Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.
-- Micah 4:3-4


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Adin Ballou and Americaís Wars

James D. Hunt

I. Biography

Adin Ballou was born in 1803 to a hard-working Baptist farm family in the northeast corner of Rhode Island. His entire career was lived within 20 miles of his birthplace, except for brief pastorates in Boston and New York. The Ballous belonged to the Six Principle Baptist Church, and many worshipped in the Ballou Meeting House, which (I think) still stands in Cumberland, RI.1

When a local religious movement called the Christian Connexion stirred the region, Adin was converted and baptized at the age of 12. The Christian Connexion disavowed any religious authority other than Christ, and demanded only Christian character as a test of church membership. Ballou retained this denial of churchly authority and dogma all his life. The sect also taught that at death the souls of sinners did not enter heaven but were destroyed.

Adinís intermittent schooling ended at 16. When he was 18, the ghost of his elder brother appeared and commanded him to preach. Soon he encountered the Universalists. He became convinced that sinners would be gradually restored to God's favor after death, rejecting his previous belief in the utter extinction of the wicked. His father had him expelled from the Christian Connexion.

Adin began preaching in Universalist churches, and in 1824 was called to Milford, Massachusetts. The remainder of his lifeís work was to be in Milford and the adjoining town of Mendon. He was then 21, married and a father. He joined the Masons and was chaplain to the local company of militia. In 1830 he opposed the views of his distant cousin Hosea Ballou, who was preaching that all souls would be instantly cleansed of their sins at the moment of death. Adin thought this minimized the reality of sin and weakened morality. He was criticized in the Universalist press and dismissed from his pastorate in Milford.

He was then called to the First Parish in Mendon, which had affiliated with the Unitarian movement. A mixture of Unitarians and Restorationist Universalists conducted his installation service. This in itself was an unusual event, for two reasons which Adin explained in his autobiography:

(1) A large majority of the Unitarians at that time had a great dislike, amounting almost to contemptuous disgust, towards Universalists of every kind and name . . . And they were very sensitive about being charged by their theological enemies with any leanings toward Universalism.

(2) The Unitarians were largely a well educated class of people, and nursed the pride of having a highly educated ministry. But the Restorationists, tried by their standard, were "unlearned and ignorant" . . . and little better than barbarians when compared with the graduates of Harvard College.2

Thus it took courage for Bernard Whitman, Samuel J. May, and the other Unitarians to take part in this irregular installation. They received criticism from their colleagues, but became lifelong friends of Ballou.

Ballou and eight other Universalist ministers formed the Massachusetts Association of Universal Restorationists and established a weekly paper, The Independent Messenger, edited by Adin Ballou.

In the 1830s Ballouís ministry extended to include some moral reforms. The first was Temperance. This movement, he later said, became "a primary school from which I went forth to all my later moral and social reform attainments."3 It provided discipline for his mind, heart, and character. Having been a moderate drinker, he realized that he must give himself whole-heartedly to the reform.

Through the temperance movement he found "three great practical data in ethics":

(1) That righteousness must be taught definitely, specifically, and practically to produce any marked results.

(2) That adherents of a cause must be unequivocally pledged to the practice of definitely declared duties.

(3) That such pledged adherents must voluntarily associate under explicit affirmations of a settled purpose to cooperate in exemplifying and diffusing abroad the virtues and excellences to which they are committed, and not act at random in disorganized and aimless individualism.4

Schooled in the sectarian tradition of the Baptists, the Christian Connexion, and the Universalists, he was beginning to apply the organizational disciplines of sectarianism in his efforts to reform secular society.

The 1830s and 40s saw many lively reform movements. The historian Alice Felt Tyler named this era "Freedomís Ferment." It was the time of Emerson and the Transcendentalists, the formation of experimental communities such as Brook Farm, and attempts to reform prisons and the care of the mentally ill, and the emergence of societies for the abolition of war and slavery, and for the rights of women.

It was also the time of religious ferment. The Mormons. The Millerites, who believed Christ would return in 1843. The flourishing of the Universalists. Among many people, there was an expectation of the millennium, that great age of peace and righteousness, when Christ would return in his glory.

The 1830s were a time of increasing radicalism in American reform movements. The temperance movement shifted toward total prohibition. The anti-slavery movement shifted toward immediate abolitionism. The peace movement rejected even defensive wars and moved toward complete pacifism, or Non-Resistance. Adin Ballou adopted each of these causes and their shifts toward what was called "ultraism" or extremism.

