Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Morse Baker
July 16, 1821
Bow, New Hampshire, U.S.
|Died||December 3, 1910 (aged 89)|
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Resting place||Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Other names||Mary Baker Glover, Mary Patterson, Mary Baker Glover Eddy, Mary Baker G. Eddy|
|Known for||Founder of Christian Science|
|Notable work||Science and Health (1875)|
George Washington Glover
(m. 1843; died 1844)
(m. 1853; div. 1873)
Asa Gilbert Eddy
(m. 1877; died 1882)
|Children||George Washington Glover II|
|Relatives||Henry M. Baker (cousin)|
Mary Baker Eddy (née Baker; July 16, 1821 – December 3, 1910) was an American religious leader and author who founded The Church of Christ, Scientist, in New England in 1879. She also founded The Christian Science Monitor in 1908, and three religious magazines: the Christian Science Sentinel, The Christian Science Journal, and The Herald of Christian Science. She wrote numerous books and articles, the most notable of which were Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and Manual of The Mother Church. Other works were edited posthumously into the Prose Works Other than Science and Health.
Eddy was born Mary Morse Baker on July 16, 1821, in a farmhouse in Bow, New Hampshire, to farmer Mark Baker (d. 1865) and his wife Abigail Barnard Baker, née Ambrose (d. 1849). Eddy was the youngest of six children: boys Samuel Dow (1808), Albert (1810), and George Sullivan (1812), followed by girls Abigail Barnard (1816), Martha Smith (1819), and Mary Morse (1821). She was also the cousin of U.S. Representative Henry M. Baker.
She was the sixth generation of her family born in the United States. The farmhouse she was born in was built by her grandfather, Joseph Baker Jr., on a tract of land his maternal grandfather, Captain John Lovewell, had been given for service in the American Revolutionary War. Eddy's father Mark inherited, alongside his elder brother James, the farm when Joseph Jr. died in 1816.
Mark Baker was an active member of the Tilton Congregationalist Church. McClure's reported he had a reputation for holding strong opinions and quarrelling with those he disagreed with; one neighbor described him as "[a] tiger for a temper and always in a row." They also reported he was an ardent supporter of slavery and a Copperhead who was reportedly pleased to hear about Abraham Lincoln's death. Despite trying to oust his Republican pastor during the war alongside a faction of his church, he refused to leave the church alongside other members of the faction when they failed. Instead, he continued to attend services, but would storm out at the mention of the American Civil War during a service.
Eddy and her father reportedly had a volatile relationship. Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V. Dittemore wrote in 1932 that Baker sought to break Eddy's will with harsh punishment, although her mother often intervened; in contrast to Mark Baker, Eddy's mother was described as devout, quiet, light-hearted, and kind.
Eddy experienced periods of sudden illness. Those who knew the family described her as suddenly falling to the floor, writhing and screaming, or silent and apparently unconscious, sometimes for hours. Robert Peel, a historian employed by the Christian Science church, wrote in 1966 that these fits would require the family to send Eddy to the village doctor.
The cause for Eddy's illness was unclear, but biographer Caroline Fraser wrote she believed the cause was most likely psychogenic in nature. According to psychoanalyst Julius Silberger, Eddy may have been motivated to have these fits in an effort to control her father's attitude toward her. Fraser attributed the illness likely to a combination of hypochondria and histrionics as well.
In 1836, when Eddy was about 14 to 15 years old, she moved with her family to the town of Sanbornton Bridge, New Hampshire, approximately twenty miles (32 km) north of Bow. Sanbornton Bridge was renamed in 1869 as Tilton.
Ernest Bates and John Dittemore write that Eddy was not able to attend Sanbornton Academy when the family first moved there but was required instead to start at the district school (in the same building) with the youngest girls. She withdrew after a month because of poor health, then received private tuition from the Reverend Enoch Corser. She entered Sanbornton Academy in 1842.
She was received into the Congregational church in Tilton on July 26, 1838, when she was 17, according to church records published by Cather and Milmine. Eddy had written in her autobiography in 1891 that she was 12 when this happened, and that she had discussed the idea of predestination with the pastor during the examination for her membership; this may have been an attempt to mirror the story of a 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple.
Eddy was badly affected by four deaths in the 1840s. She regarded her brother Albert as a teacher and mentor, but he died in 1841. In 1844, her first husband George Washington Glover (a friend of her brother Samuel) died after six months of marriage. They had married in December 1843 and set up home in Charleston, South Carolina, where Glover had business, but he died of yellow fever in June 1844 while living in Wilmington, North Carolina. Eddy was with him in Wilmington, six months pregnant. She had to make her way back to New Hampshire, 1,400 miles (2,300 km) by train and steamboat, where her only child George Washington Glover II was born on September 12 in her father's home.
Her husband's death, the journey back, and the birth left her physically and mentally exhausted, and she ended up bedridden for months. As Eddy was unable to care for him, her son was nursed by a local woman while Eddy herself was cared for by a household servant.
Eddy's mother died in November 1849. Her mother's death was then followed three weeks later by the death of Eddy's fiancé, lawyer John Bartlett.
Eddy's father Mark Baker remarried in 1850; his second wife Elizabeth Patterson Duncan (d. June 6, 1875) had been widowed twice, and had some property and income from her second marriage. Baker apparently made clear to Eddy that her son would not be welcome in the new marital home.
