Ellis O. Jones

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Ellis O. Jones (left) with Robert Noble

Ellis Oliver Jones (born in Columbus, Ohio in December 13, 1873 - August 1, 1967) was a long-time American political activist who moved from socialist to nationalist causes. In 1944 he was a defendant in the Great Sedition Trial.

Early life

Jones attended Yale University (class of 1899) and majored in political economy .[1]

In 1908 he was the Socialist Party candidate for US Congress from Ohio.

In 1915 he was aboard Henry Ford’s "peace ship" which campaigned to end the First World War.[2]

On December 15, 1918 The New York Times ran an article on the arrest of Ellis O. Jones who was morning “dead liberty” in Central Park. He was sent to Bellevue Hospital to determine his sanity. At the time, Jones was chairman of Peoples Day Committee and proclaimed a new order where all debts were cancelled.[3]

In May 1919 Ellis Jones with the help of radical cartoonist Art Young started a Marxist humor magazine called Good Morning. Before the end of the year Jones resigned from the magazine. Both had worked together on the staff of the left wing monthly The Masses. Before that Jones was an associate editor of Life magazine.[4]

Ellis Jones moved from New York to Columbus, Ohio and later Wisconsin. In the mid 1930s he moved to the Los Angeles area.

He was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and had been beaten by vigilantes in his defense of California farm workers.

He wrote articles for Elmer J. Garner's publication Publicity and helped its distribution.[5] He was also a contributor to C. Leon de Aryan’s paper The Broom.

National Copperheads

In May 1941 he founded the National Copperheads, an isolationist organization closely associated with the American First Committee. Ellis Jones supported Robert Noble’s organization Friends of Progress and became its co-director. A few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jones reportedly said, "The Japanese have a right to Hawaii. I would rather be in this war on the side of Germany than on the side of the British." Shortly thereafter Jones and Noble held a series of mock trials calling for the impeachment of President Franklin Roosevelt. For this they were quickly arrested along with German American Bund leader Franz K. Ferenz who participated in the event. Charges were later dropped by U.S. Attorney General Biddle over concerns of violation of the right of free speech.

Local Jews angry over their release, began to apply pressure to state and federal agencies eventually winning convictions for violation of the California Subversive Organization Registration Act and the Federal Espionage Act of 1917. Jones and Noble were convicted under the California statue of sedition on August 11, 1942[6] brought by California Attorney General Earl Warren who would later be appointed to the US Supreme Court. Jones was sentenced to ten years in prison. The California convention was later overturn and Jones was released in August 1945 after serving four years. [1] After his release Ellis Jones moved to the Chicago area and worked with the anti-communist Elizabeth Dilling and her organization Patriotic Research Bureau.[7]

Ellis Jones died in Santa Rosa, California at age 93.



  1. American Political Trials, by Michal R. Belknap, page 185.
  2. Free speech in the good war, By Richard W. Steele, page 148
  3. Bolsheviki in Bellevue
  4. Brief history of Good Morning
  5. Subversive Activities in the America First Committee in California
  6. American Jewish Committee yearbook 1943 1944, page 181
  7. The Plotters, p. 127, by John Roy Carlson, (1946)

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