The Friend of Progress (New York), January 1865:90-93.

History of the formation and incorporation of the Moral Police Fraternity of New York; Constitution; purposes.

Andrew Jackson Davis was largely responsible for founding several organizations among spiritualists.  In 1852 he formed the short-lived Harmonial Brotherhood.  He also initiated the much more successful Children’s Progressive Lyceums.  In the 1870s and 80s, as he became disenchanted with the growing emphasis in the spiritualist movement on phenomenal manifestations rather than a progressive philosophy of reform and uplift, he attempted to organize like-minded spiritualists to focus on his “Harmonial Philosophy.”

During the Civil War, while living in New York City, he helped found the Moral Police Fraternity.  The name may give the impression that it was a cabal of Thought Police or a Society of Busybodies, but in fact, it was meant to be a fraternal protective union for spiritualists, which would protect its members against hardship and impoverishment.  Its goals also extended out to individuals in the community who were not members of the Fraternity, in philanthropic work that today’s charities and government social services agencies perform.

Note that the date of the organization’s inauguration in New York was less than a month before the city’s Draft Riots in July 1863.—JB

“The Moral Police Fraternity,” Friend of Progress (New York), June 1865: 90-93.

The Moral Police Fraternity.

Incorporated November 17, 1864.

This benevolent organization, not yet twenty months old, having received its inauguration on the 14th of June, 1863, is already widely and favorably known among the friends of Progress on both sides of the Atlantic, and has hundreds of regularly enrolled members and practical supporters, who are residents of New York and citizens of the United States not only, but also of other cities and far distant countries; so that, without any special efforts to bring the claims and plans of this association before the world, its objects are recognized and its practical workings indorsed by the philanthropic and reformatory representatives of almost all countries within the sweep of modern civilization.

The expansion of the nobler attributes in man, the diffusion of the divine spirit of charity, and the universal tendency among men to unite their highest interests, and to organize their benevolence, for the accomplishment of the greatest amount of positive and permanent good to the ignorant and poor and miserable among mankind, are works and results intrinsically akin to the vital genius and benign purposes of this Fraternity.  Quietly and unobtrusively the New York members of this brotherhood have accomplished a large amount of permanent good.  Thus far, however, its efforts have been confined to what might be called the negative side of philanthropy—supplying the immediate wants of the sick, poor, and unfortunate, and ameliorating the circumstances of the degraded and unhappy ones who have come under the care and protection of the Fraternity.  The positive work of this association is yet to be inaugurated, but steps have been taken, since the incorporation of this movement, which will, as rapidly as such external work can go forward, place the association in the position and give the adequate power contemplated by the Constitution and Certificate of Incorporation.

One cherished object, contemplated by this institution is to invest a portion of the funds that may be received from those who contribute to its working capital, to the establishment of a “Home of Protection,” (or something analogous thereto,) for the sake of the young and friendless of both sexes, from which they may graduate into Society with physical and spiritual culture and education, equal to the benefits of the best institutions in the land.  The erection of such a structure, by the Friends of Progress in America, in or near the city of New York, will be a noble monument of the liberality and sincerity of the thousands in this country who have been gladdened and blest by revelations of light and love from the heavenly sources.  In the direction here indicated are the following extracts from a latter recently received, by which the world may learn somewhat of the objects contemplated by the Moral Police Fraternity:

“I desire,” says the writer, “that the Fraternity should have a recognized legal existence, so that it may buy and sell real estate and hold personal property, sue and be sued, and transact any and all kinds of business for the attainment of the ends in view, and that the association be funded with say $500,000; that the first labor of the association shall be the publication and distribution of reformatory papers and books; and that, perhaps, the next duty shall be the finding out, through the investigations of the agents of the Moral Police, persons in the cities standing in need of employment, and the finding out of the residence of persons in the country who stand in need of the assistance and cooperation of such persons, and who would be willing to vouchsafe to them comfortable homes; and perhaps a third and minor duty would be the distribution of food and clothing among the hungry and naked.  . . . In short, I desire that the chief aim of such an association should be the prevention of crime rather than the mitigation of misery, but that it should be among the very best instruments in the accomplishment of the latter object.  . . . I conceive,” he continues, “that such an institution, could it be actualized, would be able to sustain itself upon the principle of action and reaction—that is, by having at hand the requisite means, it could sow broadcast through the land such an amount of right literature as would teach liberal capitalists the folly of heaping up wealth with which to curse their children, and would induce them to bequeath large amounts to the aforesaid incorporation.”

