Architect of Oblivion
Earl F(arwell) Dodge, our Presidential candidate in
Promotional item early 1960's
Moving to Denver in 1971, Dodge at first kept the office at his home, but soon he rented rooms at 1900 Washington Street for that purpose. On 18 August 1976, he purchased an old house at 2934 Federal Avenue, Denver for an office, using money from the Sarah Ulmer Estate. That house, fortuitously, was in the way of highway construction. Dodge sold it 15 months later, at a profit of $900012. On 23 February 1979, he bought two side-by-side condominium units in downtown Denver. One, 128 West 11th Avenue, became our national office (The other, #132, seems to have been a rent-to-own arrangement with a friend13.)
The office condo was sold late in 1999. It brought a large profit, greatly amplifying Miss Ulmer’s original bequest. Dodge then claimed to have built an addition onto his personal residence in the suburb of Lakewood (10105 West 17th Place), to use for a Prohibition Party office. It is true that the office was moved into Dodge’s house, but the only “addition” the building inspector could find was a portable tool shed in Dodge’s back yard. Miss Ulmer’s money ultimately was used to pay off creditors in Dodge’s failed investment scheme14.
(Since 2003, the officers have kept necessary records in their own homes, and there has been no centralized Prohibition Party office.)
Prohibition Party Candidacies
Political campaigns are the most reliable vehicle minor party politicians have for publicizing their views, and Dodge has run for one or another office on the Prohibition ticket at virtually every opportunity. Initially, he ran pragmatically for local offices which, plausibly, he might win (but never did, although he received some large percentages). Later, he ran symbolically for high offices such as governor, senator, and president.
Dodge ran for public office a total of 18 times: thrice in Indiana, once in Kansas, once in Michigan, six times in Colorado, twice for vice president, and five times for president.
Temperance Organization Offices15
Earl F. Dodge has held office in several organizations with philosophical ties to the Prohibition Party:
He was a trustee of the National Prohibition Foundation16 during 1959-2001 and was its Secretary/Treasurer from 1974 through 2001. After allowing the National Prohibition Foundation corporation to lapse, he organized (on 5 June 2002) and is currently President (and the only trustee) of the American Prohibition Foundation. (Today’s “National Prohibition Foundation” is a different legal entity, with different trustees.)
In 1968, he helped organize “Concerned Parents of Kalamazoo” (a school issues group).
He has held various offices in the National Temperance and Prohibition Council – Third Vice-President in 1969, President in 1972-74, Secretary in 1974 and again in 1978, and Treasurer in 1986-94.
He became Secretary of Colorado Alcohol Drug Education in 1972 and was its Executive Director in 1980.
He held various offices in the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society.
He was Secretary/Treasurer of the National Christian Citizens Committee from 1963 through 1965 and was its President from 1966 through 1970.
He was President of the National Civic League17 in 1972, 1976, and 1978-79 and was its Secretary/Treasurer in 1975.
He was Secretary/Treasurer of the Denver Right-to-Life Fund in 1982 and its Treasurer in 1986. He was President of the Colorado Right-to-Life Committee in 1977-1982.
In 1982, he was Secretary/Treasurer of the Colorado Voters Action Group (an anti-lottery lobby).
In 1984, he was active in the Colorado Citizens for Responsible Government (an anti-abortion organization).
Offices in other Organizations18
Away from the Prohibition circuit, Dodge was active in the American Political Items Collectors (see: apic.us) and was President of its Colorado Chapter in 1977 and again in 1979; his specialty was Republican President Warren Harding.
He was the first President of the Good Government Association of Kalamazoo (Michigan), serving from 1968 through 1970. He was a member of the (appointive) Kalamazoo Community Relations Board in 1967-70.
He was appointed to the Colorado State Elections Advisory Board in 1974.
Dodge helped found the Dodge Family Association, in 1981. He has been editor of the Dodge Family Journal since 198519. He was Secretary/Treasurer of the Association in 1987 and is today (January, 2005) listed as Secretary of the Association on their website (see: www.dodgefamily.org). Through his “Dodge Historic Tours” organization, he has led five genealogical tours to
He was Treasurer and Deputy Governor of the Colorado chapter of the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims in 1997 and Governor in 1999 (see: www.dodgefamily.org).
He was the first President of the Mount Evans (Denver area) Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, in 1985-88. He was the state SAR Chaplain in 1985, state SAR Vice-President in 1986, and state SAR President in 1987 (see: www.cossar.org).
