Conventions

Conventions

“Proceedings of the Friends of Liberal Principles and Equal Rights, in Rochester [N.Y.], January 1831.” The Free Enquirer, 3:16-17 (Feb. 12-19, 1831): 121-22, 130-32. The authors announce their opposition to the test of witnesses with regard to their religious beliefs, resolve to counteract all efforts to sanctify Sunday by law, and declare their motto to be “Equal Rights – Equal, practical, moral (but not sectarian) Education- Perfect freedom of opinion- No legislation for or against religion.”

“Liberal Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 282 (Aug. 19, 1836): 2. This convention was held in the Lyceum at Saratoga Springs, New York on August 1-2, 2836, was organized by Ransom Cook, Thomas Thompson, and Charles Knowlton, and resulted in the formation of the United States Moral and Philosophical Society for the General Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Included are the organizations Constitution and a circular which concludes, “In our plan of organization, we have endeavored to avoid everything that has a tendency to disunion; and shall endeavor, in our future operations, to banish prejudice and passion, and be governed solely by reason, truth and justice, to act always on the principle of utility, by striving to promote the greatest possible good of the greatest number. And we expect every number of this society to be vigilant, in diffusing a spirit of friendship and good will amongst us all. Let us, then, move along like a band of brothers, harmoniously pursuing our own and the general good.”

“The Convention and Celebration.” Cleveland Liberalist, 1:17 (Jan. 7, 1837): 132. Underhill announces a convention to be held Jan. 28, 1837 at the House of Mr. Edgerly in Hudson, Portage County to organize an auxiliary to the U.S. Moral and Philanthropic Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge.

“Ohio Liberal Convention.” Cleveland Liberalist, 1:26 (Mar. 11, 1837): 204-05. A summary of the proceedings held at the Free Meeting House in Shalersville, Ohio on January 28, 1837 and featuring the address of Samuel Underhill.

W.C. Bell. “Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 589 (Aug. 31, 1842): 1. Bell advocates the convening of Infidels and offers a sample Declaration that might be adopted at such a convention. In part, the declaration reads, “We do solemnly repudiate and disclaim all and every act or acts, whereby an individual may be held accountable or responsible for opinion or opinions, or for their candid and honest avowal; and we hold that judgment, opinion and belief are involuntary operations of mind in their very essence natural, inherent and inalienable. We do declare that the important object that bears upon society refers itself to the actions of men; that the only legitimate enquiries are those in relation to conduct.”

“Infidel Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 1:8 (Jan. 7, 1843): 63-64. Calling for a union of materialist, the authors[1] exclaim, “If our republican institutions are to be maintained- if we are to be anything other than helots and slaves to priests- we must unite.” Vale agrees to forward the call for a convention but expresses some pessimism given the tendency of “our most eminent and skeptical men” to conceal their infidelity.

M.C.B. “Views from Kentucky.” The Beacon (Third Series), 1:11 (Jan. 28, 1843): 86. In support of a proposed Infidel Convention, the author remarks, “The amelioration of society, by the introduction of general and equal education; by the elevation of all classes to a comparatively pure criterion of morals, is the great centre, to which the efforts of every liberal and enlightened free thinker tend. This has been derided as idle, visionary, and utopian; so has every important discovery, and every successful attempt to improve the condition of man. Our friends are now emphatically called on; let us have their names, their influence, their support of liberal publications, and the earnest of a desire to consummate the disenthralment of the mind.”

“Convention of Free Inquirers.” The Beacon (Third Series), 1:15 (Feb. 25, 1843): 117-18. Vale proposes organizing local conventions before convening a general/national convention. He also points out the need for traveling lecturers on the natural sciences, free inquiry and rationalism.

Charles Knowlton. “Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 628 (May 31, 1843): 1. Knowlton reminds readers of the National Infidel Convention previously held at Saratoga Springs, New York on August 1-2, 1836 for the purpose of organizing a National Infidel Society, which never gained steam due to a lack of support and funds. Knowlton suggests that before convening another national infidel convention, what is needed is an able, talented and dedicated individual to commit to a one year infidel mission in which he will deliver a course of lectures, distribute infidel books and pamphlets, and attempt to organize regional infidel societies.

