Prohibition party

Prohibition party

Prohibition party, in U.S. history, minor political party formed (1869) for the legislative prohibition of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. The temperance movement was in existence as early as 1800, but it was not until 1867 that its leaders marshaled their forces to establish a separate political party to campaign for prohibition. The result was the organization (Sept., 1869) of the Prohibition party at a convention in Chicago attended by delegates from 20 states. The failure of the temperance cause to gain active support from the major political parties, the failure of public officials to enforce existing local prohibition laws in several states, and the nationwide founding of the United States Brewers' Association were factors contributing to the creation of the Prohibition party. Before entering a presidential race, the Prohibition party entered elections in nine states during the period from 1869 to 1871. The first three presidential candidates—James Black (1872), Green C. Smith (1876), and Neal Dow (1880)—each polled a very small number of votes. Although the central issue of the party was prohibition, typical party platforms included woman suffrage, free public education, prohibition of gambling, and prison reform. In 1882 the party made sizable gains in state elections, and in 1884 a vigorous presidential campaign by John P. St. John resulted in the party's first large popular vote (150,626). Of these votes, 25,000 came from New York state, which the Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland carried by fewer than 1,200 votes. As most of St. John's support came from Republicans angered at the comtemptuous treatment accorded a temperance petition at their national convention, the Prohibitionists helped swing a key state to Cleveland. Four years later the temperance leader Clinton B. Fisk received almost 250,000 votes. But the peak of popular support was reached in 1892, when John Bidwell won almost 265,000 votes. The popularity of the temperance cause had been greatly furthered by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (1874), and later by the Anti-Saloon League (1893), despite the latter's nonpartisan political position. Although the Prohibition party never received a large percentage of the national vote, its influence on public policy far outweighed its electoral strength. This can be seen in state platform declarations of the major parties at this time and in the institution of prohibition by the Eighteenth Amendment. Although the Prohibition party continues to run presidential candidates, the repeal of prohibition by the Twenty-first Amendment had a decidedly weakening effect on the party.

See W. B. Hesseltine, The Rise and Fall of Third Parties (1948); H. P. Nash, Third Parties in American Politics (1959); J. Kobler, Ardent Spirits (1973).

The Prohibition Party is a political party in the United States best known for its historic opposition to the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. The Party was an integral part of the temperance movement and, while never one of the nation's leading parties, it was an important force in US politics in the late 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. The party has declined dramatically since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Today, it advocates a variety of socially conservative causes, including "stronger and more vigorous enforcement of laws against the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, against gambling, illegal drugs, pornography, and commercialized vice."


The party was founded in 1869. Its first National Committee Chairman was John Russell of Michigan, who served from 1867-1872 The party succeeded in getting many communities also many counties in the states to outlaw the production and sale of intoxicating beverages.

At the same time, the party's ideology broadened to include aspects of progressivism. The party contributed to the third-party discussions of the 1910s and sent Charles H. Randall to the 64th, 65th and 66th Congresses as the representative of California's 9th congressional district. Prohibitionist Sidney J. Catts was elected Governor of Florida in 1916, serving 1917-1921.

The party's greatest success was in 1919, with the passage of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution. That Amendment outlawed the production, sale, transportation, import, and export of alcohol. The era during which alcohol was illegal in the USA is generally known as "Prohibition". The enactment of national prohibition took away the party's main issue, and the party declined in importance. The "Prohibition" era saw the rise of "Speakeasies" and bootleggers. Prohibition also triggered the rise of organized crime. By the start of the Great Depression, prohibition had become unpopular. National prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933. Its core cause having fallen into disfavor, the US Prohibition Party declined into insignificance.

Components of the Prohibition Party organizational structure are the Prohibition National Committee, the National Prohibition Foundation, the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society, the Prohibitionists’ Caucus, the Action!, and all state and local affiliates. Gene Amondson has been chairman of the Prohibition National Committee since 2005.

From 1977 to 1980, the party was called the National Statesman Party.

Secession of 2003

In 2003, the Prohibition National Committee experienced a secession as small number of members seceded. They formally incorporated in the State of Colorado in September 2003 They called their new Party the "National Prohibition Party," i.e., they added the word "National" to differentiate their new Party from the historic Party.

This secession by some eight members occurred under Earl Dodge. This occurred after a number of complaints concerning his leadership, his financial relationships with the party and its foundations, his refusal to accept new members due to fear they would vote against him, allegations of inadequate accounting and even of thievery. These have been published on the website of the majority and elsewhere and not disputed on the Dodge faction's website.

Dodge had seen the handwriting on the wall, when he won at the 1999 convention by only one vote, 9-8. In 2002, nine members signed a petition to call a special meeting under the bylaws.