Earl F. Dodge was a Deacon at Beth Eden Baptist Church (Wheat Ridge, Colorado) from 1972 through 1978 and was on the board of Beth Eden Baptist School in 1972, becoming Treasurer in 1973 and board Chairman during 1974-79 (www.betheden.org). Subsequently transferring his membership to Arvada Baptist Church (Arvada, Colorado), he became a Deacon there in 1986 and served as board Chairman in 1998-99. Arvada bills itself as an "Independent, fundamental Baptist church".
He has taught a Bible class at the Argyle Park Square women’s retirement home since August, 1973.
He was President of his office condominium owners association in downtown Denver in 1979,
Earl F. Dodge received the “Good Government Award” of the Kalamazoo Good Government Association in 1971, the “Citation of Merit” of the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society in 1979, and the “Friend of Life Award” of the Colorado Right-to-Life Committee in 1981. He was listed in “Who’s Who in the Midwest” in 1971 and in the national “Who’s Who” from 1980 through 1994, on the basis of being an “association executive20.”
Earl F. Dodge has been a very busy person, all of his life. He is a man of wide interests. He deserves much credit for good intentions and for trying hard. That said, one has to ask, what have been the fruits of his labors…..
When Dodge came on the Prohibition Party scene in 1952, the Prohibition national ticket was on the ballot in 20 states and received 78,000 votes; at Dodge’s last campaign, in 2000, our Party was on the ballot in one state and got 200 votes.
In 1952, the Prohibition Party fielded some 250 state and local candidates, of which 16 were elected. In 2000, there were no state or local candidates.
In 1952, the Prohibition National Committee had a budget (1952 dollars) of over $50,000; at Dodge’s last campaign, it had a budget (2000 dollars) of about $20, 000.
In 1952, there were strong state organizations in several states. In 2000, there was a functioning state organization in only one state.
Dodge mismanaged the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society and the National Prohibition Foundation so badly that “hostile directors” were able to take over both organizations and elect new officers (in 1997 and in 2001, respectively).
Hostile directors on the Prohibition National Committee became a majority in 2003, promoted Dodge to “Emeritus,” and elected a new slate of officers there, also.
The Author has attended, off-and-on, National Temperance and Prohibition Council meetings since the mid-1960s. Dodge always attends. I have noticed that he fills three roles there: He amuses everyone by cracking jokes, he leads the singing, and he makes the motion to adjourn: a hale fellow well met.
Dodge has amassed a notable personal hoard of political Americana, with an emphasis on Prohibition Party material – the “Roger Storms Collection,” named in honor of late Party historian Roger C. Storms. Money to develop this was provided by the Prohibition trust Fund Association, until recently; in 2004, the trust Fund withdrew its support, for lack of a satisfactory accounting from Dodge 22.
The American Political Items Collectors refused to renew Dodge’s membership sometime before 1995, after complaints by several members that Dodge had visited their homes, distracted them, and pocketed things he liked. He is no longer allowed into display areas at APIC meetings (although the meetings are open to the public)23.
As a long-time participant in the Temperance Movement, the Author knows from personal observation that many of the “organizations” of which Dodge has been an officer are just one or a few people using a fancy name. Colorado Alcohol Drug Education is a good example: CADE was Dodge and one other man, Rayford Feather. Feather had been the Washington lobbyist for the American Council on Alcohol Problems, before going to Colorado, and I knew him casually – he was a fellow Pennsylvanian from the next county to mine. He was a good man, but in Colorado he had an organization of two: himself, and Earl F. Dodge.
The voters in Dodge’s 1996 campaign for President of The United States had this to say about Earl F. Dodge: He received more votes in Arkansas (483 / 0.05%) where he was virtually unknown than he did in Colorado (375 / 0.02%) where he has lived most of his adult life.
Earl Higgerson did much of the footwork in collecting the details of Dodge’s activities in Colorado.
Earl Dodge died on 7 November 2007, of a heart attack, at Denver International Airport. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
After the death of Dodge, leadership of the loyalist faction passed to Texas insurance adjuster Howard Lydick. Lydick had long been involved with temperance work via the United Methodist Church and the National Temperance and Prohibition Council. Dodge's relatives personally delivered Dodge's office contents to Texas. Lydick fully intended to continue Dodge's programme, but soon found out that Dodge had sold the Prohibition Party's national office condo, in Denver, without telling anyone that he had done so. Disgusted, Lydick then joined the Action! Prohibitionists Caucus and began working to re-unite the two faction. He produced one additional issue of The National Statesman, but after a few months in office, he, too, died.
After the death of Lydick, leadership of the loyalist faction passed to Paul Scott, and (honorary member) WCTU activist in California. Scott refused to accept the responsibility, telling Lydick's daughter to hand over everything to the Action! Prohibitionists Caucus. Dodge's stock of literature was duly shipped onward from Texas to Pennsylvania. There was also a mailing list, consisting mostly of people already known to the Caucus, but no financial records: no bank statements nor any checkbook. The Dodge family had kept for themselves whatever money may have remained in the Prohibition Party accounts.
