Cool Things - Carry Nation Lecture Poster
The notoriety generated by temperance advocate Carry Nation's saloon smashings led to offers for public appearances. This poster advertises one of them.
While incarcerated in the Topeka jail in July 1901, Carry Nation was receiving offers from "theatrical, circus, and museum managers," one offering $800 a week with a palace (railroad parlor) car and a maid. She turned them all down, writing later, "I had never thought of going before the public as a lecturer. I knew those people only wanted me as they would a white elephant. I did not, at this time, see the stage as a missionary field."
A Paid Lecturer
But Nation was in need of money. Relying on her faith as she repeatedly had before, she finally agreed to be represented by James E. Furlong, a Lyceum manager from Rochester, New York. Furlong wrote to Carry suggesting that if she would give him "some dates" he would assist her in getting out of jail. Not understanding him, she asked a friend what Furlong meant by "dates" and discovered he wanted her to lecture and relate her experiences. Carry agreed to Furlong's offer and her first stop was a Chautauqua at Clarksburg, Ohio. Within a week of her release from the Topeka jail she spoke to thousands in Atlantic City and used the proceeds to give poor children an outing.
Nation stated in her autobiography:
"I never made a note or wrote a sentence for the platform in my life. I have spoke extemporaneously from the first and often went on the platform when I could not have told what I was to say, and for several weeks God compelled me to open my Bible at random and speak from what my eyes fell on. I have literally proved that: 'You shall not think of what you shall speak, but it shall be given in that same hour.'"
Touring New York
Furlong's tour took Nation to New York City where she appeared at Carnegie Hall and faced a respectable crowd of Prohibitionists, and to Coney Island where she was treated, in effect, as a side show. But at Coney Island she ran into trouble after U.S. President William McKinley was wounded by an assassin's bullet. Nation saw McKinley as a tool of the brewers. The crowd turned against her when she said, "I have no tears for this McKinley. Neither have I any for his assassin. I have no sympathy for this friend of the brewers." Furlong canceled the rest of the contract for Coney Island and took her to Rochester. There she spoke to a full crowd but still caused a disturbance when she commented on the soon-to-be-deceased McKinley.
Carry continued her lecture series with Furlong across upstate New York. It is unclear when her connection to James Furlong ended.
The poster pictured on this page was created by Gillin Print Company of New York. It may have been made for Nation's lectures in that state. It was donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1928 by F.M. Steves of Topeka who published Carry's autobiography, The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation.
Funding for the conservation of this poster was provided by the Capital City Bank of Topeka and Judith and Frank Sabatini. The poster is in the collections of the Kansas Museum of History.
For more information on her life and times see our online exhibit Carry A. Nation: The Famous and Original Bar Room Smasher.
Entry: Cool Things - Carry Nation Lecture Poster
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: March 2001
Date Modified: December 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.