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A Temperate Nation

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Today marks the 80th anniversary of the end of Prohibition. On Dec. 5, 1933, the United States repealed the nationwide prohibition on alcoholic beverages, by ratifying the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And, while the masses may have raised their glasses, there were certainly those among them not happy with the decision. Temperance activists championed Prohibition because they felt alcohol was a social ill.

05640rKansas became the first state to outlaw alcohol, in its constitution, in 1881. Enter Carrie Nation – talk about someone you’d want on your team in a bar brawl. Nation was a hatchet-wielding, 6-foot tall, 175-pound weapon of mass destruction who left the dust and rubble of early 20th-century saloons in her wake. A staunch supporter of the temperance movement, Nation was arrested some 30 times for her position against alcohol. Talk about an axe to grind!

On Dec. 27, 1900, Nation brought her campaign to Wichita, Kan., where she smashed the bar at the Carey Hotel. This first public demonstration kicked off her harangue on hooch, which continued for 10 years. But her public protests didn’t stop there … Nation stood on her soapbox against foreign goods, corsets, tobacco, fraternal orders and, most importantly, short skirts. According to the Kansas State Historical Society, as her anti-alcohol activities became widely known, many barrooms adopted the slogan “All Nations Welcome But Carrie.”

Nation died in 1911, before Prohibition became a national law with the enactment of the 18th Amendment in January 1920. A story on her death in the Lincoln County Leader, Sept. 1, 1911, carried a sub-headline that read “Saloon Smashing Made Her Famous – She Realized a Fortune Hatchets.” (Apparently she made a good deal of money selling souvenir hatchets.)

“During her career Mrs. Nation
wrecked hundreds of saloons, using a 
hatchet, which became as well known
 as she. She was absolutely with out
fear, invading saloons, demolishing 
mirrors and furniture and assailing 
bartenders and proprietors without re
gard for her own safety. She had 
many narrow escapes from injury and
 was roughly handled on several occasions.”

Comments (4)

  1. You go girl!

  2. ALL of which goes to show (as so ofter stated, if more often ignored)
    we cannot legislate morality. Had it not been for the ax-tions of Mrs
    Nation and her colleagues, there would have been no Roaring
    Twenties, the motion picture industry would likely not have grown as
    it did, the advertising industry would never have mushroomed to what
    it is today, changes in clothing styles, not to mention women’s rights…
    the list goes on. I doubt she would be happy with the results, though.
    Win some, lose some.

  3. It is wonderful that in 1881 Kansas`became the first state to outlaw alcohol in its constitution.As a Muslim I feel gratified that the state lawmakers followed the principles which Islam prescribed 1400 years ago.
    I am happy that you found it a wise step to ban an evil which obviously affects the health and equanimity of a society.

    Dr. Iqbal S. Hussain

  4. How amazing!!! Not one of her arrests made her think twice about her goals. I do not think one has to agree with everything she believed in to see her devotion to what she thought was right.

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