Rumely, Edward A. (Edward Aloysius), 1882-1964

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Inventor, educator, editor, and idealogical conservative.

From the description of Edward A. Rumely papers, 1904-1959. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 19131104

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.

From the guide to the Edward A. Rumely papers, 1904-1959, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Gannett, Frank E. (Frank Ernest), 1876-1957. Frank Ernest Gannett papers, [ca. 1859]-1958. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Flynn, John T. (John Thomas), 1882-1964. Papers, 1928-1961. University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Nagel, Charles, 1849-1940. Charles Nagel papers, 1877-1940 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Willford I. King papers, 1912-1962 University of Oregon Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Kershner, Howard Eldred, 1891-1990. Papers, 1939-1970. University of Oregon Libraries
creatorOf Disque, Brice Pursell, 1879-1960. Brice P. Disque papers, 1899-1957. University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum, and Plastic Workers of America. Local 12 (East Gadsden, Ala.). Local 12 (East Gadsden, Ala.) records, 1943-1974 (bulk 1943-1954). Georgia State University
creatorOf Anderson, Tom, 1910-. Papers, 1943-1986. University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Manigault, Edward, 1896-1983. Edward Manigault papers, 1955-1957. South Carolina Historical Society
creatorOf Rumely, Edward A. (Edward Aloysius), 1882-1964. Edward A. Rumely papers, 1904-1959. University of Oregon Libraries
creatorOf Edward A. Rumely papers, 1904-1959 University of Oregon Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Rumeley, Edward A. (Edward Aloysius), 1882-1964. Correspondence with Margaret Naumburg, 1916. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf King, Willford Isbell, 1880-1962. Papers, 1912-1962. University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Nagel, Charles, 1849-1940. Charles Nagel papers, 1877-1940 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Sexauer, Fred Henry, 1891-. Fred Henry Sexauer papers, [ca. 1928]-1978. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Donald R. Richberg Papers, 1900-1960, (bulk 1953-1958) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Butler, William F. Rochester Times-Union memoranda, 1927-1966. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Heinsohn, A. G., 1896-. Papers, 1942-1974. University of Oregon Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anderson, Tom, 1910- person
associatedWith Baumgartner, E. person
associatedWith Butler, William F. person
associatedWith Committee for Constitutional Government. corporateBody
associatedWith Disque, Brice Pursell, 1879-1960. person
associatedWith Flynn, John T. (John Thomas), 1882-1964. person
associatedWith Ford, Henry, 1863-1947. person
associatedWith Gannett, Frank E. (Frank Ernest), 1876-1957. person
associatedWith Gehrig of Chicago, IL person
associatedWith Heinsohn, A. G., 1896- person
associatedWith Interlaken School corporateBody
associatedWith Interlaken School. corporateBody
associatedWith Kershner, Howard Eldred, 1891-1990. person
associatedWith King, Willford Isbell, 1880-1962. person
associatedWith Manigault, Edward, 1896-1983. person
associatedWith Nagel, Charles, 1849-1940. person
associatedWith Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946. person
correspondedWith Richberg, Donald R. (Donald Randall), 1881-1960 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. person
associatedWith Ruf, C. Th. of Freiburg, Germany person
associatedWith Schaller, v. L. of Stuttgart, Germany person
associatedWith Sexauer, Fred Henry, 1891- person
associatedWith United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum, and Plastic Workers of America. Local 12 (East Gadsden, Ala.) corporateBody
associatedWith United States corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. Select Committee on Lobbying Activities. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Political campaigns
Civil Procedure and Courts
Civil rights
Contemps of legislative bodies
Contempt of legislative bodies
Court records
Finance, Public
International relations
Media and Communication


Birth 1882

Death 1964



Ark ID: w67h2gg0

SNAC ID: 11630393