Pennsylvania State Society of Spiritualists

Henry Teas Child, “Spiritualism in Pennsylvania. Official Report of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania State Society of Spiritualists, held at Institute Hall, Philadelphia, April 1st, 1873,” Religio-Philosophical Journal, May 10.

Morning Session.

Mrs. Eliza L. Ashburner, President, called the meeting to order. The Secretary, Dr. H. T. Child, read the Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania State Society of Spiritualists.

The swift rolling tide of time to mortals, brings again another Anniversary, and although our labors as a Society have been somewhat limited, yet we rejoice in the knowledge that the cause in which we have enlisted is moving onward fulfilling its great mission of feeding the multitudes, while we are called upon to gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.

The progress of the human race, like the tide, is marked by its ebb and flow, or like the seasons having a Winter of cold and stagnation, and a Summer of warmth, growth and production. Those who do not realize the perfection of the works of nature sometimes fear that a comet, or even a planetary body, may fly from its course and strike our earth with destruction; so those who do not realize the workings of spiritual power and progress, have their fears that Spiritualism will blast the systems of religion and lay waste the grand fabric of the moral universe. We know, however, that in the spiritual, as well as in the material universe, all things are ordered in harmony and wisdom, and whatever apparent discord and confusion there may be, it is only a part, but often a very important part of the great Divine economy. So in the progress of Spiritualism, among all classes we see the hand of the Infinite at work to bless mankind and lift them into higher and better conditions.

The quarter of a century that has passed since the advent of Modern Spiritualism, has been filled with the most thrilling and important events, revealing to millions of earth’s children the fact that the two worlds, so long considered as separate and distinct, are one; that the loved ones who have gone before us, are not far from us, and can not be lost.

Since our last meeting the progress of the various phenomena has been very marked; that of materialization has become more general and perfect, and by a very recent report from the West, we have an account of a new and important manifestation, in the fact that a telegraphic apparatus has been operated by spirits. This apparently insignificant event, opens a wide field for intercourse with the dwellers of the inner life.

Our Society needs the co-operation of the friends throughout various portions of the State, and we suggest that efforts be made, to hold meetings under its auspices in different parts of the State, at least once in three months. To do this, friends, we need your assistance, sympathy, co-operation and money; and we make this appeal to all interested, that they may send in their contributions to the Secretary.

The report was accepted and directed to be printed.

On motion the following committees were appointed: On Business and Resolutions, John M. Spear, Ann Eliza De Hass and Rachel Peck; on Finance, Mary Beans, Dr. Williams and Mrs. Blackwood; on Nominations, A. Mary Wise, Lydia A. Schofield and Joseph J. Harmer.

Jeremiah Hacker was introduced to the audience as one of the radicals of the age, formerly editor of the Pleasure Boat. He remarked that he had not heard any sound, not even that of his own voice, for many years, and would like to speak a few words, about one of the Lyceum mottoes on the wall, “Let us aid progress by assisting the children.” You must begin at the beginning if you would do that. The salvation of this nation, the progress of mankind throughout the universe, depends on the manner in which your children are begotten, conceived and brought forth, as well as on the manner in which they are trained after they are born into the world. Every child has a right to a sound, healthy body, a well organized and well balanced mind, and every parent who brings into this world a child without these conditions, sins against himself, against the child and against mankind generally.

If we look over the wrecks of mortality in this city, or even in the rural districts, where the people are considered more healthy, we find that about one half of the children that are born, die before they are five years old, and half of the other half die before they reach manhood and womanhood. It is not so with the brute creation; it is not so with the plants that spring forth from the earth. There is a cause for this. Go through your city and the masses of men to-day are so filled with tobacco, beer and spirits that they are unfit to become fathers, for the effects of all these are transmitted to the children in scrofula and consumption, and worse still, in habits that lead to crime. The back brain is cultivated and kept in a constant state of activity. Men live almost always under the lusts of their animal nature, and their souls are crushed down like a pack horse, and the divine spirit is crushed down like a cart under sheaves. Then, again, look at the other sex; they have small waits; their organs are forced out of place, the blood can not circulate properly. Ask your physicians if they can name five men and five women, even in the religious societies, that are fully qualified to produce healthy children.

Dr. Child said, “The remarks of our venerable friend, from the deep solitude of his silence unbroken forever by earthly sounds, come to us with profound significance. I rejoice that Spiritualism has prepared the way for such remarks, for the world needs them. Pursuing this subject a little further in the same line, we come to the question of the age—woman’s position and rights, and we know that Spiritualism has done more than any other system that the world has ever known to prepare the way for the proper discussion of this subject. First, by giving woman a better opportunity to speak for herself than she has ever had. All efforts to reform children, or the world, will be but palliative and futile, until woman stands side by side with man, free to exercise the natural and inherent rights which are hers by virtue of her capacity and maternity, shall be, as it ever should have been, under her control; then and not till then, will there be no more unwelcome children to be reconstructed or punished, and that most abominable tyranny which the customs of society and the church has given to man, to rule over woman, in regard to this sacred function, will be known only as one of the cruel barbarisms of the past. A better day has dawned upon humanity, the light of the religion and philosophy of Spiritualism can not fail to produce its effects, and mankind will not only read the lessons thereof, but coming generations will be blessed by its fruits.”

