Monday, October 31, 2011

Another side of Eliphalet Kimball

It looks to me like Eliphalet Kimball remained as obscure a figure to most of his peers as he is to us today—right up until the end of his life. And then, curiously, he developed a sort of notoriety, but one entirely unconnected to his writings on anarchy. Kimball seems to have spend most of his adult life in New Hampshire. It appears that he was born in 1799 or 1800 in Orford, NH, and the published works I've found all originate from west-central New Hampshire, or over the border in Vermont—except for one which seems to mark a short stay in Jersey City, New Jersey. He seems to have been a doctor, as was his father.

There's not much in that to explain Kimball's emphasis on his military skills, but it turns out that there's more to the story. Kimball was a veteran of the Texas War of Independence, and it was this fact which loomed large at the end of his life, giving him a widespread notoriety. When he died in 1890, short notices of his death appeared in newspapers scattered across the United States—all of them treating him as a sick, impoverished veteran. The New Orleans Daily Picayune published a more lengthy obituary with a number of interesting details.


Eliphalet Kimball, Hartford, Ct.

Hartford, Ct., Jan.6.—A man was buried in this city whose life has, in many respects, been a remarkable one. Eliphalet Kimball was born in 1800. In early life he left his home and enlisted in the army of the young Texas republic. When independence was achieved he continued to serve the state by translating the old Mexican laws from Spanish into English. For ten years, he has lived in this city in extreme poverty, for his health had given way, and his age prevented his doing any work. Charitable people provided him a room and the necessities of life.

Recently it was thought that the state he had served in its infancy might wish to do something to ease the burden of his declining years. At the suggestion of a Texan official he wrote a statement of his service in Texas, coupling with it a recital of his destitution among strangers, and a petition for relief. The Texas legislature ignored the request. Inquiries from influential sources here of Governor Ross of Texas elicited the explanation that “in the multiplicity of their doings the legislature had entirely overlooked the claims of Eliphalet Kimball.” Another petition, sent two years ago when Texas had over a million dollars surplus in her treasury, was equally unsuccessful. In November last a final personal appeal was made to Governor Rooss by Stephen A. Hubbard, managing editor of the Hartford Courant, in which the governor was assured that every Texan dollar sent to the dying veteran should have a Yankee dollar to keep it company. The governor’s reply was that under the Texan statute pensions could be granted only to veterans resident in the State.

Mr. Hubbard, accordingly in the columns of the Courant, made a personal appeal to the people of Hartford over his own name, setting forth the facts of the case, In a few days dearly $250 came to the relief of the soldier. Mr. C. L. Edwards, a member of the Dallas, Tex., bar, sent some money which he had personally collected having read in the papers of the case.

On Wednesday last Kimball died, and he was buried yesterday, the flag of the old Texas republic being placed across his breast. The response to Mr. Hubbard’s appeal was sufficient to give him during his last illness a nurse, to provide a suitable grave and casket for him and to defray the funeral expenses and to furnish a headstone. Remarks were made at the funeral by the Rev. John S. Kimball, General S. E. Chamberlain, Mr. Jas. C. Bacon and Mayor John C. Kinney.

“Necrology.—Eliphalet Kimball, Hartford, Ct.,” The Daily Picayune (New Orleans) 53, no. 348 (January 7, 1890): 1. 

Eliphalet Kimball the anarchist himself published a short account of some of his life experiences in The Boston Investigator, which seems to pretty clearly connect him to the Eliphalet Kimball who died in Hartford. It took the form of an atheist testimony, and focused on his experiences during the cholera outbreak in New York City.


Mr. Editor:—In the great cholera in New York, 1832, the clergy abandoned their flocks and fled from the city. Little has ever been said about it, but the fact ought to be known. It shows how little confidence they have in religion. I speak now from knowledge, for I was there myself most of the time, while the disease was raging. I was living in New Hampshire when the cholera broke out in New York, and learning from the newspapers that three or four hundred were dying daily in the city, I took the stage and went there to assist in taking care of the sick.—The same day I reached the city, I went into the Park Cholera Hospital and remained there nursing the sick until the disease abated, which was several weeks. Towards morning I had little sleep. If almost overcome with fatigue, I dared not sit down, because I would instantly drop asleep in spite of all my exertions to keep awake.

It was trying to a constitution not in good health, and I feel the effects of it now. My life was saved by strict temperance in eating. I have always through life practiced total abstinence from spirits, distilled and divine. By the way, spirit distilled from grain has done much less harm that spirit distilled from god. While I was in the Hospital, no clergyman ever visited to my knowledge, no prayer was ever made there, and no Christian came to talk religion with the sick. The Protestant clergy were missing from the city, and the churches closed. As to myself I was a decided Atheist then, as I am now. I felt resigned and firm. None of the attendants in the Hospital, nurses, or physicians, appeared to be religious persons. The Catholic clergy, however, stood their ground like men and did all the good they could. Fourteen of the Sisters of Charity came on from Baltimore to act as nurses. Several of them died of the pestilence.

I could say I have been through war, pestilence, famine, and flood. In the Texan Army I suffered famine and ate rats. I could say with Paul, “Three days I was in the deep.” In Texas I had the congestive fever and was given up to die. Through all those trying scenes, I never knew what it was to have a doubt or fear with regard to religious subjects.