William C. Bell. “Infidel Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 1:30 (June 10, 1843): 235-36. Reprinted from the Boston Investigator. Bell concludes, “For what I have done and will continue to do in the cause of Liberty of Conscience, I ask no further reward than I possess in my own mind, where, for thirty-two years past, strengthened by daily observation and experience, rests a strong and abiding sentiment, that what is called Religion is founded in the ignorance of mankind and has been and is perpetuated with sinister views; that Truth is mighty and will prevail.”

“A Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 1:32 (June 24, 1843): 253-55. Vale contends that the object of a national convention of materialists, pantheist, deists, and all other classes of free inquirers should be, “To free the country from the influence of superstition, which now obstructs science, perverts education, sullies our politics, infects our females, and through them our firesides and sociabilities, and as a consequence makes hypocrites of our clergy, lecturers, authors, teachers, politicians and men of business.”

“Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 1:42 (Sept. 2, 1843): 334. The free thinkers of Corning, New York[2] proclaim, “We believe that once well organized for the purpose of promoting mental freedom, scientific research, and moral goodness, we to a great extent cease to be the subject of vituperation and scandal; for then will the number of the fearless and undaunted be known; and then will our numbers be rapidly augmented by those who now through fear stand alone from our cause. Let us no longer fear to declare to the world our principles- let us associate, and let our conduct, both as individuals, and in an associated capacity, be such as to convince our fellow men of the purity of our motives and the practicability and utility of our design.”

William C. Bell. “Infidel Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 2:3 (Dec. 2, 1843): Bell exclaims, “Something must be done to substitute rational sources of amusement and improvement, in the place of fanatical proceedings of the Religionists. I know nothing that can conduce to a more desirable change than associations of liberalists or rationalists, upon the principle of unlimited and inviolable freedom of thought. We may have rules without creeds. We can do nothing without concert.”

William C. Bell. “Infidel Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 2:16 (Mar. 2, 1844): 127-28. Reiterating his call for association, Bell writes, “Let us have temples to meet in, to declaim, give and receive instruction; let us form societies to cultivate the social relations; let us have schools of practical, physical, and moral education: above all, let us repudiate the abomination of buying morality with a price; let us eschew the notion that we are akin to Gods; let us confine ourselves to the sphere in which nature has placed us; let us study her laws, and we may find that we may thus command her.”

Logas. “A Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 2:33 (June 29, 1844): 263-64. The author contends that, “Such a Convention held in the right spirit, is destined to mark a memorable era in the history of America; and not that alone, but must constitute a notable epoch in the history of the development of humanity. I hail it as the harbinger of the intellectual, the rational era, the Millennium of the Prophets.”

“Judge [Thomas] Herttell on a Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 2:44 (Sept. 14, 1844): 345-46. Reflecting on a proposed infidel convention, Herttell states, “In its practicability I have great hopes; in its utility I have much faith; of its propriety and necessity I have no doubt; and if properly got up, and wisely managed by prudent and moral men, it cannot fail to do good.”

O.W. “Suggestions from the West – Galena. The Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 2:47 (Oct. 5, 1844): 374-75. The author asserts that, “if the sentiment of Infidels could be concentrated, fanaticism would even in this generation find its place. We have the facts, we have truth and reason and talent sufficient to correct the evils of society; all we want is popularity. Then let us organize, and show our numbers and strength.”

William C. Bell. “Infidel Convention. Its Rise and Progress.” The Beacon (Third Series), 2:48 (Oct. 12, 1844): 381-83. Bell proposes circulating to newspapers throughout the United States an advertisement for the Infidel Convention which announces that, “The Infidels throughout this Union, desire to repudiate all ecclesiastical canons and dogmas which are not of universal application; to develop and introduce modes of thought and feeling in accordance with the natural laws of the social relations.”

