The Regenerator (1844-1854)
“Ignorance the Evil – Knowledge the Remedy.”
Prospectus: This paper is devoted to universal inquiry, general improvement, and perpetual progress. Is a channel for free thought and faithful expression. Is devoted to no one idea. Is the servant of no sect; the organ of no party; the defender of no faith; the establisher of no creed; the expounder of no constitution; the interpreter of no oracle; the instrument of no dictator; the mouthpiece of no dogmatist; the advocate of no exclusive interest. Is devoted to the interests of all. Is seeking the good of creation; the harmony of the universe; the happiness of every living and susceptible being and thing. Free inquiry is the ground. The occupancy is for all. The desire is to hear and be heard- to receive as well as inpart. All can, therefore, through this medium express their own views and sentiments for themselves.
Examined: 1 (Jan. 1, 1844) – 176 (Mar. 1854).
Editor: Orson S. Murray.
New York, New York. 1 (Jan. 1, 1844) – 26 (June 22, 1844).
Fruit Hills, Warren County, Ohio. 27 (Apr. 14, 1845) – 176 (Mar. 1854).
Weekly. 1 (Jan. 1, 1844) – 26 (June 22, 1844).
Bi-weekly. 27 (Apr. 14, 1845) – 134 (Nov. 1849).
Monthly. 135 (Dec. 1849) – 176 (Mar. 1854).
Contributors: John Baxter (“Knox”), Abram Brooke, Henry Brown, Joel Brown, Paul Brown, E. Gould Buffum, Christian Burghalder, Earl W. Capron, Robert Cheyne, John S. Clackner, Amos Clement, John C. Ferguson, Amos Gilbert, Joseph Gregory, Harlow Hard, Mehitable Haskell, William Hick, Isaac Ironside, O.N. Kellogg, Charles Lane, Angelique Le Petit Martin, Nathan Meriam, Carlos O. Murray, Valentine Nicholson, I. Newton Peirce, Henry Pratt, Pennock Pusey (P.P.), D. Reddington, Elizabeth Robinson, F. Wm. Schietz, James Sellers Jr., Logan Sleeper, A.B. Smolnikar, Sydney Southworth, Milo A. Townsend, Walter Van Dusen, N. Walton, Benjamin Warden, E. Warman, John O. Wattles, Benjamin Webb, William H. Whinery, S. Whipple, and Thomas Wickersham.
Subjects/Features: Association/Community/Phalanx News and Letters, Physiological Reformation (Vegetarianism, Hydropathy, Hygeism), Agriculture, “Culture of the Fruit,” Slavery, Sunday Laws, Capital Punishment, “Venereal Excesses,” Phrenology, Spiritualism, Mysticism, Society of Friends, Quaker Society, Marriage, Property System, Dr. Frederick Hollick Case, Mexican American War, Mind-Materialism Question, National Reform- Free Soil, Phonotype, Cholera, Capital Punishment, Spiritual Knockings, Fugitive Slave Bill, and Poetry.
Reprints/Extracts from: Sylvester Graham, Lectures on the Science of Human Life, A Collection from the Newspaper Writings of Nathaniel Peabody Rogers; Baron D’Holbach, The System of Nature; Or the Laws of the Moral and Physical World, and Thomas Ewbank, A Descriptive and Historical Account of Hydraulic and Other Machines for Raising Water.
Periodical Reprints from: Pioneer and Herald of Freedom (Lynn, Mass.), Water-Cure Journal (NY), Water Cure Advocate (Salem, Or.), Horticulturist (Albany, N.Y.), Chronotype (Boston, MA.), Ohio Cultivator (Columbus, Ohio), Cultivator (Albany, N.Y.), Pleasure Boat (Portland, Me.), Spirit of the Age (New York), New York Tribune, Scientific American (N.Y.), Univercoelum (New York), Cincinnati Daily Nonpareil, and The Liberator (Boston).
Review of The Regenerator by William H. Burleigh, editor of the Christian Freeman, followed by Murray’s reply. 4 (Jan. 22, 1844): 14. Burleigh notes, “Mr. Murray appears to be a benevolent and self-denying man- is very eccentric in his appearance- very wild in many of his notions- and a very unsafe leader, for he leads into the mazes of skepticism and infidelity.” To which Murray replies, “Brother Burleigh says I am an unsafe leader. Of course he holds to the leading and being-led system. I do not. Am no leader. Will neither lead nor be led. Think it time for human beings to begin to stand on their own feet and walk for themselves uprightly. They have already been led too long.”
Milo A. Townsend. “Christianity – Infidelity.” 21 (May 18, 1844): 81. Townsend writes “Give me an infidelity which advocates and practices peace and purity, and love and good will, rather than a Christianity which ‘trades in slaves and the souls of men; which rolls in luxury, while the poor are starving- which riots on the labor of others- which drives the engines of war and desolation over the land, and rolls its garments in the blood of innocent humanity.”
Orson S. Murray. “The Infidel in a Gale.” 28 (Apr. 28, 1845): 110. Murray refutes the rumors that while on board a steam boat, wreaked by a gale, he begged the lord to forgive his blasphemy.
Matthew Pickles. “Who are the Infidels?” 104 (Apr. 3, 1848): 406. The author argues that Infidel should not have a religious bearing. “If it has, it has no more meaning than that of difference of religious opinions: for if we are to be called Infidels because we do not believe the Bible’s account of creation, and attributes of the creator, or its articles of faith, I see no reason why the Mussulman should not apply the term to the Christians, the Pagan to them both, and so on, until there would be nothing but Infidels left, of different shades or sects.”
“Extract from a Letter.” 175 (Jan. 1854): 353. Murray states, “If the Regenerator has helped to dispel and disperse the delusion, that that book [the Bible] is the voice of a god- and to show that it is only the words of men- men, some of them, in profound ignorance and darkness on the subjects they were pretending to elucidate- it has done something towards accomplishing one of the principal objects which have impelled me to do the very unpopular work of publishing it.”
Joseph Gregory. “Infidel Convention.” 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?”
“Obituary.” Regenerator Extra (May 20, 1849): i-iv. This extra provides reflections on the life and character of Orson’s son – Carlos O. Murray.
