February 22nd, 1872 – The Prohibition Party

Today-In-History

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 having held its first national convention on February 22nd, 1872 in Columbus, Ohio, where James Black was nominated as its presidential nominee.

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The 6th National Convention, held at Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 29th–30th, 1892

The Prohibition Party was earlier founded four years earlier 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.

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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 their own candidate, William F. Varney, instead. They did this because they felt Hoover’s stance on prohibition 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 Hoover lost the election, but national prohibition was repealed anyway in 1933, with the 21st Amendment during the Roosevelt administration.

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While the party was an integral part of the temperance movement, it has never been one of the leading parties in the United States despite it was once being 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 earned only 519 votes in the 2012 presidential

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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