Eliza D. Stewart

From Ohio History Central
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Eliza Stewart

Eliza Daniel Stewart was an important temperance advocate during the latter half of the nineteenth century. She began her career in public service during the American Civil War. Stewart actively participated in Soldiers' Aid Societies and the United States Sanitary Commission during the conflict, helping to establish hospitals, serving as a nurse, and supplying the soldiers with foodstuffs, blankets, medicine, and other supplies.

Upon the war's conclusion, Stewart became an active member in the temperance movement. She traveled across the United States and Europe, giving speeches on the effects of alcohol. In 1876, she toured England and helped establish the British Women's Temperance Association. Within the United States, Stewart also greatly assisted the temperance movement. She founded the Women's Temperance League of Osborn, Ohio, in 1873 and the Ohio Temperance League at Springfield, Ohio, in January 1874. The Osborn organization became the first local chapter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1874.

During 1873 and 1874, Stewart also participated in a temperance crusade. Temperance advocates escalated their efforts to convince their fellow Americans to abstain from alcohol. For example, in Hillsboro, Ohio, in 1873, women marched through the town. They stopped at every saloon, approximately twenty of them, and prayed for the souls of the barkeepers and their patrons. The women also demanded that the owners sign a pledge to no longer sell alcohol. By 1875, more than 130 other communities also had experienced marches.

Stewart became well-known for her activities. One newspaper reporter wrote, "so great was her zeal, and so robust and boundless her courage, that she accompanied her prayers and her marchings upon the streets with an attack with the gospel in one hand and the law in the other upon the saloon-keepers themselves." Stewart remained committed to the temperance movement for the remainder of life.

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