The leading spirit of ultraism in the abolitionist movement was William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), who established his paper, The Liberator, in 1831. He moved increasingly toward a religious perfectionism in which the Christian must give total allegiance to God, which meant declaring independence of sinful government and society. John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of the Oneida Community, was influential in persuading Garrison toward perfectionism.

As abolitionism became a major movement in the mid-thirties, violent attacks on their meetings and leaders increased, culminating in the murder of the abolitionist printer Elijah Lovejoy in November 1837. Ballou was stirred by the violence to look into abolitionist views, and became convinced. He began to preach against the sin of slavery, and divided the Mendon congregation. He formed a local anti-slavery society and established an anti-slavery library as well. After the murder of Lovejoy, Ballou was in demand for addresses commemorating the martyr.

In 1838 Garrison formed the New England Non-Resistance Society, for which he prepared a Declaration of Sentiments which began:

We cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human government; neither can we oppose any such government, by a resort to physical force. We recognize but one King and Lawgiver, one Judge and Ruler of Mankind. We are bound by the laws of a kingdom which is not of this world, the subjects of which are forbidden to fight.5

This position was called "divine government" or "the government of God," while critics labeled it the "no-government" view.

The formation of the Non-Resistance Society was radical in still another way. Women were permitted to speak and hold office, which caused some of the more conservative anti-slavery men to leave. It was one of the few organizations which would go so far. Elizabeth Cady Stanton said a few years later, referring to the American Anti-Slavery Society, which also included many non-resistants, "This is the only organization on God's footstool where the humanity of women is recognized, and these are the only men who have ever echoed back her cries for justice and equality."6

Adin Ballou attended the Non-Resistance meeting and was stirred by this declaration. Early in 1839 he prepared a "Standard of Practical Christianity" closely modeled on Garrisonís declaration. In it the signers announced their withdrawal from politics and government, excepting that they would quietly pay taxes and conform to the laws. They renounced war, slavery, intemperance, licentiousness, covetousness, worldly ambition, and corporal punishment of children. This was signed by four of the Restorationist ministers, but others did not support it, which hastened the demise of the Restorationist Association.

Ballou, always a logical man, began to think through the implications of this statement. Later in 1839 he attended the second meeting of the New England Non-Resistance Society, and gave an impromptu address on the theory of non-resistance, including its theological basis and its social implications. It was declared "the best explanation of the true nature of Non-Resistance principles" and published in The Liberator as "Non-Resistance in Relation to Human Governments."7

A Christian non-resistant had no need for human laws, Ballou said, but government was necessary for the unregenerate. Those who will not be governed by God shall be enslaved by one another. Violence, war, government, and slavery were all penalties of sinful alienation from the rule of God. This theory also showed the way to freedom: as men adopted non-resistance, these evils would fade away. The millennium will come when men adopt the spirit of the millennium, and do the works of the millennium. Ballou believed that the millennium need not await the return of Christ; Christ had already returned and now it all depended on human choices.

Ballouís thoughts on government and the millennium took a practical turn. Unlike Garrison and many of the Non-Resistance Society, Ballou did not believe non-resistants should petition the government for any cause, not even to persuade the unregenerate to move in a better direction. If men and women are to lead the new life, there must be a place where those who are faithful to God may sustain the new life. There must be institutions which avoided complicity with sin and provided refuges for fugitives from the realm of slavery and violence. In short, there must be a community which will be an outward manifestation of the kingdom that is within, a mediating agency between the present world of sinful corruption and the peaceful future of the realized millennium.8

In 1840, with his remaining Restorationist colleagues, he established a semimonthly paper, The Practical Christian, and proceeded to work out the implications of his communitarian insight. "We must ourselves," he wrote,

few in numbers as we were, strike hands together, be united in spirit and in action, cooperate, associate our interests, combine our forces, institute a church, a system of society, that should truly represent our convictions; build a new civilization radically higher than the old, which should be in deed and in truth the realization of a divine order of human life founded on the great ideas of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.9

This new community would be

a compact neighborhood or village of practical Christians, dwelling together by families in love and peace, insuring themselves the comforts of life by agricultural and mechanical industry, and devoting the entire residue of their intellectual, moral, and physical resources to the Christianization and general welfare of the human race.10

It was to be called the Fraternal Communion, and adherence to the Standard of Practical Christianity would be the requirement for membership. Ballou and his colleagues purchased 258 acres in Milford, known as the Dale; they renamed it Hopedale. Early in 1842 Ballou moved onto the property and resigned his pastorate at Mendon.