Some knowledge of the working plan and capacity of this movement may be obtained from the



ARTICLE III—This Fraternity is established to the end that the Friends of Progress may more wisely and effectively labor together for the overcoming of evil with good—for the detection and overthrow of ignorance, poverty, injustice, corruptions, and tyranny—for the development of fraternal love and peace on earth, through an application of the immutable principles of Wisdom, Justice, and Harmony.


ARTICLE IV—The Fraternity shall endeavor to affiliate and cooperate, as far as practicable, with the Municipal Police, all Charitable Institutions, School Systems, Industrial and Reformatory Associations, for the attainment of objects and results set forth in the Article III and in the “Letter of Instructions.”


ARTICLE V—Each subscriber to the “Pledge of Membership” shall be a member, entitled to share proportionally in the protection, privileges, and benefits of the Fraternity.


ARTICLE VI—A board of Seven Chiefs shall be elected by ballot at every annual meeting, the election in every case being determined by a majority of votes.  The Chiefs shall select from among themselves and appoint officers, who shall fulfill the duties of President, Secretaries, and Treasurer.  The Chiefs shall also constitute a Board of Managers, whose duty it shall be to attend in person, or by deputy, all the meetings, and conduct the business of the Fraternity.


ARTICLE VII—All nominations to fill vacancies in any of the offices of the Fraternity, occurring between the annual meetings of the Fraternity, shall be made by the Board of Managers, and shall be confined to candidates who shall reside within a convenient distance from the regular place of meeting.


ARTICLE VIII—Members and managers, irrespective of sex or race, shall be equally entitled to meet and vote at all the meetings.


ARTICLE IX—Whenever a case of destitution, or sickness, or misfortune, or trouble of any nature, needing philanthropic interposition, comes to the knowledge of any member of the Fraternity, it shall be the duty of such member to report the same to any one of the Chiefs, who shall immediately appoint a visiting committee of one or more to investigate the actual circumstances, conditions, wants, and needs of the case reported; and it shall be the duty of each visitor to report, verbally or in writing (to the Chief who authorized the visitation,) the essentials of the case which he or she has investigated.


ARTICLE X—Each duly admitted member of every corresponding or kindred Fraternity shall be accepted and fellowshipped as a member of every other Fraternity, irrespective of latitudes or longitudes; and all such members shall be equally privileged to take part in the deliberations and discussions of any Fraternity except to vote, at any of the monthly or annual meetings.


ARTICLE XI—Any officer of any Moral Police Fraternity may, through any officer of any other corresponding Fraternity, authorize a visitation to any person in destitution, sickness, misfortune, or in trouble of any nature.


ARTICLE XII—An initiation fee of one dollar shall not be demanded, but suggested only, and fraternally recommended as a voluntary offering; which, or any larger or smaller sum, shall be received and duly credited as a free-will contribution to the treasury of the Fraternity.


ARTICLE XIII—The funds of this Fraternity shall consist of the contributions of members, and donations and bequests of individuals and societies.


ARTICLE XIV—The further government of the Association shall be regulated by such By-Laws as may be passed at any of its regular meetings.


ARTICLE XV—No alterations or amendments shall be made in this Constitution, except by a two-thirds vote of Members and Managers present at a regular meeting of the Fraternity, and after seven days’ notice of such meeting shall have been made public.


State of New York,
City and County of New York,

We whose names are hereunto annexed do hereby certify that we are citizens of the United States, and a majority of us are citizens of the State of New York.

