Springfield Washingtonian Temperance Society

City: Springfield

County: Sangamon

State: Illinois

The Springfield, Illinois, chapter of a nationwide movement of temperance societies that were aimed at reforming drinkers by offering moral support and sharing stories of alcohol abuse. The only requirement for membership was to pledge total abstinence from alcohol. The organizations were known as "Washington" or "Washingtonian" temperance societies, and its members were often referred to as "Washingtonians." Formed in Baltimore in 1840, the movement quickly spread, and chapters were begun in many cities like Springfield. As early as April 1841, news of the Washingtonian movement was published in Springfield newspapers, and the Springfield chapter officially formed in December: by January, the Springfield chapter claimed over 300 members. By February 1842, Springfield's African-American population had formed their own Washingtonian Society. While apparently not a member himself, Lincoln did deliver several addresses to the local Washingtonian societies.

The Foundation, Progress and Principles of the Washington Temperance Society of Baltimore (Baltimore: John D. Toy, 1842), 12-15, 35-36, 39-42; W. H. Daniels, ed., Temperance Reform and Its Great Reformers (Cincinnati: Hitchcock & Walden, 1878), 95-96; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 16 April 1841, 1:6; 24 December 1841, 3:1; 31 December 1841, 2:7; 14 January 1842, 2:1; 25 February 1842, 2:7; Report of Address Before the Springfield Washington Temperance Society; Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, eds., Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 389, 452.