Frances Elizabeth Willard.

Glimpses of fifty years : the autobiography of an American woman online

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Glimpses of Fifty years

^i)c EutotiograptS




Frances E. Wilurd.



"Nothing makes life dreary but lack of motive."


Woman' ^etnperanc^ ^uBfkalion jJbBOCiafion.



General Agents for United Stales , Canada, Australia, Sand-vich Islands.

copyrighted by the
Woman's Temperance Publication Association.


We wish it distinctly understood that Miss IVillard's responsibility /or this book ended
when she furnished her manuscript.

She repeatedly requested that but one picture of herself be given. This, however, would
leave her out of official groups where she is the central fgure, and to preserve the unity of
these, also as illustrative of altogether different phases of her life, we have arranged the
pictures as we believed the interests of the book and the preference of the public warranted us
in doing.

It should also be stated that Miss Willard wrote twelve hundred pages that had to be cut

down to seven hundred, and in so doing, scores of names, facts and allusions, all of which

she was especially desirous to have in this book,'had to be omitted. To this omission the author

has kindly agreed, having written rapidly ana without calculating for the space required by

this overplus of manuscript.

Woman's Temperance Publication Association,

Chicago, Feb. 22, i8Sg.



There is one

" Face that duly as the sun,
Rose up /or me since life begun ;'^



As A Birthday Gift,


January 3, 1889,


I Dedicate


HOU, wider Satan'' s fierce control,
'Shall Heaven on thee its rest bestow ?

I know not, but I know a soicl

That might have fair n as darkly low.

^^ I judge thee not, what depths of ill
Soe 'er thy feet have found or trod ;
I know a spirit and a will

As weak, but for the help of God.

" Shalt thou with full day-lab' rers stand.

Who hardly canst have pru7ied one vine ?
I know not, bid I kiiow a hand
With an infirmity like thine.

*^ Shalt thou, who hadst with scoffers part,

E Vr wear the crown the Christian wears ?
I know not, but I know a heart

As flinty, but for tears and prayers.

*^ Have mercy, O thou Crucified!

For even while I name Thy name,
I know a tongue that might have lied.

Like Peter' s, and am filled with shame.^'


I have been asked by the publishers of this Autobiography
to write the Introduction. I am very glad to be asked. There is
no woman in the world whose book I would rather introduce than
that of my friend and co-worker, Frances K. Willard. From the
first hour of my acquaintance with her, now more than sixteen
years ago, she has been to me the embodiment of all that is
lovely, and good, and womanly, and strong, and noble and ten-
der, in human nature. She has been my queen among women,
and I have felt it to be one of the greatest privileges of my life
to call her my friend. I have been inspired by her genius, I
have been cheered by her sympathy, I have been taught by her
wisdom, I have been led onward and upward by her enthusiastic
faith. We have met on almost every point of human interest,
and have been together in joy and in sorrow, in success and in
apparent failure ; she has been a member of my household for
weeks together, and I have seen her tried by prosperity and
flattery, by misunderstanding and evil report ; and always and
everj'where she has been the same simple-hearted, fair-minded
Christian woman, whose one sole aim has been to do the will of
God as far as she knew it, and to bear whatever of apparent ill
He may have permitted to come upon her, with cheerful submis-
sion, as being His loving discipline for the purpose of making her
what, above all, she longs to be, a partaker of His holiness. ■

In regard to her public work she has seemed to me one of
God's best gifts to the American women of the nineteenth cen-
tury, for she has done more to enlarge our sympathies, widen our
outlook, and develop our gifts, than any man, or an}' other woman
of her time. Every movement for the uplifting of humanity has
found in her a cordial friend and active helper. Every field of
inquir}^ or investigation has shared in her quick, intelligent sym-
pathy, and she has been essentially American in this, that she
is always receptive of new ideas, without being frightened at


vi Introduction.

their newness. One saying of hers is eminently characteristic —
that we have no more need to be afraid of the step just ahead
of us than we have to be afraid of the one just behind us ; and,
acting on this, she has always given all new suggestions a can-
did and fair-minded consideration, and has kept in the forefront
of ever>^ right movement, whether in the world of ideas or-the
world of things. I have called her to myself, many times, our
' ' see-er, ' ' because, like all seers, she seems to have an insight
into things not visible to the eyes of most. We who know
her best have so much confidence, born of experience, in these
insights of hers, that I am not sure but that something once said
about us laughingly is, after all, pretty nearly the truth : that " if
Frances Willard should push a plank out into the ocean, and
should beckon the white ribbon women to follow her out to the
end of it, they would all go without a question," The reason is
that we have discovered that her planks always turn out to be
bridges across to delectable islands which she has discerned while
yet they were invisible to us.

