PROJECT: There Ought Always To Be Anarchy


There Ought Always To Be Anarchy: Thoughts on Natural Principles, 1852-1876

by Eliphalet Kimball

(~32,000 words)

Eliphalet Kimball was that rare thing, an enthusiastic and unapologetic advocate of anarchy, in an era when even the most active and prominent libertarian thinkers tended to be much more circumspect. So it is remarkable that the histories of anarchist thought have so consistently passed over him, while a wide array of other figures have been claimed as anarchist or near-anarchist pioneers. Kimball was a New England physician and a contributor to various radical periodicals, including the Boston Investigator and Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, where his articles appeared alongside contributions by much more familiar figures. In 1867, he published a collection of articles from the Investigator, Thoughts on Natural Principles, where his reflections on politics (“Anarchy is a good word. It means ‘without a head.’”) appeared alongside his theory of the source of cholera and his advice on healthy cooking (“Pies of all kinds are poisonous.”) And what the assembled writings reveal is a remarkable consistency across the various subjects, an underlying philosophy in which anarchy plays a central role. “There ought always to be anarchy, but there would be no violence where there were no wrongs.”

This anthology joins the essays from Thoughts on Natural Principles with previously uncollected essays by Kimball and articles chronicling key episodes of his life, including a proposed presidential run in 1852 on an anti-governmental platform. The introduction will address the core of Kimball’s philosophy, treating it as a sort of anarchism avant la lettre and proposing it as a useful starting place for at least certain examinations of anarchism’s development. A final chapter will address the various similarities between Kimball’s thought and that of more familiar anarchist pioneers, placing it more generally within the context of discourses on anarchy, headlessness, etc.


Eliphalet Kimball, Oxford, N. H.: “I go for spontaneous neighborhood governments, Natural Law. Whoever takes the lead in advocating that idea, will be the most fortunate of men. He will be the greatest man who has lived since the Pyramids of Egypt were built.”

[Eliphalet Kimball, “Correspondence,” The Word 2 no. 3 (July, 1873): 3.]


From Centennial Celebration Of The Town Of Orford, N. H (Manchester, N. H., 1866)


Eliphalet Kimball [the father of the author] was born at Bradford Massachusetts, in 1769, and came to Orford in 1790. Commenced the practice of medicine, and was for many years, the principal physician. At that early day the roads were poor, the population sparse. A physician’s task was no holiday recreation. It required a person of energy and perseverance. Such was the subject of this sketch. Kind hearted and generous, the poor as well as the rich shared alike his professional services. He was for many years Town Clerk, and died in 1843, leaving a blessed memory.

He married Elizabeth C. Porter, of Plymouth, N. H. She died in 1839. They had nine children: John Porter, Eliza Livermore, Eliphalet, Hazen Spofford, Sarah Martin, Mary Woodman, Margaret Dennie, Jane Porter, Laura Wheelock.

John P. was a physician, and died at New Orleans, La., December 2, 1843. Eliza married Dr. Alfred Pixby; he is dead. She resides at Enosburg Falls, Vt. Eliphalet is a physician, and living. Hazen S. is superintendent of extensive silver mines at Zaceticas, Mexico.

Sarah M. married W. B. Westbrook, Esq. She is a widow, and resides at Accord, N. Y. Margaret died at Galveston, Texas, January 2, 1840. Jane P. married S. W. Hale, and is now a resident of Orford. Charles P. married Helen Page, of Sharon, Vt., and resides at Northfield. Laura married Harry Allen, and died in New York, May 12, 1847.



Eliphalet Kimball, N. H.—Who is the Lord God, Who was Jesus Christ, Who is the Holy Ghost, Who is the Devil, Platform of Infidelity, Modern Infidelity, Conway’s Sermon on Paine, Political Physics.

[Boston Investigator, November 12, 1862, p. 222.]


E. Kimball, N. H.—Paine’s Age of Reason, Examination of the Prophecies.

[Boston Investigator, Feb. 25, 1863, p. 350.]

Brief Notes

Eliphalet Kimball—Your article was received and will appear in its turn. We are disposed to be obliging, but with twenty-five communications flowing in upon us every week on an average, (to say nothing of a dozen columns or more of selected matter,) we are puzzled to know how to print them all. Our desks, drawers, boxes and trunks are full of communications, and we began a fortnight or three weeks ago to load up a barrel. Correspondents are evidently inclined to help us, and we thank them for their labors and good intentions, but if there could be a stoppage in the supply for awhile, so we might have a chance to print what we have on hand, it would accommodate us and them.

[Boston Investigator, February 19, 1873, p. 6.]


Eliphalet Kimball. Oxford, N. H.: We cannot print your tract on the terms proposed, nor can we return manuscripts unless stamps are inclosed to pay postage.

[The Word, April, 1873, p. 3.]

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.