Carrie Nation and her hatchet-wielding actions during the Temperance Movement took aim at drunkenness and all of the social ills it caused. Alcohol caused domestic violence, crime, poverty, and even death according to advocates of temperance, and, during the 1890s and early years of the 1900s, Carrie Nation used brash language and a hatchet to fight against its use. A life-long opponent of alcohol and tobacco, Carrie Nation was a role model for women during Prohibition with her fierce resolve and so-called Hatchetation.
Carrie Amelia Moore was the oldest of six children born to a plantation-owning family in Garrard County, Kentucky, in 1846. Her father found success as a planter in the 1830s and early 1840s, but with the death of his first wife, his fortune changed. In 1845, George Moore married Mary Campbell, a young widow from a nearby county. Mary was unpredictable and prone to spending her husband's money. In her autobiography, Carrie indicated that her mother was distant, restless, and neglectful of her children. Speculation about Mary's mental health is confounded by Carrie's own ambivalence on the topic, but the family moved a lot, which my have resulted from Mary's behavior. She was reportedly delusional, and there are indications that Mary Moore believed she was the Queen of England.
Carrie ended up spending much of her childhood with her mother's sister, Hope, and came to consider herself one of Hope's children. Mary Moore was committed to an asylum by Carrie's brother, Charles, in 1890.
Carrie found emotional support from the slaves on her father's plantation, as well. She often slept in the slave quarters, ate with them, and took great pride in her father's kindness to his slaves. Carrie's affection for slaves went beyond her father's, however, as she participated in slave religious gatherings without her parents knowing. She stated she was fearful of some of their practices but did enjoy their "songs and shoutings." Carrie was more open-minded than others, and, while she continued to view blacks as inferior, she did question the violence against slaves, especially the ones she considered family.
In 1854, the Moore family left Kentucky and headed west. They arrived in Cass County, Missouri, but, instead of avoiding the political conflict simmering in the country, they were right in the middle of some of the most heated disputes. The contest over slavery in Kansas and Missouri, followed by Missouri's entrance to the war in 1862, sent the Moore family to Texas, but they returned to Missouri in 1863. Union commanders ordered families to move out of the border region between Missouri and Kansas in 1863, and the Moores moved to Kansas City.
In the midst of political and family upheaval, Carrie was often ill and received little education. Her Aunt Hope, whose family moved with them, offered Carrie some basic learning. Carrie did later earn a teaching certificate, however.
Carrie married Dr. Charles Gloyd in 1867. She was 22 at the time, and despite their two-year courtship, the marriage was unhappy. Carrie found Gloyd to be neglectful and unaffectionate. According to Carrie, this was because Gloyd drank too much. Carrie deeply loved Charles Gloyd and resented the role that alcohol played in his life. Their relationship shaped her beliefs about how alcohol ruined men and marriages and brought about pain, crime, and hardship.
Carrie moved out of their home six months after they were married, and without her husband knowing it, she gave birth to their daughter, Charlein, in 1868. Carrie moved home for a time, only to leave again. She was living with her parents when Dr. Gloyd died of "delirium tremens or from pneumonia compounded by excessive drinking" in March 1868.
In 1874, Carrie married editor, lawyer, and preacher David Nation. They moved to Texas where Carrie started to have visions. The family moved back to Kansas in 1889, where David turned to preaching full-time. Carrie became involved in charity work, particularly in helping women and children, and founded a branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1893. The couple divorced in 1901.