Dodge saw that he no longer would have a majority vote. The precipitating factor in the secession was Dodge's excluding the majority from the 2003 Convention. Instead of holding the Convention mandated by Party Bylaws, Dodge instead convened an invitation-only "convention" consisting of eight people including Dodge and two of his daughters. To exclude disfavored members of the majority, Dodge held the pertinent meetings in his living room in Lakewood, CO, on June 12-13 of 2003.. Although there was no quorum as a majority of members were neither invited nor participated, this invitation-only meeting purported to be the "2003 convention" and purported to nominate Dodge for a sixth presidential candidacy. Dodge ordered the attendees to keep the low attendance secret. However, the majority soon learned of his action.

Don Webb, a member of the National Committee from Alabama, charged that the convention was irregularly called, in violation of the National Committee by-laws, and lacked a quorum. Other party members who had criticized Dodge's leadership and had sponsored the presidential bid of Gary Van Horn in 1999 followed the Party Bylaws and convened the party convention due in 2003, at Fairfield Glade, TN. This was done pursuant to the party by-laws September 5-6 of 2003. Dodge and his secessionists chose not to attend.

The convention as convened by the majority accepted new members, thus increased the size of the National Committee, elected Webb the national chairman. This convention of the historic Party, did not accept the new competing Dodge Party's nomination of Dodge for President. Dodge and his running mate Howard Lydick, having seceded with their some six supporters, did not accept the actions of the historic Party's Fairfield Glade convention. They continued to campaign for President and Vice President. They concealed from the public their having established and incorporated a different Party, their "National Prohibition Party." Instead, they filed their slate of Presidential Electors in Colorado still using, albeit without permission, the name of the historic Prohibition Party.

The historic Party decided in early February 2004 to run the national ticket of Gene C. Amondson for President and Leroy J. Pletten for Vice President. They filed as the Prohibition ticket in Louisiana (the first time the party had appeared on the ballot there since 1888). In Colorado, the Concerns of People Party allowed Amondson to run on its line against Dodge, which was considered at the time to be the "Prohibition Party primary" to settle the future of the party.

Although Amondson won the de facto primary of 2004 by a margin of 1,944 to 140, the secession was not ended. The historic Prohibition Party, pursuant to the Party Bylaws mandating a biennial meeting, held its mid-term party conference in Bedford, PA, on June 15-16 of 2005 and elected Gene Amondson the party chairman, replacing Webb. It then accepted the party affiliates in Florida, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, gaining ballot status in Florida for 2008. It appears that the Dodge group, the new "National Prohibition Party," did not hold a mid-term conference. They evidently use their own different Bylaws, not the historic Party Bylaws.

In 2007, the two separate Parties held separate nominating conventions. The Dodge group again kept secret their low attendance, perhaps some three or so. The public was not invited.

In contrast, the historic Party welcomed the public, and had over ten times the attendance. The trustee of the George Pennock Fund initiated legal proceedings to determine which of the two competing parties (the historic 1869 Party, or the new 2003 Party) was the legal recipient of funds left to the party in the 1920s and 1930's. This litigation occurred when the new Dodge party that Dodge and his few supporters had established, sent letters to the trustee, alleging that the members of the historic Party had created a new and different Party! Dodge and his few supporters accused the historic Party of doing what they had in fact done, created a new Party.

Due to the brazenness of that Dodge claim, the trustee sought Court involvement. Dodge and his fellow secessionists refused to retract their accusation. This threatened substantial legal costs.

To avoid such substnatial litigation costs due to the expense of defending against Dodge's false accusation that the 2003 Party was the rightful claimant to funds from the 1920s - 1930's notwithstanding the written documentation alluding to the historic 1869 Party, the two separate Parties agreed to divide the money, with the historic Party getting slightly over 50%.

The death of Dodge in November 2007 left the new Party without a presidential nominee. Some party leaders attempted to end the secession, but were rebuffed. Amondson continues to be the chairman of the historic Prohibition Party.. In the spring of 2008, the new Party, Dodge's small group -- without a known meeting or vote and again excluding disfavored individuals -- purported to have nominated Amondson for President, but they retained Lydick as their VP nominee..

Electoral history

The Prohibition Party has nominated a candidate for president in every election since 1872, and is thus the longest-lived American political party after the Democrats and Republicans.

