Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

The WCTU and Lynching, 1893

The WCTU Opposes Lynching

In the fall of 1893, the WCTU passed the below anti-lynching resolution at its annual convention. Susan Fessenden, the Massachusetts WCTU leader who sponsored it, said later that the assembly accepted it without much controversy. The WCTU always passed resolutions on a variety of issues at each national convention, but it is unclear what prompted Fessenden to bring it forward that year in particular. Ida B. Wells's anti-lynching campaign had been attracting more and more attention, and perhaps Fessenden felt it was important for the WCTU to take a position.

Like the WCTU, many other whites who criticized lynching did so because it was outside the judicial system or “without due process of law.” Wells believed that this argument ignored her findings that only one third of victims had even been charged with rape. 


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