|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
from the Vegetarian Advocate (London), July 1, 1850:
It is with great pleasure that we present our readers with the following report of the American Vegetarian Convention held at New York, on the 15th May, forwarded by our American Corresponding Secretary.
AMERICAN VEGETARIAN CONVENTION
Agreeably to public notice, a Convention of Vegetarians and others friendly to the cause of Dietetic Reform, was held at Clinton Hall, New York, May 15th, 1850. Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, there was a fair concourse assembled on the occasion. Soon after 10 o'clock, a.m. Dr. William A. Alcott, of West Newton, Massachussets, called the meeting to order, by nominating Dr. Joel Shew, of New York as President pro tem., and Mr. Joseph Wright, A.M., of Camden, New Jersey, as Secretary.
LETTERS FROM ABSENT FRIENDS
On taking the chair, Dr. Shew called on the Rev. William Metcalfe, of Philadelphia, who read letters from H. H. Hite, Middleton, Frederick County, Virginia; Dr. David Prince, of St. Lewis, Missouri; Dr. R. D. Mussey, of Cincinatti, Ohio; and Lewis S, Hough, A.B., author of the "Science of Man, applied to the epidemics," Germantown, Philadelphia County. Mr. Metcalfe also stated that he had received a letter from Sylvester Graham, but, as that gentleman was in the city, and would undoubtedly be there. and speak for himself, he did not think it necessary to read his communication.
Dr. W. A. Alcott then read letters he had received from William C. Chapin, Esq., of Tiverton, Rhode Island; Gerritt Smith, Esq., Peterborough, New York; Dr. Mussey, of Cincinatti, Ohio, and William Horsell, Esq., London, Secretary of the English Vegetarian Society. All these communications expressed approbation of the objects of the Convention.
ORGANIZATION OF THE CONVENTION
Drs. Alcott, Trall, and Nicholls were elected as a committee to nominate officers for the Convention which were unanimously adopted, and the Convention stood organized thus, viz:-
OBJECTS OF THE CONVENTION
The Rev. William Metcalfe on taking the chair, addressed the Convention in a few appropriate remarks, expressive of the objects of the Convention. So far as he was informed, he believed the objects contemplated to be, to promote a knowledge of the principles, and an extension of the practice of a Vegetable Diet in the community; - to induce habits of abstinence from fish, flesh and fowl, as food; and secure the adoption of a principle which would tend essentially to promote a "sound mind in a sound body." He observed that the subject was one of a deeply interesting nature. The preservation of health, and hte attainment of longevity were objects of desire with every human being, whatever might be the tenure by which life was held. The subject of diet was confessedly one of interest to all, and one on whichall ought to have an accurate knowledge, especially as to its main principles, and their more immediate personal application. He had long ago laid aside the use of the flesh of animals, and had confined himself to the products of the vegetable kingdom. "It was nearly forty-one years since he had made use of any kind of flesh-food. He had raised a family, some of his children being present; and he had children and grandchildren who had never tasted flesh. The consequence of that system of dietetics had been altogether satisfactory. As a general thing they had enjoyed good health - better in fact, than their neighbours. When the yellow fever broke out in Philadelphia, in 1818, his residence was in the immediate vicinity of its appearance. He visited families afflicted with that disease, and yet neither himself nor his family were affected by the epidemic. The same exemption was experienced during the cholera of 1832 and 1849. All those facts went to confirm more fully, the sentiment in favour of vegetable food, long ago embraced, that the diet best adopted to health - best adapted to the true enjoyment of life, and to the development of all the higher powers of our nature, was that known as the Vegetarian Diet (Applause). They had met there to endeavour to form a Vegetarian Society, composed of individuals favourable to the adoption and dissemination of principles advocating the Vegetable Diet. It would be for that assembly to consider whether it would be well to organize an association of that kind then, or not, and to act accordingly. Some discussion followed these remarks of the President.
ELECTION OF COMMITTEES
Dr. W. A. Alcott, Mr. Edward Lyons, and Dr. R. S. Trall, were appointed as a Comittee to form a Constitution for the government of the proposed association.
Dr. T. L. Nichols, Mr. Joseph Metcalfe, and Mr. S. R. Wells, were elected as a Committee to draw up resolutions expressive of the views of the convention.
Dr. Nichols rose and remarled, that it would require some time for the Committees to fulfil their duties, it would be well for some one or more to discuss the subject of Vegetarianism, or to favour the meeting with their ecperience.
After a few remarks by Dr. C. M. Dick, approving of the suggestion
of Dr. Nichols, and illustrative of the advantages of the Vegetarian
system, Dr. Bedortha, of Lebanon Springs, a water cure physician, stated
that he had been a Vegetarian for about 12 years, although he had not
entirely abstained from animal food during that time. He had, however,
lived on vegetables entirely for three years at one time, and for periods
of months at other times. He enjoyed good health then, and had recovered
from a low state of health under this system. He found it necessary
in some instancesto resort to animal food to keep up the animal heat
Mr. Jonathon Wright, of Philadelphia, was the next to give his experience.
He said he had been a Vegetarian for forty years, and had brought up
a family of eight children, none of whom had ever used animal food.
