Edward A. Rumely papers , 1904-1959

Overview of the Collection

Rumely, Edward A. (Edward Aloysius), 1882-1964
Edward A. Rumely papers
1904-1959 (inclusive)
3 linear feet, (4 containers)
Collection Number
Coll 122
Edward A. Rumely (1882-1964) was a physician, a progressive educator, and a political activist. He was an outspoken opponent of the New Deal, active in stabilizing farm prices, a central figure in several powerful Constitutional organizations, and the respondent in a landmark First Amendment case, U.S. v. Rumely. The Rumely papers are part of the Conservative and Libertarian collections.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Collective Name Index to the Research Collection of Conservative and Libertarian Studies for a cross-referenced index to names of correspondents in this collection, if any, and 37 related University of Oregon collections, including dates of correspondence. See index instructions on use.

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Edward Aloysius Rumely (1882-1964) was born in La Porte, Indiana, the eldest of thirteen. Edward was the son of Joseph Rumely, and grandson of Meinrad Rumely, a German immigrant and founder of a successful tractor company. At the age of 16, Edward entered Notre Dame University, and subsequently spent a year at Ruskin Hall in Oxford and a year at Heidelberg University in Germany, where he became acquainted with Rudolf Diesel. In 1902 he entered Freiburg University to study medicine, graduating magna cum laude in 1906.

In 1907, Rumely founded the Interlaken School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana. It was based on the German Landerziehungsheim model, which engaged the students in the countryside as well as in the classroom, as used at Schloss Glarisegg in Switzerland, and as discussed with the Gutermann family. The Interlaken boys lived in tents and built their own classrooms. In 1910 Rumely married one of the teachers, Fanny Scott (1877-1979). Fanny was the daughter of Emmet Hoyt and Mary Relief Niles Scott; she graduated from La Porte High School in 1895; attended Smith College and graduated from that institution in 1900 and returned to La Porte to become a teacher. The school closed in 1918, in the anti-German backlash from World War I.

Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) enrolled at Interlaken in 1918. After the school closed, Rumely served as a mentor, arranging to have Noguchi attend the public high school and live with a friend. In 1922 Rumely set up a summer apprenticeship with sculptor Gutzon Borglum in Connecticut, raised funds for Noguchi to begin premedical studies at Columbia University, and later rented the first studio for the sculptor.

From 1907 to 1913, Edward Rumely was also active in running the family business, established in 1853 by Meinrad and Jacob Rumely. He was interested in the manufacturing techniques and the philosophy of Henry Ford. Rumely took over management from his uncle William and used his technological interest to develop the Rumely OilPull Farm Tractor, which economically burned kerosene. He acquired related companies but overextended the company, and the family lost control in 1915. The Rumely Company was continued under other management until it was absorbed by Allis-Chalmers in 1931. In addition to employing people at the Rumley factory, in 1913 the family built the Rumley Hotel, now an apartment house, in honor of Meinrad, as a contribution to the La Porte economy.

Edward Rumely moved to New York in 1915, and became editor-in-chief and publisher of the New York Evening Mail. His goal was to present, without bias, the news and views of the Central Powers as well as the Allies, advocate social and industrial reorganization, and protest the British blockade of Germany. Rumely was a friend of former president Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), who used the Mail as a mouthpiece. Other contributors included Samuel Sidney McClure, (1857-1949) from 1915 to 1918, and H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) from 1917 to 1918. Rumely's ownership of the paper embroiled him in the first of three noted court cases. In July 1918 he was arrested and then convicted of perjury related to violation of the "Trading with the Enemy Act," using undeclared German backing to buy the paper. The case, Rumely v. McCarthy, 250 US 283, went to the Supreme Court in 1919. The appeal was denied but on January 19, 1925 President Coolidge commuted Rumely's sentence to a month and pardoned him.

From 1923 to 1928 Rumely was involved in the introduction of vitamins to the retail market. In 1925, he organized the Super Diesel Company, and from 1926 to 1930 he assisted farmers in obtaining loans through the Agricultural Bond and Credit Company. This was the beginning of his life's work: educating the public on monetary reform, farm credits in agriculture, and the value of the Constitution.

