Loyal Temperance Legion: Young Crusaders for Prohibition

The Loyal Temperance Legion is an organization for youth aged six to twelve years. It attempts to promote temperance and is a part of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

What became the Legion was originally formed in 1874 in Cleveland. From its beginning, the WCTU has had an interest in youth work. It has sought to promote temperance among future voters, legislators, and leaders. The WCTU worked to develop various temperance groups. The future Legion was one such group. It became an official part of the WCTU in 1895.

The Legion’s first slogan was ‘Tremble, King Alcohol, We Shall Grow Up!’ Its motto is ‘We’ll Help Safeguard America’s Future!’ Its official magazine, The Young Crusader, was published from 1887 through 1995. Members were sometimes called Crusaders.Loyal Temperance Legion

Membership in the Legion requires taking the following pledge.

God helping me:
I promise not to buy, drink, sell, or give  Alcoholic liquors while I live.
From all tobacco I’ll abstain,
and I never take God’s name in vain.

During National Prohibition (1920-1933), the Legion was active in every state. It was also reported to exist in 50 countries. However, opposition to Prohibition grew. It became stronger over time. There were increasing calls for Repeal.

In response, the WCTU, through the Legion, launched a major campaign in 1928. It was to enroll one million boys and girls as ‘National Prohibition Guards.’ They were to take this pledge.

I hereby enroll in the Million Membership Campaign for Law
Observance, promising to abstain from the se of intoxicating
liquors as a beverage, and to obey the Eighteenth Amendment
to the Constitution of the United States of America.

The strategy was to enroll those in existing groups. These included church youth groups, Sunday school classes, the Boy ‘˜scouts, and the Camp-fire Girls. No record is known of its enrollment success.

Membership in the Legion itself peaked around 1890. There were an estimated 240,000 members. It dropped to 56,945 in 1929. By 2002, it had dropped to an estimated 400 members. The WCTU still recruits Legion members.

Children were used to promote Prohibition through the Lincoln-Lee Legion and the Loyal Temperance Legion. They were then used to defend it largely through the National Prohibition Guards.


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Garner, N. Loyal Temperance Legion. In: Blocker, J. et al. (eds.) Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, vol. 1, 2003. Pp. 387-8

Gordon, A. Marching Songs for Young Crusaders. Chicago: WCTU, 1885.

Loyal Temperance Legion. In: Cherrington, E. (ed.) Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem. Westerville, OH: Am Isue, v. 4, 1928. Pp. 1622-1612.

Tinling, C. A Handful of Hints: Outline Lessons for Loyal Temperance Legion Leaders.  Evanston, IL: WCTU, 1913.