“Condolence.” 129 (June 1849): 4-6. Features letters of condolence concerning the Death of Carlos O. Murray from John C. Ferguson, Walter Van Dusen, F.J. Farr, and Pennock Pusey. Farr remarked, “I congratulate you that you are free from the terrors that religion imposes upon its votaries. In consigning your dearly loved son to an early grave, your imagination is darkened by no views of a burning hell opening to receive him. No frowns of an god disturb your peaceful reflections. No devil or his fiends mar your thoughts. No gloomy theology holds your mind in its unrelenting grasp. You are free from that fear which leads the devotee of religion to look upon death as the king of terrors. You have parted with your son, feeling that he was guided while here by a desire for truth and a love of right, and you have no fears for the future. I am confident you will be sustained in your affliction by that philosophy which leads you to rely upon the unerring manifestations of nature.”
“Henry Hetherington.” 134 (Nov. 1849): 86-87. This article features extracts from Hetherington’s last will and testament and extracts from G.J. Holyoke’s funeral oration, reprinted from The Reasoner (London). In his will, Hetherington attests, “I consider priestcraft and superstition the greatest obstacle to human improvement and happiness. During my life, I have, to the best of my ability, sincerely, and strenuously exposed and opposed them and die with a firm conviction that Truth, Justice, and Liberty will never be permanently established on earth till every vestige of superstition and priescraft shall be utterly destroyed.”
Church and State
“The National Chaplaincy.” 137 (Feb. 1850): 136-37. Features a petition calling for the abolition of the national chaplaincy, which first appeared in the Banner of Liberty and The Beacon. The petition argues that the national chaplaincy system violates the 1st amendment, the tenth amendment, and article 6, section 3 of the United States Constitution.
“Law.” 94 (Nov. 15, 1847): 241-43. Murray provides a detailed narrative of a court’s inquiry into his competency to testify as a witness based on his religious opinions. Murray concludes that “A man may be honest- fulfill all the requisitions of good neighborhood- have the confidence of all his neighbors, as being practically upright, humane and peaceful. All this goes for nothing in the estimation of law and religion, if he cannot believe everything dictated to him, irrespective of evidence- or if he be honest enough to avow his convictions in full fidelity to evidence forced into his sight.”
“Testimony Rejected.” 95 (Nov. 29, 1847): 257-58. This article features a report on Murray’s rejection as a witness from a Court of Common Pleas in Cincinnati, Ohio, reprinted from the Chronotype, and is followed by Murray’s comments which supply additional details about the proceedings.
Park Godwin. “Orson Murray and the Courts.” 96 (Dec. 13, 1847): 273-75. Reprinted from the Harbinger. Godwin testifies that “Mr. Murray has a very peculiar cast of mind; he is literal and unimaginative to the last degree of rigidity. He will take nothing whatever for granted, and trusts to no evidence but the evidences of the senses; his religious nature seems to have been burnt out by the fires of Calvinism, into which he ventured too far, but we believe him to be wholly incapable of uttering an untruth.” Responding to some of the Harbinger’s misinformation, Murray details his past experiences as a man of religion.
“Incompetency of Witnesses.” 97 (Dec. 27, 1847): 289-91. Reprinted here are two editorials, one from the Cincinnati Morning Herald and the other from the Herald of Truth, which comment on the rejection of Murray as a witness on grounds of his infidelity. The editor of the Herald of Truth remarks, “How would I feel, were the scales turned, and Atheists should deny me the right to act as a man, because I believed in the common conceptions of a God, a future life, &c.? Why, I would say to him – Come, destroy my property, take the bread from my children’s mouths, desolate my hearth, and burn my house; but do not so outrage my nature, and the feelings of my wife, relatives, and friends, as to deny my manhood!”
John Appleton. “Judicial Oaths” 139 (Apr. 1850): 168-71. Reprinted from the Massachusetts Quarterly Review.
“Testimony of Atheists.” 170 (May 1853): 278. Reprinted from the Cincinnati Nonpareil, the author reports that Judge Sprague of the U.S. Circuit Court disallowed Walter Hunt of New York from testifying on account of his atheism. The author opines “Here we have the strange spectacle of a judicial tyrant placing implicit confidence in the everyday conversation of an atheist, while declaring him utterly unworthy of belief when placed upon his oath! And this in a country where freedom of opinion is tolerated and liberty of conscience is guaranteed, without persecution or proscription of any kind! Was ever a more contemptible thing perpetrated in a free country of civilized people.”
Religion in the Public Schools
“Religion and Common Schools.” 172 (Aug. 1853): 305-06. Reprinted from the N.Y. Tribune, Greeley remarks that state schools, “are not established to teach religion, since our institutions make that the private concern of each person and each family. They are to instruct in useful knowledge and mental discipline. Men of all forms of faith are taxed for their support, and to make them the vehicles of teaching the religious dogmas of any denomination would be invasion alike of the rights of individuals and of our whole political system.”
Orson S. Murray. “The Sabbath.” 25 (June 15, 1844): 98-99. Murray exclaims that the Sabbath “is a day for gluttony and lounging. For extravagance of dress, decoration and display. For smothering thought and suppressing speech. For the promotion of creedism and caste. For filling the world with fear and torment, with hatred and maliciousness, with anything but knowledge and good will. For exalting useless forms and senseless ceremonies, over moral excellence and practical goodness.”
“Persecution Among the Green Hills of Vermont. In Jail for Working Sunday.” 38 (Sept. 8, 1845): 152. Reprinted from the Herald of Freedom. This article features a letter from jail written by Plymon Seaver chronicling his arrest and imprisonment for laboring on the Sabbath. The article includes the complaint, arrest warrant, and mittimus filed against Seaver.
“Plymon Seaver.” 40 (Oct. 6, 1845): 158-59. Reprinted from the Herald of Freedom; includes a letter from Seaver in which he reports “The prison was my wearisome home for twenty-nine days. It did not serve to make a Sabbatarian of me by thus denying me of all the sweetest pleasures of life. Every day’s experience confirmed me more and more in the truth of the position I had previously taken. . . . Since I came out, I have pursued the same course in respect to the Sabbath as before. I have labored two or three whole Sundays, right in the face and eyes of popular prejudices, and absurd superstitions. In view of what has been done, I consider it to be duty to have the question fairly tried.”
