John Pierce St. John was born in 1833. He became a lawyer in Kansas City and a leading figure in the Republican Party. St. John's father had been an alcoholic and from an early age was active in the temperance movement and eventually joined the Prohibition Party.
In 1879 St. John was elected governor of Kansas. Four years later he succeeded in making Kansas the first state to outlaw alcohol by constitutional amendment. This action made him the hero of the temperance movement and in 1884 the Prohibition Party chose St. John as their presidential candidate.
St. John won only 150,369 votes in the election but it was a great improvement on previous candidates. He also took valuable votes from the Republican Party candidate, James Blaine, and helped Grover Cleveland of the Democratic Party to win victory. Cleveland was the first Democrat to become president since the Civil War. One newspaper described him as a "Judas Iscariot" and Republicans in over a hundred towns burned his effigy.
John Pierce St. John died in 1916.