Spear began himself to write critically of capital punishment in 1830. He and his brother John urged passage of resolutions against capital punishment at the Universalist General Conventions in 1835 and 1836. In 1839 they both were founding members of the New England Non-Resistance Society, an organization led by William Lloyd Garrison and Adin Ballou which renounced violence and all worldly government. In 1841-42 Charles and John Spear organized both the first and second Universalist Anti-Slavery Conventions in Lynn, Massachusetts.
In 1845 Charles Spear was appointed General Agent of the newly founded Massachusetts Society for the Abolition of Capital Punishment. In his Essays on the Punishment of Death, published the previous year, Spear articulated the arguments still used by opponents of capital punishment. He argued that because human life is sacred and capital punishment irremediable, execution is a blasphemous appropriation of divine power. He said a spirit of revenge is unworthy. He considered the horrifying and brutalizing effects upon everyone concerned with an execution—the prisoner, the prisoner’s family, and the spectators….
He had earlier said, “I want our prisons to be more like hospitals.” Early in 1845 Spear began to edit and publish the Hangman, soon retitled The Prisoner’s Friend, a journal devoted to transformation of the purpose of prisons from punishment to rehabilitation….
Source: Charles Spear, Unitarian Universalist Historical Society (UUHS)
The American Peace Society, based in Boston, Massachusetts, was formed in May 1828 as a result of a merger suggested by William Ladd between the peace societies of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The records of the American Peace Society, housed at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, consist of meeting minutes, branch material, correspondence, reports, articles, periodicals, pamphlets, scrapbooks, memorabilia, photographs, and personal material from Benjamin Trueblood and his daughter, Lyra Wolkins.
Source: “American Peace Society: Contribution of Benjamin Franklin Trueblood.” This page written by Anne Yoder, Archivist. Last updated August 1998.
The Christian Disciple, a monthly journal, had been established by the Revs. William Ellery Channing, Charles Lowell, Samuel Cooper Thacher, and Joseph Tuckerman. In May, 1813, Worcester became its editor. The letter inviting him to Boston to take up this position cited the union of his “talent in writing, skill in reasoning, with Christian gentleness and a catholic largeness of spirit.”
Residence in Boston led to observations and reflections on “the baneful influence of the war spirit, . . . the barbarity of war and its demoralizing influence.” In December, 1814, he published A Solemn Review of the Custom of War, an incisive indictment of “the basest passions of human nature” that lead to armed conflict. The treatise was read widely in the U.S. and England and was translated into several languages in Europe. Worcester founded the Massachusetts Peace Society, its first meeting being in his home. In 1815 he established The Friend of Peace, a quarterly journal of the Society, which he edited and largely wrote until 1828.
Source: “Noah Worcester.” Article by Dennis Davidson. Unitarian Universalist Historical Society (UUHS). Unitarian Universalist Association (archive site).
See Worcester on Napoleon
And Jefferson’s Reply to “Philo Pacificus”
It was in 1805 that a startling personal experience prompted the train of thought which soon and forever made David L. Dodge the advocate of the thoroughgoing peace principles with which his name is chiefly identified, and led him to condemn all violence, even in self-defense, in dealings between men, as between nations. Accustomed to carry pistols when traveling with large sums of money, he was almost led to shoot his landlord in a tavern at Providence, Rhode Island, who by some blunder had come into his room at night and suddenly awakened him. The thought of what his situation and feelings would have been, had he taken the man’s life, shocked him into most searching thinking. For two or three years his mind dwelt on the question. He turned to the teaching and example of Christ, and became persuaded that these were inconsistent with violence, the carrying of deadly weapons, and war. The common churchman sanctioned such things, but not the early Christians; and he found strong words condemning war in Luther, Erasmus, the Moravians, and the Quakers. Discussing the matter with many pious and Christian men, he found them generally avoiding the gospel standard. He was shocked by the “general want of faith in the promises,” but he himself laid aside at once his pistols and the fear of robbers. He became absolutely convinced that fighting and warfare were “unlawful for the followers of Christ,” and from then on he began to bear public testimony against the war spirit.
Early in the spring of 1809 he published his essay, The Mediator’s Kingdom not of this World, which attracted so much attention that in two weeks nearly a thousand copies were sold. . . .
Source: WAR INCONSISTENT WITH THE RELIGION OF JESUS CHRIST BY DAVID LOW DODGE. With an Introduction by EDWIN D. MEAD. Transcribed by Tom Lock, Feb. 2007.
The Shakers are one of the few success stories resulting from the proliferation of communitarian and millenarian groups in eighteenth and nineteeenth century Europe and America. They splintered from a Quaker community in Manchester, England (Gidley and Bowles 1990). James Wardley, its preacher, had absorbed the teachings of the millenial French Prophets and his community began to evolve around 1746 (Melton 1992). The members were known as the Shaking Quakers and were viewed as radical for their communion with the spirits of the dead and impassioned shaking that would occur at their services (Horgan, 1982; Robinson 1975). As radicals, all the members were harrassed, including a young married woman named Ann Lee. Fervent from a young age, Ann had a revelation during a long imprisonment that she was the Second Coming of Christ, the vital female component of God the Father-Mother (Bainbridge 1997; Gidley and Bowles 1990; Horgan 1982; Robinson 1975).
