Prohibition saw the rise of several notable names. On the pro-prohibition side, names like Wayne Wheeler, Carrie Nation, and Billy Sunday gained fame for their efforts to outlaw alcohol. Meanwhile, on the anti-prohibition side, figures like Al Capone, Meyer Lansky and George Remus became infamous for their involvement in bootlegging and organized crime.
Some of the major women of the Prohibition era included:
Caroline (Carry or Carrie) Nation was an American temperance activist who became famous for her radical actions against alcohol during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Carrie Amelia Moore was born on November 25, 1846, in Garrard County, Kentucky. Her father, George Moore, was a farmer and blacksmith, while her mother, Mary Campbell, was a homemaker. Carrie was the oldest of five children, and her family moved frequently during her childhood, eventually settling in Belton, Missouri. She grew up in poverty, in a deeply religious household and was heavily influenced by her parents’ strict Christian beliefs. Her childhood was marked by her father’s alcoholism and her mother’s mental illness. Despite these challenges, Carrie was an intelligent and determined young woman who was determined to make a difference in the world
Despite her family’s frequent moves and financial struggles, Carrie received a good education. She attended various schools in Missouri and Kansas, including a Methodist boarding school for girls. She also studied at a local college in Warrensburg, Missouri, for a short time before dropping out to become a teacher. While attending college at the local school in Missouri, she met her future husband, Charles Gloyd, a local physician. However, their marriage was tumultuous, as Gloyd was an alcoholic and abusive towards Carrie. In 1867 they had a daughter named Charlien. Shortly after Gloyd died in 1869, probably due to his alcoholism.
After her husband’s death, Nation moved with her daughter to Texas and began teaching again. She then married David Nation, a lawyer, and newspaper editor, and minister, in 1877. The couple moved to Kansas in 1889, where they became involved in the temperance movement. Nation’s first husband’s alcoholism and his subsequent death had a profound impact on her. She believed that alcohol was responsible for many of the social problems of the day, including poverty, domestic violence, and crime. She joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and soon became a prominent figure in the organization and was known for her fiery speeches and bold actions. However, she quickly became disillusioned with the organization’s moderate approach to prohibition and began advocating for more extreme measures. Nation’s beliefs were rooted in her religious faith, particularly her belief that drinking alcohol was a sin that needed to be eradicated. She also believed that women had a special role to play in the temperance movement and that they should use their moral authority to persuade men to give up alcohol. This led her to become a prominent speaker at rallies and meetings, where she would often use dramatic and confrontational tactics to make her point.
However, it was Nation’s use of direct action that made her famous. In 1900, she made her first visit to Kansas, where she began a campaign of smashing up bars and saloons with a hatchet. She believed that her actions were ordained by God and that she was doing His work by destroying what she saw as a source of sin and corruption. She was arrested several times for her actions, but her popularity only grew as a result of her notoriety. Carrie’s actions were controversial and often met with resistance from both the authorities and the general public. She was arrested several times for her actions, and her husband David was also arrested for supporting her. However, she remained undaunted and continued her campaign against alcohol.
Carrie’s fame grew as a result of her actions, and she became a well-known public figure. She traveled around the country giving speeches and lectures on temperance. In addition to her activism, Carrie was also a prolific writer and speaker. She wrote several books, including “The Use and Need of the Life of Carrie A. Nation” and “The Smasher’s Mail.” She also traveled across the country giving speeches and sharing her message of temperance and prohibition.
Carrie’s actions were not without controversy, however. Some people saw her as a fanatic and criticized her for her violent methods. Others saw her as a hero and praised her for her courage and determination. Carrie continued her activism until her death on June 9, 1911, in Leavenworth, Kansas. Her legacy as an advocate for temperance and prohibition is still remembered today, and she is often cited as an example of the power of direct action and activism to effect change in society. While her tactics were controversial and extreme, her commitment to her cause and her willingness to stand up for what she believed in continue to inspire others to this day.
