Political and Social Movements

Temperance Movement

Who was Carry Nation?

The Kentucky-born Carry Nation (1846–1911) became famous as a temperance agitator in the early 1900s. The saloon was illegal in her resident state of Kansas, and she felt it was her divine duty to take her hatchet to ruining any place that sold intoxicants. Between 1899 and 1909, she went on wrecking expeditions (which she called “hatchetations”) throughout the state, incurring the wrath of business owners and government officials. Though many might have favored national prohibition of alcohol, Nation’s actions were extreme to say the least, causing her to be arrested, imprisoned 30 times, and even shot at. She persisted, however, buoyed by the belief that she was performing a public—and even divine—service. The propitiously named Carry A. Nation (who tried, it seems, to carry the nation straight to the water fountain) did not live to see prohibition made into a national policy in 1917—nor to see it revoked in 1933.


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