Attorneys' Contributions to Chiropractic

By Joseph Keating Jr., PhD
by Joseph C. Keating, Jr., Ph.D.
Association for the History of Chiropractic
1350 W. Lambert Road #110, La Habra CA 90631 USA

Attorneys' Contributions to Chiropractic Chiropractic's fortunes, as well as many of its theories, have been shaped as much or more in the courtrooms and legislative halls of various jurisdictions. It may be well, therefore, in this year of the profession's hundredth anniversary, to reflect briefly upon the contributions made by various attorneys to the course of chiropractic history.

Among the best known of early chiropractors was Willard Carver, a graduate of Drake University law school, and a friend of and counsel to D.D. Palmer before the birth of chiropractic. Carver, who claimed to be the first student of chiropractic based upon his many discussions of the new healing art with the founder before the turn of the century, earned his chiropractic degree from Charles Ray Parker, D.C.'s school in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1906. Within a few months of his graduation the self-styled "Constructor" of chiropractic established the first of his four schools in Oklahoma City in association with another Parker graduate, L.L. Denny, D.C. (Rehm, 1980, pp. 277-8).

Additional Carver schools were organized in the post-war period in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Denver; the Denver institution would become the University of Natural Healing Arts under the guidance of Homer Beatty, D.C., N.D. The erudite and feisty Carver would be influential in establishing the legal basis for chiropractic in Oklahoma, Kansas and several other jurisdictions, but along the way found himself in contempt of the Oklahoma Senate, and was jailed for his outspoken criticism of that body (Jackson, 1994). He would battle B.J. Palmer for most of his career as head of Carver College, but joined the ICA Board of Control in his later years to oppose the educational reforms of the National Chiropractic Association (Keating et al., 1992). Perhaps Carver's most famous graduate was T.F. Ratledge, D.C., the "missionary of straight chiropractic in California," and founder of today's Cleveland Chiropractic College of Los Angeles (Keating et al., 1991).

One of the most influential figures in the early years of chiropractic was attorney and Wisconsin state senator Tom Morris of La Crosse. When 1901 Palmer graduate Shegataro Morikubo, D.C. was arrested and tried for unlicensed practice in 1906-7, B.J. Palmer, secretary of the newly formed protective association known as the Universal Chiropractors' Association (UCA), turned to Morris to defend the Japanese doctor (Rehm, 1986). Morris won the first acquittal for chiropractic by convincing the prosecutor that charges of practicing "medicine, surgery and osteopathy" without a license should be reduced to unlicensed practice of osteopathy, since Dr. Morikubo had only used his hands to treat the sick. Morris next successfully differentiated osteopathy from chiropractic by introducing the expert testimony of chiropractor-osteopaths, who testified that the two manipulative arts were "separate and distinct." Morris also introduced the first textbook of chiropractic, Modernized Chiropractic, which also claimed that the "philosophy and practice" of chiropractic were "separate and distinct" from any other healing art (Lerner, 1954).

It has been suggested that the success of Morris' defense strategy helped to establish chiropractors' traditional distinction between the DC's "supremacy of the nervous system" vs. the osteopath's "rule of the artery."Morris was appointed legal counsel to the UCA, and in this capacity defended chiropractors all across the nation; the UCA would eventually claim a 90% acquittal rate, owing largely to Morris' successful courtroom strategies. He served a term as lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, but was an unsuccessful in his bid for the governorship, and thereafter turned his full attention to the chiropractic profession. Despite his long-term alliance with Palmer, Morris would precipitate BJ's fall from power within the UCA when, in 1925, Morris addressed the UCA convention, decried BJ's $2,200 lease plan for the neurocalometer (a device Morris argued could be manufactured for less than $50), and tendered his resignation as chief legal counsel.

