D. Leigh Colvin was born in Charleston, South Carolina on 28 January 1880. He spent most of his life in New York, where he was an historian and a temperance society executive. From 1926 until 1932, Colvin was Chairman of the Prohibition National Committee.
Colvin several times ran for office on the Prohibition ticket. His masterful Prohibition in The United States published in 1926, is the standard reference on the history of the Prohibition Party up to that time.
-- Gammon, 2007, pp.121-122
David Leigh Colvin was one of the key Prohibition Party figures associated with New York state. He was born on January 28th, 1880. He would spend most of his life in New York state. He studied at the American Temperance University and Ohio Wesleyan University. He then went on to study University of California and the University of Chicago. And then he capped on his education by getting a PhD in political science from Columbia University in 1913.
In 1906, Colvin married Mamie White, who also would become a significant figure in the Prohibition Party and the WCTU. Colvin established himself in New York City, and took up a career as a historian and temperance activist. Colvin became actively involved in the Prohibition Party while in college and would become significant both as a leadership figure and a candidate. He was a leader in the Intercollegiate Prohibition Association for much of the early 1900’s. He was vice-president of the World Prohibition Federation 1918-1934 and its treasurer from 1934-1948. And he was involved with various other temperance and prohibition supporting groups.
He ran as a Prohibition Party candidate for several offices. In 1913, He ran for the 23rd district of the New York State Assembly, receiving 22 votes (.09% of the vote). In 1914, he ran for New York’s 15th district of the House of Representatives; receiving 90 votes (0.42% of the vote) and coming in 4 th place. In 1916, he was the Prohibition Party candidate for senator. He received 19,302 votes (1.25%) and came in 4th place. In 1917, he ran for mayor of New York City; receiving 897 votes (0.13% of the vote) and coming in 5th place. The 1920 Prohibition Party convention selected Colvin as its vice-presidential candidate. The 1920 Prohibition Party ticket of Aaron Watkins and D. Leigh Colvin received 188,787 votes. In 1922, Colvin ran for the New York’s 11th district of the House of Representatives; receiving 291 votes (0.68% of the vote) and came in 4 th place. In 1926, Colvin was selected to become national chairman of the Prohibition Party. He would act as chairman from 1926 to 1932 and led the party in its efforts to defend the national prohibition of alcohol. In 1932, he made another run for U.S. senate as the Law Preservation candidate (during this period some state branches of the Prohibition Party, including the New York Prohibition Party temporarily renamed themselves under the title Law Preservation to highlight their support for the strong enforcement of national prohibition). He received 74,611 votes (1.64% of the vote) and came in 4th place.
Following the end of national prohibition, the Prohibition Party worked to restrengthen its efforts. In 1936, D. Leigh Colvin was selected to the Prohibition Party’s first presidential candidate after the end of national prohibition. He campaigned on the theme of “Pulverizing Rum Power”; that is, on reestablishing the 18th Amendment and restoring national prohibition. He received 37,659 votes (0.08% of the vote). This helped to set the stage for a surge in Prohibition Party activism in the two decades following national prohibition. The Prohibition Party’s presidential results increased in each subsequent election, until it peaked with Claude Watson receiving over 103,000 votes in 1948.
David Leigh Colvin died in 1959. Though he was unable to restore national prohibition, he was able to help build a future for the Prohibition Party and the broader temperance movement, in the hope for eventual future victory.
"Candidate D. Leigh Colvin." Our Campaigns. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.ourcampaigns.com/CandidateDetail.html?CandidateID=4207.
"David Leigh Colvin." Prohibitionists.org. Accessed March 28, 2018. http://www.prohibitionists.org/History/votes/votes.html.
Hanson, David J. "Biography: D. Leigh Colvin." Alcohol Problems & Solutions. February 19, 2014. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org/Controversies/Biography-DLeigh-Colvin.html. "Prohibition Party." Wikipedia. Accessed March 28, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_Party.
-- Contributed by Jonathan Makeley, photo from Wikipedia