Carrie Nation

Carrie Amelia Nation (forename sometimes spelled Carry;[1] November 25, 1846 – June 9, 1911) was an American woman who was a radical member of the temperance movement, which opposed alcohol before the advent of Prohibition. She is remembered for attacking alcohol-serving establishments (most often taverns) with a hatchet.

Carrie Nation
Nation with her hatchet in 1910
Carrie Amelia Moore

(1846-11-25)November 25, 1846
DiedJune 9, 1911(1911-06-09) (aged 64)
Resting placeBelton Cemetery, Belton, Missouri
Other namesCarry A. Nation
EducationNormal Institute

Nation was also concerned about tight clothing for women. In fact, she refused to wear a corset and urged women not to wear them because of their harmful effects on vital organs.[2]

She described herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn't like",[3] and claimed a divine ordination to promote temperance by destroying bars.[4]

The spelling of her first name varies; both "Carrie" and "Carry" are considered correct. Official records say "Carrie", which Nation used for most of her life; the name "Carry" was used by her father in the family Bible. Upon beginning her campaign against liquor in the early 20th century, she adopted the name "Carry A. Nation", saying it meant "Carry A Nation for Prohibition".[5] After gaining her notoriety, Carrie officially registered "Carry" as a trademark.[6]

Early life and first marriage

Nation was born in Garrard County, Kentucky, to George and Mary (née Campbell) Moore.[7] Her father was a successful farmer, stock trader, and slaveholder[6] of Irish descent. During much of her early life, her health was poor and her family experienced financial setbacks.[8] The family moved several times in Kentucky and finally settled in Belton, Missouri in 1854.[6] She had poor education and informal teaching.

In addition to their financial difficulties, many of her family members suffered from mental illness, her mother at times having delusions.[8] There is speculation that the family did not stay in one place long because of rumors about Nation's mother's mental state. Some writers have speculated that Nation's mother, Mary, believed she was Queen Victoria because of her love of finery and social airs. Mary lived in an insane asylum in Nevada, Missouri, from August 1890 until her death on September 28, 1893. Mary was put in the asylum through legal action by her son, Charles, although there is suspicion that Charles instigated the lawsuit because he owed Mary money.[6]

The family moved to Texas as Missouri became involved in the Civil War in 1862. George did not fare well in Texas, and he moved his family back to Missouri.[6] The family returned to High Grove Farm in Cass County. When the Union Army ordered them to evacuate their farm, they moved to Kansas City. Carrie nursed wounded soldiers after a raid on Independence, Missouri. The family again returned to their farm when the Civil War ended.[6]

In 1865 Carrie met Charles Gloyd, a young physician who had fought for the Union, who was a severe alcoholic.[9] Gloyd taught school near the Moores' farm while deciding where to establish his medical practice. He eventually settled on Holden, Missouri, and asked Nation to marry him. Nation's parents objected to the union because they believed he was addicted to alcohol, but the marriage proceeded.[6] They were married on November 21, 1867, and separated shortly before the birth of their daughter, Charlien, on September 27, 1868. Gloyd died in 1869 of alcoholism.[5]

Influenced by the death of her husband, Nation developed a passionate activism against alcohol. With the proceeds from selling her inherited land (as well as that of her husband's estate), she built a small house in Holden. She moved there with her mother-in-law and Charlien, and attended the Normal Institute in Warrensburg, Missouri, earning her teaching certificate in July 1872. She taught at a school in Holden for four years.[5] She obtained a history degree and studied the influence of Greek philosophers on American politics.[10]

Second Marriage and "call from God"

In 1874, Carrie married David A. Nation, an attorney, minister, newspaper journalist, and father, 19 years her senior.[11][12]

The family purchased a 1,700 acre (690 ha) cotton plantation on the San Bernard River in Brazoria County, Texas. As neither knew much about farming, the venture was ultimately unsuccessful.[7] David Nation moved to Brazoria to practice law. In about 1880, Carrie moved to Columbia to operate the hotel owned by A. R. and Jesse W. Park. Her name is on the Columbia Methodist Church roll. She lived at the hotel with her daughter, Charlien Gloyd, "Mother Gloyd" (Carrie's first mother-in-law), and David's daughter, Lola. Her husband also operated a saddle shop just southwest of this site. The family soon moved to Richmond, Texas to operate a hotel.[13]

David Nation became involved in the Jaybird–Woodpecker War. As a result, he was forced to move back north to Medicine Lodge, Kansas in 1889, where he found work preaching at a Christian church and Carrie ran a successful hotel.

She began her temperance work in Medicine Lodge by starting a local branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and campaigning for the enforcement of Kansas' ban on the sale of liquor. Her methods escalated from simple protests to serenading saloon patrons with hymns accompanied by a hand organ, to greeting bartenders with pointed remarks such as, "Good morning, destroyer of men's souls."[3] She also helped her mother and her daughter who had mental health problems.

