New York Times, June 29

 Reporting on the Free Convention held in Rutland, Vermont, June 25-27.

This Convention became notorious especially for the speech given by New York medium Julia Branch—probably the first clear public articulation of women’s reproductive rights (or, at least it was, according to Henry C. Wright).  The New York Times’ reporting, as unsympathetic as it was, at least was fairly thorough—what follows below took up the complete front page of the June 29th issue of the Times—and was widely read.  The spiritualist Banner of Light also reported extensively on the convention—much more sympathetically, of course, and the Convention itself commissioned the publication of its minutes, as a separate pamphlet.  I have also included the story about the Unitary Household and the Free Love League in New York City, which the Times reporter refers to in his account of Julia Branch’s speech.  Mrs. Branch’s residence in a “Unitary Household” meant to be an urban Socialist commune in which many families lived together, would partly explain why she reacted specifically against a resolution’s offering of an “isolated household” as a model of ideal virtue and uplift.

James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald criticized the Times for printing the details of the Rutland Convention’s discussions—“shocking” as they were to upright sensibilities.  In reply, Editor Henry Raymond of the Times wrote (July 7): “The spectacle of a public print, and that print the Herald, blubbering over the depravity of the age, is at once imposing and memorable.  It can be compared only to the lamentations of a pickpocket who, finding himself in the daguerreotype collection of the ‘Rogues Gallery,’ bemoans the progress of art.”  Despite the fact that the Herald sent no reporter to the Convention, Raymond notes, it published an editorial denouncing the morals exhibited there—but forgot to mention its debt to the Times for having reported the events in the first place.  “And this reminds us,” wrote Raymond, of an anecdote of the notorious Marchioness DE BRINVILLIERS, who, when she was ascending the scaffold, turned to her friend and said that she was afraid she had forgotten to mention in her confessions that she had poisoned her father.  It was a trifling omission which she wished to have rectified.”—JB

[Broadside at the Rokeby Museum, Ferrisburgh, Vermont—Thanks to Sara Rath:]

Free Convention!
At Rutland,
June 25th, 26th and 27th.

Among the Speakers expected at the Convention are:

Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, George W[illiam] Curtis, Andrew Jackson Davis, Mary F[enn] Davis, Henry C[larke] Wright, A[lonzo] E[liot] Newton, Joel Tiffany, Rev. A[mory] D[wight] Mayo, F[rederick] W[illiam] Evans, Rev. Jason F. Walker, Hon. Gerrit Smith, Joseph Dugdale, William S. May, Rev. T[heodore] W[entworth] Higginson, Dr. H[enry] F[rancis] Gardner, Rev. Joshua Young, Rev. H[iram] P[artridge] Cutting, Rev. Hervey Elkins, Rev. S[amuel] A[rnim] Davis, A[usten] E. Simmons, Mrs. Ernestine L[ouise] Rose, Mrs. Eliza W[oodson] Farnham, Mrs. Frances [Dana] Gage, Mrs. F[rances] O. Hyzer, Miss A[chsa] W[hite] Sprague, Mrs. M. S. Newton, Mrs. S[arah] A. Horton, Mrs. H[attie] F. Huntley.

Arrangements have been made with the celebrated
Hutchinson Family,
To be present and enliven the occasion with their Songs.

Those attending the Convention will be carried over the different Railroads centering at Rutland, for
Fare One Way
Special Trains will be run over the Rutland & Burlington, Rutland & Washington and Western Vermont Railroads.

A Programme of further arrangements will be published previous to the Convention.

Committee of Arrangements.

New York Times, June 29, 1858

The Rutland Convention—A Curious Gathering.
Free-Lovers—Spiritualists—Trance-Mediums—Abolitionists—And All Sorts of Queer People.
Special Report for the New-York Times.

The Resolutions Introduced but Not Decided Upon.

Friday, June 25, 1858.

A tent has been pitched on an open space of ground in Rutland, to receive the members of the “Free Convention.”  A medley of people, of all sorts of shades; of heterodox notions; white, black, partially black, badly sun-burned and fair in face, have come up to have sweet counsel together.  The gathering is free in all ways.  Its intention is to discuss abolitionism, spiritualism, free-love, free-trade, and all other queer things.  They say that the Rutland population is extremely indignant at this irruption, and some good stories are floating about; of which more presently.  The first chapter must be got off for the waiting mail.

The Convention opened at the Tent, punctually at 10 o’clock this morning.  It was called to order by Mr. JOHN LANDON, a merchant in Rutland, who made a little speech, declaratory of the fullest degree of freedom to anybody who chose to be “around.”  Then he added that a Committee on Nominations had fixed matters nicely beforehand.  Their nominations were read, and then the Convention elected the following males and females to perform the heavy work:

President—Rev. Jason F. Walker, of Glens Falls, New-York.

Vice Presidents—Dr. B. Koon, Gibson Smith, Thomas Middleton, Henry C. Wright, L. Rose Sherman, Thomas Joseph Adams, A. Kibbon, Mary L. Sweetzer, P. P. Clarke, G. F. Kelley, E. B. Holden, Miss A. W. Sprague, Rev. Joshua Young, Mrs. Sarah A. Burton, R. R. Fay, G. F. Hendee, William Weston and Amidon Rice.

Secretaries—William H. Root, A. B. Armstrong, J. R. Frost, N. Weeks, L. Clark.

The President made a few observations of the usual character.

Mr. Yerrington, a gentleman connected with the Liberator, was appointed official reporter of the Convention.

Letters have been received from the Progressive Friends in Pennsylvania, and another Society.  So prodigiously long were they, that they were instantly laid on the table, till the sun went down, and still repose there.

The Platform was then produced.  It consists of fifteen resolutions, covering all sorts of subjects.  The President read them off, one by one, and then they were laid over for consideration.

They are as follows:


1. Resolved, That the authority of each individual soul is absolute and final, in deciding all questions as to what is true or false in principle, and right or wrong in practice.  Therefore, the individual, the Church, or the State, that attempts to control the opinions or the practice of any man or woman, by authority of power outside of his or her own soul, is guilty of a flagrant wrong.


2. Resolved, That Slavery is a wrong which no power in the Universe can make right; therefore, any law, constitution, court or government, any church, priesthood, creed or Bible, any Christ or any God that by silence or otherwise authorizes man to enslave man, merits the scorn and contempt of mankind.


3. Resolved, That the phenomena of what is called modern Spiritualism have abundantly demonstrated the fact that an intelligent intercourse between embodied and disembodied human spirits is both possible and actual.  That the conviction of the possibility and actuality of spirit-intercourse is opposed to all despotism, impurity and sensualism, and conduces to the inauguration of the only authority consistent with the human soul, as favorable to sound morality.


4. Resolved, That it is always wrong and inexpedient for man to take the life of man; therefore capital punishment, war, and all preparations for war, are wrong and inconsistent with the interests of individuals and society.


5. Resolved, That the only true and natural marriage is an exclusive conjugal love between one man and one woman; and the only true home is the isolated home based on this exclusive love.


6. Resolved, That the sacred and important right of woman is her right to decide for herself how often, and under what circumstances, she shall assume the responsibility and be subjected to the sufferings and cares of maternity; and man can commit no greater crime against woman as wife and mother, against his child, against society, and against humanity, than to impose on her a maternity whose responsibility and suffering she is not willing to accept and endure.


7. Whereas, The assumed superiority of man over woman has held her in submission and entailed slavery and dependence on the sex, and consequently, misery on the race; therefore,

Resolved, That immediate steps should be taken to remove that error and its consequences, and place woman politically, industrially, educationally and socially on perfect equality with man.


8. Resolved, That nothing is true or right, and nothing is false or wrong, because it is sanctioned or condemned by the Bible; therefore the Bible is powerless to prove any doctrine to be true, or any practice to be right, and it should never be quoted for that purpose.


9. Resolved, That natural justice, individual and social morality, the peace and material wealth and prosperity of the nations, the spirit of human brotherhood, demand that all international tariffs be immediately and forever abolished, and that Governments in all their various departments be supported by direct taxation.


