I have just been reading about Carrie Nation’s visit to my beloved hometown of Ann Arbor.

Here’s what she said in her memoirs:

“I have been to all the principal universities of the United States. At Cambridge, where Harvard is situated, there are no saloons allowed, but in Ann Arbor the places are thick where manhood is drugged and destroyed.” –Carrie Nation, in her memoirs (1905).

Hmmm. As a staunch supporter of rhetorical buffoonery, I think she should have added the word “debauched” for alliterative emphasis. Anyway, as might be expected, the hatchet lady’s visit attracted the attention of a number of young student hecklers, some of whom subjected the prohibitionist to a very dirty trick:

The following report appeared in the “Washtenaw Daily Times,” May 3, 1902:

One thousand students had a rollicking old time with Carrie Nation at the campus this morning and the collegians applauded everything she said . . . .

Just before the close of her address Mrs. Nation made a strong plea for the Prohibition party: “Now I want to see the hands raised of all you who vote the Prohibition ticket after this,” said the smasher. Every mother’s son in the mob put both hands high in the air. “Good!” shouted Carrie, with a broad smile and at the same time clasping her hands gleefully at the thoughts of making so many “converts.” “Oh,” she said, “that made the devil awful mad when he saw those hands.”

“Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! THE DEVIL,” yelled the students in chorus.

Mrs. Nation spoke from an open hack at the northwest corner of the campus. During the early part of her address somebody passed up a whiskey flask that was labelled with a well-known brand, and containing a fluid that looked for all the world like genuine booze. Carrie held it aloft.

“Smash it!” yelled the crowd, and she complied. She bent down, took a good aim at the iron tire on the hack wheel and — “crash” — went the bottle.

Then the crowd was sorry that it had spoken, as the fluid in the bottle was a solution of hydrogen de sulphide, which is the polite name for the smell of rotten eggs. Some student pursuing chemistry had fixed up the dose and Carrie and the crowd got the benefit of it.

“Whew!” said the students, backing away and holding their noses, but it didn’t seem to phase the agitator.

“Tell us about Doc Rose [an Ann Arbor saloonkeeper],” shouted some one.

“I’ll tell you about that old Doc Rose,” she declared.

“Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! DOC ROSE!” yelled the students.

“All he wants you to go there for is your money,” she said.

“Ain’t got any money,” remarked the student who has been waiting to hear from home.

“You go in there sensible, continued Mrs. Nation, not noting the interruption, “and you come out –”

“Broke,” emphasized a student.

“I want you to be like Daniel of old. Daniel was a captive and –”

“Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! DANIEL!” yelled the students in chorus again.

The collegians simply made a farce of the whole performance.


And to think that was a little more than a hundred years ago! Not only was alcohol sold freely, so were heroin and cocaine.

If only the rest of the country had followed the Ann Arbor students’ lead, we might have been saved from the saviors.

They remain in charge.

MORE: D.E.A Expands War on Drugs

“Rah-rah-rah! DRUGS!”