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Carrie Nation


Standing at nearly 6 feet tall and weighing 180 pounds, Carry Amelia Moore Nation, Carrie Nation, as she came to be known, cut an imposing figure. Wielding a hatchet, she was downright frightful. In 1900, the target of Nation's wrath was alcoholic drink. Nation, who described herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what he doesn't like," felt divinely ordained to forcefully promote temperance. A brief marriage to an alcoholic in the late 1800's fueled Nation's disdain for alcohol. Kiowa, Kansas was the setting of Nation's first outburst of destruction in the name of temperance in 1900. Between 1900 and 1910 she was arrested some 30 times after leading her followers in the destruction of one water hole after another with cries of "Smash, ladies, smash!" Prize-fighter John L. Sullivan was reported to have run and hid when Nation burst into his New York City saloon. Self-righteous and formidable, Nation mocked her opponents as "rum-soaked, whiskey-swilled, saturn-faced rummies."

While Carrie Nation was certainly among their most colorful members, the members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874, left more in their wake than strewn glass. Once the largest women's organization in the country, the WCTU concerned itself with issues ranging from health and hygiene, prison reform, and world peace.
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