Edwin Emerson, Jr.

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Edwin Emerson, Jr. (wearing a pocket watch chain with the masonic star of David), member of the American Historical Association, New York Historical Society, Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, Honorary Member of the Royal Philo-Historical Society of Bavaria, etc., etc.[1]

Edwin A. Emerson, Jr. (23 January 1869 - 3 October 1959) was a journalist, editor, author, soldier, secret agent, historian, poet, playwright, scholar, lecturer, and the initial representative of Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP in America.

Early life

Edwin Emerson, Jr. died in New York City and was buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, the veterans cemetery in San Mateo County, California

Edwin Emerson Jr. was born in Dresden, Kingdom of Saxony, North German Confederation.[2] His father Edwin Emerson was an American professor and a graduate of Princeton University, head of his class in 1846.[3] His mother was Mary Louise Ingham, the daughter of Samuel Ingham who was Secretary of the Treasury during the Andrew Jackson administration.

The Emersons were an American family who lived in Europe and Japan and traveled widely during the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The family consisted of Edwin Emerson, 1823-1908, his wife Mary Ingham Emerson, d.1883, and their children: Harrington, 1853-1931; Samuel D.I., 1855-circa 1930; Alfred, 1859-1943; Margaret, b.1863; George Hale, b.1866; and Edwin Jr., 1869-1959. Alfred Emerson became an archeologist and married Alice Edwards Emerson in 1887. Most of the later material in the collection is that of Alfred and Alice's children: Edith, a noted artist; Gertrude, a writer and editor in Asia; Willard, a banker and soldier; and Alfred Jr., an entomologist. The Emerson family was originally from New York City, but in 1862 they moved to Europe, settling in Paris in 1863. The children went to schools in France and Germany. Edwin contributed articles to French journals and became the editor of the "British Journal of Photography", though he gave up the post six months later. The family then traveled around Europe for several years, eventually settling in Germany, where they lived for 22 years. In 1876, Harrington and Samuel returned to the United States. Then, in 1883, Mary Emerson died, and in 1894 Edwin and Margaret Emerson also returned to the United States, where they traveled a bit, staying with several members of the family and friends. They returned to Paris in 1899, and Margaret graduated from the Sorbonne in 1901. In that year father and daughter moved to Tokyo, Japan (they later lived in Yokohama) to join Samuel who had already settled there. Edwin Emerson died in Japan in 1908.[4]

Education and career

In 1891, Edwin Emerson, Jr. graduated from Harvard University. He became a foreign correspondent for Boston Post and later returned to the United States as an editor for the New York Evening Post and Sun.

During the Spanish-American War, Emerson was part of the Rough Riders acting as Theodore Roosevelt's regimental clerk. During the war, he was also a secret agent for the US Military Information Bureau.[5] After the conflict in Cuba, he became a solider of fortune in Panama and South America.[6] He was a war correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War for Collier's Weekly covering both sides of the conflict. For a time he was take prisoner by the Japanese.

In World War One, Emerson reported for Chicago Daily News, Westminster Gazette, Black and White, Le Monde Illustre, and the New York World. Emerson was one of the few American journalists who covered the war from the German side of the conflict, speaking German fluently. From 1914 to 1917, Emerson was the editor of the English Continental News, published by the German government to carry on pro-German propaganda among English-speaking soldiers. It was during the period that Emerson was held as a prisoner of war in Turkey.[7]

On 22 November 1918, the President of Guatemala charged Emerson with being a German spy. In 1921 and 1923, Emerson was expelled from Austria and Switzerland as an undesirable alien engaged in subversive activity.

Marriage in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake

From the San Francisco Call, May 17, 1906, page 3.

When word of the local disaster reached the East, Colonel Edwin Emerson Jr. wired a proposal of marriage to Miss Mary Edith Griswold of this city. Then without awaiting an answer he boarded a train and hastened to the city of ruin, anxiety for the safety of the girl he loved forbidding even the delay of an hour. Had the suitor tarried until Miss Griswold's answer reached him things might have been different, for she declined his offer in a letter that did not reach him until yesterday, just a few moments before they were married at the home of Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson on Lombard and Hyde streets.
When Emerson reached San Francisco, ignorant of the young lady's decision, he repeated the message that had been consigned to the wires and this time he won.
The wedding yesterday was a pretty and simple affair. The home in which it took place is on the brow of Russian Hill in the heart of a district of debris. A number of friends of both the young people came through streets of ashes to witness the ceremony and telegrams of congratulation came from many who could not be present, including President Roosevelt and General Shafter.
Rev. Dr. John Bakewell of Trinity Church, Oakland, performed the ceremoney. Miss Griswold was attended by her sister, Miss Ora Griswold, and the groom was attended by Edward Salisbury Field. Dr. David Starr Jordan gave the bride away. The couple will remain in this city for a short time and will then make a tour of the East. It is the intention of Mr. Emerson to locate in this city.
The groom is from New York City and has won distinction as soldier, war correspondent and lecturer. He was with Roosevelt in Cuba and did extensive work as a correspondent during the Spanish-American and Russo-Japanese wars. He received his education at Harvard and recently has been very successful throughout the country as a lecturer. At the present time he is representing the California and Century clubs of New York City in the distribution of funds raised by them.
Miss Griswold is a Californian and is well known for her literary ability. She was assistant editor of the Sunset Magazine for a number of years and has written much of worth. Her father is interested in gold mines in Ameca, Mexico.