Horace Seaver. “The Sabbath.” 42 (Nov. 3, 1845):166. Reprinted from the Boston Investigator. Seaver asserts that to set aside a day of rest from labor promotes the happiness of society and adds, “We would not abandon the institution of the Sabbath. Neither would we compel the people by law to observe it in a certain prescribed manner. Public opinion should regulate its observance, and penal statutes should have nothing to do with it.” To which Murray responds, “The Sabbath enforced by public opinion, would be the Sabbath still- a promoter of ignorance- a source of corruption . . . . The Sabbath is only a piece of religion. It never was anything else . . . . I object to it as an object of worship, in all its forms, follies, and frivolities.”
Horace Seaver. “The Sabbath.” 57 (June 1, 1846): 69-70. In an article reprinted from the Boston Investigator, editor Seaver states, “When we said we were in favor of the Sabbath, we meant that we approved of it simply as a day of rest from business- not to be observed by force of law, in a certain proscribed manner, but according to the disposition of each member of the community. To which Murray replies, “The Sabbath [Seaver] calls for would be no Sabbath at all, divested of what is objectionable in the Sabbath existing. As well might he attempt to mark out a church, a military system, or any other institution for human enslavement, and then say of it, “as we have defined its observance, it is a most benevolent institution, and we are strongly in favor of it.”
Alpha. “Fowler and the Sabbath. Advancing Backwards.” 58, 60 (June 15, July 13 1846): 82-83, 120-21. The author examines two seemingly contradictory essays by Orson Fowler on the question of the Sabbath, entitled “No Sabbath according to Phrenology” and “The Sabbath Proved, by Phrenology, to be an Ordinance of Nature.”
“C.C. Burleigh in Prison.” 80 (April 19, 1847): 19. Reprinted from the Pioneer and Herald of Freedom, this short article reports Burleigh’s imprisonment twice within a few weeks for selling books “devoted to the reforms of the day” on the Sabbath.
“The Sabbath and Sabbath Laws.” 101 (Feb. 21, 1848): 354. The article tells of the arrest and ultimate fine of omnibus drivers for “working at common labor on Sunday.”
“Anti-Sabbath Convention.” 105-07 (May 1-June 1, 1848): 2-3, 22-23, 33-34. Reprinted from The Liberator, this article includes a call for an anti-Sabbath convention, signed by William Lloyd Garrison, Francis Jackson, Theodore Parker et al., a series of resolutions introduced by Garrison and adopted by the convention, and Murray’s comments. The convention agreed to resolutions which declared the compelled observance of the Sabbath as “despotic” and “unconstitutional” and recommended that petitions be submitted to each state legislature “praying for their immediate repeal, and protesting against their enactment as an unhallowed union of Church and State.”
“Atrocious Outrage.” 125 (Mar. 15, 1849): 330. Featured under this title is a letter from Henry C. Wright to Garrison, reprinted from the Liberator, which invites readers to attend the Anti-Sabbath Convention and expresses outrage over the arrest of newsboys for selling newspapers on Sunday.
Gilbert Vale. “The Manner of Keeping the Sabbath and Sunday Laws.” 144 (Oct. 1850): 241-2. Vale states, “We approve of it [the Sabbath] as a political Institution, as a day of rest and rational enjoyment for the poor; and we would have everything done to promote that rest and that enjoyment. We would too, let every one keep it in his own way, provided that his liberty did not interfere with the equal liberty of every other man, to keep the Sabbath after his own conscientious manner.”
Charles Lane and Orson S. Murray. “Religion and Skepticism.” 5-6, 9 (Jan. 29-Feb. 5, Feb. 26, 1844): 17-18, 22, 33-34.
A Theological Dictionary, for the Religious World. 108 (June 15, 1848): 62-63. Reprinted from The Oracle of Reason (London). The dictionary defines anti-atheism as “a refuge for those who cannot or dare not reason on the existence of God for themselves” and God as “a being whose existence is proved by casting men into prison for blasphemy.”
“Fear of God.” 175 (Jan. 1854): 353. Murray contends that “Fear is a bad motive of action. No one can act as well under its restraint as in freedom from it. It is the motive which despots use. It can only serve the purposes of despotism. . . . No good being can enjoy having put others in fear. The act is detestable in the eyes of all the good, and they can never justify it nor be reconciled to it except by necessity unavoidable in ignorance.”
“Proudhon’s Extraordinary Views of God.” 156 (Nov. 1851): 49-50. Reprinted from The Reasoner (London).
“The Bible Question.” 29 (May 12, 1845): 114-15. Under this title, Murray reprints an article from the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph which argues that the “direct tendency of the doctrine of private interpretation is rank infidelity,” and a reply from the Cincinnati Herald and Philanthropist defends “the right of men to read, think and speak for themselves, concerning Divine Truth.” Murray comments “What I object to . . . . is the assumption that such a work is the word of an unchangeable infallible god- a work superior to reason and nature- a sufficient guide for man in after ages- the consummation of wisdom and improvement- not to be transcended by inquiry or experience. As such a thing, it stands opposed to human progress.”
J.C. Dean. “Religion – The Bible – Priesthood.” 79 (Apr. 5, 1847): 4. Dean describes the Bible as “a mere book, a heterogeneous medley of fable and fiction, truth and falsehood, like other books of human production, only vastly inferior in point of consistency. It is the best witness against itself that can be brought, and in time will be turned to demolish priest craft, with as much force and success as it has been an instrument in their hands to build up.”
James Wickersham. “Religion.” 84 (June 14, 1847): 84-86. In response to Wickersham’s defense of religion, Murray contends, “The assumption that there is an almighty being existing and acting, irrespective of cause and effect- speaking things into existence and out of existence “by the word of his power” – making a world like ours in six days – making a woman out of a man’s rib – making the sun to stand still – preserving men alive in a furnace of fire heated seven fold – bringing dead men to life, and doing other like things, contrary to cause and effect, are without the least evidence – are as irrational as the assumption that the earth rests on the shoulders of a giant, the giant standing on a tortoise, which is a religious theory as really believed as the Bible, and for aught I know as extensively.”
