The Providence Journal and The New York Times

Third Annual National Convention of Spiritualists, Providence, Rhode Island, August 21-26.


“National Convention of Spiritualists,” The Providence Daily Journal, August 22, 1866.

The third National Convention of Spiritualists met in Pratt’s Hall in this city, on Tuesday morning, the President John Pierpont, of Washington, in the Chair.  Delegates from some eighteen States and Territories were present at the opening, about half being ladies.  Upon the platform, besides the President, were the following officers: Dr. H. S. Brown, of Wisconsin, Charles H. Crowell, of Massachusetts, and Rev. J. G. Fish, of Pennsylvania, Vice-Presidents; Dr. H. T. Child, Secretary.

Mr. L. K. Joslyn, by appointment from the First Congregation of Spiritualists of this city, extended a welcome to the delegates.  He said they had come to a city which once received the Baptists, the Quakers and other heretics from her sister colony, where Roger Williams first proclaimed the principles of religious toleration.  Since then, truth had been known by many unpopular names, till to-day the Spiritualists stood before the world as the greatest heretics of the age.  Believing that his hearers were “infidel” to the old creeds and dogmas that had cursed rather than blessed our fallen humanity, but true as progressionists and earnest workers for the elevation and happiness of men and women, he extended to them a fraternal greeting.  The congregation was other than the seeming one.  The loved ones of the past would illustrate their interest in and favor with their presence the largest body of individuals on the continent that recognized their actualized presence and power, and unto them as unto the visible delegates would he extend the welcome.

The President, John Pierpont, in retiring from the chair, made an address.  He said that the members of the Convention had been welcomed to the city by the last speaker as infidels.  He would make a remark upon that formidable word.  Etymologically, it meant “unfaithful ones.”  In that sense he did not recognize the epithet as belonging to them.  In another sense it meant those who did not agree in certain particulars with a majority of the community around them.  Almost every one of the various Christian denominations was in the habit of branding all but those of their own sect as “infidels.”  The Catholic Church had, within the speaker’s own hearing, spoken of all Protestants as “infidels.”  If the word meant unfaithful to a party or sect, he welcomed the epithet of “infidel.”  But if it meant unfaithful to truth, or to one’s convictions of truth, he held that Spiritualists were not unfaithful, but faithful among the faithless.  The speaker was an “infidel” to a great many of the forms of popular religion, to a great many of the tenets held by the great majority of the Christian, nay, of the Protestant Church.

Why said the speaker, am I a Spiritualist, and why do I bear that opprobrious name before the world?  I answer, because I am thoroughly convinced that the leading doctrines of the Spiritualists are true.  The facts upon which those doctrines rest are known to be true.  I believe in the fact, that under certain conditions in these our days communications do come from the spirits of those who have passed through the gate of death.  Because of that fact, I believe that the spirit survives the body in a state of conscious activity.  It is the belief of that fact that makes us Spiritualists.  I believe it on account of facts which I myself have witnessed.  What I see, hear, and feel, I know as well as St. John knew what he saw, heard, and felt.  My senses are as good as were those of the beloved disciple or any other disciple.

Now two questions present themselves to every thoughtful mind.  First, “when came I;” second “whither am I going.”  We are told that all matter possesses “inertia,” and cannot move of its own inherent power.  I believe that as matter cannot move, even so spirit cannot rest.  All growth in the vegetable, all formation in the mineral world, is the evidence of the presence of spirit.  That Spirit manifests itself through all works, all worlds, all times.  He works not six days alone, but seven, and so has done through all eternity.  From that spirit we come, not from matter.

It is the spirit which is man.  Man therefore survives death—not in the actual form in which he was before; but his personal identity, his individuality remains.

When I know that the spirit I have known and loved, and who has passed into the Spirit world, through certain media holds communication with me now; when I see the expression of his face when he speaks to me, reminds me of the past, tells me of his present condition, cheers me with the assurance that there is a pleasant place waiting for me when I come; when my father tells me that he looks like me, in what particulars I differ from him, of particulars that no being but he can know, I am sure that those spirits retain the personality in the spirit world.  Only remove the dread uncertainty which hangs over the future, and let me know what I am to be, and I am certain that it will be well with me in the hands of the Infinite Spirit, for it has always been well with me in his hands.  Through Spiritualism I do know what I shall be, for I have proof of the personal existence in the future state.  When the spirit was first clothed with flesh in the present state of being, loving eyes were shining upon it, loving arms were taking it to a loving heart.  All its wants were graciously and joyously ministered to by the kindest offices of humanity.  Shall it be otherwise when we step into another state of being.  When asked then whither I am going, I answer that I am going into the spirit world, there to meet with kindred spirits—“to the general assembly and church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven.”  Ah, but where is heaven?  Shall the spirit find its abode in such or such a star, or shall it roam from world to world as far as the universe extends.  If asked what place I would choose for my heaven and my future home, I would say that I have seen this beautiful world, and enjoy it so much, that I should like to stay here always around the homes of my friends, holding communication with them.  And I believe that is where we are to be, and that is what we are to do in the future state.

“Millions of spiritual beings walk the earth unseen,
Both when we wake, and when we sleep.”

I believe that.  And for myself I am satisfied that perhaps before I address another spiritual convention, I may walk the earth unseen, and perhaps hold communication with you, one or more, when you wake, and when you sleep.  That is my faith, and to that faith I do not mean to prove infidel, so long as I live.

Vice President H. S. Brown, M.D., of Wisconsin, then assumed the chair.

A letter was read from Vice President Thomas Garrett, of Delaware.