10. Resolved, That the earth, like the air and light, belongs in common to the children of men on it; each human being is alike independent; each child, by virtue of his existence, has an equal and inalienable right to so much of the earth’s surface as is convenient by proper culture to his support and perfect development, and none has a right to any more; therefore all laws authorizing and sustaining private property in land, for the purpose of speculation, and which prevent men and women from possessing any land without paying for it, are as unjust as would be laws compelling them to pay for air and light, and ought to be at once forever repealed.


Whereas, The Jewish Sabbath is confessedly abolished by the Gospel Dispensation; and

Whereas, The same authority sets apart no other day to be similarly observed, therefore,

11. Resolved, That all efforts of church and priests to enforce our observance of the Christian Sabbath, as of Divine appointment, is a flagrant violation of individual right, and must be prosecuted in a dishonest disregard of the spirit and positive teachings of the New Testament.


Whereas, A social being depends on his fellow men for the cultivation and development of his physical, mental and moral power; and,

Whereas, Owing to the limitation and vicissitudes of life, he can accomplish but little for his own or future generations; therefore,

12. Resolved, That the duties of man belong to man, and the time, talent and means spent on, or for any other purpose, is detrimental to human progress and a robbery to the race.

13. Resolved, That the moral law is the material growth of a healthy condition of social life, and that a study of the nature of man, and the relations he sustains to his fellow-man, can alone give him the knowledge of the laws and govern him rightly.

14. Resolved, That no system or creed can be useful that does not tend to the removal of ignorance, poverty, vice and suffering, and promote freedom, intelligence and happiness.

Whereas, the character of man is formed for him, by the combined powers of organization previous to birth, and influence after birth, therefore

15. Resolved, That it is the highest duty of society to investigate and remove the causes which have a tendency to form inferior or vicious character.

16. Resolved, That the time and devotion spent in religious services can confer no benefit on an Infinite and Independent Power, and can therefore be no virtue.

The Spiritualistic element prevails.  The “Poughkeepsie Seer,” ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS, has arrived, with a body-guard of six trance mediums—male and female.  HENRY C. WRIGHT made a speech here on Sunday night.  Mrs. FRANCES D. GAGE made one last night.  WRIGHT is to make another this afternoon.  On the platform this morning sat Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose, Mrs. Julia Branch, Mr. [Hiram] Marble, Henry C. Wright, Thomas Curtis, Mrs. Gage and Mr. Henry Clapp, Jr., is on hand.  Mr. GARRISON has not reported, nor Mr. GEORGE W. CURTIS, whose names were in the list attached to the call.



RUTLAND,Vt., Saturday, June 26, 1858.

My letter of yesterday was dispatched in a hurry and gave the resolutions as they were presented without detailed accounts of what the Convention proposed to do with them.  The afternoon and evening sessions passed away without reference to them; nor did anything remarkable happen, although the Convention sat in a roasting heat till late at night.

The Business Committee reported an additional resolution, declaring that under the Divine government the law of progress, from the monad to the highest angelic society, is manifest by and through organization.  It was laid over.

The “Harmonial Club” sang a Reform lay.  Then JOEL TIFFANY made a long speech to the resolution just introduced.  He urged the need of organization.  He did not stand where Mrs. ROSE and others stood.  He was in favor of associated enterprises.  He believed in a union of individual efforts, and thought that real success lay always in perfect organization.  TIFFANY’s talk was earnest, somewhat desultory and very much spun-out, and some discontented spirits under the canvas canopy presented tired of it.  He was finally desired to “hold up,” and did so.  This ended the afternoon’s performances.

An informal series of advertisements followed.  One brother announced that he had books on Woman’s Rights for sale at the door.  HENRY C.WRIGHT had a lot of books which he commended to the affectionate regards of the people.  One, in particular, he puffed enormously.  Its title is suggestive: The Unwelcome Child; or, The Crime of an Undesigned and Undesired Maternity.  It is a very funny production.  No charge for this notice.

A third brother, likewise a sister, also had publications to dispose of.  While the assemblage fumbled for its coppers, the adjournment took place.

At nightfall the Convention came together again.  The first thing in order was a speech on the Bible, by the Rev. A. D. MAYO, of Albany.  This was a singularly conservative speech for such an occasion.  Mr. MAYO is a trim, natty little gentleman, with a delivery marred by a disagreeable drawl; but his remarks have some sense in them.  He held that Christianity was the soul of civilization, the glory of the Present, the hope of the Future.  He could find no flaw in the character of Jesus.  [Faint cries of “No.”]  He expressed but little sympathy for the extremes of radical religionism, and only towards the end of his speech showed any leaning to the queer notions of the people who surrounded him.

The gray-haired ex-candidate for the Presidency of the United States, WILLIAM GOODELL, had a word to say.  But the time was not favorable.  Discussion was not yet in order, and Brother GOODELL sat down discomfited, remarking, “Very well.  But I thought this was a Free Convention.”  Brother GOODELL was disgusted.

Then came two female “trance mediums,” who filled up two hours’ time.  One of these damsels was a Miss TEMPLE; she comes from the town of Bennington, in this State.  Her age is said to be but 14, but she is big enough for 18, and quite pretty.  A rosebud was stuck in her hair on one side, and a honeysuckle in the other.  She talked for an hour, feebly imitating Mrs. CORA HATCH’s mannerisms.  I haven’t the least idea what she was talking about, nor did the audience seem to be any wiser.  After three-quarters of an hour, an impatient brother, in the “back part of the meeting,” got up, with the celerity of a sky-rocket, to move that the spirits be compelled to govern themselves by the rules of the Convention.  He intimated that it would be agreeable to many if the aforesaid young lady would sit down.  Miss TEMPLE took the hint and subsided.

After her, another “medium” of the same sort, Miss SPRAGUE, came to the front of the platform.  The spirits had a hard time of it to manage this female.  She stood perfectly silent for some five minutes; the muscles of her face twitched; her lower limbs were unsteady; her hands moved spasmodically.  She presently found the use of her tongue, and began the customary spiritual nonsense.  I came away.

A stroll about the place, in the evening, convinced me that the people of Rutland are furious at the advent of this demonstration, as I hinted yesterday.  The religious element of the town has been exercised in an unusual degree.  Prayer has been offered that the Lord would graciously interpose to prevent the coming of the FREE-LOVERS and the abolitionists.  Not a house has been opened to receive the members of the Convention.  They congregate in the hotels and camp out in the public meeting-place.  It is a curious fact that the President, Mr. JASON WALKER, is an Ex-Methodist minister.  He comes from Glen’s Falls, and laments his former error of doctrine.  Mr. JOHN LANGDON, the manager of the Convention, is a leading merchant in Rutland.  He is a prominent man in the place, wealthy and odd.  It was he who called the convention to order yesterday.  With this exception, the Rutlanders are “down” on the Convention and all that belong to it.

The Spiritualists had a clear majority yesterday.  To-day the Free-lovers have had it.  The Radical Abolitionists have been unmercifully snubbed so far; they feel the slight.  To-morrow they may get their chance.  The Woman’s Rights women are here in strong force, led by Mrs. FARNHAM, Mrs. GAGE, Mrs. ROSE and other prominent females.  They divided the honors with the Free-lovers in the latter part of to-day.  The curious people whom you are in the habit of meeting daily in New-York are regarded with unmitigated wonder by the quiet Vermonters.  ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS, with his queer hat and prophetic air, attracts much notice.  PARKER PILLSBURY entertains select circles at the hotel.  The President is not quite “up” to the extreme of Radicalism, and indulges in free comments to the newspaper correspondents.  Mrs. ERNESTINE ROSE is active; so is Mrs. JULIA BRANCH.  Both these ladies go for Free-love, on principle.  They are regarded with a purely platonic affection by the brethren.



A Spicy Time on Free-Love—Very Broad Doctrines Freely Avowed.
A Small Bit of Abolitionism, Touches of Spiritualism, and a great deal of Woman’s Rights.

IN CAMP, AT RUTLAND, Saturday, June 26, 1858.

