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Summary Article: Nation, Carrie Amelia (1846-1911)
from Encyclopedia of Addictions

Carrie Amelia Nation was a fierce advocate for temperance during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Born in 1846, she married a hard-drinking physician whom she eventually left, later marrying a man 19 years her senior named David Nation. A devoutly religious woman who became involved in the growing temperance movement that sought to ban the use of alcohol, she is reported to have changed the spelling of her name to “Carry” in the belief that she was foreordained by God to “carry a nation” to sobriety. In Medicine Lodge, Kansas, where she lived for a time, she formed a local chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

As her religious fervor and convictions about the evils of alcohol and other social ills grew, she began to attack liquor-selling establishments in her home state. At first, she threw rocks and bricks at them, later wielding a hatchet with which to splinter their doors and furniture. At six feet tall, she was an imposing woman, and her efforts to close down local saloons attracted the attention of citizens from other jurisdictions who asked her to launch assaults on similar businesses in their towns. As her fervor swept her from state to state, Nation's behavior landed her in jail on several occasions. She paid her fines by using the profits from her speaking tours and by selling miniature souvenir hatchets, and her speeches, considered inspirational by some, became increasingly popular. With a formidable personality and strong convictions that she was divinely inspired, she was a considerable nuisance to the patrons and owners of saloons where she sang hymns, chastised drinkers, and smashed bottles of liquor. Many drinking establishments are reported to have posted slogans reading, “All Nations Welcome But Carrie.”

Nation never lived to see Prohibition become law in 1920. She died in 1911 after collapsing on stage during what would be her final public oration, and she was buried in Missouri where the WCTU inscribed a stone reading, “Faithful to the Cause of Prohibition, She Hath Done What She Could.”

Carrie Nation.

Further Reading
  • Grace, Fran. Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001.
  • Copyright © 2009 by Greenwood Publishing Group

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