Thursday, March 25, 2010

Silas Lamson (1778-1855) Lunatic or Fanatic?

Silas Lamson and Susan Goodnow had 11 children. Ward Lamson, the patriarch of Fairfield Iowa was the 8th child. After Silas lost 4 children to diptheria he became passionate to communicate his "firmness of purpose to unveil and ridicule all that he deemed ridiculous in law, custom and religion", preaching his beliefs wherever he could.  Had he lived fifty years earlier his orthodox forefathers would have hung or burned him at the stake. Silas did not approve of government oversight and as such he was routinely placed in jail for failing to pay his tithes, and finally, due to his constant preaching, was condemned to the Worchester and Brattleboro asylums "to be treated for insanity and uncustomary methods of dispensing his sentiments" for a period of six years.

The asylum superintendants, who beieved that Silas was a fanatic liberal, frequently would let Silas out, and when questioned Silas would reply "The angels let him out".

Finally, when the supporters of church and state orthodoxy made their last effort to return him to the asylum, liberal thinking men headed by Ralph Waldo Emerson, made up a purse for his defense.  The resulting lawsuit ended in a court decision that proclaimed his incarceration as a lunatic was illegal.

What do you think?  Lunatic or fanatic liberal? 

It does explain why his son, Ward Lamson's favorite author was Ralph Waldo Emerson.