The Word (Princeton, Mass.), December

The New England Anti-Death League, Third Annual Convention


The Third Annual Convention of the New England Anti-Death League met in Boston, Oct. 17.  Dr. B. F. Clarke, President, making the opening address; E. H. Heywood presented the following resolutions:

1. Resolved: That though seemingly irresistible, “the King of Terrors,” Death, not a fact in the Nature of Things, is a transient illusion, born of limited mentality, but transcended by Life and Immortality revealed in convincing evidence of immaterial Intelligence.

2. Resolved: That, however repulsive so-called physical death may be, infinitely more dreadful is moral death that destroys both soul and body in hells of falsehood, intrigue, dishonesty, theft, usurpation and murder which underpin and perpetuate Church and State; that the hostility of government to Liberty, of religion to Progress infects Spiritualism, Infidelity and most other phases of dissent, making them acquiescent in popular In-Equity; and ambitions for numerical or material success at the expense of Essential Truth.

3. Resolved: That we agree with the revivalist Moody and the Springfield Republican, praying for “a fresh endowment of power from on high,” that the chief want of the world to-day is the want of the Holy Ghost, of the inflowing Spirit of Truth bidding war, marriage, rent, usury, Christs, Gods—all grim-visaged spectres of men’s ignorance vanish before the rising sun of Science; that emotional mythologies like Christianity and other relics of ecclesiastic superstition are of trifling account compared to Living Souls, their power to communicate, and the Natural Laws of Equity and Love which it is the privilege of Human Reason to discover and proclaim.

4. Resolved: That in putting a watch-word of growth, Repeal, on its banner, the Liberal League becomes a progressive power; while, in supporting Comstock’s war on Personal Liberty and Civil Rights, Col. Ingersoll sides with ghosts of sensualistic superstition against Spirits of just women and men incarnate; that until citizens, as discoverers and exponents of truth, favor anarchy, the natural society which transcends government, they are death-stricken, conservative perverts rather than converts to Spiritual Life wherein ruling obligations, not impaired by coercive statues, reside in honor and good faith.

5. Resolved: That war, hanging, imprisonment—all retaliative policies reveal an eclipse of faith in Human Nature; but, while it is best to overcome evil with good and suffer wrong rather than inflict it, moral resistance to evil is always commendable; that the right of slaves and free States to break a proslavery Union by secession; the right of Irish Peasants to hold their homesteads against landlords is a right which should be asserted by the producing masses the world over, in refusing to pay rent, interest or other inequitable tribute; and for the destruction of life and property which may occur, in Ireland or elsewhere, through such resistance to organized inequity, not invaded people but the now dominant robbers in Church and State will be responsible.

6. Resolved: That, since next to Christian effort to put an exponent of ecclesiastic savagery and male presumption, called God, in the Constitution, is absurd Infidel deference to God in the Calendar, we invite thinkers to break one more fetter of superstition by discarding A. D. from their notation of time, and adopting Y. L., P. E., M. S., Y. P. or some other evidence that Reason is their rule of action in secular as well as religious affairs—trusting that, by the survival of the fittest, the method of notation best suited for general adoption will come uppermost in the evolution of cosmopolitan socialism.

7. Resolved: That, since it is not wisdom in the light of Truth to obey men instead of Truth, deference to conventional unreason rather than to Inner Light is moral suicide; hence it is the right and growing necessity of Girls and Women to ignore male imposition called laws, claiming equality in Wealth and society with Men and Boys; of the Sexes to cohabit without consulting priest or magistrate; of Citizens to repudiate so called debts the principal whereof has been paid in the form of usury; to refuse to bear arms, pay rent, interest, taxes; and, in every other honorable way, to transcend the barbarous “religion” and heistic “law and order” now rampant—counting ourselves fortunate to suffer affliction in pursuit of Good rather than to enjoy the pleasure of sin in “respectable” transgression.

