The American Association of Spiritualists

Constitution; resolutions on spiritualism.

Constitution of the American Association of Spiritualists and Some of the Resolutions Adopted at the Fifth National Convention, Held at Rochester, N. Y., August 25th to 28th, 1868, with an Address to the Spiritualists of America, by the Board of Trustees of the Association, to Which is Added a Form of Constitution for Local Societies. Philadelphia: Rawlings & Zeising, 1868.

A constitution was adopted only at the 5th annual national convention of spiritualists.  In itself, this fact demonstrates something of the difficulty that spiritualists encountered in trying to organize themselves.

Adopted at the Fifth National Convention,
held at Rochester, N. Y.,
August 28th, 1868.

The undersigned, feeling the necessity of a Religious Organization free from the trammels of sect or dogma, and more in accordance with the spirit of American Institutions as manifested to the world by the Declaration of Independence, than any Religious Organization now existing; believe that the time has come for concentrated action.  While we seek after all truth, and believe that in united and associative action, under proper system and order, these objects can be most successfully reached, hereby unite ourselves together, under the following



This Association shall be known as the “American Association of Spiritualists.”


Its objects shall be to co-operate with State and Local Organizations, in the promulgation of the SPIRITUAL PHILOSOPHY and its teachings, aid in the organization of Local and State Societies, where no State Association has been formed; and encourage the establishment of at least one National College, for the education of persons of both sexes, on terms of equality, free from all sectarian dogmas, where our children may be educated in accordance with the progressive developments of the age.

ARTICLE III—Membership.

Any person may become a member by signing the Articles of Association, or causing the same to be done, and paying any sum not less than five dollars; which amount shall be paid annually thereafter, and any member may withdraw at any time, without being required to give reasons therefor.  The payment of the sum of fifty dollars in one year shall constitute a person a life member of the Association.

ARTICLE IV—Officers.

The Officers of the Association shall be a President, and as many Vice Presidents as there are organized State, District, Territorial or Provincial Associations, the Presidents of such, being ex-officio Vice Presidents of this Association, and authorized to act as such, after signing these articles, and paying as above; one Secretary, one Treasurer, and a Board of six Trustees, not more than two of whom shall be from any one State, who shall serve three years.  After the first election, the Trustees elect shall determine by lot, which two of them shall serve one, two, or three years, and two Trustees shall be thereafter elected annually, who shall serve three years.  The Officers shall be elected by ballot, and serve until their successors are elected.  The Treasurer shall give bonds in such amount as the Board of Trustees shall order.  The President, Secretary and Treasurer, shall be elected annually, and shall be ex-officio members of the Board of Trustees.  The duties of officers shall be such as pertain usually to officers of like character, in regularly organized bodies.

ARTICLE V—Trustees.

The Board of Trustees shall have entire control of all business matters of the Association; they shall meet quarterly for the transaction of business, at such places as the President of the Board may indicate, or they may determine from time to time.  Five members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

ARTICLE VI—The Duties of Trustees.

SEC. 1.  The Trustees are hereby constituted a Missionary Board, and it shall be their duty to employ as many Missionaries as the funds in the Treasury will permit; to assign them to fields of labor, and require from them written monthly reports of all collections; all societies organized, with the names of officers, and such other duties as a majority of the Board may deem necessary to effect any of the objects of this Association, as provided for in Article II.

SEC. 2.  By-Laws.  They may adopt a code of By-Laws, for their own government, and this Association, which shall, however, be submitted to the first Annual Convention, to assemble thereafter, for approval.

SEC. 3.  Annual Reports.  They shall make an Annual Report to the Association, of all their doings, containing an accurate account of all moneys received and expended, from what sources received, and for what purposes expended; and in no case shall any money be paid from the treasury of this Association, for any other purpose or object, than that set forth in Article II, and then only by order of the President, countersigned by the Secretary.

ARTICLE VII—Annual Conventions.

At all Annual or Business Conventions of the American Association of Spiritualists, the business shall be conducted exclusively by the Delegates from the several State Organizations, each of which shall be entitled to the same number of Delegates that they have Representatives in Congress.  Provided, that each Territory and Province having an organized Society, shall be represented in this Convention, by the number of Representatives in such government, and that the District of Columbia shall be entitled to two Representatives in the Conventions.

ARTICLE VIII—Amendments.

This Constitution may be amended at any Annual Meeting of the Association, by a vote of two-thirds of all the members present: Provided, that Article III, as to membership, shall never be amended so as to prescribe any articles of faith or belief as a test of membership.

ARTICLE IX—Annual Meetings.

The annual meetings of this Association, will be held, commencing the last Tuesday in August, in each and every year, at such places as the Trustees may appoint.*

*NOTE—The members of the Board of Trustees, and their Missionaries, are the only persons authorized to obtain names, and collect funds for this Association.  For further particulars address the President or Secretary.  After the adoption of the Constitution by the convention, the following resolution, offered by Warren Chase, was unanimously adopted: That this Convention resolve itself into, and resign all its assets to, the American Association of Spiritualists.

DORUS M. FOX, President, Lyons, Michigan
HENRY T. CHILD, M. D., Secretary, 634 Race Street, Philadelphia
M. B. DYOTT, Treasurer, 114 South Second Street, Philadelphia


WARREN CHASE, 544 Broadway, New York
HANNAH F. M. BROWN, P. O. Drawer 5956, Chicago, Illinois
ALMON B. FRENCH, Clyde, Ohio
GEORGE A. BACON, Boston, Mass.
JOHN C. DEXTER, Ionia, Michigan

Adopted at the Fifth National Convention,
embodying essential truths of Modern Spiritualism.

