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  M & S Library Number: 6371

    The Battle Axe Letter: Probably the Most Important Incident in the History of Perfectionism & the Free Love Movement


    (ONEIDA.). NOYES, JOHN H. (Editor). THE WITNESS. Putney, Vt: January 23, 1839. Quarto. Pages [49]-56. Uncut, as issued. Fine. $200.00


    J.H. Noyes' complete account of the publication of the "Battle Axe Letter, a privately written letter from him to a friend in 1837 which was published by T.R. Gates in The Battle Axe, without Noyes' knowledge or permission, wherein Noyes advocated neither a plurality of wives nor a community of wives, but a nullity of wives. Rumor attributed the letter to Noyes' partner James Boyle, co-publisher of The Perfectionist. Feeling the unfairness of this, Noyes acknowledged authorship at the cost of subscribers and converts. In March of 1838, Harriet Holton, of nearby Westminster, Vermont sent money which enabled Noyes to pay his board and his printers. In June Noyes sent Miss Holton a wedding proposal which was at least as unusual as the Battle Axe letter itself. That same month they were married, honeymooning in Albany where they bought printing equipment and learned to set type. The issue of The Witness we offer, printed by them, tells the entire story, including the strange proposal by Noyes to Harriet Holton, responses from other periodicals, and an extract from Noyes' The Way of Holiness, published in 1838. The paper is held by few institutions.


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