Stephen Pearl Andrews (1812-1886)

Stephen Pearl Andrews, lawyer, abolitionist, individual anarchist and education innovator, was born on March 22, 1812, at Templeton, Massachusetts. He went to Louisiana at age 18 and studied and practiced law there; appalled by slavery, he became an abolitionist. Having moved to Texas in 1839, he and his family were almost killed because of his abolitionist lectures and had to flee 1843. He went off to England where he failed at his scheme to raise funds to free slaves in America. But he became interested in Pitman’s new shorthand writing system and on his return to the USA he taught and wrote about this new passion while continuing his abolitionist lectures. He also became interested in phonetics and the study of foreign languages, eventually learning 30 including Chinese. By the end of the 1840s he began to focus his energies on utopian communities, establishing Modern Times in Islip, NY, (1851), and then Unity Home in New York City (1857). By the 1860s he was propounding an ideal society called Pantarchy, and from this he moved on to a philosophy he called “universology,” which stressed the unity of all knowledge and activities. The last two decades of his life saw him at the center of many of the progressive social reform circles in New York City. Andrews died on May 21, 1886.

Cost the Limit of Price
The Constitution of Government in the Sovereignty of the Individual
The Science of Society
The Sovereignty of the Individual Principles of Nature,
Original Physiocracy, the New Order of Government
The Pantarchy
The Basic Outline of Universology
The Labor Dollar
Elements of Universology
The New Civilization


Stephen Pearl Andrews: To the Editor of the New York Tribune

SIR: During some five or six years past, and especially of late, the Newspaper Press has made free use of my name in connection with what it denominates the Doctrine of Free Love. Every variety of interpretation has been put upon my opinions, usually the least favorable which the imagination of the writer could devise, with a view, apparently, of cultivating still further the natural prejudice existing in the public mind against any one bold enough to agitate the delicate and difficult question of the true relations of the sexes, and the legitimate role which the Passions were intended to play in the economy of the Universe. During the same period, I have allowed the Press to make what havoc it pleased of my reputation, uttering no word of explanation or reply, for the reason that neither Press nor People were, as I believe, prepared to do justice in the premises, and I preferred to “bide my time,” rather than seek or accept the stinted half justice which I might, perhaps, have supplicated and obtained. Most or all of my co-doctrinaires have pursued the same course. Two results have followed. First, in the absence of any readiness on the part of the public to know the truth on the subject, false, extravagant and ridiculous notions have flooded the country in its stead; secondly, in the absence of any opportunity for a judicious popular advocacy of Social Freedom, and despite abuse, the doctrine itself has made unprecedented progress, until at this day its advocates are numbered by thousands, while there are included among them an unusual proportion of the wealthy, intelligent and refined.

America, and through it, the world, have been recently startled, shocked and horrified even, by the announcement of a new freedom, the Freedom of Love. It may be well to reflect that every new idea, fraught with any genuine greatness or value, has, in other times, startled, shocked and horrified the public in whose ears it was first uttered, and to inquire whether we, in one day, may not be, perchance, repeating the same ridiculous farce, the nightmare of the world’s infancy, the panic of ignorance and “verdancy,” with which the race has always hitherto accorded a reception to every new dispensation of truth.

Is there anything to terrify the imagination in the idea of Freedom? Is not freedom already recognized and worshipped as a goddess, and her image stamped upon the coin of the realm? Is it Love that is viewed as a monster, whose very name paralyzes with fear? There are ancient writings, not a little revered among us, which declare that “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” and again, that “God is Love.” How, then, does it happen that Free Love, of the Freedom of Loving Hearts, should be a word of terror to mankind, so that the world forgets her propriety, and is made to misbehave herself, with unseemly alarm, at the mere mention of an entymological combination the elements of which, uttered separately, fall with the soothing cadence of a lullaby upon the same excitable nerves.

Free Love is simply the antithesis of enslaved Love. This is equally true in all the senses of which the word is susceptible, whether confined to the amative and sentimental relation of the sexes, or enlarged to signify the whole affectional nature of man.

