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 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
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
CARRIE A. NATION HERE
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
MRS. CARRY A. NATION LECTURES IN SALISBURY
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
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
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
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.