On a voyage from Texas to Baltimore was a fellow passenger name Parker. He was a bigoted religionist. During a violent storm that occurred, he appeared very uneasy and agitated; was up all night, fussing about and watching the weather. He appeared to be the most religious man on board, and most afraid to die. As to myself the storm made but little difference with me. I was ready for whatever might happen, and had what sleep I needed.
A good mind is all that can give true support in prospect of death; and no man, of course, can ever have a good mind who was born without it, as a great part of religious people were to my certain knowledge.
Eliphalet Kimball
East Concord, (N. H.,) Oct. 30, 1862.

Eliphalet Kimball, “Reminiscences,” The Boston Investigator 32, no. 26 (October 29, 1862): 105. 

Eliphalet Kimball in 1873

Here's a bit of follow-up on the Eliphalet Kimball story I recently posted. More searching has not turned up any more direct account of Kimball's 1852 presidential platform, but while filling some holes in my bibliography I found an 1873 article in the Boston Investigator which I had not see previously. In many ways, this newly unearthed article repeats the concerns and attitudes of Kimballs contributions in the 1860s, but it also seems to echo very strongly the ideas reported in 1852. My developing sense is that Kimball may have adopted his peculiar variety of anarchism quite early and stayed fairly consistent over several decades.

For the Boston Investigator. 
Capital, Labor, Natural Government.

Abolition of Capital and Labor.—Natural Government.—The Criminal and Dangerous Classes; who they are.—Natural Education by Right Generation.

Mr. Editor:—Reform of labor is conservative. Reform of society is destructive.—What is necessary for the reform of society is the abolishment of capital and labor. Their relations are those of master and slave, and the idea of their adjustment is an absurdity, for there is no justice in them. They can be abolished only by destroying all artificial law, for that is the cause of them, as it is of every other social wrong. Artificial government is disorder. Its unavoidable effect is overgrown wealth and suffering poverty, luxury and fashion, aristocracy and monarchy, vice and crime, ignorance and priestcraft. Natural government is freedom, equality, fraternity, justice, order, knowledge, and happiness. Everything is always right when Nature can take its course. Entire freedom from legal restraint and subjection to natural consequences is the whole of social science.

Statesmanship is ability put to a bad use. Under an artificial government the most wealthy have all the influence; under natural government the most virtuous have it.—Human nature inclines to goodness. In entire freedom from legal restraint all the virtues are called into action, and the bad traits are inactive. Under artificial government it is the reverse.

A healthy constitution of society is a spontaneous growth. The division of the brain into different organs fits man for society, and that is government. All human contrivances to regulate society ought to be swept away at once, and nothing artificial “built up” instead.

Let Nature do the “building up,” and then this world will be a good one.—There is no such thing as carrying destruction too far, nor doing it too suddenly. Insurrection of the working people is order.—Society under artificial government may be compared to an habitual drunkard. The distress he feels in giving up the habit, is a necessary means that Nature uses to restore his system to its natural and healthy state. Just so with law-drunken society. The disturbance, and sometimes violence, which would follow from the destruction of artificial government, would be necessary for the removal of great social wrongs. All debts would be honestly paid if there was no law to collect them. Natural marriage, and a fair chance for women, would put an end to prostitution, venereal disease, and promiscuity, because the marriage law and the inferior and helpless condition of women is the cause of them. The willingness of men to be bound for life in marriage, is proof that they would in general be steadfast without a marriage law.

If nobody claimed our land, all persons would occupy what they needed of it, and nobody would trouble them. Of course there would be no disputes about land when nobody claimed to own it. It would be the same as it is when a company of persons go on the water together in boats to catch fish, or on the hills to pick wild berries. Water and wild berries are free, and that prevents the possibility of disputes and of monopoly. Roads and bridges would be built spontaneously if there was no law for it. Parents would educate their children at home, as they ought to, if there was no law about schools.

Natural government would destroy commerce, and it ought to be destroyed. Merchants are the poison of society. They introduce luxury and fashion, inequality, dishonesty, aristocracy, and crime. These evils are always connected as cause and effect.—The “merchant princes” will be the nobility of this country, and govern it as they did Venice, unless the working-people unite, take the government into their own hands, and abolish the miserable contrivance of representative government. Under natural government, and without commerce, love of money would be unknown. Plainness and simplicity would be the style. All would work, and only a little labor would be necessary. Scarcely ever a person would think of wronging another, but if he did, the whole weight of society would be turned against him and force him to do right. All forms of government are bad, and the representative system tends necessarily to corruption and monarchy. Our own country is a sad example. Our Representatives cannot be trusted. If the people want laws, it is their business to make them and keep the power in their own hands. Nothing could be more imprudent and fatal than for the people to give up their own judgment and leave the management of public affairs to a few men. Even if they were good men it makes no difference; but the people know but little of the candidates they vote for. Trial by jury is worthless and pernicious as representative government. Natural government and true Democracy is this: when a crime is committed, or a wrong attempted, for all the people of the neighborhood to do what they please about it. The people, by practice, would become good judges and jurors. No people on earth can maintain a Republic Government honest and uncorrupted. The fault is not in the people. Natural government maintains itself pure.—Every person living is fit for natural government.

Confidence in Nature and in man’s capacity for self-government, springs from reason and goodness. An enthusiasm of equality proves a noble character. Jackson was remarkable for that quality. Garibaldi is.—Only unprincipled and superficial persons are aristocrats and monarchists. The greatest crimes and the most dishonesty are committed by the rich and men of business. They impress their character and example on society, and have made it what it is. They are the cause of the crimes committed by the poor. The laboring poor have no influence upon society except for good. In all countries they are the most virtuous class. Jackson said to a visitor, “About all the virtue left is in the laboring people.” The leading men, including the wealthy, the business men and the clergy, are the criminal and dangerous class.

