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73 – John Murray Spear & The New Motive Power Part I: Big John

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This week we begin our look at a man named John Murray Spear, a 19th century Universalist preacher, abolitionist, prison reformer, and rabble rouser who worked himself into madness and left all that to build a mechanical golem to house the spirit of God with the help of the ghost of Ben Franklin. And many other dead founding fathers. But all that is next week. This week we learn about John Murray Spear’s ceaseless efforts first on behalf of the abolition movement in the 1840’s in which he personally gamed the legal system to secure the freedom of enslaved people and made a bunch of enemies, and then on behalf of the prison reform movement in which he personally paid the bail for prisoners who had no other options to fall back on, made sure the stories and names of the condemned were remembered, and subjected himself to the conditions of 19th century American prisons. We also learn about the backdrop of the growing spiritualist movement, which provided the warm embrace of love & light & madness that John Murray Spear fall into once he worked himself into burnout.

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