Who were the Prohibitionists? Many of the leaders were, as McGirr acknowledges, Progressives, engaged in a broad and idealistic project of reform. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1873, fought for both Prohibition and women’s suffrage. (One early volunteer was Carrie Nation.) Its president, Frances Willard, said that she wanted to help women protect themselves, and their homes, against drunkenness and vice. Many supporters of the Eighteenth Amendment also supported, a year later, the Nineteenth Amendment, an equally controversial measure, which established women’s right to vote. The Prohibition movement was also partly a good-government movement, and the saloons it targeted were associated not only with disorderly drunkenness but with big-city corruption—saloons were where the local political bosses held court, doing private favors with public money.
Kelefa Sanneh, “Drunk With Power” The New Yorker (21 & 28 December 2015), 106.