Friday, December 30, 2005

A Quick and VERY Dirty Fix

OK. Everything that was up at is now at It's not real pretty, but it is once again online.

Tight Times

It's one of those "darkest before the dawn" situations. Some of you will have already noticed that the Libertatia Laboratories site is down. Things have been financially tight for quite awhile, but I've been managing to keep the site up and keep working on the online archive there. And things are looking up, for the first time in quite awhile. I'll be working as a part-time university instructor again this spring, adding another paycheck to the mix. But a holiday season without much work has pretty well left the cupboard bare, and it may be long month or so until the first university check arrives.

I'll probably throw together a quick replacement site on one of the free servers, to tide me over if need be. But it's hardly the ideal solution, particularly at the moment where it looks like I'm about to get all of Greene's mutual banking writings completely edited and the parallel edition posted. In fact, the financial crunch comes right at the moment when I was preparing to add a whole bunch of new content to the Labyrinth and launch a support site for the Mutual School project.

I've added a Paypal donation button to the sidebar here. If the work I've been doing--marking up texts for the web, constructing bibliographies, gathering historical gossip, etc.--has been useful to you, maybe you can contribute a few bucks to the cause. It won't take much to get things back on a firm footing here--just a little bit more than I have at the moment. We can even do a little something in fund-drive mode: anyone who can give $15 can receive a CDR of Voltairine de Cleyre poems set to electronic music (by yours truly), and we can call 25 bucks a pre-order for the Mutual Banking, PT. 1 volume of the Blazing Star Library. This latter will be a hand-bound hardcover book, containing Equality (1849), Mutual Banking (1850), and Mutual Banking (1870), a bibliographic essay, some additional notes from the Fragments (1875), and probably a few other odds and ends. (A second volume will include the parallel edition, a new critical aggragate edition, material by Proudhon, William Beck and Edward Kellogg, and, hopefully, the Palladium articles, together with more interpretive material from me. A third volume will collect as much of the debate surrounding Greene's banking works as I can assemble. And--who knows?--with new texts like Socialized Money showing up, perhaps we'll unearth enough material for additional volumes.)

Part of me hates to make this kind of request. Another part of me figures at least some of you have got good value in advance and might be willing to help keep things rolling.

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Radical Deficiency of the Existing Circulating Medium, 1857

William B. Greene's 1857 Radical Deficiency of the Existing Circulating Medium, and the Advantages of a Mutual Currency is now online in the Libertarian Labyrinth. This is the text issued during the Panic of 1857—at a time when the Greenes were actually living in France, but visiting Boston from time to time—combining elements from the 1849 Equality and the 1850 Mutual Banking, both of which have recently been added to the online version of the Blazing Star Library.

I've also posted a fairly rough beginning to the promised Combined Edition of Mutual Banking and Equality. So far, this incorporates all of the text from the works of 1949, 1850 and 1857, with parallel presentations of sections which appeared in both the earlier works and the 1857 book. (If you still need a scorecard, check the latest version of the bibliographical essay.) I've got a lot of copy-editing, format-fixing, collating and marking-up to do to get these really up to snuff. Tonight, I should get a chance to start highlighting important edits, additions and deletions in the combined text. Printer-friendly pages, pages with the original pagination intact, a master table of contexts and—at long last!—an index, will all follow, as will—eventually—pages comparing passages drawn from the works of William Beck, Edward Kellogg and Proudhon with the originals.

I keep being surprised by the differences between the various editions. It only recently struck me that the most common modern edition totally lacks the petitions to the Massachusetts General Court for a "General Mutual Banking Law." Between them, the 1850 and 1857 texts include four different versions! With those now online in parallel in the Combined Edition, we can begin to address the nuts-and-bolts aspects of Greene's proposals a little more closely and clearly. It also appears that some of the more specific materials relating to the 1740 Massachusetts Land Bank may be accessible-and useful. Some quick research last night suggests that Greene may have modeled at least one of the petitions in part on details drawn directly from that colonial experiment.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Massachusetts Land Bank of 1740

The major new section in William B. Greene's 1857 Radical Deficiency of the Existing Circulating Medium is the section on "The Provincial Land Bank," (available here from the 1974 Gordon edition.) In the events of 1740, Greene saw an important precedent for what he was proposing—and one which, by the testimony of its opponents, threatened not only to take economic power out the hands of the elites, but also political power.

I'll have Greene's 1857 and 1870 mutual banking writings online by the end of the week, but here's a couple of very nice online sources on the Massachusetts land bank, to tide over any money cranks who aren't getting their fill:


Thursday, December 01, 2005

William B. Greene's 1850 Mutual Banking

By 1850, the year William Batchelder Greene turned 31 and retired from the ministry, he had written, in one form or another, nearly all of his major works. He lived until 1878, and was active until about 1875, and he certainly did not stop writing, revising or organizing in support of his ideas. In 1853, in the course of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, questions of women's suffrage and voter qualification would assume a new importance for him—and this line of thought would not see its full expression until after his Civil War service, in the essay The Sovereignty of the People. His works on calculus, grounded in an early exposure at West Point, and no doubt affected by his command of an artillery unit, were still to come, as was his study of the Kaballah. But the bulk of his work had been accomplished in the years between 1840 and 1850, and much of what followed in his work on mutual banking, transcendentalism, theology and psychology consisted of a paring down or recontextualization of work that had already been, for the most part, written.

Greene's work was largely self-published. He had the means to issue his books and pamphlets on a vanity basis. That he frequently did so meant that they appear at times to have escaped portions of the ordinary editorial process that might have rendered them a bit friendlier to the reader. If you follow Greene, step by step, edition by edition, he is really admirably clear. But it is not always the case that Greene's condensations and simplifications were well suited to clarify his ideas for new readers.

I have written elsewhere about the convoluted, and often misunderstood, history of Greene's mutual banking writings. Let me recap the basic outline, with a few clarifications:

  1. In 1849, Greene wrote a series of essays for the Worcester Palladium, touching on economic, political and theological points. He was, at this point, deeply influenced by a number of French socialist figures, particularly Pierre Leroux and Proudhon. Leroux and Proudhon, of course, had found themselves on opposite sides of the debate over Proudhon's banking proposals, and differed as well on questions of religion. Greene had been introduced to these French thinkers by Orestes Brownson—who by this time had abandoned all hope for large-scale self-management and was pursuing more authoritarian solutions to the social problem through the Catholic church—and his father—who had translated Lamennais' People's Own Book—and was trying to harmonize elements from a variety of influences. Leroux's triads, the Baptist trinity of his early education and the Proudhonian interest in antinomies are all in play here.
  2. The Palladium essays, along with some others, were collected in 1849 as Equality. We should probably think of Equality as a kind of early synthesis of Greene's interests, and as a mark of the extent of his reading beyond what was readily available, in English, in American journals. His earliest writings show the influence of Leroux (through Brownson), but mostly in a philosophical sense. In Equality, we see that Greene has taken on the broadly "socialistic" task of solving the Social Problem. He always painted his conversion to Christianity in dramatic terms, and he was undoubtedly more than a bit of romantic, prone to throwing himself at projects will all the enthusiasm of youth. (We can't leave out, in this context, his first published work, the "Song of Espousal.") After 1850, however, he was a bit of a disappointed romantic. Frustration with at least some of the transcendentalists—who had been among his early heros—with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law—which his uncle failed to condemn—and with military leaders during his service in the Civil War, had the effect of "destroying illusions." But in 1849, Greene was obviously still on fire, and reading in French as much of Proudhon, Leroux, Buchez and others as he could find, and also keeping current with works like Mills Principles of Political Economy. He was also still a practicing Unitarian minister, and his writings are peppered with evidence that he took theological questions as seriously as economic or political ones. Indeed, it is hard to see that there was much separation of spheres for Greene.
  3. 1850 saw the publication of Mutual Banking (which I am very pleased to be able to present online) . This is not the text that most of us are familiar with, although it contains nearly half of the material that made up the standard 1870 and posthumous 1927 and 1946 editions. (These last two differ only by one paragraph, appended at the end of the latter.) Taken together, Equality and the 1850 Mutual Banking contain nearly everything we associate with these later publications—and a whole lot more. It's worth noting what is unique to this first Mutual Banking. The Introduction to the 1850 text is a sort of sermon on communion and the historical forms of inequality, drawn from biblical and theological sources. It draws on Leroux's (still-untranslated) De l'égalité, and forms a strange sort of historical context for the (largely familiar) section on William Beck and Proudhon which immediately follows it. Other unique sections discuss The Proletariat, biblical arguments against Usury, and The Cherubim, whom Greene associates with the sphinxes and the Collective Adam.
  4. As the Panic of 1837 had driven earlier banking debates, and formed one of the sources of Greene's work, the Panic of 1857 undoubtedly provided some of the impetus for Greene's next banking work, The Radical Deficiency Of The Existing Circulating Medium, And The Advantages Of A Mutual Currency. This 1857 text collects and condenses sections of Equality and the 1850 Mutual Banking, with some revisions.
  5. It was essentially this text, with some revisions, that was published in 1870—as Mutual Banking, Showing The Radical Deficiencies Of The Existing Circulating Medium, And The Advantages Of A Free Currency—by the New England Labor Reform League, with an introduction by Ezra H. Heywood. This is the period in which the individualists and mutualists had their greatest connections with the broader labor movement, through organizations such as the International Workingman's Association and the National Labor Union. This edition is, consequently, the leanest and clearest of all—the definitive edition if we grant that Greene's mutual bank writings are primarily economic. It is, however, this assumption that the 1849 and 1850 texts draw into question.
  6. I'll skip mostly over the posthumous editions published by Tucker and Cohen. It's worth noting, however, an important debate between those two over the redemption of mutual bank bills in specie. Tucker claimed victory, in part because of his personal acquaintanceship with Greene, and the later editions are somewhat ambiguous on the questions raised. I encourage those interested in these fine points, however, to read closely the 1850 Mutual Banking to see if perhaps Cohen was on a sounder footing than he was given credit for.
  7. 1927 saw the Vanguard Press collection, Proudhon's Solution to the Social Problem, and a new edit of Mutual Banking, based on the 1870 edition. Among the significant edits was the removal of a section critical of Proudhon. Somewhat unfortunately, this edition has been the source for the only modern reprints, the 1946 Modern (India) and 1974 Gordon Press editions.

