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The Prohibition Party (PRO) is a political party in the United States best known for its historic opposition to the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is the oldest existing third party in the US and the third longest active party. The party is an integral part of the temperance movement. While never one of the leading parties in the United States, it was once an important force in the Third Party System during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It declined dramatically after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 with 1948 being the last time its presidential candidate received over 100,000 votes and 1976 being the last time it received over 10,000 votes.
The platform of the party is liberal in that it supports environmental stewardship and free education, but is conservative on social issues, such as supporting temperance and advocating for an anti-abortion stance.
In 1869 the Prohibition Party was founded in Chicago, Illinois with John Russell serving as its first national committee chairman and James Black serving as president of the convention. The party was the first to accept women as members and gave those who attended full delegate rights. Women's suffrage appeared on the Prohibition Party platform in 1872, the Republican and Democratic parties would not add it to their platforms until 1916, and the 1892 platform included the idea of equal pay for equal work.
In 1884 election the party nominated John St. John, the former Republican governor of Kansas, who with the support from Frances Willard and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union saw the party 147,482 votes for 1.50% of the popular vote. However, the party was accused of spoiling the election due to Grover Cleveland's margin of victory over James G. Blaine in New York being less than John's vote total there. In 1888 the party's presidential nominee, Clinton B. Fisk, was accused of being a possible spoiler candidate that would prevent Benjamin Harrison from winning, but Harrison won the election although without winning the national popular vote.
The party suffered a schism at the 1896 Prohibition convention between the narrow gauger faction which only supported having a alcoholic prohibition plank in the party's platform and the broad gauger faction which supported the addition of free silver and women's suffrage. After the narrow gaugers successfully chose the presidential ticket and the party platform the broad gaugers performed a walkout lead by former presidential nominee John St. John, Nebraska state chairman Charles Eugene Bentley, and suffragette Helen M. Gougar and created the breakaway National Party and nominated a rival ticket with Bentley as president and James H. Southgate as vice president. The Prohibition party ticket of Joshua Levering and Hale Johnson had the worst popular vote performance since Neal Dow's 10,364 votes in 1880, but still outperformed the National Party's 13,968 votes. Following the 1896 election most of the members of the National Party became disillusioned with party and returned to the Prohibition party.
At the same time, its ideology broadened to include aspects of progressivism. The party contributed to the third-party discussions of the 1910s and sent Charles H. Randall to the 64th, 65th and 66th Congresses as the representative of California's 9th congressional district. Democrat Sidney J. Catts of Florida, after losing a close Democratic primary, used the Prohibition line to win election as Governor of Florida in 1916; he remained a Democrat.
In 1919 the party achieved its goal with the passage of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed the production, sale, transportation, import and export of alcohol. The era during which alcohol was illegal in the United States is known as "Prohibition".
During the Prohibition era, the Prohibition Party pressed for stricter enforcement of the prohibition laws. During the 1928 election the party considered endorsing Republican Herbert Hoover rather than running its own candidate and risking spoiling the election and allowing Al Smith, who supported ending prohibition, to get election. However, the party chose to nominate William F. Varney due to their feeling that Hoover was not strict enough on prohibition. The Prohibition Party became even more critical of Hoover after he was elected President. By the 1932 election, party chairman David Leigh Colvin thundered that "The Republican wet plank, supporting the repeal of Prohibition, means that Mr. Hoover is the most conspicuous turncoat since Benedict Arnold." Hoover lost the election, but national prohibition was repealed anyway in 1933, with the 21st Amendment during the Roosevelt administration.
Post World War II
The Prohibition Party has faded into obscurity since World War II. When it briefly changed its name to the "National Statesman Party" in 1977 (it reversed the change in 1980), Time magazine suggested that it was "doubtful" that the name change would "hoist the party out of the category of political oddity".
The Prohibition Party has continued running presidential candidates every four years, but its vote totals have steadily dwindled. It last received more than 100,000 votes for president in 1948, and the 1976 election was the last time the party received more than 10,000 votes.
The Prohibition Party experienced a schism in 2003, as the party's prior presidential candidate, Earl Dodge, incorporated a rival party called the National Prohibition Party in Colorado. An opposing faction nominated Gene C. Amondson for President and filed under the Prohibition banner in Louisiana. Dodge ran under the name of the historic Prohibition Party in Colorado, while the Concerns of People Party allowed Amondson to run on its line against Dodge. Amondson received 1,944 votes, nationwide, while Dodge garnered 140.