1. That man has a spiritual nature as well as a corporeal; in other words, that the real man is a spirit, which spirit has an organized form, composed of spiritual substance, with parts and organs corresponding to those of the corporeal body.

2. That man, as a spirit, is immortal and has continued identity.  Being found to survive that change called physical death, it may be reasonably supposed that he will survive all future vicissitudes.

3. That there is a spirit-world, with its substantial realities, objective as well as subjective.

4. That the process of physical death in no way essentially transforms the mental constitution, or the moral character of those who experience it.

5. That happiness of suffering in the spirit-world, as in this, depends not on arbitrary decree, or special provision, but on character, aspirations and degree of harmonization, or of personal conformity to universal and divine law.

6. Hence that the experiences and attainments of this life lay the foundation on which the next commences.

7. That since growth is the law of the human being in the present life, and since the process called death is in fact but a birth into another condition of life, retaining all the advantages gained in the experiences of this life, it may be inferred that growth, development, or progression is the endless destiny of the human spirit.

8. That the spirit-world is near or around, and interblended with our present state of existence; and hence that we are constantly under the cognizance and influence of spiritual beings.

9. That as individuals are passing from the earthly to the spirit-world in all stages of mental and moral growth, that world includes all grades of character from the lowest to the highest.

10. That since happiness and misery depend on internal states, rather than on external surroundings, there must be as many grades of each in the spirit-world, as there are shades of character—each gravitating to his own place by the natural law of affinity.

11. That communications from the spirit-world, whether by mental impression, inspiration, or any other mode of transmission, are not necessarily infallible truths, but on the contrary partake unavoidably of the imperfections of the minds from which they emanate, and of the channels through which they come, and are, moreover, liable to misinterpretation by those to whom they are addressed.

12. Hence, that no inspired communication, in this or any past age (whatever claims may be or have been set up as to its source), is authoritative any farther than it expresses truth to the individual consciousness, which last is the final standard to which all inspired or spiritual teachings must be brought for test.

13. That inspiration, or the influx of ideas and promptings from the spirit-world, is not a miracle of a past age, but a perpetual fact, the ceaseless method of the divine economy for human elevation.

14. That all angelic and all demonic beings which have manifested themselves or interposed in human affairs in the past, were simply disembodied human spirits, or beings of like character and origin, in different grades of advancement.

15. That all authentic miracles (so called) in the past, such as the raising of the apparently dead, the healing of the sick by the laying on of hands or other simple means, power over deadly poisons, the movement of physical objects without visible instrumentality, etc., have been produced in harmony with universal laws, and hence may be repeated at any time under suitable conditions.

16. That the causes of all phenomena—the sources of all power, life and intelligence—are to be sought for in the internal or spiritual realm, not in the external or material.

17. That the chain of causation, traced backward from what we see in nature and in man, leads inevitably to a Creative Spirit, who must be not only a fount of life (Love), but a forming principle (Wisdom)—thus sustaining the dual parental relations of Father and Mother to all individualized intelligence, who, consequently, are all brethren.

18. That man, as the offspring of this Infinite Parent, is in some sense His image or finite embodiment; and that, by virtue of this parentage, each human being is, or has, in his inmost, a germ of divinity—an incorruptible off-shoot of the Divine Essence, which is ever prompting to good and right.

19. That all evil in man is inharmony with this divine principle; and hence whatever prompts and aids man to bring his external nature into subjection to, and harmony with the divine in him—in whatever religious system or formula it may be embodied—is a “means of salvation” from evil.

20. That the hearty and intelligent conviction of these truths, with a realization of spirit-communion, tends—

1st. To enkindle lofty desires and spiritual aspirations, an effect opposite to that of materialism, which limits existence to the present life.

2nd. To deliver from painful fears of death and dread of imaginary evils consequent thereupon, as well as to prevent inordinate sorrow and mourning for deceased friends.

3rd. To give a rational and inviting conception of the after-life to those who use the present worthily.

4th. To stimulate to the highest possible uses of the present life, in view of its momentous relations to the future.

5th. To energize the soul in all that is good and elevating, and to restrain from all that is evil and impure.  This must result, according to the laws of moral influence, from a knowledge of the constant presence or cognizance of the loved and the pure.

6th. To prompt our earnest endeavors, by purity of life, by unselfishness, and by loftiness of aspiration, to live constantly en rapport with the higher conditions of spirit-life and thought.

7th. To stimulate the mind to the largest investigation and the freest thought on all subjects, especially on the vital themes of spiritual philosophy and duty, that we may be qualified to judge for ourselves what is right and true.

8th. To deliver from all bondage to authority, whether vested in creed, book or church, except that of received truth.

9th. To cultivate self-reliance and careful investigation by taking away the support of authorities, and leaving each mind to exercise its own truth-determining powers.

10th. To quicken all philanthropic impulses, stimulating to enlightened and unselfish labors for universal human good, under the encouraging assurance that the redeemed and exalted spirits of our race, instead of retiring to idle away an eternity of inglorious ease, are encompassing us about as a great cloud of witnesses, inspiring us to the work, and aiding it forward to a certain and glorious issue.


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