This has been a great day in the “Free Convention,” both inside and outside the tent.  In the face of a sun which did its utmost to discourage enthusiastic demonstrations, the sessions were prolonged from the absurdly early hour of eight in the morning until the Rutland bed-time of 10 ½ P. M.  All kinds of odd subjects were up for discussion, but through the whole ran an under-current of Free-Love.  It popped up in the midst of colloquies apparently most foreign to it, and the Free-Lovers, who are as thick as blackberries here, are chuckling to think that they have had the day to themselves, to the intense discomfiture and disgust of the red-hot Abolitionists, who have kept up a running skirmish, unsuccessfully striving to get the whip-hand of the Convention.

The feature of the day was a speech by Mrs. JULIA BRANCH, of New-York, on “Free-Love.”  This lady is popularly known as the female leader of the Free-Lovers.  She is an inmate of the “Unitary Household” in New-York—about which the TIMES had something to say a little while ago.  The lady is petite, and on the sunny side of thirty.  Heavy masses of curling brown hair fall down her face; her air is pleasing and taking.  She is an individual of literary tendencies; writes for some of the Sunday papers in New-York; is a poetess; and is very well known.  Her speech to-day had the merit of being a remarkably bold and frank exposition of her peculiar views.  Those views are similar to the expressed sentiments of the followers of the BRISBANE, ANDREWS and UNDERHILL party, advocating the extreme of “Free-Love.”  It produced an odd sensation to see a good-looking woman rise to avow herself a Free-Lover; but the Convention received Mrs. B. with immense favor.  Her speech is so curious an exhibition of the doctrines of the Free-Lovers, that it possesses sufficient interest to be published entire.  Here it is with an accompany resolution, which, by the way, was tabled to give place to a substitute offered by STEPHEN FOSTER.


Mrs. BRANCH said:

To my mind this resolution means nothing, or it is entirely incomprehensive, and I am aware that I have chosen almost a forbidden subject; forbidden from the fact that any one that can and dare look the marriage question in the face and openly denounce the marriage institution as the sole cause of woman’s degradation and misery, is an object of scorn, of suspicion and opprobrious epithets.

I ask of that now as I did formerly of the Church, Is it so sacred that it cannot be questioned?  Is it so absolute that it defies argument?

LUCY STONE said to me at the recent Woman’s Rights Convention held in New-York, “The marriage question must and will some day be discussed.”  I asked, “Why are you not willing that it should be discussed now and here?”  She did not think it a proper place; their platform was not a free one; they wished the rights of women in regard to voting settled then and there, and that would settle all other rights.

I asked, “How can she have the right to vote, when she has not even the right to her name in the marriage bonds?”

She said, “It is a mistaken idea that woman is obliged to give up her name and take that of her husband, by the ceremony.  I have not given up mine, and no law can compel me to.  I call myself LUCY STONE, and shall always.


How would it have been with Mrs. BLACKWELL if she had kept the fact of the marriage ceremony a secret, and gone to a hotel with the intention of stopping a few days, with Mr. BLACKWELL, and signing her name LUCY STONE?  Would they have been permitted to occupy one room?  What do you suppose would have been the astonishment of the virtuous landlord at such a proceeding, and what would have been his answer?  Mrs. LUCY STONE BLACKWELL and every one else knows the act would be sufficient to denounce her in the eyes of society, an infamous woman.

The marriage ceremony is necessary to keep woman virtuous and respectable, and all intercourse with man out of its holy rites, renders her an outcast and a thing to be despised.  Is it because she is naturally vicious and wicked that bones are placed upon her?  Has she no nature that may not be proscribed and estimated by man law-makers?  Has she no inborn right that belongs to herself?  As she stands now before the world, she has none.  She has not even that kind compliment that is paid to man in the Constitution of the United States, “that man is endowed with certain inalienable rights.”  And to the marriage ceremony, I say she is indebted for her wrongs, for her aching heart, her chains, her slavery.


Woman must strike the blow if she would be free and become the equal of man.

You speak of her right to labor—her right to teach—her right to vote, and lastly though not least, her right to get married; but do you say anything about her right to love when she will, where she will and how she will?

Yes, here is a stipulation for her in this resolution.  “She is to have an isolated household with an exclusive conjugal love.”  This is very pretty in sentiment and MOORE beautifully expresses it in his “Fire Worshipers:”

“Oft in my fancy wanderings
I’ve wished that little isle had wings,
And we within its fairy bowers
Were wafted off to seas unknown,
Where not a pulse would beat, but ours,
And we might live, love, die alone,
Where the bright eyes of Angels only
Would come around us to behold
A paradise so pure and lonely.”

But this will not do for practical life where man and woman work from ten to eighteen hours out of the twenty-four.  The working class are by far the larger class, and the isolated household is the worst place in the world for them.  The man comes home to his meals which are set on the table amid crying children and the sickly despairing face of his wife—there is no social life.  Even the exclusive conjugal love that bound them together in the marriage ceremony has long since settled into the mildest form of friendship.  The enthusiasm and ardor, and poetry, and sacredness are forever destroyed by constant familiarity in the isolated household.

Just as woman is isolated and confined within the limits of a home, just so will her offspring be narrow-minded, bigoted and selfish; just as she is free in her thoughts, her affections, making her home wherever she chooses, just so will her children be broad and expansive in their ideas, noble, and great and honorable in virtuous deeds, benevolent in heart and tolerant in all things, however opposite to them, because they feel within that they have not only the perfections but the imperfections of humanity.

We have lived in the ideal life too long; we want something practical.  We have planted rank weeds, and we are cultivating them with as much nicety as we would beautiful flowers.  We have gone down into hidden lore and have lived in the eyes of the past as though the present was too weak to bear the weight of our thoughts.  We crawl on our hands and knees in the childhood of knowledge, fearing to rise lest the weight of our brains should topple us over.  We live in dead men’s graves, waiting for some angel to roll away the stone and give us life and liberty and individuality.  Let me draw a picture of the isolated home, and one that came under my own observation.


See the woman with a care-worn face; long tears of grief have made deep furrows—her thin hand and shriveled figure—her dejected, weary air—her desponding tones tell of something that lies heavy at her heart.  Surely, never Christ, bearing the great heavy cross up to crucifixion, could feel the deep woe that presses against her soul.

“Ah me,” comes with a sad sigh as we lay our hand upon her head; “tell us,” we say, and she throws open the inmost recesses of her soul, and tells the story of her life.  How she aspired to be great from childhood—how noble thoughts took possession of her; how she loved, and married the object of her love; how dear the first-born of her heart grew to her; how it died, and she clothed herself in the habiliments of woe, and shut out the light of day to her heart, and sat down alone at home without friends or hope or consolation; how other children came to her, but they did not fill the void; the black veil was drawn down from between her and happiness, and pinned to the soul by the arrow of affliction.  There was no sympathy in the world, and she longed to lie down in the grave and rest.

We brush away the tears and bid her hope; hope has died out; we speak of husbands and children; they have no sympathy.

“Are you willing,” we ventured to ask, “to look for one moment into your own soul?”

“I have always tried to do right, but circumstances were against me.  My husband has long since ceased to love me, although he presses upon me the necessity of bearing children whenever he pleases.  My children are perverse and wayward, and I don’t know what to do with them.  Some people go right through the world always light-hearted and happy; I never saw an unhappy day till I was married.”

“But of yourself, have you never thought of a plan whereby you might be relieved from these troubles?”

“Oh, yes, of many, but I have no right to think or speak my sentiments, for I am married; if I do, my husband says it is better for me to attend to the domestic affairs, and he will do the thinking.  He deprives me of female friends because women love to gossip; of male friends, for the world might talk about it; besides, he says, a mother ought always to be a at home taking care of her house and children, and providing for her husband’s wants, and I have nothing but death, and when that comes I shall go where everything will be bright and happy, and my soul’s longings will be satisfied.”

Now, I ask, what is that woman’s life?  Is she what God intended she should be?

No!  She was made fair and beautiful in childhood, given those noble aspirations to cultivate in the garden of her soul.


What did she do with them?  Sold them with herself at sixteen, when she entered into the marriage contract, and thus bowed down her soul forever.  In her isolated household, she threw away her life, and added to the too many already children thrust into the world half made up—children of chance, children of lust, abortions who feel that they have no right to existence—children of disease, whose tainted flesh and running sores are a disgrace and an everlasting reproach to the morals and purity of any community.


