Edward H. James, Accused of Libel Against FDR, Goes on Trial Today
YAA Leader Tried to Have President for His Witness
His plea to have President Roosevelt as a witness apparently disregarded, Edward Holton James '96, leader of the fascistic, anti-Catholic "Yankee-American Action," which met weekly in PBH two years ago, goes on trial today in Middle-sex Superior Criminal Court, accused of criminal libel against the President.
James, who is reported to have called Roosevelt "a blood-stained assassin," at first attempted to have the state summon the President as a witness in his defense, but he was notified that only in capital cases, and trials where punishment is life imprisonment, can witnesses be summoned in his behalf at government expense.
On the usual criminal court form for personal summons "Franklin D. Roosevelt, he being President of the United States," was asked "to appear forthwith before the Superior Court for the said County of Middlesex, holden at Cambridge . . . to give such evidence as he knows relative to an indictment there pending against Edward Holten James."
Air-Mail Letter to FDR
A registered air-mail letter bore the summons to the Presidential mansion with the notation "return receipt requested," but no answer was forthcoming from the White House, and James is on trial today without the support of the men he is charged with having libelled.
The material which the state will present as libelous is contained in a leaflet printed by his "Yankee Freemen," which said that Roosevelt's policy was "subversive of the Yankee tradition," and called the administration "wasters of the peoples' money, wreckers of the republic and the blood-stained assassins of our soldiers and sailors."
James' organization, formerly called "Yankee-American Action," was uncovered by Joseph P. Lyford '41, who exposed the group in a series of CRIMSON articles. The Dies Committee came to Cambridge to investigate James' activities, but no action was taken.
Nephew of William James
A nephew of the famous author, William James, the leader of "Yankee Freemen" stated in a recent interview that Hitler has no designs on us and that the President is responsible for America's entry into the war.