Willard, From Women and Temperance

Willard, Frances. "From Women and Temperance." The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present. 2nd ed. Eds. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001. 1135-1140. Print.

Frances Willard, from New York (1839-1898), was considered “The best-known female public speaker that the United States had ever seen, and arguably no American woman to date has surpassed her in national and international renown” (Bizzell 1119).

Women and Temperance was published in 1883 by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  The work explained that organizing meetings and gaining members involves planning and performing rhetorical moves. Willard suggests best practices for preliminaries: printing notices in advance; exercises to conduct (1135-6). Then Willard discusses the organization of the meeting, including the following advice (1136-40).

  • “Don’t take too much for granted” (1136)
  • “Don’t assume the role of Sir Oracle” (1137)
  • “Don’t despise the day of small things” (1137)
  • “Premeditate your ‘impromptus’” (1137)
  • “Suit the action to the word” (1138)
  • “Keep your wit” (1139)
  • Select leadership wisely (1139)