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How women used civil disobedience to change American politics

Smash! Smash! Smash! 

Patrons of the Carey Hotel bar in Wichita, Kansas may well have heard that sound on Dec. 27, 1900 as Prohibition activist Carrie Nation smashed up liquor bottles and glasses with a hatchet, causing several thousand dollars’ worth of damage before she was arrested. Nation didn’t stay in jail long, but the incident made her famous as a one-woman anti-alcohol wrecking crew. Her actions remind us how central disobedience has been to women’s quest throughout history to be heard.

Nation was part of a larger movement, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874 by women concerned over the damage that alcohol caused both to their families and society at large. Because women at the time had far fewer rights than men did — they could not voteeasily divorce or control how many children they had, for instance — a wife with a husband who drank too much was vulnerable to having her life ruined.

And so, Nation and her fellow activists mobilized. The Women’s Christian Temperance Movement joined forces with other organizations — the Independent Order of Good Templars and the Kansas State Temperance Union — to push for state-wide prohibition. The state’s temperance movement gained steam, and in 1880, Kansas adopted a constitutional provision prohibiting the sale or manufacture of “intoxicating liquors,” the first state in the country to do so. The state’s legislature followed suit, passing a law that went into effect the following year making the manufacture of alcohol a misdemeanor. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post