Q: On December 27, 1900, the hatchet-wielding prohibitionist, Carry Nation, was arrested and put in jail for smashing up a hotel bar and causing thousands of dollars in damage. What was the name of the hotel she vandalized 117 years ago this week - and where was it located?
A: The Carey Hotel in Wichita
On December 27, 1900, prohibitionist Carry Nation smashed the bar at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Nation made a name for herself by carrying a hatchet and tearing up saloons as part of her anti-alcohol crusade. As a young woman, she married a man whose hard-drinking soon killed him and left her alone to support a young child and her mother-in-law. This experience helped fuel her lifelong hatred of alcohol.
Later, she married David Nation, a preacher and lawyer. The two eventually settled in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, where Carry Nation became involved with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The WCTU was founded by women concerned about the ill effects alcohol was having on their families and society. At the time, women didn't have all the same rights as men and their lives could be devastated if their husbands drank too much.
In 1880, Kansas became the first state to adopt a constitutional provision prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol. But the law was rarely and unevenly enforced. Nation decided to take action. After the incident at the Carey Hotel, her fame increased as she continued her saloon-smashing campaign in other locations and traveled extensively to speak out in favor of temperance. At nearly every stop, she endured ridicule, arrest, and jail to promote the cause to which she was committed.
Nation died in 1911, never living to see nationwide prohibition in America, which began in 1920. Even though nationwide prohibition ended in 1933, Kansas kept prohibition on the books until 1948. Kansas was the first state to prohibit alcohol and the last one to give up prohibition, an experiment that lasted for 67 years.