The Parting of Ways of “The Primitive Expounder” and the Alphadelphia Association

“The Primitive Expounder”, a Universalist paper “Devoted to the Theoretical and Practical Religion, Expounded in its Primitive Purity, Excellence, and Loveliness”, was published out of Alphadelphia for a period of time by R. Thornton and J. Billings, then R. Thornton and J. H. Sanford, with corresponding editors, A. H. Curtis, C. P. West, W. W. Hebberd, and I. George.

It was, indeed, “The Primitive Expounder” which on January 20, 1844, from Ann Arbor, had published in their first volume the “call of a Convention” for the founding of Alphadelphia, where a skeleton of its constitution was drawn up. Then in their Prospectus for the publishing of the second volume, J. Billings and R. Thornton, proprietors, had written that it was to be published out of Alphadelphia at Galesburg, every other week.

Volume 3 was published out of Alphadelphia on Nov 27, 1845, Nov 27, 1845, Dec 11, 1845, Jan 8, 1846, Jan 22, 1846, Feb 12, 1846, Feb 26, 1846, March 12, 1846 and March 26, 1846.

But in the March 26, 1846 edition there appeared this notice:

ALPHADELPHIA.

Since our residence in this place, we have published little or nothing, in this paper, concerning the condition and progress of this Fourier Association; and our reason has been in part, that another paper, devoted to the subject, has been published by the Association, and in part, that we could not say any thing with certainty, as to its success or failure. And as anxiously as we have hoped that the time might come when we could assure our friends that Unity prevailed in our midst, and Success had crowned our enterprise, our hopes have now expired : Alphadelphia has proved a consumptive patient, and is going the way of all the earth. We are sorry, and yet are glad; sorry because it will injure the cause of Associations, and glad that we are free from an effort to unite such discordant materials. The ruin was wrought in the beginning, by receiving some improper members— persons who had no faith in Association, whose only object was to make money, and of whom it has been just as impossible to make Associations, as it would be to straiten the rugged oaks, that for centuries have grown crooked. But although the effort proves abortive, it has not changed our mind, nor shaken our faith, that association is the true condition of society; but on the other hand it has fully satisfied us that the plan is entirely feasible, and we yet hope to see all the ‘ideal glories alized [sic – perhaps “realized”], which Associationists have anticipated.

Although the most of the members will be somewhat injured, we cannot pity the most of those upon whom the heaviest losses will fall; as we verily believe it is their own obstinacy and perversion, and foolish opposition, which has created the necessity of any loss, and prevented the success of the enterprize. May the lessens of experience profit all in future ; and may other Associations arise from the ashes of this, and embrace with their spreading arms of peace, plenty, and bliss, the toil-worn and Borrow-stricken children of humanity.

R. T.

The paper was then published out of Alphadelphia on April 9, 1846, April 23, 1846, May 7, 1846. Then beginning May 21, 1846 the paper was published out of Jackson. In the June 18th edition it published a notice to the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN:

This paper continues to gain admirers from every one that reads it, and no doubt, if it could be seen and read by all, it would be a universal favorite. Will the publisher please change the direction of the paper sent us, from Alphadelphia, to Jackson, Mich., as we have removed our office to the latter place?

Volume 3 of the Primitive Expounder with Alphadelphia mentions highlighted

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