The following were chosen a Committee on Credentials from the several States:

Missouri, N. O. Archer; District of Columbia, J. A. Roland; Maine, T. J. Whitehead; New Hampshire, Frank Chase; Vermont, D. P. Wilder; Massachusetts, L. B. Wilson; Rhode Island, Dr. Stephen Webster; Connecticut, A. E. Carpenter; New York, Leo Miller; New Jersey, D. W. Leach; Pennsylvania, Michael B. Dyott; Indiana, Charles Jacobs; Illinois, Warren Chase; Wisconsin, Dr. H. Brown; Maryland, W. A. Danskin; Michigan, —Harrington.


After the report of the Committee on Credentials had been presented, a nominating committee of two persons from each delegation was chosen by the several delegations.

A business committee, consisting of one person from each State, to be selected by the delegation from that State, was then constituted.

During the absence of the committees, Leo Miller was, by vote, requested to make a speech, but declined, “having sinned in violating the laws of his being, in imprudently exposing himself to taking cold.”

After a song by the choir, and a speech by J. H. W. Toohey, of Boston, the nominating committee reported the names of the following officers, who were elected:

President—Newman Weeks, Rutland, Vt.
Vice Presidents—W. A. Blanchard, Portland, Me.; Frank Chase, Sutton, N. H.; Mrs. S. A. Horton, Brandon, Vt.; H. F. Gardner, Boston, Mass.; L. K. Joslyn, Providence, R. I.; G. W. Burnham, Norwich, Ct.; Leo Miller, New York; Mrs. Deborah Butler, Vineland, N. J.; Washington A. Danskin, Baltimore, Md.; J. C. Smith, District Columbia; Mr. McComber, Toledo, Ohio; F. L. Wadsworth, Lafayette, Ind.; S. J. Finney, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Dr. Juliette H. Stillman, Whitewater, Wis.; Henry Stagg, St. Louis, Missouri; Isaac Rehn, Philadelphia, Pa.; W. Chase, South Pass, Ill.; Thomas Garrett, Delaware; Viator B. Post, San Francisco.
Secretary—Dr. J. A. Rowland, District Columbia.
Treasurer—Nilo O. Nott, Brandon, Vt.

In the evening, a conversational meeting was held followed by the regular session at eight o’clock.

An address was made by Frank L. Wadsworth of Chicago.

He said that Spiritualists stood out against the popular customs, institutions and methods of the time.  Religiously one of the ideas of the past has been supernaturalism, or a theory that presented the universe as having a natural and supernatural department, the former under the direction of the latter.  All theological institutions of the times derive their existence from the idea that divinity is outside of that which is natural, that there is a supernatural process by which the divine is inducted into the human.  This spiritual movement possesses in itself something characteristically new; not that there is a natural and a supernatural, but that there is a spiritual naturalism which comprehends the whole scope of existence in all departments and relations of life.  This places the infinite not outside of nature but in nature—in all things that exist.  The Spiritualists of this day stand before the world with greater opportunities for thought and philosophy, for practical work and the presentation of that work philosophically to the people, than have been possessed by any class upon earth.  This divinity in nature and human nature is absolute and universal.  Nothing is outside of God, and God is not outside of anything.  With the facts of spiritual communion before us, the most natural result is that we shall return at once in our reflections to this earth and our relations to it.  This whole spiritual movement in method is educational.  There is nothing supernatural in it.  It does not propose that the world shall be converted in a moment.  With this idea and this method we need to do more than ever to announce ourselves in purpose.  We must say to the world that we propose to move onward, work continually for the upraising of human nature.  We shall have to battle institutions.  Here is the church around us, based upon the old idea of supernaturalism.  Every structure that has that idea in it must be ground to powder.  [Applause.]  Wherever in social life that idea is the vitality of an institution, that institution must be put under the hammer of progress and demolished.  But if we are to destroy we must also build.  Our advancement must be by work.  Emerson says that he who does not work shall not eat.  Unless we work, Spiritualism must pass away with the institutions that have been found incompetent to answer, the whole demands of human nature.

The business committee reported, recommending that there be conferences at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., each day, and three regular discourses, one in the afternoon and two in the evening.

Miss Susie M. Johnson, of Milford, Mass., was the next speaker.  She said that the large number attending the present meeting was prophetic of the continued growth of the Spiritualists of the time when they should have a central legislative power of the time when they should spread over the country and build school-houses everywhere; she would not say build churches, for those had already too long oppressed and benighted humanity.  Spiritualists would sometimes jar and frictionize each other, but amid their contentions such charity must be exercised that they might work together for a common purpose.  Some practical system must be presented to the world as the outgrowth of Spiritualism.  The speaker was tired of hearing Spiritualists say that they could get as good Spiritualism as they wanted at the liberal Unitarian churches.  Spiritualists should acknowledge the truths of Unitarianism, but not the sectarianisms that belonged to it.

The last speaker was A. T. Foss of New Hampshire.  He thanked God that the present was not an age of worship, but of investigation.  There was a time for prayer and there was also a time for inquiry.  We live in an age of progress.  At Andover where they make ministers to order, one worth $500 a year or $5,000, as the case may be, there is a law that the professors shall once in five years swear support to the Athanasian creed.  If there was any place in the world that would stand still it would be Andover.  But it did not stand still and its professors in spite of all their progress and oaths would yet get into the kingdom of heaven after all.  Progress has been made in praying and they will yet get so as to pray in a sensible, pleasant and profitable manner.  There has also been progress in preaching.  When I was twenty-two years of age I was ordained.  When the process was finished I began to wonder that I was the same man as before.  I had taken my medicine and I naturally waited for its operation.  I used to preach a vicarious atonement, a trinity (as if a mathematical lie could be a theological truth,) an endless hell, an angry God and a roaring devil; but we have progressed a long ways in advance of that kind of preaching now.  Among other stories, the preacher told one connected with the execution of John Brown, when his captors offered to send for a clergyman to pray with him (wherever anybody was going to die, or be born, or be married, or be hung, the ministers were sure to be ‘round.)  John Brown said he would rather have the prayers of one negro rather than of all the slave holding clergymen in Virginia.  The speaker poured out his ridicule upon the doctrines and institutions of the Church at a much greater length than we have here space to report.

