W. Caleb McDaniel, one of the Cliopatria bloggers, has an interesting article on Blogging in the Early Republic on the latest Common-Place. His example of one of my favorite abolitionists, the anarcho-pacifist Henry Clarke Wright, author of Man-Killing by Individuals and Nations Wrong (Boston, 1841), A Kiss for a Blow (London, 1843, 1866), Defensive War proved to be a Denial of Christianity (1846), Human Life Illustrated (Boston, 1849--his autobiography), Marriage and Parentage (1854) and The Living Present and the Dead Past (1865), caught my attention.
Wright was one of many reformers involved in other causes as well: feminism, mesmerism, nonviolence and a host of other -isms. He and a large number of other abolitionists were involved in spiritualism. As he said in the July, 19, 1853 issue of The Liberator:
"Modern spiritualism is what the church and the priesthood know not how to deal with. They are, in many localities throughout the country, at their wits’ end. If they deny the possibility that spirits can communicate with us, they strike a death-blow at all arbitrary revelation; if they admit its possibility, they must admit that these communications, often, at least, do come from spirits that were once in the body, or deny the foundation of their faith in the Bible. In either case, their religious experience and practices must experience an entire revolution. These spirits, be they what or whom they may, are fast tipping, rapping, writing and talking old ideas out of men’s heads, and new ones into them. These spirits, be they good or evil, are casting the spirit of war, slavery, drunkenness, sectarianism, patriotism, and hosts of bad spirits out of men’s hearts, and breathing into them the spirit of peace, of love, anti-slavery, total abstinence even from the disgusting weed, tobacco, (the spirits out of the body, all go against tobacco—would that all spirits in the body had decency and good sense enough to do the same,) and of human brotherhood."
Always found the political dimension of the Spiritualist Movement quite interesting, and more than a little surprising. The dead must be quite capable of learning all about the vices of war, slavery, alcohol--even tobacco! Amazing!
The political dimensions of later similar movements have only lightly been touched upon. Even today, New Age politics is rarely considered, although worthy of consideration.
Just a note: There are articles on Paine's iron bridge, Richard Allen and a recent work on Jefferson in the Common-Place as well.
Just a thought.
cross-posted at Liberty & Power Blog