Chapter 10 – The International New Thought Alliance – A History of the New Thought Movement

Chapter 10
Horatio Dresser
A History of the New Thought Movement

THE convention held at San Francisco, in connection with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915, was called The First International New Thought Congress. It began August 30, and continued until September 5, with three sessions daily and noon healing meetings. The meeting place was Moose Auditorium, Jones St., near Golden Gate Ave. The convention was preceded by New Thought Day, August 28, at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. The program for that day was as follows: Assembling of all New Thought people at Fillmore St. entrance, to be escorted by officials and band to the Court of Abundance, to receive commemorative bronze medal; Science and Demonstration of Mind Reading by The Ellises, Pompeiian Room, Inside Inn; banquet-lunch at Inside Inn; music and reading, Recital Hall; interpretation of Dante’s La Divina Comedia, Rev. Lucy C. McGee; choral and organ recital, Mr. A. L. Artigues, Festival Hall.

At the opening session of the convention, August 30, Henry Harrison Brown was chairman, and the speakers were: Rev. Lucy C. McGee, Boston, “The Divine Adventure”; Mrs. F. J. Nellis, London, “Philosophy, Ancient and Modern”; Mrs. R. G. Peaseley, Los Angeles, Cal.; and Dr. Theresa Stockman, New York City. In the afternoon Mrs. Agnes Lawson presided, and in the evening Annie Rix Militz, president of the California New Thought Exposition Committee. There were addresses of welcome by James Ralph, Jr., mayor of San Francisco; H. K. Bassett, Panama-Pacific Exposition; James D. Barry, San Francisco Bulletin.; Grant Wallace, chairman of the convention news bureau; and responses on the part of the New Thought by Mr. Edgerton, Dr. Julia Seton, and Harry Gaze. The address of the evening was by George VVharton James, “California, the Natural Home of the New Thought.” At the succeeding sessions of the convention there were addresses by Miss Julia M. Cook, Miss C. Fraser, Mrs. M. J. Merrill, Miss Lida M. Churchill, Mrs. A. H. Simpson, Harold Palmer, L. J. Fealy, Elizabeth Towne, Annie Rix Militz, William C. Gibbons, Mrs. M. W. Sewall, Mrs. C. E. Cumbertson, John Milton Scott, P. J. Green, Florence Crawford, R. C. Douglass, Mrs. M. E. T. Chapin, Harry Gaze, Dr. C. F. Winbigler, Mrs. Anna W. Mills, Harriet Hale Rix, Mrs. Grace Brown, J. Stitt Wilson, Miss Harriet Hulick, and others. Different leaders were chosen to conduct the noon healing sessions, to give the closing affirmations, and to preside at the various discussions.

The business meeting of the Alliance was held Friday, September 8. The morning session, September 9, was devoted to a children’s festival, with a lunch-party and games from 1 o’clock to 4. The session Saturday afternoon was for parents, teachers and others interested in child development, with Harriet Hale Rix presiding, There were ten-minute addresses on child welfare, physical, mental, moral and spiritual. At 4 P.M. there was a session devoted to Sunday-school work, the speakers being Miss Blanche Ayles, Mrs. McQuesten, Mrs. Lintine Skinner, Miss Ethel Brown, Miss Josephine Hopkins, and Miss Wiebach. The theme for the last day, Sunday, September 5, was “Spirituality,” and the speakers included William Farwell, Mrs. E. N. Randall, Mrs. Frenyear-Wiseman, F. L. Sears, James A. Edgerton and Dr. Julia Seton.

The officers of the Alliance were: President, James A. Edgerton; vice-presidents, for America, Annie Rix Militz; for Great Britain, Hon. T. Troward; for France, Mons. G. A. Mann; secretary, Harry Gaze; assistant secretaries, for England, Alice M. Callow; for Scotland, Mrs. H. R. Wallace; for America, Grace Wilson; treasurer, L. W. Blinn; auditor, R. C. Douglass; executive committee for United States, Mrs. M. E. T. Chapin, Miss Leila Simon, Miss Villa Faulkner Page; executive committee for Great Britain, J. Bruce Wallace, Mrs. H. Heard, and Miss Muriel Brown. Mrs. Militz was president of the California New Thought Exposition Committee, and the committee included representatives of the various Homes of Truth and New Thought Centres throughout California.

