James Cannon was born in 1864 and grew up to be a well-educated man; he got degrees from Randolf-Macon College and Princeton University. From about 1904 to 1918, Cannon was the editor of the Baltimore and Richmond Christian Advocate, a Virginia Conference Newspaper, where he inserted passionate ideas of the Methodist cause of Prohibition. Beginning in 1901, James Cannon became a large part of the Anti-Saloon League; he started out on the executive committee, moved on to president, and was superintendent by 1909. After the death of Wayne Wheeler, the head of the Anti-Saloon League, in 1927, James Cannon become the most powerful leader of the Temperance Movement. In 1918, Cannon was appointed as bishop, which helped him influence the entire country of his ideas on Temperance. Cannon even made connections with people on the inside of politics such as William Hodges Mann who helped him draft bills that decreased alcohol sales in the rural portions of Virginia. He also used US Senator, Thomas Staples Martin, to help him advance the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment on prohibition in 1917. Later, Cannon even began his own newspaper known as the Richmond Virginian where he spoke about creating an act that allowed states to have a general vote for prohibition. Not only did Canon dislike alcohol, but he also did not prefer Catholics. He referred to Catholicism as “The mother of ignorance, superstition, intolerance, and sin.” In the election of 1928, he was even known to have attacked the Catholic, Al Smith, with harsh words that came as a surprise to many people. Starting in 1929, Cannon was accused of many personal scandals including having an affair with his secretary, borrowing money for a campaign and keeping a large amount for himself, and using Methodist money to support the anti-Smith democrats. Although he was not found guilty, these cases ruined his reputation and standing as the most prominent leader of the Prohibition Movement.
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