Longtime leader of the Prohibition Party, Earl F. Dodge, Jr., was born in Malden, Massachusetts on December 24, 1932 and joined the Prohibition Party at age 19. He was appointed chairman of the Prohibition Party in 1979 while the party was operating under the name of the National Statesmen Party; the Prohibition Party name was re-instated following the 1980 election.
The Prohibition Party was created in 1867 to advocate temperance and legislation prohibiting the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. It was an important force in US politics during the late 1800s and the early decades of the 20th century. The Prohibition Party is the oldest "third party" in the US and has nominated a candidate for president of the US in every election since 1872.
Earl Dodge was the Prohibition Party candidate for vice-president of the U.S. in 1976 and 1980. He then became its candidate for the presidency in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004.
Dodge posted a Prohibition Party website which also promoted sales from "Havel's House of History." To what extent Earl Dodge benefitted from this arrangement is not known. He had reportedly avoided paying Social Security taxes on his income from the Prohibition Party by routing it through the National Prohibition Foundation, which he controlled.
Dodge received substantial Prohibition Party funds to build an addition onto his house for use as the Prohibition Party office. Although the office was moved into his residence, the only "addition" the building inspector could find was a portable tool shed in Dodge's back yard.
A Party historian, James Hedges, reported that Earl Dodge had "amassed a notable personal hoard of political Americana, with an emphasis on Prohibition Party material." Money to develop this was provided by the Prohibition Trust Fund Association. However, in 2004, the Trust Fund withdrew its support for lack of a satisfactory accounting from Dodge.
The historian noted that the American Political Items Collectors organization refused to renew Dodge's membership sometime before 1995, after allegations by several members that Dodge had visited their homes, distracted them, and pocketed some of their possessions. He was no longer allowed into display areas at the meetings.
The Party's treasurer of ten years, Earl Higgerson, resigned after he asserted that Earl Dodge refused to let him see the Party‘s account books, see the list of donors, sign a check card at the bank, or learn what actions Dodge may have taken in his name as treasurer. When Higgerson discovered that Dodge controlled another financial operation in addition to the Party (the National Prohibition Foundation) he asked about it but Dodge reportedly told him that it was "none of your business." Dodge's daughter then replaced Higgerson as Treasurer of the Prohibition Party.
Growing concern that Earl Dodge badly mismanaged the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society and the National Prohibition Foundation led directors to take over the Society in 1997 and the Foundation in 2001.
Dodge was unseated as chair of the Party at a public meeting called by a majority of the members of the Prohibition National Committee after Dodge had held an invitation-only meeting at his home and then claimed that it was the lawful nominating convention of the Prohibition Party. The Prohibition National Committee then ran Gene Amondson as its presidential candidate. However, Earl Dodge also ran, claiming that he was the legal and rightful candidate of the Prohibition Party.
Dodge and his group of followers left the historic Prohibition Party and created another which they named the "National Prohibition Party." It was formally incorporated in Colorado in September of 2003.
In an interview with Reason magazine, Earl Dodge conceded that "immediate prohibition today is impracticable: ‘There'd be no point in enacting a law without majority support because you couldn't enforce it, and drinking is an ingrained practice in America.' So while ‘prohibition is the ultimate answer, in the meantime we favor education' and the semi-prohibitionist steps advocated by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving."
Earl F. Dodge never succeeded in winning a political race and died on November 7, 2007. His obituary was published in the New York Times and other newspapers.
Because of the failure of National Prohibition (1929-1933) and the serious problems it created, few people today support prohibition. However, many people and organizations support neo-prohibition ideas and strongly defend the many vestiges of Prohibition that continue to exist.
Filed Under: Biography