One key area of disagreement between the factions was over who should control payments from a trust fund dedicated to the Prohibition Party by George Pennock in 1930. The fund pays approximately $8,000 per year, and during the schism these funds were divided between the factions. Dodge died in 2007, allowing the dispute over the Pennock funds to finally be resolved in 2014. The party is reported as having only "three dozen fee-paying members".
In 2015 the party rejoined the board of the Coalition for Free and Open Elections] and became a qualified political party in Mississippi. In the 2016 election, the party nominated James Hedges and qualified for the ballot in three states, Arkansas, Colorado, and Mississippi, and earned 5,514 votes becoming the most successful Prohibition presidential candidate since 1988.
The party met via telephone conference in November 2018 to nominate its 2020 presidential ticket. Bill Bayes of Mississippi, the 2016 Vice-Presidential nominee, was nominated for President on the first ballot over Adam Seaman of Massachusetts and Phil Collins of Nevada. Conservative activist C.L. "Connie" Gammon of Tennessee was nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate without opposition. Bayes, who was a neo-Confederate activist espousing the view that each state was sovereign and that the United States was only a voluntary confederation of states, resigned as the nominee, accusing some party activists of sabotaging his run because they opposed his views. As a result, another telephone conference call was held in March 2019, resulting in the nominations of C.L. Gammon for Presidential and conservative activist Phil Collins for Vice Presidential. Gammon was forced to resign as the nominee in August 2019 due to health problems, and the party held a third telephone conference that month to select a new ticket: Phil Collins for President and Billy Joe Parker of Georgia for Vice President. Like Bayes, Parker is a vocal Confederate heritage activist, although Parker removed all the Confederate heritage images and memes from his Facebook page after being nominated.
The Prohibition Party has nominated a candidate for president in every election since 1872, and is thus the longest-lived American political party after the Democrats and Republicans.
|Prohibition Party National Conventions and Campaigns|
|Year||No.||Convention Site & City||Dates||Presidential nominee||Vice-Presidential nominee||Votes||Votes %|
|1872||1st||Comstock's Opera House, Columbus, Ohio||Feb. 22, 1872||James Black (Pennsylvania)||John Russell (Michigan)||5,607||0.1|
|1876||2nd||Halle's Hall, |
|May 17, 1876||Green Clay Smith (Kentucky)||Gideon T. Stewart (Ohio)||6,945||0.08|
|1880||3rd||June 17, 1880||Neal Dow (Maine)||Henry Adams Thompson (Ohio)||10,364||0.11|
|1884||4th||Lafayette Hall, |
|July 23–24, 1884||John P. St. John (Kansas)||William Daniel (Maryland)||147,482||1.50|
|1888||5th||Tomlinson Hall, |
|May 30–31, 1888||Clinton B. Fisk (New Jersey)||John A. Brooks (Missouri)||249,819||2.20|
|1892||6th||Music Hall, |
|June 29–30, 1892||John Bidwell (California)||James B. Cranfill (Texas)||270,879||2.24|
|1896||7th||Exposition Hall, Pittsburgh||May 27–28, 1896||Joshua Levering (Maryland)||Hale Johnson (Illinois)||131,312||0.94|
|[7th]||Pittsburgh||May 28, 1896||Charles Eugene Bentley (Nebraska)||James H. Southgate (N. Car.)||13,968||0.10|
|1900||8th||First Regiment Armory, |
|June 27–28, 1900||John G. Woolley (Illinois)||Henry B. Metcalf (Rhode Island)||210,864||1.51|
|1904||9th||Tomlinson Hall, Indianapolis||June 29 to |
July 1, 1904
|Silas C. Swallow (Pennsylvania)||George W. Carroll (Texas)||259,102||1.92|
|1908||10th||Memorial Hall, Columbus||July 15–16, 1908||Eugene W. Chafin (Illinois)||Aaron S. Watkins (Ohio)||254,087||1.71|
|1912||11th||on a large temporary pier, |
Atlantic City, New Jersey
|July 10–12, 1912||208,156||1.38|
|1916||12th||St. Paul, Minnesota||July 19–21, 1916||J. Frank Hanly (Indiana)||Rev. Dr. Ira Landrith (Tennessee)||221,302||1.19|
|1920||13th||Lincoln, Nebraska||July 21–22, 1920||Aaron S. Watkins (Ohio)||D. Leigh Colvin (New York)||188,787||0.71|
|1924||14th||Memorial Hall, Columbus||June 4–6, 1924||Herman P. Faris (Missouri)||Marie C. Brehm (California)||55,951||0.19|
|1928||15th||Hotel LaSalle, Chicago||July 10–12, 1928||William F. Varney (New York)||James A. Edgerton||20,101||0.05|
