Alfred Lawson was a professional baseball player but he made his name by proposing America's first airline. In the great depression he left aviation for a different passion.
Lawson founded the Direct Credits Society.
It was a political movement to abolish the interest system and taxes. The group believed that an equal society could be created if the government fully controlled the banking system.
The Direct Credits Society failed to gain traction.
Lawson also created a religion called Lawsonomy. It was based on his own bizarre scientific theories. He claimed to have discovered Lawsonomy when he was four years old.
In 1943 he created the Des Moines University of Lawsonomy. Students lived and worked there and memorized his books. Des Moines said it was a commune and revoked its tax-exempt status.
Explore more in the Alfred Lawson papers at UW's American Heritage Center.