Prohibition Party

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 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. The party's candidate received 518 votes in the 2012 presidential election[1] and 5,617 votes in the 2016 presidential election.[2] 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.[3]

Prohibition Party
ChairmanRandy McNutt
Founded1869 (1869)
Christian democracy
Green conservatism
Political positionEconomic: Center-left to left-wing
Social: Right-wing
ColorsBlue, red, white
Seats in the Senate
0 / 100
Seats in the House
0 / 435
0 / 50
State Upper Houses
0 / 1,921
State Lower Houses
0 / 5,411


The Prohibition Party was founded in 1869. Its first National Committee Chairman was John Russell of Michigan.[4] 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.[5] 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."[6] 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[7] 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.[8] These women "spoke from the floor, entered debates, introduced resolutions, and voted on the party platform".[9] 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".[8]

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[10]
  • Rachel Bubar Kelly – Vice Presidential candidate in 1996[10]
  • Susanna Madora Salter – First female mayor in the United States. Elected in Argonia, Kansas in 1887[11]
  • 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.[12]
  • 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."[13]
  • 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.[14] She later became the first woman ever to be featured in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol[15] and was honored in 2000 by the National Women's Hall of Fame.[14]
  • 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.[16]

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".[17]

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.[18][19] 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,[20] while the Concerns of People Party allowed Amondson to run on its line against Dodge.[21] 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.[22] The fund pays approximately $8,000 per year, and during the schism these funds were divided between the factions.[23] Dodge died in 2007, allowing the dispute over the Pennock funds to finally be resolved in 2014.[24] The party is reported as having only "three dozen fee-paying members".[25]

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 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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] Like Bayes, Parker is a vocal Confederate heritage activist, although Parker scrubbed all the Confederate heritage images and memes from his Facebook page after being nominated.[30]


The Prohibition Party platform, as listed on the party's web site in 2018, includes the following points:[31]

  • 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
  • Pro-life
  • 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

