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Joint Smashing Justified

Carry A. Nation's visits to Nebraska in early 1902 were among the few she made to this state. She was in Hastings in March, speaking at the Kerr Opera House and touring local saloons, where she reportedly disapproved of barroom art as well as liquor. Her previous visit to Fremont was reported in the Hastings Tribune of March 14, 1902, under the headline "Joint Smashing Justified." The Tribune said:

"Mrs. Carrie A. Nation, the hatchet heroine of Kiowa, Kas., spoke to the people of Fremont last evening at a big meeting held in Love's theatre. Her theme was in general the evil effects of the American saloon system and the good accomplished by the joint smashing crusades which she inaugurated and helped to carry out. During the address Mrs. Nation detailed the manner in which she was led to begin the work that has made her famous. As a speaker she exhibited a ready flow of language and apt illustrations of her argument. Many who attended the meeting solely through their instinct of curiosity went away with the belief that whatever may be said of Mrs. Nation and her methods, she is absolutely in earnest in her campaign and is not impelled to her course because of a desire for personal notoriety.

"The stage was decorated front and back with American flags, but no pictures of the speaker of the evening were displayed. An axe leaned suggestively in full view against a table. Mrs. Clemmons occupied the presiding officer's chair and introduced Mrs. Nation. Others who sat on the stage were Mrs. M. A. S. Monagon of Lincoln, state secretary of the prohibition party, Mrs. W. W. Tweedy, Mrs. George Eddy and Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Beveridge. Mrs. Nation was easily distinguishable, even to those who did not know all the other ladies, by her short plump form and her determined looking face, surmounted by a mass of grayish black hair. She wore a pair of eye glasses and fulfilled in many respects the mental image which a large proportion of the audience had formed of her.

"When Mrs. Nation and the others who were to occupy seats on the stage filed out to take their seats, a generous burst of applause went up from the crowd, which nearly filled all parts of the house. The program was opened with the singing of 'America,' those on the stage and in the audience all standing. Mrs. Nation's voice rang out clear and strong, and when the words 'Our father's God, to Thee' were reached she held up both hands as in supplication to Divine grace and continued in this attitude during the remainder of the hymn. Mrs. Tweedy offered prayer and the Beveridges followed with a song service lasting for ten or fifteen minutes. One of the numbers was a solo by Mrs. Beveridge entitled 'Carrie Nation and her Hatchet,'. . .

"On facing her audience, Mrs. Nation first asked that the footlights be turned off in order that she might see those to whom she was talking. She announced that she did not have a lecture, but always depended on the inspiration of the moment for thoughts and words. She declared that she was willing to answer any questions which might be asked respecting her public or private life and acts, and urged that anyone who wished to ask her a question send it up on a slip of paper. Mrs. Nation then quoted from scripture several times and said she hoped to convince her auditors that her cause was just and worthy of their support."

Carry Nation's visit to Nebraska City in April 1902 was less pacific. After an altercation with a bartender in one "joint," she was struck and ejected from the saloon. When she later returned, she was arrested and jailed. However, Mrs. Nation was released on condition that she leave town, and soon departed for Bigelow, Missouri.

(December 2008)

 

 

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