The New York Herald

Reporting on the Philanthropic Convention, Utica, New York, September 10-12.

“Utica Philanthropic Convention. Its Organization—Few Philosophers Present—Arrangement of Business—Opening Speech of Andrew Jackson Davis—Discourses and Resolutions on the Mode of Improving the Human Stock—Incitements to Free Love—Speeches of Charles M. Plumb, Parker Pillsbury, H. C. Wright, and Two Crazy Philosophers, &c., &c., &c.,” The New York Herald, September 12, 1858.


Utica, September 10, 1858.

As far as present appearance indicates the Philanthropic Convention called here for this and the two next days will prove considerable of a fizzle.  I have just dropped in at Mechanics’ Hall, on the third floor of which the philanthropists are assembled in obedience to the following call:


To be held in Mechanics’ Hall, Utica, Oneida county, N. Y.,
On the 10th, 11th, and 12th of September, 1858.

Let no one call God his father,
Who calls not man his brother.

The fact cannot be disguised that modern theories of sin, evil, crime and misery are numerous and extremely conflicting; no less antagonistic are existing laws, systems and institutions respect the rearing of children and the treatment of criminals.  The vindictive and coercive code has been for centuries administered to the workers of iniquity, yet vice and crime seem to be increasing in proportion to the spread of civilization.  The intelligent and benevolent everywhere begin to believe that this prevalence of crime and suffering is mainly traceable to erroneous doctrines respecting man and his acts, out of which have been evolved equally erroneous systems of education, tyrannical institutions and depraving plans of punishment.  Therefore, we, the undersigned, believing that a true philosophy of human existence and conduct will ultimate in more ennobling institutions and philanthropic systems of education, hereby invite all thoughtful and humane persons of every profession or form of faith to be present and take part in a convention, with a platform perfectly free to all who can throw what they believe to be true light upon the cause and cure of evil.  We desire the question presented in all its aspects.  It is hoped, therefore, that minds will come prepared to treat this subject with dignity and wisdom from every stand point of observation and discovery—the physical, social, political, intellectual, theological and spiritual.  We very earnestly invoke the presence and influence of all who believe themselves to be true friends of humanity, both to speak and to hear dispassionately upon the causes of evil and misery, to the end that the best principles and truest remedies may be discovered and applied.

As I entered, a quartette, composed of two persons of each sex, was engaged in singing or chanting what appeared to be a most melancholy ditty.  There are about a hundred quiet, respectable looking men and women in the room, but I have not yet recognized any of the shining lights of the modern philosophy except Mr. Andrew Jackson Davis, and in their absence I am afraid there will be very little of interest in the Convention.  To-morrow, however, it is not unlikely that the philosophers may appear in force.

The Convention was organized by the appointment of Mr. Francis S. Hitchcock, of Oneida, as President, and F. Walker, [and] Emily Rogers of Utica, J. M. Porter, and Parker Pillsbury of Boston, as Vice Presidents, with C. M. Plumb, Dr. Hallock and Giles B. Stebbins of Rochester, as Secretaries.

The following persons were appointed a Business Committee: A. J. Davis, Amos Rogers, Caroline Brown, [Amy] Post and A. E. Newton.

Mr. Hitchcock acknowledged the honor done him in placing him in the chair, and promised impartiality therein.  The purpose of this Convention, he said, was by no means a new-fangled idea; but he hoped that more good would be accomplished by this Convention than had ever been done before for the cause of humanity.

The report of the Business Committee was submitted by Mr. Andrew Jackson Davis, and adopted by the Convention.  It arranges that there shall be three daily sittings—at ten o’clock A. M., and at two and half past seven o’clock P. M.  The first speech of each session is to be of any length the speaker may choose, but all subsequent speeches are to be confined to twenty minutes, except the Convention may extend the time of any particular individual.

Mr. Andrew Jackson Davis was called upon by the President of the Convention with a speech.  He then complied with the call, and proceeded to lay down his theory of social government, reading from manuscript.  He regarded conventions as the inevitable developments of the public mind on the American continent.  They could not be prevented.  They might be crippled, but they had great prolificating tendencies.  There was nothing more necessary than these conventions.  They were, so to say, volcanic opportunities for the projection and manifestation of what was latent.  They were what volcanoes are to the physical globe—modes of ventilation of the public mind.  He proposed to enter somewhat historically into the history of crime.  He found in the age of the world that which is found in the history of medieval—babyhood, childhood, youth, manhood and maturity.  The babyhood of the race had an original theory of evil, which he would call ante-human.  The childhood of the race had a theory of evil, which he would call interhuman.  The youth of the race had a theory, which he would not allude to to-day but which is called harmonial.  He proceeded to trace the growth of evil, commencing in the early era of superstition and want, through the various strata into which he divided up history.  It is questionable, however, whether many of his auditory could follow him intelligibly through his tropes and figures and words of new construction, much in vogue with spiritualists.

The speech, or oration, or lecture, or essay, or whatever it might be more properly termed, was very deep, very philosophical, no doubt—but rather prosy; and although it was well delivered, a few of the ladies present gave way under the combination of the heat and of the soporific tendencies of the essay, and quietly closed their eyes upon the outer world and went to sleep.

They were here to ascertain why these evils continued—why Christianity, after two thousand years, had failed to correct the evil, and thus to come to a definite understanding of the course to be pursued as a remedy.

When Mr. Davis concluded, an old Dutch farmer, called Schmulliker [Smolnikar], rose and delivered himself in this wise:

I vish, Misther President, dat order be so appointed that those vich open the meeting may not consume more as twenty minutes, except if the congregation agree.  I has prepared on my way to this place an address vich may require more as twenty minutes.  If you get a good reader you vill see vere the root of the evil is and the vay to remidy it.  It may require more as twenty minutes, but ven they read him twenty minutes, others may consider vether it ought to be shtopped.  But certainly it vill not require so more as the speech of dis other friend’s (Mr. A. J. Davis.)  I vish him to come under this other ground as me, and it vill be made manifest as this here address.

The remarks of the old Dutchman were received with some manifestations of sympathy on the part of the audience; but the President reminded him that according to the rules Mr. Davis had a right to occupy just as long as he chose—an arrangement that was evidently made to suit Mr. D. himself.

I am curious to hear our German friend expose his theory of the root of all evil.

The Convention has taken a recess till two o’clock.


The attendance at the afternoon session is larger than that which was present at the opening session this morning.  It seems to be composed of better materials that go usually to make up these reformatory, spiritualistic or free love meetings.  There are a good number of substantial, sensible looking men, their heads silvered by years, among the audience, and one might expect the proceedings to be governed by propriety and good sense.  None of the ladies are distinguished in their style of attire, and—beyond the two vocalists—there is but one figuring on the platform, and she, I believe, is the wife of Mr. Andrew Jackson Davis, who appears to be the soul and factotum of the convention.

Mr. Hitchcock presides with a good deal of dignity and ability.

The proceedings were opened with singing by the club.


Mr. Charles M. Plumb, of Holly, was introduced, and proceeded to read an essay on the existence and growth of crime and destitution.  Religious systems had, in all ages, endeavored to form a theory of crime, but none of them were correct.  The Christian religion placed it in the idea of original sin, but that solution failed to satisfy rational minds.  It taught men to look for good from above, while good was in men’s own hearts, and to look into themselves for the source of evil while evil came from the outside.  The circumstances of man’s life, birth and education moulded his destiny.  When David said in the Psalms that he was born in sin and conceived in iniquity, he never said a truer thing, so far as he himself was concerned, as was proved by his relations with sundry persons.  Mr. Plumb’s idea was that men, instead of importing good breeds of cattle, and sending to China for shang haes, should give the same care to the improvement of humanity.  In his own words: Let society demand of every married pair none but well organized progeny—the germs of future good citizens.  Banish, said he, the idea of God made, hell doomed children, and teach that in the bodies and souls of the children will be mirrored the parents’ vices or virtues.  So long as maternity is unprovided for we must witness the sad effects of surroundings.  Children, said he, are too much accepted simply as providences, instead of as creatures of parental design and effort.  He thought it would be better to limit the number of children—to look more to quality and less to quantity.  Priests, he said, looked too much to the cessation of crime by means of regeneration, instead of looking to generation.  If theirs were the only efforts at improvement mankind would lapse into barbarism.  This speaker went on to read a mass of vulgar stuff that ought to have cleared the hall of every modest woman in it.  He spoke of excessive maternity being forced upon women, of the murder of wives by excessive sensuality of husbands, and of men marrying for purposes that prostitute and degrade the marriage relations.  He proclaimed himself an advocate of [for?] an existence-cursed, priest-shackled, God-damned humanity.  (An old whitebeard in the corner cried “amen.”)


Dr. Caroline Brown, M. D., declined to act on the Business Committee, and Mr. Wright was appointed in her stead.

The President announced that any one who desired to address the meeting might now do so.


Mr. Burtis took advantage of the opportunity given.  In listening this morning to the remarks of Mr. Davis in regard to the origin of evil, and in listening to the application of those principles this afternoon, he had been much pleased; and for the purpose of bringing these matters before the Convention in a practical and tangible manner, he moved that the Business Committee should embody them in resolutions to come before this Convention.  He discovered that the press had thought fit to honor them, which showed that they had become an institution in the country, and he expected much good to be done by this Convention.