Hopedale began with 28 members and grew. It was a joint stock company rather than a communitarian society. Ballou did not trust the principle of community property. Adults were to receive a uniform wage. Women were to be paid the same wages as men, and were eligible for any office. He described the membership as "composed of men and women belonging to the more substantial, self-respecting class of American society," including six or eight ministers, two physicians, several teachers, farmers, gardeners, carpenters, machinists and other handicraftsmen. It was, he said, "a plain, common sense, intelligent, high-minded population. As a whole, we were in no sense a set of visionary dreamers, deluded fanatics, restless impracticables, and thriftless incompetents."11 It was to be a missionary society for temperance, antislavery, peace, education, and womenís rights.

At its height in the early 1850s there were about 230 members. The experiment came to an end in 1856 when the Draper brothers, who held a majority of the stock, withdrew their shares and invested in a factory. Hopedale became a mill village.12

Members of the Non-Resistance Society established at least five experimental socialist communities: Fruitlands, Brook Farm, Hopedale, Skaneateles NY, and the Northampton Association. In its 14-year history, Hopedale outlasted them all and was

neither the most interracial nor the most antireligious and antigovernmental, nor the most industrial. Rather, the longest-lasting community was apparently the one that was moderately interracial, moderately industrial, the most willing to permit wage differentials, the most clearly religious, and the most clearly non-resistant.13

Ballou stayed there the remaining 34 years of his life, even keeping on good terms with the Draper brothers. He served as pastor of the Hopedale parish, which in 1868 was admitted to the Worcester Conference of Unitarian churches. He wrote a detailed history of the Hopedale community, an autobiography, a volume on Practical Christian Socialism, three volumes on Primitive Christianity, a history of Milford, a history of the Ballous in America, and an examination of spirit manifestations.

II. Christian Non-Resistance

In 1846, Adin Ballou published his most acclaimed work, Christian Non-Resistance in all its important bearings, illustrated and defended, a book of 240 pages in seven chapters, printed in Philadelphia (and soon reprinted in England).

Although 1846 was the year of the Mexican War, Ballou cites neither this nor any other reason for attempting his most comprehensive defense of the non-resistance philosophy at this time, except that it was requested and financed by Edmund M. Davis, the son-in-law of Lucretia Mott.14 Perhaps Ballou was asked because of his position as president of the New England Non-Resistant Society (since 1843), and his role in reviving its defunct magazine, The Non-Resistant, in 1845 and printing it at Hopedale.

"Here is a little book," the Preface began,

in illustration and defence of a very unpopular doctrine. The author believes it to be as ancient as Christianity and as true as the New Testament. . . It is soberly and frankly addressed to the reason, conscience and higher sentiments of mankind - not to their propensities and lower passions. . . It is a book for the future, rather than the present, and will be better appreciated by the public half a century hence than now. But a better future is even now dawning, and it is needed to help develope the coming age of love and peace. A great transition of the human mind has commenced, and the reign of military and penal violence must ultimately give place to that of forbearance, tolerance, and mercy.15

How sad it is to read those brave words not fifty but almost one hundred fifty years later, not yet that "age of love and peace."

"Christian Non-Resistance," he begins, "is that original peculiar kind of non-resistance, which was enjoined and exemplified by Jesus Christ."16 Ballou bases his position on the New Testament. Chapter I defines his terms and describes the idea. Chapter II examines the Scriptural passages which authorize the idea. The key passage is of course from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, "resist not evil." Chapter III answers objections based on situations in the Bible where violence seems to be approved. These three chapters are the core of his position.

It may be noted that Ballou took a conservative position in basing non-resistance on scripture. His friend Garrison had already repudiated the necessity for a Biblical foundation, and had declared the Bible practically irrelevant. Ballou had to argue that the wars approved by God in the Old Testament were teachings that had been superseded by the gospel, but Garrison could view the Hebrew patriarchs as warmongers, for God could never have authorized the extermination even of enemies.