How such a woman came to be, is told us in this book, and
it is a story that will, I believe, be an example and an inspiration
to thousands of her fellow-women, who will learn here the vast
possibilities of a pure and holy womanhood, consecrated to God
and to the service of humanity.

How this story came to be told is as follows : As president
for nearly ten years of the great organization called the National
Woman's Christian Temperance Union, numbering more than
two hundred thousand women, scattered all over the United
States, from Maine to Texas, and from Florida to Alaska, Frances
E. Willard has won a love and loyalty that no other woman, I
thhak, has ever before possessed. It was natural that the many
members of this widespread organization, who could not see their
leader, should desire to read the story of her life, and for some
time she has been besieged with requests to write her own biog-
raphy. At the annual W. C. T. U. Convention held in Nashville,
Tenn., in 1887, these desires voiced themselves in the following
resolution, unanimously adopted by the whole convention :

Resolved, That in ^^e\v of the fact that the year 1889 will be the fif-
teenth of the organization of the National Woman's Christian Temperance
Union, and also that in the same year our beloved president, Miss Frances

Introduction. vii

E. Willard, enters upon the fiftieth year of her strong and beautiful life,
we, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union delegates, in National Con-
vention assembled, do request Miss Willard to prepare for publication an
autobiography, together with the history of the Woman's Christian Tem-
perance Union from its birth to 18S9, with a collection of her addresses on
various themes.

Miss Willard was at first averse to the plan, and put ojBf
yielding to it as long as possible. But the white ribbon women
do not generally give up an idea when once originated, and since
they had so often walked in unknown paths at her bidding, she
felt herself, at last, bound to walk in this path at their bidding.
Hence this book.

Furthermore, the women wanted a true story, not a story
that, out of a conventional modest}', would tell only half the truth,
in the fear of being thought egotistic and full of self. Their idea
is admirably expressed in these words of Emerson, "Say hon-
estly and simply that which yo\xx own experience has given you
and you will give to the world something new, valuable and last-
ing." Having taken, for a rarity, the authority into their own
hands, they have insisted upon having the work done in their
own way, and have required their leader to tell them all about
herself, her work, her life, the very inmost of her being, without
fear or favor, because only thus could she give them what they

Whoever reads this book, therefore, must remember that it
has been written by request of and for the women of whom Miss
Willard is the well beloved leader, the white ribbon women of
America ; if others see it, that is their own good fortune. It
is a home book, written for her great family circle, and to be
read around the evening lamp by critics who love the writer, and
who want to learn from her experience how to live better and
stronger lives. It is a woman's book, warm, sympathetic, ofiF-
hand ; it is an object-lesson in American living and American
development, and as such can not fail to interest all those who
think American women worthy of a little study. It begins in
the West of forty years ago, picturing a pioneer farm and the
unique, out-of-door life of adventurous young Western boys and
girls. It tells of a free-spirited mother, who sympathized with
her children rather than governed them, and who, although she
would have liked her daughter to learn house work, yet did not

viii Introduction.

force her into it, because she had the rare good sense to know
that it was far better to help her child to do the best in her own
line than to force her to do a half-best in any other line, and also
because she believed every natural gift to be God-given and
meant for divine uses in serving the world, and therefore worthy
of respect and of development. We have in the story of this
mother and daughter a glimpse into the relation between parents
and children such as it ought always to be, not one of arbitrar>'
control on the one hand and slavish submission on the other, but
one of cooperation, or partnership, in which each should try to
help the other to do and be their best, and should each realize
the sacred duty of leaving one another free to follow, without hin-
drance, the path which thej^ should feel called upon to pursue.
It is no small thing to have laid open before us the methods of a
grand and truly typical mother, one who had not the help of the
usual environment, one who made herself her children's world.
Were there more such mothers as Mrs. Willard, there would be
more such daughters as hers.