Orasmus Turner. “Origin of the Mormon Imposture.” 156 (Nov. 1851): 52-53. Originally published by the Rochester American. Murray comments “What, how, wherein is the “Mormon Imposture” worse than the Mosaic Imposture? Is it for those who give credence and attach divine importance to the story about the writings on the tables of stone, to ridicule or reject the story about the writings on the plates of gold? Is it for those who call the Mosaic Bible a genuine revelation, to call the Mormon Bible a “spurious revelation”? It is said that the success of the later is a “slur on the age.” The success of the former is not less so. It is said that the Mormon writings are wanting in “dignity”. The dignity of the Mosaic writings is gross assumption. They are not entitled to more grave treatment. They receive it in these times only because they were written in other times. These spiritual writings are like spirituous liquors – the value that is attached to them increases with age. It is a factitious value. Weigh them out to us in the same scales, mete them out to us by the same measures, subject them to the same tests, with other writings – ’tis all we ask.”
Religion and Morality
Amos Gilbert. “Theology and Ethics.” 19 (May 4, 1844): 73. Gilbert asserts, “If there were no conceptions of an infinite being, moral duties would be the same now.”
Knox. “Has Christianity Advanced Man’s Moral Worth.” 91 (Sept. 20, 1847): 200. Speaking about the institution of slavery, Knox asks, “And who sanctifies this system of cruelty and oppression? Why the white brother who has been educated in Christianity, and has been taught its “holy and benevolent precepts.” Has Christianity improved his moral character?”
“Love Your Enemies.” 109 (July 1, 1848): 65. Murray notes that the command to love your enemies is an absurdity, an outrage, that love cannot be compelled or forced but must be free and voluntary.
“The President and the Bible.” 129 (June 1849): 2. Reprinted from the Newark Daily Advertiser. President Taylor was reported as saying to a delegation from the American Bible Society that “The Bible is the best of books, and I wish it were in the hands of every one. It is indispensable to the safety and permanence of our institutions; a free government cannot exist without religion and morals; and there cannot be morals without religion, nor religion without the Bible.” To which Murray remarks, “What must be thought of the intelligence of the one who can make such a declaration? The ignorance and stupidity that can make or receive it is truly pitiable.”
“The Justice of God.” 140 (May 1850): 179. Crediting Garrison with the assertion that “One thing is sure- the Justice of God,” Murray asks, “Why then is slavery suffered, which brother Garrison labors so faithfully to overthrow? If he replies that he does not know why, I ask how he knows any better about the Justice of God? If the reasons for allowing oppression are “past finding out,” how is the justice of the one who allows it any better found out?”
Religion and Science
“Another Planet.” 70 (Nov. 30, 1846): 273-74. In reporting La Verrier’s discovery of Neptune, Murray asks, “If the useful, refining, elevating, and ennobling discoveries, in arts and sciences . . . . are not matters of revelation, but man’s inventions and discoveries . . . . what are the works of religion’s god, compared with the works of man?”
Orson S. Murray. “Bible Teaching – Bible Influence.” 139 (Apr. 1850): 161-63. Murray refers to the Bible’s sanctioning of war, and discoveries of geology, physiology, astronomy and navigation to illustrate how the teachings of the Bible hinder human improvement. Murray concludes that the Bible “teaches erroneously and stands opposed to knowledge on these interesting matters. I am not faulting Moses, Joshua, and other Bible writers, for their ignorance, in relation to the formation of the earth and its connection with other bodies of matter. I am only showing that they were ignorant, and that therefore their writings tend to keep in ignorance those who receive them as infallible authorities and guides.”
Reviews of Robert Chambers, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
Knox. “Vestiges of Creation.” 73 (Jan. 11, 1847): 328-29. Knox criticizes the author for attempting to accommodate recent geological discoveries with the Bible and writes, “The fact is, all attempts to unite science and theology are fruitless. You may shake them and shake them, but give them rest and the light oil of theology will float on top.”
William Webb. “Priestcraft Against Knowledge.” 74 (Jan. 25, 1847): 342-43. Webb attacks Rev. George B. Cheever’s introduction to “Vestiges of Creation” for its biblical literalism.
Knox. “Vestiges of Creation.” 80 (April 19, 1847): 20-21. Knox examines the author’s presentation of the development theory and concludes, “We here learn why it is that the Reverends have set up their bark at this author, and why they have such horror against the science of Geology with other sciences. It sweeps off at once the Bible creation, it shows that miserable fable not consonant with the observations of nature.”
Benjamin Warden. “To the White and Black Slaves of the United States.” 2 (Jan. 8, 1844): 7. Warden contends that “The white and black- the artisan- the mechanic- the laborer- the wealth-producer of the world, are all, yes all slaves. . . . The men or women who work for wages, sell their lives- their time, the stuff that life is made of- for money. What is the difference, in effect, whether a man be held as property by law (force and fraud) or by necessity be compelled to surrender the fruits of his toil to the capitalists?”
“Partyism.” 33 (July 7, 1845): 130-31. These columns feature a letter from Horace Greeley, reprinted from the Cincinnati Herald and Philanthropist, in which Greeley identifies what he conceives to be the essential characteristics of human slavery and what the duties of abolitionists should be based on these principles. Adjoining Greeley’s letter are comments from Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the Herald and Orson S. Murray.
Nathaniel P. Rogers. “What is Anti-Slavery?” 34 (July 21, 1845): 134-35. Reprinted from Rogers’ Herald of Freedom. Murray notes, “Brother Rogers says- “the foundation of the slave system lies deep in the morals and social character of the people of the country.” . . . . I should say, all slavery has its origin in propensity for gain and power, where all government originates.”
“Which are the Greater Slaves?” 111 (Aug. 1, 1848): 97-98. Reprinted here is a letter from abolitionists Henry C. Wright and Charles C. Burleigh, in which they deny ever pledging to show that the Bible sanctions slavery and should be discarded. At the same time, Burleigh and Wright contend that if the Bible were shown to sanction slavery it would only prove the Bible to be false rather than slavery right and state their belief that slavery is unjust, inhuman, anti-Christian, and the sum of all villainies. Murray remarks that “this shows at least, in fact, that Bible authority is no great authority with them. That they want better reasons for human conduct than to say it is or is not in accordance with the Bible.”