We often read that education is the support of Republican .Governments, and ignorance the cause of crime. The sentiment is vague and irrational. Reason and goodness are the kind of education that supports Republican Government, and the want of them is the ignorance that causes crime. The innate qualities of reason and goodness are self-education, or natural education. They are the qualities that make a likely person, and a likely person is a good voter, even if unable to read. A likely person and good voter is “born, not made.” When a child is ready to be born its character is finished, positive and unchangeable. After birth nothing can ever make it better or worse. The natural character can never be educated, except by reason and goodness. The conduct, however, may be influenced for a while by outward or artificial education, as parental training, books, and sometimes by religion. Character and conduct, however, are two different things. The tree is not always known by its fruit: Grafted trees are not. Grafting never changes the tree. Bend the twig, but it will always be the same tree. The tree stays bent through life, but man does not when educated contrary to his natural character. A man with great book-learning, with only small reason and goodness, must always be essentially an ignorant man.. A person may be unable to read, but if he has large reason and goodness he is not ignorant. Napoleon Bonaparte said he never had an education that was an advantage to him, except mathematics. Reason, goodness, and firmness, each in the highest degree, are the qualities that make a great man, a commander, and a statesman. Refinement is reason and goodness..

If anybody ought to be restricted from voting, it is the wealthy men and the clergy, or else it ought to depend on the degree of reason and goodness a man was born possessed of. As a general thing, the rich vote with selfish motives, but the poor from motives of justice and for the public good.

     Yours, Eliphalet Kimball

Orford, (N. H.,) Feb. 10, 1873.

Eliphalet Kimball, “Capital, Labor, Natural Government,” The Boston Investigator 42, no. 45 (March 5, 1873): 1.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The return of "From the Libertarian Library"

As a lot of my day-to-day focus shifts back to the digital archiving projects, it makes sense to put some old tools back into use. By the beginning of the new year, I should have Travelling in Liberty, or a reboot thereof, back in action, and today I'm relaunching From the Libertarian Library as a spot to highlight the archival projects, display long texts, etc., freeing this blog up as a more focused space for writing about mutualism. Between now and the end of December, I'll be gradually making the shift back to using multiple blogs for various tasks.

The first new text at the Libertarian Library site is a long essay by Steven T. Byington, from the pages of Dora Marsden's journals, The New Freewoman and The Egoist. (Anyone interested in these journals should check out the Modernist Journals Project, which I, for better or worse, discovered the day after I dedicated a day in the library to them.) In it, his thesis is this:
If one person injures another by making the material environment unfit for that other's use, the injury should be regarded as on the same level with a direct assault on another's person or on the products of his labour.
And the treatment is both interesting and presented in an entertaining manner. The questions raised are, I think, more or less the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring this sort of injury, which means, of course, that the difficulties encountered are probably just the most obvious. I think there's considerable food for thought in the piece.

Eliphalet Kimball for President! in 1852

Eliphalet Kimball remains one of my favorite figures in the American anarchist tradition, in part because he remains so unknown, popping up here and there in the 19th century radical press to make the most amazing pronouncements and demands, but somehow managing to go almost completely unremarked in the scholarly literature.

I first discovered Kimball's anarchist writings in the Boston Investigator and Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly more than four years ago, and posted three of his essays: "Law, Commerce, and Religion," "Civilization—Anarchy" and "Suggestions." Recently, I was able to pick up an original copy of his one book, Thoughts on Natural Principles, and have been working up a new, expanded edition. I also stumbled across contributions by Kimball to Ezra Heywood's The Word. I've been able to get glimpses of his development after 1862, but I've had very little success tracking him before his first appearances in the Investigator. And it turns out that Eliphalet Kimball was a lot more common a name in 19th century New England than you might think. Fortunately, chance sometimes has a way of furnishing new leads. While I was looking for part of a citation for an essay I have in hand, I ran across a pdf of one page from the New York Daily Tribune for August 4, 1852 on a site apparently dedicated to postcards, which contained an article on a unique and decidedly dark-horse presidential candidate—who happened to be named Eliphalet Kimball and who was obviously, after a little reading, the same Eliphalet Kimball who preached anarchy later in the century. [He was probably a resident of Orford, not Oxford, N. H.] So, suddenly, we can add over ten years to Kimball's career as a promoter of "the pure and simple reign of nature, without lawyers, doctors, parsons, dry goods retailers, or apothecaries."Here is a report of his candidacy and platform:

Another Ticket and Platform.

Mr. Eliphalet Kimball, of Oxford, N. H., offers himself as a candidate for the office of President of the United States; his claims to that dignity he rests upon his military abilities, the manifestation of which in the eyes of all men nothing but a concatenation of extraordinary circumstances has prevented. Rut for this unfortunate hindrance Mr. (it should have been Field Marshal) Kimball, would, if we may credit his own judgment, have alone the martial and civic genius of “Hannibal, Epaminondas, Scipio, Aristides the Just, Timoleon, Cincinnatus, Julius Caesar, Alfred, Charlemagne, Gonsalvo de Cordova, Albuquerque, Capt. John Smith, of Virginia, Cromwell, Peter the Great, Gustavus Adolphus, Frederick the Great, Green if he had lived, Washington, Napoleon, Duroc, Dessaix, Touissaint, a negro slave without education, Lannes, Kosciusko, Jackson, Tecumseh, Santa Anna, Moolraj and William O. Butler.” Few among characters not military have equaled the worth and glory of these distinguished individuals; among such, aside from himself the new candidate names only Columbus, Dr. John P. Kimball and Dr. Lewis Linn. These men, he tells us, possessed heroic virtue and true greatness, and probably could any one of them now be induced to run our unlucky embryonic Field Marshal would not deem it his duty to come forward into the desperate contest.

