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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. The party was 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. The party received 518 votes in the 2012 presidential election and 5,617 votes in the 2016 presidential election.
The Prohibition Party was founded in 1869. Its first National Committee Chairman was John Russell of Michigan. It succeeded in getting communities and also many counties in the states to outlaw the production and sale of intoxicating beverages.
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.
The Prohibition Party's proudest moment came in 1919, 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, for example, it considered endorsing Republican Herbert Hoover rather than running its own candidate. However, by a 3/4 vote, its national executive committee voted to nominate its own candidate, William F. Varney, instead. They did this because they felt Hoover's stance on prohibition was not strict enough. 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 [i.e. 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 Hoover lost the election, but national prohibition was repealed anyway in 1933, with the 21st Amendment during the Roosevelt administration.
Women and the Prohibition Party
The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, did not pass until 1920. Yet, in 1869, the Prohibition Party became the first to accept women as party members and even gave women who attended its first national convention full delegate rights. This was the first time any party had afforded women this right. These women "spoke from the floor, entered debates, introduced resolutions, and voted on the party platform". Women's suffrage appeared on the Prohibition Party platform in 1872. In 1892, the platform included the idea of equal pay for equal work. Delia L. Weatherby was an alternate delegate from the 4th congressional district of Kansas to the National Prohibition Convention in 1892, and also secured, the same year, for the second time by the same party, the nomination for the office of superintendent of public instruction in her own county. By contrast, women’s suffrage did not appear on the platform of either the Democratic or Republican platform until 1916. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which later became instrumental in the passage of the 18th Amendment, started out as the women’s branch of the Prohibition Party. It went on to become more influential than the party itself. It was "the largest women’s organization of the nineteenth century and the heart of the organized demand for prohibition and women’s rights as well as for prison and labor reform, for public support for neglected children, and for peace – in short for a transformed society dedicated to social justice".
Some of the most important women involved in this movement were:
- Marie C. Brehm – Vice Presidential candidate in 1924 – first unambiguously legally qualified woman ever to be nominated for this position
- Rachel Bubar Kelly – Vice Presidential candidate in 1996
- Susanna Madora Salter – First female mayor in the United States. Elected in Argonia, Kansas in 1887
- Eliza Stewart – Her successes in the courtroom were one reason why the Prohibition Party began to embrace lawsuits as a means to get their message across. Part of the Woman's Crusade. She went on to hold important positions within the party as well as help guide WCTU development, along with women such as Mattie McClellan Brown, Harriet Goff, and Amanda Way.
- C. Augusta Morse – In regards to the Woman's Crusade, she claimed it was "'the dawn of a new era in women's relation to reform. Never again can women be silenced by the ghost of the old dogma that her voice is not to be heard in public."
- 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.
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 the 2016 election, the party nominated James Hedges. He qualified for the ballot in three states, Arkansas, Colorado, and Mississippi, and earned 5,514 votes.
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|
|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|
|July 23–24, 1884||John P. St. John (Kansas)||William Daniel (Maryland)||147,482||1.50|
|May 30–31, 1888||Clinton B. Fisk (New Jersey)||John A. Brooks (Missouri)||249,819||2.20|
|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|
|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 (Tenn.) (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|
|Sept. 4–6, 1955||Enoch A. Holtwick (Illinois)||Herbert C. Holdridge (California) (withdrew);
Edwin M. Cooper (California)
|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|
|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|
|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|
- 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)
- Susanna M. Salter – Mayor of Argonia, Kansas (1887): the first female mayor in the United States
- James Hedges – Thompson Township, Pennsylvania, Tax Assessor (2002–2007): the only known Prohibition Party office holder of the 21st century
- Black, James. Is There a Necessity for a Prohibition Party? (National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1876.)
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- "Americana: Time to Toast the Party?". Time. November 7, 1977. Archived from the original on October 22, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
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- "Prohibition Party Now to Receive Full Pennock Trust Income". 19 October 2014. Archived from the original on 23 February 2017. Retrieved 12 July 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.
- Winger, Richard (2015-05-07). "Prohibition Party Cancels Presidential Convention and Instead will Nominate by Direct Vote of Members". Ballot Access News. Archived from the original on 2015-06-08. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
- "Prohibition Party Nominates National Ticket". Ballot Access News. July 31, 2015. Archived from the original on August 3, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
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- Cherrington, Ernest Hurst, ed. Standard encyclopedia of the alcohol problem (5 vol. 1930).
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