Friday, April 9, 2010

Carry A. Nation (a.k.a. Carrie A. Nation)

(November 25, 1846 - June 9, 1911)

Born Carrie Amelia Moore in Garrard County, Kentucky, Nation came to describe herself as “a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like.” Her first marriage was to a doctor named Charles Gloyd in 1867. This marriage was brief and he died a drunkard shortly after the divorce. Nation attributed her hatred of liquor to her failed first marriage. Her second husband, David A. Nation, was a newspaper editor, minister and lawyer. A few years after their marriage in 1877 the couple moved to Medicine Lodge, Kansas. It is here that Nation began her temperance work and crusade against alcoholic intake. While living in Medicine Lodge she began jail evangelism and helped create the local chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement (WCTM) which spoke out against drink and tobacco, to name just a few.

In 1881, Kansas outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. However, enforcement of such laws was largely ignored. Becoming one of the most famous figures of the Temperance Movement, she adopted the name “Carry A. Nation” and used it as a slogan, even going so far as to have it registered as a trademark in the state of Kansas. Hatchetations, as they became known, took place in saloons and bars around the state of Kansas. The first such incident occurred around Kiowa, KS. This smashing occurred without a hatchet, for which she would later be known. A roadside marker describes the ordeal. Nation referred to her supporters as “Home Defenders” and together they were successful in shutting down a number of “joints.” Jailed a number of occasions for the destruction of liquor establishments, Nation sold souvenir pin hatchets in order to cover the cost of fines.

Two houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Houses as “Carry A. Nation House.” The Carrie Nation House in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, is also known as the Carry A. Nation Home and Museum. Her birthplace in Lancaster, Kentucky is the other Carry A. Nation House.

Nation is buried in Belton, Missouri; a historical marker is in Cass County, MO. The inscription on her gravestone reads- “Faithful to the cause of Prohibition- She hath done what she could.”

Biographical information

Biographical information
(Kansas State Historical Society)

Online Exhibit

(Includes a link to a Curriculum Guide)

Carry Amelia Nation Papers, 1870-1919

(Contains image of Carry A. Nation House in Medicine Lodge, KS. Biographical information provided including references to a bridge named in her honor in Barber County.)

Medicine Lodge, Kansas - Historic Happenings

Kansas Heritage Group

Encyclopedia of Arkansas history and culture

Handbook of Texas Online

American Heritage

History on the Web

The Kansas State Historical Society has a variety of information on their website as well as within their digital historical repository- Kansas Memory.

People - Notable Kansans (Nation, Carry Amelia, 1846-1911)

Collections – Photographs (Nation, Carry Amelia)

Collections – Manuscripts (Nation, Carry Amelia)

Additional information

Read the full-text online of “The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation” by Carry A. Nation

There is a festival in her honor located in Holly, Michigan. The CarryNation Festival began in 1973 and marks “a historical moment in time when a very prominent woman visited Holly and made her mark on the community.

In Wichita, relocated from the Old Cowtown Museum and now located along a walk in Naftzger Park, stands a drinking fountain “erected to the memory of Carry A. Nation by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Kansas, 1918.”

Listen to the audio file- Carrie Nation in Kansas by Steve Porter (1901) which contains a satirical song about Nation and how "women wear the pants in Kansas."

The Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) has a tradecard series which includes a Carry A. Nation card. Also, Carry Nation’s Hammer, Carry Nation’s Purse, Carry Nation Lecture Poster, and a Carry Nation’s Portrait.

C-SPAN interview of author Fran Grace discussing her biography Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life

Alcohol, Prohibition and the Temperance Movement
History of Alcoholic Beverages in Kansas
(Kansas Department of Revenue- Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC))

(Digital History: using new technologies to enhance teaching and research)

The Dry Years
(Selected images relating to Prohibition from the Collections of the Library of Congress- Prints & Photographs Room)

Kansas Women’s Christian Temperance Movement / Mary Evelyn Dobbs Collection
(Kansas State Historical Society)

Community Life – Clubs and Organizations - Reform/Advocacy
(Kansas State Historical Society- Kansas Memory)
Women’s Christian Temperance Union
State Temperance Union
National Temperance Society

Government and Politics – Reform and Protest
Prohibition and Temperance

Government and Politics - Political Parties

Article contact: Megan Schulz


  1. Is it true than Ms Nation was held in a Wichita jail for some length of time because her jailers placed her in a cell with a person whom they said had an infectious disease, but was in fact a bad case of acne?

  2. Within her book “The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation” a section within Chapter 8 covers "sufferings in jail at Wichita". The link is given above under additional resources or simply follow this link to Chapter 8 to read more.