Joined: 09 Feb 2007
|Posted: Tue May 17, 2016 8:34 pm Post subject: The Thirteen ( of ) Club (s)
|The ( 19c American ) Thirteen Club
" In the 1880s, the Thirteen Club was created to debunk the superstition of "13 at a table" being unlucky. This belief states that when 13 people are seated together at a table, one will die within a year. They met on the 13th of the month for a dinner served to 13 people at each table. ... By 1887, the Thirteen Club was 400-strong, over time gaining five U.S. Presidents as honorary members: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. ... The "13 at a table" superstition may take its origin from The Last Supper wherein 13 people dined (Jesus and his twelve disciples) and Jesus died soon after, or from the Valhalla Banquet story in Norse mythology. That story tells about 12 gods invited to a banquet. Loki, making thirteen, intrudes and Balder, the favourite of the gods, is killed.
In New York at the December 13, 1886 meeting of the Thirteen Club, Robert Green Ingersoll ended his toast, " The Superstitions of Public Men " -
“ We have had enough mediocrity, enough policy, enough superstition, enough prejudice, enough provincialism, and the time has come for the American citizen to say: " Hereafter I will be represented by men who are worthy, not only of the great Republic, but of the Nineteenth Century. "
" ... The whole thing was centered around flouting superstition. To this end, the attendees passed under a ladder and consumed their thirteen courses (including a coffin-shaped lobster salad) under a banner reading “Morituri te Salutamus.” ... a year later the club secretary reported that, “out of the entire roll of membership … whether they have participated or not at the banquet table, NOT A SINGLE MEMBER IS DEAD, or has even had a serious illness. On the contrary, so far as can be learned, the members during the past twelve months have been exceptionally healthy and fortunate.” ... it seems appropriate to pay tribute to the spirit of Fowler’s aggressive rationality—whether that means smashing a mirror, molding some lobster salad into the shape of a coffin, or just sitting around, congratulating yourself on not being dead. ... "
" ... Captain William Fowler (1827-1897), a gregarious man about town, was the thirteenth member of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, one of 13 secret and social organizations to which he belonged. In his youth he attended Manhattan’s Public School No. 13, naturally graduating at the age of thirteen. Later employed as a builder, he erected thirteen structures in New York. On April 13, 1861 he went to Washington at the head of 100 Union volunteers, and fought in thirteen battles of the Civil War. He resigned his commission on August 13, 1863, and on September 13 of that year bought a popular watering hole on Sixth Avenue at 28th Street, the Knickerbocker Cottage (he eventually sold it on Friday, April 13, 1883). Since 13 ran inextricably through his life without ill consequence, Fowler championed the cause of the bedraggled number by forming a supper club in its honor. ... "
“ Morituri te Salutamus ! ” = " Those of us who are about to die salute you ! " = " None of us are about to die - so none of us salute you ! "
The ( 18c London ) Thirteen Club
David Williams (1738 – 29 June 1816), was a Welsh philosopher of the Enlightenment period. He was an ordained minister, theologian and political polemicist, and was the founder in 1788 of the Royal Literary Fund. ... Williams' views were unconventional, largely thanks to his four years study at Carmarthen Academy, and he was regarded as a Deist. ... With the co-operation of John Lee, a proposal was set on foot for opening a chapel in London with an expurgated prayer-book. Williams was to draw attention to the plan through the public papers. His communications to the Public Advertiser republished as Essays on Public Worship, Patriotism, and Projects of Reformation, 1773, were so deistic in tone as to put an end to the scheme. ...
... In 1774 Benjamin Franklin 'took refuge from a political storm' in Williams's house, and became interested in his method of teaching arithmetic. Franklin joined a small club formed at Chelsea by Williams, the manufacturer Thomas Bentley (partner of Josiah Wedgwood), and James "Athenian" Stuart. At this club Williams broached the scheme of a society for relieving distressed authors, which Franklin did not encourage him to pursue. It was noted at the club that most of the members, though 'good men', yet 'never went to church'. Franklin regretted the want of 'a rational form of devotion'. To supply this, Williams, with aid from Franklin, drew up a form. It was printed six times before it satisfied its projectors, and was eventually published as A Liturgy on the Universal Principles of Religion and Morality, 1776. It does not contain his reduction of the creed to one article, 'I believe in God. Amen'. ...