That we have associated ourselves together for benevolent and charitable purposes.

That the name of said Association shall be known in law as the “MORAL POLICE FRATERNITY.”

That the business and objects of said Association are to furnish aid to the destitute, instruction to the ignorant and degraded, and employment and homes to the poor and friendless, and thus take away incentives to crime.

That the business of said Association is to be conducted in the City and County of New York.

That the number of trustees of said Association, to manage the same for the first year, shall be seven, and their names are: PARKER E. FARNSWORTH, ROBERT T. HALLOCK, ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS, MARY F. DAVIS, WARREN S. BARLOW, ELIZA W. FARNHAM, and MARY R. TUCKER.

State of New York,
City and County of New York,

On this 9th day of November, 1864, personally appeared before me, Parker E. Farnsworth, Robert T. Hallock, Andrew Jackson Davis, Mary F. Davis, Warren S. Barlow, Eliza W. Farnham, and Mary R. Tucker, to me known, and severally made, signed, and acknowledged the above instrument.

George Peyton, Notary Public
City and County of New York.

I, as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the First Judicial District of the State of New York, consent to and approve of the within Certificate of Association.

T. W. Clerke
New York, November 17, 1864.

State of New York,
Office of the Secretary of State.

I have compared the preceding with the original Certification of Association of the Moral Police Fraternity, with acknowledgement thereto annexed, filed in this office on the 18th day of November, 1864, and hereby certify the same to be a correct transcript therefrom and of the whole of said original.

Witness my hand and seal of office of the Secretary of State, at the City of Albany, this 18th day of November, 1864.

Erastus Clark,
Deputy Secretary of State.

Our space will not admit the “Letter of Instructions,” which, in a spirit of divine charity, unfolds the nature and extent of labors of love that the members are called upon to perform.  Enrolled in the book of membership are many persons of fortune and position—many ladies and gentlemen of distinction, who are our almoners and among our best visitors to the habitations of the poor and friendless—merchants, mechanics, bankers, agriculturalists, government agents, officers and privates in the Army and Navy, members of different benevolent Societies, school-teachers, lecturers, authors, artists, &c.; and in any case of distress or misfortune coming to the knowledge of the Fraternity, the wealthiest member is frequently foremost in visiting the humblest persons.

Members of this Fraternity, while receiving and enjoying the cooperation of minds who inhabit higher spheres, believe that natural, persistent, progressive agencies alone will bring the heavenly state on earth.  The practical influence of the Fraternity is first of all to harmonize the ideas and sentiments of its members, and then to direct their benevolence and labor upon individuals in discord, in misfortune, in sickness, in prison, in poverty, in crime, in ignorance, and in misery.  Their mission and duties are fully set forth in a “Letter of Instructions,” which is given or sent to every one who becomes a member by signing the following


“In the name of God and Humanity, and in the presence of Angels, I hereby promise to live

    For the cause that lacks assistance,
    For the wrong that needs resistance,
    For the future in the distance,
        And the Good that I can do;

and, to the best of my knowledge and opportunities, to perform the deeds of Fraternal Love to my fellow beings, of whatever condition, age, or nation.”

A humanitarian movement so natural and fraternal will secretly build its altars throughout civilization.  Its plan of operation is broad, comprehensive, philanthropic, and practical.  Perhaps the reader would become a “member” of this organization, in which no one member can “suffer” without attracting the attention and securing the sympathy of “the whole body.”  You may address the President, No. 274 Canal Street, New York, authorizing him to record under the Pledge your whole name, your occupation, and your post-office address, giving County and State in full.  The initiation fee of one dollar is recommended, including the inclosure of two postage stamps, to prepay the “Constitution,” the “Letter of Instructions,” and the “Pledge,” all which will be immediately forwarded to you on the above conditions.  Unlike many self-protective societies, this Fraternity does not exclude Woman from any of its departments, privileges, or benefits.

A. J. Davis, President.
Mary F. Davis, Treasurer.
Robert T. Hallock, Secretary.


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