Prohibition Party Platforms, 1872-2020
The 1872-1960 and 1972 platforms are faithfully transcribed from the book, "National Party Platforms," edited by Donald Bruce Johnson and Kirk H. Porter, University of Iowa. The 1964, 1968, and 1976-92 platforms are faithfully transcribed from editions published by the Prohibition National Committee. The 1996 platform follows the privately printed Camel Press edition, which is lightly edited from the National Committee version. The 2000 platform is a faithful copy of the manuscript report of the Chairman of the Platform Committee; it varies in detail from the edition produced by the Prohibition National Committee. The 2004 platform is reproduced from the digital type used to print the Prohitition National Commitee-authorized document.
The two dominant political groups in the United States today, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party (cynically referred to as the `Republicratic Party' by those of us who are third-party members), both have a liberal wing and a conservative wing. The Prohibition Party also has an internal division, but this is based on range of concerns rather than on policies: `narrow gauge' Prohibitionists restrict their interest to alcoholic beverages and, occasionally, a few other `moral' issues, while `broad gauge' Prohibitionists are interested in the entire range of social and political concerns. Most Party platforms have reflected the broad gauge viewpoint; the 1896 and 1928 platforms are notable for being narrow gauge.
The Prohibition Party was founded in 1869 by Progressive reformers disillusioned by the fledgling Republican Party after it was captured by the Eastern Establishment. Early Prohibitionists advocated many (at that time) radical ideas which subsequently were embraced by the major parties, proposals such as legal racial equality, equal rights for women, direct election of senators, arbitration of industrial disputes, and the income tax, to name only a few. The prohibition of alcohol, itself, was seen not so much as a moral issue as it was a practical reform: by reducing the consumption of alcoholic beverages, society could also reduce the incidence of spouse and child abuse, of accidents, of absenteeism from work, of degenerative illnesses, of pauperism, and of other social evils.
In recent decades, the Party leadership has focussed almost exclusively on morality, distorting public understanding of the fundamental impact of drinking and other vices on American society and creating a public perception of the Prohibition Party as a gaggle of Evangelical Christians intent on imposing their own religious values on everyone else. This has been very damaging to the ability of the Party to attract qualified candidates and to win elections.
The Partisan Prohibition Historical Society hopes that, by presenting the complete series of Prohibition Party platforms, the public can be led to understand that Prohibition is a movement for comprehensive social reform, not (merely) a crusade against alcoholic beverages.
wherever you go, but only use words when absolutely necessary."
Resolutions of the Founding Convention, 2 September 1869