Murray’s Review (1854-1856)

Murray’s Review (1854-1856)

 “Ignorance the Evil – Knowledge the Remedy.”

Prospectus: To displace evil. To dispel superstitions. To set aside bad authorities, precedents and examples. To show that lawful iniquity is nevertheless iniquity- that pernicious instructions are pernicious, whatever claims may be urged as to their origin- that they are the more hurtful for being believed and received as divine. To be the dread of deceivers. To prevent the increase of humbugs, already too abundant; and if possible strike down and suppress some now in existence. To expose imposture, and put false pretension to shame.

Examined: 177 (Oct. 1854) – 194 (Mar. 1856).

Editor: Orson S. Murray.

Publication Information:

Chas. B. Murray, Fruit Hills, Twenty Miles Stand, Warren County, Ohio, 177 (Oct. 1854) -178 (Nov. 1854).

M.M. Murray, Fruit Hills, Twenty Miles Stand, Warren County, Ohio, 179 (Dec. 1854) – 194 (Mar. 1856).

Frequency: Monthly.

Contributors/Correspondents: Francis Barry, Joel Brown, William C. Bryant, David Buckland, Joseph Carpenter, Eliza Cook, George P. Davis, Warren W. Dutcher, J.C. Ferguson, R.P. Frazer, Amos Gilbert, Thomas Haskell, L.A. Hine, Oliver Hull, Josiah King, C.D. Lewis, Thomas E. Longshore, William R. Merine, Daniel Pound, C.S. Rowley, Charles A. Schumann, D. Vaughn, Thomas Whalley, H.L. White, and N.H. Whiting.

Subjects/Features: Bible Criticism, Slavery, Crimean War, Agriculture, and Spiritualism.

Extracts from the writings of: Theodore Parker, Wendell Phillips and Henry Ward Beecher.

Periodical Reprints from: Liberator (Boston), N.Y. Tribune (N.Y.), Scientific American (N.Y.), Hydropathic Quarterly Review (N.Y.), Nichol’s Journal of Health, Water-Cure and Human Progress (N.Y.), Life Illustrated (N.Y.), and Country Gentlemen (Albany).




“Scripture Idolatry. A Discourse by Thomas Westworth Higginson, Minister of the Worcester Free Church.” 178 (Nov. 1854): 24-26. Murray remarks, “Brother Higginson sees that confidence in Bible infallibility has got to go. He gives warning of this, so that confidence in “God” may not go with it. I tell him that confidence in such a god, or such gods, as the Bible sets forth, has got to go also. And his warning is not unavailing only- it is needless. Mankind is as competent to do without all and any such gods as without Bibles.”

Orson S. Murray. “Love- Bible Preaching of It.” 179 (Dec. 1854): 33-35, 42. Commenting on a sermon he heard delivered by a Calvinistic Presbyterian on the following scripture, “We love him, because he first loved us,” Murray announces, “For my own part, I can find no more cause for venerating the Jehovah of the Jews, than for venerating the Jupiter of the Greeks and Romans. To me, what is attributed to both is alike fabulous. What in Greek and Roman mythology is more incredible, more irrational, more contemptible, than this doctrine of original sin, transmitted from predecessors?”

Orson S. Murray. “Damnation for Disbelief.” 180 (Jan. 1855): 49-51. Murray notes, “This doctrine keeps its victims in ignorance and disqualifies them for rational investigation. It holds them in fear, restrains them by authority, and thus blinds them to the relations of causes and effects. Here is the secret of the success of superstition- of all superstitions. It is by the preaching of this doctrine that the multitudes have been blinded, fettered and led about by faith, holding them in servility to bad men, by keeping them in fear of worse gods.”

“Retribution.” 189 (Oct. 1855): 2-3. This article, reprinted from The Liberator, reports a yellow fever outbreak in Norfolk and suggests that the outbreak is divine retribution for the persecution of a woman who dared teach a “little negro child” to read. Murray asks, “Can it be that Wm. Lloyd Garrison is so much a man of one idea as not to have perceived the worthlessness, and worse than worthlessness of such arguments against the evil he is warring upon?” Murray goes on to describe the doctrine of retribution as “one of the great and destructive falsehoods” from the Bible which serves only to blind its adopters from the “great truths of causes and effects.”

Religion and Science

Orson S. Murray. “The Age of the World.” 182 (Mar. 1855): 81-82.  Reprinted from Scientific American, the article identifies attempts to reconcile the biblical account of creation with current scientific understanding. Murray comments, “If the writer of the Bible fable had been a man of science, but especially if he had been a god of science, he would have written facts instead of fictions; he would have used intelligible language; he would have spoken so as to be understood” and concludes, “The time is hastening on, and is not far distant, when no one caring to be thought sincere and honest, will have the effrontery to make pretensions to scientific knowledge, and at the same time profess to believe in the divine authenticity of the Bible stories.”


“Slavery Eternal.” 178 (Nov. 1854): 22. Reprinted from the Richmond Examiner, the author begins, “It is all a hallucination to suppose that we are ever going to get rid of African slavery, or that it will ever be desirable to do so. It is a thing we cannot do without, that is righteous, profitable and permanent, and that belongs to Southern society, as inherently, intrinsically and durably, as the white race itself.” Murray responds, in part, by pointing out that, “The truth is, those who pretend to justify the enslavement of their fellow beings, do it by authority or permission from their gods. The worshipers of the god Jehovah take the Bible as his word; and in that they find sanction and authority for slavery. With all the intelligence and tendencies to the enlargement of freedom, at the present time, the Bible is the principal thing preventing the abandonment of American slavery.”