When pressed for a more adequate definition, Ballou declares that Christian non-resistance signifies adhering to the example of Christ in expressing the love of God by total abstinence from all resistance of injury with injury, or the refusal to resist evil with evil. By relying on moral force and non-injurious physical force he expects to overcome evil with good.17

Ballou differs from some other religious pacifists in asserting the necessity of resistance to human evil. This resistance may occur in two forms: moral resistance, such as example and persuasion, and also what he calls "non-injurious, benevolent physical resistance." As examples of the use of non-injurious physical force he points to the restraint of a madman, holding a delirious sick person on the bed, or compelling a child from injuring another. The full doctrine of Christ, as Ballou understood it, was "Resist not personal injury with personal injury," and he describes it this way:

It contemplates men as actually injured, or in imminent danger of being injured by their fellow men, and commands them to abstain from all personal injuries, either as a means of retribution, self defence, or suppression of injury. . . They must not render evil for evil, or railing for railing, or hatred for hatred. But they are not prohibited from resisting, opposing, preventing, or counteracting the injuries inflicted, attempted or threatened by man on man, in the use of any absolutely uninjurious forces, whether moral or physical. On the contrary, it is their bounden duty, by all such benevolent resistances, to promote the safety and welfare, the holiness and happiness of all human beings, as opportunity may offer.18

Ballou is not content to rely on the bare word of Scripture. His concept of revelation was that the divine message is in the principle beneath the words. The words are human; the principles divine. He once published a pamphlet entitled "The Bible: In its fundamental principles absolutely Divine. In its explicative ideas and language properly Human." He finds the principle underlying non-resistance in the love of God. God is love, and Christ is the great example. This leads him to a sub-principle which is "the essential efficacy of good, as the counteracting force with which to resist evil," and he declares, "Faith, then, in the inherent superiority of good over evil, truth over error, right over wrong, love over hatred, is the immediate moral basis of our doctrine."19

In these principles may be discerned a troublesome ambiguity in the non-resistant philosophy. On the one hand, non-resistance is commanded by the gospel regardless of the consequences, while on the other hand it is commended as the most efficacious strategy. One leads to obedient martyrdom; the other to success. For Ballou the moral commandment remained in first place, but he also offered support for the belief that it will produce better results. Others would be more tempted to sacrifice non-resistance for the greater goal of abolishing slavery.20

Ballou does not rest with general principles. He specifies some of the forms they must take in the life of the Christian non-resistant. He cannot kill, maim, or injure another human. He cannot participate in any lawless conspiracy or mob which intends any such injury. He cannot be a member of any lawful association which supports or approves war, capital punishment, or any other personal injury. He cannot be an officer or private or chaplain in any army, navy or militia. He cannot be an officer, elector, agent, or approver of any government whose constitution and laws require, authorize, or tolerate war, slavery, capital punishment or the infliction of any absolute injury.21

Ballou makes a very powerful case for withdrawal from government. He writes,

The man who swears, affirms, or otherwise pledges himself, to support such a compact . . . or constitution, is just as responsible for every act of injury done in strict conformity thereto, as if he personally committed it . . . The army is his army, the navy his navy, the militia his militia, the gallows his gallows, the pillory his pillory, the whipping post his whipping post, the branding iron his branding iron, the prison his prison, the dungeon his dungeon, and the slaveholding his slaveholding. When the constitutional majority declare war, it is his war. All the slaughter, rapine, ravages, robbery, destruction and mischief committed under that declaration, in accordance with the laws of war, are his. Nor can he exculpate himself by pleading that he was one of a strenuous anti-war minority in the government. He was in the government. He had sworn, affirmed, and otherwise pledged himself, that the majority should have discretionary power to declare war. He tied up his hands with that anti-Christian obligation, to stand by the majority in all the crimes and abominations inseparable from war. It is therefore his war, its murders are his murders, its horrible injuries on humanity are his injuries. They are all committed with his solemn sanction. There is no escape from this terrible moral responsibility but by a conscientious withdrawal from such government, and an uncompromising protest against so much of its fundamental creed and constitutional law, as is decidedly anti-Christian. He must cease to be its pledged supporter, and approving dependent.22

Adin Ballou as a "Practical Christian" did not rest his case with the biblical arguments. Chapter IV opens a second line of argument based on natural philosophy, in which he argues that the law of self- preservation is better served by non-resistant principles than by force and violence. According to Peter Brock, the eminent historian of peace movements, this is the first known attempt to base an absolute pacifism on naturalistic rather than religious grounds.23 Chapter V, "the Safety of Non-Resistance," consists of twenty stories showing the efficacy of the method, and Chapter VI answers some more general objections to the difficulty of being non-resistant. In all, Ballou provides forty examples and illustrations of non-resistance in action. The final chapter examines the stance of the non-resistant person toward governments which authorize or tolerate forms of violence such as war, capital punishment, slavery, or penal injury.

