The Culmination of Free Love

Stevens Sanborn Jones, “The Culmination of Free Love,” Religio-Philosophical Journal, May 1, 1875

On the 3d day of August, 1873, the Rev. Moses Hull published in Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly a “statement,” which created a decided sensation throughout the ranks of Spiritualism—not, however, on account of its intrinsic merit, but on the contrary, in consequence of the unblushing impudence and boldness manifested in advocating licentiousness as a virtue, and the desertion of one’s family and offspring as an act to be commended, more especially when the husband has a large brain!  Had a prostitute from the purlieus of vice in this city, reeking with filth and covered with loathsome sores, invaded the pulpit of Robert Collyer and demanded a hearing, she would not have exhibited more brazen impudence, or more consummate egotism, than did Moses when he deserted his wife and children and presented to the world his statement, bearing upon it his moral obliquity, and fraught with evil effects that took from the 3d day of August, 1873, until the 19th of February, 1875, to fully culminate in his family becoming paupers, receiving assistance from the town to save them from the most intense suffering.  While their cries of relief can be heard in Vineland [New Jersey], Paine’s Hall in Boston is disgraced by the presence of Moses, and its doors are open for the advocacy of those pernicious principles which lead to pauperism and crime, and which would make [Thomas] Paine frown with indignation were he living on this earth to-day.  Those who have so generously contributed to build that monument to perpetuate the name of this immortal patriot, will regret the course pursued in admitting Moses within its walls to “scintillate licentious ideas,” while his family are paupers in a distant city.  Imagine a woman in the decline of life, with several children resting upon her for support; see her toil day after day to clothe and educate them, being finally compelled to solicit assistance from the town; then look at her lubberly husband and affinity in Paine’s Memorial Hall, Boston, “spouting” to an “intelligent” body of “reformers,” and you have the material for a first-class tableau.  [William] Denton, one of the finest orators in the field, a man of thorough culture and deep research, and Prof. Pike, a man of profound knowledge, would not consent to attend a meeting where Moses was to be one of the speakers!  They acted wisely in so doing.

On the 3d day of August, 1873, Moses made his celebrated statement, and the world was astonished at his moral turpitude; however, on Feb. 19th, 1875, Elvira, his wife, made the culminating statement, as follows:

“The facts are, that upon the 31st day of last December I found myself out of money, flour and fuel, and unable to find employment.  Having always endeavored to pay my taxes and to help the poor around me, I thought the proper place to apply for relief was to the masters of the fund provided for the relief of the needy.  I did this in preference to applying to Spiritualists, who are not brave enough to employ Moses to speak in their hall or in their society.  Moses and myself have been ostracised in Vineland, and have been shunned as altogether something vile.  From this fact you can judge why I went to the town for help in preference to going to the Spiritualists.  The amount I received from this town this winter is just $6.35.  Since I applied to the town for assistance the Spiritualists have been helping me.  My pride revolts from receiving charity.  Mr. and Mrs. [John P. and Portia] Gage, knowing this, gave me work and pay for it, for which I am truly grateful.  I am willing to work at anything honorable to support myself and daughters.  My eldest is now working for her board; the other three are in school, where I intend to keep them, unless compelled to take them out to keep them from starving.” [. . .]

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