To document completely the accomplishments, the noble character, the contributions to the advancement of science, and the dedicated service to mankind’s welfare of Harvey W. Wiley would demand many pages and, indeed, many volumes, the reasons for his enduring and ever-increasing fame are summarized here…in the trust that Dr. Wiley’s name will become enshrined with the company of Great Americana, a symbol not of his achievements alone, but also of a great democracy’s will to confirm its soul in self-control, its liberty in law.
HIS SERVICES TO MANKIND
As Teacher …First professor of chemistry at Purdue University, he also was professor or lecturer at Butler University, Indiana Medical College, George Washington University, and Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, as well as Redpath Chautauqua.
As Physician…He focused his knowledge of medical science on the problems of food adulteration and marshalled the attention of his fellow physicians on the necessity of legal standards to safeguard food and drugs.
As Technologist…His experiments with sugar producing crops led to the modern era of cane sugar production and formed the basis of the United States beet sugar industry, of which he is known as the “father.”
As Chemist…He introduced the polariscope into America, devised new pieces of apparatus, and originated new methods of procedure as he modernized and standardized the methods of chemical analysis. The development of analytical chemistry, in which his was a major role, revealed the chemical composition of foods and made possible the detection of adulteration.
As Author…His monumental Principles and Practices of Agricultural Analysis accumulated for posterity his work in analytical chemistry. 1001 Tests of Foods, Beverages and Toilet Accessories, ten other works on foods, drugs, health, and hygiene, and numerous editorials during his years as director of Good Housekeeping’s Bureau of Foods, Sanitation, and Health advocated the cause of pure food and drugs.
As Public Servant…He authored and championed the country’s original pure food and drug law, “the most significant legislation since the Emancipation Proclamation.”* In three decades of Federal service as Chief Chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he assembled essential scientific evidence as the foundation for the law, led the successful crusade for its enactment in 1906, and established standards for enforcement personnel and methodologies which today constitute a “vital, increasing force for human well-being.”**
*Charles Wesley Dunn, President, Food Law Institute, 1956. **George P. Larrick, Food and Drug Commissioner, 1960.
Justice William O. Douglas of the United States Supreme Court, who states, “I have long thought that Dr. Harvey W. Wiley should be in our Hall of Fame,” has given permission for the reproduction of this his book, An Almanac of Freedom.
Pure Food and Drug Act June 30
We have had a glorious list of “muckrakers” in America Henry Demarest Lloyd, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, Ida M. Tarbell, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Upton Sinclair, to mention only a few. They conducted many wars against social, financial, and political evils. Perhaps the most important of all was their war against poison, which resulted in the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, both enacted June 30, 1906.
The most powerful document was The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which in novel form laid bar the awful picture of contaminated food turned out by the meat-packing houses. Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, Dr. E. F. Ladd, Dr. James H. Shepard revealed an amazing use of adulterants and preservatives in other canned and prepared foods.
Dr. Wiley submitted twelve healthy young men (dubbed the “poison squad”) to tests to show that preservatives used in food were harmful to health. In other studies, it was shown how from an average breakfast one got eight doses of harmful chemicals and dyes, at lunch, sixteen, at dinner, sixteen. In patent medicines, one often got poisons or habit-forming drugs.
Collier’s, the Indies Home Journal, McClure’s took up the cudgel. The New York Evening Post lampooned the packers:
Mary had a- little lamb,
And when she saw it sicken,
She shipped it off to Packing-town,
And now it’s labeled chicken.
Theodore Roosevelt made the issue a political one. The disclosures of the muckrakers and of a commission appointed by Roosevelt were revolting. Public indignation reached the boiling point. The country resolved to have done with the practices of merchants who built fortunes by undermining the health of the nation. The passage of these laws was a victory of the muckrakers over some of the most powerful lobbies ever brought to Washington, D.C.
Reprinted by the FEDERATION OF HOMEMAKERS, INC. from a brochure prepared by the late Mrs. Harvey W. Wiley.