Before the motion was put, the old German philosopher who figured at the morning session, addressed the President, but was overlooked by that functionary, who put the question and declared it carried, although Mr. Schmolliker [Smolnikar] came out with a most decided “No.”


Miss Lydia Higgins, of Chicago, a smiling young blonde, who had been invited to the platform, was next introduced, and sang a piece, “O, Scorn not thy Brother,” accompanying her voice on a harmonicon.  The music was applauded.


Mr. Foster had listened to Mr. Plumb’s address, and gave it his fullest sanction; and to make that sanction expressive, he moved that it be endorsed by the Convention, and that it be requested for publication.  He avowed himself ready, if necessary, to subscribe $500 to the expense.  He would also, if he thought it would be accepted, send a copy to the American Tract Society.  He thought that address would fairly represent the sense of the Convention, and he therefore moved that the Convention endorse the sentiments of the address.

The German Philosopher—I will now explain what I mentioned.

The Chairman—Stay a moment.

The Philosopher sat down.

Mr. Parker Pillsbury, of Boston, observed that there was quite an interest felt by the press of the country in regard to the character of this meeting.  As an evidence of it, reporters had been sent here from a distance; and he was glad of it.  Not doubting at all the purpose and intention of the Utica press, he moved an amendment, that the address be offered at once to the press of Utica for publication in the morning papers.

The amendment was adopted, the German philosopher coming out with his inevitable “No.”


Now, said the Chairman, there is an opportunity for other speakers.

The German Philosopher—I wish to speak, Mr. Shareman.

The Chairman—(announcing his name)—Mr. Schmelliker.

Mr. Schmolliker—in almost unintelligible English and in an excited manner, proceeded to address the meeting.  He pitched hard into Mr. Andrew Jackson Davis, an appeared to be completely crazy on the subject of spiritualism.  He said that the speakers who addressed the committee this forenoon and afternoon did not go beyond the surface of the question they were discussing; and, as to Mr. Davis, he was a “donkey shot” (Don Quixote), and all he said was a fiction.  He misrepresented the past and present, and did not understand how the future was to be established.  The speaker said he was in attendance at a spiritual meeting in Lamartine Hall, in New York city, some time ago, and that she (meaning some medium) came in before prayer and great devotion; and then she spoke, and the spirit, the devil diabolos, the calumniator, came and stopped her.  Then, said he, I spoke; and then she came and commenced to speak against the Judas Iscariot, against the Jesuits, against the Pope and against the Holy Ghost.  He went on raving for some time in this style, in the course of which he said he had been a Roman Catholic priest for eighteen years.  The old gentleman is evidently far gone in craziness and supposes that he has discovered the origin of and remedy for evil, and if he could only have a good reader to-morrow he would present a paper which would enlighten the convention.

While he was yet speaking a gentleman in the lower end of the hall asked the Chairman whether there was no limit of time for those who spoke in unknown tongues. (Laughter and applause.)

Another gentleman said he was a friend of Mr. Schmolliker and believed in his sincerity; but he suggested to him to call a meeting of his own, when he could have a full opportunity of making known his views.

The old gentleman succumbed, and resumed his seat.


After some delay an old gentleman was introduced to the audience as Mr. [Albert] Morton, of Plymouth Mass., he having requested to be heard.  He felt as if this was the most important convention ever held on earth, and that results not anticipated by those who called it would come from it.  The origin of evil was here before them.  In no society was there heaven or happiness.  No one now would think to go to the orthodox heaven, to which people supposed they can get by priests or camp meetings.  This old chap seemed a little more crazy than the German philosopher and talked quite as unintelligibly.  The origin of evil he defined to be ignorance, or the want of knowledge at the right time.  The remedy, he thought, was in the proper training of children.  He saw the necessity of having children born right, but how were you—in his own language—to get the people who were in a condition to bear children to bear them right?  He said he used to speak in Boston several years ago on temperance, and he had separated—as he expressed it—millions of tracts.  He wanted to know why, while geese lived eighty years, men should be sick—and why should children die at four or five years of age?  With proper training, children, he said, would live to be 80, 100 or 150 years; but they must not be stuffed with the Assembly’s Catechism. (Laughter.)  He looked forward to the time when all men and women would look on each other as brothers and sisters, and be intertwined together, and would sit under their own vines and fig trees.  He had attended every reformatory meeting held in Massachusetts for thirty years past, but they did not do any good.  He proposed that the title of this Convention be that of right-formers, not re-formers.  He discovered that if you train up children in the way they should not go, when they are old they will not depart from it.


Mr. Partridge, editor of the Spiritual Telegraph, was called upon to address the meeting.  He apologized for not being prepared to make a speech, but still would make a few remarks.  His remarks were merely a dissertation on the use and origin of money.

A gentleman on the platform suggested that as there were several trance mediums present, they should be invited on the platform and allowed to address the Convention whenever they felt possessed.

Mr. Parker Pillsbury, of Boston, did not desire to have mediums on the platform.  He did not know enough of their philosophy to understand how to produce their trance state, and he preferred to let them follow their own course.


He made an argument in the style of Plumb’s address, and wanted to know, among other things, how many children that were born were the result of reflection and reason, or of a desire to promote the general well-being of humanity, not to say the honor and glory of the Great Creator.


Mrs. A. J. Davis came forward and read the following resolutions, which she intended to propose to this Convention—

Resolved, That as woman is the half of a republican nation, she should be invested with all the rights and privileges of American citizenship, among which are the elective franchise, the trial by a jury of her own peers, eligibility to office, the control of her children under age, and the protection of her person and property against aggression.

Resolved, That as woman is the mother of the race, and is therefore more influential than any other being in giving character and direction to our great humanity, she should be protected and assisted by society in attaining the utmost perfection of development, physical, intellectual and moral.  To this end, schools and colleges of every grade should be unreservedly thrown open to woman, that she may be educated in all departments side by side with her brother, while young girls should be released from the hopeless, protracted, wasting toil of unhealthy workshops, or awakened from the lethargy of fashionable dissipation, and attracted into honorable and lucrative avenues of industry, where a just remuneration will enable them to gain not only this liberal and thorough education, but an elevated and independent character.  Furthermore, as through maternity woman is the world’s greatest artist as well as greatest sufferer, and as she has the responsibility of guiding the young mind of her children for many years after birth, she should be free to select her own surroundings and to specify her own time for assuming this great artistic work of reproduction, with its toils, sufferings and responsibilities.


Mr. Henry C. Wright next addressed the meeting.  He asked, who was responsible for the existence of children?  I venture to say, said he, that not one in a hundred parents in Utica, or the State of New York, or in the United States, or in entire Christendom, has the least thought that they are responsible for the existence of their children.  The first question in the child’s catechism is—

Child, who made you?


Mr. Chairman, that is a lie.  I say it calmly and deliberately.  I say that is as much a lie as it would be to say that the child grew upon a rose bush, or to say that it was God who killed Henry C. Wright if he were to cut his throat and fall dead before you.  If a child asked you who killed that man, would you say God?  It would be just as true to say that God killed me as to say that God is responsible for the existence of a child.  The father and the mother are responsible for the existence of their children, not God.  Who is responsible for the organization of children, the organic and constitutional tendencies of children?  If a child is born with a tendency to scrofula, or consumption, or insanity, who is responsible?  Universal Christendom says God is responsible.  That is a lie too.  Mr. Chairman, Christianity teaches a stupendous lie when it teaches this.  God never gave to a child a tendency to scrofula or consumption, or any other disease, and I would say to all such Gods as inflict diseases on childhood in this way or in any other way, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” you are an offence to me!  I do not believe in such a God.  I scorn his worship.  I deny his existence.  My God, Mr. Chairman, does no such abomination as that.  He told a story of his having expressed these doctrines at a camp meeting in Indiana, where a Quaker woman said to him, “Do you mean to say, Mr. Wright, that God is not the father of my children?”  He said to her in reply, that he had always supposed that the man by her side was the father of her children, but, if not, he was glad she let them know it.  She dropped, said he, like a shot goose.  Then the Methodist minister came and spoke about being regenerated, but I said to him that if he had been only generated rightly he would not need to be regenerated.  The Presbyterian minister spoke of saving grace and of being born of God; and I said to him, “My dear fellow, if you have been only born right of woman you would not need to be born of God afterwards, would you?”—and the fellow dropped like a shot deer, and not a word from him. All this talk about regeneration and so forth is pious buncombe—pious twaddle.  What do you do when you want to get a noble type of a horse, or any domestic animal, or fruit?  You know what you do.  Be ask wise in regard to your own species as you are in reference to all things beneath you, and that is all I ask.  The young man, said he, is more solicitous about the quality of his gloves than he is about the constitution of the child to be born to him.  The woman is more solicitous as to the cut and quality of her shawl, her bonnet, her gloves, than she is to know the physical, social and intellectual character of the man whom she takes to be the father of her babe.  God help the world, Mr. Chairman!  I could almost set down and weep over it.—He was in the habit of looking at our existence in three states: that which is ante-natal, that which comes between birth and death, and that which commences at death, for in that existence he believed.  The subject of man’s estate before he is born into the world was the great subject of discussion for the Convention to-day.  He believed that the education which we received in the brief ante-natal period has more to do with the character of the race for time and for eternity than all the education which we receive afterwards.  In conclusion, Mr. Wright announced that he had for sale, at thirty-five cents, a book bearing on these points, having for title—“The Unwelcome Child, or the Crime of Undesired Maternity.”  He recommended it to all young men proposing to enter into the marriage state.