In beginning an agitation for the emancipation of the human race from the tyranny which prescribes what it is lawful for them to fell, the writer of this intended the freedom of the whole range of the affections, and adopted, as the technicality to express that idea, the term “Freedom of the Affections.” . . .

Without restraining the meaning of the word to the relations of the sexes, it is admitted that those relations are included and mainly intended by it, and that the freedom proposed contemplates the entire abolition of the institution of Marriage as a legal tie to be maintained and perpetuated by force.

The first popular objection to Free Love, to be anticipated as existing in the public mind, is the prevalent belief that the Bible has prescribed an indissoluble monogamy, or the life-marriage of one man and one woman, as the only form of the union of the sexes which God approves. This belief results from the interpretation which some of the words of Christ in relation to marriage have almost uniformly received. . . . The Scriptures have been held, at various periods with equal unanimity, to teach that the sun revolves around the earth; that kings reign of divine right, and must not, for any cause, be resisted; and that the world was created in six literal days. With the progress of astronomy, politics and geology, each of these convictions has given way before the scientific discovery of adverse facts and principles. . . .

In this country; and in this age, we have, in one sphere of social affairs, a successful and triumphant practical illustration of the theory that the recognition of the rights of the individual is the talisman of order and harmony in society. . . . Not only is he permitted “to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience,” but, equally, to neglect or refuse to worship Him altogether; and the result is peace and fraternity; in the place of the inquisition, the burning fagot and war.

For one, I reject and repudiate the interference of the State in my morals, precisely as I do the interference of the church to prescribe my religious deportment or believe. The outrage on human rights is in my view no less in kind to assume to determine whom men and women may love, and what manifestation they may make of that sentiment, than it is to burn them at Geneva or Smithfield for heretical practice or faith.

Such, then, is Free Love—neither more nor less. It is simply a branch or single application of the larger doctrine of the Sovereignty of the Individual. It decides absolutely nothing with regard to the form or continuity of the love relation. Whosoever believes that the parties immediately concerned are the proper parties to determine the form and duration of that relation; whosoever wishes to discard legislative enactments, and adopt a “higher law” as the appropriate regulator of affairs of the heart, is, a Free Lovite, no matter what he expects will be the result as the operation of that law.

The attempt to degrade Free Love into the partisanship of an unbridled licentiousness is partly the result of an honest confusion of ideas, and partly the effect of natures conscious as yet of no greater elevation of sentiment in themselves than the promptings of unregulated desire. This fog will rapidly disappear . . .

[T]he second grand objection to freedom in this application, an objection also founded upon a popular religious dogma—namely, the belief that man is, in himself, radically bad. Under this belief the passions, especially, are abused as infernal and diabolical. No belief ever held by mankind is so essentially anti-progressives as this. . . .

The third and last grand objection to Amorous Liberty relates to the maintenance and culture of Children. This objection assumes that the isolated family offers the only mode of properly caring for offspring. The family, as now constituted, is, in fact, a very hot-bed of selfishness, which, while it provides for one’s own children badly enough, permits the children of others, equally good, to starve at one’s door, with the comfortable assurance that the responsibility belongs with someone else. A grand social revolutions is soon to occur. In this generation THE PEOPLE float in palaces upon their rivers and bays; in the next they will live in palaces upon land. Then the nursery will be a Unitary Institution, scientifically organized and adapted to the new social state. Let the reader refer, upon this subject, to a tract called “The Baby World.”

Finally, the words Free and Freedom are everywhere honored, except in the connections “Free Niggers,” “Free Women,” “Free Thinking” and “Free Love.” They are scoffed at in those relations because they stand opposed to Tyrannies that are still respectable—Slavery, Marriage and the Authority of the Church. When Tyranny of all kinds shall have disappeared, Freedom of all kinds will be revered, and none will be ashamed to confess that they believe in the Freedom of Love.

Compiled by Romano Krauth


One Response to “Stephen Pearl Andrews (1812-1886)”

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