... On 7 April 1776, Williams opened for morning service a vacant chapel near Cavendish Square (the building was replaced in 1858 by All Saints, Margaret Street), using his liturgy, and reading lectures, with texts usually from the Bible, sometimes from classic authors. He got 'about a score of auditors', who seem to have been persons of distinction. The opening lecture was published. Copies of the liturgy were sent to Frederick the Great and to Voltaire, who returned appreciative letters in bad French and good English respectively. International botanical travellers Sir Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander 'now and then peeped into the chapel, and got away as fast as they decently could'. ... Somerville's further statement that the 'dispersion of his flock' was due to Williams's 'immorality' becoming 'notorious' seems a groundless slander. No hint of it is conveyed in the satiric lampoon Orpheus, Priest of Nature 1781, which affirms, on the contrary, that Williams's principles were too strict for his hearers. The appellation 'Priest of Nature' is said to have been first given him by Franklin; 'Orpheus' ascribes it to 'a Socratic woollen-draper of Covent Garden'. Gregoire affirms that he had it from Williams that a number of his followers passed from deism to atheism. ...
WILLIAMS , DAVID ( 1738 - 1816 ), littérateur and political pamphleteer ; b. in 1738 at Waunwaelod (later the Carpenters’ Arms ), in the parish of Eglwysilan , near the Watford chapel , on a by-road between Caerphilly and Cardiff . His father was William David (b. at Llwynybarcud , in the parish of Llanharry ). He was educated at a school kept in the neighbourhood by his namesake, David Williams ( 1709 - 1784 ) (q.v.) , Dissenting minister of the Trinity chapel , Womanby Street , Cardiff , and of Watford chapel . ...
... His writings had attracted the attention of Benjamin Franklin , who, on one occasion, ‘ took refuge from a political storm ’ in Williams 's house in Chelsea . Together they formed the ‘ Thirteen Club ,’ a group of deists for whom Williams produced A Liturgy on the Universal Principles of Religion and Morality , 1776 . This received eulogies from Frederick II , Voltaire , and Rousseau . On its appearance Williams institute’ a ‘ cult of nature ’ in a chapel in Margaret Street , Cavendish Square . But Franklin had returned to America , and many of the worshippers lapsed into atheism, so that the experiment was a failure. ... Williams wrote Letters on Political Liberty , 1782 , in defence of the American colonists, advocating a very radical programme of political reform. These were translated into French by Brissot and established his reputation in France . In Oct. 1792 , he was made a French citizen and was invited to Paris to assist in drawing up a Girondist project of a constitution . He remained in Paris from early Dec. 1792 to early Feb. 1793 , and on his return was entrusted by the French foreign minister , Le Brun , with overtures for peace. ... He visited France after the Peace of Amiens , apparently at the request of the British government , and produced a manuscript report on the state of public opinion with regard to Bonaparte .
Encyclopedia of American Religion and Politics - By Paul A. Djupe, Laura R. Olson
Joanne Tetlow - Benjamin Franklin : statesman, scientist and writer
" ... Also Franklin was a member of The Thirteen Club, a group of Deists who published The Liturgy on The Universal Principles of Religion and Morality ( 1776 ) espousing an approach to worship that was indisputable and thus universal. The purpose of The Liturgy was to create " a form of social worship composed of the most enlarged and general principles, in which all men may join who acknowledge the existence of a supreme Intelligence and the universal obligations of morality, and among such men are included Jews, Christians and Mohammedans." ... Franklin resisted the theological dogmatism of orthodox believers; however he supported organized religion as a necessary influence upon society. One scholar has noted that " The paradox in Franklin's religious life is that he completely disbelieved Christianity ; yet he was attracted by it as a system of worship, and he enjoyed the company of clergymen of all faiths." Not particularly known for his personal piety because of his self-confessed indulgence in wine and women, Franklin still emphasised the " doing good to others " aspect of Christian belief. ... Identifying the laws of nature with Christianity was completely orthodox to Franklin. ... Christensen sums up Franklin's religious ideas as belief in " A benevolent God, a life of morality, a belief in Jesus as a supreme law-giver rather than as the incarnate son of God, and a belief in the inherent goodness of man."
Last edited by dai on Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:47 pm; edited 1 time in total