As Peter Brock has said, "Ballouís general presentation was indeed defective. It suffers, like so many of the writings of his contemporaries, from sentimentality and excessive optimism. Basically his concern lay with proving the religious case for pacifism." Larry Gara, another peace historian, observed that Ballouís stories fail to carry conviction today because of his uncritical approach as well as his concentration on individual experience rather than on intergroup or interstate relations.24

Other than abstaining from the use of violence and from supporting violence-based government, Ballou had no program for developing a society of peace and justice, especially with regard to the liberation of the oppressed. He relied upon the conversion of individuals, and their influence of their example upon others, or at most the creation of fraternal communities which could show a better way. In the life of the Hopedale community he sought to avoid all violence and domination. Corporal punishment was excluded from the educational program, for example.

III. Non-Resistants and Americaís Wars

How did non-resistance fare? A census of persons openly supporting non-resistant abolitionism would show a peak about 1838 and then a decline in the forties and fifties as a series of shocks moved the nation into war, with slavery a precipitating cause. These included the war between the US and Mexico (1846-48), the Fugitive Slave Law (1850), the outbreak of violence in Kansas (1854), a massacre by John Brown (1856), the Dred Scott Decision (1857.), and John Brownís raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry (1859).

When Texas was admitted as a slave state in 1845, the Massachusetts Antislavery Society circulated a pledge to refuse participation in any war to perpetuate or end slavery. The Worcester County branch unanimously endorsed the pledge, with Garrison, Ballou, and Frederick Douglass present.25 In Syracuse, Samuel J. May declared, "If there must be fighting, which I do not desire, I hope the United States arms will be defeated."26 Thus in opposing war he began to move toward the acceptance of violence, or at least its results. In Concord, Henry Thoreau, who for six years had refused to pay his poll tax, spent his night in jail in 1846, and the resulting essay on civil disobedience has a number of references to the war such as, "When a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country [Mexico] is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize."

While they had not been able to stop the war, the non-resistants kept alive their witness against both slavery and war, strengthening their nonviolent tradition in doing so. In the Mexican War, the abolitionistsí antiwar and antislavery principles reinforced each other. In the Civil War they would clash.27

Some non-resistants, like Theodore Parker and Samuel J. May, outraged by the Fugitive Slave Act, found justification for force in rescuing of escaped slaves from bounty hunters. The violent struggle for dominance between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers in Kansas converted some to the view that those who did not believe in non-resistance ought to arm themselves, and it converted a few non-resistants to outright militarism. John Brownís raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 marked the end of non-resistance as an effective voice. Henry Thoreau, for example, who had refused a tax during the Mexican War, saw John Brown as a man with an authority superior to the law.

Many of the leading Christian non-resistants moved away from the positions they took in 1838. Lewis Perry suggests this was inevitable due to a fault in their position. Though they were "immediatists" in their whole-hearted commitment to social change, their adhesion to non-resistance and refusal to employ governmental force meant that abolition could only come about gradually through individual conversions of slaveholders. Immediate commitment to revolutionary ideas thus implied gradualism in achieving major goals such as abolition. As they became more concerned with the slave and his condition, the attachment to non-resistant means would decline. Ballou, however, had explicitly accepted the necessity of gradualism in reform when he created his community, and was able to hold together both sides of the equation.28

Unitarians and Universalists did not provide fertile ground for pacifists. Rev. Sylvester Judd was one of the few who was. In 1842 he spoke to his congregation on the Revolutionary War, calling it "the holiest war on record," but not holy enough to justify a Christianís taking part in it. While a student at the Harvard Divinity School three years before, he had written that "our whole school, with scarcely an individual exception, sustains the position, that all war, offensive and defensive, is inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity." He believed that Unitarianism was a belief strongly suitable for making pacifists because "We see that man is too valuable to be shot down for the capricious and Ďhonorableí ends of government." He remained active in the peace movement until his early death in 1853. Peter Brock asks, "What became of the other Divinity School pacifists of 1839?"29

