Carry Nation Essay, Research Paper
As America moved to the cities traditions were changed or altered. These
alterations included women?s interests and their challenge to America?s traditional values.
One such woman was Carry Amelia Moore Nation. The daughter of George and Mary
(Campbell) Moore, was born on November 25, 1846, in Garrard County, Kentucky. A
formidable woman, nearly 6 feet tall and weighing 175 pounds, she dressed in stark black
and white clothing. She was enrolled in Warrensburg Normal Institute and, after
receiving a teaching certificate, taught school in Holden, Missouri, for four years. In 1877
she married David Nation, a lawyer, newspaperman, and sometime minister in the
The Nations moved to Texas in 1879 and settled on a cotton plantation on the San
Bernard River near Houston. After they failed to make the plantation a success, Carry
supported the family by managing a hotel in Columbia. The eventual sale of the
plantation enabled them to buy a hotel in Richmond, which Carry ran with sporadic
assistance from her husband, who practiced law and corresponded for the Houston Post.
As a child she had undergone a dramatic conversion at a revival meeting, and during her
stay in Texas she had numerous mystic experiences. She came to believe that she had
been elected by God and that she spoke through divine inspiration. After the Methodist
and Episcopal churches barred her from teaching in their Sunday schools, she started her
own weekly class in the hotel. David Nation also became involved in the
Jaybird-Woodpecker War after he denounced the Jaybirds in an article for the Houston
Post. To escape assaults and intimidation, the Nations moved in 1889 to Medicine Lodge,
Kansas, where David became pastor of the Christian Church.
In Kansas, as in Texas, Mrs. Nation was known for her charity to the poor.
Having been a drunkard’s wife herself, she was especially moved by drink-related
poverty. But her fanatical views and eccentric behavior made her unpopular, and the
abrasiveness of her exhortations to righteousness provoked the Christian Church to expel
her from membership. In 1892 she joined the Baptist minister’s wife in Medicine Lodge
in organizing a local chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and was
appointed jail evangelist. In the name of home protection she began a crusade against
alcohol and tobacco that lasted the rest of her life. Alone or accompanied by
hymn-singing women, she would march into a saloon and proceed to sing, pray, hurl
biblical-sounding vituperations, and smash the bar fixtures and stock with a hatchet. In
her book Nation says, ?Sometimes a rock; sometimes a hatchet; God told me to use these
to smash that which has smashed and will smash hearts and souls. The sound of this
loving deed will stir conscience and hearts…? This was her reason for taking her hatchet
to a saloon and smashing everything in sight until someone would listen to her. At one
point, her fervor led her to invade the governor’s chambers at Topeka. Jailed many times,
she paid her fines from lecture-tour fees and sales of souvenir hatchets, at times earning
as much as $300 per week. She herself survived numerous physical assaults.
Nation challenged various people such as saloonkeepers, alcoholics, casual
drinkers, and others that didn?t care to hear constant singing and praying about
temperance. Most of the challenge was from men though, because a majority of the
temperance crusaders were women. Men looked at saloons as places for intimate
conversations, a chance for good fellowship, advantages for employment, and friends in
times of strikes. It was hard to try to influence people about temperance when most
saloonkeepers wouldn?t even let some crusaders into their saloons.
On January 1911, she collapsed during a speech in Arkansas and was taken to a
hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas, where she spent the remaining months of her life in
mental confusion. She died there on June 2, 1911, and was buried in Belton, Missouri.
Carry Nation lived a life which influenced many people and her efforts helped the later
enactment of national prohibition. Nation often described herself as ?a bulldog running
along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what he doesn’t like? was a colorful member of the
Women’s Christian Temperance Union and one of the greatest temperance crusaders.
Encarta Free Concise Encyclopedia. ?Nation, Carry Amelia Moore.? [Online] Avaliable
http://encarta.msn.com, February10, 2000.
Kansas State Historical Society. ?Carry Nation’s Hammer.? [Online] Avaliable
http://www.kshs.org/places/coolcary.htm, February 10, 2000.
Nation, Carry Amelia Moore. The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation. 1905.
The Handbook of Texas Online. ?Nation, Carry Amelia Moore.? [Online] Avaliable
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/NN/fna7.html, February 10,
Women in American History. ?Nation, Carry Amelia Moore.? [Online] Avaliable
http://www.eb.com:180/women/articles/Nation_Carry_Amelia_Moore.html, February 10,
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