Posted on December 27, 2017
The story of Carry Nation is really crazy to me.
She was a woman who faced tragedy - her first husband was a heavy drinker, and he died young from his alcohol abuse - and who had little power to make a difference in her own life or in society. In the 1800s, when Nation lived, women couldn't vote or hold most elected offices, and women were not allowed to gain educations or jobs in many fields.
And Carry Nation was positive that society would be much better if men didn't drink so much alcohol. As a matter of fact, she thought alcohol was so bad, it should be illegal.
She was wrong, in my opinion.
I know very well that drinking alcohol can lead to problems. Driving after drinking can be deadly - including deadly to innocent victims - and of course it's against the law. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are huge problems for many.
But, even though I don't drink even a smidge of alcohol, many, many people enjoy drinking wine, beer, and/or cocktails, and they drink responsibly.
Also - and this is important - making alcohol illegal doesn't mean that nobody drinks alcohol. As a matter of fact, making it illegal makes more problems than it solves - as the U.S. was about to find out, thanks to people like Carry Nation.
Anyway, Carry Nation meant well as she worked with others to eliminate alcohol from America, and she also put in effort on other important issues such as women's right to vote.
In 1880, Kansas became the first state to outlaw the production and sale of alcohol. However, the new ban wasn't enforced fairly - or, in some places, much at all. Nation began to think that her usual non-violent methods weren't enough.
And then she did something that was very, very wrong:
On this date in 1900, she went into a hotel bar in Kansas, and she used a hatchet to smash up the place. She didn't hurt anyone, but she caused thousands of dollars in damage.
Of course, Nation was put in jail for doing that!
But only for a short time - and a weird thing happened - Carry Nation became famous!
Well, maybe the fact that she became famous wasn't that weird, but I found it surprising that she became famous IN A GOOD WAY - for some people, at least.
Nation began to carry her hatchet around with her as she gave speeches about the evils of alcohol - and once in a while she smashed up other bars!
Like I said, some people admired her, and Nation sold souvenir hatchets to her fans in order to pay her expenses as she traveled about, giving speeches.
She was fighting a losing fight against alcohol.
I call it a "losing fight" because, even though Nation and others who urged support of "temperance" and therefore a ban on alcohol SEEMED to win when alcohol was banned in 1920 (this ban is called Prohibition), the alcohol ban was soon repealed, in 1933.
What do you think about a famous person smashing others' property and selling souvenir hatchets? It's all very weird, right?