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Carry Nation (1846 - 1911) was one of the most spectacular and slightly weird Temperance advocates ever. She is famous for actually using a hatchet to demolish numerous bars.

Carry Amelia Nation, at one time married to an alcoholic, was angered by an 1890 US Supreme Court decision that allowed liquor to be imported into Kansas, which weakened the strong prohibition laws in that state. She decided to take personal action to save Kansas from the dangers of alcohol.

Imagine Carry, an intimidating figure at nearly 6 feet tall, weighing in at 175 pounds and always dressed in black-and-white clothing. Imagine her marching into a bar, accompanied by a group of hymn-singing women. If that isn't enough to make you put down your drink, imagine her pulling out a hatchet and starting to smash the bar fixtures and stock. Doing this repeatedly made her a national celebrity who eventually drew crowds of thousands to her pro-Temperance lectures.

Carry Nation was jailed several times and usually paid her (frequent) fines from her lecture tour fees and from the sale of souvenir miniature hatchets. As if that isn't surreal enough, she later appeared in vaudeville shows and in a musical called "Hatchetation", which was an adaptation of "Ten Nights in a Bar-room".

"The Hatchet Lady" also rallied against such contemporary evils as fraternal orders, tobacco, foreign food and skirts of improper length.

National prohibition laws were enacted in 1919, 9 years after her death. Even after the Prohibition ended in 1933, Carry's home state of Kansas remained dry until 1948. She would have been proud!

The woman who brought us Prohibition. She was the leading temperance campaigner of her day, most famous for leading herds of hatchet-weilding ladies into saloons to break bottles and kegs. She described herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what he doesn't like." Note: She was born with the name Carry (with a "-y") but later started spelling it with an "-ie." Both spellings are correct, but Carrie is used more commonly.

Carrie Nation
by Willard Wattles (1916)

A poor bewildered, half-crazed crone
She died, forgotten and alone;
And some there were who stopped to scoff
When the old dame was taken off,
While the busy world went wheeling on
Scarce knowing even she was gone.

Of course she may have done some good,
But then, most any woman could
Who had the muscle and a hatchet,
With Irish wit as keen to match it;
Yet smashing windows so erratic
Soon proved her just a plain fanatic.

A sort of Jezebel crusader,
Like Don Quixote nothing stayed her, -
No wonder people shied eggs at her,
She seemed to like to watch 'em splatter,
And stood like wild things when at bay
So sort of fearless, old and gray.

And then to die so, after all,
Insane and in a hospital,
Good God, suppose she had been sane
And we who had the rotten brain,
I hate to stand on Judgement day
Beside that woman old and gray.

I'd hate to face those flashing eyes
That scanned a state's hypocrisies
And woke a commonwealth to shame
with crashing axe and words of flame
Until men dare to carry out
The laws they made and lied about.

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