Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HARRIS, Thomas Lake, spiritualist, born in Fenny Stratford, England, 15 May, 1823. He came with his father to the United States, settled in Utica, New York, and began to write for the press before his seventeenth year, soon acquiring some celebrity as a poet. He renounced Calvinism in early manhood, and, entering the ministry of the Universalist church, removed to New York, becoming pastor of the 4th Universalist society. Failing health compelled him to resign this charge, and in the next year he organized an "Independent Christian society," to which he ministered until the spiritualistic movement of 1850. He then joined a community at Mountain Cove, Virginia, and after a few months of investigation declared himself a convert to the new faith, and entered on a lecturing tour throughout the United States. On his return to New York he organized a society, and established a spiritualistic journal. He went to Great Britain in 1858, and lectured in London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Glasgow, returning with a few enthusiasts who participated in his views, and retired to a farm in Dutchess county, New York As the community increased, he purchased small farms near the village of Amenia, established a national bank, engaged in milling and other business, and reorganized the society, which was henceforth known as the "Brotherhood of the New Life." He went to Europe in its interests in 1866, and the next year removed to Portland, New York, where he purchased large farms. No property was held in common, but members of the society were permitted to hold real estate, and cultivate it on their own account. The authority of the Scriptures and the marriage relations were held sacred, there was no written creed or form of government, and the system appeared to combine the doctrines of Plato in philosophy, Swedenborg in spiritual science, and Fourier in sociology. It numbered more than 2,000 members, some residents of the community, and other citizens of foreign nations. At one time Lady Oliphant and her son, Laurence Oliphant, several Japanese high in official rank, and two Indian princes were residents of this community. Several years ago it was abandoned by Mr. Harris, who went to California, and his lands were purchased by Mr. Oliphant. Mr. Harris edited a spiritualistic journal for some time, entitled "The Herald of Light," and has published, among numerous poetical and prose works descriptive of his philosophy, "The Epic of the Starry Heavens" (New York, 1854); "Modern Spiritualism " (1856); "A Lyric of the Morning Land" (1854); "A Lyric of the Golden Age" (1856); "Truth and Life in Jesus" (1860); and "The Millennium Age" (1861).
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