The Power of Blog
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 favoriteabolitionists, the anarcho-pacifistHenry 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.
Post(it) Note: Aak! Just noticed that Ralph Luker already mentioned this on Cliopatria. Why am I not surprised. :)
Just a thought.
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Kenneth R Gregg - 7/6/2005
Quite agree. There are the needs of the eraser pits for those P(iled)h(igh &)D(ry) programs (as Jim Martin used to call them). Then there is the need for a multidisciplinary history with a broad perspective. The two should be compatible with each other, but are generally not.
Too bad. Both are clearly needed.
Much of the greatest historiography has been written with a broad stroke. It can be done, but the Profession of History is, like other professions, highly specialized as you well know.
Kenneth R Gregg - 7/6/2005
You're certainly welcome, Caleb. Sounds like you are interested in the transnational aspects of the abolitionist movement. You might find the transnational connections within the land reform movement of value to look over. Different philosophies and different progenitors, but there are some surprising similarities as well.
Best of luck to you!
Caleb McDaniel - 7/6/2005
Thanks for the mention of my essay on blogging; I've been out of town for the past several days. And thanks also for that Wright quote; I hadn't seen that before and it actually may be useful for my dissertation!
I think you're right that the political dimensions of the abolitionists' other hobbies--like spiritualism--have been underappreciated. Thanks for bringing this out.
William Marina - 7/4/2005
Wisdom is not necessarily found in some of those refereed articles David B. was discussing, nor in some of the specialized, mongraphs cranked out to obtain tenure and promotion, nor the narratives of people like McCullough, that do seel a great number. What History really needs at this point, more than ever, is some kind of perspective.
Kenneth R Gregg - 7/4/2005
Thank you, Bill!
Such a kind thought. Jes' comes from decades of keeping independent from pretty much everyone else (save for about a decade with Bob LeFevre back in the '70's) and doing my own research at out-of the way vacation places like the Workingman's Institute at New Harmony, Indiana, sleeping in the stacks at Stanford, living at the UCLA Research Library and the Labadie Collection in MI, and always looking out for old libertarians.
Can't think of anything more fun to do than research. Slow to publish, although I used to lecture a lot. Try to still do that every so often.
Happy 7/4 to you as well!
Just a thought.
William Marina - 7/3/2005
I am constantly amazed at the breadth of your knowledge and interests.
Have a great 4th Weekend.
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