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Special Issue Articles

Vol. 3 No. 2 (2022): The American Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Bicycle in the Service of Reform: Frances Willard's Social Entrepreneurship, Her 'Do Everything' Policy, and the Temperance Temple Campaign

September 1, 2020


This essay situates Frances Willard's temperance reform campaigns as entrepreneurial in nature, and claims Willard as a key nineteenth-century American social innovator. Much has been written on Willard's temperance policies and her leadership in the Woman's Christian Temperance Movement as well as her founding of the World Woman's Christian Temperance Organization. The writings Willard produced on women's access to and engagement with the bicycle as a reform technology has not been explored. In offering a narrative of the strategies and experiences Willard used to employ the bicycle as a tool or ally for temperance reform and woman's rights, this essay argues for the inclusion of women's voices in the public sphere and in publication around social and economic mobility. The bicycle offered Willard and her WCTU organization a key metonymic image--the wheel--around which to analyze the relationship of temperance to everyday lives. Willard's "Do Everything" campaign can be seen as the nineteenth-century equivalent of vast social entrepreneurship.


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