Paul Brown in the “Boston Investigator” (1832–1847)

  • B, “The Radical—No. III,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 1 (March 30, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 4,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 4 (April 20, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 5,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 5 (April 27, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 6,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 6 (May 4, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 7,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 7 (May 11, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 8,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 8 (May 18, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 9,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 9 (May 25, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 10,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 10 (June 1, 1832): 1.
  • “From Brown’s ‘Disquistion on Faith,’” Boston Investigator 2 no. 10 (June 1, 1832): 4.
  • P. Brown, “General Communications,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 11 (June 8, 1832): 1.
  • “From Brown’s ‘Disquistion on Faith,’” Boston Investigator 2 no. 11 (June 8, 1832): 2.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 11,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 19 (August 3, 1832): 1.
  • “Another New System of Orthography,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 19 (August 3, 1832): 2.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 12,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 20 (August 10, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 13,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 21 (August 17, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 14,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 29 (October 12, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 15,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 30 (October 20, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 16,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 38 (December 14, 1832): 1.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 17,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 39 (December 21, 1832): 2–3.
  • B, “The Radical…No. 18,” Boston Investigator 2 no. 40 (December 28, 1832): 1.
  • P. Brown, “Language First, Knowledge Afterwards!,” Boston Investigator 7 no. 3 (April 7, 1837): 1.
  • Paul Brown, “Free Enquiry Without Skepticism!,” Boston Investigator 10 no. 27 (October 21, 1840): 2.
  • “To Correspondents,” Boston Investigator 11 no. 16 (August 25, 1841): 3.
  • P. Brown, “An Address to the Clergy of the United States of America,” Boston Investigator 11 no. 19 (September 15, 1841): 1–2.
  • Paul Brown, “An Address to the Clergy of the United States of America—Letter II,” Boston Investigator 12 no. 38 (January 25, 1843): 1.
  • Paul Brown, “Politics—No. 1,” Boston Investigator 13 no. 23 (October 11, 1843): 1.
  • Paul Brown, “Politics—No. 2,” Boston Investigator 13 no. 24 (October 18, 1843): 1.
  • P. Brown, “Extract from ‘A Disquisition on Faith,’” Boston Investigator 13 no. 26 (November 1, 1843): 1.
  • Paul Brown, “Politics—No. 3,” Boston Investigator 13 no. 32 (December 13, 1843): 1.
  • “To the Friends of Social Reform,” Boston Investigator 13 no. 48 (April 3, 1844): 3.
  • “Proposal for publishing by subscription and original work entitled ‘Elements of Human Civilization and the Doctrine of Commonwealths,” Boston Investigator 13 no. 48 (April 3, 1844): 3.
  • “Notice,” Boston Investigator 14 no. 15 (April 3, 1844): 3. [2 notices]
  • Paul Brown, “Examination of Objections and Arguments Opposed to the Equality of the Sexes,” Boston Investigator 14 no. 19 (September 11, 1844): 1.
  • Paul Brown, “To Origin Bacheler, Esq.,” Boston Investigator 15 no. 1 (May 14, 1845): 1–2.

for the investigator.


Scarce any saying is more proverbial than what is commonly observed of a public speaker, “appearance is every thing.” This is accounted the sine qua non in the qualifications of an orator, to have a plump portly figure, good dress, attractive countenance and mien. The leaders of the fashion-mongers and the populace under their influence, will not listen to any other. What is the subject-matter of that which is to be delivered, is of less moment to enquire into. Though a man “were to speak with the tongue of angels,”—”the he understood all the mysteries and all knowledge,” so as to be able to direct the multitudes to every thing essential to their true and highest interest, and have not on a good sit of clothes, but a bad coat, the Bostonians (especially) would not hear him, any more than they would run their heads into a brick-kiln. They will let him discourse to “bare walls” if he has not some rich and fine cloth around his outward tabernacle: it being of no account what a man says, if he only looks well and has a graceful way of saying it. However, they would make sure to be beforehand with him, and take care that he should not have a room to speak in, lest some “spiritual eaves-dropper” should catch something from his lips and give it to the wind. It is not a man’s sobriety, honesty, intelligence or erudition, that they care a fig about; but his dress and mien.—he must be dressed in the ton, if it happens to be a bullock’s hide and pate wit the horns on it. “Appearance is every thing.” It is their votorum summa in regard to the person of a declaimer or public teacher. A great show and bustle mist be made, and some dollars and coppers shuffled about from one party to another, as landlord, lecturer, door-keeper, &c.—The weight of arguments and the practical utility of a subject, are beneath their notice.—But how a thing “came off,” is all the talk. And however loud they may crow over their rich and beautiful assortment of Religions, the idolatry of Fashion is the reigning religion of the place. The lecturing is a high trade with them; though it seems to be over-done; and I am afraid they will lack subjects on day, unless another trade is brought in to hold it up,—that of supplying catalogues of topics to discourse upon; as simplers supply the manufactories of patent medicine. I think the time is not far distant when we shall hear of lecturers on rat-catching, destruction of fleas, fishing, spider-killing, cheese-making, fowling, and skating. The lecture-jobbing is evidently approaching a crisis—Go it, my boys! Let this reel be run out as soon as may be, and come to some kind of an issue, that we may have a general standard for its estimate, whether it is to be resolved into an object of sheer disgust, or a bone of questuary competition. But we shall doubtless yet see a day when lecture-rooms ready furnished, with a lecturer standing in each of them, and well lighted, will go under the hammer of the auctioneer to the highest bidder, and be a matter of competition among grave mercantile adventurers who will be brewing serious speculation on the raising of auditors at certain prices per head, to hear lectures on History, Geometry, Astronomy, Phrenology, Neurology, Mesmerism, Millerism, Mormonism, Galvanism, Electricity, Geomancy, Clairvoyance, Political Economy, Household Economy, Barnhold Economy, Ancient Egypt, Mummery, Ovation, Demonology, Grammar, Music, Transcendentalism, Cynarchtomachy, Physic, Botany, Zoology, Meteorology, Mateology, Megalopsyche, Magic,—and all the varieties of sciences, arts, inventions, discoveries, and useful recourses of life, pertaining to the Universal Salvation of power and wealth,—until all subjects shall be exhausted, or the people being entirely saturated with knowledge, can hold no more. Alas! Ye jovial crews of lecturers that so thickly scour the country like so many grasshoppers, in your butterfly robes, and so kindly lecture us in all nooks, upon every one of the sciences and the religions, I am quakingly apprehensive you will quite run down this lucrative branch of business before I can have my new suit of clothes completed, whence it will ever be impossible to make my fortune by it.