Having thus nominated his candidate, M. Kimball proceeds, in the good old orthodox order of business, to lay down his platform of principles. These must be rather startling to those who are not used to a pretty free sweep of thought. The first maxim of his administration, if he is elected, will be that poverty is the essence of virtue, and therefore, he will endeavor, as far as he can, to keep folks within the boundaries of virtue and destitution. Commerce is the chief cause of pauperism, and money is its agent; therefore money cannot be too scarce for the public good. The professional and mercantile classes corrupt society, particularly by their habits of drinking. Human government is the first cause of social disease, inasmuch as it is the parent of commerce and money. Trial by jury is worthless, and in fact what Mr. Kimball especially believes in is the pure and simple reign of nature, without lawyers, doctors, parsons, dry goods retailers, or apothecaries. And by way of inaugurating this complete state of things he promises if elected to go for the following among other preparatory measures:

“Wages of members of Congress reduced to $2 a day; salary of the President to $10,000 a year, and a corresponding reduction throughout the Government; the laws reduced to a few general ones; discontinuance of special legislation; the Capitol and President’s house demolished—their showy and unnatural style proves national degeneracy, their example increases it; other buildings erected for the same uses, in a style of plainness that becomes a sensible people; a radical reorganization of the Army on democratic principle; all officers elected by the privates; no one eligible until after he has served in the ranks; soldiers wages should be increased; prohibition of all foreign commerce; no more Ministers sent to foreign nations; abolishment of the Navy; money expelled as much as possible from the nation.”

—We bear Mr. Kimball no ill will, and hope it may not endanger his chances at the South for us to say that there are points about him and his platform which we rather like. For the rest, we cordially recommend him to any party in want of a candidate on the same general plan as Epaminondas, John Smith, of Vs., Green, if he had lived, Moolraj, Tecumseh, Howard and William O. Butler. They will never have such another chance. 

“Another Ticket and Platform,” New York Daily Tribune (August 4, 1852): 4. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Archive upgrades, IV

The week was full of the right kinds of interruptions: A couple of research requests I had out bore fruit, and gave me plenty of productive distractions from the ongoing archive clean-up. Barry Pateman, of Kate Sharpley Library, hooked me up with a file of old card catalog data for Mother Earth, which I've started to transcribe and integrate into the archive. I got a chance to talk through some difficult points of the "Essence of Mutualism" article that I've been working on with a knowledgeable drinking buddy. And a couple more Benjamin Tucker-related sources turned out to be a lot easier to access than I had imagined. Oh, yeah... I also found that I had scanned over 2000 pages of The Twentieth Century in the hectic final days in Ohio, and then tucked it away online (and pretty well forgot about it) when the project was interrupted by technical difficulties. It's not the sexiest 2000 pages in the run, but it is the part I would least like to have to wrestle with again.

It's nice to be a little snowed under with hot research leads at the moment, working 10 or 12 hours a day on various aspects of various projects, and sleeping when I get around to it. It's particularly nice that so much of what I'm finding right now confirms my summer thought that completing the Benjamin Tucker archive might be a fine way to build the spine—or at least a first support—for a broader collection of resources relating to anarchism and intellectual history. So I've finally talked myself into doing just that, returning to the transcription of Liberty and the Radical Review, and giving it the full two years of part-time work that it will really require—assuming I can find the steady trickle of support that the project will require. After a couple of weeks of careful calculating, I'm at the stage where most of the basics necessary to make the project sustainable and successful seem pretty clear, so if my nerves hold I'll be starting to lay that stuff out over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, here's a small selection of the new or newly standardized texts in the Libertarian Labyrinth archive, including a few real gems:

