Woman’s New York State Temperance Society

Woman’s New York State Temperance Society is the correct name of the society. However, people often mis-spell it the Women’s New York State Temperance Society.

It’s often the Woman’s Temperance Society of New York. Or the Women’s Temperance Society of New York. Sometimes it’s the Women’s State Temperance Society. On occasion, it’s the Woman’s State Temperance Society.


I.   Organized

II.  Goal

III. Group Defended

IV.  References

Woman’s New York State Temperance Society

I. Organized

The organizational meeting of the Society was on April 20 and 21, 1852. It was in Rochester, New York. The members formed it because existing temperance groups did not accept women as members.

Over 500 women attended the founding meeting called by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The women voted her president.

Prominent women were elected to leadership positions in the Woman’s New York State Temperance Society. They included Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer.

II. Goal

Women generally lacked access to positions of public power. And also to the ballot-box. Therefore, the group chose public education as its primary mode of influence.

It decided to use lectures, tracts, newspapers and discussion to raise awareness. The Society urge urged members not to give financial support for religious purposes. Instead, they should divert it to those of the new group.

The Society urged women married to “confirmed drunkards” to divorce them. To live with them was a disservice “to the cause of humanity, and to the dignity of true womanhood.”1

Amelia Bloomer said that the law should require women to divorce drunkard husbands. She asked “Can it be possible that the moral sense of a people is more shocked at the idea of a pure-minded, gentle woman sundering the ties which bind her to a loathsome mass of corruption, than it is to see her dragging out her days in misery, tied to his besotten and filthy carcass?”2

III. Group Defended

Elizabeth Cady Stanton addressed the first annual meeting of the Society. In doing so, she defended the group. Ms. Stanton argued against those who said the group attacked religion. Her view was that the Society merely defended itself against attacks.

The leader claimed that the Society used love, compassion, justice, mercy and truth. But that its opponents used violence, oppression, slavery, war and drinking alcohol.3

The Society had prominent leaders. But it failed to have much impact on temperance in New York State or elsewhere. Later, it increasingly devoted itself to suffrage, abolitionism, and other causes.4

IV. References


1. Cullen-DuPont, K. Woman’s New York State Temperance Society. In: Encyclopedia of Women’s History in America. NY: Facts On File.

2. Cullen-DuPont, ibid.

3. Stanton, E. Stanton Address, First Annual Meeting of the Woman’s State Temperance Society, Rochester, NY, June 1, 1853.

4. Neumann, C. Prohibition. In: Eisenstadt, P., and Moss, L-E. (Eds.) The Encyclopedia of New York State. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse U Press, p. 1,543.