Nevertheless; though a man must not be heard in public for the want of a good dress,—yet one may sometimes be permitted to write something to his friends, with a bad coat on, or even without any coat at all.

RIGHT is what conforms to the law of universal preservation and well-being. The first principle or axiom of this law is, that, Nature exists necessarily, and consists of parts which are necessary to the subsistence of the whole. If there is an atom of substance in the universe, it is right that it should exist, that is, it has a right to exist. Also, the place it at any time holds in the great whirl, it has a right to occupy: whether it be in the chrysalis of a silkworm, a cabbage, or on the way from a cabbage leaf to the olfactory nerves of an elephant, or from the back of a horse to the brain of a man, in all its mazy lapse of transmutation. All are in perpetual flux. All the atoms or particles compose the vast, the illimitable, the shoreless ocean of entity. All atoms and all combinations of them, have a right to exist, in virtue of the necessary existence of Nature, of which they are necessarily parts. They have a right to their position at whatever point they have attainted to at any moment in the GENERAL and UNIVERSAL WHIRL. All matter is capable of animalization, and without doubt is animalized again and again, in its infinitely diverse series of compositions and re-compositions; and, in the great cycles of eternal revolutions arrives successively at a certain kind or variety of combination wherein it is the subject of perceptivity and of intelligence. This variety, or kin, of combination, is an organic structure with brain and nerves, consequently with sense, thought, memory, reason. All matter, in its turn, devolves though the modality of sentient organism. Every atom, every congeries of atoms, is our kindred; being one time or another, indeed man times, a part of such bodies as ours. This is the one great family to which we belong. [Of this, more at another opportunity.]

Whatever is conducive to, or compatible with, the preservation and greatest good of a whole, is the right of the parts.

When we come into consideration of those modes which are in the sequence of the volition and actions of intelligent agents like men, we distinguish things wrong (besides right) in reference to the greatest good of the species, or of a group of human beings living together in society; inasmuch as there is a time when a man is free to act, and a time when he is under a restraint.

It is a very common thing to hear people talk about conventional rights, and of civil rights, as contradistinguished from natural rights; as if there were sorts and degrees of right, like the different qualities or kinds of cloth or other manufactured goods. This, in its original, is the gibberish of lawyers and crafty diplomatists, who would make of politics a web of sophistry to imbrangle the wits and reason of men, that they may profit of their degradation.

NATURE makes right; man can do no such thing. If there is such a thing as a right adherent to or inherent in any intelligent existence in the universe, it is made by Nature. Man can make institutions, or organizations of society; that is, men assembling together, can deliberate upon, discuss, and, by the exercise and use of those rights which Nature has vested in them, adopt and establish certain rules, measures, constitutions, laws, forms of proceeding—which is to say, by exercising their natural right of suffrage, they give in their votes according to their choice, of which the majority, coinciding on any propounded project, is accepted to prevail and have the authority to establish it. But the right itself, in each, by and with which they do these things, is inherent, and made by Nature. All rights are natural. All are ordained by Nature.

The phrase conventional institute, is proper.—But conventional right, is a solecism. It is absurd. A right cannot be an elaboration of a convention of men. One man cannot give rights to, or confer rights on, another; neither can a company of men endue an individual with rights, or an individual or a company endue a company of men with rights. They are intransferable; and are beyond either the invention or the institution of men. That which is right, is so in virtue of the everlasting order and constitution of Nature. It is radicated in the essences of things.

To talk of a right accruing to one, or devolving to another, in virtue of some supervenient circumstantiality, or being elicited by the provisions of a special stature which affects to endow certain individuals with peculiar pre-eminences, powers, or immunities, (generally speaking) is nonsense.—Men may convene together, and deliberatively interchanging their conceptions, agree upon certain institutes, social and political, build houses for public business, and fix certain rules to regulate them; and these things may be called conventional: But rights, which all have in them to do these things, i. e., the rights of suffrage and of voting, by the exercising of which, they come to the adoption of such establishments, cannot be the work of man; they are the work of Nature. And man cannot make a right, any more than he can make a comet, manufacture granite, or create a bed of oysters.

