Prohibition Party Is 3rd Oldest Active Party
By Bob Small
The Prohibition Party, which has a chapter in Pennsylvania, is the oldest existing third party in America and the third-longest active party, dating from Sept. 1, 1869.
One reason for the party’s longevity –besides never needing to make decisions while hung over — is the George Pennock Trust Fund, established in 1930 and still active, which has paid the Prohibition Party approximately $8,000 per year.
Though its focus has remained prohibition, the party has also embraced bimettalism, equal pay and and equal rights, and women’s suffrage, among other issues. Today it supports many things, including animal rights, free education, and school prayer. For a full list, see www.prohibitionparty.org
The party’s very first presidential candidate, in 1872, was Pennsylvanian James Black. Other Pennsylvania Prohibition Party candidates for president were Silas C. Swallow in 1904 and James Hedges in 2016.
As is true of the Greens today, they were frequently accused of being “spoilers”. In 1884, they were accused of almost “spoiling” Grover Cleveland’s election over James G. Blaine.
The Prohibition Party was different from the Anti-Saloon League, the WCTU and other similar organizations, although they shared common goals.
There are currently 10 other state Prohibition Parties, besides the one in Pennsylvania.
A recent conversation with James Hedges, the current chair of the Pennsylvania chapter, reveals that they are in the process of creating a website for Pennsylvania and working on ways to attract new members. Hedges quotes the statistic that per-capita alcohol consumption fell by two thirds during Prohibition, and it did not return to its pre-Prohibition level until repeal.
Among other issues the party discusses are “abortion, a balanced budget, ballot access, civil rights, drugs, and gambling”.
Jim Hedges can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other informational websites include:
Full Disclosure: Jim and I have worked together for many years on ballot access issues. We remain members of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition.