Loyal Temperance Legion: Young Crusaders for Prohibition

The Loyal Temperance Legion is (not was) for youth. They are aged six to twelve years. It attempts to promote temperance. It’s a part of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

What became the Legion was 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 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 called Crusaders.

Loyal Temperance Legion

Membership in the Legion requires taking the following pledge.

loyal temperance legionGod 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. But 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 use 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. It was through the Lincoln-Lee Legion and the Loyal Temperance Legion. They were then used to defend it largely through the National Prohibition Guards.