That's the story, more or less, and it is largely a matter of paring down the early texts. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that Equality evolved from more texts than we have yet accounted for.

I'll end this with a short piece from The Cherubim, which ends the main text of the 1850 Mutual Banking (followed only by a variant version of the mutual banking petition). How different it is from the text most of us are familiar with:

The Past and the Future.

The times are fulfilled: the prophecies are accomplished: and the nations are expecting the immediate advent of the Son of Man. As the Hebrews were deceived in their expectation of a military Mesiah, so, without doubt, the existing generations will be disappointed in their expectation of a coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven; for the predictions are fulfilled, never in their literal, but always in their spiritual sense. We are living at the end of a dispensation: the blast on tile trumpets of the last Judgment has already sounded: the old social and religious order is giving way under our feet, like ice in the time of spring freshets. The religion of the Father prevailed before Christ: the religion of the Word has prevailed in the Christian Church; the sun of the religion of the Holy Ghost now dawns on the horizon.

"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." The existing Jewish—Grecian—Roman—Christian civilisation, is taken with travail of birth, and verily it shall be delivered of the man child that is to rule all kindreds, and tribes, and tongues, with a rod of iron. The Spirit now broods on the hearts of men, as it brooded of old on the original darkness of Chaos. Social Unity is the manifest destiny of the nations.

The existing Christianity is but a preparation for a higher Christianity that shall shortly be revealed: the Terrestrial Paradise is not behind us in the shadowy ages of the past, but before us. Religion is one, identical to itself, and unchanging: but—because the human race advances like. a single man in its joint life and experience—dispensation follows dispensation; each dispensation being adapted to its peculiar stage of human progress. New light will soon break forth from the Gospel, and the NEW CHRISTIANITY will establish itself in the world—a Christianity as much transcending the one now known in the Churches, as this last transcends the religion of types and shadows revealed through Moses.

This is the order of the dispensations:—the Covenant with Noah; the Covenant with Abraham; THE MOSAIC DISPENSATION; CHRISTIANITY; CHRISTIAN MUTUALISM

Christian Mutualism is the RELIGION of the coming age:—Sanscrit, yuga; Heb. yom, or ivom; Gr. aion; Lat. oevum; Light's manifestation, revolving age, dispensation, world, day.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project

In the course of doing some research on Bessie Greene, I ran across the excellent Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project. The archive contains a large number of Jewett's texts, from Country of the Pointed Firs to much more obscure articles, as well as some works by Annie Adams Fields and Celia Thaxter. If you search down through the text of Celia Thaxter's letters, you'll find the following:

To Annie Fields. Shoals, May 20, 1874.
I am full of sadness and of sympathy over this terrible disaster. Hardly can I think of anything else, and those two dear people haunt my little room, the sunny piazza, the little garden; I see and hear them everywhere. How gentle they were, how sweet and good and noble. How can we spare them, and fools and knaves are cumbering the earth! I have such a letter of sorrow from S. C., who grew so attached to them here: "That dear, splendid little doctor! To think of the cruelty of her tender body being beaten on the rocks!" Ah, I wish the sea would stop its roar, so soft and far from rim to rim of this great horizon! It makes me shudder when I think of them and how it sounded in their ears! How brave Mrs. Greene is, sure that all that is must be best! glad for them that they could go in the midst of the joy of life, with all their enthusiasm, spared all life's disappointments, safe from any suffering like hers! She is a marvel. Yes, dear, she sent me the little paper, writing my name on it and hers with her own hand. And I must write to her, but hardly dare to speak.

This is almost certainly a (misdated) reference to the loss of Susan Dimock, the "splendid little doctor" of the New England Hospital for Women and Children, and her friend and companion Bessie Greene, in which case Thaxter is referring to Anna Blake Shaw Greene. Annie Fields knew the Greenes, and mentions both William Batchelder Greene and his mother, Susan Batchelder Greene, in her account of John Greenleaf Whittier in Friends and Authors.

Anyway, check out this fine archive, and if you can contribute, please do. Guidelines are posted on the site.

William B. Greene, Equality (1849)

I've finally got Equality, the first of Greene's mutual banking books online. This is the 1849 work largely based on those still-elusive Worcester Palladium articles. Here's the index:


EQUALITY, NO. II. To the Philosophers and Politicians.

Readers of any of the later editions of Mutual Banking should recognize the 2nd, 4th and 5th sections of No. I, and readers of this blog will recognize the 3rd section of No. II, which I discussed recently in the context of the works on transcendentalism. The 4th section of contains the (in)famous indictment of Socialism as "the only political system which presents no good points," but Greene is not consistent in his use of the terminology, and ultimately always returns to some balance between opposing philosophies. To Brownson, he said, for example, "my conscience suggested to me, when I was reading yourdescription of socialism as the ne plus ultra of heresy, that I belonged to the most abandoned wing of the socialist faction."

I'm about half way through the final proofing and XHTMLizing of the 1850 Mutual Banking, and might have that online tomorrow. The 1857 and 1870 works will follow shortly after.

Update on "Socialized Money"

I got a comment from Don at Current Observations, regarding his reprinting of Socialized Money, by Homer Orpheus Campbell. Apparently, the eight chapters he has scanned are only part of the work, which runs to 14 chapters, and which he will finish scanning once he gets a scanner problem fixed. Thanks, Don. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A first go at Google Books

After reading all sorts of newspaper coverage about the conflict between publishers and Google over the intellectual property rights issues involved with the Google Books scanning project, I decided to see what the project amounted to so far. I had been getting the "invitation" to try my searches on the new service for awhile, but hadn't waded in. Having done so now, I have to say I'm underwhelmed.

You've probably heard about the plan. Google will scan all the books in a number of libraries, setting things up so that the full text is searchable, but only a fraction within the limits of fair use will actually be viewable. Publishers are objecting to the scanning process, since it involves making a complete copy. Google wants to argue that it's still fair use since nobody can get to the full copy. Some of the publishers simply want the right to say yes or no. I'm no big defender of intellectual property, but I may be leaning just a bit towards the publishers on this one.

In practice, what you get is, unsurprisingly, a big tease. More than that, you get a complicated tease, which requires you to sign into a Google account to some some text, although other pages are open to all and some are simply not readable at all. If by chance you get to view the information you searched for, you have no printing options beyond the Print Screen command, and windows are sized so that even that involves some awkward adaptations.

There's no way to gauge what you're not finding, but the text editing seems to be good and the search engine functions pretty much as you expect Google to function. I did a fairly careful set of searches using my keywords for the William B. Greene research. I came up with a dozen or so listing that looked like they might have new information in them. In about a third of the cases, the information was blocked, so all I got was a new citation to search down.

