Charles Eugene Bentley

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Reverend Charles Eugene Bentley (April 1841 – February 6, 1905) was a third party candidate for president of the United States in 1896.

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Charles E. Bentley


Bentley was born in Warners, New York, in April 1841. In 1863, Bentley married Persis Orilla Freeman. In 1866, they moved to Clinton, Iowa, where Bentley held several local offices. Later, they moved to Nebraska and settled near Surprise, where he started a Baptist church in 1880. Although a longtime Republican, Bentley split from the GOP in 1884 and joined the Prohibition Party, becoming chairman of the first Prohibition Party Convention held in Nebraska. He was chairman of the Nebraska Prohibition Party 1895-1896 and ran twice for the state legislature, once for Congress, and once for the U.S. Senate. In 1890 the family moved to Lincoln and in 1892 he ran for governor of Nebraska.

In 1896, Bentley was leader of the "Broad Gaugers" faction of the Prohibition Party at the party's national convention in Pittsburgh. After they split from the "Narrow Gaugers" who wanted a single plank favoring prohibition as the party's platform, he became a candidate for president of the United States on the National Party ticket, which had a platform for prohibition, women's suffrage, and the free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold. He finished last in a six-man race won by William McKinley.

Bentley died February 6, 1905, while traveling in California. He is buried in Clinton.


  • Lawrence F. Prescott, The Great Campaign 1896
  • World Almanac 1896, p. 128
  • Israel Smith Clare, The Library of Universal History, 1897; New York: R.S. Peale, J.A. Hill
  • Mark Edward Lender, Dictionary of American Temperance Biography. From Temperance Reform to Alcohol Research, the 17th century to the 1980s. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984. (DcAmTB)
  • Who Was Who in America. A component volume of "Who's Who in American History." Volume 1, 1897-1942. Chicago: A.N. Marquis Co., 1943. (WhAm 1)
  • "A Prohibition Split," New York Times, May 27, 1896

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