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Use and Need of the Life of Carrie Nation

The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation.



Mr. Nation brought suit for divorce against me while I was in jail. I was very much astonished at it, for I never thought that our disagreement would result in his desiring a divorce. We had lived together twenty-four years, and while we could not agree, I never wanted a divorce. His petition stated the reason for this was "extreme cruelty and desertion." He sued for all the property and wanted the court to have me pay for the cost of the trial. I shall always believe he was induced to do this by the republicans, thinking to hinder my work.

The people of Medicine Lodge were shocked at this, for they knew I had been faithful to my duties as a wife, up to the time I went to Wichita, and when I went to Topeka I told Mr. Nation if he would stay there with me, I would pay his board and room rent, which I did. He came to Topeka and the first thing that he took offense at was my objecting to his opening my mail, for when he did I never saw a dollar sent for a subscription and sometimes would find parts of letters destroyed.

On the day of the trial, Mr. Nation could not produce a witness to prove I was other than kind, except the affidavit of a man who could neither read nor write. Mr. Nation wrote out what he wanted this man to swear to, and the man signed it, for he could just write his name. This man was in Oklahoma at the time, My neighbors came of their own accord and testified to my having done my cooking and housework; frequently cooking meals and taking them to Mr. Nation, who was still in bed. Judge Gillette, the same man who was on the bench in my slander suit presided. Mr. Nation did not get his divorce because of my "extreme cruelty," but because I testified that I could not, nor would never live with him as a wife. I could not. I was very much grieved to bear this reproach, of a divorced wife. I made my home during the trial with my dear friend, Mrs. Judge Howe, who is still living, and she knows how bitter this was to me.

The home was given me, and the divorce and a small piece of property in Medicine Lodge to Mr. Nation. I shortly after sold this home for $800. It was part of the payment for "Home for Drunkards' Wives" in Kansas City. It was as I expected, a means used by my enemies to hinder me in my work. I was blamed for the divorce. It was said, "I broke up a home." That if I was in a good work I would not do these things. And while delivering my lectures, it was often called out; "Why don't you go back to your husband? No wonder he got a divorce from you," and all such sayings. But I learned to expect and was prepared for such treatment.

We hear, "A woman's place is at home." That is true, but what and where is home. Not the walls of a house. Not furniture, food or clothes. Home is where the heart is, where our loved ones are. If my son is in a drinking place, my place is there. If my daughter, or the daughter of any one else, my family or any other family is in trouble, my place is there. That woman would be selfish or cowardly who would refuse to leave her home to relieve suffering or trouble. Jesus said, "Go out into the highways and hedges." He said this to women, as well as men. If the women of Galilee had not left their homes they would not have followed Jesus. If Phoebe had not left her home, she would not have gone on the business of the church to Jerusalem. We would have no woman missionaries--Women now, are forced to go out to save the homes.

D. L. Moody once said, and which I hardly understood at the time: "When a wife knew that the man that should be her husband was unfaithful and corrupt, she was as bad as he if she lived with him." I have thought much of the meaning of husband. He is one who is a man who provides and cares for his family, as much as it is in his power to do, but when he refuses and will not do this, he breaks his marriage vow and becomes his wife's enemy. A husband is not an enemy. This will place many women in the roll of living with men who are not their husbands, and this is so. I do not favor divorce, but it is better to separate, than bring up children of drunkards or licentious fathers. There is nothing which is making so much enmity between the sexes as intoxicating drink. This is the cause of so many divorces. Men who go into saloons generally visit houses of prostitution. The women they meet there have been deceived and lost their self respect, become discouraged because men have made them their victims through treachery and in turn these women revenge themselves by taking all means to drag these men down. Prostitutes do not like men; they often hate them. The man who goes there generally loses respect for the virtues of women, and from associating with bad women they judge other women to be vile. These men hate the very women they go to see. Married men who drink are bad husbands, for they deceive their wives, who soon find it out; and the husbands and wives cannot be happy. A woman leaves all others for one man and she wishes his society. In the evening the clubs and drinking places take up men's time when their families should have it. These things destroy love and confidence between husbands and wives. 'Tis not all men's fault, for there are some drinking women.

