James Black was born in 1823. At the age of sixteen he found work in Pennsylvania as a mule driver. After a bad experience with alcohol, Black joined the temperance movement.
Black eventually went to college and qualified as a lawyer. In 1865 he joined with Neal Dow in establishing the National Temperance Society and Publishing House and became a leading figure in the propaganda campaign in favour of preventing people drinking alcohol.
Black, like most supporters of prohibition, was a member of the Republican Party. However, after the Civil War, the party came under the influence of the Brewers Association of the United States. In 1869 Black and his friends formed the Prohibition Party. Three years later he was chosen as the party presidential candidate. However, he won only 5,608 votes. James Black died in 1893.