If Nature implants our rights, it is as a species or race that we inherit them. They cannot be affected by sex. All human being are of one nature. It is a puerile conceit to imagine that rights can be affected by sex. The female as well as the male, has five senses, a faculty of judgment and of reasoning. Females are capable of knowledge as well as males; and if so, they are as capable of one kind of knowledge as of any other kind.—Certainly they are susceptible of a knowledge of the simple principles of the science of politics. Moreover they are interested, equally with any other members of the society of which they compose a part, in the means of the security of the well-being of the whole. It is as impossible for them to be without this interest as to be void of that desire of self-preservation, and aversion to pain, which are common to all. It were as possible for hem not to wish for their own well-being, which is comprised in that of the whole of the society of which they are members. They have the right of suffrage; natural and inherent; the same as others. Such adventitious circumstances as any peculiar usages, laws, ordinance, of nations or states, cannot supersede it. Rights are eternal, and immutable when the subjects are sane. People ma be oppressed, enslaved, deluded, infatuated,—prevented from exercising their rights; but all this never annihilates those rights. Such ordinances, laws, and usages, are oblique from the track which Nature conducts to the greatest good of the species. It is Nature that has made to be right, whatsoever is right; that is, has ordained what invariably tends to the happiness of human beings living in society. And men can as easily divest a stone of its gravity and make it float on the air like a feather; they can as easily subduct from water its tendency to gain a level; thy can as easily take away from fire its property of scorching, and of decomposing combustible bodies; as they can separate from vice the tendency to make men miserable, or from wisdom and virtue the tendency to make them happy.


Paxton, (Mass.,) Sept. 17, 1843.



We every day meet with those who-pretend it would be indecent and destructive of public morals to bring women into deliberative political assemblies and election: halls, because of the customary rudeness and licentiousness of the men when assembled at such places. How is this? It can be nothing but a matter of habit which is grounded on no reason, but only on a loose, unprincipled, unguarded education and an irregular course of life. It is very different, with the very same men, in religious assemblies. In churches, chapels, meeting-houses, places of public worship, the sexes promiscuously set together in the same pews, as quiet and gentle as folds of sheep. From what cause is this? Answer. Education and custom, ‘At the same time what is the cause whence they incline to rudeness, indecency, and jeering, towards females, in other public places such as selection halls, taverns, and parades? Education and custom. From what arises this diversity in their conduct in these different situations, in favor of places devoted to religious exercises? Education and custom. But reform implies a change in education and custom. What signifies Reform, in the order of society, which should not affect education, and custom? When the general current of education and custom should be changed and improved, men would be as gentle, polite, and affable towards females in one public place as another: and women could pass unmolested promiscuously with men or in succession one after another, and put their votes into the ballot-box.

We may observe a glaring inconsistency in the legislation of those States which make the payment-of a tax a condition essential to the qualification of voters (which is virtually founding government on wealth)—and at the same time that they assess taxes on the property of single females, exclude these altogether from the exercise of this right. Here they change the principle.—Here they make sex the criterion of this qualification. It is no longer property alone that they would make the basis of government; but they include with it the idea of sex. No longer is it merely those who have wealth that are to wield the power of government; but they must be no other than males; which, if they all pay taxes and pass for legal voters, count no more than half of the people.

They will not fail to tell us that to allow females their votes, would not vary the determination of the general will or add anything to the majority, inasmuch as it is the general custom for every head of a family to overrule the opinions of all the females of his household, whereby his own political notions being the prototypes of theirs, would invincibly control their votes.

A reply, if such is the general custom now, it will not be the general custom when the general custom shall be changed: and without a change in the general custom, and also of the current of education, we have no reform of our political, moral, or social institutes, Without a change in education and general custom, no thorough radical change for the better, of the organization and arrangements of society, can be realized, And in such event, women will be accustomed to think for themselves, as well on political subjects as on any other: and they will think as independently as they now do on their cookery and their needlework.

In short, to make such a diversity of conformation as constitutes the discrimination of sex, the index or limit of any right, is as ridiculous as to make a person’s features such limit; as much as if we should say, those only who have straight noses and short necks shall vote, or have any hand in the government,

Eligibility to office is a different thing from such a natural right as that of suffrage. For some persons are naturally, or else casually, disqualified for performing the duties of some offices, in point of strength, health, mental or corporeal capacity, or conformation;—whereas every one that has common sense and judgment, is qualified to vote;—in other words, to declare his choice or opinion; if he can write or speak or hold up his hand or lift a ballot and put it into a box. To be in all respects fit to be chosen to a-particular office, depends upon some other circumstances which adapt one to perform the duties of that office with efficiency, promptitude, precision, and impartiality.—Even now it is not altogether fit to choose lawyers to make laws for us, nor to be judges of the law. Neither is it fit to appoint a cripple to the, command of an army. A lawyer ought not to be considered eligible to the office of a judge or a legislator. And perhaps it would be right to institute that a woman is not eligible to the office of a General, and acting commander-in-chief of military forces in time of war.