The father in this story, while more reserved, and conse-
quently less manifestly sympathetic than the mother, was a noble
and gifted man, of sterling goodness, and great power in the lives
of his children, to whom he was most devotedly attached. There
is also a sweet young sister who brightened the family life for
"nineteen beautiful years," and then left them for the home
above, leaving with her latest breath a legacy of infinite value to
her sister Frances in the simple words, ' ' Tell everybody to be

There is a brother, too ; a young man of great promise, en-
dowed with rare genius, and of a most lovable nature, who left
the world before he had had time to do more than make a pass-
ing mark on the annals of his own day, leaving behind him,
however, a gentle widow, whose life and work have been and
still are of great value to her family and the work of the Lord.

The book contains a history of the Woman's Crusade against
the liquor traffic in 1S74, and of what we are accustomed to call
"its sober second thought" — the Woman's Christian Temper-
ance Union, that great organization which Mary A. Livermore
says is "so grand in its aims, so superb in its equipment, so phe-
nomenal in its growth, and has done so much for woman as well

Introduction. ix

as for temperance, that it challenges the attention of Christen-
dom, and excites the hope of all who are interested in the welfare
of humanit3\"

Those who read between the lines of this book can not fail
to see how largely the evolution of this mighty organization has
been the work of its gentle, yet magnetic leader, whose wonder-
ful administrative talent and superb tact, have given her an
almost unparalleled success in controlling and guiding one of the
greatest movements of modern times. Yet with all this success,
Miss Willard is, I believe, truly humble minded. When calls
come from every direction, and some seem to feel indignant, and
others accuse her of one thing, and still others of another, and
they fit her out with motives, knowing nothing whatever about
the facts in the case, she writes after this fashion : ' ' Am badgered
to death and am not worried a hair — what do you make o' that ?
I fancy the explanation is that, unless I am an awfully deceived
woman, I am desirous of doing God's will, and so the clamor on
this footstool is like the humming of ''skeeters' outside the
curtain. It rather lulls me into quiet." No one could realize
more deeply than she does the truth that, " Except the Lord build
the city, they labor in vain that build it," and she has always
sought to commit her work and her ways to tl:i£ keeping of the
Divine Master, in a simple, child-like faith that He would lead
her in the way she should go, and would make all her paths
straight before her. That this faith has been answered to a
remarkable degree the book before us will clearly show.

The beautiful illustrations of the book are entirely the work
of the Woman's Temperance Publication Association, which is
bringing it out. Miss Willard would not have felt willing in her
own name to send forth such personal pictures for the public
gaze, but she was obliged to jneld in this, as in all else concerning
the book, to the wishes and judgment of the white ribbon women,
who, for once, have got the upper-hand of their leader, and greatly
enjoy making her do their bidding. The W. T. P. A. took the
whole responsibility of the illustrations, and has prepared this
part of the volume in an unusually original and artistic manner.

Altogether, we of the W. C. T. U. of the United States look
upon this book as a most creditable witness to the value of our
organization and to the successful working of the Woman's

X Introduction.

Temperance Publication Association, which is one of our most
promising children.

I would like to tell a little story in conclusion. There is a
creature in the sea called the Octopus, with a very small body
but with immense arms covered with suckers, radiating from
every side, that stretch themselves out to indefinite length' to
draw in all sorts of prey. Miss Willard seems to have the same
characteristic of being able to reach out mental or spiritual arms
to indefinite lengths, whereby to draw in everything and every-
body that seem likely to help on the cause she has at heart.
Hence I, who have felt the grip of those arms of hers, have come
to call her in our private moments, ' ' My beloved Octopus, ' ' and
myself her contented victim.

What future histories will need to be written concerning the
coming years of the life here portrayed, no one can tell. But of
this I am sure, that the same Divine Hand that has led her
hitherto will still lead, and will bring her in triumph to life's
close, for the motto of her heart continues more and more to be,
"This God shall be our God, even unto death."

44 Grosvenor Road, Westminster Embankment,
London, S. IV., England.


Whether for good or ill, I have set down with absolute
fidelity these recollections of myself The wise ones tell us that
we change utterly once in every seven years, so that from the
vantage-ground of life's serene meridian, I have looked back upon
the seven persons whom I know most about : the welcome child,
the romping girl, the happy student, the roving teacher, the
tireless traveler, the temperance organizer, and lastly, the poli-
tician and advocate of woman's rights ! Since all these are
sweetly dead and gone, why should not their biographies and
epitaphs, perchance their eulogies, be written by their best in-
formed and most indulgent critic ?

