Elbert Hubbard, author and publisher of The Philistine magazine, advertised that "every issue causes sudden cancellations from the grumpy, who subscribe not knowing it is loaded." In November 2, 1912 he was indicted on six counts of violating the federal criminal code as various issues "contained among other things certain matters in print of an obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy and indecent character". Likely under the 1873 Comstock Law, "Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles for Immoral Use."
Hubbard's little joke that got him into legal troubles regarded 'the new stenographer whose name was Miss Mary Merryseat. But Old Man Lunkhead, Senior member of the firm of Lunkhead Sons & Co., Ltd., never having taken a course in Dickson's Memory Method, called her Gladys.'
He was convicted in January 1913 and fined $100 on one count and suspended sentence on the other five. He was warned by his attorney that "the Philistine and other publications must henceforth be like Caesar's wife."
In 1915 as Hubbard was preparing for his Lusitania trip he discovered he could not obtain a passport while under a suspended sentence. He applied to the Department of Justice and on March 23, 1915 received a full pardon from President Woodrow Wilson. Without that pardon he might never have been on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed. Imagine that!
The original pardon, signed by President Woodrow Wilson, is on display in the Elbert Hubbard-Roycroft Museum on Oakwood Avenue, East Aurora, NY. The museum, an easy walk from the Roycroft Campus, will soon open for the season but is always available by appointment by calling 716-652-4735.