Nature, the great integer of being, which contains within itself, the principles of all causes and the causes of all operations, generates all the diversity of objects we behold, and an infinity of others of which we never arrive at the perception. It is an immense Elaboratory in which are wrought the very implements and concentrated the materia of all productions organic and inorganic. The preservation of the great whole (of which we are confessedly incompetent to a definitive conception) depends on the subsistence of all the parts. Without the parts exist, the whole cannot exist. The well-being and: proper order of all the parts in reference to the whole, is necessary to the well-being and preservation of the whole, The existence of the whole, is necessary. Every species and kind of being, is a part of Nature. Man is a part of Nature. Whatsoever is right, has been made to be so by the essence of things and the constitution of the universe. ‘That which conduces to or consists with the preservation and well-being of any system or race, is right. That which has the contrary tendency, is, in that reference, not right,

It is right that every species and every system which is a component of Nature, should exist. It happens that if a man is born he has a right to live, If he has a right to live, he has a right to the things necessary to make him live, i. e., the things without which life cannot be sustained.—His right to life, seems to imply a right to keep it. It falls out that life cannot be preserved without eating. (Every effect has a cause.) But there can be no eating, without something to eat. This is property, so far as to command the requisite use of things. If he has a right to the use of the elements of the world, he has a right to liberty in appropriating the things adequate to his sustenance: (and it must be a thing desirable and that which he naturally wills, to preserve his existence,—and life that has nothing in it of comfort is not desirable—) the power or opportunity of performing which appropriation, is liberty. If he has right to liberty, he has right to the pursuit of happiness: for the executing of his will in the pursuit of what is desirable, is the pursuit of happiness.. If he has right to the pursuit of happiness and right to liberty, he has right to labor.—Labor is necessary to health, and: consequently to happiness,—besides being that by which we gather together and appropriate what is necessary to our sustenance, If so, then certainly he has a right to the means of labor. But if he has right to liberty und to the pursuit of happiness, he has also a right to knowledge; for knowledge is necessary to happiness:—then, of course, to the means of knowledge. But if he has a right to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness, he has a right to vote, as soon us he belongs to a society and is of an age of discretion, At that moment he has this right of suffrage or voting, as naturally and necessarily of course, as he has teeth and nails at the age of two years. It is as much a natural right as either of the others, and is involved with them, or necessarily adjunct, as certainly as a man belongs to society. But man is necessarily a social being; the species cannot exist without living in a state of society; neither can he be happy without society.—To say that a man, i.e., a human being, who is a member of society, when of sound mind, at an age fit to take care of himself, has not the right of suffrage, is to say that he has not the right to pursue his happiness: for the end of those rules, regulations, arrangements, laws, constitutions, which are adopted by the votes of the members, or framed by those of whom they make choice as deputies to make them for them, is originally, nothing but the security of the well-being of society: and this well-being of society consists of the very same thing that constitutes the well-being of every individual who is a part of society; and this well-being is happiness. The moment you take away from a man the right of suffrage, you take away from him the right to the pursuit of happiness. They both stand or full together, A man cannot have the right to the pursuit of happiness without having the right to express his choice by giving in his vote on the regulations which are to secure the well-being of the society of which he makes a part. For this exercising of such a right, is the pursuit of happiness. He is concerned in the constitution and regulations of society; for the happiness of society is his own happiness, seeing he makes a part of society. He should have a hand in framing those arrangements in order that they may be such as to secure his own happiness. The million possessed by the rich man, is a distinct thing from himself. The poor man that possesses nothing, is as much a part of society and as great a part of society, as the rich man is; each being nothing less nor more than an individual member. The poor certainly is equally interested in having equitable the laws to which he is to be amenable and which should protect him. In any thing else but usurped and tyrannical government, the system of wills that, is made up of the wills of all the members of the society or of the majority of them as signified, by their votes, is what makes all the rules to regulate their general concerns, If you debar a part of the members from the liberty to give in their voices with the others, it is never possible to ascertain where lies the majority which should pass for the general will, For you can no longer compute their silence as matter of assent when you prevent them from attending and putting in their votes.

Some impugn this assignment of the original of rights to Nature; being fastidiously tenacious of a peculiar expression wherein they ascribe it to an intelligent volitive Ens out of Nature, (!) to wit, that “God endues men with their rights.”—These are apt to cavil at those who derive them expressively from Nature. If one alleges that rights are the gift of God; and another that they are the gift of Nature; what is the mighty difference? Both the one and the other confesses the fact, that men actually have these rights, that they are inherent, indefeasible, inalienable: from which the reasoning is the very same, to all intents and purposes of a practical utility: the result is the same as soon as we come to an application of these ideas to the modification of social or political institutes, without meddling with the question of derivation at all. If another says “God has endued men with their, rights, and they derive them from their Maker,”—and I say, Nature has endued them with their rights, and they derive them from the essence of things and the constitution of the universe; I have as good a right to sayhis expression is absurd and leads to absurdities, as he has to say that my expression is absurd and leads to absurdities. Let us have fair play, a clear field for discussion, the same chance to bring in every argument upon one side as upon the other, till we ascertain which lead to the most absurdities: in which way, truth cannot fail ultimately to be in the ascendant. Let us investigate all things, in order that we may “prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” Which last is indeed one of their Scriptural precepts: but it falls out that as soon as we detect in their Bible a rational apothegm full of sound sense, or a precept that challenges the acquiescence of all conscientious persons, it is the very, thing which our Scripturians wish to keep out of, sight (or else explain into a nullity): and when we have them at the scratch, they turn round and say the text does not mean what it says; it means something else. They assume to palm upon the world their own favorite construction. They will persuade us that “all things” does not mean all things, but means some things, and those some things a very particular sort of things. Their Scriptures are very much the same as the Irish barber’s sign, who to attract custom wrote up in glaring letters “What do you think? Paddy O’Flapperty shaves for a penny and gives a drink of beer for nothing!”—When, obsequiously, a passenger entering, availing himself of his shaving services and paying his penny, takes thereafter a glass of beer, for which the barber demanding four pennies more, the customer replies astonished, “But your sign says you give a drink of beer for nothing!” Whereupon the barber, putting himself into an attitude of didactic oratory, exclaims—“You mistake, Sir—the sign says no such thing! The sign says, “WHAT! Do you think Paddy O’Flapperty shaves for a penny and gives a drink of beer for nothing?