Frances Willard was a remarkable American woman who made significant contributions to social reform and women’s rights in the late 19th century. She was born on September 28, 1839, in Churchville, New York, and died on February 17, 1898, in New York City. Willard was a prominent educator, social activist, and women’s suffrage leader who spent her life working to improve the lives of women and children and advocating for social justice and equality. Willard was born to Josiah Flint Willard and Mary Thompson Hill Willard, who were both descendants of early settlers in Massachusetts. She was the youngest of seven children, and her parents were deeply religious and committed to education. Willard’s father Josiah, was a farmer and a schoolteacher, and her mother was a homemaker and a teacher. Willard’s parents instilled in her a love of learning and a strong sense of moral purpose.
In 1846 the Willard and his family came to Janesville, Wisconsin when Frances was just 7-year-old. Her father, Josiah, was a progressive farmer who helped found the Rock County Agricultural and Mechanics’ Association and promoted the first Wisconsin State Fair, which was held in Janesville. He also co-wrote the 1856 History of Rock County. In 1853 Josiah, David Inman, and other neighbors built a one-room frame building initially called the “little brown schoolhouse.” Frances attended the little brown school as a student for about ten months in the 1850s, then came back to teach in 1858.
Willard went on to attend Genesee Wesleyan Seminary (now known as Syracuse University) and graduated in 1859 as valedictorian of her class, with a degree in languages and literature. She then attended the North Western Female College (now known as Northwestern University) in Evanston, Illinois, where she was the first woman to graduate from the college with a degree in classical languages in 1863. After graduation, Willard began her career in education. She taught for several years at various schools, including the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, the Evanston College for Ladies, and the Cook County Normal School. Willard was a passionate and dedicated teacher who believed that education was the key to social and economic advancement. In 1871, Willard became the first female president of Evanston College for Ladies. During her tenure, she transformed the college into a thriving institution that offered a rigorous academic program and emphasized social and moral development. Willard also introduced several reforms, including the abolition of sororities and the establishment of a dress code for students.
Willard’s passion for social reform and women’s rights began early in her life. She was deeply influenced by the teachings of the Christian Temperance Union (CTU), which advocated for the abolition of alcohol and the promotion of social and moral reform. In 1874, Willard became the president of the Illinois chapter of the CTU and began working to promote temperance and women’s suffrage. In 1876, Willard was elected as the national president of the CTU, a position she held for 19 years. During her tenure, she transformed the organization into a powerful social and political force, advocating for a wide range of social reforms, including women’s suffrage, labor rights, and child welfare. In 1890, Willard helped to organize the World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, which brought together women from around the world to work for the cause of temperance and social justice. She also played a key role in the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which established Prohibition in the United States in 1919.
Willard was also a passionate advocate for women’s suffrage, which she saw as a natural extension of the temperance movement. She believed that women had a unique perspective on social and political issues and that their voices needed to be heard in order to create a more just and equitable society. In 1883, Willard helped to found the Illinois Woman’s Suffrage Association and later served as the President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1888, she helped found the National Council of Women, an organization that brought together women’s groups from across the country to work for women’s suffrage and other social reforms. She worked tirelessly to promote the cause of women’s suffrage and was instrumental in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote in 1920.
Frances Willard was a tireless advocate for social reform and women’s rights. She played a significant role in transforming the CTU into a powerful social and political force and was instrumental in the women’s suffrage movement. Willard was also a gifted writer and speaker, and her speeches and writings had a profound impact on the social and political landscape of the late 19th century. Willard’s legacy continues to inspire and influence social activists and women’s rights advocates today. She is remembered as a pioneer of the women’s movement and a champion of social justice and equality. Willard’s life and work serve as a reminder of the power of education, activism, and moral conviction to effect.
Mary Hannah Hanchett Hunt was an American feminist, educator, and social reformer who lived from 1830 to 1906. She is best known for her work in promoting women’s education and advocating for temperance and suffrage. Hunt was a trailblazer in her time, and her efforts helped to pave the way for the feminist movement of the 20th century.
