In 1919, the manufacture and sale of all alcoholic beverages was prohibited by the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was repealed by the 21st Amendment 14 years later. Rockport, MA remained a dry town until 2005, and liquor stores are still not allowed.

temperance_raid

On the morning of July 8, 1856, two hundred women, three men and their supporters gathered in Rockport’s Dock Square and unfurled a banner with a black hatchet, determined to destroy all the alcohol in the town.

The women had lost patience with the men of the town, mostly fishermen, who spent their days drinking “demon rum” instead of working. The leaders of the mob included a 75-year-old seamstress named Hannah Jumper and four other women who had secretly planned the raids in advance.

Hannah Jumper's house in Rockport, built in 1840.
Hannah Jumper’s house in Rockport, built in 1840.

On that morning the women set out with hatchets and other instruments they had hidden beneath their shawls, and began raiding houses, barns, and any establishment that sold liquor without a license. The locations had been marked with a small white cross during the previous evenings. The raids continued for five hours, and fifty barrels of rum in 13 different locations were drug out into the streets and split open, an estimated $700 in damage.

One of the targets, a man named Jim Brown, sued the women in court, but the verdict was returned in favor of the women, and Brown was ordered to pay the women’s court fees.

temperance-banner
This banner hangs on the wall at the Sandy Bay Historical Society.
lipsthattouchliquor
The raid by Hannah Jumper and her 200 accomplices was one of the earliest events in a movement that led to enactment of Prohibition in 1919. Shown above is an Image from the Anti-Saloon League at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

hannahSources: 

2 thoughts on ““Hatchet Hannah” leads raid on Rockport liquor establishments, July 8, 1856

  1. For many years we stayed at Yuletide Inn..just a few doors up the street from Hannah’s house and walked by it every Sept for 9 years …loved the story then still love it now !

  2. Wow, talk about “conviction!” Note several hundred women and ONLY a couple of men. Well anyway, let’s face it, TOO MUCH alcohol is NOT good for your liver!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s