Ernest Cherrington: Major 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. But he became increasingly concerned over drinking abuse. He believed it 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.

Anti-Saloon League (ASL)

Ernest Cherrington
Ernest Cherrington

Cherrington joined the Ohio ASL in 1901 and became very active in it. The local affiliate soon appointed him its head. Then the Ohio ASL appointed him assistant head. Next, the Washington state ASL appointed him its leader.

He again and again showed his high ability. So the American Issue Publishing Company appointed Cherrington editor. It was the publishing house of the ASL of America. 

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

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. But the League’s flagship was The American Issue. He edited it for 32 years, from 1909 to 1942.  For more, visit Temperance Magazines and Journals.

Favored Education over Coercion

Cherrington favored education over the coercion to achieve Prohibition. But this was a directly opposed to that of Anti-Saloon leader Wayne Wheeler. Cherrington believed that drinking would decrease over time.

That would be so if 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 massive six-volume work. The Anti-Saloon League sent it to schools throughout the country.


Ernest Cherrington           


  • 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). He was a well-known astronomer.
  • Following a number of name changes, the Anti-Saloon League 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 forming the World League Against Alcoholism (WLAA). And he worked hard on its behalf. In fact, the League Against Alcoholism wasn’t simply opposed to alcoholism. It opposed any and all drinking. Temperance supporters tended to equate drinking with alcoholism.

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 drink alcohol. In addition, tens of millions more support neo-prohibition ideas. They also strongly defend the many vestiges of Prohibition that continue to exist.

Selected Writings by Cherrington


    • Aaron, P. and Musto, D. Temperance and Prohibition in America. In: Moore, M. and Gerstein, D. (Eds.) Alcohol and Public Policy. Pp. 127-180.
    • Blocker, J. American Temperance Movements.
    • Ernest Hurst Cherrington. Am Nat Bio, v 4.
    • Ernest H. Cherrington, OH Hist Central website.
    • Odegard, P. Pressure Politics. The Story of the Anti-Saloon League.
    • Westerville (OH) Pub Library. Leaders: Ernest Cherrington. The Library website.
    • Report of the World League Against Alcoholism. WLAA, 1925.
 World Prohibition

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 SheppardThe First Decade of Prohibition. A Study of the Social Effect of National Prohibition. Wash: 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 US. 1921.

American Council on Alcohol Problems records, 1916-1969.  Bentley Hist Lib U MI.