The vision had a great impact on the congregation and “Mother” Ann became the official leader of the group in 1772. With a distinctly new version of the Second Coming and other beliefs contradictory to mainstream Christian ideology, it was at this juncture that the Shaking Quakers became known as the Shakers (Gidley and Bowles 1990). These radical views increased the Shakers’ persecution and a small group composed of her brother, niece, husband and five others followed Mother Ann’s vision of a holy sanctuary in the New World to New York in May,1774 (Bainbridge 1997; Horgan 1982; Robinson 1975). They struggled for five years to survive, gaining few converts, on a communal farm in Watervliet, NY (Bainbridge 1997; Robinson 1975). During this period they faced great persecution for being both English and pacifistic in the middle of the Revolutionary War (Horgan 1982).
The turning point was a wave of religious revivalism called the New Light Stir that swept across New England between 1776 and 1783 (Gidley and Bowles 1990), bringing in new converts from other millenial groups and allowing the Shakers to safely proselytize. . . .
Source: “Group Profile.” The Shakers. Created by Dominica Harlan For Soc 257: New Religious Movements, Spring Term, 1998, University of Virginia. Last modified: 07/24/01
The apostle enters upon his subject thus–Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: the powers that be, are ordained of God. Here he urges the duty of obedience from this topic of argument, that civil rulers, as they are supposed to fulfil the pleasure of God, are the ordinance of God. But how is this an argument for obedience to such rulers as do not perform the pleasure of God, by doing good; but the pleasure of the devil, by doing evil; and such as are not, therefore, God’s ministers, but the devil’s!
Source: JONATHAN MAYHEW, A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers: with Some Reflections on the resistance Made to King Charles I. 1750.
In a few months after I came here, my master bought several Scotchmen servants, from on board a vessel, and brought them to Mount Holly to sell, one of whom was taken sick and died. In the latter part of his sickness, being delirious, he used to curse and swear most sorrowfully; and the next night after his burial I was left to sleep alone in the chamber where he died. I perceived in me a timorousness; I knew, however, I had not injured the man, but assisted in taking care of him according to my capacity. I was not free to ask any one on that occasion to sleep with me. Nature was feeble; but every trial was a fresh incitement to give myself up wholly to the service of God, for I found no helper like him in times of trouble.
Source: The Journal of John Woolman. The Harvard Classics. “1720–1742“
He was in Pennsylvania only three and a half years. But from 1681, when he received the King’s charter at the age of thirty-seven to 1718, when he died, Pennsylvania was one of his chief preoccupations. The growth and well-being of his colony was based on a tradition of religious toleration and freedom under law, fundamental principles of American civil life. Thomas Jefferson called Penn “the greatest law-giver the world has produced.”
Source: “William Penn in Pennsylvania.” Text by Paul A.W. Wallace and James P. O’Rrien; edited by Harold L. Myers. Pennsbury Manor.
Some Fruits of Solitude
A Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the People Called Quakers
A Sermon Preached at the Quaker’s Meeting House, in Gracechurch-Street, London, Eighth Month 12th, 1694.
An Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe
He must not be a man, but a statue of brass or stone, whose bowels do not melt when he beholds the bloody tragedy of this war . . .
No Cross, No Crown
We came one night to an Indian town, and lay at the house of the king, who was a very pretty man. Both he and his wife received us very lovingly, and his attendants (such as they were) were very respectful to us. They gave us mats to lie on; but provision was very short with them, they having caught but little that day. At another Indian town where we stayed the king came to us, and he could speak some English. I spoke to him much, and also to his people; and they were very loving to us.
Source: “Two years in America,” a chapter from GEORGE FOX: An Autobiography, Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Rufus M. Jones, M.A., Litt. D. Professor of Philosophy in Haverford College.
The founder of the Confederacy of the Five Nations is generally acknowledged to be Dekanawida, born near the Bay of Quinte, in southeastern Ontario, Canada. During his travels, he associated himself with a Mohawk tribal lord in what is now New York, and named him Hahyonhwatha (Hiawatha) (He who has misplaced something, but knows where to find it). Hiawatha left his family and friends, and joined Dekanawida in his travels, becoming his chief spokesman. One legend has it that Dekanawida, while brilliant, had a speech impediment, and depended on Hiawatha to do his public speaking for him. Together, they traveled the length and breadth of the lands on the south shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, as well as the river to the sea, now known as the St. Lawrence. These were the homelands of tribes with a common heritage, but who had been warring with one another for many years. Dekanawida united them into a League of Nations that we now call the Iroquois League. Centuries later, Longfellow “borrowed” the name of Hiawatha to be his hero in a fictional legend; there is no other connection between the two Hiawathas nor their stories.Here is their original Constitution, as best it can be reconstructed from legend and spoken history. Read it and be amazed…keep in mind it is over 500 years old!
Source: Modern History Sourcebook: The Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy. ABOUT THE IROQUOIS CONSTITUTION: by Gerald Murphy.
See Johansen on date estimate. (June 13, 1451)
[In Unix, dates prior to 1969 cause difficulty. There is a hack. . . ; however, at this point, I am trying to avoid base code issues.]