In like manner they would control the construction of the cardinal axioms of our Declaration of Independence itself, such as that all are born free and equal; and are ready to say that although this is true, yet it is not intended that they shall remain free and equal a minute after their birth; and that if they have equally “certain rights” born with them, it does not follow that they are to retain those rights but only casually and diversely according to circumstances that may subsequently transpire.”


Paxton, (Mass.,) Sept. 20, 1843,

[It gives us pleasure to oblige our respected correspondent, as well as all others who assist us by their writings, but he will excuse us if we tell him, that, as our paper is not of the mammoth size, he must in future study brevity.—EF.]



Whatever were the origin of the sacerdotal order,—or whatever peculiar circumstance gave rise to it in the first instance; without doubt aristocracy nourishes priestcraft, is its principal prop in this country at the present day,—and without it the trade would not endure. For it is money with which it carries on all its operations; without which, it does nothing. Without money, its wheels stop; like those of our Factories. And I conjecture, if for once no resort whatever, secret or overt, were available to replenish his purse, not even a revival or a protracted meeting would come off. It seems therefore that a man who upholds aristocracy while he proscribes priestcraft, is like one who builds up with one hand what-he pulls down with the other: at which, scouting hordes of shrewd ecclesiastics are laughing in their sleeves, chuckling in the security of their ascendency.—However this may be,—an Infidel who is an aristocrat, is an inconsistent being. He is one who is in contradiction with himself. For all the psychological creeds acknowledge a spiritual Autocrat, a single sovereign Despot, governing all things with arbitrary sway. This is monarchy. All the superstitions of the earth, hold to some sort of theocracy. Some indeed distribute the administration of the government among several subordinate divinities whose offices are to execute the different orders of the chief, But they always have one supreme: as Jupiter, Jehovah, the Great Spirit, &c, It is always some kind of arbitrary and despotic government that they preach; by one, or a few, of a superior order of beings, ruling the whole world; and not democracy, or mankind governing themselves—making their own rules and regulations, or delegating their own agents. A pure and perfect republic then, revolts at all the spiritual systems, all public then, revolts at all the spiritual systems, all the superstitions, in the world. It is only by persevering on the broad direct highway of the general weal, the true equal Interest a greatest good of the WHOLE, that we can establish infidelity or materialism upon a respectable basis of credibility with the mass. The true system of materialism and of the universal transmutation of matter, teaches democracy. So far from revolting at materialism, democracy has its root and origination in it. Considered physically, all Nature is a republic and a perfect community, I say, as a whole, the Universe, in a physical view of its originary and elementary processes, is a republic, and a community. Its members are atoms. They are atoms that do every thing that is done, has been done, or ever will be done. Every one acts according to its essence and according to its inherent, natural right, ‘The results of this acting, are whatsoever presents itself to our perception on the face of the vast panorama of existence.—To be sure some atoms congregate, and combining in peculiar ways and properties, form intelligent organisms like the human body and all animals: yet it is but by turns; as some groups of sets of men are legislators, representatives of the people, executive officers, for a time, when again they return to the common level of the mass of citizen: succeeded by others, (again perhaps to take their turn on the same routine:) as the others, into the general reservoir of elementary matter; all particles tending incessantly into composition or decomposition, some directly, others more gradually, being in a perpetual lapse; which has persuaded some that matter primarily possesses the property of life: but it is not organic life until they run into such organization as that of vegetables or animals: Yet it is evident all particles are capable of entering into the composition of animate bodies,—in other words susceptible of animation; and by consequence, of all the other properties pertaining to those animate bodies, such as if sensibility, thought, voluntarity. Organization engenders adscititious properties diverse from what originally adhere to elementary atoms or congeries of atoms unorganized. Every atom performs its part in the general government of the universe. There is not an atom that is not of some account, and whose effort does not go for something, in the universal economy. They are equal, No one atom a king over millions of other atoms, One is as important as another. The force of one is of us much consequence and as indispensable to sustain the fabric of things and conserve the constitution of the world, as is that of every other. Unity, and combination of efforts, elicit striking effects; as in human associations. Here is our primordial archetype of a republic.

If in our moral, political, and social institutes, we copy Nature, we shall do right. The moral world is the same world as the physical world.—It is but a diversity of reference, in which is grounded the distinction. A consciousness of pleasure and pain, and such an organism as the brain, nerves, and muscles, of the human frame, constitute the whole stock of materials with which we clap up the frame-work of what we distinguish by the appellation “moral world.” And when we have referred un effect to that divergent or expansive motion of the sensorial substance (of the brain and nerves) impinging the muscles which thence are pushed into action, and named the first volition or by another word will, and the last voluntary action or again (variously) moral action, which action in comparison with another that is performed under a restraint and by impulsion of some force extrinsical to the brain, we in a moral sense call “free,” we have evolved the nucleus of all the technical drapery of Ethics. We speak of the “moral world”; but there is no world but matter and motion: the whole world is nothing else but matter in motion. More good can be effected by reverting to simple principles than by moiling ever to gloss the conglomerations of fanciful theorizing.