BYRON cursed his mother for his deformed feet, and there are thousands and thousands of children cursing the sacred name of mother for their deformed mental and moral conditions.

Mrs. GAGE, Mrs. ROSE, Mr. WRIGHT, and others, go back to the mother’s influence, and go a step further back, and say it is the marriage institution that is at fault.  It is the binding marriage ceremony that keeps woman degraded in mental and moral slavery. She must demand her freedom—her right to receive the equal wages of man for her labor—her right to bear children when she will, and by whom she will.

Woman is not totally depraved.  She will never abuse one right that is given to her, and she will never step aside from her own nature.  If she desires to go to the ballot-box, it is because there is a wrong somewhere, and she takes that way to right it.  If she desires to become a lawyer, it is because there are laws to be redressed and made better.  If she desires to preach, it is because she feels the woes and afflictions of humanity.  If she desires rights, it is because she needs them.


I believe in the absolute freedom of the affections, and that it is the woman’s privilege, aye, her right, to accept or refuse any love that comes to her.  She should be the ruling power in all matters of love, and when her love has died out for the man who has taken her to his heart, she is living a lie to herself, her own nature, and to him, if she continues to hold an intimate relation with him.

And so is man’s relative position to woman.  When his love has died out, and he continues to live with his wife, on any consideration, he strikes a blow to the morality of his nature, and lives a life of deception, not only to her and society, but he is responsible for all the crimes that his children, borne under those circumstances, are liable to commit.

A gentleman said to me, a little time ago, “My wife is a woman’s rights woman.  She talks of her rights, and I allow it, but she really has none.  I am her husband; she is my property, and if I do not like a thing I say so; and I do not consider she has any right to dispute it.  I do not hold any argument, for I consider my will law.  And if I loved a woman, and was not bound to her by the marriage ceremony, I should not think of disputing her will or wishes, for fear she would show me the door, and I should have no alternative but to go out of it.  Her will is absolute, for I have no claim upon her, and she is justified in all she does, so it is necessary to guard myself and movements in  order to retain the love and respect of the woman I love.”  What a pleasing prospect is this for the wife, who is rearing her children in her isolated household, and imagining the husband immaculate in thought as well as action, and respecting her in the sacred office of wife and mother.


Why should woman tame herself into calm submission, and be the slave and toy and play-thing of man?  What is marriage?  Is it the linking together of two loving hearts in holy, sacred union?  No!  This is seldom the case when compared to the many thousands upon thousands of marriages of convenience.  Women are bought and paid for, as the negro slave is.  She is estimated as a thing of barter, for a man counts the cost of his intended wife as deliberately as if he thought of keeping a cow, a dog, or a pig.

Now, what are the rights and privileges of woman in the marriage institution?

It gives us the privilege to become Mrs. Brown instead of Miss Smith.  That is an honor, no doubt, as it relieves woman from the stigma of old maid.  It gives us the privilege of being supported and attending to domestic duties—the privilege to see that the dinner is served at the proper hour for a hungry husband—the privilege, oftentimes, to sit up half the night to let the husband in from a delightful concert and oyster supper that he has enjoyed with Mr. Jones and his beautiful wife.

Then we have a right; and listen! women of the Nineteenth century!  The marriage institution gives you one right; one right that you have not, perhaps hitherto valued—it gives you the right to bear children.

It is not a privilege; it is not an inheritance that your nature craves.  But it is the law of wise men, who know very much better than you do when you want a child, and when you ought to become a mother.

Now, I say again, that resolution (referring to the one reported by the Committee) is incomprehensive.  Love is not dependent on reason, or judgment, or education, or mental acquirements, or society, or control of any kind.  It is an inspiration of the soul.  It is a holy, sacred emanation from the most vital part of our natures, and to say when or where it shall be limited or restricted is a violation of our individual rights.

I may have taken an extreme side of the question, but only offer my views as my own, and wish that the resolution may be put in a more definite form, stating what conjugal love is, and to how few, or how many, an isolated household may be limited to.  I will read a resolution that I think would bear more directly on the marriage question:

Resolved, That the slavery and degradation of woman proceeds from the institution of marriage; that by the marriage contract she loses the control of her name, her person, her property, her labor, her affections, her children and her freedom.


STEPHEN FOSTER and JOEL TIFFANY sprang to their feet as Mrs. BRANCH sat down.  The Chair awarded the floor to FOSTER.  This individual has taken to wearing spectacles, and is more comely in personal appearance than he used to be on the New-York boards.  STEPHEN was once decidedly seedy.  He has improved in flesh as well as in his social relations.  He declared to-day that his marital connections with Sister ABBY KELLEY, are extremely happy.  FOSTER held that the difficulties of Marriage grew out of the inequality between man and woman.  Woman is a chattel—a property.  She has no equality with man in the marital relations.  The whole world groans and travails in pain together.  In STEPHEN’s view, the lot of the man is as bad as, if not worse than, that of the woman.  He claimed that the persecutor was always in a worse box than the persecuted.  Still, STEPHEN (claiming to speak from experience) believed that the marriage relation was the only real good there was left in this sinful world.  He didn’t believe in upsetting it, in the way that Mrs. BRANCH proposed.  He admitted that every man is a tyrant in his own family, as things now go; and that every woman is a slave-breeder, in the eyes of her husband.  Mrs. BRANCH had abrogated the marriage relation; but he begged to ask—is not the remedy worse than the disease?  Bad as the world is to-day, the general upsetting of the marriage relation altogether would only turn the world upside down, and make it a perfect Bedlam.  He agreed with Mrs. BRANCH as to the utter rottenness of the present condition of society, but he preferred to avoid extremes for a while longer.  He thought milder means should be employed first, therefore he proposed to lay Mrs. BRANCH’s resolution on the table, and offered an amendment to the original resolution; it is indicated in Italics below; it was carried:

Resolved, That the only true and natural marriage is an exclusive conjugal love between one man and one woman, based upon the principle of perfect and entire equality; and the only true home is the isolated home, based upon this exclusive love.


JOEL TIFFANY claimed—with a strong appearance of heterodoxy—that the people couldn’t see the difference between Free-Love and Free-Lust.  Free Love was simply regarded as Free Lust.  In the relations between the sexes, he believed that lust had more to do with the man’s desires than love.  In marrying a woman, he marries, not her love, but her use.  If, after marriage, she don’t prove so useful as he thought she would, then his love, so-called, evaporates.  He looks upon woman as a thing of purchase, as he would look on a horse.  In this view, marriage becomes a matter of bargain.  Men and women are not married.  They unite on the plans of self-love, operating through use.  This is what the marriage relation undoubtedly is, and yet the community upholds the system.  They think it is the gratification of this propensity that we call love.  It is nothing of the sort.  It is simply lustBut true marriage is not open to these objections.  When a man finds in a woman all that his nature yearns for, and when a woman finds a man who stands as the full embodiment of her wishes, if the man and woman unite under such conditions, both are truly married.  Woman then becomes to man a medium of inspiration.  Man becomes to woman a source of strength and power.  She unites with his soul.  He cannot develop without developing her.  They become one.

A VOICE—Which is the one?

TIFFANY—Both.  (Laughter)

THE VOICE—Which owns the farm?

TIFFANY—Both—the man and the woman.  (Shouts of laughter.)

CHAIRMAN—Time is up, Brother TIFFANY.

VOICE—Go on!  Go ahead!

CHAIRMAN—Will the Convention extend Brother TIFFANY’s time?


Brother TIFFANY proceeded: Man uniting woman to strength and affection; woman gracing and sanctifying man; this is marriage.  So long as men and women are wandering about seeking to find a boot that will fit, the sooner such a system is broken down the better.  [Laughter.]  Go to work at the man, and go to work at the woman, and prepare them for the conjugal relation.  Let us have the law hold things as they are till we have tried this experiment.  Marriage may be happy.  The defect is not in the institution, if man had not been lustful.  The man who is developed, redeemed from his sensual nature, must still have the old law continued over him.  So long as man is gross, and selfish and lustful, the law must keep its hold over him.  But let the individual who desires to be redeemed, first perfect himself.  Let us not have license.  [Sensation.]

