Carry Nation Debated Woman Suffrage in Seward

The debate on the suffrage question at the opera house last evening . . . drew out a large and appreciative audience. Mrs. Nation is a motherly looking woman of middle age, and while not a ready debater, announced that she was in the fight for blood and declared it ‘no foolin’ for her. She opened the debate and for 45 minutes quoted from the [B]ible to sustain her position. She seems to have a very poor opinion of the stronger sex.

Judge Holland answered, taking the position that women are men’s superiors and to give them the ballot would bring them on the same level with men, and thereby spoil all the sanctity and sweetness of the home. Here the Judge paid a most beautiful tribute to women, and said ‘It is love that makes life worth the living.'” Judge Holland was armed with typed quotations from the Bible to support his position but his female opponent “used [them] against him in the last round. The Judge was the acme of courtesy towards his opponent, but gave her many a sharp thrust. Mrs. Nation contends that men are to blame for all the evil in the land and that things will not go right until women are allowed to vote.

M. D. Carey was chairman and wielded the hatchet for a gavel. Mrs. Nation in her windup gave the judge what she called a ‘dressing down,’ which evoked shouts of laughter from the audience. He gracefully took his medicine.

At the close Mrs. Nation asked those who thought that the Judge had won the debate to rise to their feet, but not one in the vast audience thought that way, and then she asked all those who thought that she had won the day should stand up, but only a few arose. So the great question is still unsettled in the minds of the people.

Carry A. Nation’s anti-saloon activities in Nebraska in December 1901 and early 1902 took her not only to Lincoln and Omaha but to a number of smaller towns, where she was a star attraction.



In Humboldt, reported the Valentine Democrat on January 2, 1902, “A large crowd of people was on the streets all day, eager to get a glimpse of the joint smasher.” Her appearance three months later in Valentine prompted the Democrat to report on April 3, “There were not seats enough to go ’round and many were compelled to stand.”



Mrs. Nation’s visit to Fremont was reported in the Hastings Tribune of March 14, 1902, under the headline “Joint Smashing Justified.” While in Hastings she spoke at the Kerr Opera House and toured local saloons, where she reportedly disapproved of barroom art as well as liquor. Most of her public presentations attacked saloons and those who patronized them, but at least one of her debates — in Seward on April 15, 1902 — was on woman suffrage. Seward’s Blue Valley Blade on April 16 reported the results of the contest between Mrs. Nation and Judge C. E. Holland of Seward:

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

The Huskers wore blue jerseys for Memorial Stadium’s first game

The Huskers wore blue jerseys for Memorial Stadium’s first game

Recent Archeological Work at Ft. Atkinson

Recent Archeological Work at Ft. Atkinson

Willie Nelson FarmAid Concert

Willie Nelson FarmAid Concert

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.