“Judge Herttell on [an Infidel] Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 700 (Oct. 16, 1844): 1. Reprinted from the Beacon (New York). In support of convening a national infidel convention, Herttell notes “No person or body of men differing essentially from public opinion, whether right or wrong, on the subject of religion, have ever succeeded in the work of reformation, but by a united and simultaneous perseverance in efforts to sustain their views and cause their rights to be respected.”

“The Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:6 (Jan. 25, 1845): 47-48. This article provides the meeting minutes of the convention arrangement committee.

“The Convention – By Judge Herttell.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:7 (Feb.1, 1845): 51-52. Herttell identifies what he believes should be the objects of an infidel convention, including, “a repeal of the judiciary law by which intelligent and honest infidels are deprived of their equal, natural, and civil right to testify as witnesses.”

Wm. C. Bell. “One Argument More for the Infidel Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:11 (Mar. 1, 1845): 87-88. Arguing in favor of association, Bell points out, “No principles, whether right or wrong, have ever influenced the mass of mankind, without concert and cooperation.”

Joseph Gregory. “Infidel Convention.” The Regenerator, 30 (May 26, 1845): 118-19. Gregory reports on the Infidel Convention convened in New York City, identifies addressors of the convention, notes that 1,000 persons attended, and laments the time spent haggling over the name of the society. Murray acknowledges that as a sect, the Infidel Society, no doubt, has allowed its members and others range of thought and action beyond all other sects, but, nonetheless, like all other sects “must govern and be governed by despotic commands . . . . Why not be free? Be untied? Untrammeled? Always ready to abandon error? To advance and improve?”

“Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 723 (Mar. 26, 1845): 3. Responding to a request from Henry Clapp Jr., editor of the Pioneer, the editor outlines, in brief, what he means by “infidel principles,” including the belief “that all human beings, whoever and wherever they may be, of whatever nation, clime, sex, color, sentiment, or condition, are brethren and sisters, and entitled by their existence to the comforts and pleasures, the rights and privileges necessary to the full development of all their faculties.”

G.V. “The Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:17 (Apr. 12, 1845): 133-36. In this article further reasons are identified for convening infidels, including assessing the strength of the movement, encouraging the formation of independent, local, liberal societies, building or possessing a liberal hall in New York, and establishing benefit societies among and by Free Enquirers.

“The Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:18 (Apr. 19, 1845): 142-43. This article features extracts from letters received in support of the convention including letters from Louisiana and Kentucky.

B. “Ode for the Convention of Free Enquirers.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:20 (May 3, 1845): 153.

S.C. Frey. “On the Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:20 (May 3, 1845): 158. This is a letter written from Canton, Ohio, Frey reports that the Stark County Moral and Philosophical Society has appointed five delegates to attend the convention and proposes that the convention make arrangements for sending out liberal missionaries.

G.V. “The Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:21 (May 10, 1845): 168. Vale provides a preliminary report on the convention.

“Infidel Convention. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, holden in the City of New York, May 4th, 5th, and 6th, 1845.” The Boston Investigator, 729-31 (May 14-28, 1845).[3] The proceedings include: Thomas Herttell’s “Declaration of Opinions,” and their newly formed Infidel Society’s preamble and constitution.

“The Late Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 729 (May 14, 1845): 2-3. The editor notes, “It has come- and gone. The ray of hope, which before beamed dimly upon a scattered and isolated few, shall now, if we are true to ourselves, be reflected from thousands of emancipated minds;- demonstrating that the Eternal Truths which form the basis of our organization shall yet pervade the moral and social world, to the annihilation of the deep-rooted errors of Ignorance and Superstition.”

“The Late Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:22 (May 17, 1845): 174-75. Under this heading are two letters, one from a German rationalist and another from a “student of divinity.”

“The Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:22 (May 17, 1845): 175-76. This article features letters of support for the convention, including a series of resolutions adopted by the Free Enquirers’ Library Society of Corning, signed by Samuel Moore and E.P. Rogers.

