Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Eliza Daniel Stewart 1816 ~ 1908

 

Mrs. Eliza Daniel Stewart, a leader in all movements, whose purpose was the happiness and upholding of humanity, in 1858 became a charter member of a Good Templar Lodge organized in her town of Piketon, Ohio, and she remained a warm advocate of the order for the rest of her life.

She delivered her first public temperance address before the Band of Hope in Pomeroy, and continued thereafter to fight for the temperance cause with voice and pen. When the boom of cannon upon Sumter was heard she devoted her time to gathering and for-warding supplies to the field and hospital, and at length she went south herself, to aid in the hospital work. She remained at the front during the Civil War and became convinced that in the appetite for drink that had come to so many of the soldiers the country was fostering a foe even worse than the one which the soldiers had conquered by force of arms. On the twenty-second of January, 1873, she delivered a lecture on temperance in Springfield, which was her first step into crusade movements. Two days later a drunkard's wife prosecuted a saloon keeper under the Adair law and Mrs. Stewart, called Mother Stewart since the war, going into the courtroom, was persuaded by the attorney to make the opening plea to the jury. And to the consternation of the liquor fraternity, for it was a test case, she won the suit. It created a sensation and the press sent the news over the country.

Thereafter Mrs. Stewart was known to the drunkard's wives, if not as attorney, at least as a true friend and sympathizer in their sorrows and they sought her aid and counsel. Her next case in court was on the sixteenth of October, 1873, and a large number of the prominent women accompanied her to the courtroom. She made the opening charge to the jury, helped examine the witnesses, made the opening plea, and again won her case amid great excitement and rejoicing. Next, in order that the intensity of interest already awakened should not die down, Mrs. Stewart, with the co-operation of the ministers of the city, held a series of weekly mass meetings which succeeded in keeping the interest at white heat.

On the second of December, 1873, she organized a woman's league that was the first organization ever formed in what came to be known as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union work. Soon after she went to a saloon in disguise on Sunday, bought a glass of wine and had the proprietor prosecuted and fined for violating Sunday ordinance. That was an important move because of the attention it called to the open saloon on the Sabbath.

Then the world was startled by an uprising of women all over the state in a crusade against the saloons, and Mother Stewart was kept busy in addressing immense audiences and organizing and leading out bands through her own and other states. She was made president of the first local union of Springfield, formed January 7, 1874. The first county union ever formed was organized in Springfield in 1874 with Mother Stewart as president In June; 1874, the first state union was organized in her state, her enthusiastic labors throughout the state contributing duly to that result In the beginning of the work Mrs. Stewart declared for legal prohibition and took her stand with the party which was working for that end.

In 1876 she visited Great Britain by invitation of the Good Templars. There she spent five months in almost incessant work, lecturing and organizing associations. A great interest was awakened throughout the kingdom, her work resulting in the organization of the British Woman's Temperance Association. In 1878 she was called to Virginia and there introduced the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the blue ribbon work. Two years later she again visited the South and introduced Woman's Christian Temperance Union work in several of the Southern states organizing unions among both the white and the colored people. Age and overwork necessitating rest, she wrote, "Memories of the Crusade," a valuable and interesting history, also "A Crusader in Great Britain," an account of her work in that country. Her long work finished, though still young of heart, she passed her last years in Springfield, Ohio.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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