Great Americans! John Murray Spear!
John Murray Spear was born in Boston in 1804 and was a member of the Universalist Church Of America from a young age, eventually becoming a pastor in in 1830.
By 1830 He was becoming quite an activist. Advocating for the rights of women, labor reform, and against the death penalty. Spear was also a big abolitionist! forming the boston Vigilance Committee which helped protect escaped slaves along the Boston branch or the Underground railroad. Famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison once said of him “although the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but spiritual, we [do] not object at all to the use of the ‘Spear.’”
As his activism became more and more progressive, advocating for things like free love (as in sex outside of marriage) and birth control it drew him away from the Universalist Church and by 1852 John Murray Spear broke away from the church.
Before his break with the church he was interested in Spiritualism and after the break it became his thing. He became sort of a minister of different sorts of spiritualist practices. His business cards said “Guided and assisted by beneficent Spirit-Intelligences, Mr. S. will examine and prescribe for disease of body and mind, will delineate the character of persons when present, or by letter, and indicate their future as impressions are given him; will sketch the special capacities of young persons… Applications to lecture, or hold conversations on Spiritualism, will be welcomed.”
He was also interested in the idea of combining spiritualism with technology,with his branch of faith healing using magnets and things.
Eventually John formed a club called ‘The Association of Electrizers’ with some of his friends like Benjamin Rush, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, all dudes who were dead at the time.
The purpose of this group was to bring new technologies to mankind, to help achieve greater levels of personal and spiritual freedom. With their help he published a collection of channeled writings called Messages From the Superior State, contained within were plans to build things like airships, telepathic communication devices and a thing called the New Motive Power.
The New Motive Power, which was a mechanical messiah intended to hearld in a new era of Utopia. You know, a god machine. Kind of an electronic thinking machine that wold become it’s own form of spiritual intelligence and change the world. There is no way this could turn out bad.
The New Motive Power was a dinner table, a bunch of magnets, Copper and zinc wires and random other items. When it was finished it was birthed by an unnamed woman (I’m not sure what exactly that entails, I hope it was painless) at an elaborate ceremony.
Sadly the machine did not come to life at it’s birth so much as it just sat there being a big contraption. So poor John Murray Spear set about dismantling his god machine. Many of his followers left him after this failure considering him to be just a madman (despite the fact they were totally down with this idea themselves)
In 1872 the fellow members of the The Association of Electrizers (ya know Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin) advised John Murray Spears to retire, so he did. John Henry Spear died in Philadelphia in 1887 and was buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery.
He never seemed to regret his work saying “Dearly have I loved the work in which I was engaged, I have been helped to see that beyond the clouds that were round about me, there was a living, guiding, intelligent, beneficent purpose — the elevation, regeneration and redemption of the inhabitants of this earth.” later in life.
John Murray Spear was truly a man ahead of his time!