Mr. A. J. Davis stated that the question before the Convention had come down to this—that the primary cause of evil is referable to parentage, during which we obtain both body and soul.

The club sang, with good taste, the sweet hymn of “Gather the beautiful home to their rest,” and the Convention took a recess till 7 ½ o’clock, P. M.


Mrs. Branch, of Rutland notoriety, delivers the opening speech to-morrow morning.


The curious free love doctrines so impudently and unblushingly asserted in the afternoon session, have served to increase the interest in this Convention.  Although an admission fee of ten cents is charged for the evening session, there is a large crowd in attendance, including many free lovers and spiritualists of both sexes.  As I write there is a shrill voiced lady sitting behind me, answering the objections of an old graybeard, who appears not to appreciate free love doctrines.  There are many such dialogues going on throughout the room, the speeches and resolutions of the afternoon having shown that to be the question that underlies the whole plan of the Convention.

I did not suppose it possible that such a number of intelligent and apparently proper women could sit calmly and listen without a blush to the expression of such filthy sentiments, the pith of which was simply this—that women should throw lascivious eyes upon the best looking fellows they can see, and tell their husbands to stand aside, inasmuch as they are not good looking, or as their physical constitution is not Herculean, or as they have hereditary taints of scrofula, or consumption, or insanity.  That is, in a nutshell, the mode by which these philosophers propose to overcome evil with good.

In addition to Mrs. A. J. Davis, and Miss Higgins, the blonde vocalist from Chicago, there are several other ladies on the platform.

Mr. A. J. Davis is the leading spirit of the Convention.  He evidently got it up with the design of furthering his free love doctrines.  Physically he is a fine looking man—not tall, but active and well formed.  He appears to be some forty years of age.  His forehead is not high but square, and is set off with a flourishing black beard and moustache.  His wife is a smart looking, handsome woman, some ten years his junior.

The genius who delivered the address in the afternoon session, and who recommended the women to improve their progeny, is not likely to gain anything by the reform which he preaches, as he would stand mighty little chance of women falling in love with him on account of his physical developments, the most prominent of which is a pair of long spindle shanks.  Mr. Wright, who followed him in the same vein, is a large, powerfully built man, coarse in his organization as he showed himself to be coarse in his expressions.

The evening session was opened by a song from the club, after which the Rev. Jason F Walker was introduced.  This gentleman keeps a seminary for youth at Glen’s Falls, and had his circulars distributed throughout the room—in which, however, he gave no hint as to his free love or infidel doctrines.  He said that he had, in compliance with a suggestion which he had heard in the afternoon, crystallized his thoughts into the shape of resolutions, which he read as follows—

Resolved, That evil is organic to humanity, and therefore the cure must be organic also.

Resolved, That inquiry into the cause of an organic effect is to institute a fruitless search, and is, therefore, itself one of the evils we come to cure.

Resolved, That this Convention cure at least this one evil, by withdrawing henceforth its energies from a mere war of words, to deploy them into the sterner struggle with facts; (“Amen!” from a devout old disciple) and so, by meeting the practical purpose of this assembly and of all true human living—namely, the overcoming of evil with good.

Mr. Walker made a long prosy speech, which was only an amplification of the ideas embraced in the resolutions.  In concluding he referred to the free love doctrines.  He said he did not object to free love in its broadest sense.  You must not, said he, undertake to legislate me into the love of my wife.  If I do not love her you can not help it, and I cannot very well help it either.  And what if I do not love my wife, and that I find my affinity (I believe that is the word), somewhere else.  Well, what if I do?  If you have found your affinity, stick a pin there. (Laughter.) Does it follow that you may, under any circumstances whatever, trample on the laws of the hand?  Find your affinity if you want it; find twenty-five of them, and then go and find another.  That will make twenty-six.  You have not a bit better right to leave your social and civil relations to go and live with your affinity.  You may tell me that you have a right to love (“Amen,” from the old disciple.)  Nobody will dispute that.  But do not tell them that you have a right to go where you love, because you plainly have not.  Sobriety has some business with you.  You are organically related to this society, and it is not true that it is in the true progress of humanity for every man or woman to act as he or she may please.  Society has instinctively organized this restraint, and as a result of its experience, has kept it up.

Mr. S. S. Foster (the conjugal affinity of Mrs. Abby Kelley Foster) followed.  He said there were two reasons for their present condition.  The one was ignorance, and the other was the failure to use the knowledge they had.  They should unite all the elements of reform throughout the land and direct them to the one point.  He thought there were elements of good in the country sufficient, if united in action and intelligently directed, to crush out evil.  Slavery itself could be crushed out in twelve months if all the elements of good were united.  Intemperance itself could be put down by the women if they would only follow the advice of Judge Shaw, of Boston.  He agreed with some of what was said by Mr. Walker, and did not agree with him in other things.  But there was part of what he said which he did not understand, and which he thought he (Mr. W.) did not understand himself. (Laughter.)  He went for inflammatory speeches (deprecated by Mr. Walker) on the slavery question.  As to the free love question, he spoke of the forced prostitution of one out of every seven women in the country.  Let me, said he, first rescue my sister out of the hands of her ravisher, and then I will talk to you about marriage, and affinities, and free love doctrines.  The slavery question, however, was Mr. Foster’s hobby, and he kept constantly jumping off and on it in the course of his speech.  The cause of evil was wrong education and its remedy was right education.

Mr. Toohey next addressed the Convention.  He returned, he said, to the subject of maternity, and he would leave generalities and come to the circumstance of it.  The subject of maternity had been agitated in this country by physiologists for fifteen years past, and he regretted to say that in this country, so celebrated for its intelligence, and in Philadelphia, a man named Hallock was prosecuted for teaching the secrets of maternity.  He was aware of the fact that women were actually hired by physicians to attend the lectures for the purpose of prosecuting Mr. Hallock; but he was proud to say that these women came forward and thanked the Doctor for the intelligence he gave them.  He had delivered lectures himself on the subject, and though there was a good deal of misplaced modesty on the subject, the women who heard the lectures acknowledged that he had opened to them new ideas, and their husbands thanked him themselves.  He spoke at some length and with much ability of the effect of ante-natal circumstances on the unborn child.  Among other anecdotes bearing on this point he related the case of a woman in Marblehead who had a child which was blessed with a beautiful head of hair.  But this proved to be a source of great annoyance to the mother, for visitors were constantly asking her why she did not take better care of it.  She was so worried and annoyed that in a petulant manner she said she hoped her next child would not have any hair at all.  The wish was accomplished, for her next child had no hair, and though he lives to the present day, he never has had hair.

After a song from Miss Higgins, the Convention adjourned.

“The Utica Free Love Philanthropic Convention. Mrs. Branch on Marriage and Its Consequences. Free Love Illegitimacy and Infanticide Statistics. Speeches from Male and Female Philosophers and Free Lovers, &c., &c., &c.,” The New York Herald, September 19, 1858.


Utica, Sept. 11, 1858.

The proceedings this morning were opened by a song from Miss Higgins—“Oh, how I love my mountain home!”  The Convention having met at nine o’clock—an hour earlier than had been originally arranged by the Business Committee—the address of Mrs. Julia Branch, which was to have been delivered at the opening of the morning session, was postponed for an hour.  In the meantime Mr. Toohey, who had spoke the previous evening, occupied the floor for a shot time in the correction of a report in the Utica Herald, of some comments therein, describing his remarks as vulgar and indelicate.  He supposed that the editor of that paper was as modest as Desdemona, and blushed at the shadow of his own nudity.  He would recommend him to go home to his mother, and get from her the first lessons in decency, that he might known how to appreciate good breeding when abroad.

Dr. A. S. Brown, of Clarendon, Vt., was the next speaker.  He exhibited a call of the Rutland Convention.  He was one of the persons who signed that call, and he wanted to speak of it.  That Convention was said to have been a failure.  It had been called for free discussion on all subjects.  He had wanted to consult with the people of Vermont and of the United States, for the purpose of knowing whether they could not do something practical for the people.  They had an able company of speakers at that place.  Henry C. Wright, of Boston, Mr. and Mrs. Davis, and others were there who could express their arguments distinctly and clearly.  That Convention was equal to ten conventions, as there were certainly more than ten different views represented there.  Reformers of various opinions being there, he could find out what was wanted.  He found first that the people of Vermont wanted to improve their laws.  They wanted laws of equality.  He drew up a petition for the reformers to sign, and he would not read that petition as a practical result of the Rutland Convention.


If we are not represented we are slaves.—House of Reps., Mass., 1764.

To the Hon. Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Vermont—

We, your petitioners, citizens of Vermont, respectfully request you to consider the following principles, that were adopted by the people of this country in their memorable struggle for independence:

1st. “That taxation and representation are inseparable.”  The women of this State pay a large amount of taxes, but there is no legal provision enabling them to represent this tax, by their vote, or by the election of a representative.  Many women pay taxes to support public schools, and have children attending them, but are not allowed any voice in appropriating the money, in the construction of a school house, or in the selection of a teacher.  This is a peculiar hardship, when we consider them the best educators of children, and more interested in their comfort and progress than men are.

