WAYS:Spirit
 

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I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine how this account proceeds. By November of 1849 the sisters were giving public lectures at Rochester’s Corinthean Hall and in early June of 1850 they had made their much-anticipated way to New York City where on the night of June 4th Greeley attended one of their first performances in a room at the Barnum hotel.  A first hand account of the events of that evening appeared in the center of the front page of the Tribune the next day. 

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Thanks to Greeley the Fox sisters and Spiritualism or Spiritism gained instant mass appeal. It cannot be forgotten that these remarkable events took place at the Barnum Hotel and that when demand became too great for the intimacy of hotel rooms the sisters quickly found themselves back on the stages of the lecture circuit with P.T. doing much of the booking.  However, mediums and Spiritualism were not taken simply as amusement rather for many they became intimately tied to the need for radical change including the abolition of slavery and the extension of women’s rights. What made Spiritualism so appealing was its ability to literally transcend differences of race, gender, and religion along with time, space and mortality. That this ability was most often manifest in women further served to establish a sphere neither private nor entirely public, in which they had privileged, unique and professional access.  So while Marx was struggling to turn the relationship of spirit and matter on its head in Europe, it seems that many American reformers aided by his own editor were flirting with Spirits whose manifestations would in a little more than century’s time become the template for our time’s most famous cinematic head turner.