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Harvey W. Wiley
1844 - 1930

Physician, Farmer, Chemist, Hygienist,
Father of the U.S. Pure Food Law

Harvey Washington Wiley is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His tombstone bears the caduceus of the physician, a grain stalk for the farmer, and a scroll recognizing his service to “chemistry, agriculture, hygiene, and public welfare.” Then there are these words: “Father of the Pure Food Law.” ■ Harvey Wiley was born on October 18, 1844, in a log cabin at Kent, Indiana. He was the sixth of seven children born to Preston Pritchard Wiley, a strict Presbyterian churchman, farmer, plasterer and schoolmaster. The Wileys were descended from Scots who went to Ulster and then to America in the early 1700s. Harvey’s maternal ancestors (Maxwells) also were Scottish. Both fought in the Revolutionary War. ■ The Calvinist influence drove Wiley onward to new challenges. He farmed, fought in the Civil War, attended Hanover College, taught Greek and Latin, earned an M.D. degree, studied at Harvard, and taught chemistry at Purdue. ■ He was appointed Chief, Division of Chemistry, USDA, in 1883 and became troubled by the brazen adulteration of foods and medicines. Canners were using drugs to keep meats red and vegetables green. He soon built an impressive record of evidence of the dangers to health in adulterated foods and drugs. He fought a bitter battle with critics, but February 21, 1906, saw Senate passage of the nation’s first Pure Food and Drug Act, which he had written. It was a monumental victory for Harvey Wiley and the American consumer. President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill into law on June 30, 1906. ■ Acclaimed by the public, Wiley was in great demand until his death on June 30, 1930. It was 24 years to the day after passage of the act for which he is honored as “Father of the Pure Food Law.”

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546