2d. “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Women are governed by the laws of the State, but there is no legal provision enabling them to express their opinion of the justice or injustice of the laws or to give their consent to them, and when we consider that the earnings, person and children of the wife belong to the husband and are under his control, we have a right to believe that they would object to the justice of such laws, because good men do not wish for such legal power and control, and bad men should not have it.

Therefore, we respectfully request you to so change the laws that women may have the same legal rights and privileges that men have, and be subject to the same restrictions and disabilities.  So that the rich inheritance of a just and equal government that our fathers and mothers of the Revolution sought to establish for themselves and their posterity, may be enjoyed equally by all their children, whether they are men or women.

Dr. Brown spoke for one half hour on the same subject, and then yielded the floor, stating that he would seek another opportunity of ventilating some of his ideas.

Mr. Schmollnecker [Smolnikar], the German philosopher, notified the Chair that he had prepared a set of resolutions which he wished to present to the meeting.

The Chair informed him that if he handed them to a person who could read them, they might be presented at their proper time.  The hour had arrived when Mrs. Julia Branch was to deliver her address.


Mrs. Branch, on taking her stand at the reading table, was greeted with applause.  She is a pale, delicate looking woman, with a sweet quiet smile always playing around her pretty little mouth.  No one would think that such a woman would publicly give utterance to such sentiments as befouled her mouth at Rutland.  She was becomingly dressed in black silk, with short sleeves and low body, black lace being worn over her neck and arms.  She proceeded to read from manuscript the following address:

I did not come to Utica with the intention of making a speech; but having ascertained that I was supposed to say something, I have hastily written out a few facts for your consideration.  It is with some hesitancy that I come before you to-day to take up the topic of discussion.  Strong prejudices have arisen in the minds of many against me as the promulgator of horrible things, and the more timid than earnest will be fearful I might shock by some rude remark, their delicate sensitiveness, and thereby injure “the cause” which we are all so much interested in.  I do not fear public opinion or public disapprobation, for I hold that man or woman a coward who in his or her heart believes a thing or principles they cannot openly advocate or demonstrate to the world.  They do not know the meaning of the word freedom, and are yet to feel the true meaning of slavery.  True, it is hard to buffet against public opinion.  I do not wonder that strong hearts have grown “faint and weary in well doing.”  Happiness is what all the world is seeking; but the path to heaven has been presented so narrow and straight up the hill of life, bearing the cross of duty, that but few are willing to try its hardships unless forced into it by the fear of eternal gloom hereafter or the hope of a glittering crown, and the privilege of walking in the golden streets of bliss—in either case not very commendatory to their own of the general welfare and happiness of humanity.

The ambition to become great in public opinion and to receive the applause and approbation of the world is a childish feeling.  The truest and noblest reformers of the present day and in all generations past are those who have lost their reputation by advocating unpopular principles.  In fact, a man or woman is not fit to work thoroughly in our present condition of society until they have lost their reputation.  Public opinion is unstable; for, however absurd a thing presented is, as soon as it is made respectable by society’s adopting it, the whole world runs mad to do it honor—the author is voted a saintship, and everybody wonders where the wicked people are that crucified it.  The recent [Atlantic] cable demonstration is an instance of it.  Who believed the thing possible or practical when the idea was first started?  Did not everybody laugh at the foolishness of it?  How the feelings changed in a few short months, when the throbbing hearts of the two nations were joined together in one bond of sympathy!  I went through the swaying crowd [in New York City]—the mighty sea of faces, all unlike—to witness the compliment paid to a few men who breasted the stormy ocean’s billows and parted the waters for the great good and welfare of the nations.  I consider that we are fighting with mountain waves of popular prejudices—parting those waves to lay a cable for humanity’s benefit.  It is doubtful if we shall have a day set apart for public illumination, but we shall know that the souls of the next generation will be illuminated with the light of freedom which will not die out in ashes and smoke in a day.  We are here to speak of evil and its cause; but evil is so closely interwoven with all our existing institutions, so glossed over by respectable society, it requires an age of experience to detect the subtlety by which it conceals its deformity, and hearts and nerves of iron to drag it out to the public gaze.

I spoke against the marriage institution at Rutland as the cause of the slavery and degradation of woman.  I have nothing to take back, but rather to add to that institution two of the worst evils the world has to contend with, as their originator and promulgator—the worst because no amount of influence, whether moral, religious, political or governmental, has been able to stop their progress or prevent their growth.  Like rank weeds, they have been permitted to remain at our very doors, breathing disease and death, flourishing year by year, until now they stand before us like giants, defying all attempts to abolish or mitigate them.

I allude to prostitution and infanticide.  I trust the audience will bear with me while I speak on this first evil; it is undoubtedly an unpleasant subject for you to listen to.  Many of you—perhaps nearly all—have been educated with notions of false modesty and delicacy, and any allusion to such a subject publicly, or for a female to have any knowledge of it, is to stamp her with doubt as to the genuineness of her own morals.  But whatever stamp it leave upon me I am free to confess that I have an interest in all humanity, even not excepting the woman who has strayed from the paths of virtue, and is considered only a fit representative of that place of infernal torment which our pious friends of the churches, without remorse of any kind, consign them.

I have a few facts to present you, for I think there is no better place than where we are considering the cause and cure of evil.  Dr. Sanger of Blackwell’s Island—I have taken the liberty of using his name without his knowledge, for I supposed he would have no objection as he is soon to present to the public a work on prostitution—says:

He explored the city of New York with a police force and found between three and four hundred houses of noted ill fame, with between seven and eight thousand inmates.  The number may seem small, but when you count up the visitors to the number of sixty thousand daily, and the expenses of keeping those places—between seven and eight millions of dollars—you have some conception of the enormity of this evil.

The amount of private prostitution he could make no estimate of, but Acton, an English writer, says in England and Wales he estimates one woman in every fourteen to be of that class, and that they do not continue that phase of life on an average more than four years—they marry in all grades of life, from the nobleman down to the footman, and become respectable wives and mothers.

Now, there is one little item which is well worthy of your serious consideration, and that is the fact that five-sixths of the visitors to all such places are married men.  The support is not expected or derived from single men.  The subject, in regard to breaking up houses of prostitution, was at one time brought before the Mayor of Providence, R. I.  The Mayor seriously considered the subject, and decided not to bring an action against them, as they were “necessary evils.”  The Mayor of New Bedford admitted the same thing, with this additional particular—“that were such places broken up, our wives and daughters would not be safe anywhere—they would be liable to be insulted in every street.”  By whom they were liable to be insulted he did not say.  But may I ask by whom?  Nobody out of the world, but somebody in the world—somebody here, and there, and everywhere, sixty thousand daily in the streets of New York, meeting you everywhere, whose warm breath fills the atmosphere and in whose society the purest and most modest girl is continually thrown.  Who are they?  Who else but husbands, fathers, brothers?  Whose husband is it?  Whose father, whose brother?  Is it yours or mine?  The hot blood rushes to your cheek as well as mine, at the supposition that they are our friends.  You feel outraged—so do I; and yet whose father, whose husband, whose brother is it, these sixty thousand a day?  It is some of God’s humanity, but whom?

There is no answer.  In the deep silence of the heart, the man acknowledges to his debasing appetite, and there it rests with his own conscience, where neither you nor I have any wish to scan.  And those eight thousand women!  What mother—what kind, tender hearted mother, when she presented the little baby girl to the admiring gaze of her friends, supposed that after a lapse of years—perhaps when she had passed away from this life—she would be trampling the dark streets bedecked in crimson robes and tinsel glare of paste jewelry?

The cause: where does it lie?  In our marriage institution, which forces men and women to live together until death, without love, without either the mental, moral, or physical adaptation.  Instead of countenancing and nodding approval to the oft-quoted remark, “as you make your bed, so you must lie in it,” society should abolish all ties of incongeniality, as an outrage upon the morals and principles, as a preventative of the addition of accumulated evils in the shape of half-formed, undeveloped and perverted children.  Look at the consequences—found on every side!  What would be the result of such a course?  I answer, it could not make society much worse.  Look at the consequences now!  Another and another, and another child is born daily, hourly, victims that fill our streets with paupers and our prisons with criminals.  Again, it is asked, what would the children do?  What do they do now?  Curse you every day for bringing them into existence.  Do you suppose a father or mother would be deprived of parental feelings by the act of separation?  Would they be any worse monsters of depravity?  And if they would, then you argue that the natural feelings of the heart are immediately perverted by acting contrary to the laws of society.  If they are based on so unstable a foundation as that, it is time they were utterly destroyed and something new substituted in their place and on a more lasting foundation.

The law allows the rites of marriage to the most depraved, vicious and unhealthy—that, too, with the entire knowledge that the children born from the union will be equally as vicious, depraved and unhealthy, if not worse, than their parents.  If it was a beast in an unhealthy condition, or even weakly, you would kill it, as not capable of reproducing a perfect specimen of its species.  “But it would give a license to immorality if the marriage institution was abolished.”  “O, no, I can regulate myself—the law was not made to check me.”  “Who was it made for?”  “Who was it made for?”  “Why, men of no principle.”  “Oh, it is Mr. So and So, who neglects his wife; he would give all the world to have the privilege of loving somebody else, or get rid of her in some way.”  “How old is his last child?”  “Two or three months.”  Does not the heart sicken at the depraved picture, and even at every system of palliation which would cloak over suck evils?