In the constitution and by-laws as published by the Alliance in 1916 the purposes of the society are given as follows: “To teach the infinitude of the Supreme One; the Divinity of Man and his Infinite possibilities through the creative power of constructive thinking and obedience to the voice of the Indwelling Presence, which is our source of Inspiration, Power, Health and Prosperity.” The articles of the constitution make the customary provisions and include the recall, the latter to be indicated by a written petition signed by twenty percent of the members. The executive board, besides having charge of all the business activities of the Alliance, is to arrange for holding local conferences, organizing groups and societies for the propagation of the purposes of the Alliance, and the affiliation of societies already existing, also the publication of literature. Any person in sympathy with the purposes of the Alliance may become an active member on payment of the annual dues of one dollar, or a sustaining member on payment of annual dues of ten dollars. The fee for life membership is one hundred dollars. Any group, society, association or organization in sympathy with the purposes of the Alliance is entitled to register as a group member, regardless of the number belonging to the group, on payment of ten dollars or a voluntary offering.

The second international congress was held in St. Louis, September 17-24, 1916. The speakers included Sarah C. Morse, Leila Simon, Lilian Whiting, Harriet C. Hulick, Anne Young-Huntress, Dr. Sheldon Leavitt, T. J. Shelton, Dr. G. C. B. Ewell, Elizabeth Towne, W. W. Atkinson, R. C. Douglass, Harry Gaze, J. A. Edgerton, Dr. Julia Seton, Emma C. Poore, Charles O. Boring, and Sidney A. Weltmer.

The executive board consisted of the president, secretary, treasurer, auditor, and Mrs. Chapin, Miss Emma Gray, John M. McGonigle, and Mrs. Rose M. Ashby. The honorary presidents were, W. W. Atkinson, H. H. Benson, T. P. Boyd, H. H. Brown, Clara B. Colby, Florence Crawford, Horatio W. Dresser, George Wharton James, Edgar L. Larkin, C. D. Larson, Orison Swett Marden, Edwin Markham, Annie Rix Militz, C. B. Patterson, C. E. Prather, May Wright Sewall, Elizabeth Towne, William E. Towne, Ralph Waldo Trine, Lilian Whiting, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Vice-presidents were elected for each district, Dr. Harold F. Palmer, Southern California-Arizona; Harriet Hale Rix, Northern California-Nevada; Mrs. Anne Young-Huntress, Oregon; Rev. Granville Lowther, Washington-Idaho-Montana; Mrs. Grace M. Brown, Colorado- Utah-Wyoming-New Mexico; Vernon Hendry, Kansas-Oklahoma; Rev. H. W. Pinkard, Nebraska-Iowa; Miss H. C. Hulick, Missouri-Kansas-Texas; Mrs. S. C. Morse, Illinois- Wisconsin; Mrs. Rose M. Ashby, Georgia-Florida-No. and So. Carolina; Miss Leila Simon, Ohio-Indiana-W, Virginia; Mrs. A. W. King, Michigan; Mrs. A. H. Ray, Minnesota-No. and So. Dakota; John M. McGonigle, Pennsylvania; Dr. Julia Seton, New York-New Jersey; Mrs. M. E. T. Chapin, New England; Miss Emma Gray, District of Columbia-Maryland-Delaware-Virginia; Mrs. R. D. Allen, Kentucky-Tennessee; Judge T. Troward, England; Rev. J. Bruce Wallace, Ireland; Mrs. H. Rhodes-Wallace, Scotland; M. Georges A. Mann, France; Sister Veni Cooper-Mathison, New South Wales; Miss Grace Aguilar, South Australia; Miss Emile A. Hulett, Victoria; Georgina Hooper de Hammerton, South America; Dr. T. W. Butler, West Canada; Mrs. M. M. Hunter-Jones, Eastern Canada.