Adjourned, after singing.

“National Convention of Spiritualists,” The Providence Journal, August 23, 1866.


At nine o’clock, business session resolutions were presented by Warren Chase, Henry C. Wright, C. W. Burnham, J. R. [B. J.?] Butts, and others, which were referred to a committee on resolutions, composed of the following delegates:

Wisconsin, Miss Mary A. Taylor; Massachusetts, Rufus Elmer; Illinois, Warren Chase; Vermont, J. Madison Allyn; Connecticut, J. S. Loveland; Missouri, N. O. Archer; Ohio, A. E. Macomber; Maryland, Washington A. Danskin; California, Mrs. A. Kimball; Rhode Island, William Foster, Jr.; New Hampshire, N. L. Fowler; Maine, Samuel Woodman; New Jersey, L. K. Coonley; Michigan, Selden J. Finney; Pennsylvania, Lewis Belrose; Indiana, F. L. Wadsworth; New York, H. B. Storer; District of Columbia, Dr. J. A. Rowland.

After the appointment of a committee on resolutions, a report was made by the business committee, proposing as a subject for the morning’s deliberations the following:

“Spiritualism and the best manner of disseminating a knowledge of its facts and philosophy.”

The idea of following out a programme made to order by a committee seemed at this stage to meet with great opposition.

[   ] a committee [    ] with the purpose of opening a wider range of discussions, and giving the floor to others than delegates, moved that a committee of one from each State delegation be appointed to take into consideration the resolutions then standing as the constitution of the Convention, alter, amend, revise or annul them as they might deem best, and report their action.

Mr. Frank Chase, of Sutton, N. H., opposed the appointment of such a committee, and the making of the contemplated changes in the constitution.  He said that heretofore mass conventions had been held, at which, as they were open to all speakers, many persons partially deranged or but partially developed as mediums had taken part, that their crudities had been reported in the newspapers, and had rendered the whole subject of Spiritualism ridiculous to the public.  The makers of the constitution saw this evil, and guarded against it in the provision which it was proposed to annul, in order to exclude from speaking that class of persons who could not behave decently before the public.

Mr. Finney was not prepared to see the Spiritualists of this country, commissioned from the land of the free and the pure, limit their expressions and purposes in a world full of chains and slavery.  The gods propose the elevation and spiritualization and harmonization of mankind.  Let us not stop discussion until man stands erect, disenthralled and free, until free discussion, like the everlasting flames of eternal justice from the throne of God, shall blaze and burn like molten glory all the oppressive institutions of the land.

Mr. Toohey complained that he had already been called to order for speaking when not a delegate to the Convention—a man like him who had borne contumely and reproach and poverty all his life for the cause of Spiritualism.  By keeping his eyes and ears (both of which were quite large) wide open, he had been able to discover that there was a good deal being done in the way of nursing the Convention.  Some persons were doing the dry nursing and some the wet nursing, and between them it was likely to become a very respectable body.  For Spiritualists to affect so much respectability savored to him of snobbery.  It was contrived to give the offices to some three or four men who resigned them to others of their own selection.  Any old Spiritualist, whether a delegate or not, had a right to be heard in the deliberations, though only delegates could give the final decision upon the question.  Appeal had been made to ecclesiastical usage.  What did he care for the church?  It was one grand piece of balderdash from beginning to end.  All the idiots collected in the universe could not make a systematic hodge-podge than the church had kept up in the nineteenth century.  To bring its usages into this Convention seemed to him to border on the back ages and the back brain, rather than on progress and the future.

The discussion was continued by Mr. Fish of Philadelphia, Dr. H. T. Child of Boston, Frank Chase of New Hampshire, Frank L. Wadsworth of Chicago, H. B. Storer of Newport, and others.

Miss Hutchinson, of Charlestown, Mass., finally took the stand and said: I have labored for years in the cause of Spiritualism, and yet I have ever been ashamed of Spiritualists.  I have never found a whole-souled, noble Spiritualist yet.  They are as scarce as have ever been Christians.  I had hoped that this Convention would be constituted upon a basis of resolutions which would be something more than dead letters going back to a dead past.  If there is to be one single soul shut out of from this Convention, I hope I shall be that soul.  If there is a single soul going to hell, I want to go with it.  If there is work to do in the lower regions, I desire to go and help the Eternal Father to do it.  How is Jesus Christ’s temple to be built but by taking human souls out of the rubbish and placing them in the highest seats of heaven.  The manner of the church is to put human souls down deep into the mire, and tell them to stay there, while its members, the more known and favored, expect to ride rough-shod into heaven.  Let us have something that shall be world-wide—something that we shall not be ashamed of in the future.

The question was then taken, and the motion to appoint the committee was adopted.

At eleven o’clock an address was made by Dr. H. T. Child, of Boston.  He commenced by quoting a saying of “Dr. Lazarus”: Treat the devil with hospitality and he will leave your house without breaking the furniture to pieces.  Systems of education, based on forced obedience to the mandates of another will, was a good definition for the devil.  In the darkness of ignorance, by force and compulsion, the idea of hell has been conceived.  Spiritualism has bridge the gulf between Abraham’s bosom and the rich man’s hell.  Christianity was appointed to redeem the world from darkness, and spiritualism is the first fundamental manifestation of its redemption.  The Church has a long hard road of progress to go over yet, in coming to Charles Fourier and to Jesus Christ.  Is the Church an organized profanity?  Is it an organization without base, and will it vanish away?  The Church would not believe it, though an angel should come down from heaven and tell it that Lucifer was its commander-in-chief.  What does the Church and what does the State know of Christ and of Fourier; of magnetism and affinity.  Only to turn up the lip at all of them saving the first?  The Church has employed half to world to send the other half to hell.  There never was a sin committed in the blindness of darkness.  Clear intelligence commits sin, and punishes none.  Let us give thanks for the rising light that has driven away from the hearts and the minds of men that dismal phantom, that shadow of ignorance, folly and selfishness, eternal damnation for others, and never for self.  Let thanks giving be added to thanksgiving for every blow that is struck to weaken the superstructure of human law—law which by the hand of man, punishes man for doing wrong.


