Sunday, June 7, 2015

Carry A. Nation Comes To Salisbury - 1910

I felt invincible. My strength was that of a giant. God was certainly standing by me. I smashed five saloons with rocks before I ever took a hatchet.
Carry Nation

Carry Amelia Moore Nation was a six foot tall temperance advocate famous for being so vehemently against alcohol that she would use hatchets to smash any place that sold it. Born on November 25, 1846, in Garrard County, Kentucky, to George and Mary Moore. George Moore was of Irish descent, and he owned a plantation with slaves. Mary Moore had a mental illness that caused her to be under the delusion that she was a lady-in-waiting to the queen of England, and later she imagined that she actually was the queen.

She married a doctor named Charles Gloyd on November 21, 1867, who was an alcoholic, Their only child, a girl they named Charlien, had a mental disability. Carrie believed it was caused by her husband’s drinking, altho it may have been from her side of the family given her mother condition. He died at the age of 29, less than two years after his marriage to Carrie. He left behind a 23-year-old wife and an infant daughter.

Carrie felt he spent too much time drinking with his fellow Masons. When she asked for their help in controlling his drinking, they ignored her request. This instilled negative feelings about the Masons that lasted a lifetime.

Her second husband was David Nation, an editor of a newspaper and a part-time preacher and lawyer. Their marriage was not happy either, In 1901, after 29 years of marriage and at the height of Carry's prohibition activities, David filed for divorce. Claiming, "I married this woman because I needed someone to run my house," he cited grounds of "desertion."

On June 5, 1900, she was convinced she heard the 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."

Nation promptly went to Kiowa, Kansas, (Kansas had outlawed alcohol sales)gathered some rocks, and entered a saloon. Announcing "Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard's fate," she began to destroy alcohol bottles and other objects by throwing the rocks. She similarly destroyed two other saloons in town, using not only rocks but brickbats, bottles, and a billiard ball as ammunition. Carry's attack surprised local officials, but because of the fact that the operation of saloons was illegal she was not jailed as she would be later in other communities. Turning from rocks to a hatchet to destroy saloons between 1900 and 1910, she was arrested 30 times for "hatchetations," as she called them.

In November 1910 she visited Salisbury Maryland for a couple of days. The local papers of the time report her visits as recounted here;

From the Salisbury Advertiser November 1910
Tells Them a few Things At parson Opera
Pool Rooms Declared Great Evil

Carrie A. nation, who has been classed as the modern Don Quixote has been making a tour of the Eastern Shore, reached Salisbury this week and for two evenings made the Welkin ring in Parson's Opera House on the smashing question. a number out of curiosity were present to hear her deliver her addresses. It is to be presumed that she found conditions fairly satisfactory here as we have heard of no places being smashed or any raids being made. Despite her national reputation she was not greeted here with the overwhelming enthusiasm that some had expected. The chief evils found on the Easter Shore seem to be the pool rooms and bottle business chiefly carried on by the colored population.

From the Salisbury Courier Nov 5 1910

Famous Saloon Smasher Of The West At Parsons Opera House.
Scores The Old Parties and denounces Secret Societies.

Mrs. Carrie A. Nation the famous saloon smasher blew into Salisbury on Tuesday last and out again on Thursday, leaving a trail of hatchets in her wake.

Carrie evidently does not place a very high valuation on her services as an American platform speaker for she delivered two fifteen cent lectures or rather tirades in Parson's Little Opera House on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. She is a religious crank of the genus lunaticus and has divided her activities between the smashing of saloons and the counting of money upon her wideshend notoriety. She had with her a quantity of souvenir hatchets which she sold for ten cents or three for a quarter and a $1.00 book of her life, entitled "How I Smashed the Saloons.

Mrs. Nation has recently branched out and is smashing everything in general and such small organizations in particular as the Republican and Democratic parties and the Masonic fraternity. She declared that God had shown her a vision while in a revolving cage of a Kansan Jail of two terrible serpents with bodies as large around as a barrel and the horrible reptile with the head was the Republican party and the one without the a head the Democratic party and that was the only difference between them one had a head and the other didn't.

Mrs. Nation paid her respects to all Masons in sulphuric language and denounced secret orders in general. she declared that both her former husbands were Masons and while they paraded pompously around the corpse the widow paid the bills. This seemed to be the casus belli of her furious attack on the fraternity.

She is not a brilliant speaker nor even a fluent talker, but she gets off a number of trite sayings and characteristic utterances. She quotes largely from the bible by which she attempts to bolster up her wholesale attacks and peculiar philosophy.

In less than eight months after her Salisbury visit she would be dead. Her final speech was in Eureka Springs on January 13, 1911. She had health problems prior to her death that may account for problems with her lecture speeches. She lapsed into a coma during the speech and was taken to Evergreen Place Hospital in Kansas, where she remained in poor health until her death on June 2, 1911. Doctors said the cause of death was heart failure.

She was buried in Belton, Missouri. If Carry Nation had lived just a few years longer, she could have seen Prohibition become the law of the land. She was not the only temperance advocate, but she probably was one of the most influential.

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