Evangeline Booth: Prohibition Leader – Very Committed

Evangeline Booth was born in London in 1865. Her parents were the founders of the Salvation Army. Eva was her birth name. But she changed it to Evangeline. She thought it sounded more impressive. It was not needed. She was impressive without the name change.

Drinking a Great Evil

Both Evangeline Booth and the Salvation Army considered drinking a great evil. They blamed it for much human misery. As General of the religious group, she summarized this belief.

Drink has drained more blood,
Hung more crepe,
Sold more houses,
Plunged more people into bankruptcy,
Armed more villains,
Slain more children,
Snapped more wedding rings,
Defiled more innocence,
Blinded more eyes,
Twisted more limbs,
Dethroned more reason,
Wrecked more manhood,
Dishonored more womanhood,
Broken more hearts,
Blasted more lives,
Driven more to suicide, and
Dug more graves than any other poisoned scourge that ever swept its death-dealing waves across the world.1

National Prohibition

Under Evangeline Booth’s leadership, the Salvation Army strongly supported National Prohibition. It existed from 1920 through 1933. When an editor asked her views about Prohibition in 1923, she enthusiastically replied.

Evangeline Booth
Evangeline Booth

It is wonderful! Wonderful! If it should take fifty years to get liquor entirely out of the country, obliterated from the streets, washed from the cellars, it would be a thousand times worth the effort. The achievement of prohibition in a country organized as this one, is one of the greatest accomplishments of history. Think of the many today who never had fifty cents in their hands, who now  have bank accounts. Think of the many women who never received a cent from their husbands’ wages, since all the money went into the rich brewer’s till, who now have a regular amount to spend for themselves and their children. Why if every one else fought to keep prohibition away, the thousands of reformed drunkards and inebriates would fight to keep it here.2

Evangeline Booth argued that drinking was a “masculine indulgence” that harmed women. Yet it was prohibition that for the first time made it socially acceptable for women drink in public.

The Salvation had fought successfully for Prohibition. It fought in vain against Repeal.