|[15th]||[California ticket]||Herbert Hoover (California)||Charles Curtis (Kansas)||14,394|
|1932||16th||Cadle Tabernacle, |
|July 5–7, 1932||William D. Upshaw (Georgia)||Frank S. Regan (Illinois)||81,905||0.21|
|1936||17th||State Armory Building, |
Niagara Falls, New York
|May 5–7, 1936||D. Leigh Colvin (New York)||Alvin York (Tennessee) (declined); |
Claude A. Watson (California)
|1940||18th||Chicago||May 8–10, 1940||Roger W. Babson (Mass.)||Edgar V. Moorman (Illinois)||57,925||0.12|
|1944||19th||Indianapolis||Nov. 10–12, 1943||Claude A. Watson (California)||Floyd C. Carrier (Maryland) (withdrew); |
Andrew N. Johnson (Kentucky)
|1948||20th||Winona Lake, Indiana||June 26–28, 1947||Dale H. Learn (Pennsylvania)||103,708||0.21|
|1952||21st||Indianapolis||Nov. 13–15, 1951||Stuart Hamblen (California)||Enoch A. Holtwick (Illinois)||73,412||0.12|
|1956||22nd||Camp Mack, |
|Sept. 4–6, 1955||Enoch A. Holtwick (Illinois)||Herbert C. Holdridge (California) (withdrew); |
Edwin M. Cooper (California)
|1960||23rd||Westminster Hotel, |
|Sept. 1–3, 1959||Rutherford Decker (Missouri)||E. Harold Munn (Michigan)||46,203||0.07|
|1964||24th||Pick Congress Hotel, |
|August 26–27, 1963||E. Harold Munn (Michigan)||Mark R. Shaw (Massachusetts)||23,267||0.03|
|1968||25th||YWCA, Detroit, Mich.||June 28–29, 1968||Rolland E. Fisher (Kansas)||15,123||0.02|
|1972||26th||Nazarene Church Building, |
|June 24–25, 1971||Marshall E. Uncapher (Kansas)||13,497||0.02|
|1976||27th||Beth Eden Baptist Church Bldg, Wheat Ridge, Colo.||June 26–27, 1975||Benjamin C. Bubar (Maine)||Earl F. Dodge (Colorado)||15,932||0.02|
|1980||28th||Motel Birmingham, |
|June 20–21, 1979||7,206||0.01|
|1984||29th||Mandan, North Dakota||June 22–24, 1983||Earl Dodge (Colorado)||Warren C. Martin (Kansas)||4,243||0.00|
|1988||30th||Heritage House, |
|June 25–26, 1987||George Ormsby (Pennsylvania)||8,002||0.01|
|1992||31st||Minneapolis, Minnesota||June 24–26, 1991||961||0.00|
|1996||32nd||Denver, Colorado||1995||Rachel Bubar Kelly (Maine)||1,298||0.00|
|2000||33rd||Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania||June 28–30, 1999||W. Dean Watkins (Arizona)||208||0.00|
|2004||34th||Fairfield Glade, Tennessee||February 1, 2004||Gene Amondson (Washington)||Leroy Pletten (Michigan)||1,944||0.00|
|[34th]||Lakewood, Colorado||August 2003||Earl Dodge (Colorado)||Howard Lydick (Texas)||140||0.00|
|2008||35th||Adam's Mark Hotel, |
|Sept. 13–14, 2007||Gene Amondson (Washington)||Leroy Pletten (Michigan)||655||0.00|
|2012||36th||Holiday Inn Express, |
|June 20–22, 2011||Jack Fellure (West Virginia)||Toby Davis (Mississippi)||518||0.00|
|2016||37th||Conference call||July 31, 2015||James Hedges (Pennsylvania)||Bill Bayes (Mississippi)||5,617||0.00|
|2020||38th||Conference call||August 24, 2019||Phil Collins (Nevada)||Billy Joe Parker (Georgia)||N/A|
|Year||Number of candidates||Votes||Change|
- Marie C. Brehm – vice presidential candidate in 1924 – first legally qualified woman ever to be nominated for vice president
- Susanna Madora Salter - First female mayor in the United States in Argonia, Kansas in 1887
- Frances Willard - One of the founders of the WCTU. It is often forgotten that Willard made great advances before her involvement in the temperance movement. In 1871 she became the first female president of a college that granted degrees to women: Evanston College. She helped found the Association for the Advancement of Women in 1873 before she began her work in the temperance movement in 1874. After founding the WCTU, she became the first corresponding secretary. In 1879, she became the second president of the WCTU. During her 19 years as president, the WCTU became the largest organization of women in the United States. In 1883, she helped found the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Under her leadership, the WCTU advocated not only for temperance, but also for women's suffrage, equal pay for equal work, the eight-hour workday, world peace, and the protection of women and children in the workplace, among other things. The WCTU also created shelters for victims of abuse and free kindergartens. She later became the first woman ever to be featured in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol and was honored in 2000 by the National Women's Hall of Fame.