What's GOOD about what I got: more than half of the references I was eventually able to track down were not properly indexed in the volumes, and would have been nearly impossible to track down otherwise.

What's NOT SO GOOD about what I got: nearly everything I eventually tracked down was no more than a mention. I found one new letter by Greene, but it was in a source that my other search strategies would have found anyway. I also found a suggestion that Bessie Greene and Susan Dimock had been a couple, which wasn't substantiated at all seriously, but was a new one on me. I didn't find dozens of references I know are out there. The bottom line is that there are a lot of books in the world and if Google ever gets a fraction of them online, it may need a much better set of search tools.

What's REALLY NOT GOOD about what I got is that I couldn't tell whether the offhand mentions were simply that or whether they were more substantial, even though the whole text was right there.

I'm something of a special case, working on the sort of project where I can hardly afford to skip over any small reference to my subject. Some of my best bits about the Greenes have come in the form of offhand mentions. Theoretically, then, I might be the guy who, seeing that there is a mention of William Batchelder Greene on page 245 of a book I can search but can't read, might actually lay his money down and purchase something. My research library is, in fact, well stocked with books which only mention one of the Greenes a single time, but which provide valuable context.

I still won't buy blind. And I'm guessing not many other folks will either.

So does that mean the publishers shouldn't cooperate with Google? Is the whole scheme pointless? Elsewhere, I've noted that "the library" is going through a serious transition, as books on the shelf are replaced with full-text electronic copies and books in remote storage facilities. I've even had some journal articles stored remotely delivered to me in electronic pdf form. For serious researchers, the possibility of searching the full texts of full libraries is tremendous. And it looks like Google may be setting a higher standard for full text searchability. But there's an important difference between the technologies that are good for searching and those that are good for reading. Publishers, booksellers, and librarians have a product in hand that no "ebook" or pdf file is going to surpass anytime soon, at least when it comes to ease of use. There are plenty of sites which provided the texts of whole books, some recent and some in public domain. What they have in common is that it sucks to read books on a computer. And it really sucks when providers start trying to manage use, by forcing users to print single pages, etc. Harvard's Women Working Open Collection is probably the best online book source I have seen, at least in terms of readability, searchability and printability. It's still something of a pain in the tush to navigate, but that's largely just the nature of the beast with electronic texts.

If Google were to concentrate on works in the public domain, or if publishers were to cooperate on a large scale (figuring selling books might make up for the availability of texts), all the ingenuity of their programming teams could be aimed at making those texts accessible, rather than the current goal of. . .

I'm struck, really, by how unclear the goal of Google Books ultimately is. What are we to make of a search engine that won't really let you file anything?

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Other "Dial" biography of William B. Greene

One of the standard biographical references on William B. Greene is George Willis Cooke's Historical and Biographical Introduction to the Rowfant Club reprint of The Dial (Cleveland, 1902). The entry on Greene is surprisingly lengthy, given his single contribution to The Dial, but Cooke explains that "his life was of such interest, and so fully illustrates some of the tendencies of the time, that it may be told with some detail." The details in Cooke's account are pretty good. He shows evidence of having examined carefully a number of Greene's writings. He mentions details of Greene's Civil War activities after his resignation in 1862 which are not in other biographies, but which have been subsequently at least partially verified. There are a few questionable claims, and at least one text, "a large pamphlet on 'Consciousness as Revealing the Existence of God, Man, and Nature,'" which may or not actually have existed. But he is obviously right about enough things that others do not seem to have known, that it would be hard to pass over any other potential new facts from him without careful consideration at least.

That is the consideration which makes it so difficult to know what to do with an earlier version of the Dial biography, which appeared in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy in July 1885. Here is the section on Greene:

William Batchelder Greene was born in Boston in 1829, the son of an editor. He graduated at West Point, and did good service during the Seminole War. Leaving the army, he seems to have entered a Baptist theological school, but, becoming more liberal in his theology, entered the Cambridge school, though always claiming to be a Baptist. He was settled for several years over the Unitarian Church in West Brookfield, Mass. He was a zealous believer in social reform. At Brookfield he opened a cooperative store, and he made the pulpit a means of propagating his social theories. Finally abandoning the pulpit he removed to the vicinity of Boston, and there devoted himself to literary work. He had always been a zealous student of theology and metaphysics, mainly through the French language, with which he was very familiar; gave some attention to Oriental literature, translated Job, and published various essays on metaphysical subjects. Being in Paris when the Civil War broke out, he hastened home and was made a colonel of the Fourteenth Massachusetts Volunteers. He was stationed during the greater part of the war in the forts about Washington, and under Butler at Bermuda Hundreds. He was zealous, eccentric, arbitrary, and mystical, and very entertaining in conversation. In his latter years he became a communist in theory, and a labor-reformer of an extreme type. He was in 1873 an officer of the Boston Labor Reform League, a member of the Boston section of the Internationalists, and the associate of Benjamin R. Tucker and E. H. Heywood. He published a book on national banking, and in 1875 appeared his "Socialistic, Communistic, and Financial Fragments," consisting of his contributions to "The Word" and other radical journals. His earlier publications were an essay called "The Doctrine of Life," a theory which he claimed to have discovered, and essays on Edward's theory of the will, transcendentalism, consciousness as revealing the existence of God, and various cognate topics. In 1871 he published an essay on the "Facts of Consciousness and the Philosophy of Herbert Spencer," and in 1874 an essay in reply to Dr. Clarke's "Sex in Education." He also wrote on mathematical and Masonic subjects. He died at Weston-Super-Mare, England, May 30, 1878. Greene was well known to most of the transcendentalists, though his extreme views were not acceptable to many of them. In November, 1841, Margaret Fuller wrote to Emerson: "How did you like the military-spiritual-heroic-vivacious phoenix of the day?" This was in reference to Greene's essay in "The Dial" discoursing first principles.

I've highlighted in red a couple of real errors. There are also a number of statements that seem to contradict other accounts. Did the Greenes "remove to the vicinity of Boston" before they left the US for Paris? Did this "remove" amount to more than the establishment of the Jamaica Plain home where they lived after the war, and where they may have stayed on their visits home from Europe? There's a great deal as yet unknown about the Greene's travels and living arrangements during this period. For mutualists, however, the most interesting detail is in the sentence highlighted in green:
At Brookfield he opened a cooperative store. . .

If true, this is one of the few indications we have that Greene actually practiced the mutualism that he apparently quite literally preached. I've already got some follow-up queries out to the appropriate historical societies. We'll see if any further evidence turns up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mutualist Library and Blazing Star Library

Kevin Carson has announced a new project, a digital Mutualist Library:

I envisioned it as a CD-Rom reference library of the major texts of individualist anarchism, its precursors (Paine, Godwin, Hodgskin, etc.), and fellow travellers (Henry George, the panarchists, etc.). I'd also like to include as much of the late stuff as possible by members of the Tucker circle, like Yarros and Swartz. And of course, out of sheer vanity, I'll throw in a pdf of Mutualist Political Economy.
A number of active mutualists have been discussing an intensification of our archiving activities, and there is the constant frustration of having so many of mutualism's key texts scarce and difficult to access. And we are making progress in getting texts online. But there's still a lot that either isn't available electronically or is tucked away in places we haven't found yet. Kevin's post is a call to everyone interested in mutualism:

A project like this will require a distributed scanning network to fill in some of those gaps. I don't have a scanner, myself, although I'll probably be in the market for one in the next few months. In the meantime, I'm more than willing to put in the sweat equity editing the raw files from anyone else's scanning efforts.
I'll keep working away at the works of William B. Greene, and I'm contemplating trying to coordinate an online archive of The Word, the individualist anarchist paper published by Ezra Heywood. I have actually started in on some of Stephen Pearl Andrews' universological writings as well, but need to tackle some formatting issues before that can all be presented effectively. (Andrews and Warren both experimented with odd page layouts.)

I also want to announce a new line of limited edition, hand-assembled hardcover collections of mutualist material. The Blazing Star Library will begin, early in 2006, with a brief (150 or so page) biography of William B. Greene, tentatively titled A Rather Thoroughgoing Heretic, and a collection of Greene's early writings and related texts which I will be using in the first Mutual School course, starting in January. I intend to reprint as much of Greene's work as possible, along with the banking writings of William Beck, Edward Kellogg, and Alfred Westrup. I am also working (slowly, but working nonetheless) on some translations of Pierre Leroux's writings, and will make those available in a set of éditions inexactes. If there are interested parties out there really fluent in French and interested in translating some of the as-yet-untranslated works by Proudhon and others, that would be grand. In the meantime, we'll make do as best we can.

