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Local History

Carrie Nation speaks at Drury

Mrs. [Carrie] Nation spoke at the Drury college campus Sunday afternoon to about 150 persons. She stood on the steps of one of the college buildings and invited the audience to crowd up close on account of her hoarse voice which could not endure much strain.

Mrs. Hunt made a few introductory remarks and told what a mild and sweet tempered woman she had found the smasher to be while staying at her house since Saturday morning.

Mrs. Nation wore a loose fitting summer robe bespangled about the bosom with the emblems of her career - bright little hatchets.

The speaker called on the crowd to sing “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” and she started the doxology and beat time with both hands like an orchestra leader. She then asked her manager, Prof. Mitchell, to pray and told him to petition for rain, but he did not mention the drought.

Mrs. Nation said she had started to the campus without having any particular subject in mind, as was her wont, but on the way to the campus heard that there was a spiritualist camp meeting in progress in Springfield. This gave her a theme and she attacked spiritualism as the work of the devil and read a passage of scripture to prove that the demonstrations at Zoo Park are no more nor less than the abominations of witchcraft denounced in the bible. She knew a colony of Spiritualists in Cass County, Mo., and learned from these people that mediums do their wonders through the aid of Satan.

One of the leading trance speakers stood immediately in front of Mrs. Nation.

When she got through with the Spiritualist, Mrs. Nation took up her hatchet cause and told how she had smashed Kansas joints without malice or anger. She smote always in the spirit of love. She had years ago through the grace of God conquered a bad temper and now did not allow herself to get mad.

She compared her war on the liquor traffic to the love that makes a mother fight any foe in defense of her child. All creatures defend their young and she felt justified in demolishing saloons because they were, she said… enemies to children [more] than rattlesnakes or wild beasts.

The speaker told about her fight in the Kansas courts and said she had escaped without paying a cent for breaking up joints. The foul cigarette smoke of the jail cells had injured her voice. This was the greatest punishment she had suffered from the Kansas authorities. She called attention to her fair state of physical preservation as a proof that a smasher may prosper even in this sinful world.

Mrs. Nation talked in an easy, off-hand, go-as-you-please way and said whatever came into her mind. The only argument she attempted was to attack the wasteful side of the liquor traffic and contend that the whiskey seller is the enemy of all useful business as well as good morals. The dry goods merchant and the grocer ought to be against the saloon she said, for the more money spent for liquor the less there would be left for calico and coffee.

At the close of her address Mrs. Nation called for questions and a few were asked by the crowd. One person wanted to know how the Springfield saloons could be closed. The smasher advised the opening of a campaign of mass meetings for agitation on the subject. Get the people together, tell the truth about the saloons, show the parents of the city what hell holes were threatening the lives of their children and in this way arouse public sentiment against the traffic.

When the meeting had been dismissed Mrs. Nation sold hatchet souvenirs and took subscriptions to her paper for several minutes. Then she went out to pay Mrs. Alice O’Day another visit before leaving the city.
Leader-Democrat, July 19, 1901

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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