An infidel or a materialist, to be consistent, must be a republican, a democrat, an advocate of equal rights, equal liberty, universal suffrage—opposed to all monopoly, all privileged orders, all banks: for these last are all vindicated by the doctrines of the religious systems of this world.

So also on the other hand, a republican, to be consistent, must be a materialist. Out of this element he can see only societies which cherish some sort of arbitrary despotic government—monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, or limited monarchy; in their theories it is set forth as the paragon of all excellence in government, since they ascribe the model to their “first good, first perfect, and first fair.” They tell-of Gods, Angels, Lords;—Hierarchies, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities—Prophet, Priest, King— Jove, Jehovah, Great Spirit—Bramah, Vishna— Mahomet, Providence, &c., &c., &c.; in a word, superior authorities which without our knowledge or consent, control all the affairs of the world, and rule us as with a sceptre of iron. Such cannot heartily acquiesce in the simple principles of an unsophisticated democracy.

A true republican is a philanthropist. And an intelligent materialist who is a practical one, is also a philanthropist. He is naturally led to consider all intelligent and all sensible beings as his nearest kindred belonging to the same family with himself, which includes all bodies,

A republican and philanthropist will not value himself upon the possession of private riches such as hoards of money or goods lying dormant in wait for some unforeseen exigence. If he has ever so great possessions he will not remain rich in this sort of wealth; he will prefer being rich in the consciousness of good works,—in the friendship, affection, esteem, and applause of his fellow beings that environ him. He will be rich in the pleasure of seeing his redundant wealth so appropriated as to be doing good where it can do the most good—in relieving the indigent, and instituting establishments which shall be permanent re- sources of suitable employment and rational education to such as cannot provide these things for themselves. He will choose to see this with his own eyes while yet he is in the vigor of manhood, having a “sound mind and a sound body.” He will take no pride in sequestered pelf, like those abject misers who die paupers, having under the door-stones or their hearths hundreds of hard dollars. He will be social. He will be at home everywhere that he can assure himself he is useful. He will delight in promoting whatsoever tends to secure equal chances of labor, amusement, study, contemplation, and resources of a happy existence to all, without regard to place, birth, age, sex, or complexion. All our Genii must be brought, down and brought into judgment, before we can realize a republic in human society. The great God (or Goddess) Fashion and the God Mammon must be unthroned, as well as the rest of the Gods. These must be bereft of their awful respectability and of their meretricious regalia wherewithal they have made idiots and slaves of the human race. The Sanctissima divitiarum majestas, shorn of its illusive daze, must explode in the derision of a regenerated populace.

Let us then blend democracy with materialism. It is consonant to the evident order of Nature.—Some who are too far gone under the bias of superstitious notions, will revolt; but they never have been on the right track, Give us republicans that have their eyes opened, and not those who are such under an illusion, Give us republicans that are thorough, and not half-way men. Democracy would never establish a national church in the United States, such as that of Great Britain, Spain, or Italy. But Whiggery would do it, as soon as it should find it an expedient lying in the trail of its projects of universal domination. The time ought now to be gone by and forgotten (if it ever has been) when arguing that a perfect republic is a commonwealth, was considered opposition-ground to the doctrines of free enquirers; or when a professed sceptic or materialist on any occasion vindicating a community of goods, should be thought to have taken the wrong side of the house.


Paxton, (Mass.,) Nov. 3, 1843.



The tenacity with which men cling to their ‘early prejudices, is of itself a formidable incumbrance on their advance in moral refinement. Inveterate prescription gives to the most preposterous abuses the stamp of legitimate principles.— But when we take into consideration a numerous class of partisans vitally interested in fostering these prejudices, who, to sustain their existence, are obliged to find their account in plying all the arts of delusion by which they may be rendered dear, and even believed to be indispensably necessary to maintain order and public morals, the case seems hopeless. Nevertheless, as certain as real reform has any where taken root, so sure is it to fructify. Condorecet observes, “Among those causes of human improvement that are of most importance to the general welfare, must be included the total annihilation of the prejudices which have established between the sexes an inequality of rights, fatal even to the party which it favors. In vain might we search for motives by which to justify this principle, in difference of physical organization, of intellect, or of moral sensibility. It had at first no other origin but abuse of strength, and all the attempts which have since been made to support it are idle sophisms.” And now here in the noon-day of our nineteenth century of the Christian Epoch, are men gravely advancing elaborate arguments against the equal extension of political liberty to the sexes, and to establish sex as a criterion of rights!

1. In the front rank of the champions of sexual politics and sexual morality, who contend for the masculine regime, are those who tell us “Women were never designed to tale part in political transactions”—that “Nature never designed nor fitted them to have any share in governments, or to concern themselves with public arrangements,” I reply, in general, I see no design about it—I say, in a constitutional fitness so far as it is dependent on physical organization, I can trace no vestige of a particular design. Yet inasmuch as it is from an “adaptation of means to ends, and of instruments to an use,” that we are apt to infer design, the supposition scems in favor of a design of equality in. political competency in males and females. In respect of these last, we perceive they are fitted to be concerned about the nature of the laws that are to be made, to which they ‘are to be amenable; about the character of those who are to make the laws; about those who are to tax their property; in short, about the measures that are to be pursued in reference to securing the tranquillity and general welfare of the society in which they live, Withal, they are fitted to signify heir choice about these things, whether by ballot ‘or otherwise. Moreover, they are fitted to have ‘knowledge relative to these things; for they have a number of senses, and they have brain, And in all this fitness, they are fully equal with males.— In relation to the present position of females in society, I can find out no actual design except in those who have instituted it; who, doubtless, designed to detain them in a subaltern plight, in a condition of dependence and of political incompetency. ‘That the traits of this ferocity should have been transmitted to the progeny of enlightened independent nation boasting of having established a democratic frame of government, is a stigma on the race: for the perpetuators of this iniquitous system are not less culpable than its institutors.

