The Word (Princeton, Mass.), July

The New England Labor Reform League; the New England Free Love League.

The Free Labor Movement

The Labor Reform League.  The special Convention of its New England Branch met in Boston May 19th, and 20th.  A. H. Wood the President making the opening address; Mr. Heywood presented resolutions and Henry Appleton, J. S. Verity, A. W. Stevens, Rev. J. M. L. Babcock, Prof. J. H. W. Toohey, J. N. Lee, H. N. Stone, Lucy M. Tilton, Annie W. Bowdrie, S. C. Fay, Dr. N. H. Dillingham, Joseph Sheafe, John M. Spear, W. G. H. Smart, C. H. Fernald, Mr. Bowdlear, Mr. Cluer, Mr. Staples, and others spoke.  Lysander Spooner, William B. Wright, H. W. Stevens, Mattie Sawyer, Ira Steward, and other notable friends of progress were present.  The attendance was good, the proceedings spirited, the newspaper reports liberal.  The leading objects of the League, viz.; the abolition of property in land and credit robbery which beget rent and usury, the removal of all restrictions on exchange and the repudiation of all so-called debts the principal of which has been paid in the form of interest were vigorously favored.  The money reform movement initiated by the League ten years ago, now pervades the State and controls Congress, and its principles of equity are slowly but surely working out a great and beneficent revolution in society.  The return of John M. Spear and William B. Wright to New England substantially reinforces the original soldiery of industrial progress.

The Free Love Movement.

N. E. Free Love League.  Its Fourth annual Convention was held in Boston May 25th, and 26th.  Mrs. Martha Williams M. D. of Prospect, Conn., Vice President, in the Chair.  E. H. Heywood made the opening address and presented the following resolutions:

Resolved: That, since the source of life and its conduct are subjects of the gravest importance to human beings, conscientious actions or even intelligent existence is impossible without candid and thorough consideration of the pregnant issues involved in love and parentage.

Resolved: That since marriage forbids reason, and makes conscientious endeavor in love dishonorable except when supervised by invasive ignorance; since it hinders growth, holding conventional relations, however hurtful or disastrous, to be final, “for better or for worse,” we demand the immediate and unconditional repeal of all statutes obstructing social freedom, recognize the right of private judgment in morals as a fundamental law in human action and will maintain the liberty of all adult persons to form or dissolve sexual contracts without consulting priest or magistrate.

Resolved: That social purity and harmony with desirable offspring are impossible so long as the sexes obey conventional authority in violation of their enlightened sense of what is right and best in love; that those who enforce marriage and the repressive savagisms necessary to sustain it assail essential laws of morality and sin against the nature of things.

Resolved: That aware of the prevalence of obscene desires and means of satisfaction, Free-Lovers were the first to prescribe the only effectual remedy, knowledge and the self-discipline which the exercise of responsible freedom promote; and the worst foes of social renovation and sound morality are the religio-lascivious ignoramuses who by savage obscenity-statutes hinder enlightenment on these seriously important questions.

Resolved: That consistent with the statesmanship which held chattel bondage to be the corner-stone of the Republic and fugitive-slave laws essential to its continuance, is the view of those who now favor repressive legislation to secure domestic order; and the censorship of the press which Orthodox, “Free” Religious tyrannists, aided by the Republican and Democratic parties, have established is a greater outrage on American liberty than slaveholders inflicted; that we demand the prompt dismissal of Anthony Comstock from the federal office he disgraces and unconditional repeal of the barbarous statute which enables him to ride free over all United States postal routes, and use the government of Jefferson, Lincoln and Sumner for ferocious persecution of opinions.

Resolved: That interference with legitimate business and the reign of terrorism over authors and publishers inaugurated by Comstock, permitted and enforced by successive Republican party administrations, are fitly illustrated in the case of D. M. Bennett, editor of the Truth-Seeker, who is feloniously assailed only because he is a fearless exponent of intelligent reform; that if this John Brown of Free Thought is imprisoned for his faith the act will stir popular indignation to bury Benedict, Comstock, Cook, Colgate and their abettors in a grave of infamy so deep that no resurrection trump will ever reach them.

