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Meredith, Edwin T.



  • Existence: 1876-1928


Edwin Thomas Meredith was born in Avoca, Iowa, December 23, 1876, son of Thomas Oliver and Minerva Jane (Marsh) Meredith. He attended country schools until he was sixteen when he entered Highland Park College (later Des Moines University). He abandoned his college course at the age of seventeen to take a position on the Farmers' Tribune, a Populist newspaper owned by his grandfather. By the time he was eighteen, E.T. Meredith, had become the newspaper's general manager. On January 8, 1896, he married Edna Elliott; they had two children, Mildred and Edwin T., Jr.

As a wedding gift, Meredith's grandfather gave him one-half ownership in the Farmers' Tribune, selling the other half to S.B. Crane. Within a few months, E.T. Meredith was the sole owner and gradually transformed the publication into a statewide farm paper. In 1902 he founded Successful Farming and in 1922 he began publishing Fruit, Garden and Home. The later was renamed Better Homes and Gardens in 1924 and remains one of the nation's major publications today. Meredith was very active in the publishing world. He served as President of both the Agricultural Publishers Association and the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World. In 1915, Meredith was elected to the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States and from 1918-1920 served as a director of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank. He was also very involved in the National Committee on Boys' and Girls' Club Work.

Always interested in politics, E.T. Meredith was an ardent supporter of Woodrow Wilson and became a loyal Democrat. Meredith sought the party's nomination for the senatorial nomination in 1914, but was defeated by Maurice Connelly, who in turn was defeated by incumbent, Albert B. Cummins. Two years later, Meredith won the party's nomination for governor, but lost the election. These were his only formal bids for elected office. In 1918, President Wilson appointed him to the American War Mission which visited England and France. In January 1920, Edwin T. Meredith joined the Wilson cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture and served until March 4, 1921 when he was succeeded by Henry C. Wallace and the Harding administration. In 1924, Meredith was a strong supporter of William G. McAdoo's bid for the Democratic nomination for president. When that failed, he allowed his name to be put forward as Iowa's favorite son. The nomination went to John W. Davis on the 103rd ballot. Meredith's name was raised again in 1928, but due to illness he did not participate actively in the campaign. Edwin T. Meredith died June 17, 1928. He was a champion of farm relief, tax reform, prohibition, military preparedness, tariff reform, arid land development, the World Court, and the League of Nations.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Edwin Thomas Meredith Papers

Identifier: MsC0121

Attorney and Iowa state legislator. Subject files and correspondence concerning his business, family and political career. The bulk of the papers consist of correspondence dealing with business conditions during the 1920s and W.W.II, politics, family life.

Dates: 1898-1949