The afternoon session was devoted to the consideration of the subject of the Children’s Progressive Lyceum.  Mr. Dyott, of Philadelphia, made an address upon the importance of extending the Lyceum movement.  It was analogous to the Sunday School, which had given the church its power, and without which the church would dwindle into insignificance.  The speaker considered at length “the deleterious influences of orthodox Sunday Schools,” and compared these with the pure and elevating teachings of the Lyceum.  the former stuffed the minds of pupils full of musty dogmas and enjoined an unqualified belief in the same under penalty of everlasting punishment, compelled children to sing hymns of praise to a God they were taught to fear, and who had given them a depraved nature, which, if they did not change, without any power to do so, would ensure their punishment with everlasting burnings.

A committee to prepare an address to the world was appointed as follows: S. J. Finney, H. B. Storer, Leo Miller, J. M. Peebles, Mrs. M. S. Townsend, Miss S. A. Grimes, Warren Chase.

The committee on amendments to the constitution was also announced.

The following resolution, reported by the committee on resolutions, was adopted, after the discussion which is briefly reported below:

Resolved, As reason and experience teach that our early education has a lasting effect on our lives and opinions, and is hard to eradicate by reason, even when totally false, that therefore to be religious we should discountenance all sectarian teaching and Sunday school discipline of children which fills their minds with religious errors, false ideas of God and nature, and build up such systems of physical and mental gymnastics as are taught and practiced in the Children’s Progressive Lyceums of the Spiritualists.

Mr. Peebles wanted to amend by inserting “moral gymnastics” also.

Mr. Child, of Boston, would like to inquire what a moral gymnastic was?

Mr. Peebles answered the question in an extended speech.  The idea of the Progressive Lyceum was conceived in heaven, communicated by angels, impressed upon Andrew Jackson Davis’s highly inspired brain, and through him given tot he world to make harmonial men.  Yet even Spiritualists would send their children to sectarian Sunday Schools to learn doctrines that must make them miserable and cause unspeakable sorrow and anguish.

Mr. S. J. Finney said that the old idea was that mortals were something that must be put into the child, as corn is stuffed into a fatting turkey, not that the child had a moral nature to develop.  Man was the incarnation of all God’s flaming geometry, and the moral was the measure of the man.  He who has planted himself on education’s everlasting instincts will be remembered, though his body be consumed with flame.  His genius will cast a shadow in the world that shall touch the far horizon of history.

Mr. Plimpton, of Troy, told a story of a Spiritualist father who was induced to take the anti-tobacco pledge such as is given to the members of the Lyceum, by the spirit of his child who had died before taking it.

Mr. A. E. Carpenter said that if he were going to study natural theology he would go to the child and ask him questions.  The responses that came from that source, would, like a stream from the hill-side, flow directly from the bosom of mother nature.

Mr. H. C. Wright said the baby question was the great question of the world.

John Pierpont, the poet, instead of an address, gave an original song for the use of Lyceums.  He said the old Greek poet Anacreon lived to the age of eighty years, and more, and made songs in praise of wine.  The speaker too was over eighty years of age, and he would make a song in praise of water.  It was as follows:

When the bright morning star the new daylight is bringing,
And the orchards and groves are with melody ringing,
And away to and from them the early birds winging,
And their anthems of gladness and gratitude singing,
Why do they so twitter and sing do you think?
Because they’ve had nothing but water to drink.

When a shower in a hot day of summer is over,
And the fields are all smiling, with white and red clover,
And the honey bee, busy as plundering rover,
Is tumbling the blossom leaves over and over,
Why so fresh, clean and sweet are the fields do you think?
Because they’ve had nothing but water to drink.

Do you see that stout oak on its windy hill growing?
Do you see what great hailstones that black cloud is throwing?
Do you see that stout war-ship its ocean-way going
Against trade winds and head winds like hurricanes blowing?
Why so strong are oaks, clouds and war-ships do you think?
Because they’ve had nothing but water to drink.

Now if we have to work in the shop, field or study,
And would have a strong hand, and a cheek that is ruddy,
And would not have a brain that is addled and muddy,
With our eyes all “bunged up” and our noses all bloody,
How shall we make and keep ourselves so do you think?
Why you must have nothing but water to drink.

It was voted to have the song set to music by a lady who writes music under spiritual inspiration, and published in the Lyceum Bouquet, an Illinois Spiritual paper.

Mrs. Kimball, of California, and Mrs. Rudd continued the exercises which were analogous to what would have been called a conference on the subject of Sunday Schools, if held by any other religious sect.  The latter speaker said that wherever children were to be found, theological hounds were on their track striving to fill their minds with the old church errors.  The addresses were embellished with affecting stories of juvenile piety.  All who participated spoke with great unction, and to use a word from their vocabulary seemed to “enthusaize” greatly in their exhortations.

Mrs. Albertson, of Boston, made the concluding address.

In the evening, the regular address were by Dr. H. T. Child, of Philadelphia, on “Spiritualism, the young Giant” and by Mrs. M. S. Townsend, of Vermont, on “The Education of Children and the Progressive Lyceum.”

To-day the convention will make an excursion to Rocky Point as announced in another column.  The speaking, singing and other exercises, will afford unusual inducements to the public to visit this delightful resort.

“The Pic-Nic of the Spiritualists,” The Providence Journal, August 24, 1866.

