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The Gospel of KindnessAnimal Welfare and the Making of Modern America$
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Janet M. Davis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199733156

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199733156.001.0001

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“A World of Kindness Is a Copy of Heaven”

“A World of Kindness Is a Copy of Heaven”

Animals, Moral Uplift, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

(p.50) 2 “A World of Kindness Is a Copy of Heaven”
The Gospel of Kindness

Janet M. Davis

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines women’s animal advocacy through the lens of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. As part of her “Do Everything” policy, WCTU president Frances Willard created the Department of Mercy in 1890, appointing Mary Lovell as national superintendent. The department engaged in humane education activities in school and church-based children’s Bands of Mercy, antivivisectionism, and bird advocacy. Embracing normative ideals of respectable womanhood, Mercy activists, unlike male humane leaders, avoided confrontations with animal abusers in the streets, in favour of moral suasion. Within a decade, Mercy advocates increasingly treated animal kindness as a humanitarian blueprint for a far-reaching civilizing agenda. Lucy Thurman, a black Mercy leader, considered animal kindness a foundation for human uplift. Yet because Mercy advocates remained wedded to individual improvement, rather than wholesale structural change, they were fundamentally antiradical. The Department’s shift to people eventually rendered animals invisible, thus leading to the Department’s demise in 1916.

Keywords:   WCTU, Mary Lovell, Frances Willard, Lucy Thurman, animal protectionism, humane education, antivivisection movement, moral suasion

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