Alexander Wilder (1823-1908)

Alexander Wilder (1823-1908) Alexander Wilder (1823-1908) was a ‘… pioneer of holistic medicine, helped Madame Blavatsky finish her classic book Isis Unveiled.  As a young man he was a member of the notorious Oneida [community]. As a politician and journalist he fought against slavery then helped kick Boss Tweed out of New York.  He lectured at the famous New England Transcendentalist Concord School of Philosophy… he somehow found the time to write, edit and translate articles on esoteric subjects like alchemy, Neoplatonism, and the dynasties of ancient Egypt, for dozens of publications over almost sixty years…’

Alexander Wilder was the President of the Eclectic Medical Society of the State of New York, and co-editor of their journal The Medical Eclectic. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York Homeopathic Medical College (Anon, The North American Journal of Homeopathy, Volume 18, (American Medical Union, 1870). Page 267 and page 278). He was also an Honorary Member of the Eclectic Medical Societies of Illinois, Michigan, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and an Honorary Fellow of the Anthropological Society of Liverpool, England.

Alexander Wilder wrote extensively about esoteric subjects, and he was a member of the Rosicrucian Council of Three,  (https://www.soul.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=147), and he was also a member of the Rosicrucian Council of Seven (H. Spencer Lewis, Complete History of the Rosicrucian Order, (Book Tree, 1 Dec 2006). Page 146 onwards), as was Ethan Allen Hitchcock, and Paschal Beverly Randolph.

All these three men knew English homeopath and Swedenborgian James John Garth WilkinsonEthan Allen Hitchcock was introduced to the works of Emanuel Swedenborg via Sophia Peabody, the wife of Nathaniel HawthorneSophia Peabody was a patient of James John Garth Wilkinson. ‘… It was Sophia who had a ‘private talk with the Hermetic Philosopher’ on 14th August 1863…’ (Arthur Versluis Associate Professor of American Thought and Language Michigan State University, The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance, (Oxford University Press, 16 Feb 2001). Page 82).

Alexander Wilder was a close friend of James John Garth Wilkinson and is listed in both of his address books at 5 North 11th Street, Newark, New Jersey – entries dated 30.7.1895 (Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson dated 1895. See also Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson ‘Where is it’ dated 1.10.1892.). James John Garth Wilkinson and Alexander Wilder were both ardent crusaders for the anti compulsory vaccination campaign (William White, The Story of a great delusion in a series of matter-of-fact chapters, (E.W. Allen, 1885). Multiple pages).

In 1883 when Wilder’s friend Hiram K. Jones became President of the American Akademe, Wilder was made Vice President. Hiram K. Jones was also a close friend of James John Garth Wilkinson, who wrote ‘… Dr. H K Jones is one of my most revered friends. He is the centre of a school of Spiritual Platonists…’ Hiram K. Jones’s name is also in James John Garth Wilkinson‘s address book at Jacksonville Illinois USA (Swedenborg Archive K125 [44] letter dated 5.8.1893 from Garth Wilkinson to John Marten. See also Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson dated 1895).

A biography of Alexander Wilder is in Howard Atwood Kelly, A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography: Comprising the Lives of Eminent Deceased Physicians and Surgeons from 1610 to 1910, (W.B. Saunders Company, 1920). Page 1235. See also Dale R. Congdon, A Leland journey: an historic account of the Elder John Leland and Lemuel Leland families, with excursions into the lives of the families Case, Goodwin, Nickerson, Noble, Powell, and Wilder, (Dale R. Congdon, 1998). Multiple pages).

From: http://www.soul.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=147‘… Physician, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, Medical iconoclast, neo-Platonist, friend of man, Philosophic Initiate and Member of the Council of Three… Before Wilder had reached the age of twenty he had become acquainted with the Hermetic Initiate, Ethan Allen Hitchcock, then Commandant of the Cadets at West Point, and became thoroughly imbued in the Arcane…’ From 1850 onwards, Alexander Wilder became acquainted with Paschal Beverly Randolph‘… In 1852 he became assistant editor of the Syracuse Star and later was on the staff of the Syracuse Journal… In 1854 he was appointed clerk in the newly created state department of public instruction and for some time he edited the College Review and the New York Teacher. In 1857 he moved to New York City, where for thirteen years he held a position on the editorial staff of The New York Evening Post. All this time he was engaged in research in the Arcane on the one hand, and practice of its teachings on the other… In 1869 he published New Platonism and Alchemy… He was now recognized as an authority on the subject… He now felt ready and sufficiently strong to engage in a crusade he felt called upon by God. The Light had shown him prior to 1848, that it was unholy to desecrate the body by the use of animal products such as pus used in vaccination, and he started on his mission by founding the County Botanical Medical Society, and in 1869 he became president of the New York State Eclectic Medical Society, a branch of the National Eclectic Society Eclectic Medical College formed to promote botanic [Nature’s] medicine. He founded and was president of the of New York from 1867 to 1877… During the period between 186o and 1878 he was engaged in a bitter fight against compulsory vaccination, called by him “animal pollution,” evil if man accepted it of his own free will, but unbearable when enforced. At times the fight waxed so bitter that partisans of the practice waited for him when he tried to leave his home and stoned him. Nevertheless, having both political and organization ability, he employed both in his fight—His heart and soul (not mere belief) being in it. His reputation was such in finances (though not possessed of money or property) and in political science, while on the Staff of The Evening Post, that he was elected an Alderman of New York in 1871 on an anti-Tweed ticket… Wilder became a member of the Council of Seven under Randolph… and [he] became a member of the Council of Three under our tenure of office in 1907…

