A Militant Activist
Carrie Nation was 6 feet tall; she stood out more than most women of the age. While she was living in Medicine Lodge, her and fellow members of the WCTU stood outside of the bars praying and singing loudly. The humiliation they imposed upon the bar patrons turned out to be bad for business and soon, Medicine Lodge’s bars were closed. Nation reported to friends and family that God spoke to her and told her to go to Kiowa, Kansas to close the bars there.
In 1900, Carrie Nation left for Kiowa. Instead of standing outside the bars simply singing and praying loudly, she began to throw bricks. This 6 foot woman was hurling bricks through street-side windows of Kiowa’s bars. The glass shattered and patrons fled. Fearful for their lives, bar patrons did not return and they drinking establishments shut down. Carrie Nation had won a victory for God and for the abandoned and beaten women of Kiowa whose husbands and fathers preferred the drink over their own families.
After the bars shuttered in Kiowa, Carrie did not move to Wichita and Topeka. As she preached in her booming voice, a passerby handed the tall woman a hatchet. Her new weapon was rarely far from her and she used it to smash windows in what the newspapers were calling “smash ups.” Using such destructive tactics made her a target of ridicule.
Carrie Nation was arrested and jailed numerous times. She was spit on and cursed at, yet never wavered from her stance that alcohol was the cause of all evil. Members of the Kansas WCTU loved Carrie’s tactics. They awarded her a gold medallion that was inscribed, “To the Bravest Woman in Kansas.”
As Carrie focused on her mission to rid her corner of the world of alcohol, her marriage fell apart and she divorced. Left without finical support, she sold small pewter hatchets. The novelty items sold relatively well and combined with the income she made from speaking engagements, Carrie was able to save money. In an ironic twist, she earned the respect of a black politician and bar owner who published Carrie’s first newspaper, The Smasher’s Mail.