Carry Nation Debated Woman Suffrage in Seward

Carry A. Nation with her trademark hatchet in 1910. From the New York Times Photo Archive

Carry A. Nation’s anti-saloon activities in Nebraska in December 1901 and early 1902 took her not only to Lincoln and Omaha but to Nebraska City and a number of smaller towns, where she was a star attraction. In Humboldt, reported the Valentine Democrat on January 2, 1902, “A large crowd of people was on the streets all day, eager to get a glimpse of the joint smasher.” Her appearance three months later in Valentine prompted the Democrat to report on April 3, “There were not seats enough to go ‘round and many were compelled to stand.”  

Mrs. Nation’s visit to Fremont was reported in the Hastings Tribune of March 14, 1902, under the headline “Joint Smashing Justified.” While in Hastings she spoke at the Kerr Opera House and toured local saloons, where she reportedly disapproved of barroom art as well as liquor. Most of her public presentations attacked saloons and those who patronized them, but at least one of her debates—in Seward on April 15, 1902—was on woman suffrage. Seward’s Blue Valley Blade on April 16 reported the results of the contest between Mrs. Nation and Judge C. E. Holland of Seward:  

C. E. Holland of Seward. From Memorial and Biographical Record .... Butler, Polk, Seward, York and Fillmore Counties, Nebraska 2(Chicago, 1899)

“The debate on the suffrage question at the opera house last evening . . . drew out a large and appreciative audience. Mrs. Nation is a motherly looking woman of middle age, and while not a ready debater, announced that she was in the fight for blood and declared it ‘no foolin’ for her. She opened the debate and for 45 minutes quoted from the [B]ible to sustain her position. . . . Mrs. Nation contends that men are to blame for all the evil in the land and that things will not go right until women are allowed to vote.”  

Read more about the verbal sparring between Carry Nation and Judge Holland at Seward in a Timeline column on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor/Publications

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