A man came to me just before I went on the stage at Newport, and said: "Carry Nation, step aside here, I must speak to you. I am in so much trouble. Give me some advice. My wife is at home drunk; she is that way most of the time. We have six children and they feel disgraced. What can I do? I am almost wild."

I asked: "Did you ever drink with your wife?"

He looked confused. I said: "Women do not usually go to saloons but you men bring it home and use it on the table and women are just as apt to catch the disease of alcoholism as men. This may be the way your wife learned to be a drunkard. Wives have been nursing their drunken husbands for years; now the chickens have come home to roost, and you are nursing your drunken wives."

Poor man! He, indeed, seemed distracted; and he is not alone, there are hundreds of cases.

I met a lovely creature on the train, who had been married a few months. Her husband was a lumber merchant in Chicago. She sat by me and told me her sad story. She had been a poor girl and dearly loved a man whose mother opposed the match and prevented the marriage. The young lumber merchant, left rich by the death of his father, proposed and she married him. In a month, the mother of the man she loved first, died and the obstacle was removed. In telling me this story I smelled liquor on her breath. She would say a few sentences and then say: "Oh, Carry Nation I am so miserable! If Charlie would only be true to me I would not grieve for the man I love, but Charlie drinks and he goes with other women, and leaves me alone. He gives me all the money I want. I have everything that money can buy; but, Oh! I almost hate these things! I had rather have a hut with someone to love me." She kept talking this way until it was enough to break my heart. She said: "Charlie will be in from the smoking car, and please Mrs. Nation speak to him. I want to be a good wife and I will do all I can to make him a good man. But he laughs at me when I talk to him, he never takes me in earnest. Go speak to him."

So I did. I found him to be a young man about twenty-three, with the marks of dissipation on his face. I said: "I have something to say to you privately. You have a beautiful young wife. If you wish to make her happy you can do so. There is one thing that will ruin the happiness of both. That is intoxicating drink. Did you know your wife is under the influence of some drug? He said: "Oh, don't say a word to her about that, I am the cause of it. I drink and have persuaded her to, because she has a right to do what I do."

I told him of the fatal results and asked him to quit or it would be the ruin of both. Here were these two on the brink of ruin, so young, so attractive. I never shall forget the pathos of that woman's story. The yearning of that heart for love. Of course in her unhappiness she would turn to the benumbing fascination of the poisonous drug.

On every hand I see the desolation of homes and hearts. There are no five things that make so much enmity between the sexes as this one-- the licensed saloon. The home life is destroyed. Men and boys are taken from home at the very time they ought to be there, after their work is done. Families should gather in the evening to enjoy each other's society. It is said that Germans are the cruelest husbands on earth. Their beer gardens have taken the place of firesides. There are more insane and suicides in Germany than any nation on earth. Alcoholism is a disease. Men go to the Keeley cure and take different treatments to get cured. This disease is killing more every year than the deadliest epidemic, and still not one of the senators or representatives will discuss this. Roosevelt toured this country moralizing on different questions. The nearest he ever touched on the subject was "race suicide;" but he did not wish to intimate that drinking intoxicating liquors was the cause. He wished to reproach women for not raising larger families. What protection has a mother if she does? She has to produce the grist to make these murder-mills grind, and I for one, say to women, refuse to be mothers, if the government will not close these murder-shops that are preying on our hearts, for our darling sons are dearer to us than life.

If I had a family to raise and had to live in a city, I know of no place as desirable as Topeka. I was once lecturing in Lincoln, Neb., and made this remark. A wife said to her husband, "Let us take our boy and go to Topeka. So they came. The husband was D. L. Whitney, manager of the Oxygenor Company, and both he and his wife have been a great help to me. I say to fathers and mothers, move to Kansas, where your sons are taught that it takes a SNEAK to sell, and a SNEAK to drink, intoxicating liquors in that state.