It seems to me that interest in mutualism is on the rise, and that it wouldn't hurt that trend at all if we made 2006 a sort of banner year for mutualist archiving and translation.

Greene, Whittier, Brownson

I've posted two new biographical tidbits in the Libertarian Labyrinth. The first is from Annie Fields Author's and Friends (1896), a collection of reminiscences. It tells the story of "the Bachiler eyes:"
Old New England people were quick to recognize "the Bachiler eyes," not only in the Whittiers, but in Daniel Webster, Caleb Cushing, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William Bachiler Greene, a man less widely known than these distinguished compatriots. Mr. Greene was, however, a man of mark in his own time, a daring thinker, and one who was possessed of much brave originality, whose own deep thoughtfulness was always planting seeds of thought in others, and who can certainly never be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to be his friends.

It also gives an account of the first visit to Boston of the young Quaker John Greenleaf Whittier—at the instigation of Susan Batchelder Greene, William Batchelder Greene's mother.
The connection of the Whittiers of Haverhill with the Greenes was somewhat closer than with other branches of the Bachiler line. One of the poet's most entertaining reminiscences of his boyhood was the story of his first visit to Boston. Mr. William Greene's mother was an interesting woman of strong, independent character and wide interests, wonted to the life of cities, and one of the first, in spite of his boyish shyness, to appreciate her young relative. Her kind eagerness, during one of her occasional visits to the Whittiers, that Greenleaf should come to see her when he came to Boston, fell in with his own dreams, and a high desire to see the sights of
the great town.

The account is short, but worth a look. It is particularly welcome for the light it shines on the character of Susan Greene, about whom very little appears to have been written.

The other piece is a bit from Henry F. Brownson's Brownson's Middle Life, the second of three volumes chronicling the life of Orestes Brownson. Included is the letter William B. Greene sent to Brownson in 1849, along with a set of unbound sheets of his Remarks on the Philosophy of History, together with an A Priori Autobiography. Brownson had by this time thoroughly abandoned much of the radical thought which he had helped Greene discover, and the two men were somewhat distant. Greene questions one of Brownson's present positions, but adds this humorous and revealing explanation/disclaimer:
But my criticism may very possibly come from my want of comprehension. As Webster says of Ingersoll: "He has not, as we would say, a screw loose, but is loose all over;"so I am afraid you would say of me that I am not a mere heretic, but heretical all over—for my conscience suggested to me, when I was reading your description of socialism as the ne plus ultra of heresy, that I belonged to the most abandoned wing of the socialist faction. In fact, I am a regular thoroughgoing heretic, for I accept all the doctrines of the church—as I explain them.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Taking Proudhon (and controversy) out of "Mutual Banking"

A funny thing happened on the way to the modern edition of William B. Greene's Mutual Banking. We know that with Mutual Banking, as was so often the case with Greene's work, the editorial refinement process over the years consisted largely of whittling away at his early works, Equality (1849) and Mutual Banking (1850), cutting down towards the kernal of occasionally sprawling explorations. The editors of Proudhon's Solution to the Social Problem, who gave us the modern edition of Mutual Banking, only continued that trend. The result is a bit peculiar. While modern critics have at times taken pains to make it clear that Greene was more than just a proudhonian imitator, and while he is still best known as an "American Proudhon," and while the mutual bank is obviously derived in part from Proudhon's "Bank of the People," there are only two references to Proudhon in the entire modern text. One of those is in a paragraph at the end of the text, which may not have been written by Greene at all. The other sits in the middle of the section on William Beck's Money and Banking:

"Mr. Beck thought out a Mutual Bank" by generalizing credit in account; Proudhon, by generalizing the bill of exchange."

All of the editions published in Greene's lifetime included, in the section on "Mutual Credit," a long excerpt from Proudhon, on the functioning of the People's Bank, followed by "Remarks" critical of some aspects of Proudhon's plan. When Proudhon's Solution to the Social Problem was compiled, the editors included a much larger chunk of Proudhon's plan, and deleted the now-duplicated text in Greene's work. Unfortunately, the deletion is unmarked and the critical material was deleted as well.

These are small details, in some ways, but unfortunately they work to make even more obscure elements of Greene's work that have been badly understood. Greene was not only not imitating Proudhon in much of what he wrote--he was repeating some of the criticisms of philosophical opponents such as Pierre Leroux. I hope to post soon a translation of an 1849 open letter from Leroux to Proudhon, in which Leroux criticizes Proudhon's bank scheme, his individualism and his atheism. The letter sheds some light on the complexities of the position that Greene eventually took, drawing important elements from both Proudhon and Leroux. To a large extent, Greene sided with Leroux in all three of his critiques, without in any way compromising his basic anarchism, just as he sided (more or less) with the non-anarchist Leroux on the question of women's suffrage.

We are in deep waters. . .

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lord Acton on William Batchelder Greene

I just read through Acton In America (Shepherdston: Patmos Press, 1979; S. W. Jackman, ed.). It's a delightful, predictably opinionated read. It describes Lord Acton's visit to the US in 1853, with entries covering New York, Boston and Emmitsburg, Maryland. Naturally, he met many of the prominent citizens of the cities. He seems to have liked Orestes Brownson as well as anyone he met. Richard Henry Dana took him to see the workings of the Massachusetts State Constitutional Convention, where he met William B. Greene. He apparently did not see Greene give the speech on the qualification of voters which I wrote about some time ago, but we know exactly to what use he put the passages from Aristotle which Acton mentions.

These are the men, [Dana] says, who made the Revolution. A shoemaker who has made 100,000 dollars was heard with attention though a bad speaker, for he has some influence as a man of business: one half-madman made a loud speech for the equality of all things. Another man shouted a violent speech. Mr. Greene, a doctrinaire, a horrid-looking fellow, shewed Mr. Dana the passages in Aristotle about slavery, which he had copied out of the translation. He advocates women voting and such like.

The official journals tell a slightly different story, but perhaps, in another post, it would be fun to try to identify the "half-madman" and such.

Homer Orpheus Campbell and "Socialized Money"

The Current Observations blog recently featured the entire text of a 1933 bit of money crankery called Socialized Money, by Homer Orpheus Campbell.

The work is presented as "the evidence of a crime, displayed neatly for everyone to see." "If you ever wanted an inside look as to why things are the way they are, read on." It's probably not so bad as that, although the work is a bit hard to follow, so some varieties of misunderstanding are probably to be expected. Campbell, it seems to me, is sufficiently anti-Soviet, anti-Federal Reserve, individualist and explicitly pro-private property to satisfy the audience this was likely republished for.

What caught my eye was Campbell's use of
William Batchelder Greene's Mutual Banking, apparently through the 1927 Vanguard Press collection, Proudhon's Solution to the Social Problem, which included an edition of Mutual Banking nearly identical to the 1946 Modern Publishers (or 1975 Gordon Press) edition, along with Charles Dana's Proudhon's Bank of the People, and some material by P.-J. Proudhon himself. Campbell's solution varies considerably from that of Greene, being a state-bank scheme, but parts of it are clearly in the same tradition as Edward Kellogg's work, which Greene adapted to his own libertarian ends. There is a bit of tax crankery to go with the money crankery. Socialized Money was published the year after
A New Economic Principle: Introducing the Net Worth Tax, Having for Its Object the More Equal Distribution of Wealth and Incidentally the Democratizing of the Capitalistic System, and although Campbell's money appears to be tied to "net worth" in much the same way similar currencies have been tied to real estate or other capital, there is a rather obscure "deferred taxation" scheme included with which I think I'll wrestle a bit more before I venture to comment more fully.

Campbell appears to have written only three pamphets, the third being Our Unused Resource, published in Seattle in 1960, just a few years before his death.

Give this stuff a look.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Edward Kellogg in "The Word"

I was printing out a couple of issues of Ezra Heywood's The Word, and ran across a listing of books available from the Heywoods' Co-Operative Publishing Co. in 1873. William B. Greene's then-newly-published The Blazing Star tops the list, followed by Mutual Banking. Then come two by Heywood: Yours and Mine and Uncivil Liberty. Josiah Warren's True Civilization (the 1869 title; see Ronald Creagh's great Warren bibliography for that convoluted publishing history), Lysander Spooner's No Treason, and Joshua King Ingalls Land and Labor round out the list-along with one other, Edward Kellogg's A New Monetary System.