Born in 1830 in Litchfield, Connecticut, Hunt grew up in a family that placed a high value on education. Her father was a successful businessman who supported his daughter’s desire to pursue higher education. Hunt secured what for her day was a liberal education, graduating from Patapsco Institute, near Baltimore, under Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps, for whom she afterwards taught chemistry and physiology and with whom she collaborated in preparing scientific textbooks. After completing her studies, Hunt became a teacher herself. She quickly rose to prominence as an educator and was appointed principal of the Wheaton Female Seminary in Norton, Massachusetts, in 1857. Hunt’s tenure at Wheaton was marked by her innovative teaching methods and her commitment to women’s education.
In the mid-19th century, women’s education was limited, and girls were not encouraged to pursue careers or higher education. Hunt believed that girls needed practical training in addition to academic subjects, and she advocated for the inclusion of domestic science in school curriculums. She also recognized the importance of nutrition and cooking in promoting health and advocated for scientific cooking and nutrition education. Hunt’s work in education led her to become involved in the temperance movement, which sought to reduce alcohol consumption in the United States. She believed that alcohol was a destructive force in society and that women, in particular, were negatively impacted by its effects. Hunt was a founding member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), an organization dedicated to promoting temperance and eliminating the sale and consumption of alcohol. As president of the Massachusetts branch of the WCTU, Hunt worked to pass laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the state.
Hunt’s commitment to women’s rights extended beyond education and temperance. She was an advocate for women’s suffrage and believed that women should have the right to vote and that they needed political power to effect real change in society. Hunt was a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association and worked alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to advocate for women’s suffrage. She also recognized the challenges faced by African American women and worked to establish the National Association of Colored Women in 1896, which advocated for the rights of Black women in the United States.
Hunt’s most significant achievement came in 1874 when she founded the Women’s Department of the National Grange, a farmers’ organization. As the leader of this department, Hunt promoted the importance of education and scientific farming practices for women. She believed that women’s involvement in agriculture was essential for the development of rural communities and the success of the agricultural industry in the United States. Hunt worked with other education reformers to promote the idea of compulsory education, and her efforts led to the passage of the first compulsory education law in the United States in 1852.
Throughout her life, Hunt was committed to social reform and was involved in a variety of causes. She supported the abolition of slavery and was a vocal critic of the prison system, which she believed was inhumane and ineffective. Hunt also believed in the importance of health and hygiene and was involved in efforts to improve public sanitation and hygiene standards. Hunt’s legacy as a feminist and social reformer is significant. Her work in promoting women’s education helped to break down barriers and pave the way for women to pursue higher education and professional careers. Her advocacy for temperance and suffrage helped to empower women and give them a voice in the political process. Hunt’s commitment to social justice and her tireless efforts to effect change continue to inspire activists and advocates today.
Eliza Jane Trimble was born on August 29, 1819, in Hillsboro, Ohio. Eliza Jane grew up in Ohio being raised by a well-known devout Methodist family. Her mother Rachel (Woodrow) Trimble. Her father Allen Trimble was a lawyer and politician who between 1816 and 1826, was elected as a state senator five times. During that time frame, while Eliza was just aged ten, he served a year as the Acting Governor of Ohio in 1822, when Governor Ethan Allan Brown had stepped down to take a position in the United States Senate. Her father was also a leader in the fledgling temperance movement and encouraged Eliza to believe in the evils of alcohol, from an early age, which influenced her later reformist efforts.
She attended private schools in Cincinnati and at age 21, on September 21, 1837, married lawyer, James Henry Thompson, who would go on to be a well respected Judge. After marrying the couple moved back to Eliza’s hometown of Hillsboro, Ohio, in 1842. Over the next two decades, the couple raised eight children: Allen Trimble, Anna Porter, John Henry, Joseph Trimble, Maria Doiress, Mary McArthur, Henry Burton, John Burton.