Electoral history

Presidential campaigns

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
YearNo.Convention Site & CityDatesPresidential nomineeVice-Presidential nomineeVotesVotes %
1872 1stComstock's Opera House, Columbus, OhioFeb. 22, 1872James Black (Pennsylvania)John Russell (Michigan)5,6070.1
1876 2ndHalle's Hall,
Cleveland, Ohio
May 17, 1876Green Clay Smith (Kentucky)Gideon T. Stewart (Ohio)6,9450.08
1880 3rdJune 17, 1880Neal Dow (Maine)Henry Adams Thompson (Ohio)10,3640.11
1884 4thLafayette Hall,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
July 23–24, 1884John P. St. John (Kansas)William Daniel (Maryland)147,4821.50
1888 5thTomlinson Hall,
Indianapolis, Indiana
May 30–31, 1888Clinton B. Fisk (New Jersey)John A. Brooks (Missouri)249,8192.20
1892 6thMusic Hall,
Cincinnati, Ohio
June 29–30, 1892John Bidwell (California)James B. Cranfill (Texas)270,8792.24
1896 7thExposition Hall, PittsburghMay 27–28, 1896Joshua Levering (Maryland)Hale Johnson (Illinois)131,3120.94
[7th]PittsburghMay 28, 1896Charles Eugene Bentley (Nebraska)James H. Southgate (N. Car.)13,9680.10
1900 8thFirst Regiment Armory,
Chicago, Illinois
June 27–28, 1900John G. Woolley (Illinois)Henry B. Metcalf (Rhode Island)210,8641.51
1904 9thTomlinson Hall, IndianapolisJune 29 to
July 1, 1904
Silas C. Swallow (Pennsylvania)George W. Carroll (Texas)259,1021.92
1908 10thMemorial Hall, ColumbusJuly 15–16, 1908Eugene W. Chafin (Illinois)Aaron S. Watkins (Ohio)254,0871.71
1912 11thon a large temporary pier,
Atlantic City, New Jersey
July 10–12, 1912208,1561.38
1916 12thSt. Paul, MinnesotaJuly 19–21, 1916J. Frank Hanly (Indiana)Rev. Dr. Ira Landrith (Tennessee)221,3021.19
1920 13thLincoln, NebraskaJuly 21–22, 1920Aaron S. Watkins (Ohio)D. Leigh Colvin (New York)188,7870.71
1924 14thMemorial Hall, ColumbusJune 4–6, 1924Herman P. Faris (Missouri)Marie C. Brehm (California)55,9510.19
1928 15thHotel LaSalle, ChicagoJuly 10–12, 1928William F. Varney (New York)James A. Edgerton20,1010.05
[15th][California ticket]Herbert Hoover (California)Charles Curtis (Kansas)14,394
1932 16thCadle Tabernacle,
July 5–7, 1932William D. Upshaw (Georgia)Frank S. Regan (Illinois)81,9050.21
1936 17thState Armory Building,
Niagara Falls, New York
May 5–7, 1936D. Leigh Colvin (New York)Alvin York (Tennessee) (declined);
Claude A. Watson (California)
1940 18thChicagoMay 8–10, 1940Roger W. Babson (Mass.)Edgar V. Moorman (Illinois)57,9250.12
1944 19thIndianapolisNov. 10–12, 1943Claude A. Watson (California)Floyd C. Carrier (Maryland) (withdrew);
Andrew N. Johnson (Kentucky)
1948 20thWinona Lake, IndianaJune 26–28, 1947Dale H. Learn (Pennsylvania)103,7080.21
1952 21stIndianapolisNov. 13–15, 1951Stuart Hamblen (California)Enoch A. Holtwick (Illinois)73,4120.12
1956 22ndCamp Mack,
Milford, Indiana
Sept. 4–6, 1955Enoch A. Holtwick (Illinois)Herbert C. Holdridge (California) (withdrew);
Edwin M. Cooper (California)
1960 23rdWestminster Hotel,
Winona Lake
Sept. 1–3, 1959Rutherford Decker (Missouri)E. Harold Munn (Michigan)46,2030.07
1964 24thPick Congress Hotel,
August 26–27, 1963E. Harold Munn (Michigan)Mark R. Shaw (Massachusetts)23,2670.03
1968 25thYWCA, Detroit, Mich.June 28–29, 1968Rolland E. Fisher (Kansas)15,1230.02
1972 26thNazarene Church Building,
Wichita, Kansas
June 24–25, 1971Marshall E. Uncapher (Kansas)13,4970.02
1976 27thBeth Eden Baptist Church Bldg, Wheat Ridge, Colo.June 26–27, 1975Benjamin C. Bubar (Maine)Earl F. Dodge (Colorado)15,9320.02
1980 28thMotel Birmingham,
Birmingham, Alabama
June 20–21, 19797,2060.01
1984 29thMandan, North DakotaJune 22–24, 1983Earl Dodge (Colorado)Warren C. Martin (Kansas)4,2430.00
1988 30thHeritage House,
Springfield, Illinois
June 25–26, 1987George Ormsby (Pennsylvania)8,0020.01
1992 31stMinneapolis, MinnesotaJune 24–26, 19919610.00
1996 32ndDenver, Colorado1995Rachel Bubar Kelly (Maine)1,2980.00
2000 33rdBird-in-Hand, PennsylvaniaJune 28–30, 1999W. Dean Watkins (Arizona)2080.00
2004 34thFairfield Glade, TennesseeFebruary 1, 2004Gene Amondson (Washington)Leroy Pletten (Michigan)1,9440.00
[34th]Lakewood, ColoradoAugust 2003Earl Dodge (Colorado)Howard Lydick (Texas)1400.00
2008 35thAdam's Mark Hotel,
Sept. 13–14, 2007Gene Amondson (Washington)Leroy Pletten (Michigan)6550.00
2012 36thHoliday Inn Express,
Cullman, Alabama
June 20–22, 2011Jack Fellure (West Virginia)Toby Davis (Mississippi)5180.00
2016 37thConference call[32][33]July 31, 2015James Hedges (Pennsylvania)Bill Bayes (Mississippi)5,617[34]0.00
2020 38th Conference call[35] August 24, 2019 Phil Collins (Nevada) Billy Joe Parker (Georgia) N/A

