Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

The WCTU and Lynching, 1894

The Annual Convention

Willard and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union continued to field criticism regarding Willard's comments and the union's position on lynching through the summer and fall of 1894. In November of that year, Willard and Wells met for a second time at the WCTU's annual convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

"The Recognition of 'State rights'"

In her annual President's Address, Willard responded to Wells's criticism of herself and the WCTU's position on lynching, and she also defended the WCTU's policy toward its African-American members. She criticized Wells personally and singled out her assertion that consensual relationships between black men and white women were common in the South. However, she also called for the convention to pass an anti-lynching resolution and suggested what the text should be.


Christian Protection

However, the actual resolution that the convention approved was quite different from the one she proposed:

So what happened? In a statement quoted by Florence Balgarnie in the below pamphlet, Massachusetts WCTU president Susan Fessenden gave her account.

SCRAPBOOK PAGE, not pamphlet

[Waiting on this to be scanned but the gist is that Fessenden was in the resolutions committee, proposed an anti-lynching resolution similar to the one that had passed the previous year, there was an outcry from the Southern delegates, she left the meeting room, came back that afternoon and was told that something substantially similar had been passed, then got to the floor and realized that was not the case but it was too late to do anything.]


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