Throughout the decade of the fifties Ballou maintained a steady criticism of the growing acceptance of violence among the radical abolitionists. Early in 1850 he wrote an editorial, "Non-Resistance and Anti-Slavery," in which he asserted the higher value of non-resistance. Non-resistants, he believed, must continue to support the ends of the anti-slavery movement but to insist on higher nonviolent means. If non-resistance could be attained, slavery would end, he affirmed. He observed how anti-slavery enthusiasm could override a commitment to non-resistance, and tended to move into political, legislative and legal action. He pointed out that when abolitionists demanded any kind of force, they forfeited their ability to criticize the violence that would occur.30 Later that same year he criticized anti- slavery men like Frederick Douglass and Theodore Parker who were calling for the death of slave kidnappers, and others who had declared it a duty to fight for the freedom of slaves. As before, he pointed out the sad consequences of violence.31

Lewis Perry concluded, "Ballouís contributions to the debate of the 1850s were the ideas that by demanding any kind of force abolitionists would forfeit their ability to criticize the violence which would actually occur and that slavery, if ended by force, would leave a legacy of hatred and poverty which even Christian love would have difficulty in overcoming."32

Only a month before Harpers Ferry, Ballou published an editorial, "Practical Christian Anti-Slavery," raising the question of secession from the Non-Resistance Society because of the growing war spirit among abolitionists and their tendency to equate the violent overthrow of slavery with Christianity.33 (Not many months later Julia Ward Howe would give classic form to this faith in the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." )

After John Brownís raid, Ballou would not join in the chorus of praise. At a special meeting of the Worcester County South Division Anti-Slavery Society to consider the event, Ballou stood alone in repudiating violence. From the chair, he proposed a series of resolutions re-affirming the original peace principles of the Society, but these were voted down in favor of praise for Brown and his "valiant little band." He recalled,

It was hard for me to understand how professing anti-war Abolitionists of long standing should so forget or ignore their former protestations against the use of violent means for carrying forward their work and freeing the bondsmen, as to be swept into the same foaming vortex of blood and death. As for me, I remained unmoved, except for sorrow for such a deplorable exhibition of mistaken ambition to promote a good end by evil means, and pity for the sufferer who had rashly plunged into a lionís den.34

Garrison declared that Brown had won a place along with Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and David, though not with Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John. He took a position not unlike Gandhi, that violence is wrong but cowardice is wrong too and that to do violence to overcome injustice is better than to do nothing about it because of cowardice. Though Garrison had long opposed slave insurrections and in a sense still did, at a Boston meeting in commemoration of Brown's hanging he now said,

"Success to every slave insurrection at the South and in every slave country." And I do not see how I compromise or stain my peace profession in making that declaration. Whenever there is a contest between the oppressed and the oppressors - the weapons being equal between the parties - God knows that my heart must be with the oppressed and always against the oppressor. Therefore, whenever commenced, I cannot but wish success to all slave insurrections. I thank God when men who believe in the right and duty of wielding carnal weapons, are so far advanced that they will take those weapons out of the scale of despotism, and throw them into the scale of freedom. It is an indication of progress, and a positive moral growth; it is one way to get up to the sublime platform of non-resistance; and it is Godís method of dealing retribution upon the head of the tyrant. Rather than see men wearing their chains in a cowardly and servile spirit, I would, as an advocate of peace, much rather than see them breaking the head of the tyrant with their chains. Give me, as a non-resistant, Bunker Hill, and Lexington, and Concord, rather than the cowardice and servility of a Southern slave plantation.35

Lawrence J. Friedman takes Garrisonís side against Ballou:

"We deplore that this case of John Brown should have been turned so effectively against Christian non-resistance," Ballou charged, "and made so seductive an argument for bloody resistance, insurrection, and revolution." He was especially shocked that Garrison and other strong missionaries for peace had given Brown even qualified endorsement; they were allowing abolitionism to endorse heathen barbarism. Garrison retorted that his friend Ballou was "somewhat lacking in magnanimity, in tenderness of spirit, and in a philosophical view of events," and he was right. By considering abolitionism entirely as an ideological construct, Ballou had lost sight of the fact that immediatists had never been complete pacifists; they had exhibited an aggressive side from the start. In the years before Harpers Ferry, they had become increasingly disposed, emotionally, toward violent means while retaining a strong professed commitment to moral suasion. Ballou had overlooked the evolution of the immediatist "heart" and had focused entirely upon the "head." He failed to see that whereas the "head" required a sense of consistent allegiance to saintly moral suasion principles, the "heart" had craved forceful revenge against the Slave Power and friendship with Brown and other less-than-devout antislavery Northerners who also hated the Slave Power.36

Garrison, Friedman believes, tried to hold the middle, siding neither with the "head" nor the "heart." As he had said in his defense of Lovejoy, he believed Brown had acted heroically and a was a great martyr to the antislavery cause, though his use of violence was morally wrong.