Leonard D. Abbott, “An Impression of Maxim Gorky,” Mother Earth 3, no. 1 (March 1908): 32-34.
Leonard D. Abbott, “Some Reminiscences of Ernest Crosby,” Mother Earth 1, no. 12 (February 1907): 22-27.
Anarchist Federation of New York, “The Anarchist Federation of New York: Monthly Report,” Mother Earth 2, no. 12 (February 1908): 582-583.
Anarchist Federation of New York, “To the Anarchists of America,” Mother Earth 2, no. 11 (January 1908): 533-534.
J. A. Andrews, “The Day of Rebellion,” Mother Earth 1, no. 8 (October 1906): 10.
E. Armand, “The Great Debacle,” Mother Earth 10, no. 1 (March 1915): 431-434.
E. Armand, “What We Have Been, We Still Remain,” Mother Earth 10, no. 7 (September 1915): 229-232.
Steven T. Byington, “On Behalf of Ideas,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 13 (December 15, 1913): 258-259.
Steven T. Byington, “On Interference with the Environment,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 7 (September 15, 1913): 121-123.
Steven T. Byington, “On Interference with the Environment,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 8 (October 1, 1913): 146-147.
Steven T. Byington, “On Interference with the Environment,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 9 (October 15, 1913): 167-168.
Steven T. Byington, “Syndicalist Prostitution,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 9 (October 15, 1913): 176.
Steven T. Byington, “On Interference with the Environment,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 10 (November 1, 1913): 186-187.
Steven T. Byington, “On Interference with the Environment,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 11 (November 15, 1913): 206-207.
Steven T. Byington, “On Interference with the Environment,” The Egoist 1, no. 1 (January 1, 1914): 15-16.
Steven T. Byington, “On Interference with the Environment,” The Egoist 1, no. 2 (January 15, 1914): 34-35.
Ernest Howard Crosby, “Laymen’s Criticisms of the Church,” Homiletic Review 30, no. 1 (July 1895): 26-27.
Ernest Howard Crosby, “Tolstoy, Mystic and Realist,” Mind 12, no. 3 (June 1903): 161-165.
Voltairine de Cleyre, “The Case in Philadelphia,” Mother Earth 3, no. 1 (March 1908): 41-42.
Voltairine de Cleyre, “The Feast of Belshazzar,” Mother Earth 9, no. 1 (March 1914): 4.
Voltairine de Cleyre, “The Paris Commune,” Mother Earth 9, no. 1 (March 1914): 14-20.
Emma Goldman, “Adventures in the Desert of American Liberty,” Mother Earth 4, no. 9 (November 1909): 292-297.
Emma Goldman, “Among Barbarians,” Mother Earth 1, no. 12 (February 1907): 10-11.
Emma Goldman, “The End of the Odyssey,” Mother Earth 4, no. 2 (April 1909): 47-51.
Emma Goldman, “The End of the Odyssey,” Mother Earth 5, no. 5 (July 1910): 159-163.
Bolton Hall, “Book Review of ‘Individualism’ by Professor Warner Fite,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 6 (September 1, 1913): 117-118.
Bolton Hall, “Graveyard Fruit,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 10 (November 1, 1913): 195-196.
Ben L. Reitman, “A Visit to London,” Mother Earth 5, no. 8 (October 1910): 250-254.
John Beverley Robinson, “Egoism,” Freedom 38, no. 414 (January 1924): 3.
“Death of John Beverley Robinson,” Freedom 38, no. 414 (January 1924): 6.
Charles Brodie Patterson, “Ernest Howard Crosby: A Biographical Sketch,” Mind 12, no. 3 (June 1903): 166-171.
Clarence Lee Swartz, “The Claims of Women,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 5 (August 15, 1913): 96-97.
Clarence Lee Swartz, “An American Comment,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 9 (October 15, 1913): 178-179.
Clarence Lee Swartz, “An Epidemic of Law,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 12 (December 1, 1913): 225-226.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Has Had a Similar Experience,” Printers’ Ink 6, no. 6 (February 10, 1892): 187-188.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Two Testaments,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 1 (June 15, 1913): 15.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Diderot on Maidenly Education,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 2 (July 1, 1913): 37.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Does God Ever Think Twice?,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 2 (July 1, 1913): 37.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Paris Notes,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 3 (July 15, 1913): 48.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Paris Notes,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 4 (August 1, 1913): 72-74.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “The Latest Freaks of Taxation,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 5 (August 15, 1913): 94.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Possibilities of the Future,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 6 (September 1, 1913): 116.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 6 (September 1, 1913): 115-116.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 7 (September 15, 1913): 134.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 8 (October 1, 1913): 156-157.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 11 (November 15, 1913): 217-218.
Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 13 (December 15, 1913): 254-255.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Benjamin R. Tucker in Printers' Ink, 1892

Here's another letter from Benjamin R. Tucker relating to the publishing trade, which refers to his experiences publishing the Weekly Bulletin of Newspaper and Periodical Literature, one of three non-political papers he published—the others were The Transatlantic and the elusive Five Stories a Week—which haven't received much attention.


 Benj. R, Tucker,
Publisher and Bookseller,
224 Tremont St.,
Boston, Jan. 31, 189-2.

Geo. P. Rowell & Co.,
Publishers of Printers' Ink:
I am sorry that you are made a victim of official stupidity at Washington, and glad that you are disposed to use your wide influence in the assertion of your rights and those of your fellow publishers. As one of the latter I have been subjected to expensive annoyances at the hands of the postal authorities, very similar to that from which you are now suffering. Perhaps the facts may not be uninteresting at this juncture to you and your readers. 

Last summer I started in Boston a little four-page weekly paper, entitled The Weekly Bulletin of Newspaper and Periodical Literature. It embodied an entirely new idea in journalism. Nobody in Washington or elsewhere had ever seen or heard of anything like it. Its sole purpose was to present, week by week, a classified, running catalogue of the principal contents of the daily press, as well as of all periodicals published at longer than daily intervals. Giving the titles and length of the articles, the names of the authors, and the names and dates of the periodicals, and classifying them under twenty-eight different subjects, this weekly catalogue it was plainly to be seen would become—what it has since become—an indispensable tool to many specialists, students, professional men, litterateurs, artists and scientists. Plainly to be seen, that is, by all but official eyes. These, however, are so bandaged with red tape that they are incapable of seeing anything in the least removed from the channel of established routine. I filled out the blank required from applicants for the second-class mail matter privilege, made affidavit to my statements, and forwarded the document to Washington, together with a copy of the first issue of the Weekly Bulletin. It was nearly three weeks, I think, before I received any answer at all, although it was stated on the back of the blank that all applications will be answered promptly. The novelty was evidently a puzzle to the bureaucrats. Probably they reasoned: "We have never seen any second-class matter like this; therefore, this cannot be second-class matter:" for the answer finally came in the shape of peremptory instructions to the Boston postmaster to collect third-class postage on all copies of the Weekly Bulletin. Any private business concern would have accompanied a ruling of this nature with the reasons governing it, in order to save unnecessary delay. But not so the United States Government. That simply commands, without deigning to explain. I wrote to Washington, protesting against the decision, and requesting the grounds thereof. I stated in the letter that I could present the testimony of numerous institutions and educated men that they found the paper of great value. After a time the Postal Department answered that the paper had been excluded for the reason that it had only a nominal subscription list and must be intended for gratuitous circulation, but that it would examine any new evidence that I might offer. I knew that the reason given could be only a pretense, for I had previously entered as second-class matter several other publications which started with as small subscription lists and at equally low subscription rates, and to these no objection had been made. However, as a matter of form, I directly met the Department's position by pointing out that not one new paper in fifty starts with other than a nominal subscription list, and that to exclude one new paper on this ground logically leads to the exclusion of nearly all new papers whatsoever. But knowing that in officialdom the influence of names is greater than the power of reason, I accompanied this argument with numerous testimonials, samples of those that were pouring in upon me, unsolicited, from all parts of the country. These had the desired effect, as I knew they would; and, after another delay, the Boston postmaster was ordered by his superiors to accept the Weekly Bulletin at second-class rates. 