The third congress was held in Planters Hotel, St. Louis, September 16-23, 1917. Among the speakers were, Charles F. Hatfield, W. John Murray, W. V, Nicum, Harold Palmer, James A. Edgerton, Dr. Julia Seton, J. P. Green, Mrs. Rose M. Ashby,Mrs. M. E. T. Chapin, Miss H. E. Hulick, W. Frederick Keeler, Elizabeth Towne, H. H. Schroeder, R. C. Douglass, Sarah C. Morse, T. J. Shelton, and Helen Van-Anderson-Gordon. A feature of the convention was a “New Speakers’ Day.” Addresses were made by Mary L. S. Butterworth, W. J. Holt, Ida Jane Ayres, Mida Sharp, Robert Whitaker, June Walton, E. C. Hartman, and Eleanor C. Graham. Saturday afternoon, September 22, there was a Children’s Session, with a half hour of songs by pupils of the Society of Practical Christianity, St. Louis, and a special program following. A “Question Box Session” came Saturday evening. The convention closed with a grand rally of the Alliance, Sunday evening.

At this convention the following Declaration of Principles was adopted, as the point of view and program of activities of The International New Thought Alliance:

“We affirm the freedom of each soul as to choice and as to belief, and would not, by the adoption of any declaration of principles, limit such freedom. The essence of the New Thought is Truth, and each individual must be loyal to the Truth he sees. The windows of his soul must be kept open at each moment for the higher light, and his mind must be always hospitable to each new inspiration.

“We affirm the Good. This is supreme, universal and everlasting. Man is made in the image of the Good, and evil and pain are but the tests and correctives that appear when his thought does not reflect the full glory of this image.

“We affirm health, which is man’s divine inheritance. Man’s body is his holy temple. Every function of it, every cell of it, is intelligent, and is shaped, ruled, repaired, and controlled by mind. He whose body is full of light is full of health. Spiritual healing has existed among all races in all times. It has now become a part of the higher science and art of living the life more abundant.

“We affirm the divine supply. He who serves God and man in the full understanding of the law of compensation shall not lack. Within us are unused resources of energy and power. He who lives with his whole being, and thus expresses fullness, shall reap fullness in return. He who gives himself, he who knows, and acts in his highest knowledge, he who trusts in the divine return, has learned the law of success.

“We affirm the teaching of Christ that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, that we are one with the Father, that we should judge not, that we should love one another, that we should heal the sick, that we should return good for evil, that we should minister to others, and that we should be perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. These are not only ideals, but practical, everyday working principles.

“We affirm the new thought of God as Universal Love, Life, Truth and Joy, in whom we live, move and have our being, and by whom we are held together; that His mind is our mind now, that realizing our oneness with Him means love, truth, peace, health and plenty, not only in our own lives but in the giving out of these fruits of the Spirit to others.

“We affirm these things, not as a profession, but practice, not on one day of the week, but in every hour and minute of every day, sleeping and waking, not in the ministry of a few, but in a service that includes the democracy of all, not in words alone, but in the innermost thoughts of the heart expressed in living the life. ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ “We affirm Heaven here and now, the life everlasting that becomes conscious immortality, the communion of mind with mind throughout the universe of thought, the nothingness of all error and negation, including death, the variety in unity that produces the individual expressions of the One-Life, and the quickened realization of the indwelling God in each soul that is rnaking a new heaven and a new earth.”

The fourth congress was held in Boston, September 15-22, 1918. The officers at that time were James A. Edgerton, president; Leona Feathers, secretary; William E. Hutton, treasurer; and R. C. Douglass, auditor. Additional names among the list of honorary presidents were Alice M. Callow, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Veni Cooper-Mathison, and T. Shelton.

The various sessions were as usual under the chairmanship of such leaders as James A. Edgerton, Mrs. Chapin, R. C. Douglass, Elizabeth Towne, Harold Palmer, Leila Simon, and Annie Rix Militz. Among the speakers were Mrs. Chapin, Mr. Edgerton, Harold Palmer, Helen Van-Anderson-Gordon, J. M. McGonigle, Elizabeth Towne, Sarah C. Morse, Dr. Ewell, Mrs. C. E. C, Norris, T. J. Shelton, Emma C. Poore, Rose M. Ashby, Villa Faulkner Page, Sarah F. Meader, Harry Gaze and Miss Edith Martin. A session was devoted to questions, and the closing session was a grand rally in Faneuil Hall, with addresses by Mayor Peters and representatives of the army and navy.