The other evil, infanticide, I trace to the same cause.  In the report before the Special Committee on Hospital for Foundlings, I find this: Dr. Wynne then called the attention of the committee to some remarkable facts, taken from a report of the City Inspector, made in 1850, of the number of premature births in the city of New York from 1805 to 1850: In 1805 the rate of premature births was 1 to every 1,612 inhabitants; in 1820, 1 to 654; 1840, 1 to 516; 1850, 1 to 386.  Though there were no means of determining the absolute number of births in the city during that time, yet from data obtained a law of estimates could be established by which to approximate to the number of births.  It appeared by the census returns of 1850 that the number in the United States was 35 to every person.  Dr. Wynee regarded this an error of five too much.  Based upon the facts and estimates thus obtained, Dr. W. states that the proportions to the whole number of births in the city during the period above mentioned were as follows: 1805, 1 to 49; 1810, 1 to 35; 1815, 1 to 32; 1830, 1 to 20; 1840, 1 to 16; 1845, 1 to 13; 1850, 1 to 12.  He stated that these results would surprise medical men who had been engaged in the practice of midwifery.  He had been, with some practice in this department, wholly unprepared to such an exhibit, and he was entirely at a loss to account for it by means of which ordinary foetal life was exposed.

The proportions of still births in Massachusetts, as appeared in the statistics, were as 1 to 53; in Connecticut, 1 to 66; in Kentucky, 1 to 45, and in Rhode Island, 1 to 15.  The difference was so great as to excite the most lively apprehensions as to the cause that was operating in New York, to the remarkable results developed in the bills of mortality in the city.  The variation of the Rhode Island report from those of Massachusetts and Connecticut, Dr. W. accounted for by the fact that the greater part of the births and still born cases are returned from the city of Providence, where the registry laws are more strictly enforced than in any other city.  He thinks the proportion of crime is greater in the city than in the country; and whether the results which gave to New York such an unenviable reputation were consequent upon extreme recklessness and mismanagement, or where the evidence of a long and dark catalogue of undiscovered crime, it was neither his wish nor desire to determine.

He told me in a conversation that the crime of infanticide had increased 415 per cent since 1805.  The cause he did not desire to inquire into; but I can trace it to none other than the marriage institution.  Both in and out of marriage there is no hesitancy to destroy the life of a child before birth—out of marriage, for the fear of losing respectability; because society would regard the mother as a strayer from virtue—in marriage, because the troubles of maternity are confining, irksome and arduous.  You are not aware to what extent this murder system is carried, and yet, when compared to children that fill our prisons, we are almost willing to consider this murder a blessing.  Do you wonder the next child born of that mother is hung for committing murder?  It is in your mothers that the only hope of the regeneration of the world lies.  You hold the destinies of nations in your grasp when you carry the infant upon your bosom.  Mothers, think of it: every son that you bring into existence that is not conceived from the purest love is imbued with all the elements that go to fill prisons and pauper houses—every daughter is imbued with those qualities that fit them to enter houses of prostitution.  What a weight of responsibility rests upon you!  How necessary it is for you to have your absolute right to say when and where and how you shall bear children!  How necessary it is that all arts, all sciences, all trades, everything that is now in the hand of man, should be open for your benefit in order to produce better children!

I reject, in toto, the idea that it is bliss to remain in ignorance.  Woman should know everything that man is capable of knowing, and there must be perfect freedom for the advancement of either the individual or nation.  Every chain that is put about you retards your growth, and you should snap it asunder, no matter whether it is placed there by church or State, husband or friend, wife or child.  Slavery is an evil, and the cause is ignorance.  Get out of bondage by acquiring knowledge, and plant your foot on the rock of freedom.  In the year 1852 in England and Wales there were fifty-five thousand illegitimate children born.  The marriage institution has not certainly prevented children from being born, under any circumstances.  And now, in order to stay the frightful crime of infanticide, and that woman, who is now looked upon as degraded who has departed from the so-called virtuous paths may have a chance of becoming respectable, I offer the following resolution, hoping, too, that it will be the means somewhat also of making the next generation of children better and purer:

Resolved, That as the crime of infanticide has increased, and is increasing yearly under the existing false forms of marriage, that all children born under any circumstances, within any State, shall be declared by that State legitimate.


Miss Travers, of Canistota, a young lady wearing a formidably large pair of gold rimmed spectacles, was next introduced, and read—with rather poor pronunciation—an essay on modern society; but there was nothing spicy or remarkable in it.


Mr. [Stephen S.] Foster moved to take up all the resolutions on the table on the subject of marriage.

Mr. H. C. Wright was opposed to any action of this Convention as a body, or any resolutions touching that subject.  The resolutions were before the Convention, and would go out before the world as resolutions discussed in this Convention.  If a vote were taken not one in ten of the Convention would vote upon them, and yet they would go out to the world as the sentiments of the Convention.  He moved to amend Mr. Foster’s motion by closing the debate on that subject this forenoon, and laying the resolutions on the table.

Mr. Foster could not consent to withdraw the motion he had made, but if it were amended by the Convention he would, of course, submit to its decisions.  But why should not one-tenth of the Convention vote on these resolutions?

Mr. H. C. Wright—Not prepared, Stephen!

Stephen thought they were prepared to vote now, and he hoped they would.  He wanted a vote either to adopt them or lay them on the table.  They contained sentiments which he could not endorse, as he firmly believed in the marriage relation.  (Some applause.)  Mrs. Branch did not complain of the institution of marriage, but of the evils growing out of it, and which evils she would like to see abolished.  If marriage, however, had not its foundation in our nature, free discussion would sweep it away, and he would say “let it be swept away,” for he believed only in natural laws.

Mrs. Branch explained that she had been only speaking of the marriage institution of the present day, and of the evils which sprung from it.

Mr. Foster was glad to hear that explanation, for he thought that that was what she was driving at all along.  He believed that if the same frauds were perpetrated in other contracts that are perpetrated in marriage, every court in the country would declare them void.  He looked to the results of the discussion of this question as bound to effect an entire overturn of the present mode of entering into the marriage relation.  His views toward his sister (Mrs. Branch) were recently modified very much, particularly since he read in Bennett’s Herald a most sneering and base attack on that lady.  He asked when it was that the Devil had divided against himself, that the Herald should be attacking Mrs. Branch.  Is Mrs. Branch, said he, really one of God’s angels, that James Gordon Bennett should be howling on her track.

Mr. H. C. Wright—And the Tribune, too, Stephen. (Hear.)

Mr. Stephen S. Foster—I find that the attempt to bring the marriage question before the public has disturbed all the vile elements of society in New York city, male and female.

Mr. H. C. Wright (returning to the charge)—Give it to the Tribune, Stephen. (Laughter.)

Stephen—Yes, the editors of the Tribune joined in this attack.  I am inclined to think that their conduct is not too good in this matter.  I am inclined to think that a little water would do them good and wash them clean.  I was very happy to hear our sister explain—for she ought to explain—that it is to the so-called marriage relation that she refers—that it is that which degrades woman to a slave, and degrades man to a tyrant—that it was against false marriage that she is contending.  It is just as wrong to call that institution that exists among us to-day marriage, as it is to call the religion of these churches Christianity. (Applause.)

Mrs. Branch—I want to know what we ought to do with these marriage people who ought, you think, to be separated.

Stephen—That is just what I was going to do with these ungodly churches—the best thing we can.  We came here to talk with A B & C, and their friends, and to arrange matters as best we can in this transitive state from vice to virtue.  I do not know what to do.  That is the object of this convention.  I hope we will discuss it fully.  I want to tell our sister and this audience one thing.  The democrats say that the Tribune cannot see but one thing, and that is the negro.  Everywhere that the free soil party goes there they have the negro.  They deny it, but I acknowledge it to the core. (Laughter.) I see a nigger everywhere. (Laughter.) I am married to the negro race, Mr. Chairman—to the whole race—and I never intend to get a divorce from them till the last shackle falls from the last slave. (Loud applause, and cries of “hear, hear.”  An old graybeard on the platform became ecstatic and jumped a foot or two in the air, to the intense amusement of the spectators.  The speaker did not see the movement, and did not know what all the laughing was about.  The Chairman explained, and said that the reporters could record that event.  They would see it noted in the morning Herald.)

Stephen, (resuming the current of his remarks) wanted to know how any man could be expected to have any respect for his wife so long as man sells beautiful young damsels on the auction block at the capital of the country, and so long as man is permitted to drag woman into a den of prostitution and there commit outrage on her to his heart’s content.

Dr. Halleck, of New York, spoke in favor of laying the resolutions on the table.  He recommended that each man and woman here should take home with them the whole subject, and resolve and consider it in their own minds, and come to their resolves upon it.  Who was ready to vote on this grand question?  It was deep as the foundation of humanity.  Were they ready to say that they had arrived at the ne plus ultra in regard to the cause and cure of evil?  They should not do so.  It was from closet meditation that was to come the germinal progress that was to bear fruit in after time.

Mr. Pillsbury moved that all Mr. Foster’s questions and Mr. Wright’s be laid on the table; and that the discussion be continued till noon.

Mr. Wright had no objection to that, and proceeded to discuss the question.

Mr. Richard Glasier, of Michigan, suggested that speeches be confined to ten minutes.

