Willard Otis Wylie was born in Newburyport on Christmas Day 1862. His family soon moved to Beverly.
Wylie was active in the International Order of Good Templars, rising to Grand Chief Templar in 1890. He was editor of The Templar and later also editor of The New York Templar.
He was a delegate to the Prohibition convention at Pittsburgh [1896?] and was nominated for several state offices by the Massachusetts organization.
-- Anon (1897) -- Course of Study Department: International Good Templar 10:122.
Located by Adam Seaman.
Willard Otis Wylie, whose names comes tenth on the National Amateur Press Association presidential roster, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1862. His paper, Golden Moments, published from Beverly, Massachusetts, held a leading place among the amateur journals from 1879-1883. It was attractive typographically as well as notable for its editorial excellence. In 1883 to 1884 he was associated with Howard K. Sanderson on Our Compliments.
Mr. Wylie’s devotion to amateur journalism soon brought him into political prominence and he was elected president of the Massachusetts Amateur Press Association in 1882 and president of the New England Amateur Press Association the year following.
No campaign in the annals of amateur journalism was ever so systematically conducted as that of Wylie's, under the management of Charles K. Watkyns, editor of La Critique of Brooklyn. The entire country was divided into sections, and these subdivided, each division with a chairman who made regular reports to Watkyns on the progress of the canvass in his district. Legler's campaign, much more loosely conducted, was comparatively ineffectual. As the delegates assembled at the St. Nicholas Hotel in New York, the scene of many early amateur gatherings, the excitement was intense. Legler's campaign strategy was largely in the hands of a trio of veteran politicians, known as "The Triumvirate," former Presidents Harrison and Reeve and Charles S. Elgutter of Omaha. Wylie had no forceful leader upon the floor.
The Wylie followers held a caucus at midnight preceding the opening of the convention, a complete ticket was selected, and the famous "iron-clad pledge" was signed by 29 members, who agreed "to vote, if present, for W. 0. Wylie for President, on each and every ballot that may be cast."
The Legler caucus, held on the morning of the convention, also nominated a full slate of candidates. Reeve conceived the scheme of making use of a plan of Charles Calvert's for the monthly publication of the National Amateur to place Wylie in an unfavorable light before the convention. It was arranged that the convention resolve itself into a committee of the whole to discuss the matter, elect Wylie as chairman, and then by a rapid succession of questions of privilege, motions, amendments, points of order, and appeals from decisions, so to confuse and demoralize the chairman as to discredit him in the eyes of the delegates. The trap was sprung next day, but Wylie was too sharp to be caught. He perceived the danger and refused to serve as chairman. Ralph Metcalf was chosen, but the parliamentary tangle was too much for him, and he retired.
Wylie’s campaign was vigorously waged and apparently ended in victory. The proxy committee reported 13 votes for Wylie and 26 for Henry A. Legler of Milwaukee. The convention vote was 31 for Wylie and 25 for Legler, and the former was thereupon declared elected.
Hardly had the echoes of the New York convention died away, however, when rumors of fraud and illegality began to be circulated. These finally crystalized into a series of affidavits to the effect that the Treasurer, John Fischer of Buffalo, had destroyed nine proxy ballots which should have been cast for Legler, who would then have been elected President. Fischer admitted his guilt. In view of this evidence, and by reason of other adverse circumstances, Wylie tendered his resignation as President.
Immediately a question relating to the interpretation of the constitution arose. Former NAPA President Harrison, who had been elected Official Editor at New York, took the position that the President could not resign except in one contingency, which had not arisen, and in any case the constitution made no provision for accepting a President's resignation; therefore, as Wylie had been declared President he must remain President until the association met and took action. Harrison's standing as an amateur of long experience carried weight, but Wylie refused to recall his resignation and no longer performed the duties of the presidency.
The Milwaukee convention next year declared Mr. Legler to have been elected and placed him upon the list of presidents, and a subsequent convention restored Mr. Wylie’s name. As has already been indicated, Mr. Wylie was in no way a party to the fraud at New York, as was admitted by his most partisan opponents. Moreover, he has expressed himself to the effect that the Milwaukee convention justly righted a great wrong.
Mr. Wylie never lost interest in the association. He has attended the convention of 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1900, and 1907. At the convention of 1891, he was made an executive judge.
He has for many years been prominent in the national temperance cause, and was recently the candidate of the Prohibitionists for Governor of Massachusetts. He is at present managing editor of the Mckeel’s Stamp News, and resides in Boston.
Amalgamated from convention reports by Truman Spencer and from:
William C. Alhauser (1919) – Ex-Presidents of the National Amateur Press Association: Athol (Massachusetts), Cook, 93pp. (pp.21-22)
nb: The National Amateur Press Association, a writers’ club founded by teen-agers at the Philadelphia World’s Fair in 1876, in Wylie’s time was still populated largely by earnest young adults. It was, and still is, famous for devoting several hours at each annual convention to debating the legal minutia of its regulations.
(Your Editor is himself a member of The NAPA today.)
In 1898 Wylie joined the Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News company and, in 1903, was named editor of the Weekly Philatelic Era, which was, by that time, owned and merged by Mekeel’s.
In 1913 the newly formed Severn-Wylie-Jewett Company, a partnership formed by Charles Esterly Severn, W. W. Jewett, and Wylie, purchased Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News and named Charles Severn its president and editor. Willard Wylie was assigned as vice president and managing editor. As part of his duties, Wylie was managing editor of Mekeel's Handbooks, each of which contained articles and monographs on important philatelic subjects. During his administration he was able to solicit and select material from important philatelic writers and published approximately fifty handbooks, the handbook series ending in 1930.
When Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News was moved from Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine, in 1940, Eveleen Mary Weldon Severn took over as editor and Wylie was named Editor Emeritus.
Wylie was elected as a Republican to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1925-26 and again in 1927-28.