The annual address of the president, Mr. James A. Edgerton, from which we quote in part, gave a comprehensive summary of the recent growth and development of the New Thought in various parts of the world. Mr. Edgerton expressed the conviction that the devotees of the New Thought, among “all good Americans and all good citizens of other allied countries,” believed that the winning of the war was the great need of the time, and that all other activities, even spiritual activities, should temporarily be subordinated to this great purpose. Nevertheless, he was able to report that the Alliance had steadily grown, with the addition of hundreds of members and many new groups. He also reported that there was more money in the treasury, and without any special effort to procure it.

Among other new Centres, Mr. Edgerton mentioned those established at Des Moines, Iowa; Wilmington, Delaware; Portsmouth, Va., and several on the Pacific Coast. “In Australia,” Mr. Edgerton said, “our work has been practically at a standstill because of the war, but all the centres are still active. In this connection, our good friends in Australia say they owe very much of their interest in the new philosophy to the visits of two American New Thought teachers, Mrs. Annie Rix Militz and Dr. Julia Seton. Indeed, in all parts of the world this new philosophy is traced to America. In England, whereas in the political field we call her the Mother Country, in the spiritual field the English schools of New Thought call America the Mother Country, and look to us to lead the way.

“In France the work has been carried on by Madame Florence Struve in Paris, who has worked mostly with the soldiers. Another leader in Paris, M. Albert Caillet, is here in America now with a French Government Commission and has promised that at some time during the week he may appear at this Congress.

“In Great Britain, all of the centres are active, but the greatest centre there, at Isleworth, the old home of the Duke of Manchester, where the work was carried on by Dr. Orlando E. Miller has been turned over to war work and the nursing of the soldiers; and Dr. Miller is carrying on his work in London.

“In this connection some of our American New Thought teachers are on the other side, assisting as they may in the YMCA work, Red Cross work and other similar activities. Horatio W. Dresser of Boston, from whom we have an inspiring letter, is now in France in YMCA work and Rev. W. John Murray of New York is in Italy in Red Cross work.

“Our field secretaries have been busy. Miss Mary Allen of New York has made two trips across the continent and back, making numerous addresses on the way–starting at the Atlantic and going to the Pacific Coast. Three of our field secretaries were at the beginning of the year on the Pacific Coast. One has since gone on with his own work. Another in the State of Georgia was called on by the Gorernment to take up work in connection with the Food Administration and while travelling over the State he takes occasion to teach the Truth.

“In New England we have had several conferences in Boston and at various points under Mrs. Chapin, who is not only vice-president, but held secretary-at-large, and has been most active. In Philadelphia we have had a most flourishing year; I was called there to give an address in one of the largest rooms in the Bellevue-Stratford, and people were standing out in the hallways. This was very promising and encouraging for the reason that we had not previously had a New Thought work in Philadelphia. Recently Mrs. Butterworth organized a new centre in the suburbs of Philadelphia and I believe a new centre in New Jersey.

“We have had field conferences leading up to this congress in many districts. One of the largest was held in the Waldorf-Astoria in the city of New York under the leadership of Rev. W. John Murray, our vice-president, and the League for the Larger Life, which is a federation of centres in that city.

“We had a very successful conference in Washington, D. C., and two in Ohio; in Dayton and Cincinnati, where there is one of the most flourishing centres in the world. We had a conference in Seattle, Washington, under Judge Gay, another one in San Francisco. and a conference that was not strictly under the auspices of the Alliance in Los Angeles under Mr. Holmes, one of the Holmes Brothers of that city, who are doing a splendid work, and one of whom will be in this city to address the congress. Another conference is being held in Los Angeles this week under the direction of the vice-president, Miss Harriet Hale Rix.

“Following this congress, one will be held in London under the auspices of the Alliance, as was the case last year. They cabled us at that time that it was very much larger and better than they had expected–and I have no doubt it will be still greater this year.