A thousand homes in as many different towns, have kindly
cherished me in my many pilgrimages. The fathers in those
homes treated me with high respect, the mothers with sacred ten-
derness ; the lads and lasses with heartiest kindness, the blessed
little children loved me for their mothers' sake.

To them all, my heart goes out with unspeakable good will
and gratitude. Perhaps the honest record of my fifty years may
give them pleasure ; perhaps it may do good. At all events they
asked for it — at least their leaders did, in the great, genial meeting
that we had down South in 1887 — so I have put it into black and
white, not as I would, but as I could, and here it is.



* Frontispiece.— steel Engraving, Miss Willard.
Photogravures, page

The Office Rest Cottage, - - - 128

Kate A. Jackson, ....... 288

Anna A. Gordon — "My little Organist," ... 384

"The Den" — Miss Willard's Workshop, .... 544

The Parlor— Rest Cottage, - ..-. 656
Reproductions from Photographs and Aquarelles.

I. A Welcome Child— Early Sports, .... j

II. A Romping Girl — Forest Home, - - - - 14

III. A Happy Student, -...-. 72

IV. A Roving Teacher — Evanstou College for Ladies, - - 132
V. A Tireless Traveler, . - -.. 244

VI. A Temperance Advocate and Organizer — Illinois Petition

for Home Protection, 175,000 Names, ... 330

VII. A Woman in Politics, ..... 374

Silhouettes, ........ 4^2

Homes — Birthplace, the Oberlin Residence, Forest Home, Swamps-

cott, Rest Cottage, ..... g

Churches — Churchville, Ogden, Jauesville, Evanston, - - 48

The Hill and Willard Homesteads, .... 64

School-buildings (Student-life) — Forest Home, Milwaukee Female

College, Northwestern Female College, - - 96

Family Group — "My Four," ...... 160

School-buildings (Teacher-life) — Harlem, Pittsburgh, Lima, - 176
School buildings (Teacher-life) — From Public School to North-
western University, Evanston, .... 208

Bas-relief— Miss Willard, - - - - - - 344

Bas-relief— Madame Willard, . - - . . 345

Officers of the National W. C. T. U., - - - - 408

World's W. C. T. U. Group, - - - - - - 432

The First Composition — Fac-simile, . . - - - 496

Illustrations. xiii

Editors of Our Day, ....... 512

Ofl&cers National Council of Women, - - . - 592
Picturesque Evanston (looking toward Rest Cottage) — Rest Cot-
tage Playground, -.-... 624

W. C. T. U. Banners.—Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, The

National, The World's, etc., - - . . . 456

TAe Children's Page. — Father Mathew Medal, Silver Cup, Roman

Cameo, "Old Faithful," etc. - - - - - 6S0


Seal of National W. C. T. U., - - - • - - x

Ships of the Prairie, .-.-... 46
Sampler, - -. - -..61

The Master's Desk, ....... gg

Plan of Forest Home, ....-__ j^g

Map of Forest Home Farm, - . - - . 145

Silver Goblet, - - - - - - - - 189

Old Oaken Bucket, - - - - - - - 197

Roll of Honor, ..-.-.-. 225

College Cottage, ....... 244

"Shall we ever go anywhere?" ..... 252

En route in Montana, . . ^ . . . 330

Beer Mug from Saloon in Hillsboro, - - - - - 341

W. C. T. U. Coffee Cart, 355

National W. C. T. U. Gavel, - - - - - - 3S1

Portland (Or.) W. C. T. U. Shield, .... 409

White Cross and White Shield Emblem, ... - 429

World's W. C. T. U. Emblem, .. ... 436

White Rose, .-...-.. 453

Metropolitan Opera House, . - -.. 46S

Bourbon Jug Water-cooler (New Orleans Exposition), - - 478

Chicago Post Placard, - - - - - - 514

John B. Cough's Gift of Tea Set, . . . . . 654

Mother's Scrap Books, ...... 665

"Old Rye," 6S5

Music — "May de Lord," - - - - - - 694

Vale, 69S

Willard Farm, . . ' . . . . Appendix

Willard Coat-of-Arms, - - - - - - "

^at)!e of OTontettts.