But now the Bulletin had reached its seventh number. What had I been forced to do, meanwhile? Why, simply to spend several hundred dollars in printing my paper weekly at an almost total loss, being utterly deprived of the only machinery whereby I could hope to get any return for my expenditure. Did the authorities remunerate me? By no means. They did not have even the grace to apologize for their stupidity; still less did they offer compensation. 

I do not doubt that outrages similar to this occur every week in the Posr-Office Department, Yours is simply the latest instance. What are the remedies? 

One remedy is to turn the blockheads out of office and put in their places men who can appreciate the nature of the matter offered for mailing, and can interpret the existing law in a spirit of breadth, fairness and decency. All students know that such a remedy is impossible under our present political system. 

A second remedy is to reframe the existing law in language so explicit that the merest simpleton can understand it. I fancy that this is a task beyond the capacity of our lawmakers. 

A third remedy is to abolish the second-class rate, reduce the first-class rate (letter postage) to one cent or less, and carry, at the precise cost of carrying, everything that is deposited in the mails of such a nature that it will not interfere with the postal business. This is a sensible remedy, and would make the Post-Office self-supporting instead of a burden, as at present, upon those who do not use it or who use it but little. I should very much like to see it tried, though it would be against my immediate pecuniary interest, as I spend five dollars now at second-class rates where I spend one dollar at first-class rates. 

A fourth remedy, and in my view the best of all, is to abolish the Post-Office monopoly altogether, and relegate the whole business into the hands of competitive private enterprise, from which it ought never to have been taken. Then we should all be served in a business-like manner, without meddlesomeness, impudence or annoyance, and for all abuses there would be methods of redress. 

Hoping that you may find redress even under the present absurd system, and recommending all your fellow-publishers to hold up your hands, I am, yours truly,
Benj. R. Tucker.

Benjamin R. Tucker, “Has Had a Similar Experience,” Printers’ Ink 6, no. 6 (February 10, 1892): 187-188.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

E. Armand's "Little Manual of the Individualist Anarchist" (revised)

My translation of Emile Armand's "Mini-Manual" was a fairly early effort, and I've been meaning to get a revised translation posted for some time now. I originally tackled the sections that had not been published by Larry Gambone much more out of curiosity than deep interest. As I've mentioned, I've done a number of translations of Armand's work without quite convincing myself of his importance. But, having finally dipped into his Individualist Anarchist Initiation, and finding it extremely interesting, I decided it was time to take a few hours to work over the "Mini-Manual." There are a couple of real awful errors fixed, and I think the article now more closely reflects the approach and language of Armand's more developed work.



Emile Armand



To be an anarchist is to deny authority and reject its economic corollary: exploitation—and to reject it in every domain of human activity. The anarchist wishes to live without gods or masters; without bosses or directors; a-legal, without laws and without prejudices; amoral, without obligations and without collective morality. He wants to live freely, to live his own idea of life. In his heart of hearts, he is always asocial, insubordinate, an outsider, marginal, an exception, a misfit. And obliged as he is to live in a society the constitution of which is repugnant to his temperament, he dwells there as a foreigner. If he makes unavoidable concessions to his environment—always with the intention of taking them back—in order to avoid risking or sacrificing his life foolishly or uselessly, it is because he considers these concessions weapons of personal defense in the struggle for existence. The anarchist wishes to live his life, as much as possible—morally, intellectually, and economically—without concerning himself with the rest of the world, exploiters or exploited, without wanting to dominate or to exploit others, but ready to respond by all means against whomever would interfere in his life or would prevent him from expressing his thought by the pen or by speech.

The anarchist’s enemies are the State and all its institutions, which tend to maintain or to perpetuate its stranglehold on the individual. There is no possibility of conciliation between the anarchist and any form whatever of society resting on authority, whether it emanates from an autocrat, from an aristocracy, or from a democracy. No common ground is possible between the anarchist and any environment regulated by the decisions of a majority or the wishes of an elite. The anarchist combats, for the same reasons, the teaching furnished by the State and that dispensed by the Church. He is the adversary of monopolies and of privileges, whether they are of the intellectual, moral or economic order. In a word, he is the irreconcilable antagonist of every regime, of every social system, of every state of things that involves the domination of other men or the environment over the individual, and of the exploitation of the individual by another or by the group.