Eliza became fully involved in the temperance movement following an lecture by Dr. Dio (Diocletian) Lewis on Temperance at the Hillsboro Music Hall on the evening of December 23, 1873. The following day, inspired by Dr. Lewis’s suggestions that women should organize to protest against saloons and to pray for the bars’ closing, she began her crusade against drinking.
On the morning of December 24, 1873, under the leadership of Eliza, seventy or so women in the community marched on the saloons, singing hymns and praying that they pledge to no longer serve alcohol. Marching in two-by-two, the shorter women followed by the taller women sang more ‘Give to the Winds Thy Fears,’ as their Crusade Hymn, and kneeled down and prayed. This action is considered with being the birthplace of the Woman’s Temperance Crusade. Every day they continued to visit both the saloons and the drug stores where liquor was sold. They prayed on sawdust floors or, upon being denied entrance, knelt on the snowy pavements before the doorways, until almost all the sellers finally capitulated.
Becoming known “Visitation Bands” these direct, non-violent protests led by “Mother Thompson” claimed often dramatic conversions by saloon keepers. In other cases, the retailers simply gave up after being picked on for weeks by the Visitation Bands. Mother Thompson’s name soon became a symbol of the women in hundreds of cities and villages who went out from all types of homes to brave the insults and dangers of invading the saloons on behalf of the temperance cause. The movement spread first across the state of Ohio and then to a total of 22 other states from New York to California. Spectacular publicity was given to the early Ohio Crusades by the press in Cincinnati, Chicago, and New York, as well as in other large cities. Stories and cartoons appeared in Harper’s Weekly. Dr. Dio Lewis lectured in the state for two weeks in February and repeatedly told the Hillsboro story.
Ultimately, Thompson and her followers were successful in closing the town’s saloons. As a result of their success, women in more than one hundred other Ohio towns held their own protest marches. Many of these women later became involved in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Within several years the movement subsided. However, it was successful in stimulating the temperance movement, which had declined with the outbreak of the Civil War (1861–1865). The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) traces its origins to the Women’s Crusade against alcohol.
The Hillsboro women received considerable attention in newspapers, and their example inspired similar groups across the country. Momentum grew rapidly for a nationwide organization to guide the “Women’s War,” as it was dubbed. In November 1874, Thompson was a celebrity figure at the founding of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in Cleveland, Ohio, where the efforts of the Hillsboro temperance activists were hailed as the beginning of a new morality in American society. Now almost 60, Eliza Thompson did not continue her activism after the national movement began. She died at her Hillsboro home at age 89 in 1905.
Annie Turner Wittenmyer (1827-1900) was a social reformer, writer, and advocate for the rights of women and children in the United States. She is best known for her work as a Civil War nurse and for her advocacy for the establishment of institutions for the care of the mentally ill. Born in Ohio on August 26, 1827, near Sandy Springs, Adams County, the oldest child of John G. and Elizabeth (Smith) Turner. Wittenmyer grew up in a devoutly religious family and her parents sent her to a local female seminary, where, at an early age, she demonstrated considerable talent.
She married William Wittenmyer, a prosperous merchant of Jacksonville, Ohio, in 1847 and three years later moved to Keokuk, Iowa, where she became actively involved in civic affairs. In 1853 she opened a free school, attended largely by the children of the community’s poor, and also established a Sunday school.
In 1861, at the outbreak of the American Civil War, Wittenmyer began volunteering as a nurse. She quickly rose to prominence for her organizational skills and her ability to raise funds and supplies for the Union Army. In 1862, Wittenmyer was appointed by Iowa Governor Samuel Kirkwood as the state’s relief agent for soldiers. She traveled throughout the state, organizing aid societies and raising funds for soldiers’ relief.
She founded the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Davenport, Iowa, in 1863, which provided care for the children of soldiers killed in the war, and served as its first superintendent. She also worked with the United States Sanitary Commission to improve the conditions for wounded soldiers.In 1863, Wittenmyer was appointed the chief dietitian for the Army of the Tennessee, becoming the first woman to hold such a position. She was responsible for ensuring that the soldiers received adequate nutrition, and she also supervised the work of other nurses and dietitians. Her efforts were credited with improving the health and morale of the soldiers.
