Flying Squadron of America: Fighting for Prohibition

Speakers and Singers

The Flying Squadron of America was an assemblage of temperance speakers and singers. Three teams of speakers, along with singers, toured the country. They did so between between September 30, 1914 and June 6, 1915.

The Squadron arose informally from a meeting of the National Temperance Council. It was largely organized by former Indiana Governor J. Frank Hanly.


Although it developed informally, it was well-organized. The three teams were coordinated but travelled separately. They spoke and sang in every state capital. They spoke and sang in every major city in the U.S. And they spoke and sang in most university towns. Thus, they visited the political, economic, and educational centers of the nation. It was a grueling schedule. Each team spoke and sang two to six times per day. And this was seven days per week. In doing so, they covered 43,000 miles in eight months.

In spite of the name, they didn’t fly. They spent nearly half the 240 nights sleeping on trains. There were no interstate highways. Most roads were unpaved. Travel was difficult and tiring.

flying squadron of America

J. Frank Hanley

The teams were highly motivated. Their goal was National Prohibition. Their efforts helped make that a reality.

Governor Hanley played a major role in the Flying Squadron of America, He was also well-known. So it was sometimes called Hanley’s Flying Squadron.


The first team was led by Hanley and Oliver W. Stewart. The second by Daniel A. Poling and Charles M. Sheldon. The third was led by Ira Landreth and Carolyn E. Geisel.

The musicians were D.V. Poling, William Lowell Patton and Fred Butler and his wife. Also  Vera K. Mullin, Iris Robinson, and Hallie McNeill.

Other speakers helped from time to time. They were John B. Lewis, Clinton N. Howard, Eugene Chafin, and Ella Boole. Also Charles Scanlon, Clarence True Wilson, W.R. Webb, Mrs. Oliver W. Stewart, and William F. Sherwin.

Some of the speakers were national leaders of the temperance movement. Others would later become so.



Landreth, I. Hurled verbal bombs at the saloon. The Continent, 1915, 46(26), pp. 871 & 884.

Kobler, John. Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. NY: Putnam’s, 1973.