Mr. H. C. Wright said he had been exceedingly delighted with the discussion of the question of marriage, and he approved the sentiment of Mrs. Branch, that no man or woman should be deterred from the discussion of this question, by such papers and the Herald and the Tribune calling it free love.  Mrs. Julia Branch had just as good a right to the utterance of her opinion as anybody had, and he was glad to see that the audience had listened to her so attentively.  He proceeded to discussion the question of marriage, commencing with courtship and its smiles and sweets, and moonlight walks and buggy rides.  The next step, said he, is, they cannot live apart.  And what do they do?  They know nothing of each other’s physical or mental character.  The man’s soul may be made up of one streak of rum and the other streak of tobacco; and the woman may be a slattern or a scold.  These two go to the priest, and the priest says to the man, “You take this woman to be your wedded wife.”  I know how these things are done, Mr. Chairman, for I have often done it myself, and may God forgive me for it. (Laughter.)  The priest says, “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”  He should have said, and it would be true in nine cases out of ten, “What God has put asunder, let not man join together.”  And what follows, Mr. Chairman?  That honeymoon—that terrible honeymoon—(laughter)—then the darkness of living death settles upon the lives of those people.  It is the infernal religion of the country, and the infernal satanic press of the country to which they owe their unhappiness, because this press and this church strives to close the lips of people who would explain the true marriage relationship.  Who ever heard a sermon from the pulpit on the subject of matrimony?  Did any one here?  (Voices—“Yes,” and “no”)  Nature never made the institution of marriage or any other institution.  The institution of marriage was a man made thing entirely.  But nature had a law of marriage, which was as much a law of our nature as air and food to man is a necessity of man’s nature, as man is of woman’s nature.  Woman had come to bless us and do us good.  She looks to man to be developed in the higher essences of her nature.  How could man trample her in the dust and treat her as a mere animal?  He had once remarked to an elegant lady in Boston that he understood her husband worshipped her.  Her answer was, “Yes, he worships me as an animal; but when I put out anything of the Godlike he throttles it.”  He wished that the ministers of this city, instead of maligning the convention had the manliness to come in here and talk about this great question of life with them; or if they would not talk it here, he wished they would talk it in their pulpits, and, his word for it, they would not lack for hearers. (Laughter.)  He made a distinction between the institution of marriage and the law of marriage, and he had never understood Mrs. Branch to say a word against nature’s marriage.  She just as well talk against air.  Man is joined to woman and woman to man, and they could not be separated.

Mrs. Britt, of St. Louis, a stout, healthy looking matron, who, I believe, is a spirit medium, was next introduced to the meeting.  She understood the convention to be called for the purpose of agitating the cause and cure of evil.  She thought we needed a new religion—not a new creed or a new faith, but the expansion of our immortal spirit.  Now, as to the relations between the sexes: She knew it was a delicate subject, and that what she said would be heralded through the press of the country.  She had not been at Rutland, but she had read the calumniations of the New York Tribune on her sister (Mrs. Branch).  She was told by old Mr. Paul, the [    ] of the past, that women ought to keep their heads covered in the presence of women. (Laughter.)  She felt that all the social institutions of marriage were oppressive.  She would not throw open the prisons and insane asylums, as some reformers might do.  She felt that the field had been spread for the gory blood of man long enough, but now the spirit of man should sue and plead for justice.  She wanted to have Scripture for woman’s own nature and experience.  It was said that women should vote.  She had looked at the matter since she had been leading a life of itinerancy for five years, and she had discovered that it was not the number of votes cast, but it was the quality.  She could take a barrel of alcohol and get one hundred votes for it. (Laughter.)  She did not care for voting herself, acknowledging that she was not capable of voting; but she asked how many voters are capable of voting?  She could not see that females could do any good by casting their votes.  She was satisfied that man and woman represent two distinct principles.

She was now going to touch the delicate points, and she knew how difficult it was to do so without offending the ultra modesty of the community.  She had to use such terms as would be understood.  She was satisfied that there was such a thing as conjugal love; there is such a thing as fraternal love; and there is such a thing as physical love.  The physical love is the one predominant.  People had not yet grown out of its dark shadows.  Some there were who had grown out of them but these were calumniated as free lovers.  There never was a more unjust charge than that against free lovers.  She could see with animals and birds the type of man’s physical love.  That love had been inflamed and heated by all our habits of eating, drinking and talking.  Fraternal love loses all sight of sexes.  There were thousands who professed to be practisers of the Nazarene spirit.  But were they?  If she had time she could show that most people were living under the old Mosaic law.  When the true Christian spirit ruled they would all be brothers and sisters in the family of humanity.  Fraternal love was implanted in all human beings, and all that is wanted is to develop it.  Conjugal love says, “I have one mate and it is my half.  I am monogamic and must be so forever.”  That affection was above all other affections.  It was it that drew men and women to the celestial spheres of eternity.  She had often filled the place of a mother confessor, and many strange she had heard in that way.  She had no disposition to leave off the chains of society until those who are enchained were enlightened and improved.  She felt that the convention should not adjourn until the community came to understand what they were aiming at.  Conjugal love was monogamic and holy, but people must live in the principle of fraternal love before they could expect heaven upon earth.

After a song the Convention took a recess till 2 o’clock.

“The Utica Free Love Philanthropic Convention. Parker Pillsbury and the Reporters—Discussion on Illegitimacy, Free Love and Abolitionism—Blasphemy Run Mad—Woman the Great Artist,” The New York Herald, September 20, 1858.


Utica, Sept. 11, 1858.

At the close of Mrs. Branch’s speech the company was regaled with the song of “Wait a little longer,” executed by Miss Higgins.

Miss M. Clarke, of Auburn, was next introduced to the meeting and commenced to address it in that quiet, gentle voice which is an excellent thing in woman, but she up on an ascending scale till she got to a point that would have made Xantippe envy her.  She addressed her remarks to the same point that Mrs. Branch did, belaboring the licentiousness of man and demanding to know how many men there are in a community who do not practice licentiousness.  She looked forward to the time when good, healthy children would be born, but that would be a time when men would love women for their purity, not, for their passional attractions.

Mrs. Davis came forward and proposed the following resolution:

Resolved, That as true marriages are eternal and productive of happiness, and false marriages are inevitably transient and productive of misery, there should be the greatest wisdom exercised by both sexes in choosing life companions, in order that this true and eternal union may be sacred; while those who, through ignorance or any other cause, are so unfortunate as to contract false marriages should be legally empowered to annul such contracts and thus escape their disastrous consequences.


Utica, Sept. 11, 1858.

The first hour and a half of the afternoon session was occupied by Mr. Parker Pillsbury, of Boston, in an anti-slavery speech, in which he took occasion to indulge in a tirade against the reporters and the press, on whom he strove to fasten the responsibility for the features of debauchery and licentiousness in which the Convention was represented.

After he had got through, the inevitable German philosopher, Herr Schmollnecker [Smolnikar], strove to get in his resolutions, but he was overruled by the Chair, who announced a song from the Quartet Club.  “The Dawn of the Good Time Coming” was given in good style by the club.

Mr. John L. King took the stand on behalf of the press in reply to the denunciations of Mr. Pillsbury.

The Chairman—Will Mr. King state what press he represents?

Mr. King—I am a member of the New York press.  He said it was well understood that there were two ways of acquiring fame in this country.  One was to pursue the path of a high and honorable career, and then, sooner or later, he would find the press on his side; the other was to follow such a course as would drawn down the condemnation of the press.  Mr. Pillsbury had resorted to the latter plan.  He had accused the press of a deliberate and intentional falsification.  If there were any one person against which this charge of falsification was true, why did not Mr. Pillsbury declare it; and why should he accuse of falsehood men whose character for truth and uprightness would compare favorably with the speaker.  He said that he knew the force of language and denounced the course Mr. Pillsbury had pursued in the matter as sneaking and cowardly.

Mr. Pillsbury said he was there on the platform and wanted to know how he acted sneakingly and cowardly.

Mr. King—specify, sir, to whom you allude.

Mr. Pillsbury went on to say that he was moved to his remarks by an article in the New York Observer, and by the report of the proceedings of the Convention in the Utica Herald.  He wished to be understood as alluding also to the New York Herald, and Tribune and Times, and others of a kindred spirit.  But he was willing to give the devil his due, and would not put the Herald or Tribune in such bad company as the New York Observer.  (Laughter.)  He had no hesitation in declaring his belief that, taking these gentlemen the reporters out of such business they were as high minded and respectable as could be found; but one of them had said to him in New York, “As reporters, you cannot expect us to have principles.”  He had too much human nature to ask reporters for the American press to have principles.  He thought the reports were what the people wanted.  It was a little remarkable, however, that the republican press of this city and New York was a little more outrageous than the democratic press, bad as that was.  He thought the democratic press was the best argument in favor of the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity; yet he would do it the justice to say that their reports were, in the main, not quite so bad as those of the republican press.

Dr. Hallock, of New York, suggested whether these personal altercations were not beneath the dignity of the grave matters which they had come here to discuss.

Mr. Pillsbury appealed to the audience to say that this discussion was not personal.  The truthfulness of the proceedings of this Convention was not a personal matter.  He stood there to vindicate the cause of reform against the malignant attacks of its most malignant foes.

