The first included source, which is titled “W.C.T.U. Blasts Drinking and Smoking, and Demands Power to Protect,” is an interesting one to consider in looking at how different groups wanted to change America around the turn of the century. The WCTU was a group that had some influence and wanted more. The group specifically believed that America was headed toward some kind of moral cliff. They saw that more and more people were getting involved in drinking. Beyond that, they believed that the new trend of people smoking was one that would eventually cause massive destruction in America. More than just seeing these problems in an isolated way, the members of this group, who authored this source, saw them as a bigger reflection of the problems in America that needed to be cured.

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Importantly, this is a women’s group, and they are using this issue to advocate for their right to vote. They believed at this time that men were being dragged into drinking and smoking, and as a result, it would ruin families and homes. With this in mind, they were advocating for their own power to stop this movement with voting ability. Specifically, they were asking that society grant women the right to vote so that women could respond to those situations where men were getting into drinking and smoking in ways that could not be controlled.

They believed that one of the ways society could be fixed was to give women more power, or to at least give them some power, so that the power of men and the behavior of those men could be checked. In this way, the source is not only attacking the moral problems of drinking and smoking in America, but also the problem of women not being allowed to participate in the political system.

  • Hoffman, E. C., Blum, E. J., & Gjerde, J. (Eds.). (2012). Major Problems in American History. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.