This Day in History — April 11

Though Kentucky is famed for its bourbon distilleries, the Commonwealth did not escape Prohibition and the temperance movement’s advocacy for a dry America. In truth, there were plenty of Kentuckians who valued theimportance of living a Christian, alcohol-free lifestyle. One of the most famous is Carrie Nation, who actually took up a hatchet to destroy the evils of the a bar. Frances Beauchamp utilized her voice, more so than a weapon, to convince people of the ills of the drink.

On April 11, 1923 Frances Estill Beauchamp passed away. The temperance advocate was born in Madison County in 1857, an only child.She was educated in Madison County and moved on to Science Hill Academy in Shelbyville. In 1875, she married James H. Beauchamp , an attorney.

The couple moved to Lexington in 1880. Frances was a devout Presbyterian and had embraced the temperance lifestyle at an early age. A temperance movement criticizes excessive alcohol use, complete abstinence, or government eradication of alcohol by legislation.

In America, temperance began as early as the American Revolution and continued through the 1800s and well into the 1900s. Beauchamp became active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1886, when a local chapter was formed in Lexington. She took charge of the Lexington union as president and helped to form chapters across Kentucky. In 1894 Beauchamp was elected assistant recording secretary of the national WCTU, an office she held for ten years, but returned to the Kentucky chapter in 1895 and held the position until her death.

Under her guidance, the WCTU exploded in Kentucky. There were more than 300 chapters formed across the Commonwealth. Temperance education was pivotal to expanding the message of the movement. Frances was a gifted orator. She gave speeches at chautauquas (educational meetings for adults), women’s clubs, revivals, and other forums across the nation. She used her voice and was  widely credited for the ratification of the prohibition amendment to the state constitution in November 1919.

Beauchamp died in Geneva, New York, on April 11, 1923, and was buried in the Lexington Cemetery.


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