Mr. Warren Chase next took the floor.  He did not come forward to take any part in the altercation about newspaper reports.  He belonged to the press himself, and undoubtedly had written many articles that were obnoxious to the Convention or parties or persons against whom he wrote.  If the reporters misrepresented the proceedings of the Convention, their falsehood would do themselves injury, not the Convention.  It seemed to him that this Convention was called to say whether any of the alchemists of the country had found the philosopher’s stone.  His clerical brethren had discovered the elixir vitae in the atonement, and the origin of evil in the doctrine of total depravity, and had endeavored to prevent further search as to the origin or cause of evil; but it was an entire failure as a cure, and the origin has long since proved to be different from that which they ascribe it to.  His brother Foster, who dissected everything, not with the lancet or with the dissecting knife, but with the saw, had discovered the origin of evil in slavery.  He did not know that Foster would send the slaveholders to hell, but he would at least send to heaven the slaves until they would fix up things so that the slaveholders might be received there.  His friend Wright had found the cause of evil to be an unnatural system of generation, and he would change the condition of society to a much better condition than it is now in if he had the means of doing so.  But still he had not found the cure of evil.  His sister, Mrs. Branch, thought she had discovered the great origin of evil to be in the institution of marriage.  At least so her Rutland speech would show.  But she had not so represented her opinions here to-day, and had merely pictured the miseries arising from a wicked system of matrimony.  But he was not satisfied that she had discovered the philosopher’s stone.  His brother, A. J. Davis, had given them a beautiful history of the various systems of theology, but he had not yet marked the point of discovery to be presented to the Convention.  For himself, he too had been searching for the origin of evil, but he had abandoned the search long ago, satisfied that it must finally terminate as the search of the alchemists for the philosopher’s stone—satisfied that respectively all conditions are good—that in the words of the poet, “Partial evil’s universal good.”

He had, however, risen to speak to Mrs. Branch’s resolution calling on the State Legislature to legitimatize all children.  He rose to second that resolution, because it was one of deep importance, and because he, of all, was the one who ought to second it; and if they wanted to know why let them read his book—“The Life Lien of the Lone One.”  No priest or magistrate gave his mother permission to be the mother of a child, and he had no one to guide or protect him in his early years.  He had been sold when he was but four years old by the overseers of a New England workhouse for sixteen years to a master more cruel than nine out of ten of the Southern slaveholders of whom they heard so much.  It was time that something should be done in favor of illegitimate children.  This was a resolution of some importance.  How many were there in the State who had no social right because of the manner in which they were born into the world?  Was it not time that the laws should declare these children legitimate and entitled to their proportion of their father’s or mother’s estate?  There were thousands like him, and merely spoke of himself to show why it was he seconded and spoke in favor of this resolution.  Could no voice be raised in favor of those who were outlawed in society and deprived of their rights everywhere because they came into the world without the authority of a priest or a government?  Here were numerous and important questions before the Convention and was it not proper to devote some hours to this important subject and leave all bickerings about persons and newspapers out of the question?

Mr. Stephen S. Foster was sorry that the last speaker understood him as saying that slavery was the origin of evil.  So far from that he had always regarded the origin of evil as far above and beyond the possibility of our comprehension, and, therefore, had never spent a moment in pursuit of it.  He had never spent a moment in pursuit of the origin of cold, though he had spent days in expelling it from his parlor.  Cold, like evil, was an inseparable necessity from heat.  There could be no good without evil, no heat without cold.  People failed to comprehend utterly the meaning of terms, and hence much difficulty.  There was no evil and no good as absolute terms.  They were merely relative.  A man is only good or only bad as compared with some other man.  He found himself annoyed by evil just as he found himself annoyed by cold, and he strove to drive out evil as he strove to drive out cold.

A gentleman in the gallery here addressed the chair wanting to know how often the same man had a right to speak while others wanted to speak.

Stephen—A hundred times, if I like.  So he went on with a rigmarole of words, to the considerable annoyance of the audience.  He confessed himself the most refractory man he had ever had to deal with.  That was a sentiment in which, if in no other, the audience completely agreed with him.  He defended the course of Mr. Pillsbury in regard to the press; for what, he asked, was the duty of the Convention but to elevate and refine and purify the public mind?  But how could they do so if they were always maligned and misrepresented?  He had had a conversation this morning with a public officer of this city, and he found that he judged the Convention by the description given of it by the Utica Morning Herald, as follows:

About everything else they talk at random, but on free love they speak studiedly.  They maintain it, and put it forward alluringly and step by step.  They have calculated the degrees by which the pernicious doctrine may be advanced.  They are not restrained by any respect for society or morality.  They do not seem to know what delicacy or even decency is, and a blush is the only thing that, with female as well as male, seems out of order in the Convention.  One speaker uttered an aspiration for cloven tongues to come upon them.  Judging from their talk, cloven feet are not far from many of the managers.

He held that self-defence was the law of our nature, and therefore he supported the ground taken by Mr. Pillsbury in replying to the newspaper attacks.  People usually despised men who did not defend themselves, and though he was a non-combatant himself, he also despised such a man.  In regard to the question of illegitimacy, he believed that every man’s child was legitimate; but the illegitimacy of the Southern slave child was the least part of the evil to which the slaves were exposed.  Any remedy that overlooks that great damnable fact must prove abortive.  He would now present the following resolutions:

Resolved, That personal freedom is the natural right of all men, and should be maintained at whatever cost of property or reputation, or even life itself, since without it life is of no essential value.

Resolved, That the four million slaves of this country are equally with ourselves endowed with that God-given right, and that they are bound by every moral obligation to burst their fetters at once, to assert their manhood, and exterminate the institution which enthrals them, even should it be necessary to drown it out by the blood of the oppressor, (resistance to tyrants is obedience to God, now as well as in the days of our revolutionary fathers,) and that in their struggle for their freedom we are bound by every principle of consistency and honor to take sides with the oppressed, and to meet the oppressor face to face, armed with such weapons as God or nature has put in our hands for the protection of our hearthstones; and he who declines or neglects to do this fails in his first and highest public duty, and hence is of little value to any cause of reform.

Resolved, That we, the members of this Convention, tender to our enslaved countrymen our earnest sympathy in their deep affliction, and pledge to them our cordial support of every well devised measure for their emancipation, whether put forth by their friends at the North, or by themselves, in a bold and manly defiance of the slave power.

The reading of these incendiary resolutions did not elicit a single manifestation of sympathy from the convention except a fervent “amen” from a half-crazed philosopher known as Father Lowell.

Mrs. Britt, of St. Louis—the same who spoke in the morning—was again introduced to the audience, and took up the cudgels for the South, and for the press.  She said that some weeks ago she had seen on the broad prairies of Illinois a large circular, calling this Convention together to overcome evil with good; and she had come here to identify her spirit with that of the Convention.  But she feared this afternoon that the glow of fraternal love had not spread over her brethren.  She had been a resident of a slave State for fifteen years, and she knew well that the spirit of fraternal love was as ready to gush out of the souls of her Southern friends as out of those of the white faces of the North.  (Applause.)  She had been in the school of human experience, and had learned that fraternal love is superior to the rod.  Then let them not thrust out their Southern brothers, but proceed, in the spirit of the call, to overcome evil with good.  (Applause.)  If the reporters had misrepresented them why did they?  She believed that not a gentleman at the reporters’ table had written a single falsehood, but had written of them as they had impressed them.  Why then had they not made a more favorable impression?  She had had her name identified with free love; but let her tell them that she never believed or practised it: she avowed herself a monogamist.  She well remembers when she heard Dr. Hallock lecture on physiology to the ladies of St. Louis.  She blushed as she heard him, and though she was the wife of a physician, she herself went home and told her husband that the doctor ought to be drummed out of the city; that he must be a bad man to talk of such things as he did.  Subsequently, when she learned of Spiritualism, she recognized that the fault was in herself.  Let them appeal to the spirit of benevolence in regard to the question of slavery.  (Applause.)  Were the sons and daughters of the South the originators of slavery?  No; they were the heirs of it.  As she came to this hall she saw oppression and merchandizing in the emaciated faces of poor children picking rags out of the gutters.  Was she to go into the stores of the merchants and demand of them to divide their property with the poor?  No; that would not be fair or proper, or in accordance with the laws, and yet it was as unfair to ask slaveholders to emancipate their slaves.  (Applause.)  If they wanted justice done they should reach humanity in the true principle.  They must have a new religion.  Morality had been taught us as a necessary act towards God; but when we acted truthfully for the love of truth, and righteously for the love of righteousness, then true morality would be introduced on earth, and fraternal love would flourish.

Mr. Toohey, of New York, rose to present a series of resolutions on the subject of matrimony.  He read them as follows:

Whereas, we, the members of the Philanthropic Convention, having listed to the soul-harrowing details consequent to the discussion of the marriage relations; and whereas marriage, in one form or another, is associated with the present and prospective interests of [     ], therefore,

Resolved, That so long as we have not facts and information to suggest, much less to authorize a final conclusion on the subject, that we recommend the discussion of marriage, its facts and fundamental principles, and invite practical action, that kindred conventions may learn to construct the divine method by which the sacred conviction and personal interests of the individual will be harmonized with family harmony and social order.

Resolved, That while we recognize each individual to be the final interpreter of his or her fitness for and adaptation to married life, that we recommend to reformers everywhere the necessity of making equitable but discretionary divorce a branch of the Code Matrimonial and a practical part of common law.

