Neal Dow photo

Neal Dow
(Prohibition Presidential Candidate 1880)

      Neal Dow's home at 714 Congress Street in Portland, Maine is now the headquarters of the Maine Woman's Christian Temperance Union. It is open to the public on weekdays 1100-1600; meeting rooms are available by appointment. There is no admission fee.

Neal Dow home photo

      The late Federal-style mansion was built in 1829 for the occupancy of Neal Dow and his bride, Maria Cornelia Durant Maynard. The initial cost of the house and land was under $6000. The residence was a center of political and humanitarian activity. From here, the zealous reformer set out on countless journeys throughout Maine, over much of the nation, and finally abroad in the cause of temperance.

      In Neal Dow's youth, Portland was a center of the rum trade with the West Indies. Local liquor outlets abounded. The resulting poverty, suffering, and disorder stirred to action the young man whose prosperity derived from the sobriety, industry, and frugality of his Quaker heritage. With others of like mind, he tried first by moral suasion, then by law to improve life conditions by destruction of the liquor traffic. These labors culminated in passage of the so-called Maine Law, drafted by Neal Dow in the little study at the rear of his home. This law made Maine in 1851 the first state to prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages and was the model for similar legislation in other states and foreign countries. The consummation of Neal Dow's crusade came many years after his death in the adoption of National Prohibition.

Neal Dow photo      Neal Dow was active in the cause of abolition of Negro slavery. At the age of 57, he raised and commanded the Thirteenth Maine Regiment of Volunteers for service in the Civil War. Elevated to the rank of brigadier General, he was captured while recovering from a wound and spent nine months in Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia.

      Twice elected mayor of Portland, member of the state legislature, phenomenally successful lobbyist, and candidate for President of The United States on the Prohibition ticket, Neal Dow was a force in the politics of his day. Among additional social causes, he interested himself in crime prevention, prison reform, and women's rights. He was a valued associate of many of the great men of his time. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, celebrations were held in this country and abroad, notably in London.

      The reformer's son, Col Fred N. Dow, prominent political figure, publisher, and adherent to his father's principles, willed the family mansion and its contents to the Maine Woman's Christian Temperance Union, with provision for restoration and maintenance of the property. His hope was that acquaintance with the career of his father through visits to his Memorial would inspire many to devote themselves to the cause of temperance.

      The completely restored manion was dedicated on October 22, 1971 as the Neal Dow Memorial. The Memorial is on the National Register of Historic Places.

For additional information, write: Maine WCTU, 714 Congress Street, Portland, Maine, tel 207-773-7773.

Neal Dow photo

General Neal Dow

THE "Father of the Maine Law" is a native of the Pine-Tree State. He was born at Portland, Me., March 20, 1804. His parent5 and all his ancestors for many generations were Friends, and he was brought up as a member of that persuasion.
   His education was primarily in the public schools, afterward in pri-vate schools, after that at the Portland Academy, and then at the Friends' Academy in the town of New Bedford; Mass.
   In his youth he was a Whig.!...and a Republican as soon as that party was born. He became a member of the Prohibition Party as soon as he became satisfied that Prohibition through the Republican Party was impossible.
   He was twice Mayor. of Portland and twice a member of the legislature. In his first mayoralty term in 1851 he framed an anti-liquor bill and carried it to the legislature two days before its final adjournment; had a hearing in the Representatives' Hall in the afternoon; the bill was reported the next day precisely as he had written it, was put through all its stages by a vote of 86 to 40 in the House and 18 to 10 in the Senate, and enacted on that day and took effect on its approval by Governor Hubbard (a Democrat) the next day. It is known in all the English-speaking world as the Maine Law.
   On the breaking out of the rebellion Mr. Dow entered the service, September, 1861, as colonel of the 13th :Maine Volunteers, 1,000 men, which he recruited. He also recruited the Second Maine Battery by special com-mission fro!n the Secretary of War. In April, 1862, he wns commisgioned B;igadier-General by Mr. Lincoln. He was twice wounded in battle, and while occupying a plantation house outside the lines, was captured at night and taken a long journey to Libby Prison at Richmond, Va., where he was retained eight months and then exchanged for Fitz-Hugh Lee.
   He hns visited Englund three times, delivering about 500 addresses under the auspices and as the guest of the United Kingdom Alliance. In 1880, he was the candidate of the Prohibition Party for President.
   In June, 1894, the completion of General Dow's ninetieth year was celebrated· by memorial meetings all over the world. A vast international temperance congress was held in celebration at Prohibition Park, Staten Island, N. Y., at which omlnrnt speakers and thinkers from all parts of this conntry and even from europe discussed the temperance question in all its phases.

— Data from An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895)

Also see bibliographies:

  • Marsh, John (1852) – The Napoleon of Temperance:  Sketches of the Life and Character of the Hon. Neal Dow, Mayor of Portland and Author of the Maine Law:  NYC, American Temperance Union