The Prohibition Party of the United States was formed in 1869. Before the civil War (1861-1865) temperance groups had promoted voluntary abstinence from alcoholic beverages. That great conflagration had diverted national attention to other matters and the movement fell into abeyance.
Moral suasion had proved to be both difficult and frustrating. Following the Civil War, temperance groups increasing called for the power of the state to be used to prohibit the legal production and consumption of beverage alcohol.
The Prohibition Party found early success in pressuring towns and counties to enact prohibition laws. While other prohibition groups such as the Anti-Saloon League were non-partisan and supported dry (pro-prohibition) candidates regardless of party affiliation, the Prohibition Party ran candidates on its own ticket.
The Party's success in getting candidates elected to political office has been very limited. Sidney J. Cattts was elected governor of Florida in 1916, the highest office ever achieved by a Prohibition Party candidate; he was blatantly racist and anti-Catholic. Beginning in 1914, Charles H. Randall was elected from California to the U.S. House of Representatives for three successive terms on the Prohibition Party ticket. In his first re-election campaign in 1916, he successfully ran as the candidate of the Prohibition Party as well the candidate of the Democratic, Republican, and Progressive parties to defeat a candidate running as an independent. Susanna M. Salter, the first woman mayor in the U.S., won on the Prohibition Party ticket. The only successful Prohibition Party candidate in the 21st century has been the tax assessor of Thompson Township in Pennsylvania.
To learn about the KKK's strong support and defense of National Prohibition, visit The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), Alcohol, & Prohibition.
Following the implementation of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) in 1920, the Prohibition Party pressed for strict enforcement of the law. However, problems created by National Prohibition grew ever more serious as it contributed to burgeoning organized crime; gangsterism; political corruption; bootlegging even within the halls of Congress; violence, blindness and deaths caused by illegally produced alcohol; law enforcement corruption; disrespect for law, and binge drinking.
Popular support for Prohibition collapsed after the mid-1920s and anti-Prohibition groups sprouted and grew quickly. By 1932 the platform of the Democratic party contained an anti-Prohibition plank.
Following Repeal in 1933, the Prohibition Party began its long decline. Although it has run a candidate for the presidency of the U.S. in every election since 1872, the number of votes its candidates have received have dropped precipitously. For example, the votes won for its presidential/vice-presidential candidates numbered 270,770 in 1892, 103,489 in 1948, 23,266 in 1964 and 140 in 2004.
The declining fortunes of the Prohibition Party can be seen in the venues of its conventions over time. In the early years they were held in such places as the opera house in Columbus (OH), the Exposition Hall in Pittsburgh, and the First Regiment Armory in Chicago. In later years, they have been held in such places as a motel in Birmingham (AL), an unknown location in Bird-in Hand (PA), and in a private living room in Lakewood (CO).
When it briefly changed its name to the National Statesman Party in 1977 (it changed it back in 1980), Time magazine suggested that it was "'doubtful' that the name change would ‘hoist the party out of the category of a political oddity.'"
The Prohibition National Committee is the governing body of the Prohibition Party. A faction of that body asserts that it operates the official web site of the PNC at prohibition.org.
A majority group operates another site (prohibitionists.org) in which it asserts that it represents the Prohibition National Committee. In making its claim, the majority group states that
All actions of the private, invitational meeting of selected Prohibition National Committee members, held last June, held at Lakewood, Colorado, were declared null and void by an absolute majority of PNC members, meeting at Fairfield Glade, Tennessee on 5-6 September 2003.
It states that
An alleged "2003 nominating convention" of the Prohibition Party was held at the Chairman's home in Lakewood, Colorado on June 12-13, 2003. Some members of the National Committee were not notified in advance that the meeting was being held, and others were told by Chairman Earl F. Dodge that they would not be admitted. Eight people were present: Chairman Dodge, his two daughters, and five other members supportive of Dodge. In addition to failing to observe the By-Laws requirement for prior notification, there was not a quorum.
Allegations that Earl Dodge had misused Prohibition Party funds, kept secrets from party members, stole property from party members, and other problems apparently led to the party split.
In the 2004 election, the majority faction ran Gene Amondson as its presidential candidate. With the death of Earl Dodge in 2007, Amondson was the sole Prohibition Party candidate for that office in 2008.
With the death of Amondson in 2009, the future of the Prohibition Party remains uncertain.