By the Rocky Point Line.


Special Dispatch to the Bulletin:

Rocky Point is thronged with guests to-day.  The festivities of the Spiritualist pic-nic are progressing without interruption from the occasional slight showers.

About 3000 people arrived in the morning boats from Providence, of whom probably some 1400 are spiritualists.  The delegates from abroad are delighted with the scenery of the place, and the means provided by Mr. Humphreys.  They are about to take their first taste of Rhode Island clams.

There has been dancing in the verandah all the morning.  The afternoon will be devoted to speaking in the grove.  The boats will probably make an extra trip.

All the “manifestations” at present are those of a pleasant occasion, upon which all good spirits will look with approval.  They are evidently not so absorbed in spiritual contemplations as to be unable to appreciate the good things of this life.


“National Convention of Spiritualists,” The Providence Journal, August 24, 1866.

The Spiritual clambake at Rocky Point, Thursday, was a success in respect to the numbers who attended it and the pleasure which it afforded.  There was a very large company on the grounds, including some three thousand from Providence and three hundred and fifty from Taunton.  F. A. Holmes’s Brass Band, sixteen pieces, came over from the latter place.  The splendid music of Shepard’s Band, now regularly employed at the Point, was discoursed throughout the day to the great enjoyment of a throng of dancers and promenaders.  A severe rain storm in the afternoon confined the excursionists within doors.  The speaking took place at one o’clock in the hall.

Mr. Toohey made a humorous speech on the advantages of laughter, and Messrs. H. C. Wright, Charles H. Hayden, and Rufus Elmer discoursed of the purposes and principles of Spiritualism.  Test mediums and medical clairvoyants did a brisk business during the afternoon, describing absent friends, answering mental questions defining diseases, &c.  Persons also spoke while under the spiritual influence before small circles of friends.  The party was brought back to this city in a very uncomfortable condition from the drenching rain.


The convention reassembled at Pratt’s Hall at eight o’clock on Thursday evening.

The committee on resolutions reported the following:

Resolved, That no question of general human well being is foreign to the spirit, idea, or genius of the great spiritual movement.

Whereas, Spiritualism is the subjugation of the carnal to the spiritual, the animal to the God in man; therefore

Resolved, That as Spiritualists we are sacredly bound to cease from all practices that tend to develop and strengthen the carnal or animal at the expense of the spiritual and divine elements of our nature.

Resolved, That war and all preparations for war tend to develop and strengthen the animal passions and propensities of human nature at the expense of love, justice, truth, mercy, forgiveness and all its moral and spiritual elements.

Resolved, That as Spiritualists we accept its as a “self evident” truth that all are created “equal,” and that in regard to suffrage and all other rights we recognize the equality of all before God and the law without regard to sex or color.

The first resolution was discussed at length by Messrs. Storer, Plimpton and Sprague, Warren Chase, Toohey, Elmer, and adopted.

The second resolution was discussed by Messrs. Toohey, Loveland, Wright, Peebles, Robinson, Gardner, Elmer, and others.

Mr. Wheeler said that the term morality was not recognized among the Spiritualists.  They had nothing to do with special reforms, but only with Spiritualism.  Hell itself, if you raise it high enough, becomes the golden floor of Heaven.  The very things most adapted to injure us, may be made the means of our salvation.  Drunkenness is just as good as soberness.  Vice is just as good as virtue.  The devil is the equal of God, and hell is just as sweet a place as heaven.  That is a fact, and we have got to acknowledge it.  These disorderly manifestations are like pain in the physical system which warns us that we are trespassing on the laws of life.  We have not, as Spiritualists, acknowledged that there is such a thing as moral obligation.  We have stood up and denied the right of law to be law, and of virtue to be virtue.  We have only denied, we have not affirmed anything; because we have had no stand point from which we dare affirm anything.

Mr. Perry said the first words of the resolution should kill it.  The word sacred we have ignored as used by the sectarian theology of the age.  That theology has sacred hours, sacred Sabbaths, sacred books.  As a Spiritualist, I have yet to learn that we hold anything as sacred, and I am opposed to any resolution that has the word sacred in it.

The debate was continued by Dr. Finney, who protested against the expressions of the last speaker, and by Mr. Plimpton and others, when the Convention adjourned without having come to a vote.

“National Convention of Spiritualists,” The Providence Journal, August 25, 1866.


The Convention met at nine o’clock, and took up the resolutions reported by the committee on that subject.  The second of the series was adopted, and the third (the peace plank in the platform) was laid on the table extended discussion.

The Committee on alterations in the Constitution reported a draft for a new instrument embodying the following resolutions among others:

Resolved, That in adopting these articles this Convention has no power or wish to prescribe a creed, or in any way fetter the belief, or limit the freedom of any individual mind; but that we declare our object to the discovery of truth, and its practical application to the affairs and interests of human life; that we recognize everything that tends to the enfranchisement, development and true welfare of human beings, as embraced within the range of the spiritual philosophy, and of the purposes of this national organization.

Resolved, That any person not a delegate, may by invitation of the Convention, its business committee resident, take part in the deliberations or discussions, but shall not thereby be permitted to vote.

Mr. Miller would be happy to see the clergymen of Providence come into our discussions and refute if possible the eternal facts and philosophy of Spiritualism.

Mr. Wright applauded the proposed resolutions—The Convention had a right to protect itself against Leo Miller, A. T. Foss, Andrew Johnson, or the devil himself, but should not be exclusive beyond the point which protection required.

Mr. Toohey said that if the Convention within the hall was willing to invite the champions of a played out theology, which was dead among all intellectual and thinking men long before Spiritualism was born, it certainly should be willing to invite the council of the Heavens to its deliberations.  In the last Convention there were two or three crazy people, but why should we thence suppose, that if we have a free platform all the crazy people in the world will come upon it?  Are we elected by virtue of the eternal decrees to an affinity with all the madmen in the nation?

