Vision 2020 Celebrates Frances Willard

During Women’s History Month, Vision 2020 is highlighting women who are represented in the U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall with a bust or full statue. Of the 100 statues sponsored by the states, only 11 women are depicted – including the recent addition of Rosa Parks. Vision 2020 Delegates will share their reflections on the women from their respective states represented in the U.S. Capitol.

Beugen & Willard statue

Illinois Delegate Joan Beugen comments on the significance of Florence Willard:

Frances Willard, 1839-1898.

Orator, Educator, Writer, Heroine

She stands there in the National Statuary Hall of the Capitol Building, upright against a classic lectern.  In her floor length skirt and high necked, mutton sleeved blouse, hair upswept and primly coiffed, she is the epitome of the 19th Century intellectual woman.   The word ‘stern’ comes to mind, maybe ‘fierce’, certainly determined.  

Look again, closely, at her eyes.  There is a fire that burns through the stone itself.  She was a force of nature.  A woman who took on all comers.  Her motto, “Do Everything” rings with passion and deep inner courage.  She fought for women’s suffrage, world peace, the rights of working people.  She was unique.  When you pass her statue, stop a moment and reflect on the life of a midwestern farm girl at a time when that was our frontier, who became an architect of the future of women in America.

The U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall Biography of Frances E. Willard:

A pioneer in the temperance movement, Frances E. Willard is also remembered for her contributions to higher education. Born on September 28, 1839, on a small farm outside Rochester, New York, she spent her childhood in Oberlin, Ohio, and later in Janesville, Wisconsin, where her father had purchased a large farm. She attended the Female College of Milwaukee for one year and finished her college degree at the Woman’s College of Northwestern University. She taught at Genesee Wesleyan Seminary in 1866-1867 before returning to the Evanston College for Women, where she served as president from 1871 to 1874.

Willard gained a reputation as an effective orator and social reformer. She became associated in the evangelist movement with Dwight Moody and was elected president of the National Women’s Temperance Union in 1879. Her zeal sustained her fight for prohibition, and she organized the Prohibition Party in 1882. During the same year she was elected president of the National Council of Women. She later founded and served as president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1883.

Frances Willard died on February 18, 1898.

The Rosa Parks statue increases the number of historic women’s statues and busts to a paltry 11. There are more than 90 men represented. During Women’s History Month, Vision 2020 wants to know who is YOUR CHOICE for the next statue.Vote in the Vision 2020 poll for your choice for the next woman to be honored. Vision 2020 will submit the results to Congress.


About equalityinsight

Vision 2020 is a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in their commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality. Join Vision 2020 today!
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