Kellogg's work is an interesting inclusion. Initially, his state-bank solution had him in a somewhat different camp than Greene, Spooner and the folks we're accustomed to thinking of as individualist anarchists and mutualists. But recall that this is the phase of individualist anarchism's development where affiliation with organizations like the IWA and the various Reform Leagues was common. Heywood's advertisement includes this description of the work: "Being the original statement and an elaborate exposition of the financial principles now proclaimed by the National Labor Union." Mary Kellogg Putnam was one of four female delegates to the 1868 conference of the NLU. It's likely that Heywood and Putnam had some direct contact.

There's a good deal more that should be said about this connection between mutualism and "greenbackism." But not tonight. . . .

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"A Transcendentalist in Political Economy"

Reading through William B. Greene's various essays on American Transcendentalism, perhaps the most puzzling question is: "Why does he care? What's the Big Deal?" Greene clearly looked up to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and just as clearly tried to make that respect clear, even as he ripped into transcendentalism. He was not intellectually slavish in his admirations. By 1845, when he published the first of the works on transcendentalism, Greene had already made at least one attempt to rectify what he saw as errors in Orestes Brownson's formulation of the "doctrine of life" and its consequences. Later, his use of portions of Edward Kellogg's Labor and Other Capital in his mutual banking writings amounts to a kind of gentle detournement. But the engagement with transcendentalism is more complicated, in part because he has almost nothing good to say about the "new school"—at least in the writings on transcendentalism themselves. That's the main problem with "Transcendentalism" in its various forms: it skewers the transcendentalists, but also the pantheists and materialists, while its primary argument seems to be that these are the only three options. Knowing Greene's affinity for balanced tripartite schemes, it's not hard to guess what the proper resolution of the problem is, but we are forced to guess. Rather than dealing with the transcendentalist-pantheist-materialist scheme, the essays turn to the question of the immortality of the soul and the possibility of eternal life (a part of Greene's theology I'll take up another time.)

Fortunately, tucked away in the second section of Equality, among the pieces that Greene did not choose to incorporate into The Radical Deficiency Of The Existing Circulating Medium, And The Advantages Of A Mutual Currency (the 1857 version of Mutual Banking), or any of his subsequent writings, is a short essay entitled "COMMUNISM—CAPITALISM—SOCIALISM." It begins with a familiar paragraph from the essays on transcendentalism, with just a few changes:

The three partial philosophical systems which manifest themselves in every age of the world, have been defined as follows:—

"Transcendentalism is that form of Philosophy which sinks God and Nature in man. Let us explain. God,—man (the laborer)—and nature (capital)—in their relations (if indeed the absolute God may be said ever to be in relations) are the objects of all philosophy; but, in different theories, greater or less prominence is given to one or the other of these three, and thus systems are formed. Pantheism sinks man and nature in God; Materialism sinks God and man in the universe; Transcendentalism sinks God and nature in man. In other words, some, in philosophising, take their point of departure in God alone, and are inevitably conducted to Pantheism;—others take their point of departure in nature alone, and are led to Materialism; others start with man alone, and end in Transcendentalism."

And then proceeds with a section under the header:


Greene then provides the political equivalents of his three philosophical systems, damning them all pretty roundly, then ending with the affirmation that: "All these systems limit, modify and correct each other; and it is in their union and harmony that the truth is to be found." Here is the formula for Mutualism (according to Greene): (transcendentalism + materialism + pantheism) = (communism + capitalism + socialism) = Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

Everything that Greene wrote about individual components of his scheme, such as his scathing comments about socialism elsewhere in Equality, probably has to be read in the context of this need for "union and harmony." Certainly, the essays on transcendentalism must be read in that spirit.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Edward Kellogg, 1790-1858

Edward Kellogg's Labor and Other Capital (1849) was one of the major sources, along with the works of Proudhon and William Beck's Money and Banking (1839), from which William Batchelder Greene drew portions of his mutual bank theory. He differed from all of his sources in the measures he proposed, but, as was the case with his theological writings and the influence of Orestes Brownson, sometimes he appropriated large sections of the works he was reading, if only to turn them aside from their author's trajectories. This was certainly the case with Kellogg, whose ideas about banking and interest were circulating in the late 1840s. Greene's example of the "parasite city" in Mutual Banking is a close paraphrase of the chapter "Of the Wealth of Cities, and the Means of its Accumulation" in Labor and Other Capital. Kellogg's "Remarks on the Repeal of the Usury Laws," reflects debates that had been taking place in journals such as the Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review of New York, and was in turn reflected in Greene's discussions of those same usury laws. Both Kellogg and Greene cite the Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review on the current wealth of Massachusetts, and both refer to, although they do not cite by name, Our First Men: a calendar of wealth, fashion and gentility : containing a list of those persons taxed in the city of Boston, credibly reported to be worth one hundred thousand dollars : with biographical notices of the principal persons (Boston: Published by all the booksellers, 1846) of which a short excerpt is available online.

Kellogg actually developed his banking ideas over a series of texts, which have a rather bewildering publishing history. In his later works, he was assisted by his daughter, Mary Kellogg Putnam, who put together a revised version of Labor and Other Capital under the name A New Monetary System after his death in 1858.

I'll get a bibliography of Kellogg up in the Labyrinth sometime soon, but here, in narrative form, is the history of his publishing efforts:

In 1841, Remarks upon Usury and Its Effects, a 69-page tract was published by Harper and Bros., NY, under the name "Whitehook." OCLC, NUC and Mary Kellogg Putnam attribute it to Kellogg. Joseph Dorfman, in his introduction to the 1971 reprint of Labor and Other Capital, says it was prepared by a friend, based on Kellogg's notes and ideas. His daughter mentions in her biographical introduction to the 5th edition of A New Monetary System that Kellogg disliked writing even letters, until he became caught up in an enthusiasm about his subject, so Dorfman's suggestion is at least plausible.

It was followed in 1843 by Usury, the Evil and the Remedy, a 4-page pamphlet, published by Burgess and Stringer, NY, and attributed to "Godek Gardwell" (an anagram of Edward Kellogg). Kellogg used the Gardwell psuedonym through at leasst 1844. On August 8, 1843, he sent a copy of the pamphlet to Orestes Brownson using that name. (This might be the earliest contact between Kellogg and William B. Greene's circle of contacts. Brownson, of course, was already moving away from reformers such as Kellogg and Greene. His August 1843 contribution to the The United States Magazine, and Democratic Review was "The Origin and Ground of Government," one of the series of articles that marked his break with his old comrades. Kellogg contacts him as he is embracing Calhoun and as he and Greene part ways over the social implications of the "doctrine of life" they derived from French sources such as Leroux.)

In 1844, still using the Gardwell name, Kellogg issued Currency, the Evil and the Remedy, a 43-work, apparently self-published. The numerous subsequent reprintings are a bit hard to arrange in proper order. The OCLC records may be fragmentary, but there are also clearly discrepencies in the way the various "editions" are designated. 1844 saw at least an "improved" 4th edition (and perhaps the "missing" 2nd and 3rd, though perhaps not) and an "enlarged" 5th. All of the 1844 editions appear to be self-published and used the Gardwell name. The 5th edition jumps to 48 pages in length.

In 1846, two new reprints of the 1844 5th edition appeared, published by W. H. Graham, NY, and issued under the name "Godek Goodwell." They were, curiously, designated the 3rd and 6th editions (or, perhaps, more accurately the 6th and 3rd).

Two possible solutions to the numbering problem suggest themselves:

If there were indeed two missing printings in 1844, between the initial release and the "improved" fourth, then we might assume that the first of the 1846 printings was indeed the 6th. The 3rd, which we would assume followed it, would then be a 7th printing, but also a 3rd printing of the 3rd real edition of Currency, the Evil and the Remedy [initial, improved, enlarged].

If there are not missing printings in 1844, and the records we have represent the entire publishing record, then perhaps Kellogg retroactively considered the publications of 1841 and 1843 to be the 1st and 2nd editions, and the first 1844 Currency to be the 3rd. The 1846 stated 3rd we would have to explain as above. This would give us a single "work" with multiple titles ranging in length from 4 to 69 pages, but it is nearly as plausible a solution as the other.