For Garrison, like the overwhelming number of . . . immediatists in late 1859, the old balance between pacifism and violence had shifted; the greatest danger was that moral suasion might stand in the way of righteous violence and that Brown might stand condemned by wrongheaded peace men like Ballou. . . Ballou notwithstanding, neither John Brown who took up the sword for a righteous cause nor the moral suasionist who defended him was to be equated with the coarse, heathen Southern planter who forcefully maintained black bondsmen. A holy warrior on a mission for the slaves was not to be confused with a heathen warrior.37

A curious incident in July 1862 fueled the rift between Ballou and Garrison. Garrison was invited to preach in the Hopedale church, and used the occasion to speak on Christianity and non-resistance. He declared that there was no divine authority for the Sabbath as a holy day, that the Bible was not a holy book, that Christ was not an infallible religious teacher, and that each person had to determine for himself what was right in religion and ethics. Furthermore he stated the Non-Resistance was in no way dependent on the teaching, example, or authority of Christ, and that while non-resistance holds human life inviolable, non-resistants could consistently urge a pro-war government to abolish slavery by warfare. Ballou, who was in the audience, could hardly have heard a more thorough repudiation of his theology, and this from a friend and associate.38

Later, Ballou gave his views of Garrison:

He was pre-eminently an Individualist rather than a Socialist of any kind. His mission was to destroy evil customs, institutions, and isms, and let good ones grow up as best they could. Mine was not only to overthrow what was wrong and prejudicial to human well-being and happiness, but to build up what was right and helpful of mankind. He magnified personal liberty as the right of all men, seeming to think if this were secured all other blessings would follow as a matter of course. I always insisted that personal liberty must be inseparably conjoined with personal obligation, duty, and responsibility, on the basis of divine moral law.39

And of the "bellicose John Brown non-resistants":

They gradually declined in numbers from that time on and in a few years essentially disappeared. There was no further use for their kind of peace doctrine and they did nothing to propagate or preserve it. The slaveholders took the insurrection business into their own hands, leaped into the vortex of civil war, and gave these professed peace men the opportunity which many of them seemed to covet of helping on the compulsory abolition of the system of American oppression. Some of them went into the Federal army, others encouraged their sons to enlist, while the more masterly by pen, oratory, and various expedients, urged the war-chariot on its bloody way to victory. And when the victory at length came, they had been converted to the doctrine of the rightfulness of forcible resistance of evil, or to some indefinite conservative peace policy, or to silent indifference upon the whole subject.40

As secession began, many abolitionists were willing to let the south go peacefully, among them Garrison, Samuel J. May, Senator Sumner, Emerson, and Adin Ballou.

When war came, Ballou stood his ground, reasserting his position of qualified assent to the need for human government in order to curb human wickedness, while reserving the right of some to choose a higher, nonviolent way of life. When the popular preacher Henry Ward Beecher pronounced non-resistants as cowards, Ballou wrote a solid 20-page pamphlet in reply. It was one of his most passionate defenses of pacifism.

The wartime conscription posed a dilemma for all pacifists. One of Garrisonís sons put up the $300 commutation fee, and so did a member of the Hopedale community. Ballou later regretted the payment.41

In December 1865, the war being over, a convention was held in Boston to establish a new peace organization. Of the radical non-resistants, Ballou was one of the few who attended. From this and similar meetings came the Universal Peace Union. Its leader was the Quaker Alfred Love (1830-1913), who said of Ballou, "Model and tutor he was to me. . . His Christian Non-Resistance was my textbook."42

Shortly before his death in 1890 Ballou began a correspondence with Count Leo Tolstoy, who was amazed to learn that this prophet of non-resistance had been almost forgotten in America.43 Through Tolstoy, Ballouís work also became known to Mohandas Gandhi.

Presented to Collegium, North Andover, MA, October 16, 1993. A version of this talk was presented to the Unitarian Universalist Peace Fellowship at General Assembly, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1993.