Mr. Toohey read a minority report from the committee.

Dr. Finney said it could not be expected that the talent of the Spiritual connection would spend $150 apiece to attend a convention the platform of which, like a bone between contending dogs, was made the object of a scramble among babblers.  The making it so was simply an invitation to men of inspiration, genius and character, to stay at home.  And if there were angels on the other side of Jordan so disorderly and obtrusive as to come uninvited into a convention, insult its decorum, and crowd its men of talent off the rostrum, he would say, “Slam the door in their faces.”  If any spirit proposed to ride roughshod over that platform, he would find at least one man in his pathway.

Mr. Gardner advocated the majority report.

Mr. Toohey said Dr. Gardner was a plastic as a piece of pudding.

Dr. Gardner—Perhaps you had better swallow him.

Mr. Toohey—I am competent to take my share of him at any time, morally or intellectually.  You have bull-dogged this Convention long enough.  I will confine myself to the question when I am dealing with gentlemen, but when dealing with blackguards I will not.

Mr. Wheeler—I am sitting here in pain, and must try if I shall not feel better standing up.  Brother Toohey is so pugnacious that he even fights Brother Toohey himself.

The resolutions were further discussed by Mrs. Albertson, Warren Chase, and Sarah A. Horton, of Vermont.  The constitution reported was then adopted.

Dr. Finney presented a resolution, which was adopted, providing for the appointment of six persons of well-known ability and culture to prepare essays for the next Convention on nine specified subjects.  He said that Spiritualism embodied those central ideas which were working the moral and intellectual revolution of the century.  The old religion is dying out—Your Protestantism does not keep pace with the increase of population.  Your sacraments are being deserted.  Around Spiritualism all the central energies of the American life are clustering, because Spiritualism is a native American religion.  We have become tire of importing our theology, and ringing the changes on the mythologies of India and Judea.  We are thrown together to frictionize into the loftiest activity.  There comes to us a new spiritual revelation, a new church which shall be God’s spiritual republic, based on the eternal democracy of souls.  In this great movement all the religions of the world are to find their standard born of the Union and of the types of humanity in a cosmopolitan geography, the die of which was cast in the forges of Divine Providence.  Those who are to utter its voice should have time to bring before the world the best possible statement of its principles, since these have more proofs to support them than have all other systems of philosophy put together.

The following is the resolution offered by Dr. F.:

Resolved, That we recommend the appointment by this Convention of a committee of six persons of known ability and culture to address the next Annual National Union, on the following subjects:

1. The Origin and Progress of Modern Spiritualism.
2. Ancient Historic Spiritualism.
3. The Type of Spiritual Philosophy; Is it a new type? What is its type or genius?
4. The Relations of the Spiritual Philosophy to the other so-called “systems of Philosophy.
5. The Religion of the Spiritual Movement.
6. The Spiritual Idea of Man and his Relations.
7. The Spiritual Idea and Method of Education.
8. The Reforms growing out of the Spiritual Idea and Movement.
9. The Philosophy of Mediumship.

And to make the most complete and perfect preparation possible in the production of the essays.

Mr. Wright said this resolution would not abridge freedom of thought.  He had acted in more than five hundred conventions, and was never afraid to be in a minority.  He offered a resolution which was adopted, providing for the appointment of a committee of five to draft resolutions for the next convention.

Thanks were voted to Mr. L. H. Humphrey, of Rocky Point, for the free use of his large hall yesterday.

A resolution was adopted providing for the appointment of a committee of five to examine spiritual phenomena in their physical, physiological and psychological characteristics, and report to the next Convention the different phases of the phenomena, and whether all manifestations called spiritual proceeded from spirits, and if not, what proportion probably originated with spirits, and what proportion could be otherwise accounted for.

The following is the resolution:

Whereas, We have in this century a revival of phenomena now known as the “Spiritual Phenomena;’ and, whereas, they appear in their present aspect so complicated with vital human relations and experiences that they are rendered difficult to define and state with exactness or certainty; and whereas, in the promulgation of Spiritual Philosophy and the founding of institutions for its practical application, it is required that the facts be clearly defined and laws understood, that nothing shall be supposed or admitted on appearances; therefore,

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed by the President, whose duty it shall be to examine the spiritual phenomena and psychological characteristics and report to the next National Spiritual Convention,

1st. The different phases of phenomena.
2d. Do all manifestations called “Spiritual” proceed from spirits?
3d. What proportion of these modern manifestations probably originate with spirits, and what part can be accounted by other causes, and such other practical matter as may be contributed to the better definition of our relations in life.

A contribution was taken up for the spiritualist suffers of Portland, amounting to $141.

Five thousand copies of Pierpont’s cold water song were order to be printed and distributed among the Children’s Lyceums.

Mr. Dyott introduced the following resolution:

Resolved, That is deemed a legitimate and important subject for investigation, discussion and reasonable analysis, and that, in the opinion of this Convention, the papers purporting to be representatives of the spiritual philosophy or claim to be the organs of the Spiritualists should, in justice to the cause, allow both sides an equal opportunity of presentation to their readers, permitting them to be judges of what is true or false.

Mr. D. read a paper in support of his resolution, in which he said that the performances of miserable tricksters like the Davenports and the Messrs. Fay and Church were notoriously of mundane origin; that he had tried in vain to get the spiritual papers to publish articles affirming them to be such; that on the contrary those papers affirm these performances to be spiritual manifestations, and that hence Spiritualists were necessarily accountable for these juggleries which to the majority of thinking and reasoning minds were the greatest of absurdities and the most consummate nonsense, appealing to no faculty of the human organism but its credulity.  These deceptions were publicly endorsed and proclaimed to the world to be the foundation of Spiritualism.