Other components of the Prohibition Party organizational structure are the National Prohibition Foundation, the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society, the Action!, Prohibitionists' caucus, and all state and local affiliates.
Prohibition Party National Campaigns
|Year||Presidential nominee||VP nominee||Votes|
|1872||James Black PA||John Russell MI||2,100|
|1876||Green Clay Smith KY||Gideon T. Stewart OH||6,743|
|1880||Neal Dow ME||Henry A. Thompson OH||9,674|
|1884||John P. St. John KS||William Daniel MD||147,520|
|1888||Clinton B. Fisk NJ||John A. Brooks MO||249,813|
|1892||John Bidwell CA||James B. Cranfill TX||270,770|
|1896||Joshua Levering MD||Hale Johnson IL||125,072|
|Charles E. Bentley NE||James H. Southgate NC||19,363|
|1900||John G. Woolley IL||Henry B. Metcalf RI||209,004|
|Donelson Caffery LA (declined);
Edward M. Emerson MA
|Archibald M. Howe MA||342|
|1904||Silas C. Swallow PA||George W. Carroll TX||258,596|
|1908||Eugene W. Chafin IL||Aaron S. Watkins OH||252,821|
|1912||Eugene W. Chafin IL||Aaron S. Watkins OH||207,972|
|1916||J. Frank Hanly IN||Ira Landrith TN||221,030|
|1920||Aaron Watkins OH||D. Leigh Colvin NY||188,685|
|1924||Herman P. Faris MO||Marie C. Brehm CA||54,833|
|1928||William F. Varney NY||James A. Edgerton||20,095|
|Herbert Hoover CA||Charles Curtis KS||14,394|
|1932||William D. Upshaw GA||Frank S. Regan IL||81,916|
|1936||D. Leigh Colvin NY||Alvin York TN (declined);
Claude A. Watson CA
|1940||Roger W. Babson MA||Edgar V. Moorman IL||58,743|
|1944||Claude A. Watson CA||Floyd C. Carrier MD (withdrew);
Andrew Johnson KY
|1948||Claude A. Watson CA||Dale H. Learn PA||103,489|
|1952||Stuart Hamblen CA||Enoch A. Holtwick IL||73,413|
|1956||Enoch A. Holtwick IL||Herbert C. Holdridge CA (withdrew);
Edwin M. Cooper CA
|1960||Rutherford Decker MO||E. Harold Munn MI||46,193|
|1964||E. Harold Munn MI||Mark R. Shaw MA||23,266|
|1968||E. Harold Munn MI||Rolland E. Fisher KS||14,915|
|1972||E. Harold Munn MI||Marshall E. Uncapher KS||12,818|
|1976||Benjamin C. Bubar ME||Earl F. Dodge CO||15,934|
|1980||Benjamin C. Bubar ME||Earl F. Dodge CO||7,212|
|1984||Earl Dodge CO||Warren C. Martin KS||4,242|
|1988||Earl Dodge CO||George Ormsby PA||8,002|
|1992||Earl Dodge CO||George Ormsby PA||935|
|1996||Earl Dodge CO||Rachel Bubar Kelly||1,298|
|2000||Earl Dodge CO||W. Dean Watkins AZ||208|
|2004||Gene Amondson WA||Leroy Pletten MI||1,944|
|Earl Dodge CO||Howard Lydick TX||140|
|2008||Gene Amondson WA||Leroy Pletten MI||643|
Resources on the Prohibition Party
- Adrian, Frederick W. The Political Significance of the Prohibition Party. Thesis. Ohio State University, 1942.
- The Alliance members bolt.; A split in the Prohibition Party of North Dakota. New York Times, May 9, 1892, p. 2.
- American Prohibition Party. New York Times, May 17, 1884, p. 2. ("The attendance was very light" at an organizational meeting of the Prohibition Party in Wyoming County, NY.)
- Babson, Roger W. The New Prohibition Party: Prohibit this 25% from Undermining the Entire 100%. Vital Speeches of the Day, 1939-1940, vol. 6.
- Bengough William. Prohibition Party Leaders of 1884. Chicago, IL: J.A. Van Fleet, 1884.
- Black, James. The National Prohibition Party. N.p., 1885. OCLC number 238852548.
- Boocks, G. Clifford. Experiments in Municipal Reform: The Prohibition Party in Norfolk Politics. Thesis. Old dominion University, 1967.
