of alcohol that they consumed. Many Ohioans participated in the temperance movement. In 1826, residents of Trumbull County formed a temperance society, and Summit County residents followed suit three years later. Many of the earliest temperance advocates were women. Most men believed that women were best suited for the home. It was, according to the men, a woman's responsibility to raise virtuous children. Many women used this argument against the men. If women were responsible for creating virtuous children, women, they contended, should also play a role in helping those people who have become consumed by immoral acts redeem themselves.
For the most part, temperance efforts in Ohio remained haphazard. Localities might form their own temperance societies, but the various groups did not make a united stand against alcohol usage. A statewide effort against alcohol did not originate until the early 1850s. On January 13, 1853, temperance advocates held a woman's temperance convention. The participants drafted a constitution and created the Ohio Women's Temperance Society. Josephine Bateman, editor of the Ohio Cultivators "Ladies Department," served as the organizations first president. For the first time in Ohio, a statewide temperance organization existed.
The American Civil War (1861-1865) weakened the temperance movement both nationally and within Ohio, but concerns regarding alcohol usage quickly returned upon the wars conclusion. Unfortunately for the members of the Ohio Women's Temperance Society, this organization did not survive the war. The temperance movement continued, however, through the late nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. Advocates during this time period became much more politically active, primarily through their support of the Progressive Movement. Early temperance efforts provided the women with a training ground for the women's rights and other reform movements. In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution went to effect. This amendment outlawed the production and the sale of alcohol in the United States. Prohibition remained in effect until the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933. With the Nineteenth Amendment's repeal, organized temperance movements declined in popularity and in power.
- Epstein, Barbara Leslie. The Politics of Domesticity: Women, Evangelism, and Temperance in Nineteenth-Century America. N.p.: Wesleyan, 1986.