Moreover, Dodge had gone to court at Media, Pennsylvania, in 2006, seeking to deprive the new officers of the income from the Pennock trust, the principal source of income for the National Committee. The judge, already irritated by the failure of his courtroom computer system, refused to try the case. He threatened to give all of the Pennock income to some other organization, if the two Prohibition Party factions did not strike an agreement between themselves. Dodge panicked and proposed a 50/50 sharing, plus allowing the new officers control of the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society in exchange for his own retention of the National Prohibition Foundation.
The resulting court order (Delaware County [Pennsylvania] Court of Common Pleas, Orphans Court division 114-1937, signed 26 September 2007). provided that, in future election cycles, should either side fail to hold a quadrennial nominating convention, the entire Pennock income would then pass to the surviving side.
After the 2012 election, the Secretary of the National Committee sent to the trustee bank a packet of clippings showing that the "Webb Group" had held a convention, pointed out that the "Dodge Group" had disbanded, and asked that the legitimate Prohibition National Committee henceforth receive all of the Pennock income, per court order. The bank refused to discuss it and continued sending the Dodge faction share... somewhere. (After a few years, the bank reversed itself, said that it had been holding the Dodge share in escrow, then sent the escrowed money and all later income to the National Committee.)
The Prohibition trust Fund Association had given Dodge several thousand dollars over a period of years, to purchase on behalf of the National Committee old Prohibition Party campaign ephemera for a publicity exhibit. After Dodge died, however, his relatives offered the entire collection to the Smithsonian Institution; the pieces rejected by the Smithsonian were turned over to an auctioneer, and the Dodge relatives kept the proceeds from the sale. The trust Fund reluctantly decided not to prosecute.
After the death of Lydick, leadership of the loyalist faction passed to Paul Scott, an (honorary member) WCTU activist in California. Scott refused to accept the responsibility, telling Lydick's daughter to hand over everything to the Action! Prohibitionists Caucus. Dodge's stock of literature was duly received, but there were no financial records.
1- Several pieces of correspondence, Author’s files.
2- Dodge says that Robert got over 19,000 votes in his 1978 run for Regent, the “best Prohibition vote ever in Colorado” (Christmas letter, 1978). This vote was exceeded several times later on by other Dodge family members, culminating with Elsi’s 43,500 for Regent in 1990 – and then none of his relatives ran again!
3- Author’s telephone calls to the Lakewood office of First Bank, 5 October 1995 and 11 March 1997.
4- Colorado Right-to-Life rented a room in our condo for their state office (Dodge, 2003, National Statesman 69(12):2.)
5- See Dodge’s (undated, but with a 1 March 2000 postmark) letter to the Executive Committee: “The Foundation had funds deposited with it by individuals and groups, on which it paid interest. Those funds were repaid from the sale proceeds” [from the office condominium].
In an earlier letter to the Executive Committee, dated 15 February 2000, Dodge says “Over the past 15 years, the Foundation has accepted deposits on which it pays interest. That money has been used to subsidize our party. Now, the Foundation pays some $4000 a year in interest on those funds….”
And in an undated (but still earlier) solicitation, Dodge says:
“You may deposit money now with the Foundation and receive an above average rate of interest. This money can be deposited on:
A. A plan whereby you can withdraw money whenever you wish. Any funds left at the
time of your death go to the Foundation for its good work.
B. A plan whereby you give money to the Foundation and receive a lifetime income at a
guaranteed rate – in effect an annuity. Both plans pay good rates of interest ….”
6- Letter to C.L. Gammon, 24 February 2002.
7-The Statesman was sent to all current financial contributors to the Party – in 1975, to some 6000 people (National Observer 12 Jul 75); in 1984 to perhaps as many as 700 (stated in taped interview with Earl Higgerson); in 1993 to about 500 (stated in report on mid-term conference); and in 1995 to about 400 (Higgerson, idem). Near the end, The Statesman probably circulated fewer than 200 copies (estimated on the basis of not having a bulk mail permit, which requires a minimum of 200) (the amount can also be estimated on the economics of xeroxing a few versus printing a lot – The Statesman was xeroxed during its final years).
8- The dates given here and elsewhere are not inclusive. I have only compiled Dodge’s own mentions of holding this or that position.
9- Founded by Rutherford Decker, our 1960 Presidential candidate, “to persuade Christians to become active in the [political] party of their choice.” (Dodge, Statesman 69(12):7, 2003)
10- Dodge says (idem) that he lived in Kansas City, Missouri in 1966, but he ran for office in the state of Kansas in 1966 (Richard Winger, election data).
