United Friends of Temperance: Not Friends of Blacks

The Beginning

The United Friends of Temperance resulted from a meeting on November 22, 1871 in Chattanooga. The organizers formed the Council of Temperance. In attendance were 33 representatives of temperance groups. They included  Friends of Temperance, the Sons of Temperance, the Good Templars, the Temple of Honor, and the Knights of Jericho. At a meeting on June 22, 1873, its ‘articles of union’ were adopted.


The name of the new order was the United Friends of Temperance. The United Friends invited all other temperance orders to merge with it. The group stated that “The only pre-existing requirement for such a consolidated order [is] to be a white basis  for members.” (Emphasis in original.) The articles of union stated that “Membership shall be confined exclusively and unalterably to WHITE PERSONS, active and associate.” (Emphasis in original.)

United Friends of Temperance
KKK: Defender of Prohibition

It falsely claimed to be the only temperance group that restricted its membership to whites. In fact both the Friends of Temperance and the Templars of Honor and Temperance, a national society, did so. The Templars let local affiliates decide whether or not to accept African-Americans as members.1  But it stated that “Females constituted  the class of associate members and shall be entitled to all the privileges of the order.”2


The United Friends established several guiding principles.

  • No religious or political controversies within the order.3
  • “Moral suasion, as distinguished from any formed of coercion, shall be its sole means of promoting temperance.”
  • “The founding of inebriate asylums for the cure of intemperance belongs necessarily to the great temperance reform.”4


Membership in the United Friends required signing an abstinence United Friends of Temperancepledge. But the group was not united about whether the teetotal pledge should be for life or for only as long as the person was a member.

The United Friends of Temperance was the first  state-wide temperance group in Texas.5  It should not be confused with the Friends of Temperance.  


1. Fahey, D. Temperance and Racism. Lexington: U Press of Kentucky, 1996. P. 178.

2. Temperance Movement. New Georgia Encyclopedia.

3. Litton, I. The United Friends of Temperance. In  Centennial Temperance.  NY: Nat’l Temp Soc., 1877, p. 743.

4. Litton, I., id., 744.

5. Prohibition.  Texas State Historic Association