Society of American Friends of Germany

In March 1933, Emerson founded the Society of American Friends of Germany which was headquartered in the German consulate in New York. Edwin Emerson and his office at the consulate were charged with NSDAP activities in America.[8] From here he edited the first pro-National Socialist publication in America: the German language paper Amerikas Deutsche Post.[9]

Col. Edwin Emerson, correspondent for German newspapers in this country, and leader of many attacks upon Jews in this country, denied being the Nazi party representative in the United States. Demanding that assertions reprinted in the Jewish Daily Bulletin from an article written by Ludwig Lore in The Nation be retracted and a denial written by himself be published here, Emerson threatened to bring suit against this paper on grounds that he had been libelled. Col. Emerson refused to answer questions pertaining to his pro-German activities during the World War and his pro-Hitler operations in this country since the ascendancy of Adolf Hitler to the chancellorship of Germany. When asked by a Jewish Daily Bulletin representative whether or not it was true that he had received money from the Hitler government and from German business houses in this country as consideration for his activities, Emerson refused to answer. Emerson attributed reports appearing in the official Nazi press in Germany and reprinted in the Chicago Daily News designating him as the Nazi party representative in this country to the “concoction of reporters.” He admitted being correspondent for thirty-six German newspapers, practically all of which have been brought into the fold of Hitler government direction and operation. When asked what financial return he had received for numerous efforts to propagandize the Hitler Government, Emerson said only that he “is not connected with the Hitler government in any way.” He refused to reveal his personal attitude toward the Hitler government and their anti-Semitic machinations in this country [...][10]

The Society of American Friends of Germany later merged with a another group known as the Friends of New Germany. On 13 February 1934, Emerson had a personal meeting with Adolf Hitler in Berlin.

COL. EMERSON DENIES ANY NAZI ACTIVITIES; Stay in Germany Was Prolonged Because He Wounded Friend in Fencing Match, He Explains. Colonel Edwin Emerson, former president of the Society of American Friends of Germany, returned from a visit to Germany last week on the Hamburg-American liner Hamburg. Colonel Emerson, veteran newspaper man and historian, who was a member of President Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, expressed amusement at the suggestion that he might have engaged in any Nazi activities in this country.[11]



  • The College year-book and athletic record 1896-1897 (1896)
  • A Romance of the Rhine (1899)
  • A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year (1900)
  • Pepys's Ghost: His Wanderings In Greater Gotham, His Adventures In The Spanish War, Together With His Minor Exploits In The Field Of Love And Fashion, With His Thoughts Thereon (1900)
  • Poems (1901)
  • Comet Lore: Halley's Comet in History and Astronomy (1910)
  • The Destruction of Louvain (1915)
  • Benedict Arnold: a drama of the American Revolution in three acts and a prelude (1924)
  • Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt (1928)
  • Incunabulum incunabulorum, the Gutenberg Bible on vellum in the Vollbehr Collection : an authentic story of the choicest book in Christendom (1928) See also: Otto H. F. Vollbehr
  • Hoover and his times: Looking back through the years (1932)
  • German Swordplay (1936)
  • Side Lights of History (1943)
  • Verses on the completion of his eighty-second year


  • "Porto Rico as Seen Last Month", The American Monthly Review of Reviews, Volume 18, July 1898
  • "Alone in Porto Rico", The Century Magazine, Volume 56, Issue 5, September 1898
  • "When West Met East", Sunset, Vol. XV, No. 6, October 1905

See also

External link


  1. A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year, Edwin Emerson
  2. Who's Who in America, Volume 1, page 220
  3. Boston Evening Transcript, "Professor Edwin Emerson, Widely Known as an Educator, Dies in Japan", November 6, 1908 p. 8
  4. Emerson family papers
  5. Who's Who in America, Volume 1, page 220
  6. "When West Met East", Sunset, by Edwin Emerson, Jr. Vol. XV, No. 6, October 1905
  7. "Emerson Before Grand Jury: Investigating Spanknoebel’s Activities in This Country", Jewish Daily Bulletin, November 1, 1933
  8. House Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States (1943) Page 57
  9. "Nazi Agents Come and Go", The Anti-Nazi Bulletin, November 1939, page 7
  10. Colonel Edwin Emerson Denies He is Official Spokesman for the Nazi Party in America, 3 December 1933
  11. COL. EMERSON DENIES ANY NAZI ACTIVITIES; Stay in Germany Was Prolonged Because He Wounded Friend in Fencing Match, He Explains., New York Times, 22 April 1934