Henry C. Wright. “The Bible a Self-Evident Falsehood, If Opposed to Self-Evident Truth.” 116 (Oct. 15, 1848): 178-79. Reprinted from The Liberator. Wright remarks, “Which would be the greater evil – to cast the Bible out of the World – or, to keep slavery in it? To have slavery in it, would be infinitely the greater evil; for man is still a man, without the Bible; but with slavery man is a brute beast. Indeed it would be no loss to the world to have the Bible blotted out of existence, if it sanctions slavery.”
William Lloyd Garrison. “The Bible.” 120 (Jan. 1, 1849): 241-43. Reprinted from The Liberator; included are the remarks of Orson S. Murray. Garrison concedes that the Bible “must be examined, criticized, accepted or rejected, like any other book, without fear and without favor. Whatever excellence there is in it will be fire proof; and if any portion of it be antiquated or worthless, let that portion be treated accordingly.” In addition, while Garrison expresses his confidence that the Bible does not sanction slavery, he agrees that if it did it would be “a curse to our race.”
Orson S. Murray. “Slavery, War – The Difference.” 121 (Jan. 15, 1849): 257. In this short article, Murray takes issue with Garrison’s suggestion that despite all the Bible’s defects “it embodies an amount of excellence so great as to constitute it the book of books.”
Robert Cheyne. “The Ten Commandments and Slavery.” 135 (Dec. 1849): 98-99. Cheyne argues, “It is vain for abolitionists to try to make out that the Bible does not sanction slavery. . . . They may quote any number of passages, which, in general terms, may be thought to forbid slavery. They may say that Jesus taught to love their neighbors as themselves. So did Moses. But he likewise taught that they might take the heathen round about, and the children of strangers, for a possession, to be bondmen for ever; and the Tenth commandment was given to secure the possession of those bondmen.”
“James and Lucretia Mott.” 135 (Dec. 1849): 103. Murray extracts passages from a leading editorial in the Liberator by this title to show “brother Garrison’s religion” and contends that “With all brother Garrison’s zeal and devotion, as an advocate of liberty, he is in most abject, degrading slavery to a god dictated to him by the ignorant ones of former times. It was a valuable suggestion to him from Lucretia Mott it seems, that there is a possibility of error in the Old Testament writings. If he should be happy enough to find some one from whom he can receive the suggestion that there is not only a possibility, but probability – nay certainty – of error, and abundance of it, in the New Testament also, it will be additional benefit to him.”
Henry C. Wright. “Henry C. Wright and the Bible.” 135 (Dec. 1849): 104-06. Reprinted from the Liberator; addressed to Wendell Phillips; and followed by Murray’s remarks including “Brother, you will always find yourself in difficulties, absurdities and confusion as long as you have a god whose ways must be reconciled with designing, controlling power, wisdom and goodness. If your god works with design, and causes the violent movements of the elements, by which men are killed, who but your god kills them? Where the controlling power is, there the responsibility is. If your god has not all controlling power, say so. But do not afterwards talk about his being the designer and constructor of the universe- the creator of all things. It is confusion to talk about the bad works and ways of created things, and at the same time talk about a designing, all wise, all powerful, good god having the control of them.”
“H.C. Wright, Moses Stuart, the Bible, the God of the Bible, and Slavery.” 143 (Sept. 1850): 232-34. Reprinted from the Liberator is a letter from Wright to Moses Stuart in which Wright proclaims, “In every age and nation, every conceivable outrage upon humanity, upon natural justice and equity, has been perpetrated under the sanction of a supposed arbitrary revelation. The same authority that allowed the Jews to hold slaves, ad libitum, that permitted the master to whip his slave to death, and commit fornication with his bondmaid with impunity, also allows Mohamedans to enslave all other people, the Hindoos to cast their children into the Ganges, the American churches and priests to traffic in slaves and souls of men; i.e., a supposed direct arbitrary revelation. You sir, have powerfully contributed to destroy for ever that veneration for a book which sacrifices man to the book. You have done much to bring men to see that man is above the Bible, and that if the Bible authorizes the enslavement or killing of human beings, thus far it is not to be received and trusted as truth.” Murray remarks follow.
A Southern Man, but not a Slaveholder. “Slaveholding Neither a Wrong nor a Sin.” 166 (Dec. 1852): 217-19. Reprinted from the New York Herald. Responding to the author’s argument that slavery is fully sustained by the Bible, Murray remarks, “Whoever, therefore, will war successfully against slavery, the first thing he has to do is show that the Bible is of no higher authority than emanations from men living in barbarous times- that much of it is the history of a nation of mercenary conquerors and cruel subjugators- that among its writers, recognized as divine, were the bloodiest of murderers and the grossest of libertines. Yes, whoever will reach the slaveholder or his abettor, must appeal to a “higher law” than that book.”
“John Mitchell, Henry Ward Beecher, The New York Tribune, the Bible and Slavery.” 176 (Mar. 1854): 376-78. Under this title, appears a biblical defense of slavery from Mitchell, “the Irish Patriot,” a reply from Beecher and critical commentary from Murray. Murray asks, “Why should a man educated from that book listen ever to a word about progress or improvement?- a book beginning with prohibition of knowledge of good and evil [see Genesis II, 17] and ending with penalties against adding to our diminishing from what is in that book, [see Revelations XXII, 18, 19] and filled up plentifully with precedents for slavery and other barbarities fully equal to the gallows and guillotine. The enslavement of Africans to Christians is inhuman enough; but the enslavement of Christians to their Bible and their god involves more of inhumanity, inasmuch as it includes the African slavery and the other abominations for which the book furnishes sanctions and precedents.”
“The Tyranny of Man over Woman.” 47 (Jan. 12, 1846): 188. The author commands reformers to “Free him [the African slave] my son; elevate him civilly and morally, I shall not be jealous; but at least allow thy mother to stand on a level with him. Permit her on his redeemed day to shake hands with him as his equal, not as his inferior!”