In 1849, Kellogg published Labor and Other Capital, a work of nearly 300 pages. This was the work that we know William B. Greene read, cited and adapted to his own uses in the mutual banking writings. Dorfman claims that "extracts" of the work were published inthe Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review in 1848. A quick search has only turned up one letter from "Godek Gardwell" announcing its impending publication, dated Dec 13, 1837 and appearing in the January 1848 issue. That letter was noticed in The Commercial Review of the South and West issue for February 1848. Perhaps some additional digging will reveal more early discussion of the work.

After Kellogg's death in 1858, his daughter, Mary Kellogg Putnam, who had been her father's assistant in the preparation of the previous volume, assembled a new edition of Labor and Other Capital, with "numerous additions from his manuscripts, under the title A New Monetary System. It appeared from Rudd & Carleton, NY in 1861, and was 366 pages in length. The same press issued a stated 2nd edition in 1862. In 1864, Kiggins and Kellogg, NY, published another stated 2nd edition, and the ordering problems begin anew. 1868 saw a stated 3rd edition by Kiggins, Tooker, and Co., NY.

In 1874, an edition was published by the United States Book Company, NY, and it included a new biographical preface by Mary Kellogg Putnam. The page count jumps up to 374. This is the edition that was published as the 5th in 1875 by H.C. Baird in Philadelphia. Baird then published a 7th in 1881, so we are either missing an edition in the interim, or the numbering now takes into account the 1874 edition.

We're almost home.

A stated 8th edition was issued in New York by American Sentry. It also appears that a different edition, noted as a reprint of the 1875 H. C. Baird 5th, was published by J. W. Lovell. Lovell published a new printing in 1884, and in 1894 an edition appeared from Lovell, Gestefeld, and Co. The Lovell editions all changed the name to Labor and Capital: A New Monetary System.

There have been microform reprints of many of Kellogg's writings, and 1971 saw modern library reprints of Labor and Other Capital, by A. M. Kelley, and the 1875 A New Monetary System, by Burt Franklin.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

William B. Greene's Articles on Transcendentalism

The various versions of the work on American Transcendentalism are all collated, scanned, and nearly edited and marked up for the web. The two pamphlet versions will be available later this week, but the three articles are online now:

The first two essay were condensed into the 1849 pamphlet Transcendentalism, which was further condensed into "Human Pantheism," and then revised into the 1871 Transcendentalism, which was reprinted in 1872 in The Blazing Star (probably from the same plates) with one additional, final paragraph added.

A full bibliographic essay and content analysis is in preparation.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Navigating the new library

I've been pretty quiet here for awhile, mostly because the William B. Greene research has taken on a life of its own, not just because A Special Answer to a Special Prayer threatens to be about twice as long as I expected, or because the editing and republication of Greene's works is at a particularly demanding stage (expect all of the versions of the work on transcendentalism, as well as a new bibliographical essay soon), but also because--to my great surprise--word of the nature of the work has prompted some new and very practical kinds of collaboration. Mutualism seems to be finding its moment.

Of course, a big part of what's eating up my potential blogtime is the research. Access to "full text" databases of many old sources makes up, in some small part, for the fact that so many books that used to be available on browsable shelves are now tucked away in remote storage facilities. Text-searching is the new shelf-browsing. Unfortunately, we're at a very awkward moment in the transition.

First, about those open stacks--there are fewer and fewer of them, and it looks like the trend may continue. There is talk at the local university here of actually closing one of our two libraries, and jamming its contents either into the other library--a 7-floor structure that now has about half of one floor actually dedicated to browsable stacks--or into compact storage at the regional depository. I've already talked, I think, about the inefficiencies of the storage option. Last weekend, I made a thorough search of the section of the PSs that is 19th century American literature. After culling for storage, that's basically one long row of bookcases, front and back. That's not a lot of books, in terms of what the library possesses in its collection, but it's a lot of books to look at and evaluate, a lot of indexes to check for Greene and Shaws. It is, however, a quantity of books that one can, with some diligent work, get through in few hours. Let's shoot for a number. Based on experience from my bookselling days, I would guess that a very low estimate of the number of books I looked over in an afternoon was 4000, of which I had to actually open a couple of hundred. Now, I'm guessing that there are at least three times as many books from this section in the regional depository as there are on the shelf. Assuming the percentage of potentially interesting books is roughly the same, we're talking about something like 500-600 books, or a pretty full day of browsing. But with browsing not an option, we're talking about 500-600 request forms to be filled out, and 500-600 books that must be picked by depository workers, trucked to my library, and handled by circulation desk workers, all before I get my chance to take the several seconds it will take to check an index.

Let me be clear about the kind of research I'm doing. It involves piecing together the lives of Greene and his family from the most offhand sorts of mentions, the most fragmentary sorts accounts. Many of my best clues about Greene's family life have come from brief passages in the memoirs of his associates. A fine example came from last weekend's browsing expedition. Lydia Maria Child made an offhand reference to William Greene's daughter, Elizabeth, in one of her letters and in the course of a sentence provided the first solid clue I have found to her approach and practice in the work she did with poor single mothers just before her death. A few weeks before it was the discovery of some potentially important historical writings by WBG, thanks to a rather dismissive mention tucked away in a book about Elizabeth Palmer Peabody. Yesterday, it was a mention, in Robert Gould Shaw's letters, that Uncle William and Uncle George seem to have patched things up--the sort of thing that sends you off on a whole new search.

This is, of course, the kind of searching that ought to be made much easier by the advent of "full text" databases, such as American Periodical Series Online and the Making of America archives. Keyword searching has, indeed, been helpful for finding mentions too slight to even make it to an index. If the results of such searches were dependable, then research could be sped up immensely.

The results of such searches are not dependable.

All too often, what you are searching through is raw OCR text, which has not even been edited to make sure keywords, such as author's names, are correct. For 19th century sources, with fonts that are likely to fragment or be misread in the OCR process, this is a huge problem. There are already difficulties associated with texts of the period. The spelling of names may be somewhat less consistent than in contemporary sources, and abbreviations are much more common. Imagine my surprise when a search term like "wm. batchelder green" turned up a couple of key bits. I've done enough OCR work to know some of the likely mis-scans, and for a name like "Greene," there are simply too many of them to pursue along with all the other combinations of names, abbreviated names, misspelled names and initials.

So. . .

We're somewhere between the time when we could, if we were willing to put in the work, do exhaustive shelf-searches, and the time when we'll be able to do exhaustive and dependable electronic searches. At the moment, it isn't really clear if we've gained or lost research power.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Two new William B. Greene texts online:

The Sovereignty of the People (1868)
An important pamphlet, later collected in the "Fragments" (1875). I'll try to complete a collation of the editions this weekend.

"The Right of Suffrage"
Another item from the "Fragments," published without notice of the original source. I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be a piece from "The Word" or one of the Boston papers. If anyone knows the original source of this, please let me know.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

1842: William B. Greene at 22

William Batchelder Greene's first major work was an essay titled "First Principles," which appeared in the transcendentalist periodical The Dial, in January 1842. Greene was, at the time, just starting his exploration of theology. His martial poem, Song of Espousal, had been written only two years before, while he was serving in Florida during the Second Seminole War. Still only 22, Greene was going through some rapid changes in his life. His religious conversion was little more than a year before, and his introduction into transcendentalist circles, in part through the mediation of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, was even more recent. Around this time, after consulting with Ralph Waldo Emerson, he entered the Baptist Theological Seminary at Newton, on special exploratory student status. He fairly quickly convinced himself that he was a Unitarian, and was off to Harvard, where he was admitted as a senior. By late 1845, he was installed at a church in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.

In 1843, Greene would expand the ideas in "First Principles" into the much more elaborate Doctrine of Life: With Some of Its Theological Applications. By that time, Orestes Brownson's Mediatorial Life of Jesus had been published--and that essay, with its unique theology and its elements of French socialist philosophy, that would have a profound influence on Greene's development.

Here's a taste of "First Principles:"


THE stream flows between its banks, according to Love. The planets sustain and restrain themselves, in their courses, by this same principle. All nature governs itself by Love.

By this I understand that each created thing, is gifted to act, as though it knew the properties, and ends to be attained which belong to each of the others; and that each one so guides itself as not to interfere with, or restrain, the workings of another; except when a clashing of properties takes place, and then, a just and equitable compromise is immediately effected.

This regard to the peculiarities, and constructions of each other, appears to be an application of the principle of justice.

The sentence, "All nature governs itself by Love," implies a power--the Power of Love. But this is not always perceived.


Looking out upon nature, we find all things moving, and revolving according to some apparently everlasting and unchanging laws, of which we have, as yet, obtained no knowledge, save that of their mere existence.

