Why Local Matters

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce again presented a plan earlier this year that attempted to liberate grocers in the state to sell wine and liquor. Soon after, they presented a bill to the legislature, hoping to liberalize the state’s regulation of alcoholic beverages. This is a regular occurrence, although it’s entirely unnecessary, given the recent history of alcohol legislation in the state of Kansas. If all of this seems strange to you, allow me to provide a little context.

Kansas has a storied history of alcohol prohibition; it was the first state to enact such a government program. Voters first moved to prohibit alcohol in 1881, and such restrictions continued until 1948 when again, a majority of Kansans voted to lift some prohibitions. Of course the 21st Amendment was adopted fifteen years prior, but that was of no concern to the legislature, who never considered the amendment, and to this day has not ratified it.

Carrie Nation made a name for herself in Kansas, helping to start a chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement. She began with harassing saloon owners and consumers of alcohol and within a short period was destroying their property. Wielding a hatchet, she would march into a saloon and attack the bar, before smashing as much of the stock as she could, to prevent the consumption of alcohol. Nation claimed to have been called to do this, and during her career of “hatchetations,” as they came to be known, was arrested dozens of times.

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