A Little Pilgrim. - - - - 1-14

Heredity— Early childhood days— Almost named for Queen Victoria— Not hand-
some, to say the least — Childish sports.

Chapter I. My Apprenticeship to Nature. - - - 15-46

Near to Nature's heart— Fort City— Girlish sports— Outdoor life— Spring-time at
Forest Home— Boy comrades— The forest monarch.

Chapter II. The Artists' Club. - . - . 47-61

Mother's Eastern visit — Amateur painters and hunters— Home incidents— Presi-
dent Finney.

Chapter III. Little Boats Set Out from Shore. - 62-72

First break in the home-circle — Another Eastern visit— Prize cup— Young lady-
hood — Freedom and rebellion— Good-by to Forest Home.


Chapter I. Delightful Days at School. - - - 73-98

Mother's teachings— Early school-days— First flight from home— Aunt Sarah-
Milwaukee Female College— School honors.

Chapter II. College Days. - - - 99-123

Northwestern Female College— The grammar party— A student of Emerson-
Inquirer, not infidel— " There is a God"— Faith for doubt.

Chapter III. First Year Out of School. - - 124-132

Life at home— The Civil war— Neglected and forgotten— Solemn vows.


Chapter I. District School, No. i. - - - i33-i45

starting out— New responsibilities— Summer studies— Sabbath away from home—
A lonesome school-ma'am.

Chapter II. Kankakee Academy, - - - 146-161

Tell your age— A sense of right and justice — Mesmerism — Lincoln— Home

Chapter III. The Public Schools in Harlem and in Evans-
ton. . - - - 162-168

Our first war meeting— Evanston public school— Nineteen beautiful years ended —
" Tell everybody to be good " — A change.

Chapter IV. " Preceptress of the Natural Sciences." 169-174

Northwestern Female College— One day's work— Teacher and pupil— "The slaves

are free."


Table of Contents.

Chapter V. Pitts bxirgh Female Cot.i.ege. - - 175-184

First day at Pittsburgh— A botanical outing— A wordless secret— One year ago —
War rumors.

Chapter VI. The Grove School and the Building of Heck

Hall. .-. - -. 185-189

The Bank of Character— Word studies— Heck Hall.

Chapter VII. Genesee Wesleyan Seminary. - - 190-197

First days at Lima— A chapter in Methodist historj'— A European trip in prospect.

Chapter VIII. Evanston College for Women. - 198-205

Something new — Bishop E- O. Haven — The women's Fourth of July — The new
college building.

Chapter IX. Self-Government for Girls. - - 206-225

Original plans — Roll of Honor — The Self-governed — The Good-behavior Club — Art
and composition classes — The first Woman's Commencement— The Chicago fire.

Chapter X. Why I Left the University. - - 226-244

Puzzling questions— Union of University and College— New methods— Resignation
of position— Reports of committees— Trial and triumph — After fifteen years.

Early Journeyings. - - - 245-330

My benefactors— Itinerary— The Giant's Causeway— The Garden of Eden— St. Ber-
nard — Paris— Ecumenical Council — PjTamids — Palestine — Car-window jottings at

Chapter I. On the Threshold. - . - - 331-341

First Crusade days — A turning-point in life — Early speeches.

Chapter II. The Opening Way. . . - . 342-355

odd faith test— Secretary State W. C. T. U.-Secretary National W. C. T. U.—
Woman's ballot.

Chapter III. Moody's Boston Meetings — Oliver's Death. 356-367

Bible talks— A change of plan — A " free lance" — The great petition — Brother's

Chapter IV. Conservatives and Liberals. - - 368-374

President National W. C. T. U. — Mrs. Hayes' Picture — Southern trip.
Chapter I. The Home Protection Party. - - 375-381

Temperance in politics — Extracts from speaches— A secession that did not secede.

Chapter II. National Conventions. - - - 382-402

Our temperance round-up World's W. C. T. U. — Memorial to National Conven-
tions — Nomination of Governor St. John — " Home Protection " asa name.

Chapter HI. The St. Louis Convention. - - 403-409

Gospel politics — The famous resolution— Call to prayer— Protest and reply.

Online LibraryFrances Elizabeth WillardGlimpses of fifty years : the autobiography of an American woman → online text (page 1 of 73)