Angelique Le Petit Martin. “To Moralists,” “First Conundrum,” “Second Conundrum,” and “Oppression of Women.” 109, 112-114 (July 1, Aug. 15- Sept. 15, 1848): 67, 116, 132, 148. Under these titles are a series of short articles written from the Trumbull Phalanx in Braceville, Ohio in which Martin asks and answers questions such as “When is a woman like one declared insane by a court of justice? Answer – When she becomes a wife. For both are, by the law, deprived of the control of their own person, property and will – doomed to a civil death.”
Angelique Le Petit Martin. “A Curious Fact.” 116 (Oct. 15, 1848): 182. Martin begins “If it is true that in proportion as a tribe or nation is coarse, brutal and cruel, the women are degraded and oppressed, our Saxon ancestors, of whom our American brothers make such a boast, must have been the most barbarous and most brutal of all the human race – judging by the very names they bestowed on them or associated them with.” Martin then provides the etymology of the words: wo-man, spinster, miss, wife, and husband.
Angelique Le Petit Martin. “A Voice from Nature.” 122 (Feb. 1, 1849): 276-77. In this article, Martin conveys her views via a conversation between a woman and nature. Nature states “Does not common sense tell you both, that man, like all males, being called to the reproduction of his own species, by a transient act, which leaves no consequences with him, can not be the most important of the two sexes, and his considering himself superior to thee is a conceit befitting the times of barbarous ignorance, but not this enlightened age in which he prides in submitting everything to the investigation of his reason.”
Angelique Le Petit Martin. “We are not a Free Nation.” 123-24, 126 (Feb. 15- Mar. 1, Apr. 1, 1849): 292, 312, 340. Martin asks, “Is your mother free? Does she enjoy the rights of republicans?” and “Are not renowned celebrity, public respect and gratitude, honors, wealth, grandeur, as gratifying to woman’s feelings as a man’s?” and concludes “when you established what you call your republic, your having, in our absence, the full control of the laws and social regulations, you were pleased to reduce us, all in a lump to a degraded caste, unworthy of exercising any national rights. The very name of a free woman is made an opprobrium to our sex!”
“Women’s Rights Convention.” 146 (Dec. 1850): 276-77. Held at Worcester, Mass., October 23-24; features letters from Elizur Wright, Samuel J. May, and L.A. Hine, which were read at the convention. The convention “Resolved, That Women are clearly entitled to the right of suffrage” and “That civil and political rights acknowledge no sex, and therefore the word “male” should be stricken from every Constitution.” In his letter, Hine observes, “If the respective spheres of man and woman are different, surely man has no right to assume the prerogative of describing her spheres by law and of compelling her to walk therein.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton. “Spheres of Action for Women.” 153 (Aug. 1851): 2-3. Here featured is a letter sent by Stanton to a Women’s convention in Akron, Ohio. On educating girls, Stanton suggests, “Teach her to go alone, by night and day, if need be, on the lonely highway, or through the busy streets of the crowded metropolis. The manner in which all courage and self-reliance is educated out of the girl- her path portrayed with dangers and difficulties that never exist, is melancholy indeed.”
John L. Smythe. “Marriage.” 18 (Apr. 29, 1844): 70. Smythe highlights many of the parallels between married women and slaves, noting, “[slaves] have no right of property. Is not the married woman a thing, without right of property? The slave is to have no will but that of his master. The married woman must obey her husband in all things. The slave holder owns his slaves and their offspring. The husband owns his wife, and her services, and her offspring.”
Charles Lane. “Marriage.” 21 (May 18, 1844): 81. Lane contends “Neither Association nor Property can be morally and securely arranged until human Marriage is rightly disposed of. If all desirable property were as abundant as the essentials, light and air, mankind would be no nearer happiness, if the basis of Marriage remained unchanged.”
George Taylor. “Marriage.” 23 (June 1, 1844): 89. Taylor writes “Woman is treated but little better than a menial slave, to cater to the wants and pander to the incestuous desires of man. If indeed she sometimes escapes this degradation- if her energies are not destroyed by excessive toil and licentious intercourse, she is even then at best but little better than a breeder.”
Angelique Le Petit Martin. “Marriage in Low Life” and “Marriage in High Life.” 118-19, 121 (Dec. 1-15, Jan. 15, 1848): 212, 228-29, 260-61. Martin chronicles the multitude of ways in which the institution of marriage creates a master-slave relation between husband and wife.
O.M. “The Marriage Relation.” 121 (Jan. 15, 1849): 259. Murray accuses Martin’s views on marriage as being “wild and extravagant,” and of “stirring jealousy and strife between the sexes.”
Angelique Le Petit Martin. “Reply from Sister Martin.” 124 (Mar. 1, 1849): 312-13. Martin asserts, “I do not wish to array women against men; but unfortunately, men collectively have arrayed themselves against women, when in the present age, after the declaration of independence and of the natural rights of sentient beings, they have chosen to rule over them with laws enacted some thousand years ago . . . .”
C.F. “Spiritualism.” 12 (Mar. 18, 1844): 47. To Charles Lane’s statement, “I see no reason why the human mind should not take in both classes of facts, the natural and the spiritual” C.F. asks “Can Charles Lane or any other mortal tell what a “spiritual fact” is? Can he describe to us the laws which govern immateriality?”
Nathaniel Randall. “Spiritualism.” 13 (Mar. 25, 1844): 49. Randall asks reformist critical of the Regenerator’s motto, “If knowledge is not the remedy for human suffering, pray tell what is?” Further, Randall challenges those same critics (Charles Lane et al.) to explain what they mean by “Love Spirit” and “Centerstance.”
Orson S. Murray. “Spiritual Manifestations.” 151 (May 1851): 353-54. Murray writes, “The mischief and harm in connection with what is mysterious often is, that so much is assumed and affirmed of the unknown, as if it were known. The multitude are imposed upon by a designing few. And some of these few impose upon themselves, in their propensity for the marvelous. But it is their imposition upon others that is most objectionable. If they could be content with harboring opinions for themselves, and putting them forth, as opinions, and letting them stand as such by the side of the opinions of others, it would be nothing to be complained of- nothing out of the way. But when they come to assume for their opinions and their conjectures that they are facts- that they are revelations from infallible sources- that they are communications to material beings from spiritual beings- and withal that is obligatory on the material beings to receive them as such- and, further still, when they proceed to inflict upon us, unbelievers, damnation for our unbelief- unhappiness somewhere is the result.”