- Emily Pitts Stevens joined the Prohibition Party in 1882, and led the movement, in 1888, to induce the Woman's Christian Temperance Union to endorse that party.
- Sidney Johnston Catts - Governor of Florida (1917–1921)
- Charles Hiram Randall - California State Assemblyman (1911–12) and U.S. Representative from the 9th District of California (1915–21)
- James Hedges - elected as Thompson Township, Pennsylvania Tax Assessor in 2002 and served until 2007. He is the only Prohibition Party office holder of the 21st century.
The Prohibition Party platform, as listed on the party's web site in 2018, includes the following points:
- A non-interventionist foreign policy
- Eliminating conscription in times of peace
- Opposition to military action that violates Just War principles
- Fair trade
- Use of human rights considerations in determining most favored nation status
- Abolition of the United States Federal Reserve and re-establishment of the Bank of the United States
- Strict laws against usury
- A "strict interpretation" of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution that includes a right to use arms for defense and sport
- Right to work
- Blue laws prohibiting employers in all fields except public safety from requiring employees to work on the Sabbath
- A fully funded Social Security system
- A Balanced Budget Amendment
- Increased spending on public works projects
- Opposition of government financial interference in, or aid to, commerce
- Definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman
- Support for voluntary prayer in public schools
- Opposition to attempts to remove religion from the public square
- Recognition of the contributions of immigrants to the United States
- A generous policy of asylum for people facing persecution or living in inhumane conditions
- Free college education for all Americans
- Job training programs paid for by tariffs
- Opposition to capital punishment
- Opposition to physician-assisted suicide
- Opposition to testing on animals
- Prohibition on use of animals in sport
- Prohibition on gambling and abolition of all state lotteries
- Opposition to pornography
- Prohibition of all non-medicinal drugs, including alcohol and tobacco
- Campaigns to promote temperance
In 1867 John Russell became the first chairman of the Prohibition party with Earl Dodge serving the longest for twenty four years and Gregory Seltzer serving the shortest for one year.
- 1867-1872: John Russell
- 1872-1876: Simeon B. Chase
- 1876-1880: James Black
- 1880-1884: Gideon T. Stewart
- 1884-1887: John B. Finch
- 1887-1900: Samuel Dickie
- 1900-1905: Oliver W. Stewart
- 1905-1908: Charles R. Jones
- 1908-1924: Virgil G. Hinshaw
- 1924-1925: B.E.P. Prugh
- 1925-1932: D. Leigh Colvin
- 1932-1947: Edward E. Blake
- 1947-1950: Virgil C. Finnell
- 1950-1953: Gerald Overholt
- 1953-1955: Lowell H. Coate
- 1955-1971: E. Harold Munn
- 1971-1979: Charles Wesley Ewing
- 1979-2003: Earl Dodge
- 2003-2005: Don Webb
- 2005-2009: Gene Amondson
- 2009-2013: Toby Davis
- 2013-2014: Gregory Seltzer
- 2014-2019: Rick Knox
- 2019-present: Randy McNutt
- Black, James. Is There a Necessity for a Prohibition Party? (National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1876.)