Gerrit Smith. “Letter to Hon. William H. Seward.” 184 (May 1855): 113-15. Commenting on a speech by Seward on the Fugitive Slave Act, Smith argues that the superficiality of Seward’s anti-slavery is due to his erroneous views of law, human rights and civil government. Murray’s review precedes the letter.

Orson S. Murray. “Slavery.” 185 (June 1855): 129-31. The article features Murray’s report of an Anti-Slavery convention in Cincinnati held in April 1855 in which it was resolved that “American slavery is antagonistic to the principles of Christianity,” and “an insult to God.”   Murray begins with the contention that “The worst of all slavery now in existence is the slavery in which Christendom is held by the Bible. It is the most extensive and the most destructive. African slavery is only a branch of the tree- or a sprout from its root. Hence the ineffectiveness of the work of the abolitionists for the last quarter of a century.”

“Senator Sumner and Slavery.” 186 (July 1855): 145-47, 154-55. This article features extracts from a lecture delivered in New York City by Charles Sumner entitled “The Anti-Slavery Enterprise: Its Necessity, Practicability and Dignity; with Glimpses of the Special Duties of the North.”

In a letter to the editor, N. H. Whiting points out that Murray argued in his last number of the Review that “the worst of all slavery is that in which Christendom is held by the Bible.” In response, Whiting remarked, “The spirit of slavery is the same everywhere. The same when shutting the Bible from the slave on the plantations of Carolina, as when attempting to force the same Bible upon us . . . . Either of these forms of slavery falls with crushing weight upon poor trampled and benighted humanity. Let us war upon these and upon all other forms of oppression and debasement.”  186 (July 1855): 150.

H.C. Wright. “The American Bible Society.” 186 (July 1855): 156-57. Wright reports that the American Bible Society “Held its anniversary this week, and declared that “No man can be saved without the Bible.” Right before their eyes, within the sound of their voice, were four millions of human beings without that Bible without which they are all doomed to hell, according to their decision; yet not one allusion was made to these perishing millions! You might have been at their meeting, and never have learned the fact, that near them were these enslaved men without the Bible. Slaveholders aided in their deliberations: slaveholders are active in that Society – not to have the Bible given to slaves, but to have it sent to distant lands. The deadliest enemies of antislavery, and the heartiest supporters of slavery, lead the van in that Society.”

“C.C. Burleigh.” 188 (Sept. 1855): 182. Murray notes, “It is a wonder to me that such men as Charles C. Burleigh, when they have convinced themselves and others that slavery is in the Constitution, and that therefore the Constitution is in that respect a bad guide, they do not see and show more clearly that slavery is in the Bible, and that the Bible is in the same respect worse than the Constitution by as much as it is more authoritative.”

Women’s Rights

“Marriage of Lucy Stone under Protest.” 185 (June 1855): 141.  This article features a protest letter signed by Henry Blackwell and Lucy Stone which reads, in part, “we deem it a duty to declare that this act on our part implies no sanction of, nor promise of voluntary obedience to such of the present laws of marriage, as refuse to recognize the wife as an independent rational being, while they confer upon the husband an injurious and unnatural superiority, investing him with legal powers which no honorable man would exercise, and which no man should possess.”

Law and Government

“Patriotism – Partyism.” 178 (Nov. 1854): 18-19. Murray contends that leaders “deprecate change, lest in the progress of it they get jostled out of place. It is so in politics. It is so in religion. But change cannot be prevented. Change is the eternal order of things. It must go on. They who would prevent it war with nature – with necessity – with the inevitable relations of things.”

In a letter to the editor, H.L. White remarks that “much as demagogues may prate about the freedom of our government and institutions, the sovereign-like independence of American Citizenship, we are still, socially, politically, and religiously, a nation wedded to slavery; and often apparently ignorant of the first principles of human liberty. Traits of character by no means noteworthy under conservative monarchies, or still more conservative hierarchies; but most sadly incongruous with the democratic idea of individual sovereignty, and republican equality.” 189 (Oct. 1855): 8.

In this extract Francis Barry asks, “Did you ever hear of a government that did not sanction and support ten times as much crime as it attempted to suppress? Did you ever know a government that was not worse in character than the mass of the people living under it? Did you ever know of a people that would not tolerate deviltry in their government that they would not be guilty of as individuals? 190 (Nov. 1855): 26.

Cooperative Associations

“The Europeo-American Colonization Society.” 190 (Nov. 1855): 28-29. This is a circular which advertises the formation of a colony of European and American socialists in Dallas County, Texas, outlines the colony’s objects and invites communication from persons interested in emigration and association. The circular is signed by D.H. Jacques, Stephen Young and Milo A. Townsend.


Warren W. Dutcher. “Spiritualism.” 191 (Dec. 1855): 34-35. Responding to the suggestion that Murray’s Review has been silent on the question of spiritualism, Murray responds, “Some of my reasons for not occupying myself and the paper more with the subject are, that I discover nothing reliable- nothing satisfactorily defined- nothing on which I can depend for guidance, aid or assistance, as a practical being. I have seen around me more harm than help to others, from pursuing it. Have seen those who were discerning and practical, in other matters, imposed upon, confused and made imbecile, by lazy, improvident imposters.”

Preceding Title: Regenerator (Fruit Hills, Ohio).

Worldcat Accession Numbers: 191223328

All the numbers which I examined are available from the American Antiquarian Society, Historical Periodicals Collection, Series 4.