Orson S. Murray. “The Mysterious Manifestations.” 152 (June 1851): 373-75, 378. After spending a few days with a medium and conversing with a “manifestation” of his recently deceased son, Murray remarks, “I know not what better to make of the rappings than to think they may be a species of electro-magnetic movements, or operations. Whether or not these can be produced and such intelligent manifestations be made, except by the action of such spiritual existences as we are told of, from another world, is a question with me yet to be settled.”
Thos. E. Longshore. “More of the Mysterious Manifestations.” 153 (Aug. 1851): 6-7. Longshore observes, “Atheists and skeptics have become believers in this new spiritual theory, they say, to their great comfort and advantage.” Longshore also transmits two transcribed correspondences from the “spirit manifestation” of Carlos Murray. In one, addressed to “the readers of the Regenerator,” Carlos notes that “The spirit of free inquiry which has been awakened by means of liberal papers devoted to investigation, has done much to prepare for the communications of disembodied spirits with mankind; because such minds are more approachable in consequence of not being clouded by the dogmas and mysticisms of a false theology.”
“More about the Mysterious Manifestations.” 155 (Oct. 1851): 33-35. The article features a letter from Daniel Pound who had visited with mediums and concluded that it was utter humbuggery. Murray remarks, “On the point . . . as to the “mind existing in an individual capacity after death,” the evidence is as yet insufficient to change my views. . . . I have been willing, and my willingness continues, to give a fair and full hearing to those who would convert us to spirituality.”
“The Mysterious Manifestations.” 158 (Jan. 1852): 87. Responding to a correspondent, Murray clarifies, “I have not only not said that I am a believer in the rappings, as coming from spirits, but I have said distinctly . . . that the evidence is yet to be found by me that there is any continued identical personal existence after death- whether such supposed existence is to be spiritual or material.”
J.K. “Spiritual Manifestations.” 169 (Apr. 1853): 260. The author asserts that “If spirits would communicate directly without the medium of a third person- if they would write what they wish to tell us in broad day light, in the presence of hundreds or thousands; or if they would dig canals, make railroads, or drain swamps, instead of upsetting tables and chairs, or make them dance hornpipes;- if they would do all this they would demonstrate their existence, and be highly useful to us, and settle the controversy at once.”
M. Faraday. “Table Turning.” 173 (Sept. 1853): 321-23. Reprinted from the Atheneum (London), Faraday reports on his investigation into the table moving phenomena. Murray introduces the article by stating, “To me there has never been evidence that these mysterious doings are the works of spirits. The fact that they are mysteries does not go a step towards establishing their spiritual origin- except with the superstitious. With these the tendency is to identify with the spiritual whatever is mysterious. What is there of spiritualism but mysticism?
Law and Government
Orson S. Murray. “The New York Tribune.” 8 (Feb. 19, 1844): 30. Noting that Horace Greeley described The Regenerator as a “No-Church, No-Government, No-Property” newspaper, Murray proclaims “Church, government and property, as they go on, are one system- a trio of monsters, born of ignorance and bred in perverseness. They have engendered and produced violence, hate, tyranny and oppression. They have labored reciprocally and mutually. Their work has been and is one. Their interests are identical. Their end will be one. They are to be superceded by liberty and love.”
Orson S. Murray. “Disorganizations.” 18 (Apr. 29, 1844): 70. Murray deprecates violent government, argues that commands and statutes are arbitrary and tyrannical, and that creeds and constitutions prevent progress. In the alternative, he advocates for free assembly, free expression, and philosophical skepticism as the best means forward.
Joel Brown. “What is Law? Can man Make Law?” 59 (June 29, 1846): 100-01. Brown argues that “Of all the numerous evils that now afflict humanity, the law evil perhaps is the greatest. . . . The people have not learnt that they can get along without legislation. . . . That statute law does not prevent crime is certain. The whole history of man is a continual series of crime, bloodshed and murder, and one continual series of legislation.”
P.P. “Government – Right and Wrong.” 82 (May 17, 1847): 52-53. The author exclaims, “We of this country have agreed that the practices of the cannibals are monstrous and horrible – not that murder and robbery and slavery are wrong; for these we permit and encourage, provided they be done according to law and do not interfere with government monopoly – provided the right class be robbed and enslaved and those murdered in sufficient numbers, whom the government makes and calls its enemies – but that eating human beings after murdering them is shocking and detestable.”
P.P. “Government.” 84 (June 14, 1847): 83. The author concludes, “Here in the nineteenth century, in the midst of laws and officers and courts of justice and jails and pillories and asylums, wrong and suffering still go on. One of two things must be; either this whole government system which has filled the world, is a spurious article, or it is worthless as a cure for the evil. For, the world is filled with government and filled also with sorrow and suffering.”
B. Webb. “Governmental Force.” 92 (Oct. 18, 1847): 212-13. Webb contends, among other things, that “the different systems of government that have grown up grown up through necessity, have been adopted to prevent the strong from injuring the weak.” To which Murray replies to the contrary “that it has been the general tendency of governments to strengthen the strong against the weak” and recommends “here only let the Aborigines, the Africans and the Mexicans speak.”
Land and Labor
George H. Evans. “The Remedy for the Inadequate Compensation of Useful Labor.” 8 (Feb. 19, 1844): 29. Evans asserts that, “the monopoly of soil . . . . [is] the main cause of the oppression and degradation of labor,” calls for the abolition of private property, and proposes as a first step that “the public lands shall no longer be sold, but held in trust by the government for the free and exclusive use of actual settlers.”
E. Gould Buffum. “The Factory System.” 12 (Mar. 18, 1844): 47. Buffum begins, “This accursed excrescence of an unnatural arrangement of society, must be attacked, exposed and destroyed. Long enough has it enslaved and worn the Life and Soul out of our fellow men; long enough has it ground the poor laborer to the dust, and repressed his aspirations after a higher and better life than this mere animal existence.”
J.R. Smith. “Thoughts on Community.” 13 (Mar. 25, 1844): 49. Smith catalogs the wrongs suffered by the working millions as a result of the unequal distribution of wealth and the collusion of church and state in keeping laborers in the dark regarding “the first principles of human nature, and of equal rights.”