Dissatisfied with the results of her efforts, Nation began to pray to God for direction. On June 5, 1900, she felt she received her answer in the form of a heavenly vision. As she described it:

The next morning I was awakened by a voice which seemed to me speaking in my heart, these words, "GO TO KIOWA," and my hands were lifted and thrown down and the words, "I'LL STAND BY YOU." The words, "Go to Kiowa," were spoken in a murmuring, musical tone, low and soft, but "I'll stand by you," was very clear, positive and emphatic. I was impressed with a great inspiration, the interpretation was very plain, it was this: "Take something in your hands, and throw at these places in Kiowa and smash them."[4]

Responding to the revelation, Nation gathered several rocks – "smashers", she called them – and proceeded to Dobson's Saloon on June 7. Announcing "Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard's fate", she began to destroy the saloon's stock with her cache of rocks. After she similarly destroyed two other saloons in Kiowa, a tornado hit eastern Kansas, which she took as divine approval of her actions.[3]


Nation continued her destructive ways in Kansas, her fame spreading through her growing arrest record. After she led a raid in Wichita, Kansas, her husband joked that she should use a hatchet next time for maximum damage. Nation replied, "That is the most sensible thing you have said since I married you."[3] The couple divorced in 1901; they had no children.[14] Between 1902–06 she lived in Guthrie, Oklahoma.[15]

Alone or accompanied by hymn-singing women, she would march into a bar and sing and pray while smashing bar fixtures and stock with a hatchet. Her actions often did not include other people, just herself. Between 1900 and 1910, she was arrested some 30 times for "hatchetations", as she came to call them. Nation paid her jail fines from lecture-tour fees and sales of souvenir hatchets.[16] The souvenirs were provided by a Topeka, Kansas pharmacist. Engraved on the handle of the hatchet, the pin reads, "Death to Rum".[17]

In April 1901, Nation went to Kansas City, Missouri, a city known for its wide opposition to the temperance movement, and smashed liquor in various bars on 12th Street in downtown Kansas City.[18] She was arrested, hauled into court and fined $500 (about $15,000 in 2017 dollars),[19] although the judge suspended the fine under the condition that Nation never return to Kansas City.[20] She would be arrested over 32 times—one report is that she was placed in the Washington DC poorhouse for three days for refusing to pay a $35 fine.[21]

Nation also conducted women's rights marches in Topeka, Kansas. She led hundreds of women that were part of the Home Defender's Army to march in opposition to saloons.[22]

In Amarillo, Texas, Nation received a strong response, as she was sponsored by the surveyor W.D. Twichell, an active Methodist layman.[23]

Later life and death

Nation's anti-alcohol activities became widely known, with the slogan "All Nations Welcome But Carrie" becoming a bar-room staple.[24] She published The Smasher's Mail, a biweekly newsletter, and The Hatchet, a newspaper. Later in life she exploited her name by appearing in vaudeville in the United States[3] and music halls in Great Britain. In October 1909, various press outlets reported that Nation claimed to have invented an aeroplane.[25]

Nation, a proud woman more given to sermonizing than entertaining, found these venues uninspiring for her proselytizing. One of the number of pre-World War I acts that "failed to click" with foreign audiences, Nation was struck by an egg thrown by an audience member during one 1909 music hall lecture at the Canterbury Theatre of Varieties in Westminster, London. Indignantly, "The Anti-Souse Queen" ripped up her contract and returned to the United States.[26] Seeking profits elsewhere, she sold photographs of herself, collected lecture fees, and marketed miniature souvenir hatchets.[27]

Suspicious that President William McKinley was a secret drinker, Nation applauded his 1901 assassination because drinkers "got what they deserved."[28]

Near the end of her life, Nation moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where she founded the home known as "Hatchet Hall". In poor health, she collapsed during a speech in a Eureka Springs park, after proclaiming, "I have done what I could." She was taken to a hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas,[11] the Evergreen Place Hospital and Sanitarium located on 25 acres at Limit Street and South Maple Avenue just outside the city limits of Leavenworth.[29]

Evergreen Place Hospital was founded and operated by Dr. Charles Goddard, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and a distinguished authority on nervous and mental troubles, liquor and drug habits.[30]

Nation died there on June 9, 1911. She was buried in an unmarked grave in Belton City Cemetery in Belton, Missouri.[31] The Woman's Christian Temperance Union later erected a stone inscribed "Faithful to the Cause of Prohibition, She Hath Done What She Could" and the name "Carry A. Nation".

Her home in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, the Carrie Nation House, was bought by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in the 1950s and was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1976. A spring just across the street from Hatchet Hall in Eureka Springs is named after her.