Mr. Schmollnecker [Smolnikar], who had kept remarkably quiet all day, thought that now there was a chance for him, and so his well known voice was heard from the middle of the hall, saying that he would now read his resolutions.  The audience was tickled, and several called out to him to go on.

The President (snuffing him out) told him to wait a moment—that he was not in order.

Mr. Schmollnecker—I understood you to say to me go on.

The President—No; it was some other persons.

Mr. Schmollnecker (sinking upon his seat)—Oh!  (Laughter.)

The chairman wished to make a few remarks.  He said that persons making speeches and offering resolutions here should be held personally responsible for the sentiments so expressed, and he suggested that such resolutions should be offered on the responsibility of the movers, and let every person present decide for himself or herself whether such resolutions met with their concurrence or disapproval.

Dr. Hallock said that the Chairman had anticipated what he was about to suggest.  Let every one from the platform of his own sincerity and consciousness come here and express his thought, and let that be a thought on which the convention can ponder, not endorse by a sudden inconsiderate vote.

Mr. Toohey wanted his resolutions to go forth, not as his ipse dixit, but as the endorsement of the Convention.  He should like to have the sense of the Convention tested.

The Chairman thought it would be unwise to do so.

Mr. Pillsbury asked if it were not first necessary to have a roll of the Convention taken.

So thought the Chairman; and the difficulty was felt by the Convention.

Mr. Toohey simply wished to get at this one fact: were they prepared to have the sense of the Convention taken on the first step to reform?  If not, there was no use in talking.

The Chairman would remind Mr. Toohey that his resolutions contained matter for serious thought and reflection; and, indeed, it would not be material one way or the other how the Convention acted on the resolutions.

Mr. Toohey insisted on the resolutions being put.

Mr. Plumb Moved to lay them on the table; and they were tabled.

Mr. Wright against managed to get the floor for his sixth or eighth speech.  He had been recently studying the census for 1850, and he found that in one-half of the States of the Union the law does not recognize that over one-third of the children born have any fathers.  Their fathers are not recognized by law or by religion in the country.  One-seventh of the children born in the country are, by law, denied the endearing religion of the father.  Was there any woman here who would sneer at that?  If so, he did not want to be in the presence of that woman.  All the slave children born in the slave States have no fathers by law or by religion.  One-third of all the women of half the States of the Union are outlaws; and he seemed to hear a voice coming to the Convention from their crushed and bleeding hearts.  The North actually helped to hold in bondage these poor creatures, while their Southern confederates wreaked their pleasure upon them.  Th appeal of these women was to this Convention.  Would the Convention hear it?  The appeal of these slave children was to this Convention.  Would the Convention not hear that appeal?  People here lived in the midst of the most gigantic system of pollution that ever existed on the globe.  He had traversed Austria and France, and nearly all the kingdoms of Europe, and he would challenge any man to produce a parallel in a solitary kingdom of Europe to the United States of America on that subject.  Pollution, said he, rules over this nation like a flood, and it has swept away from the national almost the last vestige of true reverence of woman; and there is not a woman in this audience who does not this moment feel the influence of the presence of this horrible Sodom and Gomorrah.  If you get your God to support slavery, I put my heel on such a God and say to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan; you are an offence to me.”  When you present your Bible to support such a system, I will not argue the question, but say: “Away with your Bible; such laws are of the devil.  I care not what authorizes them.”  When you present to me your constitution, to sustain a system of pollution like that, then all I have to say is, “Your Constitution is a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.”  When you present to me the dissolution of your Union as a reason why we should not meddle with this subject, all my answer is, “Down with your Union, if it must stand on the bleeding hearts of two millions of wives and mothers and women of the country.  Away with it; it is of the devil.  Down with your Gods; down with your Christs; down with your Bibles; down with your Unions, if they cannot exist without consigning to damnation on earth the women of our country.”  (Amen from father Lowell.)

Mr. Burtis, of Rochester, took the floor.  He said he had in his hand a paper which, wile it published the proceedings of this Convention, also published a paragraph giving an account of the prayer meeting at which the Rev. Dr. Corey had alluded to the Convention held at Mechanics’ Hall, in this way:

Morning Prayer Meeting—We have a lengthy report of the services, this morning, but are obliged to crowd them out.  Rev. D. G. Corey alluded to the Convention at Mechanics’ Hall, and was surprised that people calling themselves Christians should give countenance to such an assemblage.  Other speakers denounced the Philanthropic Convention in a fit and proper strain of indignation.

He would like that the words of those priests who bow themselves before their triune God should be reported as fully as the proceedings of this Convention are reported.  He was, for himself, ready to go on the record, and so, he presumed, was every other person here.  When Dr. Corey made the remarks he did, he little knew that he (Mr. B.) knew his antecedents.  (Hisses.)  And he would say this and defy him to deny it—that the Rev. Mr. Corey had not within his breast one single particle of the principles of the meek and lowly Nazarene.  (Renewed and general hissing.)  When he gave utterance to that remark—(hisses prevented the ending of the sentence.)  He only wanted to repeat, that if Mr. Corey had within him one particle of the principles inculcated by the meek and lowly Nazarene, he never would have given utterance in a prayer meeting to such a sentiment as was attributed to him in that report.  He hoped that all here would meet to-morrow, because to-day was only consecrated to freedom, while to-morrow would be consecrated to humanity.

Mr. A. J. Davis explained that the Business Committee had adopted a course with regard to resolutions which would be an example for other conventions, and that was not to have resolutions passed by the convention.  Resolutions were presented here merely as the crystallization of the thoughts of the speaker.  It would be simply absurd to require a convention composed of such varied materials to vote upon resolutions.  It could not be done intelligently.  He therefore proposed that they should have no further discussion in regard to resolutions, but that each speaker should present his thoughts in that crystallized form.  Thus all would be profited, and that evil at least would be overcome with good.  He thanked the audience for the charity which permitted thoughts to be expressed here that were at variance with all the feelings and predilections of their nature.  Mr. Burtis had no business to accuse Mr. Corey of evil.  He must say he did it, and he was sure that Mr. Burtis was now sorry for it.  Miss Higgins would sing to them a song entitled, “King words will never die.”  Let them recollect that.

Miss Higgins gave the song, and the Convention took a recess till half-past seven o’clock.


Mrs. A. J. Davis, at the opening of the session, delivered an address, which was much applauded.  The subject was, “Woman the great artist.”


Dr. Wolverhampton, of Canada, was next introduced to the audience and attempted to make a speech, but he failed, wilted, and fell to the rear.


Dr. [Uriah] Clark, of Auburn, had seen many spiritualists here, and he had been waiting to have some of them discuss the origin and cure of evil.  In the central part of this State they would not hear the end of this convention for twelve months.  People would say to them, “you’ve had a great convention at Utica; but what did you find out?”  They would take such God-defying sentiments as were expressed by Wright and Pillsbury and Foster, and some of the spiritualists ran the risk of being knocked down on account of their speeches.  Spiritualists would be held responsible for them.  Now, he thought that Foster and these other fellows might preserve their thunder for some other time and let the spiritualist be heard.  (Applause.)  He alluded contemptuously to those sentiments expressed here about generation and the physical improvement of the race, and ridiculed the idea.  He thought there was danger of their becoming too mechanical and morbid about this thing, and engendering imaginations that may tend to corruption.

The Chairman called the speaker to order, as he had no right to criticise other speakers.

Dr. Clark submitted that he had, and so thought the Convention, and applauded the Doctor, and told him to go on.  And he went on and pitched into the Utica reformers in refreshing style.  He was inclined to think that the idea of abolishing evil was about as preposterous as would be an attempt to abolish cold or darkness.  If they would abolish these they would have to seek some other sphere.  (Almost the only sensible thing said in the Convention.)


Mrs. Butt [i.e., Britt], of St. Louis, took the floor for the third time to-day, and made a sensible, philosophical and forcible address, inculcating charity and fraternal love, and speaking sneeringly of the improved generation of the race.  If men and women were to be unmarried and to have a chance of making new selections, she said they would make as bad matches as they had already made.  (Laughter and applause.)  Passing off to the question of spiritualism, she said that had it not been for the interposition of spirits, she would not have been here addressing the audience before her, but would have been at home probably rocking the cradle.  She would prescribe as her cure for evil the cultivation of the spirit.  If they would labor earnestly they would within ten years witness a rich harvest for the cultivation of man’s spirit.  She was conscious that all human beings were not immortal; that mind did not necessarily convey immortality; but there were enough of men and women immortal.

Mrs. Butt was much applauded throughout her remarks, and when her period of twenty minutes expired the audience unanimously voted to allow her to proceed as long as she chose.  Individual merit, she said, was the only law by which we ought to be governed.  The great object which she felt had to be overcome was the conventionalism of society.  She did not care what odium was charged to her person by public opinion, she would live down all by her purity and honesty of purpose.  In the course of her speech she said that the phenomena of spiritualism were passing away.  She wound up with a beautiful peroration, which so affected Father Lowell that he started from his chair, threw back his gray locks, and cried out in ecstacy, “Come, angels, come.  I’m here now, and let the angels come.”

After the song “there is a place in childhood that I remember well,” the convention adjourned till Sunday morning, at nine o’clock.


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