Prohibition Party National Campaigns
Year Convention Site & City Dates Presidential nominee VP nominee Votes
1872 1st Comstock's Opera House, Columbus OH 2/22/1872 James Black PA John Russell MI 2,100
1876 2d Halle's Hall, Cleveland OH 5/17/1876 Green Clay Smith KY Gideon T. Stewart OH 6,743
1880 3d Halle's Hall, Cleveland OH 6/17/1880 Neal Dow ME Henry A. Thompson OH 9,674
1884 4th Lafayette Hall, Pittsburgh PA 7/23-24/1884 John P. St. John KS William Daniel MD 147,520
1888 5th Tomlinson Hall, Indianapolis IN 5/30-31/1888 Clinton B. Fisk NJ John A. Brooks MO 249,813
1892 6th Music Hall, Cincinnati OH 6/29-30/1892 John Bidwell CA James B. Cranfill TX 270,770
1896 7th Exposition Hall, Pittsburgh PA 5/27-28/1896 Joshua Levering MD Hale Johnson IL 125,072
[7th] Pittsburgh PA 5/28/1896 Charles E. Bentley NE James H. Southgate NC 19,363
1900 8th First Regiment Armory, Chicago IL 6/27/28/1900 John G. Woolley IL Henry B. Metcalf RI 209,004
[8th] Carnegie Lyceum, NYC NY 9/5/1900 Donelson Caffery LA (declined);
Edward M. Emerson MA
Archibald M. Howe MA 342
1904 9th Tomlinson Hall, Indianapolis IN 6/29 to 7/1/1904 Silas C. Swallow PA George W. Carroll TX 258,596
1908 10th Memorial Hall, Columbus OH 7/15-16/1908 Eugene W. Chafin IL Aaron S. Watkins OH 252,821
1912 11th on a large temporary pier, Atlantic City NJ 7/10-12/1912 Eugene W. Chafin IL Aaron S. Watkins OH 207,972
1916 12th St. Paul MN 7/19-21/1916 J. Frank Hanly IN Ira Landrith TN 221,030
1920 13th Lincoln NE 7/21-22/1920 Aaron Watkins OH D. Leigh Colvin NY 188,685
1924 14th Memorial Hall, Columbus OH 6/4-6/1924 Herman P. Faris MO Marie C. Brehm CA 54,833
1928 15th Hotel LaSalle, Chicago IL 7/10-12/1928 William F. Varney NY James A. Edgerton 20,095
[15th] [California ticket] Herbert Hoover CA Charles Curtis KS 14,394
1932 16th Candle Tabernacle, Indianapolis IN 7/5-7/1932 William D. Upshaw GA Frank S. Regan IL 81,916
1936 17th State Armory Building, Niagara Falls NY 5/5-7/1936 D. Leigh Colvin NY Alvin York TN (declined);
Claude A. Watson CA
1940 18th Chicago IL 5/8-10/1940 Roger W. Babson MA Edgar V. Moorman IL 58,743
1944 19th Indianapolis IN 11/10-12/1943 Claude A. Watson CA Floyd C. Carrier MD (withdrew);
Andrew Johnson KY
1948 20th Winona Lake IN 6/26-28/1947 Claude A. Watson CA Dale H. Learn PA 103,489
1952 21st Indianapolis IN 11/13-15/1951 Stuart Hamblen CA Enoch A. Holtwick IL 73,413
1956 22d Camp Mack, Milford IN 9/4-6/1955 Enoch A. Holtwick IL Herbert C. Holdridge CA (withdrew);
Edwin M. Cooper CA
1960 23d Westminster Hotel, Winona Lake IN 9/1-3/1959 Rutherford Decker MO E. Harold Munn MI 46,193
1964 24th Pick Congress Hotel, Chicago IL 8/26-27/1963 E. Harold Munn MI Mark R. Shaw MA 23,266
1968 25th YWCA, Detroit MI 6/28-29/1968 E. Harold Munn MI Rolland E. Fisher KS 14,915
1972 26th Nazarene Church Building, Wichita KS 6/24-25/1971 E. Harold Munn MI Marshall E. Uncapher KS 12,818
1976 27th Beth Eden Baptist Church Building, Wheat Ridge CO 6/26-27/1975 Benjamin C. Bubar ME Earl F. Dodge CO 15,934
1980 28th Motel Birmingham, Birmingham AL 6/20-21/1979 Benjamin C. Bubar ME Earl F. Dodge CO 7,212
1984 29th Mandan ND 6/22-24/1983 Earl Dodge CO Warren C. Martin KS 4,242
1988 30th Heritage House, Springfield IL 6/25-26/1987 Earl Dodge CO George Ormsby PA 8,002
1992 31st Minneapolis MN 6/24-26/1991 Earl Dodge CO George Ormsby PA 935
1996 32d Denver CO 1995 Earl Dodge CO Rachel Bubar Kelly 1,298
2000 33d Bird in Hand PA 6/28-30/1999 Earl Dodge CO W. Dean Watkins AZ 208
2004 34th Fairfield Glade TN 2/1/2004 Gene Amondson AK Leroy Pletten MI 1,944
2008 35th Adams Mark Hotel, Indianapolis IN 9/13-14/2007 Gene Amondson AK Leroy Pletten MI

Elected officials

See also


External links

Printed sources

  • James T. Havel, U.S. Presidential Candidates and the Elections (NYC: MacMillan Library Reference, 1996)
  • S.B. Hinshaw, Ohio Elects the President: Our State's Role in Presidential Elections 1804-1996 (Mansfield OH: Bookmasters, 1999)

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