Elected officials

See also

Primary sources

  • Black, James. Is There a Necessity for a Prohibition Party? (National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1876.)[37]


  1. Federal Elections 2012: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives Archived 2013-10-02 at the Wayback Machine, Washington D.C., Federal Election Commission, July 2013.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 14, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Lopez, German (October 28, 2016). "There's a Prohibition Party candidate running for president in 2016". Vox. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  4. "Our Campaigns - Container Detail Page". Archived from the original on February 5, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  5. "National Affairs: Men of Principle". Time. September 10, 1928. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  6. "National Affairs: In Cadle Tabernacle". Time. July 18, 1932. Archived from the original on October 27, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  7. "Give the Ladies a Chance: Gender and Partisanship in the Prohibition Party, 1869–1912". Journal of Women's History 2: 137
  8. Gillespie, J. David. Challengers to Duopoly: Why Third Parties Matter in the American Two-Party System. 2012. p. 47
  9. Andersen, Lisa M. F. 2011. "Give the Ladies a Chance: Gender and Partisanship in the Prohibition Party, 1869–1912". Journal of Women's History 2: 137
  10. "Prohibitionists Historical Vote Record". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  11. "Susanna Madora Salter - Kansapedia - Kansas Historical Society". KSHS. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  12. Andersen, Lisa M. F. 2011. "Give the Ladies a Chance: Gender and Partisanship in the Prohibition Party, 1869–1912". Journal of Women's History 2: 143, 141.
  13. Andersen, Lisa M. F. 2011. "Give the Ladies a Chance: Gender and Partisanship in the Prohibition Party, 1869–1912". Journal of Women's History 2: 145
  14. "Frances E. Willard". 2000. National Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved on November 18, 2014 from . Archived August 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  15. 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
  16. 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–.
  17. "Americana: Time to Toast the Party?". Time. November 7, 1977. Archived from the original on October 22, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  18. Pitkin, Ryan (October 13, 2004). "Beyond Bush, Kerry & Nader". Creative Loafing Charlotte. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  19. The National Prohibitionist, 6/2003, p. 1
  20. "CO US President Race - Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on February 5, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  21. The National Prohibitionist, 11/2004, p. 1.
  22. "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.
  23. "Ballot Access News - March 1, 2006". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  24. "Prohibition Party Now to Receive Full Pennock Trust Income". October 19, 2014. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  25. "A sobering alternative? Prohibition party back on the ticket this election" Archived 2016-10-07 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, May 11, 2016.
  26. "Prohibition Party Nominates National Ticket for 2020 | Ballot Access News".
  27. Gunzburger, Ron. "Politics1 - Director of U.S. Political Parties".
  28. Makeley, Jonathan (April 15, 2019). "Prohibition National Committee Meets, Gammon and Collins Selected as Presidential Ticket". Independent Political Report. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  29. Makeley, Jonathan (August 24, 2019). "Prohibition Party Nominates New Ticket, Selects New Chairman".
  30. "Billy Parker".
  31. "Prohibition Party | PLATFORM". prohibition. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  32. 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.
  33. "Prohibition Party Nominates National Ticket". Ballot Access News. July 31, 2015. Archived from the original on August 3, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  34. "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.
  35. "Prohibition Party Nominates New Ticket, Selects New Chairman". August 24, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  36. "Candidates". Archived from the original on October 12, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  37. "Is There a Necessity for a Prohibition Party? - James Black". June 16, 2008. Retrieved January 30, 2016.

Further reading

  • 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)
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