• Visitor Finds Carrie Nation Angry, Buys Her "Death to Rum" Pin at Michigan Speech

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    CARRIE AMELIA MOORE NATION (November 25, 1846-June 9, 1911) was a radical member of the temperance movement opposed to alcohol even before Prohibition. The spelling of her first name varies and is sometimes seen as Carry.


    Her notable activities include attacking alcohol-serving establishments with a hatchet.


    She began her temperance work in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, by starting a local branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and campaigning for the enforcement of Kansas’s ban on the sales of liquor. Her methods escalated from simple protests to serenading saloon patrols with hymns accompanied by a hand organ to greeting bartenders with pointed remarks, such as “Good morning, destroyer of men’s souls.


    Nation grew up in poverty with a mentally ill mother. Her first marriage to a young physician failed because of his alcoholism, which precipitated her deep animosity to the consumption of alcohol.  She was jailed numerous times.  She participated in speaking engagements, where she sold hatchet pins as souvenirs.  Our writer, Edith, was present at a Nation speech in Michigan in August 1902 and purchased one of the pins for her friend Albert.  The pin contains the words “Death to Rum,” and is included with this letter. Albert kept the pin attached to the letter.


    Edith was on vacation at the time.  She wrote: “I did go to see Carry Nation but was disappointed in her. She is certainly a very coarse woman and if you will pardon the expression-a smasher—I would not want to be alone with her when she is angry because, I am afraid she would use the hatchet on me. I bought a little hatchet from her and am going to send it to you as a souvenir that is, if you will keep it out of sight when you are with me.  She handed it to me with her own dear little, hands, and for that reason, I do hope you will appreciate it…”  Much more about her trip with her sister Carrie.  Original cover included.


    6 pp, accomplished on two sheets. Folds, toning. One heavy toning portion on the front, very likely from having the cover laid over it. Pin holes to the top of the first leaf resulting from having the “Death to Rum” pin attached to it.  Very readable and a wonderful piece of Americana from the country’s anti-drinking era.  First we’ve ever seen with an eyewitness account of Nation and one of her pins.

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