March 9, 1901. From a jail cell in Topeka, Kansas, temperance vigilante Carry Nation is hard at work. After her latest arrest for smashing up a bar with her infamous hatchet, Nation decides to spread her message with paper and ink. The first issue of The Smasher’s Mail would be published on this day, with Nation arranging the entire endeavor from behind bars. The newsletter was only a small part of her crusade against “hell-broth,” which included everything from destroying saloons to starring in her own burlesque shows. But when considering how alcohol altered her life’s journey, were her methods really all that extreme?
Special thanks to Fran Grace, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Redlands and author of Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life.