The resolution and remarks of Mr. Dyott called forth much sharp disputation, occupying the entire afternoon.

The speakers were Mr. Giles of Boston, Dr. Finney, Mr. Coonley, Mr. Wadsworth, Mr. Crowell of the Banner of Light, Miss Chappelle, Miss Townsend and others.

Mr. J. G. Fish said that protracted meetings were often held at which persons were alleged to be converted by the operation of the spirit of God.  But they had ascertained that they could produce all the phenomena manifested in such cases without calling in the aid of the Divine spirit.  Since there were spiritual phenomena that could not be accounted for upon purely mundane principles, it had been assumed that these phenomena must necessarily be spiritual.  But in investigating them upon mundane principles, it had been forgotten that tricks were mundane.  Exposures of these tricks would have been made long ago, but for the facts that the manuscript articles written to expose them were retained for a long time by the editors of the papers to which they were sent, and then mailed to the writers with the postage unpaid.

Mr. A. T. Foss opposed the resolution.  He had seen the Davenport Brothers, and investigated the phenomena of their performances, and was fully convinced that they were mediums through whom spiritual beings spoke to men.

At the close of the debate, the resolution was indefinitely postponed.


The first address was made by B. Randolph, of Louisiana, who made a fervid appeal in behalf of the colored people of the South, among whom he is laboring.  He referred to President Johnson in no very complimentary language, and intimated that the freedmen looked upon him as a recreant President.  He attached great importance to dreams and spiritual revelations made to him for his personal guidance.  A dream had told him how to teach the colored children in the quickest possible time.  He taught them how to think first, and could make them read before they knew A from B.  Children taken from the streets had been taught to read in seven weeks, and also, and also to write a little.  This success was due to the fact that the harmonic and spiritualistic method was employed.  In riding round from parish to parish, he often saw murders committed which he reported.  As a consequence his life was threatened.  His friends told him to leave the country, or he would be strung up.  But dreams told him just the road his would-be assassins were coming, and he was thus enabled to avoid them.  He dreamed himself out of their clutches.

An address was also made by Lizzie Doten, of Boston.  She said that in every organization, it was necessary that there should be some central man.  She had not yet heard of any among the Spiritualists.  Make your great centre of truth, of action, and of life, and the world will rush to it with open arms.  Just as soon as the great centralizing idea of an organization begins to put a limit to itself, decay commences.  I fear for Spiritualism when the strong begins to dictate to the weak.  Your only safety consists in this, that you each retain your individuality.  Keep your eye single to the truth, and use your organization as your instrument for doing good to humanity.  Be true to principle, though your organization be scattered to the winds.  Be not its servants, but let it be your servant and instrument for philanthropic action.

The evening addresses were eloquent and the hall was crowded.

“National Convention of Spiritualists,” The Providence Journal, August 27, 1866.


The convention met at 9 o’clock, and Dr. George Dutton, from the committee on education, made the following report:

“The cause of education, embracing as it does all movements that tend to develop the minds and bodies of the human race in symmetry and perfection, is of superior importance.  And we believe that ignorance, directly or indirectly, is the one source of crime and bane of society, and that education is the grand lever or system of levers with which to remove colossal error.

“The Spiritualists, by reason of the purity and grand simplicity of their philosophy, are pre-eminently qualified to be standard bearers in this cause of education.

“To this end we suggest that the National Convention of Spiritualists of these United States found and endow a National Spiritual College, where the true education in the arts and sciences, and the most complete and symmetrical developments of body and mind be the objects sought; and that the same forever remain the property of the Convention.  Then every Spiritualist in the land will have an interest in the movement and a voice in its direction.

“For immediate action in this movement, we further suggest that this Convention appoint A. J. Davis, of orange, N. J., a receiver of the College fund, and some suitable person scribe, who shall record all donations and subscriptions, and put on file the receiver’s receipt, transmitted through the donor, and so soon as sufficient funds have been procured, the National Convention do then proceed to appoint a committee or otherwise locate and put in operation the working of the College.”

The report was discussed by Dr. Dutton, Messrs. Wheeler, Finney, J. Madison Allen, of Vermont, J. G. Fish of New Jersey, Atwood of Troy, Sprague of Schenectady, Toohey of Boston, Plimpton of Lowell.

Mr. Finney said that the only way in which spirituality in our methods of education could be attained, was by having half of the faculty of every college females.  The present system had resulted from following the precepts of that miserable old bachelor St. Paul, who said, “I suffer not a woman to teach.”

The whole matter was recommitted to a new committee, consisting of one from each State, viz:

A. B. Plympton, Mass.; Dr. P. B. Randolph, La.; J. G. Fish, N. J.; Mrs. C. A. Dye, Ill.; Dr. George Dutton, Vt.; T. J. Whitehead, Me.; Anson Atwood, N. Y.; Isaac Corbett, Md.; A. E. Carpenter, Conn.; Mrs. Harmony Post, Cal.; M. B. Dyott, Pa.; F. L. Wadsworth, Ind.; S. J. Finney, Mich.; J. M. Peebles, Ohio; J. A. Rowland, D. C.; W. Foster, Jr., R. I.; Dr. H. G. Brown, Wis.; Frank Chase, N. H.

The following resolution was introduced by the committee on resolutions and adopted:

Resolved, That we regard the report of the discussion on Thursday evening, in the Providence Journal of August 25th, as a gross misrepresentation of the views and feelings of the convention; and we do hereby disclaim it as a libel on the views of Spiritualists, inasmuch as it gives what purports to be the sentiments of Mr. Wheeler, as expressive of our views, while it reports not a word of Mr. Finney’s speech, which really expressed the views of the convention.

Mr. Wadsworth, from the committee on resolutions, reported the following:

Resolved, That since it is the central idea of our American civilization that all men are created free and equal, and that taxation without representation is tyranny, justice, honor, liberty and the constitution itself demand the extension of the elective franchise to colored American citizens.

