Western Tiller (1826-1828)

Western Tiller

Prospectus: [The Tiller] advocates the emancipation of the human family from slavery,- from the slavery of superstition, priestcraft, kingcraft, political ignorance and political arrogance; it maintains with decency and firmness the constitutional rights of the citizen . . .  . Does the Tiller advocate lax and vicious morals, obscene language, and infraction of moral laws or obligations? No. Does it advocate division of families, does it set parent against child, husband against wife, one part of society at war with another? No, the very reverse of all this is the object of the Tiller, but it is not orthodox; it is opposed to the schemes of that orthodoxy which inflicts all these evils upon society.

Examined: 1:1 (Aug. 25, 1826) – 2:52 (Aug. 22, 1828).


James W. Gazlay, 1:1 (Aug. 25, 1826) – 2:22 (Jan. 25, 1828).

William J. Ferris. 2:26 (Feb. 22, 1828) – 2:52 (Aug. 22, 1828).

Publication Information: Cincinnati, Ohio.

Frequency: Weekly.

Subjects/Features: Agriculture, Foreign and Domestic News, Taxes, Temperance, Ohio Judicial System, Electoral Politics, Andrew Jackson, Free Press, Education, Hamilton County Agricultural Society, and Poetry.

Extracts from: John Nicholson, The Operative Mechanic, Samuel D. Ingham, Exposition of the Political Conduct and Principles of John Quincy Adams, and Conrad Malte-Brun, Universal Geography.

Periodical reprints from: The Correspondent (New York), American Farmer (Baltimore).


The Movement

James W. Gazlay. “Infidels.” 2:15 (Dec. 7, 1827): 3. Gazlay makes the case that infidels “believe and practice more of the true principles of religion, than the priests or their flocks.”

Red Jacket. Letter to the editor. 2:19 (Jan. 4, 1828): 2. The author acknowledges “You have established a paper devoted to the dissemination of useful knowledge, and to the fearless discussion of any subject of general interest,- the third of the kind in the United States; and for this you are justly entitled to the congratulation of every lover of truth. . . . The diffusion of correct and useful knowledge among the people, by means of newspapers, is, on account of their cheapness and frequency, the most dreaded enemy of kings and priests; for the foundation and support of their empire is popular ignorance.”

Church and State

Judicial Oaths

James W. Gazlay. “Constitutional Rights.” 2:17-18 (Dec. 21-28, 1827). Gazlay reports the rejection of two witnesses in a Rhode Island court on account of their religious opinions. Gazlay then reviews the various oaths and affirmations administered to Quakers, Jews and Muslims and suggests that the only question that should be put to a prospective witness is “What form of oath or affirmation do you conceive binding? Not what form of belief do you profess- or we the court conceive binding.” Gazlay further contends that “a disbelief of the existence of a God cannot, of itself, disqualify a witness, provided he believes in a punishment.”


 “Lecture Delivered before the Cincinnati Society for Mutual Instruction in Natural Science, on Sunday, November 4th, 1827.” 2:14-17 (Nov. 30-Dec. 21, 1827). The lecturer rants against the idle class, including speculators and priests, contending, among other things, that “He whose strength of mind is sufficient to enable him to call up and re-examine early received opinions, will soon be convinced, by a little attention to the inconsistencies and absurdities of the different religions, that whatever might have given them birth, in ages of darkness and ignorance, before the invention of printing, and when few could either read or write, the attempt to impose them upon this enlightened age, and to enforce the observance of their childish ceremonies by false terrors or the civil authority, is only an artifice employed by an idle class, who perceive it to be an effectual means of living in splendor upon the labor of others; whom they may thus frighten out of their possessions.”


James W. Gazlay. “Delusion.” 2:4 (Sept. 21, 1827): 2. Learning of the formation of a juvenile missionary association with the express object of procuring money from children to finance its missionary work, Gazlay remarks, “If adults are disposed to squander their money among travelling vagabond missionaries, pity for their weaknesses . . . . but when these money-gathering hypocrites invade the pale of infancy . . . . there is no language sufficiently severe, no public chastisement too great, for the impostors.”

Religion and Morality

“Introductory Lecture, Delivered before the Society for Mutual Instruction in Natural Science, on the 1st of April, 1827, at Cincinnati, by a Member.” 1:36-37 (Apr. 27-May 4, 1827). The lecturer asks, “Are we to be told that, in order to be moral or to be happy, we must abandon the light of reason and enlist under the banners of faith? No! It is upon the universal experience of mankind, whenever this experience is allowed to operate, that we predicate our prospect for improving society.”

James W. Gazlay. “Error of Opinion.” 2:5 (Sept. 28, 1827): 3. Gazlay observes “We every day hear in the streets from men of sense in most matters that although they believe nothing of hell themselves . . . . they like to have their families attend meetings on account of the moral effect” to which Gazlay asks, “Have parents no just, no tender regard for the minds of their infant children, that they will thus subject their fine sensibilities to the tortures of an imaginary hell, and an offended and wrathful deity?”

James W. Gazlay. “Reformation.” 2:14 (Nov. 30, 1827): 3. Gazlay asks, “Suppose for the sake of the argument, or for the good of the human family that all the priests and desperate fanatics were sent to Botany Bay; or, what would still be better, to the plough tail or workshops- what would be the consequence? Would the world come to an end? Would virtue and piety decline? No! None of this would happen. What would happen? Wealthy hypocrites, for the want of a sanctuary at which to protect their vices, would be exposed nakedly to the world, and either be put to shame or on their own good conduct . . . .”

 Law and Government

James W. Gazlay. “The Fourth Day.” 1:46 (July 6, 1827): 2. Gazlay contends that “If any man say he does honor to this day, and yet intrench himself in the delusions and aristocracy of the church, he is a hypocrite or deceives himself. These were among those very things from which this day redeemed us. If any man says he does honor to this day, and yet intrench himself behind the aristocracy of banks, he is a hypocrite, or deceives himself; this was one of those very delusions from which we were redeemed by this day. If any man says he does honor to this day, and yet suffers the rich to oppress the poor, the great to trample on and persecute the little, he is a hypocrite, a traitor; for from these among other curses, did this day redeem us. If any say they do honor to this day, and yet wrangle about men and places, they are hypocrites; for these things were not done by the glory of this day. If any say they do honor to this day, and yet stir not to break the bonds of ignorance and superstition, and to spread the light of all political truth, they are hypocrites, for light and liberty to the mind are the true glory of the day.”


James W. Gazlay. “Knowledge is Power!” 2:7 (Oct. 12, 1827): 2. Gazlay exclaims, “All men admit knowledge is power! None have sufficient firmness to give this knowledge. We are under a priest-ridden education; our children are ruined by the slavery to which we subject them; facts are the first things to be taught- our system is to begin with falsehoods: we enslave the mind in its infancy; to obtain subsequent freedom is almost impossible.”

Cooperative Associations

Josiah Warren. “To the Friends of the Social System.” 1:41-46, 48-49; 2:3-5 (June 1-July 6, 20-27, Sept. 14-28, 1827).


Volume 1 consists of only 50 issues.

Worldcat Accession Numbers: 11889020, 67764535.


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