The following inspirational poem was read by its author, Horace M. Richards:


Canst thou chain old Time, in his march from the past?
Canst though stay the simoons death-dealing blast?
Will a sweep of thy hand send backward the tide,
To the sources, which channel the steep mountain’s side?

Will the darkness return? The sun cease to shine?
Or nature revolt, to obey words of thine?
Will thy voice hush the music of unnumbered spheres?
Will it lengthen or shorten the incoming years?

Will spirits that have fled their earthly abode,
Re-inhabit their forms, at thy beck or thy nod?
As well mighst thou try all these to control,
As to stay the march of a human soul.

Though born in sin and raised in despair,
The soul of a God lies slumbering there.
And this be the lesson, O man in thy pride,
God’s wrecks, that now drift on humanity’s tide,

They brothers, thy sisters, are all in His care,
The highest, the lowest, His love equal share,
And souls that seem buried in sins deepest tomb
In their hearts, hold the gem of blossom and bloom.

Afternoon Session.

Mrs. Spear read a letter from Alexander Aksakoff, of Russia, in reference to the cause in that country.

Dr. Child said there was evidence of the fruits of Spiritualism in the liberation of the serfs, and in various other forms of progress.

The Committee on Nominations reported the following list of names. The report was accepted and the persons therein named duly elected for the ensuing year: President, Henry T. Child, M. D. 624 Race St., Philadelphia, Pa.; Vice Presidents, Dr. Washington Barr, Harrisburg; Eliza L. Ashburner, 1235 Buttonwood St., Phila.; Ebenezer Hance, Falsington, Bucks Co.; Dr. Charles Noble, Germantown; Secretary, Caroline H. Spear, 1114 Callowhill St., Phila.; Treasurer, James E. Shumway, 505 Minor St., Phila.; Board of Managers, Ellen M. Child, 634 Race St., Phila.; John S. Isett, Spruce Creek; Joseph Potts, Harrisburg; Mary A Stretch, Hagarsville; William R. Evans, Carversville; Dr. Fetherolf, Tamaqua; Harriet Fowler, Titusville; Reuben Lunt, Corry; Jacob Kheun, York; Rebecca Grunds, Newportville; Frederick Gumpert, Altoona; David Havard, Chester Valley; Sarah Kirk, Pineville; Mary Beans, 2114 Mt. Vernon St., Phila.; S. Minnie Shumway, 1426 Bouvier St., Phil.; Lydia A. Schofield, 526 N. 21st St., Phila.; Rachel Peck, 1311 S. 4th St., Phila.; Joseph J. Harmer, No. 5 Vine St., Phila.; Dr. Aiken, Blooming Valley, Phila.; John M. Spear, 1114 Callowhill St., Phila.; Dr. H. H. Blanchard and Ellen Blanchard, Philadelphia; William P. Tilton, Hulmerville.

An eloquent address was read by Mrs. Robbins.

The Committee on Resolutions offered the following which were adopted:

Declaration of Sentiments.

We affirm that all persons are members of a common family, and we esteem it a high privilege, as well as a plain duty, to do unto others as we would have others do unto us; that we are the friends of universal peace and good order in society, and will encourage the settlement of all disputes, whether among nations or individuals, by peaceful arbitration and will assist in founding courts of conciliation, which in some measure may take the place of the present courts of justice, so called; that rights are based upon capacity and are not governed by sex; that there should be no proscription on account of color, nationality, opinions or modes of worship; that co-operation and other unitary efforts may help to economize time, wealth and talent, and increase the sum of human comfort and happiness; that free thought, free speech and a free press are essential to the establishment of truth and the maintenance of good order, and should be encouraged and demanded by all fair, honorable and peaceable means; that we will encourage the founding of Industrial schools that shall be opened to both sexes, and all nationalities, and that may be self-sustaining; that spiritual mediums should be so sustained and encouraged that they may be intelligent teachers and writers, healers of the sick, comforters of the afflicted and useful recipients and communicators of such individual thoughts or unitary plans of action, as persons dwelling in the spirit-life may desire to impart to the mundane world.

Resolved, That all true friends of the human race should now speak out boldly in defense of Victoria C. Woodhull as the representative of free thought, free speech and a free press, while the combined influences of ignorance and bigotry are so strenuously laboring to crush her.

Evening Session.

Mrs. Caroline H. Spear read a report from the Philadelphia Press, in reference to a séance with Charles H. Foster.

Dr. H. T. Child gave a lecture on the mission of Spiritualism, showing that the intelligence which had accompanied all the forms had marked a new era in the world, and that one of the grandest effects of Spiritualism, was to extend the area of individual freedom; to break down the barriers to free thought, and thus open new fields for human inquiry.

Chauncey Barnes gave some very interesting tests to the audience. Adjourned.

At a meeting of the board, held at 634 Race St., Philadelphia, April 5th, 1873, the following resolutions were adopted:

1st, That Henry T. Child, M. D., be continued our missionary, and is hereby authorized to hold meetings in any part of the State and collect funds for the Society.

2nd, That Caroline H., and John M. Spear, 1114 Callowhill St., Philadelphia, be likewise appointed with the same authority.

3rd, That the stated meetings of this board be held on the 1st Saturday of each month.

HENRY T. CHILD, President,

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