Carry A. Nation - Part 3
The Famous and Original Bar Room Smasher
Paying the Bills
To fund her temperance crusade, Nation needed money for living expenses and to pay jail fines, railroad fares, and hotel bills. She also supported a home for drunkards' wives in Kansas City, Kansas. Paying these bills was especially critical after husband David filed for divorce at the height of her prohibition activities.
While Nation was speaking on the street in Topeka in 1901, a man ran from a candy store and handed her several small pewter hatchets. He suggested, "Sell them to this crowd and you can pay your costs and fines this month." The crowd quickly snatched them up.
In her autobiography, The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation, the crusader said of the pins, "They carry a message with them, it is the heart of a mother crying, "Carry A. Nation for my baby, for my loved ones, Carry A. Nation against the saloons."
Home Defender Buttons
The "badge of our army" was how Nation referred to the Home Defender buttons. The concept of women as "Home Defenders" was central to the prohibition movement. Women were seen as protecting the home from the ravages of alcohol and other vices. Nation herself donated one of these buttons to the Kansas Historical Society in 1901.
Nation produced and sold thirteen issues of The Smasher's Mail in 1901. This newspaper allowed her to print her opinions, letters from both opponents and supporters, and poetry devoted to the cause.
Ironically, Nation's partner with The Smasher's Mail was Nick Chiles, an African American businessman who ran a saloon. The partnership lasted three issues, with Nation accusing Chiles of changing her text and withholding advertising money.
Nation also sold copies of this photo (bottom, left) to support her cause. The two items with which she chose to be photographed were a hatchet and a Bible. She explained in her autobiography, The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation (1908), "I never want a picture taken of myself without my Bible, my constant and heavenly companion."
Carry A. Nation is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History.
- How Well Do You Know Carry Nation? - Fun quiz.
- Hatchetations and Home Defenders - Why reformers smashed saloons.
- Paying the Bills - Selling hatchet pins, buttons, and newsletters.
- Taking on the Role of Crusader - Personal tragedies in Nation's life.
- Other Crusades - Women's health, woman suffrage, and anti-smoking.
- An International Figure - People all over the world followed Nation's work.
- She Hath Done What She Could - Final days in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
- An American Icon - Carry Nation is a household name today.
- Temperance Timeline - Timeline of alcohol reform.
Contact us at KansasMuseum@kshs.org