After the war, Wittenmyer continued her advocacy work, focusing on the care of the mentally ill and worked to establish institutions for the care of the mentally ill in Iowa and other states. She also wrote several books on the subject of temperance and mental health. Wittenmyer also became involved in the temperance movement joining the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), beginning in 1873, when she was appointed the head of the Iowa chapter of the organization. In 1874, Wittenmyer was elected president of the WCTU. She used her position to advocate for temperance and women’s suffrage, and to raise awareness about social issues such as poverty, prostitution, and child labor.
Under Wittenmyer’s leadership, the WCTU grew rapidly and became one of the most influential women’s organizations of the late 19th century. But Wittenmyer’s work in the temperance movement was not without controversy, however. Some critics argued that the movement was overly moralistic and that it unfairly targeted working-class and immigrant communities. Wittenmyer also faced criticism for her support of prohibition, which many argued led to an increase in organized crime and corruption.
After leaving the WCTU, Wittenmyer once again focused much of her energy on addressing the consequences of the Civil War. When the National Woman’s Relief Corps, the women’s auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, was founded in 1883, she served as its first chaplain and six years later as its president. She was an active member of the corps, championing the interests of aging veterans and the widows of soldiers. She also campaigned successfully for federal pensions for the hundreds of women who had served the Union as military nurses. Meanwhile, in 1895 she completed her best-known book, Under the Guns, a memoir of her experiences during the war.
On February 2, 1900, Annie Turner Wittenmyer, died at her home near Sanatoga, Pennsylvania. Her legacy continues to be felt today through the many institutions she helped establish for the care of the mentally ill and for the children of soldiers killed in war. She was a pioneer in the field of nursing and a champion of social justice, whose work has inspired generations of activists and advocates for the rights of women and children.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a prominent American suffragist, abolitionist, and social activist of the 19th century. She was born on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York, and was raised in a politically active family. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother was a social activist. Stanton was educated at home by her father, who encouraged her to study law and politics. Growing up, Stanton was exposed to the issues of slavery and women’s rights through her father’s work and her own experiences. Despite her interest in education and advocacy, Stanton’s opportunities were limited due to her gender. She was educated at home and attended Johnstown Academy.
In 1840, Stanton married Henry Brewster Stanton, an abolitionist, and journalist. The couple moved to Boston, where they became involved in the abolitionist movement. Together, they attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where she was excluded from participating due to her gender. This experience, along with the birth of her first child, sparked her interest in women’s rights. She later wrote that she felt “the iron enter into my soul” when she was denied the right to participate in the convention.
Stanton was a founding member of the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. At the convention, she presented the Declaration of Sentiments, which was modeled after the Declaration of Independence and called for equal rights for women, including the right to vote, and marked the beginning of her career as a leader in the women’s rights movement. This was the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Stanton’s advocacy for women’s rights often intersected with other social issues of the time, including temperance. Temperance was a movement to limit or eliminate the consumption of alcohol, which was seen as a social ill that caused poverty, crime, and family breakdown. Many women’s rights activists saw temperance as a way to improve women’s lives by reducing the harm caused by alcohol abuse.
Stanton was a supporter of temperance, but her views on the issue were complex. She believed that women should have the right to choose whether or not to consume alcohol, and that temperance should not be used as an excuse to limit women’s freedom. Stanton also criticized the temperance movement for focusing too much on individual behavior and not enough on structural causes of social problems, such as poverty and inequality. Despite these criticisms, Stanton continued to support temperance and worked closely with other temperance advocates, including Susan B. Anthony. In 1852, she helped to found the Women’s State Temperance Society of New York, which was dedicated to promoting temperance and women’s rights. She also gave speeches and wrote articles in support of temperance, arguing that it was essential for the moral and social improvement of society.
