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African-American Women in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Document 1

Frances E. W. Harper, a well-known African-American reformer and Superintendent of Work among Colored People of the WCTU, tried to recruit African-American women into the WCTU:

       A woman sat beneath the shadow of her home, while the dark waves of intemperance [overindulgence in alcohol] dashed against human hearts and hearth-stones, but there came an hour when she found that she could do something else besides wring her hands and weep over the ravages of the liquor traffic, which had darkened so many lives and desolated so many homes. . . . Victor Hugo has spoken of the nineteenth century as being woman's era, and among the most noticeable epochs in this era is the uprising of women against the twin evils of slavery and intemperance, which had foisted themselves like leeches upon the civilization of the present age. In the great anti-slavery conflict women had borne a part, but after the storm cloud of battle had rolled away, it was found that an enemy, old and strong and deceptive, was warring against the best interests of society; not simply an enemy to one race, but an enemy to all races--an enemy that had entrenched itself in the strongholds of appetite and avarice [greed], and was upheld by fashion, custom and legislation.

Excerpt from Frances E. W. Harper, "The Woman's Christian Temperance Union
and the Colored Woman," A.M.E. Church Review, 12 (1888)

1. According to Harper, what was the evil that afflicted all races?

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2. Why might Harper make a connection between slavery and intemperance, viewing them as "twin evils?"

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