Ernest Cherrington: Temperance Leader

Ernest Cherrington was a leader in the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) and temperance movement. He was also an important temperance writer and journalist. Cherrington was born in 1877 in Hamden, Ohio. 

After attending Ohio Wesleyan he taught school. However, he became increasingly concerned over the consumption of alcoholic beverages. He believed reflected a moral decline in the country. For this reason, Cherrington left his teaching job. Then he became a newspaper reporter and critic of alcohol consumption.

Anti-Saloon League (ASL)

Ernest Cherrington
Ernest Cherrington

Cherrington joined the Ohio Anti-Saloon League in 1901 and became very active in the organization. The local affiliate soon appointed superintendent. Then the Ohio Anti-Saloon League appointed him assistant superintendent. Next, the Washington state Anti-Saloon League appointed him superintendent.

He consistently demonstrated his high ability. Therefore the American Issue Publishing Company appointed Cherrington editor. It was the publishing house of the Anti-Saloon League of America. 

The picture of Cherrington in Wikipedia is that of his son. Wikipedia is neither a scholarly nor reliable source of information.

Cherrington was the writer or editor of three major publications. One was the American Patriot from 1912 to 1916. Another was the National Register from 1915 to 1916. However, the League’s flagship periodical was The American Issue. He edited it for 32 years, from 1909 to 1942. 

Favored Education over Coercion

Cherrington favored education over the coercive use of force to achieve Prohibition. However, this was a position directly opposed to that of Anti-Saloon leader Wayne Wheeler. Cherrington believed that alcohol consumption would decrease over time. That would be the case if only children learned what prohibitionists taught. To this end, he edited and contributed to the writing of The Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem. This was a comprehensive six-volume work. The Anti-Saloon League distributed it to schools throughout the country.

Miscellaneous

  • The Ernest Cherrington Park in Westerville, Ohio, is named in his honor.
  • Ernest Hurst Cherrington, the prohibitionist, should not be confused with his son. He’s Ernest Hurst Cherrington, Jr. (1909-1996), who was a well-known astronomer.
  • Following a number of name changes, the Anti-Saloon League of America is now the American Council on Alcohol Problems.

Other Temperance Leadership

In addition to his work in the Anti-Saloon League of America, Cherrington was active in establishing the World League Against Alcoholism (WLAA).And he worked extensively on its behalf. In reality, the League Against Alcoholism wasn’t simply opposed to alcoholism. It opposed any and all consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Cherrington later became executive secretary of the Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals of the Methodist Church. That position had become vacant following the scandals and disgrace of Bishop John Cannon, Jr. Cherrington remained in that position until shortly before his death in 1950.

His Legacy

Ernest Cherrington was one of the few prohibition leaders whose reputation was not harmed by scandal. Others faced revelations of racial or religious bigotry, sexual indiscretions, financial improprieties, or other moral/ethical problems.

Prohibition was a dismal failure that created serious problems. Yet today nearly one of every five U.S. adults supports making drinking illegal for everyone. Not even National Prohibition (1920-1933) made it illegal to consume alcohol. In addition, tens of millions more support neo-prohibition ideas. They also strongly defend the many vestiges of Prohibition that continue to exist.

Resources on Ernest Cherrington

References

  • Aaron, P. and Musto, D. Temperance and Prohibition in America. In: Moore, M. and Gerstein, D. (Eds.) Alcohol and Public Policy. Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition. Washington: National Academy Press, 1981. Pp. 127-180.
  • Blocker, J. American Temperance Movements. Cycles of Reform. Boston: Twayne, 1989.
  • Ernest Hurst Cherrington. American National Biography, v 4.
  • Ernest H. Cherrington, Ohio History Central website.
  • Odegard, P. Pressure Politics. The Story of the Anti-Saloon League. NY: Columbia U Press, 1928.
  • Westerville (Ohio) Public Library. Leaders: Ernest Cherrington. Westerville Public Library website.

Selected Writings by Earnest Cherrington

In these writings, Ernest Cherrington is sometimes listed as Ernest H. Cherrington or Ernest Hurst Cherrington.

  • Report of the World League Against Alcoholism. Westerville, OH: WLAA, 1925.
  • (Editor-in-Chief). Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1925.
  • Opportunity and Obligation of the World Movement against Alcoholism. Westerville, OH: WLAA, 1922.
  • The Evolution of Prohibition in the USA.  Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1920. (Reprinted, Montclair, NJ: Smith, 1969)
  • World-wide progress toward prohibition legislation. Ann Am Acad Polit Soc Sci, 1923, 109(1), 208-224.
  • A New Plan of Campaign in the Interest of National Prohibition. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1919. Prohibition Success or Failure. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, n.d.
  • A Superficial Survey of the Results of Prohibition in the USA. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1926.
  • Education and Prohibition. Washington: Gov Print Off, 1929.
  • Education to Solve the Alcohol Problem. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1938. Education, the Only Permanent Solution of the Alcohol Problem. Westerville, OH: American Issue, 1930. Answers to Favorite “Wet” Arguments. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1929.
  • Is World-Wide Prohibition Feasible? Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1919.
  • The Challenge of a World Crusade. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1925.
  • Education against Alcohol. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1929. Report of the World League against Alcoholism. Westerville, OH: WLAA, 1925.
  • Shall the Eighteenth Amendment Prevail? Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1929.
  • American Prohibition. Westerville, OH: WLAA, 1926.
  • (With Morris Sheppard) The First Decade of Prohibition. A Study of the Social Effect of National Prohibition. Washington: Gov Print Off, 1929.
  • The Old Soak. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, n.d.
  • The Smoking Car Wet. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, n.d.
  • What Became of the Distilleries, Breweries and Saloons in the USA. Westerville, OH: WLAA, 1921.
  • American Council on Alcohol Problems records, 1916-1969. (archival materials) Bentley Historical Library, U Michigan.
  • A Cloud of Witnesses. Westerville, OH: Am Issues, 1923.
  • Is it Right to Seek Social Legislation? Westerville, OH: WLAA, 1930.
  • (With the WCTU). Why Drinking is an Out of Date Custom. Evanston, IL: WCTU, 1922.
  • Educating the Masses and the Classes against Alcoholism. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1931.
  • The Anti-Saloon League Year Book, 1910. Westerville, OH: ASL, 1910.
  • The Anti-Saloon League Year Book, 1915.  Westerville, OH: ASL, 1915.
  • (Editor). Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Congress against Alcoholism. Washington DC and Westerville, OH: The Congress, 1921.
  • Suggestions toward Vital Action. Washington: Board of Temperance of the Methodist Church, 1930.
  • Report of the Activities of the WLAA. Westerville, OH: WLAA, 1927.