Stanton’s advocacy for women’s rights and temperance often brought her into conflict with traditional gender roles and societal expectations. She was criticized for speaking in public and for advocating for women’s suffrage, which was seen as a threat to male authority. She was also criticized for her views on temperance, which were seen as too radical by some temperance advocates and too moderate by others. Despite these challenges, Stanton continued to advocate for women’s rights and temperance throughout her life. She worked with other suffragists, such as Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott, to promote women’s suffrage and other social reforms. She also continued to write and speak on behalf of temperance, advocating for a more nuanced and comprehensive approach to social reform that addressed the underlying causes of social problems.
Stanton was a prolific writer and speaker, and her speeches and writings helped shape the discourse around women’s rights. In 1868, she published The Revolution, a women’s rights newspaper that she co-edited with Parker Pillsbury. The newspaper focused on issues such as suffrage, equal pay, and the right to own property.
Stanton’s legacy as a social reformer is a testament to her tireless advocacy and unwavering commitment to justice and equality. Her work helped to lay the foundation for the women’s suffrage movement and other social justice movements of the 20th century. Her views on temperance also provide valuable insights into the complex relationship between social reform and individual freedom, and the challenges that advocates face in promoting both.
Cora F. Stoddard was an influential figure in the Temperance movement, particularly in the field of scientific temperance education. Born in September 1872 in in Irvington, Nebraska, the daughter of Emerson Hathaway Stoddard (a farmer) and Julia Frances (Miller) Stoddard. She herself became involved in the cause as a young woman, and eventually rose to become a key leader in the Scientific Temperance Federation (STF).
After graduating from Wellesley College in 1896, she taught high school briefly before working in business for two years. Stoddard later moved to Boston, where she worked as a secretary to Mary Hanchett Hunt, the director of the Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction of the national Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). In her role as Hunt’s secretary, Stoddard assisted in the writing and review of temperance teaching materials that were required in public schools. These materials were designed to promote abstinence from alcohol and other harmful substances among young people. Stoddard’s work helped to popularize the scientific approach to temperance education, which emphasized the physical and social dangers of alcohol and other drugs.
Eventually Stoddard would become the president of the Scientific Temperance Federation. As a leader of the Scientific Temperance Federation, Stoddard was passionate about promoting the teaching of scientific temperance education in schools. She believed that educating young people about the dangers of alcohol and the benefits of healthy living was key to reducing alcohol consumption and improving public health. Stoddard was particularly concerned about the impact of alcohol on women and children, and she believed that scientific temperance education was the best way to protect these vulnerable groups. Under Stoddard’s leadership, the Scientific Temperance Federation became a powerful force in the Temperance movement. The organization worked closely with educators and lawmakers to promote the teaching of scientific temperance education in schools across the country. Stoddard traveled extensively, speaking at conferences and meeting with educators and lawmakers to promote the cause.
One of Stoddard’s key achievements was the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act in 1921. This landmark legislation provided federal funding for maternal and child health programs, including programs that promoted scientific temperance education. Stoddard worked tirelessly to promote the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act, and her efforts were instrumental in its success. Stoddard’s work with the Scientific Temperance Federation also had a significant impact on public health. By promoting the teaching of scientific temperance education in schools, Stoddard and her colleagues helped to reduce alcohol consumption and improve public health outcomes. Rates of alcohol-related illnesses and injuries declined, and the overall health and wellbeing of the population improved.