 

These excerpts are from http://newtopiamagazine.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/the-eclectic-life-of-alexander-wilder-alchemical-generals-isis-unveiled-and-early-american-holistic-medicine/ Written by Ronnie Pontiac !Brilliant biography – I recommend people to read the complete article! Alexander Wilder (1823-1908) … Born in New England in 1823 to a family that left Lancaster, England in 1638 to settle in Massachusetts Bay Colony, Alexander Wilder grew up on a farm…

Thanks to his [disabled] brother, the fifteen-year-old Wilder became teacher in the one room schoolhouse where he had been a student… [against his own wishes] became a Presbyterian of the New School. But Alick didn’t want to be a preacher.  He wanted to be a doctor… Wilder’s spiritual yearnings now took over from his restless search for a career… ‘… Prompted by a lady who had been one of my teachers in boyhood, I procured and read with interest the philosophical and theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg.” 

But in this biographical sketch Wilder leaves out perhaps the most disturbing community that entangled him. According to his own affidavit, in winter of 1842, eighteen-year-old Wilder joined the Calvinist Perfectionist community, where he lived in the house of John Noyes, the founder of the Oneida community… The founder of Oneida, John Humphrey Noyes, is generally credited with being the first American to put free in front of love.  Free love was a scandalous but popular subject in America at the time… The founder of Oneida’s father was a businessman, an openly agnostic teacher, and an elected member of the House of Representatives… As for Wilder, he didn’t last long at Oneida, perhaps not surprisingly, he also became an advocate of celibacy… In an affidavit on Noyes, Wilder testified: “I know him to be a despot – an ambitious self-seeker – and my horror of him is as intense as my horror of a venomous serpent… ‘

After Oneida, Wilder worked at farming and typesetting, reading medicine with local physicians, until in 1850 Syracuse Medical College gave him a diploma. In 1853 he became [a journalist and editor]  The American Institute of Homeopathy released a series of pamphlets written by him… 

Among Wilder’s other extraordinary friends was General Ethan Allen Hitchcock, the Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen’s grandson… During the Civil War, Hitchcock served in the Department of War as a major general. Wilder met Hitchcock through a mutual friend, a bookseller, who arranged the meeting for Wilder who was a fan of Hitchcock’s books, including Swedenborg a Hermetic Philosopher (1858), and The Story of the Red Book of Appin (1863) where Hitchcock shared his theories about alchemical metaphors in fairy tales. 

In 1857 Hitchcock had anonymously published Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists, which anticipated [Carl Gustav] Jung by almost a hundred years in the theory that alchemical language was actually a symbolic code for spiritual experiences.  Hitchcock argued that the alchemical mercury was the human conscience.  Until the conscience is awakened the alembic (human being) contains only base metals (ignorant suffering).  Hitchcock wrote that fire and sulphur were alchemical symbols for conscience because conscience burns until what is left is pure.  The gold conscience gives us is a spiritually aware soulful life.  Wilder based his own 1869 work Alchemy or the Hermetic Philosophy on Hitchcock’s book. At the beginning of the Civil War, Hitchcock sold his library to the great regret of Wilder who hated to see such a comprehensive collection scattered to the four corners of the world…

From 1860 to 1878 Wilder fought against mandatory vaccinations.  He thought better methods could be achieved to inoculate the masses than what he dismissed as “animal poisons.”  Ex-mayor HavemeyerHorace Greeley, and other powerful notables decided New York City needed an Eclectic Medical College.  They turned to Wilder to prepare the charter.  Just after the Civil War ended in 1865 he pushed the charter through the legislature despite the opposition of traditional doctors.  Wilder was the right man in the right place at the right time.  A friend of the governor, he knew every member of the legislature personally.  They all knew him to be an honest, intelligent man, a true man of integrity.  Wilder had a logical answer to every protest the old school doctors could summon.  Besides, after five years of Civil War the United States needed as much medicine as it could get.  The college was established…