Mr. TORREY—Will Mr. TIFFANY permit me to ask him a question?


TORREY—Why say that a man who has committed one blunder in the course of his life, should be compelled to keep on committing blunders?  [More sensation, and symptoms of a row.]

TIFFANY’s time was now really up, so he did not pursue the subject.


Mrs. ERNESTINE ROSE—We have had a very glowing description of conjugal love—true, perfect conjugal love.  As a Woman’s-Rights woman—nay, more, as a Human Rights woman, she could not but throw in her mite in the discussion.  TIFFANY’s description, she said, was beautiful.  From her whole heart did she accept it.  But facts are stubborn things.  And what are the facts?  They have been told here today by a woman yonder, (pointing to Mrs. BRANCH.)  Mrs. ROSE went above, beyond, below the influence of woman.  Ignorance and usurped authority have placed upon woman the stigma of inferiority.  Therefore we want equality.  Bring up woman to feel the right that is in her.  Bring her up so as to make her an independent being, as man is.  Cease to tell her from childhood to look up to man as her protector.  Teach her that it is a dangerous thing to place the freedom of any one in the hands of another, whether that other be called king, prince, priest or husband.  When woman is once recognized by the State as the equal of man, she will cease to be a slave.  Give us the same chance that man has, in politics, in education, in property, in the marriage relation.  Mr. TIFFANY had declared that man and woman were like a pair of scissors.  But the law gave the husband the pair of scissors [laughter] and the woman has no right to cut with an implement to which she has contributed her half.  [Laughter.]  Mrs. ROSE added that she seldom spoke of herself, but on this occasion she would.  Her references were to her husband.  She was a married woman; had been married twenty years; perhaps had as many rights as she ought to have.  But her husband was a law to himself.  [Cheers.]  She had no personal complaint to make.  In this fight she battled for a principle, not that she was in an unhappy state in her own private affairs.  She spoke earnestly of what she felt to be a wrong.


Brother EVANS—a venerable Shaker gentleman, all the way from the County of Lebanon—was introduced.  He expressed his great joy that the time had come when the marriage relation could be discussed in the Free Convention.  God is male and female—a dual being.  Man should be made after the same pattern.  Bro. EVANS declared that he did not believe the Bible was the Word of God; it was simply the record of the high spiritual experience of the men whose compositions it contained.

After some desultory discussion, there came


STEPHEN FOSTER expressed his disapproval of the way things were going in the convention.  He referred particularly to what he called the “outrage” inflicted upon Brother GOODELL last night.

A VOICE—Same, here.

Mr. FOSTER—This is the first meeting in my knowledge where the Chair has ventured to set aside the will of the Convention, declare a reply to an attack out of order, and afterwards award the floor to others, who occupied the time for an hour.  He protested against the movement made to blink the whole question of Slavery.  That topic had been put off to the tail-end of the programme for this afternoon, and it was uncertain whether it would find itself able to hang on to the tail-end.  [Laughter and approbation.]  If you limit one man, in God’s name, (said STEPHEN,) limit all.  What he wanted was, perfect freedom on this platform.  He was opposed to aristocratic privileges in a Free Convention.

Brother RANDALL pitched into Brother FOSTER, for his unqualified censure.

The Chairman put Mrs. Rose into his seat, and defended himself in a two-minutes’ speech.  For a time there was a brisk cross-fire of recrimination.

The breeze blew over without any serious damage.


Then came Mrs. ELIZA W. FARNHAM, who was programmed to speak on “Woman’s Rights.”  She declared that her views “struck into the metaphysical.”  By way of introducing the views she entertained, she read a series of resolutions.  They express the whole story, as Mrs. FARNHAM conceives it:

Resolved, That it behooves us as persons professing free thought and righteous purposes toward the higher welfare of society as well of individuals, to look frankly and courageously in their face the monstrous evils which grow out of the wrong and wicked generation of human beings; and that merely to continue working, however zealously and tenderly for the reform of such persons, after we have idly suffered this irreparable and greatest wrong to be done against them, were a weak and simple waste of the powers to know and to do with which God has beneficently endowed us.

Resolved, Therefore, that we will diligently search into all the means and conditions by which the good of our race may be thus primarily secured; and trusting that a wise and pure God has incorporated into his works no laws or elements which pure and earnest men and women may not only learn but worthily and properly teach, we will seek to unfold to both the knowledge and truth whereby they may be brought to act faithfully and wisely in the relation of parents as well before as after the birth of their offspring.

Resolved, That we regard the weight of this responsibility as resting upon woman and believe that she can never fill the measure of her duty till she is inspired with a consciousness of her higher powers and corresponding rank in the scale of being—till she is freed from the oppression of unequal laws, the slavery of mental darkness, vanity and selfishness in which she has been trained, and is made truly free and wise, both as a woman and mother; and that for these ends, grand and unattainable as they may seem to many, we believe no miraculous interposition is necessary, and no impossible effort demanded on the part of those who may receive and teach the truth; but that here, as elsewhere, we shall find that our dear Heavenly Father hath been beforehand with us, and has already more than half accomplished the great work in the susceptible, intuitive-spiritual nature which he has bestowed upon woman.


Resolved, Finally, that the paramount claim upon the intelligent progressive life of our age and country is thus to instruct woman in the grandeur and dignity of her great natural office; to enlighten her, and through her instrumentality to make man sensible of the consequences of her enslavement; to encourage and strengthen her to demand as her own and her children’s indefesible right that freedom and control of her person in the marriage relation which alone would enable her to consult her nature, and its physical and spiritual capacity to assume at any time the office of mother; and that in the acknowledgment of the rank and freedom herein claimed for her, we are the only source of a spiritual, enduring and harmonial civilization, as well as the hope of a nobler race than has ever yet occupied the earth; that we regard humanity at present as more the offspring of its father than of its mother, by reason of the fact that man has been the positive power on all the planes of life which we have yet passed, and we can only look for its essential advancement above and intellectual and material refinement which so far is the experience of the masculine by the embodiment in it of the intuitive life, harmony, tenderness, fortitude, integrity, purity and love, which are the characteristic elements of the feminine.

Mrs. FARNHAM, in supporting these resolutions, claimed that woman is made organically superior to man, as she is confessedly his superior spiritually.  The discord that we hear concerning the marriage question, she attributed entirely to the general idea of woman’s inferiority—a position which she utterly scouted.  To her apprehension, this question will take a definite form whenever men would consent to judge from the physical in Nature what God intended the spiritual to be.  Admitting this principle, we shall begin to understand the truth as it is.  She believed that to-day, with the truths she had found, she could go into the Five Points, and by pleading with such women there as were yet capable of producing offspring, would never afterwards produce children so bad as they had produced—not through any eloquence she possessed, but in consequence of the power of the truths she could tell.


Mr. THOMAS CURTIS, a young and ardent gentleman from Pennsylvania, expressed his sentiments.  They were rather startling.  He said, after some preliminaries:

Our friends, Mrs. ROSE and Mrs. GAGE have told you that they are married.  So am I—although I have not been married twenty years, as they have been.  I married myself to my wife, and she married herself to me, under the express understanding, not that God sanctified it—we did not want God in the matter—not that it was sanctified by magistrate or priest, because we cast that idea aside, as none of their business—but because we saw that we could in marriage better fulfill our highest and best use, and carry our happiness to the fullest extent.  When we were married, we expressed that sentiment; and when we agree to separate, we shall accomplish that separation without the help of God or priest or magistrate.  We don’t want the consent of either of the three.  We do not want to be united because God unites us; and we will not be separated because God separates us.  We will act upon our own judgment and opinions; each respecting the impressions, not what I state, or what she states, but the impressions which are for both, and which are the common property of all, and, as such, to be used by men and women.

A resolution was adopted, timing all hands to ten minutes.


Brother CHANDLER accused the Business Committee of being one-sided, that they were Spiritualists, and favored people of that stripe above others.  He had traveled twelve hundred miles to attend this meeting, on the supposition that it was a free Convention.  He wanted to know if all were to have a fair chance, or not.  Brother CHANDLER was deeply aggrieved.