I was arrested in Topeka for going into the dives. The officials were determined to keep them open, and the police arrested me for even going in. They did not arrest the keepers. I was thrown out and called names by the proprietors, in the hearing of the police, still they were let go. This was during the time that Parker was mayor.

The voting citizens of Kansas will soon find out that no one but prohibition officers can be trusted to enforce prohibition statutes. I am glad at the present writing there is said to be not a dive in the beautiful city of Topeka, and that she has passed the Rubicon. God grant that no more criminal dens be opened by Republicans, Democrats or any other Anarchists.

I was arrested in Wheeling, West Virginia, winter of 1902, for going in a saloon and telling the man he was in a business that would send him to hell as well as others. The facts are that the police never knew what I was going to do and they were so frightened and rattled that they of course thought they would arrest me to prevent trouble. I have been a terror to evil doers. I was in jail there two nights. No pillow. The bed bugs bad. Col. Arnett, my lawyer, said I had a good case of malicious prosecution. I have begun several suits but the "laws delay" and the condition of dishonest courts has prevented me. I desire to compel Murat Halstead to be shown as he is, a liar, almost equal to the "Murdocks of Wichita."

I was arrested in Bayonne, N. J., the summer of 1903, because I was talking to a poor drunkard. A policeman came up and ordered me to "walk on". I said: "I have a right to speak to any one on the street." He said: "I will arrest you if you do not move on." I said: "You do not wish this poor man to have one warning word to keep him out of a drunkards hell." He arrested me, took me to the police headquarters, where I was sentenced for disturbing the peace. I was put in a cell with a hard board, no cover. There were only two other prisoners, both put there for getting drunk. The partition door was by accident left unlocked and I heard someone creeping, looked up and there was one of the poor creatures in my cell. I called loudly. He ran back. The turnkey came and fastened the door. All night through I was handing water to these poor creatures. The bed bugs were thick and kept me quite busy knocking them out of my face. I lay on the plank but could not sleep a wink. Next morning I was called in court. That police officer in order to make it a case of disturbing the peace said there were one hundred and fifty people around. There was but five and I so testified. I never have seen such false swearing as there is with the police. I got a fine of ten dollars. Of course this judge was a republican.

Here is a list of the times and places I have been in jail:

In Wichita three times. Sentenced December, 1900, thirty days; January 21st, 1901, twenty-one days and January 22nd two days.

Topeka seven times; once thirty days; twice each eighteen days; then twelve days; fifteen days, seven days and three days.

Kansas City once, part of a day; also once, part of a day at Coney Island, once at Los Angeles; once at San Francisco; Scranton twice, one night and part of two days; Bayonne, New Jersey a day and night; Pittsburg three times, one night and part of two days; Philadelphia once, one night.

I was also put in jail in Cape Breton, and in 1904, when five of us attacked the Wholesale House of Mahan Bros., in Wichita, of which I speak elsewhere, making a total of twenty three times.

I spoke at Sacramento, Cal., to the legislature when in session. I got a letter from one of the officers in the capitol, telling of the joints run in the capitol building and patronized by the members of the legislature. A reporter went with me. He tried to get me an opportunity to speak, but he was told I could not do so, and that I had better leave as the crowd prevented them doing business. I did not leave. The reporter said: "You will not be able to speak." I said: "I will speak." I waited until the speaker adjourned for noon, and as quick as a flash I took the stand, and began my address. I saw impatience in the faces of many, but there was a great cheer from visitors and pages. I spoke about as follows: "I am glad to speak to the law-makers of California. I not only believe in making laws, but enforcing them. I called their attention to the most needed legislation on the lines of prohibition of evil. I could see that all seemed rather pleased at this point, I drew out the letter which read as follows: "Dear Madam: I see you are to visit the capitol tomorrow, I wish to call your attention to the flagrant violations under the dome of California's capitol. In the Bill filing room is a place where liquors are kept, also in the Sergeant-at-Arms room in the senate chamber, behind a screen, is stored beer and whiskey, in room 56 there is a safe where bottles of beer and whiskey are kept. These unlicensed bars are patronized by the members, and with their full knowledge and consent. It was certainly a sight to see the faces of these men. After reading each charge, I would stop and say: "Now gentlemen this must be a grave slander, and I want you as a body to rise and down this outrage." I waited, no one rose up. I said: "certainly there must be a mistake, is it possible that the law-makers of this state are the law-breakers, if so, then who is capable of punishing the criminals?" I continued, "I hope that at least there are some of the members of this body that are ignorant of this and that some one if only one will rise and say, "I know nothing of this;" not one arose; Both the houses were adjourned and the aisles and lobbies were packed. These men looked at each other grinning and looking silly, some heartily enjoying it, reminding me of a lot of bad boys that were caught stealing watermelons. The pages and visitors yelled and waved and clapped their hands, but was this not a shame? This is but a sample of the legislatures of the states. Washington's capitol is a reproach to common decency, this government like a fish, "stinks worse at the head."