Palmer immediately followed suit (i.e., resigned as secretary of the UCA), but where Morris was reinstated, Palmer was not. Chiropractic historian Cyrus Lerner, himself an attorney, argued in a 1954 report to the Health Research Foundation that Morris had been the real "philosophical" leader behind the UCA, although BJ characterized himself as the "philosophical counsel" to the protective society (Lerner, 1954). Morris died at age 60 in 1928; his protÚgÚ and junior law partner, Arthur T. Holmes, became chief legal counsel to the UCA, and following the 1930 merger of the UCA with the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) to form the National Chiropractic Association (NCA), Holmes would serve for several decades as chief attorney for the NCA.A contemporary of Tom Morris was Frank R. Margetts, LL.B., D.D., D.C., Ph.C., an 1893 graduate of the Chicago College of Law, 1920 graduate of the National School of Chiropractic and teacher at his chiropractic alma mater in subjects such as physical diagnosis and jurisprudence.

Upon his relocation to Denver in 1922, he was elected president of the Colorado Chiropractic Association, and the following year assumed the presidency of the newly formed ACA (Keating & Rehm, 1993), a broad-scope protective membership organization formed to provide an alternative to BJ's "mixer"-intolerant UCA. Margetts' skills as an orator, honed in his capacity as an ordained Baptist minister and pastor of congregations in Chicago, Spokane and Denver, served him well during his seven years (1923-1929) as president and traveling ambassador for the ACA. Rehm (1980, pp. 305-6) notes that Margetts defended the profession "before the legislatures of New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and Louisiana." Among his most famous published papers was "Does Chiropractic Need a Savior?" (Keating & Rehm, 1993), which was a response to Palmer's 1924 speech introducing the neurocalometer: "The Hour has Struck."

Margetts was one of the strong proponents of merger between the UCA and ACA, and served as a founding father of the NCA (the immediate predecessor of today's ACA). Margetts stepped down from the ACA presidency in 1929 for political reasons: to encourage a smooth transition of authority for Lillard T. Marshall, D.C., first president of NCA. The attorney-chiropractor-minister retired to California, where he was active as a practitioner and minister until his death in 1968.The work of J. Minos Simon, counsel to Louisiana chiropractors in the legal case of Jerry England, D.C., is also worthy of mention here (Adams, 1965). Simon spent eight years pressing to overturn a Louisiana statute which limited the licensed, legal practice of chiropractic to those who held a doctorate from a school of medicine. Although Simon was not successful, and the case was ultimately decided in favor of the state medical board, it had several secondary benefits.

The Digest of Chiropractic Economics reported on the parallel financial support ($5,000 each to the Louisiana Chiropractic Association) provided by the ICA and NCA (Louisiana's, 1959); the conflict brought some sense of unity among the feuding and competing divisions within the profession. Additionally, the case brought dramatic courtroom confrontations between counsel for the medical lobby and the chiropractors, in the persons of William D. Harper, D.C., president of the Texas Chiropractic College and author of Anything Can Cause Anything, and Joseph Janse, D.C., N.D., president of the National College of Chiropractic and first author of Chiropractic principles and technique (Janse et al., 1947). Janse's testimony during days of cross-examination was characterized as brilliant in the chiropractic trade literature of the day.

However, Janse had been humiliated by the medical board's attorney who hammered away at the lack of any federally recognized accreditation for chiropractic education. He returned to the National College determined that the school would achieve federal recognition or he would leave the profession. A few years later, in 1971, the National achieved that distinction through regional accreditation from the Department of Education of the State of New York.H. Doyl Taylor, attorney for the American Medical Association (AMA), will not be remembered with affection by chiropractors, but nonetheless played a significant role in the chiropractic profession's history. Doyl worked with Thomas Ballantine, M.D. and Joseph Sabatier, M.D. in the activities of the AMA's Committee on Investigation and Committee on Quackery (Wardwell, 1992, pp. 163-8).