2. Others persist in saying, “Women have not capacity, they have not judgment, qualifying them to be voters; they are inferior in intellect, they cannot comprehend politics.” I desire to know what rare pre-eminence of judgment is requisite to express one’s choice of a representative or an agent of any kind to transact the public business of the people for a limited time, when several different individuals are propounded; or indeed where are none propounded at all, there being always some that are known to their neighbors? What learned qualifications does it require but common sense, and strength to put a ballot into a box? And what great abstrusity is in the science of politics?—this simple science, which teaches that those who are of age and have sense, have equally among themselves the right and power to prescribe the measures of the public concernments, or delegate such as they shall confide in to be their factors. As great a proportion of men who are now voters, are circumscribed in intelligence, inept, obtuse in intellect, as of women. Women have common sense, therefore they are qualified for voters.

3. It will be said next, “When they are married, a man and woman are one flesh—they are one—consequently she cannot act for herself, she has no individual capacity or character: and the man putting in one vote, serves for both”! This whim is very extensively prevalent. ‘This conceit prevails to a vast extent among the common people; they having read in some Jew book, that when a man and woman get married, “they twain shall be one flesh”;—by which we are to understand, two persons become one person—or, more likely, a joint and corporate concern, But, why should they not have one common name? Why should they retain any peculiar names they bore previously? And if the man’s voice is the voice of both, and his ballot is the common right of the concern, then if the woman should put in one vote instead of the man, it should have the same effect; they should vote promiscuously or alternately, it being all the same, as they are but one. And how it that the man can go and buy a thousand acres of land and five hundred cattle, in his own name, and sell off his farm and the house over his wife’s head, independent of her knowledge or consent; and that she cannot do the like? The solution of the enigma is, that, a man and a woman make one man;—and a woman, joined to a man, makes no person at all, but becomes a nonentity. So, at last, this famous text does no more than assert the thing in dispute.

4. Others are ready to cry out, “Women are unqualified by Nature to fill any kind of political office, ‘They are incompetent to any such duties; and must be ineligible.” This is a rash enunciation, and rank with gross prejudice. They are evidently adapted to many political offices; and Nature has not disqualified them for any; though they are subject to certain circumstances which incapacitate them at times for attending to the duties of some offices. However, the office of representatives they are eminently qualified for, during the greater part of their lives. From their exercising the right to elect, it docs not follow that they must be elected to any office when they are incompetent to its duties. People may be ineligible to an office; and yet have a right to vote and say who they desire should hold that office in their stead. Women might be exonerated from bearing arms, which multitudes of men are now, for one reason or another, without being divested on that account, of the elective franchise.

5. We shall encounter those who allege that “Women being permitted to share in the government, would make havoc of political economy— they would introduce confusion and tyranny.” This is a gratuitous aspersion of the morals and understanding of the sex, which cannot be supported. Where is any proof that they would cause any waste or betray the cause of the people, now that they have never been permitted to wield openly any political power, nor vested with any public trust? If it rests in the presumption of their ignorance of the public interest, this is our fault in circumscribing their education in such way as to divert their thoughts from such subjects. At the same time I think the proportion of the ignorant among females is even now very little in the excess of that of males. But in imagining them so corrupt as to wittingly make waste and brew disorder, we must find them delirious to set fire to their own habitation, seeing they are equal proprietaries of the country with the men, and no less interested in its tranquillity or prosperity. Nevertheless, as they are incapacitated for a part of their time, there is no chance for them to make a majority or even a balance of any legislative delegation, Be their ignorance whatever it may, or from whatever cause, it is no reason for suppressing their rights and robbing them of their liberty. No woman is more ignorant than thousands of men are who now vote.

6. They say furthermore, “It would be immoral and indecent, and tend to licentiousness, to admit women to political deliberations and transactions.” This is a mistake. It is to say men are now licentious, indecent, and immoral; and it is only an occasion of eliciting a display of these dispositions, which this objection anticipates.— The fear is, not to produce these dispositions, but to make a display of them,—bring them out into view. It is only the effect of custom, habit, and vulgar education. This must be overgrown by a contrary custom. It is easily admitted that men have about them a barbarian ferocity not yet worn off; as is conspicuously evident from their jangling and brawling every year on the floors of Congress and other legislative balls.

7. It will yet be assumed, “It would not alter the majority, because their votes would be controlled by those of the households to which they belong; and of their connexions.” But what proof of this, till it shall be experimented? This is altogether a matter of conjecture. And suppose it proved to be correct—what then? Suppose the men are equally divided; and suppose it possibly a matter of certainty that the women are equally divided exactly in the same way; this would be no justification for depriving them of their liberty to vote and taking away their power to express their choice at all, because in any one instance it might happen not to vary the result from what it would have been in their absence; any more than it would be a sufficient reason for disfranchising the whole of the then, and extinguishing the electoral power, because their votes, being in equilibrio, could decide nothing. Thousands of men are mere appendages of others, and vote as they are told, and not from their own knowledge and judgment of the nature of the thing they vote about. Let us throw out all these votes, before we deny the electoral right of women, on such a plea as this.