I spoke in Austin, Texas, at the state university. When I arrived in the city I was met by "Uncle Tom" Murrah. "Uncle Tom" is a true type of the old fashion gentleman. Had it not been for the chivalry of this dear friend I expect I would have had some trouble with the police of Austin.

I went into a saloon and was led out in very forcible manner by the proprietor, who was one of the city council. I stood in front of this man's man-trap and cried out against this outrageous business. The man kept a phonograph going to drown my voice. The police would have interfered but "Uncle Tom" told me to say what I pleased, and he would stand by me. I went up to the state university with students who tried to get a hall for me to speak to them but they could not. I spoke from the steps. In the midst of the speech and the cheers from the boys I heard a voice at my side. I looked and there stood the Principal, Prexley Prather. He was white with excitement, saying: "Madam, we do not allow such." I said: "I am speaking for the good of these boys." "We do not allow speaking on the campus." I said: "I have spoken to the students at Ann Arbor, at Harvard, at Yale, and I will speak to the boys of Texas." The boys gave a yell. The mail man was driving up at this time. The horse took fright, the letters and papers flew in every direction. The man jumped from the sulky; the horse ran up against a tree and was stopped. I offered to pay for the broken shafts but the mail carrier would take nothing. There was no serious damage and all had a good laugh, except, perhaps, the dignified principal.

When I visited the students at Ann Arbor, Mich., I was given a banquet by the Woolley club of the university. It gave me new life to look at such men of intellectual and moral force. Oh! for such men to be the fathers of the rising generation. Just such men as these will save the Nation. THESE are the hatchets that will smash up evil and build up good.

One cannot help but compare the tobacco smoking dull brained sot- tish students with these giants of moral and physical manhood. These young I men were the greatest argument in favor of prohibition. God will bless the Woolley club of Ann Arbor and all such as they.


I attended High Mass in St. Joseph Cathedral. One of the priests, Mr. Percell, was taking up the collection. He came to where I was sitting but the smell of cigarette smoke was so strong about him that I could not refrain from a rebuke, so I said: "You smell so bad from cigarette smoke."

He said: "Who?"

I said: "You!"

He said: "You are a liar!"

I said: "No I am not, you do smell bad!"

He said: "I will have you put out of this church!"

I said: "I dare you! You are the one that should be put out!"

He passed on and after Mass I went into the house of the priest's and asked for him. He could not be found but two priests tried to make excuses and treated me well. Said they smoked. I told them God said for them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh. That they were making provisions for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof. I said: "What a shame for a man to dress like a saint and to smell like a devil!"

One thing I have noticed--that the Catholic schools taught by the Brothers are saturated with vile tobacco smoke. I would not like to send a son to such a place for that reason alone. There are many things I like about the Catholic church, but why, oh, why is it so silent as a general thing on the liquor traffic? Why are so many of its members in this devil's work? Oh! what a retribution will be theirs when it will be proven that instead of clothing the naked they have robbed children of clothes. Instead of feeding the hungry they have allowed them to starve because their bread was taken to buy drink. They sent souls to prison and did not minister to them!