“This in a word gives you some idea of the work the Alliance has been carrying on in a quiet way. As for our future plans, I can say but this: that now, in my opinion, is the time, above all others, for everyone in this movement, or any other kindred movement, who feels called, to prepare himself, or herself, to carry this message of reconstruction, of optimism, this message which is the very soul of democracy–to carry this message to Europe where we can aid not only in the physical work of reconstruction, but in the mental work of reconstruction, which is of far greater importance. While the war is still on we can prepare. Mrs. Militz, who has traveled from one side of this country to the other holding classes, has been devoted to this single purpose–of preparing teachers who could go out into the world and, following the Master’s injunction, preach the gospel to every creature. She already has a school at Los Angeles, called the University of Christ, and this work she has been doing about the country is simply an extension of the work in her school. Her example can be followed by others. In this connection, let me say that a great number of our centres throughout the country have made a special point this year of working with the soldiers, not only of inviting soldiers to the centres, but of going out to the camps, in collaborating with the Y. M. C. A., and carrying the message and rendering service in such ways as presented themselves. I cannot too strongly urge upon you the importance of extending that work in every possible way.

“This New Thought gospel is not new in the sense that it is radically different from the things that have been taught heretofore. It is only new, as I see it, in the application. In other words, we in this age are practical, and especially so in America. We do not much regard anything that cannot be applied and demonstrated. This is not in any sense a denial of idealism–quite the contrary, but it puts idealism to the test. If it is of worth, it can be used. If we believe anything we can apply to that thing the acid test of practice, and, if it does not prove up, it is not a thing on which we can waste our time.

“Truths taught by the Master have been preached all through the ages, and believed–at least in a sense. But they were not believed enough to put them to the acid test of demonstration, of application. All that the New Thought movement and other kindred movements have done in this day is to work at our faith. We have had the faith before. We have had the ideal. Throughout all these ages the splendid example shown by those who were of the bone, blood and sinew of the Church has proved that they believed, for they gave themselves to the uttermost, as willing sacrifices. They permitted themselves to be fed to the wild beasts and to be burned as living torches in the name of their blessed Master. They did not lack in faith; they only lacked in the adaptation.

“Looking at the world as it is today, it grows ever plainer to us that Christianity has not failed –real Christianity, but that people have failed to be Christians. I use the term ‘Christian’ as one who is a follower of the Christ. He commanded that we should heal the sick, but we have not healed the sick for nineteen hundred years; and, when a cult arose in our own time, who began practising this, His most oft-repeated commandment, they were placed beyond the pale of the Church. He commanded us not to lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth, yet in this age and in the lands called by His name, we have the most colossal fortunes the world has ever known. He commanded us not to pray in public to be heard of men, but to pray to the Father in secret, and yet the sects continue to pray to be heard of men. He commanded us to avoid lip service. He said unto those who call Lord, Lord, that he would not know them. He fixed this standard as the mark of His followers: those who kept His commandments. Yet we have called Lord, Lord, throughout the ages and have not kept His commandments. A house divided against itself cannot stand. We Christians must become all for Christ or all for anti-Christ. For nineteen hundred years we have temporized between the two until anti-Christ arose and smote us in this present world-tragedy.

“I do not say these things in the way of criticism. I say them because they appear the profound truth. We have learned in this age that we get what we give, that there is no power over us that rules us to ends other than those we have shaped; that the things that have come into the world, that have manifested, are the results of the thoughts of the people in the world. This world war is the result of years and even centuries of fear, hatred, race antagonism and like negative things that people have held in their thoughts; and we shall have to work out of these things by changing our thoughts. There will be a new heaven and a new earth whenever there is a new thought of heaven and earth in the minds of men, and not before. That is the reason for the New Thought movement.

“I am asked often: What is the relation of this movement to the Church? What is its relation to the other new movements of the day?. I am going to answer these questions as far as I may with utter frankness.

