Willard was arguably the most famous American woman of the late nineteenth century, and certainly the best known Methodist. Her early career was spent as a teacher, but her fame grew from her presidency of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She worked tirelessly for the causes of temperance, women's suffrage, and social reform. A faithful Methodist, she was elected a lay delegate to the 1888 General Conference, but that body refused to seat any women as delegates. Unless otherwise noted, quotations are taken from Willard's book, Glimpses of Fifty Years: The Autobiography of An American Woman (Chicago: Woman's Temperance Publication Association, 1889).
"All my life I have been devoted to the advancement of women in education and opportunity. I firmly believe God has a work for them to do as evangelists, as bearers of Christ's message to the ungospeled, to the prayer-meeting, to the church generally and the world at large, such as most people have not dreamed. It is therefore my dearest wish to help break down the barriers of prejudice that keep them silent."From a letter to Mrs. Dwight L. Moody, September 5, 1877 (p.360)
"Woman, like man, should be freely permitted to do whatever she can do well."From an address before the New York Convention of the WCTU, 1888 (p.464)
"God made woman with her faculties, her traits, her way of looking at all great questions from the highest to the lowest, and he made her to be a helpmeet for man, and he made man to be a helpmeet for her; he made them to stand side by side, sun-crowned; he made them to stand in a republic, as I believe, bearing equally its magnificent burdens." From an address before the International Council of Women, 1888 (p.594)
"Recognizing that our cause is, and will be, combated by mighty, determined, and relentless forces, we will, trusting in Him who is the Prince of Peace, meet argument with argument, misjudgment with patience, denunciations with kindness, and all our difficulties and dangers with prayers."Resolution written by Willard at the first national convention of the WCTU, 1874 Quoted in Ray Strachey, Frances Willard: Her Life and Work (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1913), p.202