In 1918, a drinking fountain was erected in Nation's memory by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. It is currently housed at Naftzger Memorial Park in Wichita, Kansas.[32] One frequently reported myth is that the original fountain was destroyed a few years after its inception when the driver of a beer truck lost control and ran into it. Jami Tracy, a curator of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, states that this ironic tale has "no substance whatsoever."[33]

Humanitarian works

  • Carrie Nation was known as 'Mother Nature' for the charity and religious work she did.[34]
  • Because Nation believed drunkenness was a cause to many problems in society, she attempted to help those in prison.[34]
  • In 1890, Nation founded a sewing circle in Medicine Lodge, Kansas to make clothing for the poor as well as prepare meals for them on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.[35]
  • In 1901, Nation established a shelter for wives and children of alcoholics in Kansas City, Missouri. This shelter would later be described as an, "early model for today's battered women's shelter".[36]

2015 Hatchet Hall, an American heritage restaurant and bar opened in Los Angeles, CA

Nation’s destructive acts are portrayed in the show Mysteries at the Museum.

See also


  1. 1850 United States Federal Census; this census lists the Moore family, and includes then 3-year-old Caroline. Carrie or Carry were nicknames.
  2. "Carry A. Nation". Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  3. McQueen, Keven (2001). "Carrie Nation: Militant Prohibitionist". Offbeat Kentuckians: Legends to Lunatics. Ill. by Kyle McQueen. Kuttawa, Kentucky: McClanahan Publishing House. ISBN 0-913383-80-5.
  4. "Carry's Inspiration for Smashing". Kansas State Historical Society. Archived from the original on December 22, 2006. Retrieved January 13, 2007.
  5. "Carry A. Nation (1846–1911)". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  6. Johnson, Yvonne (2010). Feminist Frontiers: Women Who Shaped the Midwest. Kirksville, Missouri: Truman State University Press.
  7. Nation, Carry. The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation. Archived from the original (TXT) on June 26, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2007.
  8. "Carry Amelia Moore Nation". The Wild West. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  9. Grace, Fran (2001). Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life. Indiana University Press. p. 39. ISBN 0253108330. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  10. Foner, Eric. Give Us Liberty. New York: Norton. p. 850.
  11. "Nation, Carry Moore (1846–1911)". Oklahoma Historical Society. Archived from the original on November 19, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  12. McMillen, Margot Ford; Trout, Carlynn. "Carry A. Nation (1846–1911)". Famous Missourians. State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  13. "Carry Nation's Hotel". Texas Settlement Region. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  14. Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (1846–1911), The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture; retrieved May 18, 2010.
  15. Carrie Nation : Crusader Against Alcohol; retrieved December 3, 2014.
  16. "Paying the Bills". Kansas State Historical Society. Retrieved January 13, 2007.
  17. "Carrie A. Nation Pin, 1905". National Museum of American History. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  18. "Mrs. Nation Fired in Police Court: Judge McAuley Assesses the Joint-Smasher $500 and Orders Her out of Town", The Kansas City World, April 15, 1901.
  19. "$500 (1901 dollars)". Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  20. "Mrs. Nation Barred from Kansas City" (PDF). New York Times. April 16, 1901. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  21. "The champion", February 13, 1908 (Image 2),; accessed June 7, 2017.
  22. Kazin, Michael (1995). The Populist Persuasion. New York: Cornell University Press. p. 87.
  23. "Willis Day Twichell". The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  24. "Carry A. Nation: A National and International Figure". Kansas State Historical Society. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
  25. "Carrie Nation claims". Topeka State Journal. October 2, 1909.
  26. Abel Green and Joe Laurie, Show Biz From Vaude to Video (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1951), pp. 80–81.
  27. "MRS. NATION AT ATLANTIC CITY.; She Only Sold Souvenirs and Took a Bath, and People Were Disappointed", New York Times, August 19, 1901.
  28. Maxey, Al (February 8, 2008). "A Bulldog For Jesus: Reflecting on the Life and Work of Carrie A. Nation". Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  29. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka/Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1918
  30. Connelley 1918; the site of the hospital is now Goddard Subdivision, a residential area including a street, Goddard Circle, named for Dr. Goddard.
  31. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 34221). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  32. "City Parks Naftzger Memorial Park". Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  33. "Carry Nation Memorial Drinking Fountain (In Transition), Wichita, Kansas". Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  34. "Carry A. Nation – Historic Missourians – The State Historical Society of Missouri". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  35. Hamilton, Neil (2017). "Nation, Carry". American Social Leaders and Activists, Second Edition.
  36. Martinez, Donna (2016). "Nation, Carry". American Women Leaders and Activists, Second Edition.
  37. Pizzaro, Sam (July 12, 2010). "Cocktail Chronicles: Carry Nation's in Los Gatos". The Mercury News. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  38. Devra, First (June 22, 2013). "At cocktail bar Carrie Nation, temperance is no virtue". Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  39. Stiegerwald, Shauna (June 3, 2015). "Take a look inside Nation Kitchen + Bar in Pendleton". Retrieved March 24, 2017.

Further reading

External video
Booknotes interview with Fran Grace on Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life, October 14, 2001, C-SPAN
  • The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation (1905) by Carry A. Nation
  • Carry Nation (1929) by Herbert Asbury
  • Cyclone Carry: The Story of Carry Nation (1962) by Carleton Beals
  • Vessel of Wrath: The Life and Times of Carry Nation (1966) by Robert Lewis Taylor
  • Carry A. Nation: Retelling The Life (2001) by Fran Grace
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