John Worth Edmonds
W. Edmonds was one of the most influential early American Spiritualists.
After a great public career, as a member of both branches of the
New York State Legislature and, for some time, President of the
Senate and Judge of the Supreme Court of New York, he resigned
the latter position on account of the outcry raised against his
Spiritualistic beliefs and, especially, his support of the Fox
His interest in the Rochester knockings was aroused in early 1851,
and the first account of his experiences was published on August
1, 1853, in the New York Courier, in an article "To the Public."
In this article, in order to meet the constant attacks against
him by the Press, he confessed his complete conversion to Spiritualism
and related his experiences. This bold step aroused a tremendous
sensation, and a furious controversy arose.
In a letter published in the New York Herald, on August 6, 1853,
went into the investigation originally thinking it a deception,
and intending to make public my exposure of it. Having from
my researches come to a different conclusion, I feel that the
obligation to make known the result is just as strong. Therefore
it is, mainly, that I give the result to the world. I say mainly
because there is another consideration which influences me,
and that is, the desire to extend to others a knowledge which
I am conscious cannot but make them happier and better."
His investigations into mediumship were logical, hard, and indicative
of a man of the law. He was very shrewd, and, consistently, his
conclusions were the same: spirit out of body can and does communicate
with spirit in body.
As time passed on, Judge Edmonds developed mediumship himself.
Between the years 1853 and 1854, within a small circle formed
with a few close friends, he received many spirit messages and
communications. The chief communicators were alleged to be Swedenborg
communications were referenced, compiled, and published in two
volumes on Spiritualism. This venture was achieved jointly with
George T. Dexter, M.D. (seen above). These volumes achieved tremendous
success, with several editions being printed. They are, truly,
some of the most fascinating and informative literature ever published
on Spiritualism; a must for all students of the subject. Unfortunately,
they have been out of print for decades.
In addition to his own mediumistic encounters, Judge Edmonds'
daughter, Laura, became a trance medium. She developed incredible
musical powers and the gift of tongues. Although she could speak
only English and a smattering of French, while entranced by Spirit
she spoke nine different languages with great fluency: Spanish;
French; Greek; Italian; Portuguese; Latin; Hungarian; and Indian
dialects were identified. These phenomena and many others were
all very meticulously recorded by Judge Edmonds.
The account of his experiences with raps, as given in the New
York Tribune, March, 1859, is especially significant and informative:
finally after weeks of such trials, as if to dispel all idea
in my mind as to its being done by others, or by machinery,
the rappings came to me alone, when I was in bed, when no mortal
but myself was in the room. I first heard them on the floor,
as I lay reading.
said 'It's a mouse.' They instantly changed their location from
one part of the room of another, with a rapidity that no mouse
could equal. 'Still, it might be more than one mouse.' And then
they came upon my person -- distinct, clear, unequivocal.
explained it to myself by calling it a twitching of the nerves,
which at times I had experienced, and so I tried to see if it
was so. It was on my thigh that they came. I sat up in bed,
threw off all clothing from the limb, leaving it entirely bare.
I had my left hand flat on the spot -- the raps would be then
on my hand and cease on my leg. I laid my hand edgewise on the
limb and the force, whatever it was, would pass across my hand
and reach the leg, making itself as perceptible on each finger
as on the leg. I held my hand two or three inches from my thigh
and found that they instantly stopped and resumed their work,
as soon as I withdrew my hand. But, I said to myself, this is
some local affection which the magnetism of my hand can reach.
Immediately they ran riot all over my limbs, touching me with
a distinctness and rapidity that was marvelous, running up and
down both limbs from the thighs to the end of the toes."
Judge Edmonds never wavered in his beliefs nor in his advocacy
of Spiritualism. He was a true champion for the cause, and he
suffered dearly for it. Despite his amazing legal and political
career and his even more amazing intellect, the Press and, therefore,
the public, condemned him for his support of Spiritualism and,
especially, for his support of the Fox sisters and the Rochester
Nonetheless, he continued in his work, even at the expense of
stepping down from the New York Supreme Court.
the year 1873, in recognition of his years of service to Spirit
and to the cause of Spiritualism, the Spiritualists of England
presented Judge Edmonds with a testimonial and a Testimonial Certificate.
Two such certificates were made: one for Judge Edmonds, himself;
the other was given to the founder of our Church, Marcellus
Ayer, by those same British Spiritualists. This second certificate
proudly adorns the wall of our Church Library (below).
This Testimonial begins as follows:
Judge Edmonds: We, on behalf of your many admirers in England,
desire to testify to you our high appreciation of the distinguished
services you have rendered to the cause of Spiritualism."
with beautiful words of recognition and appreciation and signed,
at the bottom, by 26 prominent British Spiritualists. It was
presented to Judge Edmonds in London, in November, 1873.
Edmonds wrote the following: Letters and Tracts on Spiritualism;
Spiritualism, Volume I (1853); Spiritualism, Volume II (1855);
and Uncertainty of Spiritual Intercourse (1856).
Spiritualists should be proud and appreciative of the work
done by this great man. His reputation and fearless championship
of the cause of Spiritualism was, indeed, an important factor
in the growth and spread of Modern American Spiritualism.