Mr. CLAYTON claimed to be a Reformer.  He likewise claimed that justice had not been done him as an individual.  He drew up a resolution yesterday, embodying his views of reformation, but the Committee squelched it.  It had not been presented to the Convention, and he believed it had been designedly withheld.  As an individual, he claimed the right to be heard.

Mr. H. P. CUTTING, as a member of the Committee, which had been assailed, defended the Committee.

Having given Free-Love and Woman’s Rights a hearing, the members went to dinner.


At the afternoon session, Slavery was the topic.  PARKER PILLSBURY led off in one of his usual speeches, violent and blood-thirsty.  He attacked the Republican Party, declaring that it was more Pro-Slavery than the Democratic or American.  Then he inserted a sharp stick under the fifth rib of the American Tract Society people, abused the clergy in general, and was very savage upon those unhappy mediums who occupied so much time last night to the exclusion of subjects more important than Spiritualism.

STEPHEN FOSTER and WILLIAM GOODELL followed.  The latter gentleman has had a hard time.  Four times in two days has he been ignominiously choked down; his time expiring, and the Convention refusing to extend it.  FOSTER’s speech was enlivened by a passage at arms between himself and a dissenter in the audience.  The only good thing said by STEPHEN was his praise of the man who was brave enough to avow his convictions.  Even if an individual swore himself to Satan, if he would only be honest about it, STEPHEN would respect him as a good, faithful devil!


Mr. THOMAS CURTIS made his second appearance on this occasion.  He quoted that part of the second resolution which declares that “any Christ or any God that, by silence or otherwise, authorizes man to enslave man, merits the scorn and contempt of mankind.”  CURTIS inquired who was this God that people talked about?  If he was the all-powerful being he was represented to be, why don’t he go down South and put down Slavery?  He desired to ask him simply—How is it that you don’t do your duty?  With what consistency could men worship this God, whom they considered all-powerful, when he neglected to exercise his power for the extinction of Slavery?

HENRY C. WRIGHT observed that, rather than give up one of his children to Slavery, in order to save the Union, he would “see the Union d—d to everlasting d—n.”  Emphatic!

Mr. CUTTING had something to say on the “mission of Spiritualism” and “human brotherhood,” and branched off into a disquisition upon the future state.  He remarked that if, according to the old theology, such men as PLATO, SOCRATES, etc., were to go to hell, he himself “preferred to go to hell and be a man, rather than go to Heaven and be a skulk, or something worse.”

A dropping fire of very short speeches, which kept up for half an hour without producing any remarkable effects, was followed by a solemn demonstration from Elder MILES GRANT, a notorious Millerite.  Elder GRANT with commendable boldness, stood up and denounced Spiritualism and Free-Love, and all the isms of the Radicals; and finally fired a parting shot from the locker of the Bible—flinging at the Radical head the following quotation from 1st Timothy, iv, 1 and 3, “Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter-times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils . . . Forbidding to marry, &c.”

Somehow, this passage proved unpalatable—perhaps because it came in so nicely.  The Convention incontinently adjourned.


In the evening, the elect were entertained by Mr. GEORGE SENNATT, a lawyer from Boston.  He discoursed for an hour on the novel and exciting theme of the “Influence of Woman in the Elevation of the Race.”  This was a free-spoken gentleman.  Among the rest of his performances, he paid attention to the Business Men’s Prayer-meetings.  He said that “men go from the Exchange, where they have tried to cheat men, into trying to cheat God in the Business Men’s Prayer-meetings.”  Of ministers he observed that “they take a South-side view of Slavery, and a hell-side view of God.”  “Merchants,” he remarked, “poison the poor woman’s tea, and poison the drunkard’s rum, as though it needed poisoning.”  “Religious demonstrations,” he added, “are only made when business is so flat that nobody can find anything to do.  Meanwhile, the religious societies are guilty of the unutterable meanness of taking poor children’s pennies away from them, on the plea that the missionary enterprise needed cash.”  Touching these subjects, Brother SENNATT was a lively speaker.  He was likewise “strong” on the woman question.  He went in for the most extensive freedom to all the Pollies and Betseys in the world.  Woman is one side of man.  She must go with him, and he with her, no matter whether they limp and hobble or move with celerity.  One thing to be accomplished, Mr. SENNATT claimed, by the agitation of Woman’s Rights, is the abolition of prostitution—an ugly word, he acknowledged, but he would try to use it only once.  When women are permitted to serve on juries, (and there is nothing in the law to prevent it, if the Selectmen and Aldermen could be persuaded to put their names on the lists,) there is to be a grand twisting about of the wrongs of society.  Then no longer will innocent men rot in jail, nor the educated ruffian go scot free, nor a brute take the earnings of a wretched wife, to waste them with a shameful mistress.

The Trojan vocalists favored the audience with a new song, à la Hutchinson Family.

HENRY C. WRIGHT had a resolution, but said he was diffident about offering it.  It was a motion that the subject of Free-Trade, put down for that evening, be postponed till 8 o’clock Sunday morning.

To that hour, accordingly, the Convention adjourned.



RUTLAND, Vt., Sunday, June 27.

To-day is the Sabbath, but that makes no difference to these Reformers.  They have held three sessions under the shadow of their tent, and have indulged in their usual amount of free-and-easy talk.

The Convention reassembled at 8 o’clock in the morning.  It was understood that the usual customs of public meetings should be done away with.  No programme was laid down.  Everybody, male and female, was declared free to speak and act as the spirit moved.

The Chair announced the names of the public papers, including the NEW YORK TIMES, which would contain reports of the proceedings.

A miscellaneous discussion, on half a dozen topics, more or less, began.


Brother MORTON, of Plymouth—a very tall and lanky gentleman, well along in years—begged to present a few considerations touching the possibility of having a Heaven here below.  He offered a small heap of resolutions asserting his notions, containing his belief that the art of being a Christian was one of the “Lost Arts.”  He didn’t believe there was a Christian in the world.


Brother TORREY, after stopping a moment to launch a javelin at the preceding speaker, from whom he differed in toto, proceeded to broach a fresh butt of topics.  His specialty was Free-Trade.

Brother ROBSON, a gentleman from England, after apologizing for the introduction of a foreign element into the Convention, told how England had carried out the principle of Free-Trade.  He said nothing new or spicy.

Brother JOEL TIFFANY came out strong.  He proposed to infuse the religious element into the resolution offered by Brother TORREY.  Therefore, he offered the following substitute:

Resolved, That Reforms, looking to the moral elevation of individuals or of society, to be successful, must have their basis in religion.

HENRY C. WRIGHT took issue with TIFFANY.  He declared that he (WRIGHT) sought the entire abolition of all restrictions upon the intercourse of man with man, and this claim, founded upon universal justice, was all his religion.  The reverence derived from customs goes into the hands of political stock-jobbers, to enable them to send an army into Kansas, or to cause the murder of seventy thousand Mexicans.  He was thankful that this question of Free-Trade came up on the Lord’s holy day; for whatever pertains to the good of man, is as good one day as another.  He was particularly glad of this, because the Church had said that such subjects should not be discussed on the Lord’s Day. He was always glad to take pains to do on Sunday what the Church said he should not do.

Brother CHANDLER, of Concord—If this is the Lord’s Day, I’d like to know whose day to-morrow will be, if we get to it?

Bro. WRIGHT was very glad that this remark had been made.  The Church calls Monday Man’s day.



Mr. THOMAS CURTIS took up the dropped thread of Free-trade, and declared that there is no religion that is not based on Reform.  He looked upon religion as the blackest and most scoundrel-like name in the world.  There is no iniquity that is not sanctioned and sustained by the name of religion.


A motion, by Dr. GARDNER, that ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS be invited to address the Convention without limitation of time, raised a prodigious rumpus at this point of the proceedings.  GARDNER said that there was a great deal of grumbling at the way that the Convention was managed.  He appealed in behalf of Spiritualism, and demanded that Brother DAVIS should have a chance.

Mr. DAVIS came forward, in a pacific mood, to deprecate GARDNER’s motion, and stated that he preferred to take his lot with the other brethren, to speak if he had opportunity.