“On the Late Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:23 (May 24, 1845): 180-81. This is a letter from O. Welch from Galena, Illinois who provides a scathing criticism of the convention including “Had we anticipated an illiberal conventional organization, and such a contracted narrow field of objects as merely to organize ourselves into a sect with constitutions or creeds, Missionary and tract societies, and a revenue and proselytizing system, we would never have travelled 3000 miles to attend it. . . . If this is a representation of Infidelity, one thing is certain, there is not unanimity enough to form national action- we must wear the oppressors chains a little longer, and arm ourselves again for single combat, till circumstances indicate a more favorable time.”

“The Late Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:30 (July 12, 1845): 238-39. This is a letter from John Morrison to Osea Welch, questioning his criticisms of the convention.

“The Late Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:33 (Aug. 2, 1845): 262-63. This is a response from Osea Welch to John Morrison.

“The Late Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:35 (Aug. 16, 1845): 279-80. A letter from Samuel Ludvigh in which he exposes some of the convention’s “wire-pullers and reveals that during a preliminary meeting to the convention, “I was sorry to perceive that my first remarks on mental liberty, involving the slavery question in the South, were not received by the Southern delegates with that mental independence which is the first characteristic of a Free Inquirer, or of an Infidel.”

“The Convention.” The Beacon (Third Series), 3:38 (Sept. 6, 1845): 303-04. This is a letter from Jas. H. Beckett defending W.C. Bell against charges of being one of the convention’s behind the scenes wire-pullers. Vale replies that Bell was not one of the convention’s wire-pullers but their dupe.

“The Boston Investigator – The (Infidel) Convention,” “Brief History of the Late Convention,” “Brief History of the Last Convention as a Guide to the Next.” The Beacon (Fourth Series), 1:16-21 (Apr. 11- May 16, 1846): 127-28, 143-44, 149-51, 158-60, 166-68. In response to an accusation that Vale is opposed to the “Infidel Society for the Promotion of Mental Liberty,” Vale clarifies, “This is untrue. I did all I could to promote it; but I am opposed to those who risked its harmony, who formed a clique, put themselves into office, and set up an exclusive New-York-Boston interest . . . . I am opposed to Mr. Tho[ma]s Thompson, Mr. O[liver] White, and your [Boston Investigator] agent Mr. John Morrison.” Vale proceeds to exhaustively detail his objections to this “clique” by examining the secret history of past conventions.

“The Convention – Boston Investigator.” The Beacon (Fourth Series), 1:22 (May 23, 1846): 172-75. This is an exchange of letters between J.P. Mendum and Vale concerning the late convention.

“A Convention.” The Beacon (Fourth Series), 1:24 (June 6, 1846): 191. This is an announcement of a convention to be convened in Palmyra, Ohio to, among other things, “establish a school, on a permanent basis, for the teaching of science and morals, to be forever disconnected with priestcraft and its influences.”

“Convention of Members and Delegates of the Infidel Society for the Promotion of Universal Mental Liberty” and “The Late Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 788-89 (July 1-8, 1846).

Thomas Herttell. “Address, to the Delegates of the Infidel Society for the Promotion of Mental Liberty.” The Boston Investigator, 790 (July 15, 1846): 1-2. Herttell remarks, “It is equally true, that credulity is the first-born offspring of human ignorance, and that superstition is a lineal and certain descendant of the same stock. These constitute the radical source of Religion. And so long has this unholy trinity influenced and governed the world, that there are now (few or) no opinions, however wrong, which cannot be impressed on the human mind as religious, no actions which cannot be influenced to commit in the name of religion, no wrongs which man cannot be taught to regard as virtues, no vice which he may not learn to tolerate, no crime which he may not be induced to perpetuate as a duty, when educated as man has been, from infancy to old age, to regard such wrongs as promotive of good order and regular government, and necessary to the happiness and well-being of the human race.”

“Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 829 (Apr. 14, 1847): 2. Acknowledging the growing apathy among American Infidels, the editor notes, “Unless we speedily commence to act, instead of talking so frothily and to so little purpose, the past will strive in vain to show so listless, so vapid, so inefficient a set of braggers as we.”

“Minutes of the Second Annual Meeting of the United States Infidel Society for the Promotion of Universal Mental Liberty.” The Boston Investigator, 840 (June 20, 1847): 1.

“The Philadelphia Liberal Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1380 (Nov. 4, 1857): 2. Featured here is an address signed by Joseph Dean and Thomas Eastman announcing that delegates from Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and other states were present at the convention, and succeeded in drafting a series of resolutions, together with a Declaration of Principles and Objects, which along with the convention proceedings are to be published in pamphlet form.

“Minutes of the Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1390 (Jan. 13, 1858): 2. This article provides a very brief outline of the proceedings of the Philadelphia Liberal Convention and announces the publication of a 44 page pamphlet containing the full proceedings.[4]

“Reason for Organization and Declaration of Principles.” The Boston Investigator, 1406 (May 5, 1858): 4. This article announces that their organization will be called The Infidel Association of the United States, that each man and woman joining will retain their mental sovereignty, freedom, and independence and that ““the sphere of our study will be the Order of Nature, with a view to knowledge of her laws for our governance;” leaving to the lovers of unprofitable studies the impossible task of finding out her origin and essence.” The Infidel Association strangely concludes its declaration of principles by stating that “we accept the teaching of Nature, that one man should be the husband of one woman; and that the union should be voluntary, permanent, and founded in mutual esteem.”

“Special Notices. Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1417 (July 21, 1858): 3. A call from the central committee of the Infidel Union of the United States, and signed by Robert Wallin, to convene in Philadelphia next October. Expected speakers include Joseph Barker, Gilbert Vale and Ernestine L. Rose.

“The Infidel Convention at Philadelphia.” The Boston Investigator, 1419-27 (Aug. 4- Sept. 29, 1858). This series of articles includes letters from Joseph Barker and E. Morton, the remarks of Thomas Illman made during the 1857 convention, and the resolutions passed at the 1857 convention.

“The Infidel Convention at Philadelphia.” The Boston Investigator, 1429 (Oct. 13, 1858): 2. Seaver provides a brief report on the convention’s proceedings.

Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, Held in Philadelphia, Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 4th and 5th, 1858.” The Boston Investigator, 1433 (Nov. 10, 1858): 1, 4. The preamble of the Constitution of the Infidel Association of the United States reads, “We, the Infidels, of the United States, believing that all religions of the earth are based in ignorance or fraud, and that there influence on the character and condition of mankind is injurious, do form ourselves into an Association under the name of the Infidel Association of the United States, for the purpose of overthrowing religion and establishing everywhere in its place the principles of science and the practice of virtue.” In addition to the Association’s constitution, the proceedings include abstracts of speeches, the report of the central committee and an address delivered by William King.

“A Free Convention in Vermont.” The Boston Investigator, 1409 (May 26, 1858): 2. A circular authored by John Landon and forwarded to the Investigator by Ernestine L. Rose which reads, in part, “Come then, friends of Free Thought. Come one, come all. Men of all religious creeds, and men of no creed shall find equal welcome. . . . The only common ground on which we seek to meet, is that of fearless discussion, and the only pledge we make is to bring a rational investigation to the solution of every problem involving the social or religious duty and destiny of the race.”

“For Rutland.” The Boston Investigator, 1412 (June 16, 1858): 3. Announcing expected speakers at the convention, including Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison and Ernestine L. Rose.

“The Rutland (Vt.) Free Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1415 (July 7, 1858): 2. This article reports that the convention was held June 25-27, with over 2,000 people in attendance. The following subjects were discussed: spiritualism, women’s rights, and anti-slavery.

