Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910) known to contemporaries as ‘the Poughkeepsie seer’ and later referred to as the ‘John the Baptist of Modern Spiritualism’ because he ‘definitively proclaimed the coming revelation of Spirit communion’ when he foretold the activity of the Fox Sisters.
As a child Andrew was sickly as a result of being run over by a cart. His father thought he would never amount to anything because of the weakness this had caused, although his mother was more supportive. The family had financial difficulties and moved home several times, adding to his difficulties.
Andrew from an early age had heard voices but it was not until he had been exposed to mesmerism that his clairvoyant and spiritual abilities manifested fully. He was able to work with doctors as a medical clairvoyant, although later in life he went to a medical school to authenticate his gifts.
His greatest gift, however, was that of trance speaking, although for a while he had to be mesmerised to go into trance state. in trance, though, he could discuss intellectual concepts as an equal with the eminent scientists and philosophers of the day. At the age of 19 he dictated ‘The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations’ while in trance. It was the first book of Spiritualist philosophy, an amalgam of science and spirituality. Among over 30 books he produced were an autobiography, ‘The Magic Staff’ and books about the afterlife, medicine and cosmology.
Despite his father’s poor opinion of his prospects, Andrew was an important medium in the eyes of President Lincoln, who was known to attend seances. The two had the same ideas about society, liberty and justice and some civil war documents suggest that Davis may have had some influence with Lincoln.
In 1865 Davis opened the first Spiritualists’ Lyceum, educating children in the way he had learned children were taught in the Spirit world. Lyceums were opened in America and England and played a big part in the development of the Movement, although, regrettably the Lyceum movement in Britain has declined.