1. The Ballou Meeting House burned down in 1962. - Ed.

2. Adin Ballou, Autobiography (Lowell MA, 1896), 217-218.

3. Ballou, Autobiography, 222.

4. Ballou, Autobiography, 223 (abridged).

5. Staughton Lynd, Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History (Indianapolis, 1966), 26.

6. Lawrence J. Friedman, Gregarious Saints: Self and Community in American Abolitionism, 1830-1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 155. The abolitionist movement was one of the few reform movements which provided opportunities for women to take leadership. At the founding of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, Lucretia Mott rose to speak. For most of the men in the audience, this was the first time they had ever heard a woman speak in a public meeting. Mott had not intended to challenge tradition on this occasion. Being a member of a liberal Friends society, she was accustomed to speak. When she rose, she realized where she was and began to sit down, but the chairman invited her to continue, and her point was carried. However, as a woman she was not allowed to join the organization, and she later helped form the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. The AASS was later taken over by Garrisonians.

7. Lewis Perry, Radical Abolitionism: Anarchy and the Government of God in Antislavery Thought (Ithaca, 1973), 130.

8. After Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 135ff.

9. Adin Ballou, The History of the Hopedale Community (Lowell, MA, 1897), 12.

10. Ballou, Hopedale Community, 18; from The Practical Christian, Sept. 15, 1840.

11. Ballou, Hopedale Community, 339.

12. Edward K. Spann, Hopedale: From Commune to Company Town (Ohio State University Press, 1992) is now the best history of the community, and a fresh perception of Ballou, whose autobiography Spann describes as "notable both for its objectivity and for the absence of any profound introspection," 181.

13. Carlton Mabee, Black Freedom: The Nonviolent Abolitionists from 1830 through the Civil War (Toronto: Macmillan, 1970), 87.

14. Peter Brock, Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 585n. He refers to A. D. Hallowell, James and Lucretia Mott, 277. James Mott's grandfather had published in 1814 The Lawfulness of War for Christians, Examined, a pacifist pamphlet.

15. Adin Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance in All its Important Bearings, Illustrated and Defended (Philadelphia: J. Miller McKim, 1846), ii-iii.

16. Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance, 9.

17. The very term "non-resistance" perhaps gives a misleading impression of passivity, which Ballou is forced to address in his first chapter. It has been suggested that his position might have been more accurately named "non-injury" or "non-coercion," but the prestige of the Sermon on the Mount seems to have authorized the established term.

18. Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance, 23ff.

19. Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance, 31ff.

20. After Valerie Ziegler, The Advocates of Peace in Antebellum America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 145ff.

21. Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance, 26ff.

22. Ballou, Christian Non-Resistance, 25ff.

23. Brock, Pacifism, 587.

24. Peter Brock, Freedom From War: Nonsectarian Pacifism 1814-1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), 98. I commend his entire chapter, "The Pacifism of Adin Ballou," pp. 91-99, as one of the best modern assessments.

25. Mabee, Black Freedom, 253.

26. Friedman, Gregarious Saints, 204.

27. After Mabee, Black Freedom, 259ff.

28. Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 232.

29. Brock, Freedom from War, 54ff., 81, and endnotes. They surely joined most of the other abolitionists in abandoning non-resistance in the 1850s. Other Unitarians who might claim a place among antebellum pacifists could be Channing, Parker, and Noah Worcester.

30. Practical Christian, January 19, 1850, as cited in Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 262.

31. Practical Christian, December 21, 1850, as cited in Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 262.

32. Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 262.

33. Practical Christian, September 3, 1859, as cited in Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 263.

34. Ballou, Autobiography, 416.

35. Liberator, December 16, 1859, as cited in Mabee, Black Freedom, 324-329.

36. Friedman, Gregarious Saints, 209ff.

37. Friedman, Gregarious Saints, 211.

38. Ballou, Autobiography, 438-449.

39. Ballou, Autobiography, 444.

40. Ballou, Autobiography, 421-422.

41. Ballou, Autobiography, 449-452, and Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 271ff.

42. Brock, Freedom from War, 298f, 410.

43. Leo Tolstoy, "The Kingdom of God is Within You" (1893), in The Kingdom of God and Peace Essays, trans. Aylmer Maude (The World's Classics, London: Oxford University Press, 1936), 11-22. See also my "Gandhi, Thoreau, and Adin Ballou," Journal of the Liberal Ministry IX, 3 (Fall 1969), 32-52, and my Gandhi and the Nonconformists (New Delhi: Promilla & Co., 1986), 40-43.