“Free Convention at Rutland, Vt.” The Boston Investigator, 1415 (July 7, 1858): 4. This article features the convention’s resolutions, on among other things, land reform, marriage, spiritualism, free trade, and the following resolution on slavery, “that slavery is a wrong which no power in the universe can make right; therefore, any law, constitution, court or government, any church, priesthood, creed or Bible, or any Christ or any God that, by silence or otherwise, authorizes man to enslave man, merits the scorn and contempt of mankind.”

Listener. “The Rutland “Free” Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1416 (July 14, 1858): 1. The author expresses his frustration that discussion of spiritualism dominated the convention and concludes, “whenever any people follow after creeds based on supernaturalism, no matter whether it be an old or young creed, the evil is the same – indifference to true practical reforms is the result . . . .”

“The Rutland Convention- Marriage.” The Boston Investigator, 1416 (July 14, 1858): 2. Commenting on the presses condemnation of the convention’s resolutions on marriage, the editor notes, “it is a fact that whenever anyone expresses a desire to alter the present marriage laws, making the more lenient and just towards woman, he is obliged to run the gauntlet, as it were, of misrepresentation and abuse; and if a female is found courageous enough and sufficiently devoted to the welfare of her sex to engage in this enterprise, though she is “chaste as ice, as pure as snow, she shall not escape calumny.””

Horace Seaver. “Authority.” The Boston Investigator, 1417 (July 21, 1858): 4. Remarks made by Seaver at the Free Convention held in Rutland. Seaver stresses, “We have secured some political freedom,- I mean for such of us as have white complexions, and are sound in the faith;- but with regard to mental freedom, we are to the present hour almost literally in bondage to this potent spell, Authority. Men and women really dare not think for themselves, because they are fearful of some book or some church, some sect or some creed, that stands in the way.”

E. Morton. “The Philadelphia Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1437 (Dec. 8, 1858): 1. Discussing infidel proselytism, Morton remarks, “The difference between a mild and a harsh manner of treating a subject, may in some measure be seen by a comparison between Volney and Paine, possessed of equally good and sincere intentions. Volney’s manner, cool, courteous, and dignified, commands the respect and admiration of thousands on thousands of sincere Christians, with a very moderate share of the hatred and vindictiveness of the priesthood. While Paine, whose reasoning is equally sound, yet so severe, sarcastic, and acrimonious, as to arouse the whole hornet’s nest of priestcraft to the utmost pitch of hostility.”

“Liberal Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1477 (Sept. 14, 1859): 164. The editor remarks, “Every observing man is well aware that reforms of any kind never begin in a church; the right of universal mental liberty did not, nor the temperance reform, anti-slavery, and women’s rights reform &c; consequently the first duty for a progressive man to perform, who is unfortunately connected with a church of any description, is to leave it without delay.”

“Minutes of the proceedings of the Infidel Convention, Held in Philadelphia, Oct. 3d and 4th, 1859.” The Boston Investigator, 1483 (Oct. 26, 1859): 210-11. The minutes feature adopted resolutions on, among other things, employment of chaplains in the army and navy, taxation of church property, and Sunday laws; and a declaration of principles.

“A Letter from Mrs. E. L. Rose, to the National Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1487 (Nov. 23, 1859): 242. Rose proclaims that “Freedom of conscience- the natural prerogative of every mind to think and express his thoughts on all subjects connected with his interest and well-being, seems to me of such paramount importance, that in comparison with it, every other movement, however good in itself, falls into utter insignificance. For an impediment to mental freedom is an almost insurmountable obstacle to the full growth, development, elevation, and progress of man, and consequently more truly pernicious and destructive to the welfare and happiness of the race than any other tyranny that could be exerted over him.”

“A Letter from Mrs. Tamar Davis, to the Liberal Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1487 (Nov. 23, 1859): 242. Davis argues that women are the slaves of bigotry and priestly intolerance and that “the first step towards the eradication of superstition should be attempts to disenthrall the female mind.”