In 1906, less than two years before his death Wilder wrote in Metaphysical Magazine: “We have shown the power of imagination to occasion disease and death. There is such a thing as destroying individuals by mental operation… He describes a condition, which is both psychic and psychological when he writes: “The conception of evil which exists in the mind of the one may be instilled into the other, and produce disorder and mischief.  There is a killing with kindness as well as with malice.  In daily life there are so many injured and even driven to actual death by overmuch anxiety and carefulness, that there is much need also to acquire what we may call the knack of wholesome neglect. Take away from individuals the consciousness of being constantly watched for slips of misconduct or bodily infirmity. We should keep carefully out of our thoughts the notion that this person or that is ill or liable to become so: lest we inoculate him with the same impression, and so create the very condition which we are seeking to avoid.”… 

Wilder was proud of his low profile.  Few of his colleagues in the political, journalistic, and medical worlds knew about his occult interests.  He took no extraordinary measures, relying instead on his flurry of activity and the fact that the friends who respected his esoteric learning rarely overlapped with his friends in public life.  His contributions to the Transactions of the Eclectic Medical Society of the State of New York, where amid the exchange of cures and medical tips could be found Wilder’s writing about Plotinus and Alchemy, illustrate how his esoteric interests could be considered scholarly, and how expert he was at framing respectable contexts and legitimizing them with historical precedents.

But then Madame Blavatsky entered his life, book first [1879].  “On a pleasant afternoon, in early autumn,” Wilder writes, “I was alone in the house. The bell was rung, and I answered at the door. Colonel Henry S. Olcott was there with an errand to myself. I did not recognize him, as I had never had any occasion to make his acquaintance, but he having had some governmental business with one of my employers several years before, had known me ever since. He had never suspected, however, that I took any interest whatever in unusual subjects; so completely successful had I been in keeping myself unknown even to those who from daily association imagined that they knew me very thoroughly. A long service in journalism, familiar relations with public men, and active participation in political matters, seemed to have shut out from notice an ardent passion for mystic speculation, and the transcendental philosophy.” 

Why had Colonel Henry S. Olcott rung the bell?  “He had been referred to me by Mr. Bouton.”  Wilder worked for J.W. Bouton as an editor, proofreader (for English and Hebrew) and expert on esoteric subjects… Madame Blavatsky was pleased by the results…

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated Colonel Henry S. Olcott was part of the investigation team.  In 1868 he began a law practice.  By 1874 he was exploring the seances that were popping up everywhere…  1879 was also the year that Wilder met General Abner Doubleday, a prominent member of Madame Blavatsky’s New York circle… When General Abner Doubleday died in 1893, Wilder, seventy years old, took on the task of writing an introduction and annotations for General Abner Doubleday’s translation of Transcendental Magic by the Parisian magus Eliphas Levi...

In 1882 Wilder gave lectures at Amos Bronson Alcott’s Concord School of Philosophy.  As the titles of just a few of Wilder’s hundreds of lectures there and nearly anywhere proves he was expert on many subjects…

In 1883 when Wilder’s friend Hiram K. Jones, a popular lecturer nicknamed “The American Plato” became president of the American Akademe, Wilder was made vice president… ‘  These excerpts are from http://newtopiamagazine.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/the-eclectic-life-of-alexander-wilder-alchemical-generals-isis-unveiled-and-early-american-holistic-medicine/ Written by Ronnie Pontiac – !Brilliant biography – I recommend people to read the complete article!

 

From https://www.soul.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=147 ‘…  Alexander Wilder, Physician, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, Medical iconoclast, neo-Platonist, friend of man, Philosophic Initiate and Member of the Council of Three, was born in Verona, New York, May 14,1823. He was the son of Abel and Asenath [Smith] Wilder. Both parents were old American stock, the Wilder ancestry going back to Thomas Wilder who came from England to Massachusetts Bay in 1640, and, imbued with the almost fanatical belief in the right of man to freedom, both religious and civil, conveyed this idea and desire to his son. 

Wilder was brought up on his father’s farm, was educated in the common school and himself became a country school teacher at the boyhood age of fifteen… Before Wilder had reached the age of twenty he had become acquainted with the Hermetic Initiate, Ethan Allen Hitchcock, then Commandant of the Cadets at West Point, and became thoroughly imbued in the Arcane. In 1846, when but twenty-three, he published his first treatise, a pamphlet entitled The Secret Immortality Revealed, Mystical in nature and showing the tendency of his nature. His progress in the Arcane was rapid and he prepared himself for the work he contemplated doing, a work to free men from the many forms of slavery which permitted man little choice of action, even as it concerned his own person.