Immediately we sum up all the changes of the seasons; the summer with its overpowering heat; the winter with its intense cold; the movement of the winds and the waves; the growth of the trees; the revolutions of the sun, and the moon, and the stars; and then we turn our eyes inward, and perceive in our own souls, that we decide concerning the performance of any action, according as the motive for, is stronger or weaker than the motive against; and because we have seen all this, we say:

There are in nature two classes of things: things which are governed, and things which govern. The things which are governed are matter and spirit. The things which govern, are the laws of matter and the laws of spirit. Then we sum up all the laws which we know, and find that they may be included in the first thought of justice or love. But the view is changed; we now perceive the element of Activity, or Power. Power (or activity) I call will, (not free will.)As in the word Love, Power (or activity) is implied, so in the word Power, Freedom is implied. But this is not always perceived.


There is a chain of causes and effects, which proceeds from the eternity of the past and passes, link by link, through our little dominion of time, thence stretching onward, till it is lost in the dim eternity to come. The description of this chain, is the history of the universe.

When we have performed an action, it is no longer ours, it belongs to nature. As soon as an action goes forth, it gives birth to another action, which last gives birth to still another, and so on through all eternity. The little bustle and noise, which we have made, appears small, beside the motion of the rest of the universe; but that little bustle and noise will have their precise effect, and this effect will continue to produce and reproduce itself forever. All that has been done before my time, has left effects, to serve me as motives. All that I do, and all that nature does in my time, will serve as motives to those who come after me. All nature has been at work from the beginning of time, until this day, to produce me, and my character.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

1853: William B. Greene at 34

In 1853, William B. Greene had resigned from his position as pastor of a West Brookfield church, but had not yet settled himself in Paris, where he would stay until his return in 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War. Greene was 34 years old, was married to "the belle of Boston," and had two children, one of them only a couple of years old. He was financially comfortable, but politically unsettled by the recent passage of the Fugitive Slave Law (to which some attribute his resignation and emigration). He was on the tail end of one of the most active periods of his literary life. The period 1847-1850 saw the publication of all these texts:

  • The Doctrine Of The Trinity: Briefly And Impartially Examined In The Light Of History And Philosophy, 1847. [32 pages]
  • The Incarnation. A Letter To Rev. John Fiske, D.D. , 1848 [52 pages]
  • Remarks In Refutation Of The Treatise Of Jonathan Edwards, 1848.
  • Letter to Rev. Eber Carpenter, Southbridge, Mass., 1849 [8 pages]
  • Equality, 1849. [74 pages]
  • A New Gnosis, 1849. [10 pages] Remarks On The History Of Science; Followed By An Apriori Autobiography, 1849. [164 pages]
  • Transcendentalism, 1849. [49 pages]
  • Mutual Banking, 1850. [95 pages]

This amounts to the meat of Greene's entire oeuvre . All of his ideas still awaited their most mature expression, which would come in the book-length collections of the 1870s, but nearly all of his concerns had now been expressed and worked through, in most cases, in multiple essays. By 1853, he had already started his appeals to the Massachusetts General Court in favor of allowing mutual banking. However, when he became a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in that year, his activism was almost entirely directed towards redefining the concept of the people--specifically which people were to be allowed to vote on the nature of state government. It was in the context of the debate on this question that Greene made a fascinating speech, which was reprinted in the Liberator, and which is now available at the Libertatia Laboratories site. It is one of the rare occasions where a majority of Greene's various concerns are articulated all in one place, and it gives us a taste of what he must have been like behind the pulpit. Here is a long excerpt:

I will trespass upon the patience of the Convention for a few moments, only, and hope I may secure its attention, as I shall be under the necessity of having recourse to an order of ideas not often brought before a body of this kind. I ask every gentleman to weigh, in his own mind, and answer me a few of the questions which I will suggest to him. Is there not always before us an ideal, a mental picture, if you will, an image, of what we ought to be, and are not? Does not every one who endeavors to follow this ideal revealed to his inward vision, every one who endeavors to attain to conformity with it, find it enlarge itself, and remove from him? Does not he that follows it improve his moral character, the ideal remaining ever above him, and before him, prompting him to new exertions? What is conscience but a comparison of ourselves as we are, mean, pitiful, weak, with ourselves as we ought to be, wise, powerful, holy? What is conscience but a comparison of our actual conduct with our ideal of human perfection? As we make new efforts in striving after the fullness of perfection revealed in our hearts, the ideal removes further and further from us, making higher and higher claims, until, at last, we lose ourselves in the contemplation of the Infinite Majesty; for, in this upward aspiration, there is revealed to us a knowledge of our spiritual existence, and a knowledge of the Most High God. Man is created in the image of God, and it is his duty to bring out into its full splendor that Divine Image which is latent at the bottom of his heart. When a man first recognizes this Divine Ideal, which is the shadow of God, it is to him like the dawning of a new day. As he looks steadfastly, the darkness of his understanding begins to disappear, and the day-star begins to rise in his heart. As he moves forward toward the mark of his desire, subordinating his will to the divine will, he enters into communion and fellowship with God the Father; and the Eternal Sun fills the whole firmament of his soul with its rays of threefold glory. But, if a man aspire toward God, he must aspire according to his threefold nature; he must aspire according to his body, his soul, and his spirit; he must obey the divine law in its threefold applications. Man must follow what he ought to be in the natural world, in the moral world, and in the world of thought. Liberty is the right which every human being possesses of aspiring toward God, by the development of that threefold human nature-physical, intellectual, and moral-on which the image of God is stamped. Liberty is the form of the relation which exists, and necessarily exists, between man and his Maker. Now this liberty is the sum of human right; for, because man has a
threefold existence-physical, moral, and spiritual-he must glorify God by aspiring toward him in accordance with his threefold nature; that is to say, man has a natural right and duty to develop all the faculties of his threefold being. Shall repressive laws, shall priests and creeds, shall public opinion, separate between me and the Father of my spirit? Tyrants and priests know nothing of the revelation which God makes in the centre of my individual heart. I stand before God as an individual man; he communicates his will in the secret chambers of the centre of my individual heart. The revelation which God makes to me, is made to me, not to another. Individualism (which is the opposite to egotism) is, therefore, a holy doctrine. The individual man is a mysterious and holy force placed on the earth in accordance with the mysterious designs of a holy providence. Touch him not, therefore; seek not to guide him by indirect influence, for he is holy! Man is the temple of God, and his heart is the sanctuary from which the Almighty deigns to reveal his presence. He that contends against the rights of an individual man, contends against God; for it is the ever-attractive in-dwelling of God in the individual soul, that is the origin and foundation of all human rights. An organization of society which renders a man dependent upon his neighbors, upon public opinion-which, in a word, renders him subservient to his accidents, instead of being supreme over them-is destructive to individualism, and is, therefore, profoundly immoral.

Now, I maintain-and let me see the man stand up that claims to deny it-I maintain that woman has an intellectual and spiritual nature; I maintain that woman aspires towards God, that she stands in secret and direct relations with God; that the will of God is revealed to her, secretly, and in the centre of her individual heart. I maintain, therefore, that woman has natural, divine rights, and that these rights come from that relation which she sustains to her Maker, which, because it imposes duties upon her, imposes the correlative duty upon us of taking from her nothing that is necessary to enable her to perform her duties. At the risk of being tedious, I will endeavor to show the identity of the fundamental dogma of Democracy (that of the supremacy of man over his accidents) with the fundamental principle of Christianity; for I recognize no Democracy that is contra-distinguished from Christianity, and no Christianity which teaches either the divine right of kings, or the divine right of any portion of the people to govern any other portion, without the consent of the governed. What is this upward aspiration of the soul toward God, if not that spiritual attraction or gravitation, of which St. Augustine speaks, and which he denominates charity or love? " Charity," he says, "is the weight of spiritual existences." What is Faith, if not the conviction which is awakened by the spiritual world, through the power of this supreme attraction in the soul, that is akin to itself. Is not Hope the confidence which is borne in this upward aspiration? From these fundamental principles of democracy, can we not thus deduce every one of the fundamental principles of Christian morality?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Works of Nathaniel Greene, pt. 1

Book-length works by Nathaniel Greene (1797-1877):

