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The Fox Sisters and the Spiritualism Movement

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Author Topic: The Fox Sisters and the Spiritualism Movement  (Read 2109 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2009, 01:09:33 am »

The following for spiritualism soon numbered eminent men among the believers. Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune took the Fox girls into his house on one of their tours, and he was soon defending them and spiritualism in the columns of his newspaper. Judge Edmonds of the New York Supreme Court investigated the movement, and was won over. In 1853 he published a treatise on spiritualism, and the popularity of the movement increased. Respectability was totally insured when ex-Governor Talmadge of Wisconsin, and then an elderly scientist by the name of Professor Hare, joined the band wagon. Soon a group of Christian ministers were converted to the movement and thereby gave it religious significance, turning it into a cult, if not another branch of Christianity. Prior to the Civil War, however, no solid spiritualist organization developed despite the hundreds of mediums and spiritualist circles which flourished between 1848 and 1865. No doubt the spirits were far too individualistic and too busy to agree upon a constitution and by-laws, let alone have time to develop a theology.

Eventually the Fox sisters fell to quarreling, as often happens in any flourishing family business. By 1853 a petition to Congress with fifteen thousand signatures asked for a Federal investigation of the spiritualists' claims. Then a committee came from Buffalo to investigate the phenomenon, and Katie recanted and admitted that spiritualism was a fraud. The rappings were caused by the cracking of the joints of the girls' big toes and knees, she averred. Once a religion begins, however, it seldom fades away. The confession of the Fox sisters had little detrimental effect on spiritualism. Those who believed in the spirits were completely convinced that the recantation, not the toe cracking, was the fraud. Both sisters before their deaths re-iterated that it all had been a hoax which they had perpetrated, in part at first merely to arouse their excitable mother.
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