Orson S. Murray. “The Products of the Soil.” 16 (Apr. 8, 1844): 61. Murray contends that property is theft and that where there is government there is slavery.
W. Slater. “Labor-Saving Machinery.” 21 (May 18, 1844): 81. Slater speculates that with the assistance of machine power, four hours of labor per day, may, in the near future, be sufficient to produce all the necessities of life in abundance.
E. Gould Buffum. “Creeds and Communities.” 9 (Feb. 26, 1844): 33. Buffum expresses concern over the Skaneateles community’s adoption of a creed written by John A. Collins and that those members who refuse to adopt Collins’ creed will be denied the right to labor. Sharing Buffum’s concern, Murray responds that creeds and constitutions “are but clogs and hindrances. They are but oppression and slavery. They hold to the past to the neglect of the present. . . . They are instruments of violence, every one of them. They are incompatible with universal inquiry, general reform and perpetual progress.”
“Address of Andrew Bernardus Smolnikar, Founder and Agent of the Peace-Union, Prepared for the General Convention of the Friends of Association, Assembled in New York the 4th 5th and 6th of April, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before Easterday, 1844.” 15 (Apr. 8, 1844): 58-59.
“John A. Collins- The Daytonian.” 64 (Sept. 7, 1846): 184-85. This article features an essay by Collins, reprinted from The Daytonian, chronicling his journey from communist and infidel back to orthodox religion.
Thos. Vater. “Further Report from Utopia.” 121 (Jan. 15, 1849): 261-62. Vater reports that based on the principles of equitable commerce, the females of Utopia “receive the same remuneration for their labor as the men do.”
Mexican American War
“The Game of War.” 59 (June 29, 1846): 98. On the Mexican-American war, Murray comments, “”The war now in progress will yet be seen to have been a game played by a mercenary, religious government, at the expense of a blinded, besotted people, befooled, excited and taxed, for the support of those who consume without producing.”
“Horace Greeley.” 59 (June 29, 1846): 106. Here reprinted is an opinion piece written by Greeley in opposition to the Mexican-American war, for which Murray congratulates him.
Horace Seaver. “Rev. Mr. Parker’s Sermon on War, &c.” 62 (Aug. 10, 1846): 146. Here is an editorial reprinted from the Boston Investigator in which Seaver writes, “when one’s country is actually engaged in war, we believe it the part of a good citizen to lend his aid in helping her through with it.” To which Murray caustically replies, “Then if our country should commence a direct and avowed war of extermination against all the Indian tribes, the Negroes, the Canadian French- all on the continent who are in the way of the prejudices or the lusts of our countrymen- the declared determination being to massacre indiscriminately until the awful work should be accomplished- brother Seaver would take hold and help on and help through the murderous doings, because they are doings of our country?”
Theodore Parker. “A Sermon of War.” 64-65 (Sept. 7-21, 1846): 177-81, 193-95.
“War. Theodore Parker’s Sermon- The Boston Investigator.” 66 (Oct. 5, 1846): 209-11. Seaver begins his essay, here titled “Non-Resistance- The Regenerator” by stating “The most absurd, preposterous, and impracticable whim that ever entered into the human mind as a principle of moral action, is the doctrine of nonresistance. . . . [T]here are cases in which war is justifiable, and that the relations in which we stand with Mexico, justified our Government in making war against the Government of that country at the time the present war commenced. . . . And we have as good reason for believing that so long as there are nations which are corrupt and inhuman, the gun and the sword must be used to subdue them to the laws of humanity and civilization.” In reply, Murray asks, “When or where was humanity promoted by such inhuman instrumentalities – by wars – by guns and swords – by shooting and butchering human beings?”
Joel Brown. “Political and Ecclesiatical Violence.” 68 (Nov. 2, 1846): 244-45. Brown argues, “It is plain then, if we abandon war with all its evils, we must abandon the Bible. The principle of unbounded love is not there set forth. Man must be guided by the unerring laws of nature, leave off killing and being killed, damning and being damned, trust each other as brothers, acknowledging no geographical lines; and because a human being happens to live either one side or the other of those lines he must necessarily be our enemy and deserve to have his throat cut. Governments make lines and distinctions. Nature makes none.”
P.P. “Government-War.” 83 (May 31, 1847): 70-71. The author asks, “Now what is it . . . . that induces these men- the laboring, producing classes- they who have a common interest in preserving peace and friendship- to desert their homes and march to the work of butchering each other? What but Government . . . . Could they do it as men- as human brothers?”
“Astronomy.” 97-102 (Dec. 27, 1847- Mar. 6, 1848): 294-95, 298-99, 312-15, 328-31, 344-47, 360-63, 376-79. A series of six lectures by Professor O.M. Mitchell delivered in New York during the month of December, 1847 at the Broadway Tabernacle, and reported for the New York Tribune by William H. Burr.
Orson S. Murray. “Prospectus.” 1 (Jan. 1, 1844): 1. Murray introduces the following motto, “Increase of confidence in Man. Banishment of Fear. Instant Reform. Constant Improvement. Perpetual Progress. Stop Nowhere. Stop Never. Man has made Himself what He Is, and can make Himself what He Should Be.”
Orson S. Murray. “The Regenerator.” 27 (Apr. 14, 1845): 106. Murray reports that he and eighteen others, including seven children, have obtained one hundred acres of land, covered with timber, an excellent fruit orchard and some old cabins, on the little Miami River, twenty-six miles outside of Cincinnati. Murray describes a principle object of their movement to be “to free the press by freeing the soil and connecting the two, that they may co-operate for the universal good.”
“The Regenerator. Letter from Brother I. Newton Peirce.” 102 (Mar. 6, 1848): 370-71. In reply to Peirce’s letter Carlos Murray reveals that the Regenerator has over 800 subscribers and prints 1100 papers per issue as compared to 1900 when they resided in New York.
With the 129th issue of the Regenerator the title became The Regenerator, Otherwise Practical Progressive Philosopher
Succeeding Titles: Murray’s Review (Fruit Hill’s, Ohio).
 102 (Mar. 6, 1848): 371. Revealing that John Baxter, a frequent contributor to The Regenerator under the signature of “Knox,” had died at the age of 53.