“This is not a new religion. It is not an institution seeking to build itself up for the mere sake of the institution. We do not ask anybody to leave the Church–far from it. We have members of the Alliance, of the New Thought centres, that are members of churches and of no church. We ask them to become better members of their churches than before. The New Thought is designed to make people better and more efficient in whatever relation of life they may find themselves–if a man is a teacher, a soldier, or an accountant, to make him a better teacher, soldier, or accountant. It teaches him to depend upon his own inner powers. In his domestic relations, it makes him kindlier. If he is an American, it renders him a better American. It teaches him to fulfill the place he is given (whatever that place may be) to the utmost of his powers and without fear, knowing that he has nothing of which to be afraid and that within him are untapped levels of energy upon which he may call. In other words: ‘New Thought teaches men and women only the old common-sense doctrine of self-reliance, and belief in the integrity of the universe and of one’s own soul. It dignifies and ennobles manhood and womanhood.’

“But the main idea on which Christianity was founded is that of communion with God, that of worshipping God in spirit and in Truth. This is the very cornerstone of these modern movements that recognize men and women as the living temples of the God within. This thought has triumphed over all the centuries and over all the mistakes of the followers of the Nazarene-those who have called themselves by His name–until the Christian faith is the greatest upon the earth. And I predict that this new interpretation and new understanding will become universal in the new age that is now dawning; for, after all, as I see it, the New Thought is but the Christ Thought–without forms or ceremonies, without any appeal to religious prejudice or to tradition, but in the common-sense way of everyday living and application. It is the realization in practical affairs of the teachings not only of the Nazarene, but of every other great religious teacher since the world began; for in their essence these teachings are fundamentally alike; and the New Thought and other new spiritual movements are but the efforts to apply, in our relations one with another, these simple and sublime truths.

“Do not neglect the spiritual message that is coming to men everywhere. Woe be it to him that receives and does not heed. I am a busy man, as you have been told, but I have never been so busy that I could not find some time to devote to this work of my soul, work that my soul was called upon to do. Suppose Paul had neglected the heavenly vision–what a difference there would have been in civilization. Suppose Peter had turned back from Rome–think what that would have meant to all the western nations from that day to this! You cannot measure the possible effect of your failure to heed the still small voice. You do not know what seed you may sow, what work of reconstruction you can carry on. So my message to you tonight is very simple; it is this:

“The call is upon us, especially upon us, to carry forth Christ’s message to all peoples every where–one of us in one way and one in an other, but to each of us in the way for which he or she is best fitted. There could be no nobler work in the world; there could be no work that would more appeal to the highest and best in us. There could be no work more fruitful in spiritual blessing and in happiness here and now and always. Are we ready? This war will not last always. I am not one of those who prophesy when it will end–I do not know. I think it will end when the forces of democracy get enough men to the front to end it. That may be next year, it may be later. I am only sure of one thing, and I am as sure of that as I am that there is a quick intelligence and a benevolent intelligence over all the affairs of men–i am sure it will end right. The world has seen dark days since the dawning of time, but it has never seen any great struggle in which moral principles were involved that right did not ultimately triumph, and right will ultimately triumph now and in all the affairs of men. I am sure of one other thing–that the general broad principles taught by Jesus of Nazareth, which have become the foundation of our civilization, are the cornerstone of democracy, good government, humanitarianism and of all the things for which we stand–I am sure that these principles will triumph over all lands, and it is for you and me, my friends, to assist in their triumph. When this war is over, people will bring this new truth, which is the old truth of the Nazarene, to England, to France, to Belgium, to assist not alone in preaching–that is a small part of it (Jesus spent very little time preaching–He spent most of His time doing good). But to heal, to reconstruct, to spread the message of brotherhood –to teach the Truth.

“I expect a response from Boston, which is the birthplace of this movement and other movements of kindred character. I expect that the people of Boston will lead in this work and that the International Alliance will take practical steps towards this goal that will not end in mere talk. I am not seeking to be eloquent tonight, but I am seeking to bring home to you the necessity, the crying necessity, when this war is over, to send our missionaries to every country and to start centres in all the world–to take the message to every land under the sun, to help the reconstruction and healing of the nations, to bring in the new age of which we have preached–the founding of God’s kingdom on earth.”

Chapter 11

* * * * *
A History of The New Thought Movement

Free Online Book by Horatio Dresser
Return to Index

Copyright © 2007 - 2024 The Piscean-Aquarian Ministry for New Thought, and Respective Authors. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.