8. Some will allege, “Women have no concern about the government; they have the men for their protectors, be the government whatever it may; they are always safe, whoever rules; the men stand the brunt of all public exigences,—these are their representatives.” And who made them their representatives? Can people be represented without choosing any person to represent them? Can a man make himself a representative of others without their knowledge or consent? Not in a democratic government, And these protectors of females, these self-made representatives that have had the condescension to volunteer in representing the interest of females, how have they interpreted their wishes, and how faithfully have they consulted that interest, in the enactment of such laws as those of divorce, of marriage, of dower, and such as totally incapacitate them to superintend the disposal of their children and property?

9. Finally they will say, Women already have great influence in forming the characters of all people—for they have the-initiatory part of their education in their hands, and ultimately govern the world.” Well; if being now ignorant, having the first part of the education in their hands, they make fools of the greatest part of the world, it does not follow from that, that if now invested with the elective competency they would vote for the greatest fools for law-makers or administrative agents of government, Besides all this, whatever influence men or women may have in another way, it is no reason to take from them their political sovereignty;—it is not a rule that we follow with relation to the males: here is a wealthy man that has vast influence over the choice and determinations of a multitude of voters, having hundreds in his employ, carrying great weight by his communications—his advice or his threats, to control the votes even of a whole State; and yet our laws do not for that reason divest him of the electoral power—they do sot dispute his right to put in one vote by himself after all. But, alas! this large influence of women on the formation of the character and eventually over the destiny of the race, operates but as a disadvantage to the governing party as well as to the whole of society. It is but a poor indemnity for the disqualification of those who are charged with the primary education of citizens. It is a bad bargain for the political-neutrality of women. For how are they qualified to form the minds of men who are to be citizens of a republic, who knowing theirselves are slaves that cannot lift a hand in the government—(or having no conception that they have any rights) — know nothing of its simple principles, never investigate them, feel no interest in them nor in any political regulations, and have no concern about them at all? They certainly are ill fitted to form minds suitable for citizens of a republican country, where should reign equal liberty and justice, and where no one should be disposed to usurp dominion over another. They will rather be liable to give them base qualities such as partiality, superciliousness, pride, arrogance,—or else pusillanimity, sordidness, low cunning, rapacity, foppery, fawning cringing deference to wealth. And verily, is not this the general result? Indeed, they will be likely to fit people for any other sort of government in the world but a democracy. And now here, sixty-eight years after our declaration of independence, what a heterogeneous brood of superficial and clod-pated rampalians we are! and even of those who are capable of thinking on government at all, as many are opposed to a democratic government as are in favor of it!! Slaves are only qualified to form slaves, cowards, and tyrants; and these are of identical genealogy. Women’s influence is indeed great; and its effects lasting: the earliest impressions being the strongest. The first part of education must be in their hands, Now, those who are to rear republican citizens, should theirselves be republicans. They should comprehend and appreciate the principles of democracy? else, how are they fitted to instill them? Let the education of women interest them with politics—Let them feel a lively interest and concern in the application of its principles—Let them be conscious that they have an immediate active share in the government.—Then we may exult in their influence in the formation of men’s characters. Then they can form citizens. Whereas if they feel that they are slaves, they cannot make free men of their sons.

There are some special reasons which make it imperiously urgent that females should be restored to their natural standing-place in the constituency and due participation of the sovereignty of the country, as being more in exigence of the use of such power than any other class, to raise them out of that mire of degradation in which the privation of it has sunk them. One of which is, in effect of being always precluded from having a part in the legislation or representation, they are oppressed by partial and unjust laws which having been made to favor the supremacy of the party which has arrogated the whole authority to make them, are ever calculated to strengthen the shackles by which females are held in vassalage: whence they are robbed of their property by marriage; and are under a sort of guardianship when widowed, with respect to the charge of their children and estate. They want the use of their power to rectify the tyrannical codes by which they are overwhelmed, Another reason is, they are ground by those repressive tyrannical customs which have accrued from the prevalence of this uncouth system of sexual politics and from the enactment of such laws; and which are of not less force than the statutes themselves. Particularly it has been a universal custom to circumscribe the education of females to the most useless and frivolous objects. From the generally received conceit that they are not at all interested in the laws, government, or political concerns of their country, and have no business with them, the energy of their brain is thrown entirely into another direction.—If they meddle with literature at all, it is usually to dabble in romance, tales, anecdotes, ballads; and the lightest reading? and, in general, their thoughts are absorbed in trifling,—as about dress, fashion, ceremony. Again: we have a scandalous custom to underrate the labor of females; reducing it below all reasonable limits of proportion to that of males. There is no reason, in the nature of things, that a man should have more wages for an hour’s labor than a woman. If time is accounted any thing at all, or aught that can be the subject of a price, it should have the same rate, with both. But above all, that which makes it a desideratum peculiarly important to the general interest, is, the part they bear in our education. Persons that are to educate citizens, should be citizen: They should comprehend the principles they are to inculcate;—they should be concerned in the government for which they qualify others. Our very first step towards elevating the character of females and qualifying them to be institutors of mankind n the principles of self-government, is to ENROL THEM WITH THE ELECTORS. The next is, to alter the boundaries of female education; making it equal with that of males, in all solid accomplishments. And until these things shall be done, a human republic will not exist upon earth.


Paxton, August 30, 1844.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2108 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.