Interstate Amateur Press Association, 1902-1909


AFTER THE NATIONAL CONVENTION at New York in 1902 adjourned, charges of fraud and unparliamentary practice were freely made by both sides. In the midst of this atmosphere a new organization was proposed, to be known as the Interstate Amateur Press Association. A group of amateurs met in Boston on June 21, 1903, and effected a temporary organization, voting to hold the first regular convention in Boston on Labor day. Charles N. Andrews, of Brooklyn, N. Y., was made temporary President, and Frank S. Morton, of Newton center, Mass., Official Editor. Its official organ was named the Interstate.


Its purpose was declared to be to protest against questionable methods in the N.A.P.A., to call attention to the higher ideals of amateur journalism, and to foster literary activity and friendly relations among amateurs of congenial tastes and ambitions.


It instantly aroused opposition both from those who regarded its methods as wrong and by who were suspicious of the entire sincerity of its founders. This feeling was intensified by the fact that its members nearly, if not all, belonged to the defeated party at the convention in 1902. With the exception of three members its membership was confined to Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the cities of New York and Philadelphia.


Ex-President Nixon, then Official Editor, condemned the new organization in a lengthy editorial in the National Amateur. Claiming that “no association was ever reformed by being deserted,” he said ‘that in building up “an organization paralleling the National in field, in scope, in aims, the members of the Interstate are antagonizing the National,” despite its protestations to the contrary.


President Lind of the National was even more outspoken in his opposition to the new society. He said that its organizers


betrayed an intention of upsetting the theories of evolution of the philosophers of all ages. They were going to develop our association, but that growth was to be, according to their platform, from without and not from within. They cannot help amateur journalism in this way, and their organization is hurting the National Associa­tion. The National A.P.A. is first in the hearts of every loyal amateur, and it is hoped that they will speedily realize this.


Mr. Nixon’s editorial called forth a letter from J. Rosevelt Gleason, chairman of the Literary Lyceum Executive Committee in 1886, which was published in the following issue of the National Amateur. In it Mr. Gleason said:


Some years ago a rival to the National was projected under the name of the Literary Lyceum of America. Had it been successful, the disruption of the National, must have followed. I regret that I was one of the founders. At the time it seemed to my colleagues and to me that the National Association had outlived its usefulness. We were misguided. We made the mistake of supposing that any faults into which the old association had fallen could not be corrected from within. If the same watchful energy required to keep faults out of the new organization were employed in driving them out of the old, the National A.P.A. would speedily be upon the high level which is claimed for the new body.


Of course, the members of the Interstate made spirited replies and came to the defense of their organization. The very fact that this was necessary, and the resulting division of opinion and aspersion of motives, defeated the very object of the movement. At the New York convention of the Interstate in 1905 amend­ments to the constitution were proposed by Nelson G. Morton designed to answer the charge of opposition to the National. They provided that only members of the N.A.P.A. were eligible for membership in the Interstate, and that any member ceasing to be a member of the N.A.P.A. should be dropped from the membership list of the Interstate. These amendments were rejected by an overwhelming majority. But a resolution offered by Charles W. Hems declared:


We believe the National Amateur Press Association to be the representative body of organized amateur journalists. We will continue to prove our unswerving loyalty to the N.A.P.A., and shall at all times exert our best efforts to the advancement of the interests of that organization.


Opposition to the Interstate, however, continued. A difference of opinion was revealed among its own members as to its position. Some said that it was a “feeder to the National,” preparing its members for joining the N.A.P.A. Others contended that it was not intended specifically as a recruiting body, but rather a “graduate school” for those who had passed through the earlier stages of amateur activity. Dissension also arose among its officers, and charges of neglect of duties and mismanagement were made. The conventions of the Association, held each year on Labor Day, provided enjoyable occasions of social gathering, and the stress laid upon, activity resulted in the publishing of some papers and articles which otherwise might not have been printed. Its influence otherwise was very limited. Its members, at various times, ranged from a dozen to 30 in number.

The conventions and principal officers of the Interstate were as follows:


1903 Boston: President, L. M. Ayres; Official Editor, Frank S. Morton; Vice-President W. R. Murphy succeeded to the presidency.

1904 New Brunswick, N. J.:  President, John L. Peltret; Official Editor, B. J. Goldstein.

1905 New York City: President, Edwin B. Swift; Official Editor, Edith Miniter.

1906 Boston: President, Edith Miniter; Official Editor, A. M. Adams, who resigned. James F. Morton appointed instead.

1907 Philadelphia: President, C. A. A. Parker; Official Editor, Charles Russell, who resigned, E. H. Cole succeeding.

1908 Bridgeport, Conn.: President, James F. Morton; Official Editor, Jacob Golden.

1909 Albany, N. Y.: President, Laurie A. Sawyer; Official Editor, II. C. Whiteside.



Back to Organizations

Back to Amateur Journalism