by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
Rev. Higginson had credentials as both a radical abolitionist and a revolutionary (and in many instances there was little difference).
Historian Otto Scott, in his book The Secret Six–the fool as martyr revealed about Higginson that “He wanted to be seen as a man of action: not as a clergyman. In May 1857, speaking to the American Anti-Slavery Convention in New York, he made his hopes clear. ‘The question of slavery is a stern and practical one. Give us the power and we can make a new Constitution…how is that power to be obtained? By politics? Never. By revolution, and that alone’.” That statement, plus his known association with Kansas looters and socialist Forty-Eighters has to give you some faint glimmering as to what Rev. Higginson was really all about. As a Unitarian, he was already a potential revolutionary and apostate, no matter how “civil-sounding” the media descriptions of him are. But don’t go away, folks, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Ann Braude, author of Radical Spirits has also identified Higginson as one, who, with many other abolitionists, was involved in Spiritualism. On page 73 of her book she has noted that: “Spiritualism preoccupied Garrisonians during the 1850s but elicited a wide range of responses. Many reformers believed in Spiritualism but rarely identified themselves with the movement, focusing their public activities first on abolition and second on women’s rights. This group included Garrison, Lucy Coleman, Elizabeth Buffam Chase, Betsy Mix Cowles, Thomas Wentworth Higginson…” Higginson said: “Undoubtedly the facts of Spiritualism are the most important yet launched upon the history of humanity,…But the philosophy of Spiritualism is yet to be born…” Braude informed her readers that, for all this, “Higginson found time to deliver and publish two addresses endorsing Spiritualism.” Higginson must have felt it was pretty important if he took time and trouble to publish these.
As you research this history and begin to connect the dots, you find disturbing trends that show the connections between abolitionists, socialists, Unitarians, Spiritualists, and many in the Women’s Rights movement. Not good! Yet how many of our “history” books dealing with this period bother to alert their readers to any of these connections. Don’t all trip over each other holding up your various editions!
One thing you have to say for Higginson is that he was consistent in his beliefs–in gross error, but consistent. Or you could say he was “seldom right, but never in doubt.” He was a life-long leftist radical (yes, they did exist way back then). He lived from 1823 until 1911–lots of time to do lots of damage (and he surely did). Even in his old age he continued this trend. Guess he was, at that point, too old to do anything else.
In 1906 he joined with other leftist radicals Jack London and Upton Sinclair to found the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. This socialist organization for college students eventually evolved into the Student League for Industrial Democracy–which eventually morphed into the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Anyone remember this happy little group of bomb-throwers that was so very active in the (communist) “peace movement” of the 1960s? Some of them turned into those bomb-throwers with the Molotov cocktails, the ones that were so very willing to kill for peace.
One of the better known among this “peace-loving” assembly was one William Ayres. He was a leader of the SDS in 1968-69. He belonged to a faction of the SDS called “The Weathermen.” According to Wikipedia, “Ayers had previously been a roommate of Terry Robbins, a fellow militant who was killed in 1970 along with Ayers’ girlfriend, Oughton and one other member in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, while constructing anti-personnel bombs intended for a non-commissioned officer dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey…Later in 1969, Ayers participated in planting a bomb at a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket affair…The blast broke almost 100 windows and blew pieces of the statue onto the nearby Kennedy Expressway.”
This same William Ayers, just coincidentally, happened to be a close friend of the former occupant of the White House, Comrade Barack Obama.
If anyone ever tells you that past history has no bearing on what goes on today he is either naïve, dumb, or he sincerely hopes you are.
You can trace the radicalism of Ayers and his SDS bomb-throwing buddies all the way back through the predecessors of the SDS, right to the organization that Thomas Wentworth Higginson helped to found back in 1906. Here was a man, born in 1823, whose radicalism can be traced down through his spiritual grandchildren to our own day. Folks, please wake up and start to connect the dots!!!
Learn to ignore those who inform you that the past has no bearing on either the present or the future. As the man says “He who controls the past also controls the future.”
The Biblical admonition “study to show thyself approved…” is a true admonition. It applied to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, but it also applies to history and we have to become more aware of that, much more aware, than we presently are, especially if we are Christians.