Wayne Wheeler, founder of the Anti-Saloon League (1893), coined the term ‘pressure group’, and no-one since has applied the method more effectively. Described as a ‘locomotive in trousers’, he understood that, by remaining non-partisan, he could use the prohibitionist bloc vote to swing tight elections for county and state legislatures. Furthermore, he could amplify the prohibitionists’ potency by allying, according to circumstances, with other activist groups. In 1899, he formed an enduring alliance with Susan B. Anthony, the female suffrage campaigner, and forged similar links with other reformist factions of the ‘Progressive Era’. A key test came in 1905, in the Ohio gubernatorial race, where the incumbent, and hot favourite, rejected Wheeler’s overtures. Wheeler campaigned against him, resulting in an upset: thereafter he could ‘make great men his puppets’. Such tactics encouraged the inexorable spread of dry counties, and dry states located in the southern heartland of the movement. In 1913, he decided to go for broke: national prohibition.
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