  • Bauernfeld, Eduard von; Nathaniel Greene, trans. Theatre von Bauernfeld translated by Nathaniel Greene, Boston. 1838. [manuscript at Penn State.]
  • Blair, Hugh; Greene, Nathaniel, ed. An abridgment of Lectures on rhetoric. Boston : True and Greene, 1824.
  • Greene, Nathaniel. Address at the first celebration of the Aquidneck Agricultural Society, Middletown, R.I., Sept. 21, 1852. New York, 1852.
  • ---. An address delivered before the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, at the celebration of their ninth triennial festival, October 10, 1833. Boston, The Association, 1833.
  • ---. The Boston statesman. Vol. VII, no. 136. Boston, (Mass.) January 3, 1828. Boston, Mass. : N. Greene, 1828. [4 pages; "Carriers' address praises Jackson and ridicules Adams and Clay."]
  • ---. Improvisations and translations. Boston : Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1852.
  • ---. Reply to a letter published by Henry Orne, in the Boston evening bulletin. With an appendix. Boston [Mass.]: Printed by True and Greene, 1829.
  • ---. Tales and sketches. Boston : C.C. Little & J. Brown, 1843.
  • Greene, Nathaniel; Crosby, William George. An address, delivered at Faneuil Hall, Boston, January 8, 1828. Boston : Richardson & Lord, 1828.
  • Greene, Nathaniel; Richardson, Benjamin Parker. Boston, June 24, 1823. Sir, I have the honor to inform you, that at a meeting of the Republican Committee of Arrangements, for celebrating the approaching national anniversary, on the 23d inst. you were unanimously elected one of the marshals of the day, and the secretary was directed to inform you of the same. [Boston : s.n., 1823]. [4 pages]
  • Lamennais, Félicité Robert de.; Nathaniel Greene, trans. The people's own book. Boston : Charles C. Little & James Brown, 1839.
  • ---. ---. Boston : Published by E. Littlefield, 1840.
  • ---. ---. 3rd ed. Boston, Lewis and Sampson, 1842.
  • Mühlbach, L[ouise]; Nathaniel Greene, trans. The daughter of an empress; an historical novel. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1867.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1868.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1875.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1890.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1893.
  • ---. ---. Akron, Ohio, Werner Co., 1893.
  • ---. ---. New York, Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1893.
  • ---. ---. London, New York, Chesterfield Society, 1893.
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1897.
  • ---. ---. New York, J.W. Lovell Co., 1897.
  • ---. ---. New York ; London : D. Appleton, 1898
  • ---. ---. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1900.
  • ---. ---. New York, A.L. Fowle, 1905.
  • ---. ---. New York, A.L. Fowle, 1906.
  • ---. ---. New York, Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1907.
  • ---. ---. Akron, Ohio : Werner Co., 1908.
  • ---. ---. Chicago : Riverside Pub. Co., 1909.
  • ---. The story of a millionnaire. New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1872.
  • ---. Two life paths, a romance. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1869.
  • Sforzosi, L[uigi]; Nathaniel Greene, trans. A compendious history of Italy. New York, Harper & Bros., 1836.
  • ---. ---. New York : Harper & Bros., 1860.
  • Velde, C F van der ; Nathaniel Greene, trans. Tales from the German. Boston : J.B. Russell, 1837.

The reprint histories here are fascinating. Three editions of the Lamennais, at a time when there was at least one other, competing translation of the same text advertised for sale in Boston. (See the Liberator, July 8, 1842, p. 107, for an advertisement of the "manuscript translation" by R. Douglas, Jr., "Portrait and Miniature Painter," who, besides translating French Christian socialist texts, sketched Prince Albert "from life.") The success of The Daughter of an Empress is a bit mind-boggling.

Greene is supposed to have written "hundreds" of poems and submitted numerous other translations to Boston-area papers, many of the submissions under the name "Boscawen." We know that he published a number of poem in the Token, where William B. Greene's "Song of Espousal" also appeared.

Orl Korrect? "OK," says Charles Gordon Greene

Charles Gordon Greene (1804-1886) was the uncle of William Batchelder Greene. Like Greene's father, Nathaniel Greene (1797-1877), he was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire (also the home of Daniel Webster.) After the death of his father in 1812, Charles was raised by his brother Nathaniel, who saw to his education at Bradford Academy, and brought him into the publishing business in Haverill, Massachusetts (where William was born) and Boston. Charles was involved with a number of newspapers in Boston and Philadelphia. [Expect details of the newspaper careers of the brothers in a later post.]

According to Appleton's Cyclopedia :
"Mr. Greene was on several occasions a Democratic candidate for office, at one time a member of the state legislature, and naval officer of the port of Boston for two terms, having been appointed in 1853 by Franklin Pierce, and reappointed by James Buchanan in 1857."

As a partisan Democratic journalist, Greene was at times inclined to a rough-and-tumble, not entirely "correct" rhetoric and even to the occasional fabrication. Indeed, while his brother Nathaniel contributed hundreds of poems to various papers and translated European literature, Charles obviously prided himself on a certain solid, straightforward nature. Unsurprisingly, of the works of Melville, he liked Redburn and Typee. Mardi he disliked to the point of "disgust," and of White-Jacket he wrote:

For it is unfortunately true, that because a man produces a spirited and beautiful romance like Typee, or an autobiography like Redburn, running over with a Defoe naturalness and verisimilitude, it does not follow that he is competent to discuss the fitness or unfitness of the "Articles of War," the propriety or impropriety of "Flogging in the Navy," or the whole system of government and ceremonials of our "National Marine." The discussion of these great practical subjects requires practical men -- men of character, wisdom and experience -- not men of theories, fancies, and enthusiasm....
Pierre inspired him to the following:
Comment upon the [plot] is needless. But even this string of nonsense is equalled by the nonsense that is strung upon it, in the way of crazy sentiment and exaggerated passion. What the book means, we know not. To save it from almost utter worthlessness, it must be called a prose poem, and even then, it might be supposed to emanate from a lunatic hospital rather than from the quiet retreats of Berkshire. We say it with grief -- it is too bad for Mr. Melville to abuse his really fine talents as he does. A hundred times better if he kept them in a napkin all his natural life. A thousand times better, had he dropped authorship with Typee. He would then have been known as the writer of one of the pleasantest books of its class in the English language. As it is, he has produced more and sadder trash than any other man of undoubted ability among us, and the most provoking fact is, that in his bushels of chaff, the "two grains of wheat" are clearly discernable. --Charles Gordon Greene, in Boston Post, August 4 1852

The Melville site, alas, lacks a review of The White Whale (Moby Dick), but the review of Pierre dismisses it in passing. In Greene's defense, of course, most of his contemporaries agreed about the merits of Melville's more difficult works.

In any event, it is not through his literary criticism or his political work that Charles Gordon Greene achieved his most lasting legacy. Instead, it was born in a jokey editorial about, of all things, the ringing of dinner bells--and it's possible abolition--where Greene made the first known use of the slang term "OK."

The earliest example of O.K. . . . is from the Boston 'Morning Post' of March 23, 1839. It appears in connection with a note by the paper's editor, Charles Gordon Greene, about a visit to New York of some members of the local Anti-Bell-Ringing Society. (The A.B.R.S., as it was usually known, was itself something of a joke, having been formed the previous year to oppose -- its name to the contrary -- an ordinance of the Boston Common Council against ringing dinner bells.) In an aside, Mr. Greene suggested that if the Bostonians were to return home via Providence, they might be greeted by one of his rivals, the editor of that city's 'Journal,' who 'would have the 'contribution box,' et ceteras, o.k. -- all correct -- and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward.'.Thus, it appears that O.K. was invented, possibly by Greene, as an abbreviation of the jocular 'Oll' or perhaps 'Orl korrect,' meaning "All right.' This explanation would seem farfetched, except for Read's finding that it dovetails with such coinages of the period as O.W. for 'All Right,' as though spelled 'Oll Wright' (this appeared in the Boston 'Morning Post' in 1838, the year before O.K.'s debut); K.G. for 'No Good'; and K.Y. for 'No Yuse.'."

As a poster reported, in one thread where this explanation appeared, the joke was "that neither the O nor the K was correct."

Add one more real character to the Greene family tree.

Alfred B. Westrup, Pt 2

Here's a few more items from Westrup. Folks with access to APS Online can follow the links.

Articles in Liberty:
See also:
  • Let Us Emancipate the Race! The North American Review (1821-1940). Boston: Jul 1918. Vol. VOL. CCVIII, Iss. NO. 752; p. 159.
  • The Auditor. Chicago, Ill.: Auditor Pub. Co., 1891[?] [free banking journal edited by Westrup. Copies of at least some issues are in the Labadie Collection, UMich.]