Dr. Clarke’s discourse was a very able and elaborate statement of faith in Spirit existence and power to communicate, which should be printed; it was critically replied to by W. S. Bell, Materialist, who was followed by Dr. N. H. Dillingham, Angela T. Heywood, J. H. Swain, D. W. Hull, D. M. A. Twitchell, J. W. Stillman, J. M. L. Babcock, N. N. Stone, Josephine R. Stone, L. A. Wiley, T. P. Brophy and others.  Messages were received from John Wetherbee, S. P. Andrews, John M. Spear, Mrs. M. S. T. Wood, and Ellen M. Bolles.

The following were elected for the ensuing year:  President, Dr. B. F. Clarke; Vice Presidents, Ann Lee, L. K. Joslin, Thomas Paine, May Peterson, Moses Hull, Josephine R. Stone, J. H. Swain, Roger Williams; Secretaries, Mary D. Andrews, E. H. Heywood; Treasurer, Mrs. A. P. Joyce; Executive Committee, Dr. Clarke, Angela T. Heywood, A. D. Wheeler, Mrs. K. R. Smith, L. S. Putnam.

Though the change of Halls caused inconvenience and extra expense, compelling the omission of the usual Monday sessions of the Convention, the meetings were well-attended and spirited throughout; special thanks to Prescott Robinson and Mattie Sawyer Hull for New Era Hall Sunday evening; Mr. Spear’s and Mr. Andrews’ letter appear elsewhere.  Penetrating the sources of life touching the mainspring of personal and social statics, the Anti-Death League evolves new morality and religion forelighting the New Heavens on a New Earth.

Stephen Pearl Andrews, 201 E. 34th St., N. Y.—For the Anti-death Convention.  I send you this greeting because I am invited to.  I simply know the name of your association.  I have been too busy to inquire even, what you mean.  Your title may signify that you are spiritualists; that you believe in, or have evidence of survivorship after death; and that engaged in promulgating this faith, you are fighting the good fight against the power of death.  Or, in fine, you may mean that death itself is an unwarrantable intrusion on the sphere of human rights, in which regard I know you to be somewhat ultra, and so that death may be and ought to be abolished.  Well, in any and all senses, I greet you still; for out of agitation comes knowledge; and I can not but regard it as specially a hardship that just as people begin to get ready to live, they are choked to death.  As things now are, we are all born under sentence of death; with the clause added, for most of us, of solitary (or perhaps badly mated) confinement at hard labor, till the capital sentence is executed.  That, it must be confessed, is not a cheerful outlook; and if you can do anything to alter the decrees of late, somewhat more in our favor, you certainly should be encouraged.  Keep me advised of progress.

John M. Spear, 2210 Mt. Vernon St., Philadelphia, Pa.—When my brother Charles and myself started some forty years ago in Boston, our native city, the first paper in the world for the abolition of the Death Penalty, we had but little idea of the obstacles that would have to be met and overcome.  Ours was an humble sheet, about the size of The Word, and was issued monthly at a charge of 25 cents yearly.  We had almost no means and little personal influence, yet we determined to do what we could.  At that time little money was in circulation.  We went into the shoe shops in Lynn, Danvers, Newburyport, and solicited aid for our paper.  The Religion of the time was against us.  As a sect the Universalists were friendly and so were the Unitarians.  Only one prominent member of the Orthodox church befriended us—Prof. T. C. Upham, of Brunswick college.  He wrote for us and gave us money.  The truth was, as we discovered, that the people then as now made and worshipped a cruel, vindictive God; and as he sent his creatures to the burning hell he had created, there to remain endlessly without hope, so did his worshippers send the criminal to the gallows, not to reclaim but to punish him.  The work of the hour then is to do what we may to remove false notions of religion, or that which is so called, and to substitute therefor a system of pure love, impartial wisdom and eternal truth.  I should be glad to attend the Anti-Death Convention, but strength, health and lack of means forbid it.


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