Abolitionism, Spiritualism, and Women’s Lib

by Al Benson Jr.

The radical Abolitionist Movement in the North (separate from the conservative abolitionist movement in the South) in the years from the 1830s through “reconstruction” at the end of the War of Northern Aggression, was the cause of many problems that we are still faced with today, two of which are the modern “Women’s Liberation Movement.” and the “Civil Rights Movement.”

Many in our day, without a correct understanding of the real intent of the Abolitionist Movement, have sought to draw a parallel between it and today’s Pro-Life Movement. This is something that should never be done. The contemporary Pro-Life Movement is able to stand on its own without resorting to the apostate underpinnings of 19th century radical abolitionism.  Radical abolitionism in the 1800s produced men of the stripe of abolitionist/terrorist John Brown. His solution to the slavery problem was to execute slave owners, or even potential slave owners during late night visits to their homes while their wives and children were forced to stand by and watch the executions. Should the present Pro-Life Movement ally itself with such a history? If it does so then it will be to its own hurt one day.

Although there were undoubtedly some Christian people in the Abolitionist Movement, by and large, it was an experiment in rank apostasy. Many of its adherents had become enamored of the strange doctrines of Spiritualism  that so permeated mid-19th century America.  Yet others had become devotees of Unitarianism–yet another form of apostasy from Christian truth.

In her book Radical Spirits author Ann Braude  observed that: “Every notably progressive family of the nineteenth century had its advocate of Spiritualism, some of them more than one…The ubiquitous  Beecher family contributed Charles Beecher  and Isabella Beecher to the ranks, while Harriet Beecher Stowe became a serious investigator…As already noted, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was an early convert and remained loyal to the movement until his death. The famous Grimke sisters,  Sarah and Angelina talked to spirits.” All of these people were abolitionists and all, according to Braude, were involved in Spiritualism. Every wonder why your history books forgot to mention any of this?

Braude’s book, on page 60, noted that: “Radical abolitionists, in turn, found in Spiritualism a religion of harmony with their individualist principles. Abolitionists’ interests in both  women’s rights and Spiritualism derived from their fierce loyalty to the principles of individualism. Radical abolitionists agreed with Romantics and Transcendentalists that the church, the clergy, and the Bible were so many enslavers of the human spirit. They also believed that individualist principles required constant agitation in order to effect the transformation of society.” Braude here has come out and admitted what many of us have been saying for years, that radical abolitionism was about much more than freeing slaves–it was about the transformation of our society. In other words, those people were the practitioners of the Marxist “Critical Theory” agenda in their day, even though that term had yet to be coined. They wanted no interference from the Christian Church as they sought to denigrate the Christian culture around them and replace it with their own. Their agenda was to remake American society in their own image–a not-so-subtle form of idolatry.  Is this really any different from what is going on today?

One of the leaders in the 19th century Women’s Lib Movement was Susan B. Anthony. They put a postage stamp out with her picture on it several years ago. Another author, Kathleen Berry, in her book Susan B. Anthony took a little different tack on Anthony’s worldview. She noted that: “In her autobiography, Elizabeth Cady Stanton described Susan’s spirituality as that of an agnostic. Susan never denied the existence of God, but her beliefs were secularized and lodged in the world around her. Her father, who had grown increasingly frustrated with the limited world view of the Quakers…turned to the Unitarian Church. Susan was also sympathetic to Unitarian beliefs.” So, however you take it, Spiritualist or Unitarian, Anthony’s beliefs were a radical departure from orthodox Christianity–and this was the foundation for Women’s Lib!

Braude, in Radical Spirits has identified Spiritualism as being present at the Women’s Rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. She has stated, quite plainly, that: “From this time on, Spiritualism and Women’s Rights intertwined repeatedly  as both became mass movements that challenged the existing norms of American life.  The two movements shared many leaders and activists.”

It is worth noting, coincidentally, that the Spiritualist Movement in this country began to make its inroads right around 1848, the same year that the socialist and communist revolts began in Europe. In fact, one of the female “Forty-Eighters,” Mathilda Franziska Anneke, wife of socialist agitator Fritz Anneke, once she came to America, became one of the leading lights in the Women’s Rights Movement.  Walter Kennedy and I, in our book Lincoln’s Marxists document quite a bit of this. Anneke worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton  and even lobbied in Washington in behalf of Women’s Rights.

This gives you a brief overview of the connections between the radical abolitionists, the Spiritualists, the Unitarians, and some of the Forty-Eighters, and the Women’s libbers. Just for a moment, stop and reflect on what these people have done to our once-Christian culture while the church-at-large has continued to slumber.

Writer Henry Makow Ph.D. noted, in an article published back in 2010 that: “The Women’s Liberation Movement was patterned on the Civil Rights Movement.  They are off-the-shelf Communist psycho-social operations. To be effective, they must appear to reflect a popular groundswell rather than an elite agenda from above.” Makow felt these movements might have rectified some genuine injustices, but then said “…their hidden purpose is to destabliize American society.” He’s right. Undoubtedly he is referring here to the contemporary version of the Women’s Rights Movement rathen than the 19th century one, but no matter how you look at it, it’s all of one fabric and it all has, as the main agenda, the destruction of Christian culture in this country. We need to begin to wake up and understand this.