The work of the anarchist is above all a work of critique. The anarchist goes, sowing revolt against that which oppresses, obstructs, or opposes itself to the free expansion of the individual being. It is proper first to rid brains of preconceived ideas, to put at liberty temperaments enchained by fear, to give rise to mindsets free from popular opinion and social conventions; it is thus that the anarchist will push all comers to go along with him to rebel practically against the determinism of the social environment, to affirm themselves individually, to sculpt their internal image, to render themselves, as much as possible, independent of the moral, intellectual and economic environment. He will urge the ignorant to instruct themselves, the nonchalant to react, the feeble to become strong, the bent to straighten. He will push the poorly endowed and less apt to draw from themselves all the resources they can and not to rely on others.

In these regards, an abyss separates anarchism from all forms of socialism, including syndicalism.

The anarchist places at the base of all his conceptions of life: the individual act. And that is why he willingly calls himself anarchist-individualist.

He does not believe that the evils men suffer come exclusively from capitalism or from private property. He believes that they are due above all to the defective mentality of men, taken as a bloc. There are only masters because there are slaves and the gods only remain because the faithful kneel. The individualist anarchist has little interest in a violent revolution, aiming for a transformation of the mode of distribution of products in the collectivist or communist sense, which would hardly bring about a change in the general mentality and which would not bring about the emancipation of the individual being at all. In a communist regime the individual would be as subordinate as he is presently to the good will of those surrounding him: he would find himself as poor, as miserable as he is now; instead of being under the thumb of the small capitalist minority of the present, he would be dominated by the whole of the economy. Nothing would properly belong to him. He would be a producer or a consumer, put a little or take a bit from the communal heap, but he would never be autonomous.


The individualist-anarchist differentiates himself from the anarchist-communist in the sense that he considers (apart from property in some objects of enjoyment extending from the personality) property in the means of production and the free disposition of products as essential guarantees of the autonomy of the person. It is understood that this property is limited by the possibility of putting to work (individually, by couples, by familial groups, etc.) the expanse of soil or the engines of production required to meet the necessities of the social unit; with the condition that the possessor not rent it to anyone or turn to someone in his service to put it into use.

The individualist-anarchist no more intends to live at any price—as an individualist exploiter, for example—than he would live under regulation, provided that he was assured a bowl of soup, and guaranteed a dwelling and some clothing.

The individualist-anarchist, moreover, does not claim any system which would bind future relations. He claims to place himself in a state of legitimate defense against every social atmosphere (State, society, milieu, grouping, etc.) which would allow, accept, perpetuate, sanction or render possible:

a) the subordination of the individual being to the environment, placing the individual in a state of obvious inferiority, since he cannot treat with the collective totality as equal to equal, and power to power;

b) the obligation (in whatever domain) of mutual aid, of solidarity, or of association;

c) the deprivation of the individual of the inalienable possession of the means of production and the complete and unrestricted disposition of the product of his labors;

d) the exploitation of anyone by any one of his fellows, who would make him labor on his account and for his profit;

e) monopolization, i.e. the possibility of an individual, a couple, a familial group possessing more than is necessary for its normal upkeep;

f) the monopoly of the State or of any executive form replacing it, i.e., its intervention—in its role as centralizer, administrator, director, or organizer—in the relations between individuals, in whatever domain;

g) the loan at interest, usury, agio, money-changing, inheritance, etc., etc.


The individualist-anarchist makes “propaganda” in order to highlight individualist-anarchist dispositions which have been ignore, or at the very least to bring about an intellectual atmosphere favorable to their appearance. Between individualist-anarchists relations are established on the basis of “reciprocity.” “Camaraderie” is essentially of the individual order[ it is never imposed. Those “comrade” whom it pleases him to associate with, will be those who make an appreciable effort to feel life in themselves, who share in his propaganda of educational critique and his choice of persons; who respect the mode of existence of each individual, and do not interfere with the development of those who march forward with him and who touch him the most closely.

The individualist-anarchist is never the slave of a formula-type or of a received text. He admits only opinions. He proposes only theses. He does not impose an end on himself. If he adopts one method of life on one point of detail, it is in order to assure himself more liberty, more happiness, more well-being, but certainly not order to sacrifice himself to it. And he modifies it, and transforms it when it appears to him that to continue to remain faithful to it would diminish his autonomy. He does not want to let himself be dominated by principles established a priori; it is a posteriori, on his experiences, that he bases his rule of conduct, never definitive, always subject to the modifications and to the transformations that new experiences can suggest, and to the necessity of acquiring new weapons in his struggle against the environment—without making an absolute of the a priori.

The individualist-anarchist is never accountable to anyone but himself for his acts and deeds.

The individualist-anarchist considers association only as an expedient, a makeshift. Thus, he wants to associate only in cases of urgency—and always voluntarily. And he only desires to contract, in general, for the short term, it being always understood that every contract can be voided as soon as it harms either one of the contracting parties.

The individualist-anarchist decrees no fixed sexual morality. It is up to each to determine his sexual, affective or sentimental life, as much for one sex as for the other. What is essential is that in intimate relations between anarchists of differing sexes neither violence nor constraint take place. He thinks that economic independence and the possibility of being a mother as she pleases are the initial conditions for the emancipation of woman.

The individualist-anarchist wants to live, wants to be able to appreciate life individually—life considered in all its manifestations. He remains meanwhile master of his will, considering his knowledge, his faculties, his senses, and the multiple organs of perception of his body as so many servitors put at the disposition of his self. He is not a coward, but he does not want to diminish himself. And he knows well that he who allows himself to be led by his passions or dominated by his penchants is a slave. He wants to maintain “the mastery of the self” in order to advance towards the adventures to which independent research and free study lead him. He will willingly advocate a simple life, the renunciation of false, enslaving, useless needs; avoidance of the large cities; a rational diet and bodily hygiene.