GARDNER reflected upon parties who had censured Spiritualism, Mrs. ERNESTINE ROSE in particular.  Mrs. ROSE rose to explain.  She had said that it was a waste of time to discuss Spiritualism here, and she said so again.  [Sensation.]  She thought great reforms ought to receive the first attention.  Afterwards, it would be time enough to treat of Spiritualism.  She had no objection, however, to hear Brother DAVIS.  She admitted that she had a “hobby,” and that hobby, she said, was as great and as wide as Humanity.  The lady’s hobby is popularly supposed to be Woman’s Rights, though she didn’t say so to-day.

Brother STEPHEN FOSTER essayed to harmonize the conflicting elements.  He moved to assign a time for the discussion of Spiritualism.  He had been given to understand that certain Spiritualists here had expressed a vehement desire to have “a halter around his (STEPHEN’s) neck, to drag him from the platform,” at which unkindness STEPHEN’S sensitive nature was wounded.

[Foster himself sometimes appeared on stage for his anti-slavery lectures wearing a yoke or shackles for dramatic effect.  His comment here would seem to have been made tongue in cheek.—JB]

ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS explained the reasons of his presence in the Convention.  The magnet that drew him here was the invitation conveyed in the call to all philanthropists who believed in the necessity of reform.  It was announced that all subjects should be frankly and fairly treated.  Had this been a purely Spiritual Convention, he would not have come.  He had attended but one Spiritual Convention, and on that occasion took a solemn promise with himself never to attend another.  Such assemblages were always possessed with a single idea, and general subjects of reform do not receive the degree of attention to which they are entitled.

Mr. TORREY avowed himself a strong Spiritualist, and Mrs. ROSE uttered defence No. 2 of her performances.  Then came Mrs. MARY DAVIS, (the prophet’s wife.) who told Dr. GARDNER flatly that it was ungenerous in him to insist upon her husband’s speaking, when he had already said he didn’t want to.  Then Mrs. FARNHAM hoped DAVIS would be allowed to go on; and Mr. LANDON, of Rutland, hoped so too.

STEPHEN FOSTER’s amendment (assigning 2 P. M. as the hour for the Spiritual discussion) was finally carried, after a small whirlwind; and the Convention went to work at something else.

The Free-trade question was revived after its partial eclipse.  Brother SPRAGUE denounced Brother TIFFANY’s substitute (touching religion) as being “utterly meaningless,” and a cross-fire ended this topic.  Nothing was resolved upon.  The Convention refused to put its resolutions to vote, proposing to agitate rather than stereotype doctrines.


For fear that all subjects of reform should not have all attention, Mr. TORREY prepared, presented, and spoke to a resolution, declaring that a knowledge of physiology and phrenology is indispensable to a true education.  In supporting this resolution Brother TORREY got off some sensible ideas.  He argued that our present systems of education are sadly deficient.  The child is confined for six mortal hours in close, badly ventilated school-rooms; his muscular system is relaxed, and the result is a puny race of men.

Elder GRANT (the Millerite individual) infused a conservative element.  He declared his firm belief in the Bible, and looked upon the Free-Lovers as a fearfully wicked set.

A few stray shots from different quarters of the encampment, which struck nowhere in particular, finished up the morning session.


The opening of the afternoon session was given up to Spiritualism.  ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS was vehemently called for.  In fact, so curious were the Vermonters to hear this famous personage (who now visits Vermont for the first time) that special trains have been run to-day from Brattleboro’ and Glen’s Falls.  The attendance was prodigious—at least three thousand persons.

Mr. DAVIS spoke for three-quarters of an hour, explaining the fundamental principles of Spiritualism.  If you have a copy of the “Revelations” about you, the speech is all there, spread out thin.  Nothing new was said.  DAVIS based his remarks upon the following resolutions:

Whereas, The historical fact is undeniable that novel signs and mysterious manifestations have been intimately associated with the inception and subsequent inauguration of every moral dispensation; therefore,

Resolved, That we hospitably welcome all the well-ascertained phenomena of so-called modern Spiritualism, and cordially commend them to the careful and candid investigation of the truth-loving and intelligent.

Resolved, That, while publicly avowing our unqualified confidence in such well-ascertained phenomena, as being both timely indications of a New Era, and evidence of a higher existence, we at the same time proclaim them (the facts of Spiritualism) as neither supernatural nor miraculous, but as beautiful operations and legitimate developments of man’s spiritual constitution.

Brother EVANS, another Shaker, made a speech, correcting the current misapprehensions that ANN LEE is worshipped by her followers, and that the Shakers condemn the institution of marriage.  The people became impatient, and requested Brother EVANS to sit down; which he finally did.

Mrs. ERNESTINE ROSE then had her say.  She has talked on every topic that has come up.  I saw nothing remarkable in this oration.

A brother announced a Spiritual Convention to be held at Claremont, N.H., on the 6th July.

Mrs. ROSE attempted to make another speech, but had no chance.


In the evening the subject of Spiritualism was continued.  Elder GRANT turned up again, as an attacking party.  JOEL TIFFANY tackled him, and there was some lively sparring.  After a time Spiritualism was sunk into a hair-splitting tilt on the phraseology of the Bible.  This theological turn disagreed with Mr. PARKER PILLSBURY’s stomach.  He made a violent speech in the midst of an uproar which was an unpleasant reminder of Tammany Hall, denouncing those two personages, “who persisted in firing Bible texts at each other.”  He suggested that they should go out to the big field near by, and “have it out.”  They didn’t accept the suggestion, and the Chair awarded the floor to GRANT to reply to TIFFANY, so that the theological row was kept up.  It was now 9 P. M.—the tent densely packed, and the heat intolerable.  The zeal of the discussion, however, rapidly abated, and finally ended altogether.

Then there were resolutions of thanks, according to the usual custom.  Brother FOSTER retracted his reflections upon the President’s integrity.  He was now convinced that he had received fair treatment, all things considered, and although he could not approve all that had been done, he cherished no malice.  After this amicable little episode, the President declared the final adjournment, and so came to an end the “Free Convention.”



We give, this morning, an extended and full account of the Radical Convocation at Rutland, furnished by our own reporter.

It seems to be necessary for a certain set of uneasy spirits, thinly scattered over the country, to assemble once or twice a year, for the purpose of uttering their notions and theories.  What they say and do at one time is very much what they do and say at another.  Occasionally, indeed, a new speaker appears, or a fresh whim is enunciated, but generally the performances are little varied from year to year.  The chief interest which attaches to the performances of these people consists in noticing the positions to which unrestrained fanaticism conducts its votaries, leading men to abjure reason, and women to renounce modesty and shame.

The call for the gathering at Rutland styled it a “Free Convention,” and yet we find a portion of the leaders almost immediately complaining of injustice and oppression suffered by themselves at the hands of the majority—a fact which shows that profession and practice do not always accompany each other.

The body seemed to be divided into two parties.  The majority consisted of those women, with their male coadjutors, whose mission it was to denounce marriage and advocate Free-Love; while the down-trodden minority were the well-known friends of the Negro.  These latter were consistently snubbed and put down, much to their discomfiture and disgust, while the Free-Love people had the floor whenever they wished, and the ear of the audience continually.  The truth is, that STEPHEN S. FOSTER, WILLIAM GOODELL and other “friends of the slave” learned a great practical lesson.  They were taught in a manner which they will not soon forget, that the interest of abolition depends very much upon the character of the slaves to be disenthralled.  Consequently the new school, who devote themselves to emancipation of white women from the slavery of matrimony, must inevitably supplant the fogies who have nothing better to look after than the black progeny of Ham.  Some of the speeches made at Rutland, and especially the speech of Mrs. BRANCH, set forth the Free-Love theory in its full proportions, showing to what a pitch of delusion and folly those may arrive who sever the restraining ties of conscience to follow at will an ignis fatuus theory.  We think it well that Conventions like that at Rutland should be held; for the public exposure of such abhorrent doctrines is the best mode of checking their progress in the community.  It is by the seductive influence of private advocacy that converts are made to Free-Love and kindred abominations, not by speeches and resolutions.

New York Times, June 22, 1858


Revival of the “Free-Love” Meetings—The “Unitary Household.”