The foregoing was discussed by Messrs. Perry, Randolph, J. M. Allen, Sprague, Leo Miller, A. T. Foss, and others.  The resolution was adopted.


A resolution was adopted approving the efforts made by P. B. Randolph to found a National Normal Institution for the education of colored teachers and providing for subscriptions; favoring the extension of the elective franchise to women; thanking the Spiritualists of Providence for their hospitalities, and pledging opposition to the use of alcoholic drinks and tobacco.

Leo Miller addressed the convention upon general subjects connected with spiritualistic and reform movements.

Pierpont’s cold water song, as set to music by V. E. Marston, of Nashua, N. H., was sung by a choir.

The education committee reported, recommending the establishment of a Spiritualist College and appointing a committee to raise funds.

In the evening there were addresses by J. S. Loveland on “The Basis or Standard of Morals,” and Mrs. S. A. Horton, on “The Power of Spiritualism.”

Sunday morning was appropriated to the services of the Children’s Progressive Lyceum.  In the afternoon addresses were made by Mrs. M. S. Townsend and Mr. S. J. Finney.  The following additional committee to prepare the essays provided for by resolution was appointed, viz.: Messrs. N. Frank White, Leo Miller, H. B. Storer.  The exercises of the Convention closed Sunday evening, when addresses were made by Messrs. H. B. Storer, of New York, J. B. Harrison, of Indiana, and Leo Miller, who presided.  P. B. Randolph was appointed a delegate to represent this body in the loyal convention to meet in Philadelphia on the third of September next.  Rev. J. M. Peebles pronounced the benediction, when the Convention adjourned to meet at the call of the executive committee at such time and place as they may designate.


“The Spiritual Convention,” The New York Times, September 2, 1866.

We have looked over the proceedings of the National Convention of Spiritualists, recently assembled at Providence, with some interest, desirous to see, if possible, what such a Convention was intended to accomplish; but we are as much in the dark now as before the Convention met.  The body had a regular form; it had a Chairman and Secretaries, and discussions over the qualifications of membership, and a Committee on Resolutions, but the machinery seemed to be put in motion for no purpose except the motion itself.  The Committee on Resolutions seem to have done most of the work, and no small work either, reporting at various times various sets of resolutions, which remind us of the famous treatise “about all things, and some other things,” and the debate upon them in the Convention branched out even more widely than the resolutions themselves.

The resolutions, after stating that “no question of general human well-being is foreign to the spirit, ideas or genius of the great Spiritual movement,” resolved first against all practices which develop the animal at the expense of the spiritual; next against war; third, in favor of universal suffrage without distinction of sex or color;  next that Spiritualists are required to “place before the world a statement of the basic principles of their philosophy;” next that a universal alphabet and a new orthography are demanded, and that Spiritualism ought to establish such a system; next in favor of abstinence from intoxicating liquor; next against the use of tobacco; next in favor of women’s voting; next in favor of negroes voting; next in favor of education and [Pascal Beverly] RANDOLPH’s National Normal Institute for Colored Teachers and subscriptions for the same; next that it is “an imperative duty for all to give a full and just equivalent for all they may consume;” next that the object of life is not to make machines of men, but to cultivate all their faculties; next in favor of less work and higher pay; next that the report of one of their sessions in a Providence paper was a misrepresentation; and finally that they thanked the Spiritual Society of Providence for hospitality, and Miss PHEBE HULL for helping them.

Was there ever such a conglomeration of subjects?  They form a mixture of commonplace truisms with doubtful, strange and dreamy theories—of vague generalities with particular propositions—just about such as one would expect from that class of people whose brains are addled with fancies of intercourse with spirits in the other world.

A witness who had testified to hearing a man swear was asked if he swore at anyone in particular, and answered no; that he just “stood in the middle of the street, and swore at large.”  This Spiritual Convention seems to have resolved in pretty much the same way.

There were, however, two matters brought before the Convention which had a practical bearing—one was an attack upon those mediums, so-called, who operate only in the dark, in an essay read by a Mr. DYOTT, of Philadelphia, who challenged proof that “dark circle manifestations” were either authentic or useful—a challenge which no one seems to have taken up.  A resolution in favor of the discussion and investigation of the matter was, however, indefinitely postponed.  Probably the Convention were secretly conscious that if these manifestations in the dark were examined and exploded, the explosion would carry away so much of spiritualism that what was left would not be worth much.

The other was the appointment of a Committee of five “to examine spiritual phenomena in their physical and psychological characteristics,” and to report upon three subjects, viz.: “1. The different phases of phenomena.  2. Do all manifestations called ‘spiritual’ proceed from spirits?  3. What proportion of these probably originate with spirits, and what part can be accounted for by other causes?”

Here now is something that looks like business.  If we were a believer in spiritualism, we should be glad to have such a Committee appointed, one whose examination would have weight not only with spiritualists, but with others, and let a full and unprejudiced report follow a careful and honest investigation.  But there is no danger of anything of that kind.  The report, we will venture to say, is already practically settled upon, and will have no influence except upon those who are convinced already.  Even this little bit of practical work, however, could not be left simply by itself, for the Committee was also directed to report “such other statistical matter as may contribute to the better definition of our relations in life,” which, to say the least of it, gives the Committee a very wide field for their labors.

It seems lamentable that there should be such a waste of menial effort as is involved in such a Convention as this!  In a world where there is so much need of work and thought for the practical elevation and help of mankind, it seems a pity that all this time and thought should be wasted upon such nonsense—and the worst of it is, that the people do not think it is a waste, but actually think they are doing something for the good of the race—when they are only laboring to fill that

“—limbo large and broad, since called
The Paradise of fools, to few unknown.”

in which “the basic principles of their philosophy” had their origin, and will ultimately find their resting-place.


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