Henry S. Clubb
Henry Stephen Clubb

(1827-06-21)June 21, 1827
Colchester, England
DiedOctober 29, 1921(1921-10-29) (aged 94)
Resting placeOakwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, U.S.
40°01′23″N 75°06′03″W / 40.0231018°N 75.1007996°W / 40.0231018; -75.1007996
  • Minister
  • activist
  • journalist
  • author
  • politician
Notable workThirty-nine Reasons Why I Am a Vegetarian
Anne Barbara Henderson
(m. 1855; died 1915)

Henry Stephen Clubb (June 21, 1827 – October 29, 1921) was an English-American Swedenborgian, abolitionist, chartist, journalist and author, who was state senator for Michigan, and founder and first President of the Vegetarian Society of America (VSA).


Clubb was born on June 21, 1827, in Colchester, England.[1][2] He had at least one brother, Robert, and one sister, Sarah Anne. His father, Stephen Clubb, was a Swedenborgian and raised his son in the same faith. Both of his parents were vegetarians for a time;[1] they were also members of the Vegetarian Society.[3] Clubb was inspired to become a vegetarian by W. Gibson Ward's visits to his father's home, where he listened to Ward's vivid descriptions of the horrors and cruelties of the slaughterhouse.[3]

Clubb was working as a clerk at the post office when he heard about a London-based commercial traveler named William Ward about a community called the Concordium and practicing an alternative lifestyle. This community, later called Alcott House was found in Ham Common, and influenced by transcendentalism. In 1842, Clubb joined this community. His journey there was via London, his first visit to the English capital and his first journey by train. After the project failed, he moved to London and worked with James Simpson, a cowherdite and vegetarian. In 1850, he joined the Bible Christian Church, a sect founded by William Cowherd. He also became the local secretary of the Vegetarian Society in Salford.[4]

In 1853, Clubb emigrated to the United States and initially found work as a journalist in New York, where he worked alongside Charles A. Dana for the New-York Tribune.[5] As an abolitionist and pacifist, he lectured against slavery.[6]

Henry S. Clubb with his wife and daughters

Clubb married Anne Barbara Henderson on November 15, 1855, in Allegan, Michigan;[3] they had three daughters.[7]

Between 1856 and 1857, he was involved with Charles DeWolfe and John McLaurin in building a utopian community known as Octagon City, Kansas. This project was originally designed as a vegetarian colony, but changed its focus to promoting a highly moral society with the octagon as its basic architectural structure, as propagated by Orson Fowler. The project failed due to mosquitoes, malnutrition, grain thefts and general exhaustion in the inhospitable terrain.[4]

In the American Civil War, Clubb fought for the Union Army as a quartermaster. He took part in the Siege of Vicksburg, with his wife accompanying him. Clubb was hit by a bullet, but survived because the bullet was slowed down when it passed through his pocket which was filled with money and his naturalization papers, which were destroyed.[5]

Living in Grand Haven, Michigan, he published the Grand Haven Herald newspaper, and served as state senator from the 29th District from 1873 to 1874.[8]

Clubb briefly returned to England in 1901, visiting Salford. He published Thirty-nine Reasons Why I Am a Vegetarian in 1903, describing his reasoning for following a vegetarian lifestyle.[9] In 1907, he decided to write a history of vegetarianism, to be published in the Chicago Vegetarian Magazine.[4] Clubb's wife died in 1915.[3]

Clubb died in Philadelphia, on October 29, 1921, at the age of 94.[3] He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Sharon, Pennsylvania, with his wife and daughters.[2]

Vegetarian Society of America

Clubb founded the Vegetarian Society of America (VSA) in 1886 and became its first president. He published a cookbook for the organization and founded its magazine Food, Home and Garden.[4] In 1893, Clubb was largely responsible for the success of the International Congress for Vegetarians at the Chicago World's Fair.[3]

In 1900, the VSA merged with the Chicago Vegetarian Society.[10] The VSA's Food, Home and Garden was renamed The Vegetarian and Our Fellow Creatures (1901–1903), The Vegetarian Magazine (1903–1925), The Vegetarian Magazine and Fruitarian (1925-1926) and The Vegetarian and Fruitarian (1926–1934).[10]

Selected publications


  1. ^ a b "Henry S. Clubb letterbook; Payne and Swiney letterbook 1836-1840, 1865". William L. Clements Library. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Henry Clubb, 1827-1921". Chartist Ancestors. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f History of the Philadelphia Bible-christian Church for the First Century of Its Existence, from 1817 to 1917. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott co. 1922. pp. 67–89.
  4. ^ a b c d Gregory, James (Summer 2001). "A Michigander, A Patriot and Gentleman". KanColl's Online Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 July 2002. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b A., E. (January 1896). "The Rev. Henry S. Clubb". Vegetarian Messenger. Manchester.
  6. ^ Iacobbo, Karen; Iacobbo, Michael (2004). Vegetarian America: A History. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 89–91. ISBN 978-0-275-97519-7.
  7. ^ "1896 Rev. Henry Stephens Clubb Autographed Photo, Vegetarian Activist". Ancestorville Genealogy. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  8. ^ Michigan Official Directory and Legislative Manual 1923-24 (section: "Members of Michigan Legislature from 1835 to 1922 Inclusive", pp. 94–190; Clubb is on p. 97). Lansing, Michigan: Published by the State of Michigan Under the Direction of Charles J. DeLand, Secretary of State
  9. ^ Clubb, Henry Stephen (1903). Thirty-nine reasons why I am a vegetarian. Vegetarian Society of America.
  10. ^ a b Puskar-Pasewicz, Margaret. (2010). Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism. Greenwood. p. 180. ISBN 9780313375569

Further reading