Neal Dow
(1804 - 1897)
Neal Dow was a zealous crusader for the cause of temperance and prohibition, both within the State of Maine, and throughout the country. He grew up in a Quaker household in Portland, where he absorbed the values of his parents: hard work, temperance, and thrift. Dow entered his father's tanning business after graduating high school. Dow was disgusted with the amount of drinking that went on among his father's employees, and he soon began speaking out on the subject. He formed the Maine Temperance Union in 1838, an organization that advocated total abstinence from drinking alcohol. Dow lobbied the legislature for the passage of a prohibitory law, and in 1851, after he was elected mayor of Portland he succeeded. The Maine Law remained in effect, except for a lapse of three years, until the repeal of National Prohibition in 1933. It made liquor manufacture, trade, and use illegal in Maine, except for medicinal or mechanical purposes.

Dow's role in passing the Maine Law earned him popularity nationwide, and he became a representative for the temperance cause. He enjoyed popularity in Maine as mayor of Portland, but his vigorous campaign to rid the city of rum-holes made him unpopular in some circles, especially among the city's growing Irish population. Still, his popularity throughout the rest of the country and England was high, and he traveled widely, speaking out against the evils of alcohol. Though he died in 1897, his influence endured, and helped bring about the passage of National Prohibition in 1919.

Source: Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. V. ed. Allen Johnson. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons. 1929. Image courtesy Maine Historical Society.

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