- Colvin, David Leigh. Prohibition in the United States: A History of the Prohibition Party, and of the Prohibition Movement. NY: George H. Duran Co.,1926.
- Duim, Jon A. The Prohibition Party and the Election of 1892. Thesis. 1984. OCLC number 11357438.
- Ellett, O.D. Helps and Hinderances to Prohibition Party Progress. Marshalltown, IA: Charter Oak Publishing House, 1912.
- Gammon, C.L. America's Other Party: A Brief History of the Prohibition Party. FEP International, 2007.
- Gemmer, H. Robert. The Contribution of the Prohibition Party. Thesis. Chicago, IL: Chicago Theological Seminary, 1947.
- Griffin, Albert. The Prohibition Party. NY: Brodix, 1892.
- In search of voters, prohibition candidate runs dry. New York Times, October 1, 2004. (Featured Gene Amondson, presidential candidate of Prohibition Party in 2004.)
- Johnson, William E. The Prohibition Party. Chicago, IL: New Voice Press, 1904.
- Mr. Wolfe the nominee; to lead the Pennsylvania Prohibition Party. New York Times, August 27, 1886, p. 5.
- A party of moral ideas. New York Times, May 29, 1886, p. 4. (Writer argued that the Prohibition Party was the only political party advocating "the suppression of the liquor traffic.")
- Prohibition; Convention of the "Prohibition" Party of New-Hampsbire (sic) Nomination of a Candidate for Governor. New York Times, December 7, 1871, p. 5.
- A prohibition convention. New York Times, February 29, 1888, p. 5. (The New Jersey convention of the Prohibition Party met in Trenton to nominate a candidate for governor.)
- Prohibition Party. Prohibition National Campaign Committee. Prohibition Party Platform. Chicago, IL: Prohibition Party, 1916.
- Prohibition Party of California. Platform of the Prohibition Party of California, Adopted in State Convention Assembled. San Francisco, CA: Prohibition Party of California, 1888.
- Prohibition Party. A Condensed History of the Prohibition Party, the 75 Year Struggle for National Prohibition. Chicago, IL: National Prohibitionist, 1944.
- Prohibition Party (majority group) website (prohibitionists.org/body_index.html+%22Prohibition+National+Committee%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=4)
- Prohibition Party (minority group, i.e., Earl Dodge group) website (prohibition.org/+%22Prohibition+National+Committee%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1)
- The Prohibition Party doings (struat.com/election/2004/03/19/the-prohibition-party-doings/+%22Prohibition+National+Committee%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=15)
- The Prohibition Party. New York Times, September 3, 1900, p. 8. (Writer defended Prohibition Party against criticisms.)
- The Prohibition Party. New York Times, August 8, 1916, p. 8. (Reader praised editorial favorable to Prohibition Party.)
- The Prohibition Party; the Massachusetts state convention to be held to-day diversity of opinion among the delegates and anything to beat Rice if nominated. New York Times, September 12, 1877. (There were 700 delegates to the Prohibition Party convention, including many women.)
- Ron Gunzburger's Politics1 (politics1.com/prohibition04.htm+%22Prohibition+National+Committee%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=6)
- Sharp, Charles F. History of the Prohibition Party. Thesis, Ohio University, 1912.
- Sheehan, Paul F. The National Convention of the Prohibition Party, 1896. Thesis. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Library, 1936. OCLC number 301329123.
- 679,618 women now on the party lists; enrollment figures show more new Republican than Democratic voters in this state. Leads prohibition forces. Women in the majority--number of men enrolled in all the parties is 1,473,088. New York Times, July 14, 1918, p. 16. (Women were a majority of Prohibition Party members.)
- The State Prohibition Party. New York Times, April 14, 1875, p. 1. (An organizational meeting of the Prohibition Party was held in Poughkeepsie, NY.)
- Storms, Roger C. Partisan Prophets: A History of the Prohibition Party, 1854-1972. Denver, CO: National Prohibition Foundation, 1972.
- Time. Americana: Time to toast the Party? Time, November 7, 1977.
- U.S. News and World Report. What do you serve at a prohibition party? - Optimism, revisionism, and lemonade. U.S. News and World Report, 1999, 127(2), 51-52.
- Woolley, John G. The Prohibition Party. Chicago, IL: New Voice Press, 19--.
- Yurick, Edward F. The Prohibition Party in the Election of 1888. Thesis. Ohio State University, 1951.
Filed Under: Prohibition