Nov 23

Mrs. Carrie Nation

By Josephen K. Henry — May, 1901

Josephine K. HenryBoston Investigator: Mrs. Carrie Nation is now indeed a national attraction on the stage of American journalism. She holds the center of the stage with such power that neither international nor national attraction distracts the public mind from the artistic hatchet wielder. The conditions of our boasted Christian civilization have made it inevitable that a Mrs. Nation should appear, and the only wonder is that legions of Mrs. Nations have not appeared long ago. A time comes for everything. Perhaps this is the time for women to assert themselves and demand that their human rights be protected against the demon strong drink that degrades and impoverishes them. The most helpless victims on this earth are women and children who are forced to suffer through the drink evil. If men will not stop debauching themselves, degrading women and transmitting the thirst for liquor to children, then the time is here now for women to refuse to bear children.

If women drank as much intoxicating liquor, used as much tobacco, and wasted as much money in these fell destroyers as men, men would feel themselves so outraged that they would exterminate the whole sex by dynamite or hatchet method. If men were as moral and sober as women now are, and women as debauched as men, there would not be a woman left on the earth to tell the tale, and sometimes, when I think of the agonies of helpless women on account of the drink evil, I think it would be a good thing if there wasn’t. Nature has put woman at every disadvantage, and man seems to lend his effort to aid nature in intensifying her work.

I think nature made a great mistake in making two sexes; or, if two sexes had to be, then it should have been decreed each should respect the human rights of the other. Fatherhood should have had as many disabilities as motherhood, men should have home all the males with travail and its life-long burdens, and women gave birth to their own sex. Mrs. Nation is but the advance guard of one type of the twentieth century women who will manifest in their own way that “forbearance has ceased to be a virtue.”

Men quail before determined womanhood that plants itself in the majestic highway of morality. We have proof of this to-day as the great State of Kansas stands aghast at the feeble efforts of one woman wielding as crude a weapon as a hatchet. Mrs. Nation makes herself ridiculous when she says: “God has told her to do this work.” If God is all-wise and all-powerful, as is claimed, and if he loves his erring children as the churches teach, he certainly knows that the drink curse should be removed, and he is able to do it himself without depending on a desperate and fanatical woman from Kansas with a hatchet.

Mrs. Nation is a religious fanatic, and we judge of what these will do by what they have done in the past.

We doubt if Mrs. Nation’s God ever heard of her. He is too busy counting hairs, and noting the fall of sparrows. God has never manifested any interest in men who drink or women who suffer, but women are in this day taking some interest in themselves and the protection of their human rights. Mrs. Nation is in one sense a moral hero.

There is not a man in the United States that would dare do what she has done, or has the courage to do it, and the end is not yet.

As long as men are sober there is something grand in even the ordinary man, but when men debauch themselves with strong drink, they are unfit to be companions of sober and chaste women, or the fathers of children.

The brains and blood of the American people are surcharged with alcohol and nicotine. These are leading on to excesses that are threatening the mental and moral stability of our nation, and, if not checked, will paralyze the principles and will-power inherent in the Anglo-Saxon race, and reduce us to a nation of sensualists.

The liquor interests of our country have secured to themselves law protected rights that have been accorded to our homes or schools.

Schools of vice flourish while schools of virtue perish for want of protection, and yet we wonder why men and women fall into the sewers of immortality, and are carted off to the potter’s field only to make room for their miserable progeny.

Women who bear the race through travail are suffering more keenly than ever before the mental and moral destruction of their loved ones, and that is what is the matter with Mrs. Nation, and it is inevitable that such as she should appear to protest even in an unwise way against the wrongs that are visited upon them and their children.

Do we approve of Mrs. Nation’s methods? No. Do we think they will be effective? No. But ineffective as they will surely prove, they are fraught with tremendous meaning. She will at least force the people to demand the execution of the laws or know the reason why. Mrs. Nation is at least aiding the solution of the liquor problem, which will have to be met sooner or later.

Because of the liquor evil,

“Every village has its martyrs, Every street some house that is a hell, Some woman’s heart, celestial, pure and sweet, Breaks with each passing bell.”

There are cities and towns in our land that have ordinances prohibiting women from entering saloons. Suppose women generally disregarded these laws, surrounded the bar counters, and got drunk on the money they needed for common necessities!

Carrie Nation (Kansas State Historical Society)If the authorities refused to uphold the law and women persisted in breaking it and wrecking the homes and happiness of their families, who can doubt the appearance of sober, suffering husbands and sons armed, not with the hatchet but with the broadax, to help put the law into execution? Human nature is long suffering, but when the limit of endurance has been passed, depression, which has no sex, invents its own methods to same protection.

Woman has throughout the past been a submissive, suffering creature, but she is fast outgrowing these servile attributes. The hatchet is a crude instrument, but every moral uplift of the human race has its crude beginning. There are minions of women in the United States whose sufferings are so great on account of the liquor evil that in desperation they would wield the hatchet if they thought they could find relief, but their judgment restrains them, fearing their condition would be rendered more helpless by this method. But that the drink evil is here in its most hideous form, and that laws are defied every hour of every day are indisputable facts, and that women are seeking release from their sufferings through the divorce court, the secret administration of antidotes, the hatchet, and other methods, are also facts.

When women are driven to the hatchet method and a Mrs. Nation is possible, the time to ask, “Whither are we drifting?” has gone by. What we need to know is, that we are right now.