Society for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge

Charter, June 10, 1854; Address of the Society to the Citizens of the United States; List of Officers.


Charter of
The Society for the
Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge

The undersigned, being of full age, citizens of the United States, and a majority of whom being citizens of the State of New York, and being desirous to associate themselves for benevolent, charitable, and missionary purposes, have made, signed and acknowledge, the following certificate in writing, pursuant to the statute passed April 12, 1848:

The undersigned therefore certify—

First. That the name or title by which the Society shall be known in law shall be "The Society for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge."

Secondly. That the business and objects of the Society shall be—
1. The diffusion of the knowledge of the phenomena and principles of Spiritualism.
2. The defence and protection of believers and inquirers in the freedom of thought and inquiry against all opposition and oppression.
3. The relief of the suffering, the distressed, and the erring, so far as to enable them to lead pure and upright lives.

Thirdly. The number of Trustees shall be twelve; and

Nathaniel P. Tallmadge
Horace H. Day
Edward F. Bullard
George T. Dexter
Joshua F. Laning
Stephen M. Allen
Owen G. Warren
John W. Edmonds
Charles C. Woodman
George H. Jones
Nathaniel E. Wood
Gilbert Sweet

shall be the Trustees for the first year.

All which we do hereby certify, pursuant to the statute in such case made and provided.

N. P. Tallmadge
J. W. Edmonds
Nathaniel E. Wood
George T. Dexter
E. F. Bullard

New York, June 10, 1854


Address of
The Society for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge,
to the Citizens of the United States

But a few short years ago, in an obscure locality, and under circumstances which seemed to warrant the belief in an early termination of the so-called dream, Spiritualism, in its present form, was born. Its few advocates, in the early days of its life, were look upon as lunatic—were despised for their faith; and men of respectability and standing in society could hardly be found who were willing to examine into the facts connected with the alleged phenomena, for fear of the reproach of the entire unbelieving community. Since that period, Spiritualism has extended with a rapidity unprecedented in the annals of the world, until, today, it has become a respectable power in society. Men whose education and whose genius have fitted them for occupying the highest stations, either in politics or in the church, have sacrificed all positions of earthly aggrandizement for the sake of what they believe to be the enjoyment of high and holy truth. Connected with that movement to-day are many hundreds and thousands of men who are respected by their neighbors for their integrity and worth, esteemed and loved by their friends for their many amiable qualities. The subject has arrested the attention of the learned all over this land, and in many other lands. It has produced books for and against. Many of the publications on both sides of the question are marked by ability and strength.

Within the last two years Spiritualism has increased in strength and stature with a growth unprecedented in the history of mental giants. If it be a lie, there is every prospect of its enveloping this world, and, by its weight, sinking this world one degree lower in the depth of degradation. If it be a lie, it has come in so lovely a garb, that men will seek it unless they be warned by a strong voice; men will flee to it as though it were an angel sent from heaven, will become enveloped in its false light, and will be borne down to death by the weight of its false glory. If it be a lie, ye men of America, who have one thought toward the good of your fellows, it is your duty to come forward as one man to tear the veil from the face of the lie, and expose it in all its hideousness. We challenge you as men—as earnest men, as men desiring the good of your fellows—to come forth and meet us in the fight, expose our errors, draw the shroud away, and enable the world to see us as we are. We challenge you to come and do that thing.

We believe that spirituality is a heaven-born truth. We profess to know that angels from heaven—that the spirits of good men progressing toward perfection have come here upon the earth we stand on, and talked with us face to face, and uttered words to us bearing the impress of their divine origin. We sincerely believe this. We are respectable men; we do not believe ourselves to be insane. We ask you to come and meet us, and discuss the question with us; to examine these facts which we allege, and to prove, if you are able, either that these facts never did occur, or that their origin is other than that which it purports to be.

We come before you in this present shape to show you to what a height the giant has attained. We come to you in this present shape to show you who are spiritualists—who are the madmen in this world, who believe themselves to be the really clear-minded and sane men of this world. In this movement which we have commenced we believe we are the humble instruments in the hands of higher powers for the production of great results. We are proud of the posts we occupy. We are not ashamed to present our names for your consideration. We are not ashamed to meet you on an equal platform as men, and talk with you on this subject.

Citizens of the United States! We feel authority for saying that the day for raising the cry of humbug, chicanery, delusion, has passed away forever. You know—all of you who have reflective minds—that the application of these terms to this subject can no longer produce results, but rather that these invectives, launched at your supposed enemies, will rebound upon yourselves, and cover you with weakness. Your professed teachers, your men in high places, the learned of your universities, the eloquent of your pulpits, have dealt in them long enough. And what results have they achieved? The theories which the universities sent forth to account for the alleged phenomena, as they were pleased to term them, have not only rendered their authors, but the universities, ridiculous in the minds of intelligent men. All the theories which they reared have crumbled to the dust, and their authors cannot shake that dust from off their clothing. It will cling to them so long as they stand upon this earth, and longer still.

Your pulpits—and we speak kindly when we speak of them, for they have a holy office, whether they perform that office or no—your pulpits have launched forth invectives. The cry of delusion and chicanery has been heard all over the land; but that was some time ago. It produced no effect, except upon the churches themselves; and that course was abandoned. Policy was now adopted; another plan was accepted as the true one for accounting for the spiritual manifestations, and which has been promulgated, not only from the pulpits, but by the religious press of this country, namely, that evil spirits have visited the earth still further to delude deluded mortals. What pity! What pity! They have ascertained that! Their sermons, their published communications, contain that assertion from their high dignitaries. It is very strange, if they believe this thing—that evil spirits can come to do evil on their earth—that good spirits will not be permitted by the good God also to come upon this earth to effect good purposes! We profess to believe both these propositions. We leave you to examine the subject for yourselves. And we can tell you, one and all, if you will render your minds receptive to the truth, and will engage in the investigation of this subject, it will appear as clear as light in the noonday that spirits, both good and evil, do come here upon the earth, among their friends, and relatives, and acquaintances, and affinities, and teach them good things and bad; for this is true. We say, then, reflect, ponder on these things; investigate, and, as you shall decide, so shall be your progress here, and your everlasting progress hereafter.

Gov. Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, Wisconsin

Chief Justice Joseph Williams, Iowa
Judge Willie P. Fowler, Kentucky
Judge R. P. Spaulding, Ohio
Judge Charles H. Larrabee, Wisconsin
Horace H. Day, New York
Hon. Warren Chase, Wisconsin
Dr. David Cory, Illinois
Gen. Edward F. Bullard, New York
Hon. Richard D. Davis, New York
Dr. George T. Dexter, New York
Major George W. Raines, U. S. A.
E. W. Bailey, Pennsylvania
Phineas E. Gay, Massachusetts

Owen G. Warren, Architect, New York
Selah G. Perkins, M. D., Vermont
Charles C. Woodman, Editor, New York

Nathaniel E. Wood, Chemist, New York

Board of Trustees
Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, Counsellor at Law, Wisconsin
John W. Edmonds, Counsellor at Law, New York
Horace H. Day, Merchant, New York
Edward F. Bullard, Counsellor at Law, New York
George T. Dexter, Physician, New York
Joshua F. Laning, Merchant, Pennsylvania
Stephen M. Allen, Merchant, Massachusetts
Owen G. Warren, Architect, New York
Charles C. Woodman, Editor, New York
George H. Jones, Merchant, New York
Nathaniel E. Wood, Chemist, New York
Gilbert Sweet, Merchant, New York

Board of Advisors
Harrison Bliss, Merchant, Massachusetts
Lyman L. Curtis, Merchant, New York
C. C. Bristol, Editor, New York
Thomas G. Young, Editor, New York
E. A. King, Postmaster, Ohio
Benjamin Urner, Merchant, Ohio
Addison Smith, Merchant, Ohio
A. Miltenberger, Merchant, Missouri
P. E. Bland, Counsellor at Law, Missouri
George Haskell, M. D., Illinois
John Howarth, Merchant, Massachusetts
Amos Rogers, Manufacturer, New York
John W. Fowler, Professor, New York
Cranstoun Laurie, City of Washington
John J. Viele, Counsellor at Law, New York
Elisha Waters, Merchant, New York
J. Tanner, Physician, Maryland


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