The individualist-anarchist will interest himself in the associations formed by certain comrades with an eye to ridding themselves of obsession with a milieu which disgusts them. The refusal of military service, or of paying taxes will have all his sympathy; free unions, single or plural, as a protestation against ordinary morals; illegalism as the violent rupture (and with certain reservations) of an economic contract imposed by force; abstention from every action, from every labor, from every function involving the maintenance or consolidation of the imposed intellectual, ethical or economic regime; the exchange of vital products between individualist-anarchist possessors of the necessary engines of production, apart from every capitalist intermediary; etc., are acts of revolt agreeing essentially with the character of individualist-anarchism.

[Revised translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

The Gilded Edge of Hell - a tale by Voltairine de Cleyre


Mr. Editor:--The broad roll of the Delaware flashed back a white water-glisten at the full moon. Fifteen or twenty vessels spread their white wings to the slow breeze, or sent the black vomit from their whistling throats upward to the night sky. Splash, splash! fell the water from the sides of the "John A. Warner" as she cut the flowing current, that ran like long, waving hair, away from the white line in her wake. Upon her decks two thoughtful women gazed at the dark banks, lifted their eyes to the soft sky and occasionally spoke a few words of murmured admiration. Presently, upon the right, broke a long, shining road of electric lights, white, glittering, illuminating the night.

"Gloucester, how bright it is!" remarked the elder woman.

"The gilded edge of hell," returned the other slowly, "a living hell!"

After the silence that followed she resumed in a low voice: "It is the place where the drift from human wrecks floats and gathers. Now and then the flower from a broken stem swirls in a catches, and smiles there in the light for a little while. But it crushes and drops below very soon. I have been there--you know I have a passion for moving among the sad things, the bitter things of the earth. Somebody told me that since Philadelphia had been cleared of its dives, the corruption had broken out in a fresh place, and Gloucester was the moral ulcer of the City of Brotherly Love.

"There are rows on rows of shambling buildings where all manner of coarse amusements, coarse language, coarse accents, and coarse tastes strike the sensitive being like hard blows upon his body; the atmosphere is saturated with the fumes of nicotine, and beer seems to ooze from the pores of the rotting wood. The chairs are sticky, and beery rivulets run upon all the table where unsteady hands have tilted the tumblers. Here and there the wreck of a woman, gaudy with inharmonic colors, caked with paint to hide the scars of vileness, talks with some leer-eyed wretch whose every lineament betrays the animal rampant, the intellectual atrophied.

"But sometimes you will see, as I saw, a pure beautiful face, with a brow like the Madonna's, chaste lips, a deep introspective light in a pair of lovely blue eyes, and her whole presence breathing the scorn of tolerance towards her surroundings. What is that face doing in that hideous crowed, which shrinks away from her high look, and, turning, sneers a horrid prophecy? Look, you moralists, you would-be charitables, you expounders of "faith and works," you guides of "law and order," whose blue-coated hirelings walk about, leering, as those other wretches, at these shells of women. Look! What do you think of your works?"

"There, I am declaiming," exclaimed our narrator in a disgusted tone; "I forgot I was talking to you; I was thinking of that beautiful, scornful creature over there in that scum, with one knows not what of daily insult to bear, and there--these canting preachers, on the other side, telling how law and Gospel protect and rescue women. But that wasn't the worst. Up in one of those summer concert halls a little child, only eleven years old, with the genius of a Modjeska and the voice of an angel, was singing to that reef of wrecks, whose harsh gutterals came to one's ears like the din and clash of--can you imagine it, I wonder--the clash of the breakers tearing rock-pinioned ships in pieces! Yes, that is it. There is something in all their faces, something in all their tones that is not individual; it is the undertone of the social whirlpool in which they are engulfed, speaking in them, tearing them. Well, this little child; my friend brought her some flowers and asked her to come and talk with me.

"It was awful, the self-composure and indifference of that baby, the ease with which she told me the most transparent lies, and the contempt with which she spoke of that quiet life of home which had no charms for her because it was not exciting.

"Oh! the excitement! The bawdy costumes, the brassy instruments--I am sure their throats must have been green with verdigris--the abominable glare, the vulgar voices, the vulgar faces. Oh, the "excitement!" I couldn't bear it. I left that room that seemed to me to be full of grinning skulls just as that baby started in again with her divine voice, to sing something about a mother's love. A mother's love in such a place as that! but some mother loved and caressed every one of them I suppose. Ugh! that is that horrible brass music again. But the water softens it. I wonder if the harsh, bad notes go down with the current, and only the pure tones go far enough to reach us here? It is a pretty notion, isn't it, that there is some good even there, and the good reaches farther than the evil, in proportion! There, we are quite past them. Quite past! The bright edge of a black horror! See how white the moon shines."

* * * * * * *

Reader, why, do you suppose, did I write this young woman's recitative out for the Investigator? The owner of the Gloucester dives is a Christian man, who "renders unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's," and to God the things that are God's, out of the earnings of shame and the corruption of children.

Voltairine de Cleyre

Philadelphia, Pa.

  • Voltairine de Cleyre, “The Gilded Edge of Hell,” The Boston Investigator 60 no. 27 (October 8, 1890): 2.