The organization was originally called the Lincoln Legion. However, in 1912 it was renamed the Lincoln-Lee League. That was to make it more appealing to Southern children and their parents.
The Lincoln-Lee League’s three goals for members were abstaining from alcohol, promoting prohibition, and being good church members.
Children who signed the pledge committed themselves to abstaining from alcoholic beverages for the rest of their lives. The pledge asserted that drinking alcohol “is productive of pauperism, degradation and crime….”1
Pledge signing drives were heavily promoted at churches, Sunday schools, and temperance meetings.
Girls who signed the pledge were “Willards,” after Frances Willard of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Boys in the North were “Lincolns.” Boys in the South became “Lees.”
By 1925, over five million children had signed the total abstinence pledge cards.
It also published the Lincoln-Lee Legion Patriots Scorebook. Meetings of the group used this booklet. It provided a history of the League, a “response service,” songs for use at meetings, and a behavioral scorecard.
- Church attendance.
- Abstinence from alcohol and Tobacco.
- Recruiting new members.
- Sunday school attendance.
The pledge concept is currently used by the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. However, its pledge numbers dwarf those of the Lincoln-Lee Legion.
Resources on the Lincoln-Lee Legion
- The National Prohibition Lincoln-Lee Program Book. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, n.d.
- Arnold, A. Lincoln-Lee Legion Temperance Sunday Brochure. Westerville, OH: Lincoln-Lee Legion, 1917.
- Engs, R. (Ed.) The Progressive Era’s Health Reform Movements. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.
- Odegard, P. Pressure Politics: The Story of the Anti-Saloon League. NY: Columbia U Press, 1928.
- American Bond Newsletter. Westerville, OH: Am Bond, 1923-.
Derby, G. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. NY: White, 1906, p. 330.