Rumely believed that deflation was destabilizing American agriculture, and that monetary reform was necessary. In 1932 he began forming the Committee for the Nation for Rebuilding Purchasing Power and Prices, or Committee for the Nation for short. Rumely served as executive secretary. The Committee sought to take the nation off the gold standard and regulate the dollar. Supported by economists George F. Warren of Cornell and Irving Fisher of Yale, Rumely corresponded with President-elect Franklin Roosevelt, influential congressmen like Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma, and Henry Wallace, who joined the group's executive committee shortly before he became Secretary of Agriculture. Roosevelt soon took the country off the gold standard and adopted the Agricultural Adjustment Act to support farm prices.

The Committee for the Nation became disillusioned with Roosevelt by 1936, and the following years transformed into the National Committee to Uphold Constitutional Government. Led by newspaper publisher Frank Ernest Gannett (1876-1957) and publicly advocated by radio priest Father Charles Coughlin (1891-1979), the Committee led opposition to Roosevelt's 1937 federal reorganization plan and his packing of the Supreme Court. In 1938, as executive secretary, Rumely was charged with contempt of Congress's Special Committee to Investigate Lobbying Activities for refusing to surrender the papers of the National Committee to Uphold Constitutional Government. Rumely was acquitted of contempt in 1942.

Early in 1941, Rumely helped establish the Committee for Constitutional Government, serving as a trustee and executive secretary. In a mass mailing, the group distributed books The Road Ahead by John T. Flynn, The Constitution of the United States by Thomas J. Norton, Compulsory Medical Care and the Welfare State by Melchior Palyi, and Why the Taft-Hartley Law by Irving B. McCann. Buchanan's House Select Committee on Lobbying Activities requested the names of those who received the book, believing that a tax evasion movement was involved. Rumely again refused to comply, citing the First Amendment, and was convicted. In the landmark decision of United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41, the Supreme Court upheld a reversal of conviction made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

In ill health, Dr. Rumely returned to La Porte in 1959 and devoted his time and energy disseminating information on cancer. He assisted in various medical advances, including the improvement of hearing aids and the promotion of cytology (the Pap test) for early cancer detection, and was an early opponent of cigarette smoking.

His wife, Fanny, stated that his "great gift of organization made him a pioneer in education, industry, economics, and mailing." Edward A. Rumely died in 1964.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Edward A. Rumely Papers touch on many aspects of Rumely's life, but focus on the first of his two Supreme Court cases. Rumely's close family and intellectual ties to Germany and his outspoken editorials in support of Germany in the years leading up to World War I were important elements that led to the charges against him in the Evening Mail case, Rumely v. McCarthy.

The Autobiography is an unpublished manuscript dictated by Rumely to his daughter in 1949, and includes several other minor manuscripts. The Biography and list of influential books was compiled by Rumely's wife, Fanny, about 1965.

The Rumely v. McCarthy (Evening Mail case) 1918-1924 consists of court exhibits related to the case of Rumely v. McCarthy, 250 US 283, in which Rumely was convicted of perjury (and later pardoned) related to violation of the "Trading with the Enemy Act," using undeclared German backing to buy the New York Evening Mail. This is the most substantial portion of the collection, and consists of official documents including a lengthy biographical statement, some 3,000 leaves of correspondence, arranged in a combined subject-name alphabet, and Rumely's comment on daily headlines through the duration of the trial. Additional copies of these documents are held at other institutions.

Two files of Buchanan Committee (U.S. v. Rumely) relate to Buchanan's House Select Committee on Lobbying Activities and its attempts to get the mailing list of the Committee for Constitutional Government, which resulted in the landmark First Amendment case, United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41.

The Memorabilia series includes publications of Interlaken School, publication relating to the dietary supplement Vegex, copies of Rumely's publications, personal memorabilia.

Twenty-six photographs include images that depict the Rumely family, and snapshots from Rumely's visits to Schloss Glarisegg in Switzerland, which led to the founding of Interlaken.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Conservatism
  • Contempt of legislative bodies--United States
  • Court records

Personal Names

  • Ford, Henry, 1863-1947
  • Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946
  • Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919

Corporate Names

  • Committee for Constitutional Government
  • Interlaken School