11- In a letter to the Prohibition National Committee, dated 7 March 2000, Dodge states that The Cottage was purchased in the name of the National Prohibition Foundation. On p.2 of the June, 2003 Statesman (erroneously dated “February-March” on p.1), Dodge states that this was the home of the at-that-time Executive Secretary, Virgil Finnell.
addendum: It appears that Finnell was never a candidate for any office. However, he was an important member of the national Party leadership in the 1940s and '50s.
He owned the building in Winona Lake, Indiana which for several years served as Party headquarters. Dodge referred to it as "800" Park Avenue, but city records show no such address. A notice on p.2 of the March-April, 1957 issue of the National Prohibitionist states the address to be "900" Park Avenue; "Google View" (accessed 10 Feb 20) shows a substantial building at 900 Park Avenue.
"National headquarters Now In Own Building For ten years the building at 900 Park Avenue, Winona Lake, was owned by Virgil C. Finnell and rented to the National Committee most of that time. Last June at the meeting of the National Committee he offered to sell the building to the Committee for much less than its present worth, as he could no longer afford to rent the office space at $35 per month. It was found that the Prohibition trust Fund Association could and would supply the money for the down payment and the proper deed was executed so that the property is now held for the Committee by the Prohibition National Foundation, Inc.
The building has ten rooms, a large enclosed front porch, two baths, and is heated by an oil furnace.
During the summer months it will be possible to rent rooms to tourists and thus provide an income that should pay the cost of utilities for the entire year."
12- City real estate records show a purchase price of $19,500 and a sale price of $28,500.
13- Dodge repeatedly has claimed to have purchased only one unit, #128, but the deed for #132, dated 15 May 1996, states that the seller was the “National Prohibition Foundation,” the same legal entity that owned #128.
14- Dodge has said many times that he built an addition with his own money (cf. an undated letter to the Executive Committee [postmarked 1 March 2000] and a letter to the Executive Committee dated 22 March 2000), but there is no addition – only the tool shed.
15- See footnote 8.
16- A non-profit foundation was necessary to meet the requirements of the Ulmer Estate and of the Prohibition trust Fund Association; Dodge used it, also, as a holding company and for a money pipeline, perhaps to prevent Prohibition National Committee oversight of his financial dealings and to conceal the sources of his funds. As time went on, the trustees of the National Prohibition Foundation came to be limited to himself and a few close relatives and long-time friends.
17-Today’s “National Civic League” is an unrelated self-help organization of local governments and officials, formerly the “National Municipal League.” Dodge tired of the National Civic League, and, in 1987, the Municipal League took over the name (Encyclopedia of Organizations).
18- See footnote 8.
19- It is instructive to compare Dodge’s effort on The National Statesman with his effort on the Dodge Family Journal.
The Statesman in the 1960s was indifferently printed on cheap paper. Soon after Dodge began his second term as Executive Secretary of the Prohibition National Committee, he hired a better printer and enlarged the sheet size of The Statesman. The professional appearance of The Statesman lasted from 1972 through 1987. Probably in response to the deteriorating financial condition of the Prohibition National Committee, Dodge switched in 1988 to “quick-and-dirty” paste-ups of typewritten material and of clippings glommed from other publications, badly duplicated. For several years, The Statesman looked atrocious – something one would be embarrassed to show to friends or to prospective members. By the mid-1990s, however, Dodge’s wife, Barbara, had learned how to do desk-top publishing with a computer and a xerox machine. The Statesman since then had a more uniform, though still amateurish, appearance.
Dodge began producing the Dodge Family Journal in 1984, for the Dodge Family Association. The Journal, by contrast, is a well-written, well-designed, nicely printed, lavishly illustrated, full-color magazine. Most Journal articles are contributed by readers (Dodge dashed off nearly all Statesman copy, himself). The only similarities between the two “dodgeoffice” publications are the typeface (Times New Roman) and the design of the table of contents.
Dodge’s declining interest in The National Statesman paralleled his increasing interest in the Dodge Family Journal.
20- The Author personally examined these volumes of “Who’s Who” and found Dodge’s listing therein. He is not mentioned in “Who’s Who in the West” 1970-77 and 1980-88 (1978-79 volume not on shelf when I looked for it).
21- For a somewhat different version of all this, see Dodge’s reminiscences “Fifty Years in the Prohibition Party,” published in several installments in his personal National Statesman during 2003.
For a distinctly different evaluation, see Cary Demont's eulogy in The Political Bandwagon (January 2009, p.2). The historical note at bottom right of page 2 contains several errors.
22- trust Fund minutes.
23- Letters from and telephone conversations with Joe Hayes, APIC Secretary.