It would be Taylor's paper trail (Trever, 1972) which enabled George McAndrews, attorney for plaintiff chiropractors in the Wilk case and brother of Jerome McAndrews, D.C. (appointed president of Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1979), to succeed in his 14 year law suit against AMA. Taylor was named as a co-conspirator in the case.A. Earl Homewood, D.C., N.D., LL.B. is probably best remembered for his contributions to chiropractic education as president of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC). Yet, this 1942 graduate of Western States College and 1953 graduate of the Philadelphia College of Naturopathy also earned a bachelor of laws degree from the Blackstone School of Law in Chicago in 1960 (Brown, 1989). His legal interests may have been prompted by a protracted struggle between the CMCC and the City of Toronto over control of the College's campus, through which the city eventually built a subway. Although he never practiced law, Homewood contributed to the profession's understanding of legal matters with his 1965 volume, The Chiropractor and the Law (Homewood, 1965).Orval L. Hidde, D.C., J.D., a 1953 "cum laude" graduate of the National College of Chiropractic (Dzaman et al., 1980, p. 119) and now chairman of the board of trustees of the National, earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1969.

As president of the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) in 1974, Hidde collaborated with Joseph Janse, D.C., N.D. and Leonard Fay, D.C., N.D. of National College, John B. Wolfe, D.C. of Northwestern College of Chiropractic, Orval L. Hidde, D.C., J.D.and George Haynes, D.C., N.D., M.S. of Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in the final push to have the CCE recognized by the U.S. Office of Education (Wardwell, 1992, pp. 144-5).Last but not least, David Chapman-Smith is known to chiropractors as the attorney who led the chiropractic team during the New Zealand Commission of Inquiry's investigation of the profession (New Zealand, 1979).

Since then Mr. Chapman-Smith has served as a planner and co-ordinator of the Mercy Center conference on chiropractic clinical guidelines, as secretary-general of the World Federation of Chiropractic, as legal counsel for the Canadian Chiropractic Association, as editor-publisher of The Chiropractic Report, and as a trustee of the Chiropractic Centennial Foundation. Truly a remarkable record.Space does not allow us to do justice (pardon the pun) to the significant contributions that these and other lawyers have made to the chiropractic profession (please consider reviewing some of the references cited below). But it may be well for the profession, at this moment of reflection and celebration of 100 years of struggle, to consider the many contributions that members of the legal profession have made to this healing art.


Adams PJ. Trial of the England case. ACA Journal of Chiropractic 1965 (May); 2(5): 13, 44 Brown DM. A. Earl Homewood, DC, chiropractic educator. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1989 (Sept); 33(3): 142-6

Dzaman F et al. (eds.) Who's who in chiropractic, international. Second Edition. Littleton CO: Who's Who in Chiropractic International Publishing Co., 1980 Homewood AE. The chiropractor and the law. Toronto: Chiropractic Publishers, 1965 Jackson RB. Willard Carver, LL.B., D.C., 1866-1943: doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, prisoner and more. Chiropractic History 1994 (Dec); 14(2): 12-20

Janse J, Houser RH, Wells BF. Chiropractic principles and technique. Chicago: National College of Chiropractic, 1947 Keating JC, Brown RA, Smallie P. Tullius de Florence Ratledge: the missionary of straight chiropractic in California. Chiropractic History 1991 (Dec); 11(2): 26-38

Keating JC, Brown RA, Smallie P. One of the roots of straight chiropractic: Tullius de Florence Ratledge. In Sweere JJ (Ed.): Chiropractic Family Practice, Volume 1. Gaithersburg MD: Aspen Publishers, 1992

Keating JC, Rehm WS. The origins and early history of the National Chiropractic Association. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1993 (Mar); 37(1): 27-51

Lerner C. Report on the history of chiropractic. 1954, unpublished manuscript in 8 volumes (Lyndon E. Lee Papers, Palmer College Archives) New Zealand Commission of Inquiry. Chiropractic in New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: PD Hasselberg, 1979 (republished by Parker College of Chiropractic)

Rehm WS. Who was who in chiropractic: a necrology. In Dzaman F et al. (eds.) Who's who in chiropractic, international. Second Edition. Littleton CO: Who's Who in Chiropractic International Publishing Co., 1980 Rehm WS. Legally defensible: chiropractic in the courtroom and after, 1907. Chiropractic History 1986; 6: 50-5

Trever W. In the public interest. Los Angeles: Scriptures Unlimited, 1972 Wardwell WI. Chiropractic: history and evolution of a new profession. St. Louis: Mosby Year Book, 1992

Click here for previous articles by Joseph Keating Jr., PhD.

Page printed from: