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Carry Nation

Carry Nation was perhaps the most famous person to emerge from battles against alcohol in pre-Prohibition America, due to her habit of attacking saloons with a hatchet. She has been the topic of numerous books, articles and even an opera, titled Carry Nation, that premiered in 1966 at the University of Kansas.

Born Nov. 25, 1846, in Garrard County[?], Kentucky, Nation attributed her passion for fighting liquor to a failed marriage to an alcoholic. A large woman (nearly 6 feet tall and 175 pounds) she described herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what he doesn't like," and claimed a divine ordaination to promote temperance by smashing up bars.

Alone or accompanied by hymn-singing women, she would march into a bar and sing and pray, while smashing bar fixtures and stock with a hatchet. Between 1900 and 1910 she was arrested some 30 times, and paid her jail fines from lecture-tour fees and sales of souvenir hatchets. She published newsletters and later in life even appeared on Vaudeville. She died after a period of hospitalization in Leavenworth, Kansas, on June 9, 1911.

Nation was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874, which deal with issues ranging from health and hygiene, prison reform, and world peace.



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