Free Love has not died out.  It is more lively now than it was at the time of Capt. TURNBULL’s famous descent upon the Socialists at midnight of the 18th October, 1855.  That violent demonstration had the simple effect of withdrawing the subject from the public gaze for a time.  The commanders, like good seamen, reefed sail, scudded under bare poles, and made haste for a quiet harbor.  They have lain perdu now for nearly three years, and are only just beginning to show their heads.  But the life is strong in them yet, and Socialism has had a new development, which is quiet and unobtrusive, but very curious.

Five years ago, the Radicals in the City conceived the idea of establishing an organization of the believers in their doctrines.  It was considered proper to effect a combination of the men and women who embraced the theories of FOURIER, and the attempt was successful.  A “League” was formed, with a programme which took in every subject that men have talked over since the world began.  Commerce, literature, science, war, peace, justice, religion, all came in for a share of the attention of this philosophical body; but the main effort in which it engaged was a reform in the social relations.  Marriage was declared to be an onerous restriction upon male and female liberty.  The affections had never been developed as Nature intended.  The world was generally out of sorts, and needed renovation.  So the “League” undertook to renovate it.  First, there came a general meeting of devout believers, who were also zealous practitioners.  The pet phrase of these people was “passional attraction.”  Passional attraction, in Mr. FOURIER’s vocabulary, signifies that peculiar condition of the family relation which permits the freest liberty to husband and wife, and imposes, in place of the marital obligation, a freedom of the affections which has no limit except that of inclination.  To establish this doctrine more firmly, and to realize practically the freedom which the common prejudices of mankind have declared against, were the objects of the “League.”  The accessions to the membership of this organization increased so rapidly that it soon became necessary to remove the place of meeting from private houses to a public room, which was hired for the purpose.  A quiet apartment at the corner of Bowery and Great Jones-street was first selected, but the audiences grew greater, and in the Summer of 1855, the large room on the third floor of Taylor’s Saloon, No. 515 Broadway, was taken for the public meetings.  Mr. BRISBANE, Mr. ANDREWS and two or three others were the leading spirits of this demonstration.  Growing bolder by success, they indulged in some extravagances, and the affair came summarily to an end, by the extraordinary efforts of the Police of the Eighth and Fourteenth Wards.

Learning prudence from this disaster, the members of the “League,” when they again essayed a union of their scattered number, resolved to admit no person who was not supposed to be friendly to radical doctrines, if not actually a professed believer.  With this precaution, the meetings were resumed.  They have continued all the Winter, and were thrown open every Saturday evening.  A private house in Twenty-third-street first received them, and in that place there was gathered a considerable congregation, averaging seventy persons, on every Saturday evening through the Winter.  On the 1st of May, the host changed his residence, and in doing so, changed the character of the “League.”

Under its present organization, the Free-Love Club has nearly the same class of leaders who directed its early operations.  It claims to possess a regular organization, and proposes to undertake a general reform, whenever the times show signs of ripeness.  The prevailing crudeness puts off the happy day, however, to an indefinite period.  Still the radicals meet regularly, and enjoy communion together.  They are a hopeful and patient people.  Contented in the practice of their theory, they bide their time, and have great faith in the virtue of that secresy in which they consider themselves to be wrapt.  It is, perhaps, a wicked act in us to expose their deeds, or develop their plans; but the revived existence of a body considered totally defunct, is a fact that should not be lost sight of.  The “League,” as now constituted, proposes to agitate, to discuss reformatory measures, to labor quietly for the accomplishment of its ends, to avoid occasion for another violent explosion of Municipal indignation, and to carry its attack upon established precedent by means of silent approaches.  In the Saturday evening meetings, general subjects of reform are proposed.  Politics, religion and morality are all declared to be in a decayed state.  A secret plan of operations is being agreed upon, as men can be found who are zealous enough to be willing to undertake the labors of wire-pulling.  Several Americans among the male portion of these congregations belong to the Red Republican associations which have sprung up in the City, and some of these figured conspicuously in the obsequies held in honor of ORSINI.  The old Socialist champions are busy with the propagation of their disrupted theories.  And the women are enthusiastic devotees of that loose doctrine which declares the marriage obligation a matter, as Mr. Toots would observe, “of no consequence.”  At the weekly gatherings, there is now an average attendance of eighty to ninety persons.  The numbers are nearly equally divided between the sexes.  It is intended that each particular “affinity” shall enjoy the privilege of the society of another “affinity;” and the mates who may be “passionately attracted,” find the occasion of a meeting consoling and refreshing to their souls.  An especial invitation is necessary to insure admittance, and this invitation must be renewed every week.  If any brother considers himself slighted because his name is once omitted from the list, he has only to reflect that the Director has transmitted his invitation to some female who desires to be enrolled, and that his absence is essential in order to preserve the exact equality of the representatives of sex.

The place of meeting has not been mentioned, and for a reason.  It is consecrated to another purpose, and the host is jealous of its reputation.  It is not to be known as the Free-Love Headquarters, but as the “Unitary Household.”  To the uninitiated, this new title is not clear.  Everybody understands the signification or an ordinary “household,” but there is an unfathomable mystery hanging, to all appearance, about a “Unitary Household.”  It is something new, and quite curious.

The “Unitary House” is a large brick house, four stories high, on Stuyvesant-street.  It lies close under the shadow of St. Mark’s Church, is not far removed from the great city Libraries—the Astor, Historical, and Mercantile—is within whispering distance of the Bible-House, and altogether occupies a position nearly as central as though located on Broadway.  In this establishment dwell twenty persons.  These are divided into separate families.  Each family has a suite of apartments to itself, for the rent of which it is assessed, according to the relative value of the rooms.  The cheapest apartments are necessarily those nearest the eaves.  On the first floor, there are two handsome parlors, lighted by gas, furnished with taste, adorned with pictures, and provided with such musical instruments as a harp, piano and guitar.  In the rear of the parlors is an extension, in which is the general dining-room.  One table is set for all the inhabitants of four floors.  Except at table, each family maintains its own privacy.  The necessary number of servants is provided, and like the other arrangements of the establishment, the expenses of their subsistence and their wages, are paid by a common assessment.  The gas is paid for in the same way; the laundresses, of whom two are employed, find plenty to do and have good pay; for the Radical men and women cherish a commendable love for spotless linen; the miscellaneous expenses of the household and the bill for the table are all met by the same process of assessment.  One man is the responsible lessee of the house.  He pays $1,000 a year, entertains a family of considerable size and large appetite, assesses everybody, including himself, pro rata, and closes up accounts on Saturday night.  Hence there are no long bills, and, as the result of this experiment indicates, no heavy ones.  In fact, a “Unitary Household” solves one of the problems of living.  It unquestionably proves that aggregation insures economy.  A careful estimate of the average expenses of a family, composed, like this “Unitary” affair, of half a dozen distinct households, establishes the fact that good living may be had for the inconsiderable sum of $3.50 per week for each person.  This sum, which is considered a fair average, includes the assessed rate for rent, board, fuel, light and washing for one person.  A large family can live comfortably, according to this calculation, on a sum at least two-thirds less than the average expenses of separate establishments.  So far, the experimenters in Stuyvesant street express unbounded content.  They eat, drink, are merry, and already begin to canvass the question of hiring a hotel, with eighty rooms, for another year’s experience of the blessings that attend the “Unitary” enterprise.  On the principle, [. . .] that “birds of a feather flock together.”  It [. . .] requisite that the applicant for admission to [. . .] shall be of the same kidney with the [. . .]; else would the Unitary Household become divided against itself, and could not stand.  The results of this first experiment are considered extremely satisfactory, and it is pleasant to be assured that a “Unitary Household” is a term not synonymous with a “Free-Love Club,”—although the circumstance that the latter does affiliate every Saturday with the former casts a shade of suspicion upon the integrity of the declaration.

It is, therefore, very clear that the Free-Lovers have not only refrained from dying out, but that they have invented a large programme, and that some of them, at least, have begun to do what Mr. CHARLES FOURIER, and the philosophers of Brook-Farm after him, vainly attempted to accomplish—unite different families, under a single system of regulations, live, cheaply, and, what is more curious than all the rest, introduce into the heart of New-York, without noise or bluster, a successful enterprise based on Practical Socialism.


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