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Andrews, Stephen Pearl (1812-1886)

Essayist, Lawyer, Lecturer, Reformer

Born in Templeton, Massachusetts Stephen Pearl Andrews was the youngest of eight born to renowned Baptist clergyman and revivalist, Elisha Andrews. Often referred to as "Pearl" by his family and friends, "Andrews was a passionate publicist for nearly every cause of the mid-nineteenth-century reform era--abolition, phonology, universal language, Fourierism, individualist anarchism, phrenology, spiritualism, women's rights, free love, hydrotherapy, communism, temperance, and Swedenborgianism--not to mention his own original contributions to the ferment, Pantarchy and Universology" (P. Wilson). He was a fierce supporter of the abolitionist movement; as a child he helped four runaway slaves find shelter with his family, telling his mother, "These are my brothers" (P. Wilson). After graduating from Amherst College, Andrews moved to New Orleans to practice law. It was in New Orleans that Andrews found stability as a lawyer and experienced a growing unpopularity due to his passionate devotion as an abolitionist.

In 1839 he traveled to Texas and convinced several wealthy slave-holders that "they would become rapidly rich from the sale of land if immigration were induced by throwing the country open to free labor" (Wilson & Fiske 76). Unfortunately, this attempt to convince the slave-holders ended with Andrews being driven out of Texas by a Houston mob (Lause 27). Andrews's abolitionist cause took him to England, where he discovered the system of phonology and came to view it as an ideal tool for giving slaves the power of literacy. He returned to the United States in 1845 and published The Complete Phonographic Class-Book, Containing a Strictly Inductive Exposition of Pitman's Phonography, Adapted as a System of Phonetic Short Hand to the English Language; Especially Intended as a School Book, and to Afford the Fullest Instruction to Those Who Have Not the Assistance of the Living Teacher , which "introduced phonology to the United States" (P. Wilson).

Andrews moved to New York City in 1847 where his various attempts to promote phonology eventually failed, and he was hired by Horace Greeley to cover senatorial news for the New York Tribune (P. Wilson). But only a few years later, Andrews and Greeley would clash over Andrews' anarchistic/utopian ideology. In 1851 Andrews helped create a "village founded on the principles of Equitable Commerce and unfettered Individuality" called Modern Times (P. Wilson). The community supported total freedom for all, and was harshly criticized by moral reformers of the time, including Greeley: "Andrews engaged in public debate on the subject with Horace Greeley and Henry James Sr. (the Swedenborgian/Fourierist father of the novelist) in the letters column of the New York Tribune ; the letters--including several long Andrusian screeds that Greeley had refused to print--appeared as Love, Marriage and Divorce, edited by Andrews" (P. Wilson). The Modern Times community disbanded in 1857 and its name was changed to Brentwood in 1864.

While his attendance of Pfaff’s is uncertain, Mark Lause speculates that other radical Pfaffians, namely Henry Clapp, may have brought Andrews and Albert Brisbane into the cellar’s interior (49). Andrews was also familiar with Ada Clare, calling her “a spark from the divine fire, the over soul” (55). If not placed directly within the walls of the beer-cellar, Andrews did associate with Henry Clapp’s circle of friends and radicals. Lause also comments that Andrews was a common visitor of Ned Underhill’s Unitary Household on Stuyvesant Street. It was here that Underhill’s “weekly gatherings drew ‘an average attendance of eighty to ninety persons.’ Various sources mention the presence of Henry Clapp, Albert Brisbane, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Marx Edgeworth Lazarus, Marie Stevens, Edward Howland, and others” (66).

In 1855 Andrews started another communal experiment, a "Brownstone Utopia" or "Unitary Home," in New York City. "In effect, this home was a sort of communal hotel or boardinghouse for Individual Sovereigns--such as an apostate monk, a homeopathic physician, an opera baritone, and many authors, including . . . the poet Edmund Clarence Stedman" (P. Wilson). Andrews also garnered attention for his support of female suffrage and his work to make Victoria Woodhull a candidate for President of the United States of America.

In the final years of his life, Andrews published in journals like Popular Science News and The Truth Seeker . In 1882 he organized several meetings "known as the Colloquium, for the interchange of ideas between men of the utmost diversity of religious, philosophical, and political views" (Wilson & Fiske 76). Andrews died on May 21, 1886. His loss was deeply felt by his friends and disciples who believed that "More mental force went out with him than is left in any one person on the planet," but outside of this small circle, Andrews was quickly forgotten (P. Wilson).