Publisher: Philadelphia, 1820-28.
Condition: In fine condition.
Book ID: 27393
DescriptionThree holograph letters signed by Gates as the "Editors of the Reformer," four manuscript receipts in Gates' hand, one signed, and one printed prospectus, with Gates' manuscript note in the margin.
CommentsTheophilus Ransom Gates (1787-1846) was a self-styled visionary, itinerant preacher, author, utopian and advocate for free love and birth control, who published his memoirs and collected writings by age 30. Driven by unconventional religious beliefs, Gates collaborated with Philadelphia printer Joseph Rakestraw in 1820 to establish a radical monthly newspaper called The Reformer. It was anti-organized religion as represented by Lyman Beecher and others, who Gates maintained were attempting to take over the country in the name of religion. The prospectus, dated December 1823, states “The design of this work is to expose the clerical schemes and pompous undertakings of the present day, under the pretense of promoting religion, and to show that they are irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the Gospel.” Gates believed the missionaries and theological seminaries were out for themselves and power. The Reformer “will not be made an instrument for advancing the views or interests of any, but rebuking evils wherever met with.” The correspondence and receipts in this small archive are all to a Jonathan Mabbett of Troy, New York, who was a subscriber and who apparently also sold subscriptions for The Reformer. The correspondence concerns the price of subscriptions and distribution, and offers interesting insight into how Gates was managing and distributing his newspaper. We could not locate any other autograph material by Gates or about The Reformer.