International Amateur Authors Lyceum, 1881


THE INTERNATIONAL AMATEUR AUTHORS LYCEUM, organized at Buffalo in July, 1881, originated in the mind of a disappointed aspirant to the presidency of the N.A.P.A., and was actually intended to be a rival Association. Amateur journalism, for various reasons, was undergoing one of its periodical depressions. A strong man was needed at the fore, and the eyes of the members turned almost unanimously to Frank N. Reeve of the Independent Times. Maximus A. Lesser, of New York, entertained a personal animosity to Reeve, and shortly before the convention he announced himself as a candidate for President. Lesser, a prolific author, more noted for the number and length of his poems than for their intrinsic merit, announced a platform of literature as opposed to politics, and gathered to his support of a few of the authors of New York City and vicinity. These were J. Rosevelt Gleason, then very young. XV. T. Buckley and W. F. Ritter.


Arriving at Buffalo, the Lesser party faced certain defeat. The course was adjudged revolt. When the time came for calling the Association to order the Lesserites were gathered in Lesser’s upper room, ostensibly holding a caucus. A committee, consisting of Howard K. Sanderson and Louis Kempner, was appointed to request their attendance. Their plea was ineffectual. When Sanderson started to leave, he found the door locked. Sanderson was a slim, tall, athletic youth, possessed of an irrepressible spirit. He rang the attendant’s bell, but no one responded. Noticing that the transom above the door was open, he suddenly seized a chair, pushed it before the door, sprang upon it, and leaped through the transom head first, landing upon his hands and knees in the hall. Kempner was made of sterner stuff. Turning to the Lesserites he said. “I came here to invite you to join the National Amateur Press Association in convention assembled. I came in through that door, and when I leave this room it will be through that same door.” He then quietly sat down. The key was forthcoming, and Kempner was allowed to depart.


Lesser was elected President of the new organization then formed and Gleason Secretary. It announced as its platform “the elevation of amateur journalism and the complete amelioration of amateurdom.” Joseph Dana Miller was elected Vice-President, but promptly resigned. Several prominent authors joined, among them Charles S. Elgutter and Willard O. Wylie, but when they became aware that the organization’s true aim was the overthrow of the N.A.P.A., they withdrew. The Lyceum never held another meeting, and ceased to exist in a short time. But for years candidates for office were called upon to explain their connection with a rival association, and some prominent amateurs lost an election in the face of this record, although in most cases such connection was made under a misapprehension.


Back to Organizations

Back to Amateur Journalism