- Lopez, German (October 28, 2016). "There's a Prohibition Party candidate running for president in 2016". Vox. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
- "Hon. James Black Dead". Lancaster Intelligencer. December 20, 1893. p. 3. Archived from the original on December 15, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Give the Ladies a Chance: Gender and Partisanship in the Prohibition Party, 1869–1912". Journal of Women's History 2: 137
- Gillespie, J. David. Challengers to Duopoly: Why Third Parties Matter in the American Two-Party System. 2012. p. 47
- "Our Campaigns - Container Detail Page". Archived from the original on February 5, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
- "John P. St. John Is Gone". The Garnett Review. September 7, 1916. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "The Prohibition Candidate". The Times. June 3, 1888. p. 4. Archived from the original on December 20, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "St. John Bolts". The Topeka State Journal. May 29, 1896. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Gov. John Pierce St. John".
- "Prohis Select William Varney". Statesman Journal. July 13, 1928. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 17, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "National Affairs: Men of Principle". Time. September 10, 1928. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- "National Affairs: In Cadle Tabernacle". Time. July 18, 1932. Archived from the original on October 27, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- "Americana: Time to Toast the Party?". Time. November 7, 1977. Archived from the original on October 22, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Pitkin, Ryan (October 13, 2004). "Beyond Bush, Kerry & Nader". Creative Loafing Charlotte. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- The National Prohibitionist, 6/2003, p. 1
- "CO US President Race - Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on February 5, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- The National Prohibitionist, 11/2004, p. 1.
- "Internal Prohibition Party Battle Has Court Hearing on January 16". Ballot Access News. January 15, 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- "Ballot Access News - March 1, 2006". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- "Prohibition Party Now to Receive Full Pennock Trust Income". October 19, 2014. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- "A sobering alternative? Prohibition party back on the ticket this election" Archived 2016-10-07 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, May 11, 2016.
- "Prohibition Party Rejoins Board of Coalition for Free & Open Elections". October 25, 2015. Archived from the original on December 21, 2019.
- "Prohibition Party Now a Qualified Party in Mississippi". December 11, 2015. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016.
- "Prohibition Party Nominates National Ticket for 2020 | Ballot Access News".
- Gunzburger, Ron. "Politics1 - Director of U.S. Political Parties". politics1.com.
- Makeley, Jonathan (April 15, 2019). "Prohibition National Committee Meets, Gammon and Collins Selected as Presidential Ticket". Independent Political Report. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
- Makeley, Jonathan (August 24, 2019). "Prohibition Party Nominates New Ticket, Selects New Chairman".
- "Billy Parker". www.facebook.com.
- Winger, Richard (May 7, 2015). "Prohibition Party Cancels Presidential Convention and Instead will Nominate by Direct Vote of Members". Ballot Access News. Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
- "Prohibition Party Nominates National Ticket". Ballot Access News. July 31, 2015. Archived from the original on August 3, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- "2016 Election Results: President Live Map by State, Real-Time Voting Updates". Election Hub. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- "Prohibition Party Nominates New Ticket, Selects New Chairman". August 24, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
- "Prohibitionists Historical Vote Record". Prohibitionists.org. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- "Susanna Madora Salter - Kansapedia - Kansas Historical Society". KSHS. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- "Frances E. Willard". 2000. National Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved on November 18, 2014 from . Archived August 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Gillespie, J. David. 2012. Challengers to Duopoly: Why Third Parties Matter in American Two-Party Politics. Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press. P. 47
- Willard, Frances Elizabeth; Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice (1893). A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks of Life (Public domain ed.). Moulton. pp. 686–.
- "Candidates". Archived from the original on October 12, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
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- Andersen, Lisa, "From Unpopular to Excluded: Prohibitionists and the Ascendancy of a Democratic-Republican System, 1888–1912", Journal of Policy History, 24 (no. 2, 2012), pp. 288–318.
- Cherrington, Ernest Hurst, ed. Standard encyclopedia of the alcohol problem (5 vol. 1930).
- Colvin, David Leigh. Prohibition in the United States: a History of the Prohibition Party, and of the Prohibition Movement (1926))
- McGirr, Lisa. The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State (2015)
- Pegram, Thomas R. Battling demon rum: The struggle for a dry America, 1800–1933 (1998)