The Central Committee’s Report. To the President and Members of the Infidel Association of the United States, assembled in Convention in the City of Philadelphia on the 3rd of October, 1859.” The Boston Investigator, 1490 (Dec. 14, 1859): 266. Respectfully submitted by Robert Wallin.

“The Infidel Convention of 1860.” The Boston Investigator, 1534 (Oct. 17, 1860): 204. The editor reports that the convention was attended by two to three hundred persons and that the number of regional branches attached to the national association had grown to twenty-five. Also reported were the association’s officers: Horace Seaver, President; Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose, Orson S. Murray, Joseph Treat, Robert Wallin, Vice Presidents; James M. Beckett, Thomas Curtis, Secretaries; Josiah P. Mendum, William E. Rose, Otis Clapp, Business Committee.

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1536-38 (Oct. 31-Nov. 14, 1860): 218-19, 226-27, 235.

R.W. “The Next Infidel Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1573 (July 17, 1861): 101. Asking whether there should be an annual convention and if so when, the author remarks, “A bloody and insane rebellion exists, which I trust all Infidels not tainted with the corrupting blemish of chattel slavery are exerting all their efforts to suppress, and so will be deprived of the opportunity of attending to Convention business.”

Joseph Treat. “That Question of a Convention.” The Boston Investigator, 1574 (July 24, 1861): 109. Treat supports convening in Boston, if for no other reason but to compile a tract for distribution which proclaims the work of infidels.

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, held in Chapman Hall, Boston, May 27, 1862.” The Boston Investigator, 1617 (June 4, 1862): 35. J.M. Beckett reported that the association’s branches were “disorganized temporarily, by the absence of a working majority of the male members in the war.” Ernestine Rose proposed the following resolution “That it is the bounden duty of every lover of freedom and justice to discard the irresponsible power which has enslaved the human mind, and to aid in emancipating the slaves wherever found, and whatever color.” One member moved to strike out the last sentence of the resolution referring to color, while a few other members expressed their opposition to Infidels meddling with the slavery question. Nonetheless, Rose’s resolution was adopted without amendment.

Rheubin Hall. “Objections to Mrs. Rose’s Resolution.” The Boston Investigator, 1620 (June 25, 1862): 59. Hall argues that the adoption of Rose’s resolution “sounds the death-knell of Infidel organization.” He then remarks, “Would the overthrow of slavery affect the cause of Infidelity, or cripple that of Christianity? Not in the least. For Christianity can live just as well with slavery abolished, as with slavery existent. But slavery cannot live without Christianity, because its authority is founded alone in the Bible. . . . [D]estroy this “divine authority” and we take from the slavery propagandist his most effectual argument; and compel the slavery question to rest on its own merits- which done, it will be an easy task to bear away the paralyzed form to its silent tomb.”

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, Held at Mercantile Hall, Summer Street, Boston, on Wednesday, May 27, 1863.” The Boston Investigator, 1669-70 (June 10-17, 1863): 34-35, 38-39, 43, 46. This article features letters from Ernestine L. Rose, Lewis Masquerier, Joseph Lawton, R. Wallin,  Thomas Curtis, Parker Pillsbury, Oliver White and extended addresses and remarks from LaRoy Sunderland and E. Von Adelung.

Endnotes:

[1] L. Callaghan, James Carter, Orrin Newton, Joseph Major, and John Ferral.

[2] E.P. Rogers, Samuel L. Moore, Stephen March, John Dawson, Alanzon Bennett, Gillespie Armstrong, Jonathan  Brown, Almun Cowles, Norman Andrews, Paris Wheelock, Charles H. Powers, and George Gardiner.

[3] J.P. Mendum published the proceedings of the infidel convention in pamphlet form. See, The Meteor of Light: Containing the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, held in the city of New York, May 4th, 5th, and 6th, 1845.

[4] Minutes of the Infidel Convention, held in the city of Philadelphia, Sept. 7th and 8th, 1857 (Philadelphia, Central Committee of the Infidel Association of the United States, 1857).

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