Despite her many achievements, Stoddard faced significant opposition from those who opposed the Temperance movement. Many people believed that the promotion of scientific temperance education was an infringement on personal freedom, and some even accused Stoddard and her colleagues of promoting Prohibition. Stoddard and her colleagues vigorously denied these accusations, insisting that their only goal was to promote public health and wellbeing. Stoddard continued to work with the Scientific Temperance Federation until her retirement in 1930. She remained a vocal advocate for scientific temperance education for the rest of her life, and her legacy continues to inspire advocates for public health and education today. In addition to her work with the STF, Stoddard was involved in other social and political causes, including women’s suffrage and the promotion of education for women. She was a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and served as president of the California State Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Cora F. Stoddard was an influential figure in the Temperance movement, particularly in the field of scientific temperance education. Her leadership of the Scientific Temperance Federation helped to promote the teaching of scientific temperance education in schools across the country, and her advocacy for public health and wellbeing had a significant impact on American society. Stoddard’s legacy continues to inspire advocates for public health and education today, and her work remains an important part of the history of the Temperance movement.
Marie Caroline Brehm was an ardent advocate of prohibition and woman suffrage, to the extent that her legal name was Suffragette Marie Caroline Brehm. Brehm was born in Sandusky, Ohio on June 30,1859, and was the third of eight children born to William Henry Brehm and Elizabeth Rode Brehm. William was a dry goods merchant and Elizabeth was a homemaker. She was educated in the public school system there. She later became a lecturer and educator in the same public school system, where privately taught languages and civics to her students. In 1883 or 1884, Brehm left her job in Sandusky and moved to Olney, Illinois, where she continued to work as an educator teaching where she taught art, embroidery, and painting for five years. During this time, she was also a teacher and Superintendent of a Sunday school in the Olney First Presbyterian Church.
Brehm first became involved in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1891, during which time she was an organizing member and made president of the local chapter in April of that year. While the WCTU, a women’s organization that advocated for temperance, or the abolition of alcohol consumption, Brehm quickly realized that the organization’s goals were much broader than just temperance. She became interested in the issue of women’s suffrage and began attending suffrage meetings and conventions. Brehm’s commitment to the suffragette movement was driven by her belief that women deserved the right to vote and have a say in their own lives. She recognized that without the right to vote, women would never be able to fully participate in the democratic process or have their voices heard on important issues.
Brehm was also an active member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) during her career as a suffragette. NAWSA was a key organization in the women’s suffrage movement, working towards the goal of women’s right to vote in the United States. Brehm played a significant role in the formation of NAWSA, which was established in 1890. She was a member of the executive committee of the organization and worked closely with other leaders, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Brehm was one of the many suffragettes who believed that a unified national effort was necessary to achieve the goal of suffrage. Under Brehm’s leadership, the Indiana State Woman’s Suffrage Association (ISWSA) became an affiliate of NAWSA. Brehm’s involvement in NAWSA helped to expand the suffrage movement beyond local and state levels to a national stage. She also advocated for the organization to take a more aggressive approach to campaigning for suffrage, including organizing rallies and marches, and lobbying politicians.
Brehm was appointed by President Taft as delegate to the Twelfth International Congress Against Alcoholism in the Netherlands in 1909. And, President Wilson appointed her as the delegate to again represent the United States at the Fourteenth International Congress Against Alcoholism in Milan, Italy.
In 1924, Brehm was nominated by the Prohibition Party as their presidential candidate, making her the first woman to run for President of the United States on a major party ticket. Her campaign platform focused on the prohibition of alcohol, women’s rights, and social justice. She believed that the prohibition of alcohol was essential to promote public health and morality, and that it would free women from the tyranny of drunken husbands and fathers. Brehm’s candidacy was met with both support and criticism. Some saw her as a trailblazer and a champion for women’s rights, while others dismissed her as a radical and an extremist. Brehm faced numerous challenges during her campaign, including a lack of funding, media attention, and support from her own party. Despite these challenges, Brehm remained committed to her campaign and continued to advocate for her beliefs. She traveled across the country, speaking to crowds and meeting with supporters. She also participated in debates and interviews, where she challenged her opponents and defended her platform.
Although Brehm did not win the election, her candidacy marked a significant milestone in the history of women’s rights and political participation. Her campaign paved the way for future women candidates and demonstrated that women were capable of holding high political office. Brehm’s legacy lives on today, as women continue to fight for equal rights and opportunities in all areas of life.