Had first adopted the Vegetarian system from religious motives. He believed
that God designed man to exist on fruits and farinaceous productions;
had placed him in Paradise to live on the productions of the earth,
and not to prey upon other animal existences. Even after the fall, he
was still commanded to to draw his subsistence from the ground; he was
to till the soil, "in the seat of his brow," for food.At a
still later period they found, that for forty years in succesion, several
millions of human beings were sustained in the wilderness by the Deity,
without the use of flesh of animals. And having tried the vegetable
diet for forty years, he could cordially add his testimony to the beneficial
effects, physical, moral and intellectual, of that merciful system of
living. He had never had to pay a dollar, on his own personal account,
for a doctor's bill. As a general thing, his mind had been clear and
The Committee on the Constituionhere came in, and presented their report,
which was read, accepted, and laid on the table.
The Convention re-assembled at 3 o'clock, p.m. The minutes of the morning session were read and accepted.
DECLARATION OF SENTIMENTS AND RESOLUTION
The Committee on Resolutions reported the following as the result of their deliberations :-
Man is evidently responsible to certain pysical, mental, and moral laws. Obedient to these, he will secure health and happiness, while disobedience evidently produces misery and evil. Natural laws form an unique, harmonious system, and man partakes of this prevailing beauty in every law of his being. Constitutions may indeed, differ, but there must be a universal law for the stomach as well as for the lungs; and the species of food, prescribed by the universal law for the human stomach, will be found to comport best with the physical abilities, health and exercise of the intellectual and moral powers. Vegetarianism unfolds the universal law of man's being. Its observance is a stepping-stone to a higher stage of existence, and removes obstruction which hinders the fulfilment of man's higherst aspirations, and it is the inlet to a new and holier life.
With these views impressed upon our minds, we, who are here assembled in American Vegetarian Convention, have here resolved,
These resolutions were adopted:
FORMATION OF THE AMERICAN VEGETARIAN SOCIETY
Dr. Grimes and Nichols, and Mr. Edward Lyons, were appointed as a committee, to nominate officers.
On motion, the Preamble and Constitution were considered, consecutively, and after some remarks by P. P. Stewart, of Troy. objecting to the term "Vegetarian," which were replied to by Dr. Alcott and Dr. Nichols, both were finally adopted, as follows:-
The objects of this Association are to induce habits of abstinence from the flesh of animals as food, by the dissemination of information upon the subject, by means of verbal discussions, tracts, essays and lectures, exhibiting the many advantages of a physical, intellectual, and moral character, resulting from Vegetarian habits of diet; and thus to secure, through the association, example, and the efforts of its members, the adoption of a principle which will tend essentially to true civilization, to universal brotherhood, and to the increase of human happiness generally.
OFFICERS OF THE VEGETARIAN SOCIETY
The Committee for the purpose, reported the following names as Officers for the ensuing year of the American Vegetarian Society. The report was adopted and the Society organised accordingly, viz:-
The Convention met again at half-past seven o'clock in the evening, and Dr. Alcott, as President of the Vegetarian Society, took the chair. The constitution was read to the meeting, and an opportunity for afforded for any who wished to sign it.
The President said, the subject was one on which much might be said,
but he should only make a few remarks just to break the ice. He then
entered into an argument to prove that man, in his physical construction
was not intended for a flesh-eating animal : that vegetable food is
preferable to animal food, on account of the company it kept; the pile
of flesh placed on the table must be accompanied by a medicine chest;
of course, he meant the castors. So long as flesh meat was used to a
great extent, the medicines and meats would be mixed.
The speaker here passed some remarks confirmatory of what Dr. Alcott had said in reference to the anatomical and physiological adaptedness of man to live and thrive best on vegetables alone, and he proved that - the laws, that govern the heavenly bodies are not more clearly defined, and do not more certainly denote their action, than does anatomy and physiology show that man is not a flesh eating animal. (Applause.)
Mr. Graham, having briefly adverted to his former labout in the work of Dietetic Reform, proceede to a confirmation of what Dr. Alcott had said in reference to the anatomical and physical adaptation of man to live and thrive best on a Vegetarian diet; and gave evidence that the laws that govern the heavenly bodies are not more clearly defined and do not more certainly denote their action, than does anatomy and physiology show that man is not a flesh eating animal. (sic) Mr. Graham continued at great length upon the force of habit, and the apparent though not real difficulty of changing habits of diet, and concluded by describing his own mode of living which together with his son, was entirely of a Vegetarian character. Mr. Graham's remarks evidently made a great impression on the audience, and we regret that we are unable to give then at greater length.
On motion it was resolved that the Societyn now adjourn to meet again, in Annual Meeting, in the city of Philadelphia, on the first Wednesday, the 4th of September next, (1850).
The Society accordingly adjourned.
During the Third Session there were upwards of three hundred persons present, and much interest was manifested by the audience; not only in the addresses of Dr. Alcott and Mr. Graham; but great enthusiasm was evinced by the pertinent remarks of Mr. Marquis F. Baldwin, the Illinois Farmer.
With the exception of some controversy between Mr. Graham and Dr. Wieting, the Convention may be regarded as a happy commencement of a movement which we trust will result in the extensive promulgation and adoption of the Vegetarian Principle in the New World.