Resolved: That the last assault on personal rights by instigation of Anthony Comstock was in the “act concerning offences against chastity, morality and decency,” approved by the legislature and executive of Massachusetts, in which they seek to regulate conception by state law, and make the possession of even a syringe criminal; that, not to mention his recent pledge to enforce the barbarous old Sunday laws, Governor Talbot and his Republican supporters became willing tools of the lascivious spy of Brooklyn in this rude, indecent and scandalous effort to invade the sanctities of domestic life.

Resolved: That since physiological culture and intelligent discretion are indispensably necessary to correct life in matters of love the recent spectacle of E. S. Tobey, postmaster; Homer B. Sprague, master of the girl’s high school; the Rev. E. E. Hale, the Rev. Phillips Brooks, the Rev. A. J. Gordon, and other notable Bostonians, clandestinely conspiring with a lying and treacherous informer against the sacred right to acquire and impart knowledge, by measures which they are both afraid and ashamed to openly discuss, illustrates the low level to which our religious and secular “guides” have fallen; that not a few citizens are seriously asking whether it is expedient to retain in public office men who like Mr. Tobey and Mr. Sprague stealthily favor virulent persecution of opinions, assail freedom of conscience, of the press, and the mails, and deny the right of private judgment in morals.

A. D. Wheeler, Mattie Sawyer, Mrs. Annie W. Bowdrie, L. K. Joslin, John M. Spear, Dr. W. W. Hebbard, John Orvis, Mrs. Chappelle, Prof. A. P. Barnes, Mrs. Dr. Vibbert, Mrs. A. P. Joyce, Mrs. Saunders, Mr. Sheafe, Mr. Shaw and others spoke.  Messages were read from George C. Waite, Dr. J. H. Swain, Elvira Wheelock, John Cosgrove, Maria L. Follett, of Iowa, A. L. Havington of Utah, and J. H. Johnson of London England.

The following were elected officers for the ensuing year.  President, L. K. Joslin, R. I.  Vice Presidents, Moses Hull, Angela T. Heywood, Mrs. S. A. Vibbert, M. D., Dr. B. F. Clarke, Dr. N. H. Dillingham, Mass.; Rosa B. Cobb, Ellen M. Bolles, R. I.; George C. Waite, Emeline A. Prescott, D. W. Hull, Me.; Rachel Campbell, N. H.; Martha Williams M. D., Mrs. E. D. Smith, Conn.  Secretaries E. H. Heywood, A. D. Wheeler; Treasurer Josephine S. Tilton; Executive Committee, L. K. Joslin, Mattie Sawyer, J. Flora Tilton, J. J. Gurney, E. H. Heywood.

Sunday evening an anonymous message was received saying that the City government would interfere and suppress the Convention if admission fees were taken on Monday without a license from the City Hall; nevertheless admission fees were taken at every session and The Free Love League still lives to fight another day.  The attendance was good, the speaking admirable, the newspaper reports fair, the audiences intelligent and the receipts covered expenses leaving a surplus sufficient to defray the deficiency of the Labor Reform Convention held previously.  Some have thought that the Free Love meetings would damage Labor Reform financially and otherwise; but the practical result has been just the opposite; no meetings ever held in Boston have so quickened thought and brought accessions to progressive action as the Free Love Conventions.  This last one not only revived New England intellectually but provoked editorials in three or four New York papers, the enterprising Herald as usual taking the lead in proclaiming the new Gospel abroad over the States.  Many new faces appeared, some old ones were absent, but the work goes steadily on, all opposition or indifference to the contrary notwithstanding.  Mobs from the streets, local and national “government,” “religious” intolerance, lascivious superstition, the Pharisees of “morality” and the Pharisees of “culture” have all in turn wrestled with the Free Love Idea and all have been thrown by it.


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