For a time Wilder supported himself by farming, teaching and typesetting. During this period he also taught himself Latin, Greek and Hebrew so well that in later years he was recognized as a finished scholar in these languages. To his studies of Alchemical writings he added those of neo-Platonism in which in later years he was accepted as an authority. As an Initiate of the Arcane, a Light as from heaven—possibly the same Light that descended upon Paracelsus—came upon him, and pointed out to him that the person of man, created in the image of god, by god, was Holy and Sacred and should not be either defiled or polluted; that the practice in medicine of attempting to prevent or cure diseases by means of injecting or transmitting vile animal serums was wholly against the Divine Law and, man being a free agent, should not only protest against it, but be willing to give his life in defence of his person against such pollution. 

This was, of course, fully in harmony with the teachings of all who had followed the Biblical injunction “to seek the kingdom of heaven” and “become the Sons of God,” free from all evil, though few had gone as far as Wilder in accepting this dictate as an absolute Law to be obeyed though it meant revilement and imprisonment. In order to be free from such pollution and independent of doctors in matters of health, he, under the guidance of a local physician, took up the study of medicine and became so engrossed in it that he pursued it whole-heartedly and whole-Soul-ed-ly, as he did all things in which he was interested, and, having finished this study under proper guidance and instruction, was granted a degree by the Syracuse Medical College in 1850.

After graduation, and in order to be more fully prepared for the work he intended to do, he both studied and lectured on Anatomy and Chemistry in that College. While in Syracuse he became acquainted with young Randolph and was introduced into as much of the Asian [Ansaireh] Mystery as was then known to Randolph. This acquaintance and further study under Randolph later, bore fruit in the work he did in editing Ancient Symbol Worship; Serpent and Siva Worship; The Origin of Serpent Worship, and The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries. 

In 1852 he became assistant editor of the Syracuse Star and later was on the staff of the Syracuse Journal. In all of this he was following a carefully outlined plan as will be seen later. In 1854 he was appointed clerk in the newly created state department of public instruction and for some time he edited the College Review and the New York Teacher.

In 1857 he moved to New York City, where for thirteen years he held a position on the editorial staff of The New York Evening Post. All this time he was engaged in research in the Arcane on the one hand, and practice of its teachings on the other, no other Neophyte ever holding himself to as strict a regime as did this man who believed in thorough preparation.

In 1869 he published New Platonism and Alchemy, a right-from-the-heart biographical and expository study of the Neo-Platonists. He was now recognized as an authority on the subject. He now felt ready and sufficiently strong to engage in a crusade he felt called upon by God. The Light had shown him prior to 1848, that it was unholy to desecrate the body by the use of animal products such as pus used in vaccination, and he started on his mission by founding the County Botanical Medical Society, and in 1869 he became president of the New York State Eclectic Medical Society, a branch of the National Eclectic Society Eclectic Medical College formed to promote botanic [Nature’s] medicine. He founded and was president of the of New York State Eclectic Medical Society from 1867 to 1877.

During the period between 186o and 1878 he was engaged in a bitter fight against compulsory vaccination, called by him “animal pollution,” evil if man accepted it of his own free will, but unbearable when enforced. At times the fight waxed so bitter that partisans of the practice waited for him when he tried to leave his home and stoned him. Nevertheless, having both political and organization ability, he employed both in his fight—His heart and soul (not mere belief) being in it. His reputation was such in finances (though not possessed of money or property) and in political science, while on the Staff of The Evening Post, that he was elected an Alderman of New York in 1871 on an anti-Tweed ticket. 

In 1873, Wilder published Our Darwinian Cousins. Ancient Symbol Worship , was edited in 1875. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries , was edited in 1875. Serpent and Siva Worship , was edited in 1877. A monumental work, A History of Medicine, was published in 1901. A translation of The Theurgia of Iamblichos by Wilder, 1911. Wilder translated many of the writings of Paracelsus, Levi and the Alchemists for us. His translations were sympathetic and understanding because he thoroughly understood the Arcane and the jargon, of the authors, and was wholly free from bias or personal feeling. 

Alexander Wilder was one of the most modest men that ever lived; a man who effaced himself in his work; sought neither glory nor position, unless it could help him in his work, and he risked his own liberty and life that others might be free. Wilder became a member of the Council of Seven under Randolph, continued such under Dowd, and became a member of the Council of Three under our tenure of office in 1907, our last meeting with him was in the summer of 1908. He passed into the Light he had so faithfully served, September 18, 1908…’

One thought on “Alexander Wilder (1823-1908)”

  1. Sue, I just came across your fine bio on Alexander Wilder. I was especially taken by the photo of him. I had not seen any photo of Alexander Wilder in his later years.

    I am his direct descendant, even though biograpies do not mention any marriage or children.

    My version of his life is in my book, “A Leland Journey” in case you are interested. He was an incredible man for his times.

    Let me know if I can add anything.

    Dale

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *