Tag Archives: Temperance

News for Women, by Women

Accessible Archives subscribers have access to three of America’s oldest newspapers published by and for women: The Lily, The Revolution, and National Citizen and Ballot Box.


Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer

The Lily, the first newspaper for women, was issued from 1849 until 1853 under the editorship of Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894). Published in Seneca Falls, New York and priced at 50 cents a year, the newspaper began as a temperance journal for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848.

Bloomer felt that as women lecturers were considered unseemly, writing was the best way for women to work for reform. The paper encountered a number of early obstacles and the Society’s enthusiasm died out, but Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper.

Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies“, but after 1850 only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (seated) and Susan B. Anthony

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (seated) and Susan B. Anthony

The Revolution, a weekly women’s rights newspaper, was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association formed by feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure women’s enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment.

Published between January 8, 1868 and February, 1872, it was edited by Stanton and Parker Pillsbury and initially funded by George Francis Train, a wealthy and eccentric Democrat, and David Melliss, financial editor of the New York World newspaper. Coincidentally, The Revolution was run out of a small office in the same building that housed the New York World.

The Revolution’s motto, printed on the masthead of the first edition’s front page, was, “Principle, not policy; Justice, not favors.” Beginning with the second edition, the following was added: “Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.” Later editions had this motto: “The True Republic–Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.”

Although its circulation never exceeded 3,000, The Revolution’s influence on the national woman’s rights movement was enormous.

Matilda Joslyn Gage

Matilda Joslyn Gage

The National Citizen and Ballot Box was a monthly journal deeply involved in the roots of the American feminist movement. It was owned and edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage, American women’s rights advocate, who helped to lead and publicize the suffrage movement in the United States.

Gage bought The Ballot Box, a publication of a Toledo, Ohio suffrage association, in 1878 when its editor, Sarah R.L. Williams, decided to retire.

Gage renamed it the National Citizen and Ballot Box, and included her intentions for the paper in a prospectus: “Its especial object will be to secure national protection to women citizens in the exercise of their rights to vote…it will oppose Class Legislation of whatever form…Women of every class, condition, rank and name will find this paper their friend.”

Gage became the National Citizen and Ballot Box’s primary editor for the next three years (until 1881), producing and publishing essays on a wide range of issues. Each edition bore the motto “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword”, and included regular columns about prominent women in history and female inventors.

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The Bottle

A Victim and his Child in The Colored American

We occasionally find a capital police report in the St. Louis Bulletin. On a recent occasion a bloated being, named Johnson, by profession an actor, was found drunk in the streets by a good hearted sailor, who in vain attempted to win him from his vile ways and evil companions. Johnson continued to drink, until he fell to the ground like a beast, when the following scene ensued;

“Just as they were about removing the miserable wretch to prison, a little girl about eight years old, barefooted and extremely ragged, came into the room sobbing and crying most bitterly. No sooner did she see her father than she ran to him, knelt down by his side, and motioning the officer away, cried – “Don’t take away papa while he sleeps! By and by he will wake up once more and kiss me.”

The Colored AmericanIt was a sight to wring the heart of more than man to see that pure and innocent creature, with her little head bare and her white shoulder peeping out from her tattered frock, leaning with fond affection over her drunken father, as if her affection strengthened with the unworthiness of its object. At length the sailor came forward, and speaking kindly to the little girl, took her away in his arms, and wrapped her little feet carefully in the skirts of his coat. The brutish father, by this time snoring in complete and disgusting insensibility, was then taken to the guard house for the purpose of sobering him.

This morning, after manifesting some symptoms of that most dreadful of diseases – mania [ ], he seemed to regain his senses in a measure, and confessed having been drunk, “I was not,” said he, “always the miserable wretch to which drunkenness has reduced me. I once was respected by friends, and beloved by my family. But I contracted bad habits, which got so strong and old upon my nervous temperament as to make a beast of me. My business was neglected, and my wife died, I do believe of a broken heart. Since that time I have wandered around the world without end or aim, except to procure whiskey! I have yet a daughter – at least I had yesterday – a beautiful, tender creature, who still loves me, despite my unworthiness.”

At this moment the benevolent sailor entered the room, leading the little girl by the hand. He had dressed her with new and comfortable clothes, and she looked really very pretty and interesting. After learning that a small fine had been imposed upon Johnson, he immediately paid it, and leading the little girl forward, placed her in her father’s arms. The poor man wept and sobbed over her as if he had been an infant: and for our part, we do not believe there was dry eye in the room. The three left the room together, and we sincerely hope that this lesson will work a thorough reformation upon the unhappy and degraded man.”

Now, my youthful readers, was not this an affectionate, good little girl? And do you not, while you read about her love her? And will you not try to be like her, although, we presume and hope, you have not a drunken father as this little girl had?

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The Colored American
Date: April 11, 1840
Title: A Victim and his Child
Location: New York, New York

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Experimenting with Sin in Philadelphia

Can Philadelphia succeed where all others have failed? The reform administration under Mayor Blankenburg has decided that the best way to deal with the social evil is by segregation. Resort proprietors who have never come in contact with the police have been told they can continue their business if able to find houses on certain designated streets. Those who have been in the police courts were ordered to leave the city.

The restricted district will be inspected hourly by the police, to see that no liquor is sold and that no intoxicated men are allowed to visit the places. Wisdom is shown in making very strict the regulations concerning liquor, it being absolutely debarred from the houses, even for medicinal purposes. The resort proprietors have been warned that the first complaint against them would mean a prison sentence, at the expiration of which they would be deported.


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Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer and the Birth of The Lily

Mrs. Bloomer herself tells the story of the newspaper’s beginnings and her connection with it as follows:

Up to about 1848-9 women had almost no part in all this temperance work. They could attend meetings and listen to the eloquence and arguments of men, and they could pay their money towards the support of temperance lecturers, but such a thing as their having anything to say or do further than this was not thought of.

They were fired with zeal after listening to the Washingtonian lecturers and other speakers on temperance who then abounded, and in some instances held little private meetings of their own, organized societies and passed resolutions expressive of their feelings on the great subject.

It was at a meeting of this kind in Seneca Falls, N. Y., which was then my home, that the matter of publishing a little temperance paper, for home distribution only, was introduced. The ladies caught at the idea and at once determined on issuing the paper. Editors were selected, a committee appointed to wait on the newspaper offices to learn on what terms the paper could be printed monthly, we furnishing all the copy.


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Woman's National Christian Temperance Union

Petition for Home Protection in 1877

One of our new collections, The National Citizen and Ballot Box is now online for the years 1876-1881.  This monthly journal formed the foundation of the American feminist movement.  There is a great deal of overlap between the Temperance and Woman Suffrage movements in the latter half of the 19th century.

This petition appeared in the January 1877 issue while it still had the name The Ballot Box.

Petition for Home Protection in 1877

The following petition has been issued by the Woman’s National Christian Temperance Union, and is being actively circulated:

WHEREAS, Woman by the changeless nature which God has given her, and through the most sacred relationships of which that nature is capable, is the born conservator of Home, and the most trusty and conscientions guardian of her children.

WHEREAS ALSO, Woman is the greatest sufferer from the Liquor Traffic, which is sanctioned and sustained by law, and does much to create the temptation, which nevertheless is not allowed to be the excuse for crimes, which result from the use of intoxicating liquors And,

WHEREAS, Men, while claiming to represent our wishes and our interests, have signally failed to give us prohibitory laws; thereby be it

Resolved, That we as men and women hereby petition for the protection of home, by the enactment of a law that no place for the sale of intoxicating drinks shall be licensed in any locality without the consent of a majority of the voters and of women over eighteen years of age in that locality, such consent to be expressed by their signatures to a petition for such license.


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