Eddy married Dr. Daniel Patterson, a dentist, in 1853. Mesmerism had become popular in New England; and on October 14, 1861, Patterson, wrote to mesmerist Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who reportedly cured people without medicine, asking if he could cure his wife. Quimby replied that he had too much work in Portland, Maine, and that he could not visit her, but if Patterson brought his wife to him he would treat her. Eddy did not immediately go, instead trying the water cure at Dr. Vail's Hydropathic Institute, but her health deteriorated even further. A year later, in October 1862, Eddy first visited Quimby. She improved considerably, and publicly declared that she had been able to walk up 182 steps to the dome of city hall after a week of treatment. The cures were temporary, however, and Eddy suffered relapses.
Despite the temporary nature of the "cure", she attached religious significance to it, which Quimby did not. She believed that it was the same type of healing that Christ Jesus had performed. From 1862 to 1865, Quimby and Eddy engaged in lengthy discussions about healing methods practiced by Quimby and others. She took notes on her own ideas on healing, as well as writing dictations from him and "correcting" them with her own ideas, some of which possibly ended up in the "Quimby manuscripts" that were published later and attributed to him. Despite Quimby not being especially religious, he embraced the religious connotations Eddy was bringing to his work, since he knew his more religious patients would appreciate it. Phineas Quimby died on January 16, 1866, shortly after Eddy's father.[a]
J. Gordon Melton has argued "certainly Eddy shared some ideas with Quimby. She differed with him in some key areas, however, such as specific healing techniques. Moreover, she did not share Quimby's hostility toward the Bible and Christianity." Biographer Gillian Gill has disagreed with other scholars arguing they "have flouted the evidence and shown willful bias in accusing Mrs. Eddy of owing her theory of healing to Quimby and of plagiarizing his unpublished work."
See also: Spiritualism
Eddy separated from her second husband Daniel Patterson in 1866, after which she boarded for four years with several families in Lynn, Amesbury, and elsewhere. Frank Podmore wrote:
But she was never able to stay long in one family. She quarrelled successively with all her hostesses, and her departure from the house was heralded on two or three occasions by a violent scene. Her friends during these years were generally Spiritualists; she seems to have professed herself a Spiritualist, and to have taken part in séances. She was occasionally entranced, and had received "spirit communications" from her deceased brother Albert. Her first advertisement as a healer appeared in 1868, in the Spiritualist paper, The Banner of Light. During these years she carried about with her a copy of one of Quimby's manuscripts giving an abstract of his philosophy. This manuscript she permitted some of her pupils to copy.
After she became well known, reports surfaced that Eddy was a medium in Boston at one time. At the time when she was said to be a medium there, she lived some distance away. According to Gill, Eddy knew spiritualists and took part in some of their activities, but was never a convinced believer. For example, she visited her friend Sarah Crosby in 1864, who believed in Spiritualism. According to Sibyl Wilbur, Eddy attempted to show Crosby the folly of it by pretending to channel Eddy's dead brother Albert and writing letters which she attributed to him. In regard to the deception, biographer Hugh Evelyn Wortham commented that "Mrs. Eddy's followers explain it all as a pleasantry on her part to cure Mrs. Crosby of her credulous belief in spiritualism." However, Martin Gardner has argued against this, stating that Eddy was working as a spiritualist medium and was convinced by the messages. According to Gardner, Eddy's mediumship converted Crosby to Spiritualism.
In one of her spiritualist trances to Crosby, Eddy gave a message that was supportive of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, stating "P. Quimby of Portland has the spiritual truth of diseases. You must imbibe it to be healed. Go to him again and lean on no material or spiritual medium." The paragraph that included this quote was later omitted from an official sanctioned biography of Eddy.
Between 1866 and 1870, Eddy boarded at the home of Brene Paine Clark who was interested in Spiritualism. Seances were often conducted there, but Eddy and Clark engaged in vigorous, good-natured arguments about them. Eddy's arguments against Spiritualism convinced at least one other who was there at the time—Hiram Crafts—that "her science was far superior to spirit teachings." Clark's son George tried to convince Eddy to take up Spiritualism, but he said that she abhorred the idea. According to Cather and Milmine, Richard Hazeltine attended seances at Clark's home, and Eddy had acted as a trance medium, claiming to channel the spirits of the Apostles.
Mary Gould, a Spiritualist from Lynn, claimed that one of the spirits that Eddy channeled was Abraham Lincoln. According to eyewitness reports cited by Cather and Milmine, Eddy was still attending séances as late as 1872. In these later séances, Eddy would attempt to convert her audience into accepting Christian Science. Eddy showed extensive familiarity with Spiritualist practice, but she denounced it in later Christian Science writings. Historian Ann Braude wrote that there were similarities between Spiritualism and Christian Science, but the main difference was that Eddy came to believe, after she founded Christian Science, that spirit manifestations had never really had bodies to begin with, because matter is unreal and that all that really exists is spirit, before and after death.
See also: Hinduism
Scholars debate the influence of Hinduism on Eddy and her work. The 1930 work Hinduism Invades America argues Eddy referenced the Bhagavad-Gita in the 33rd edition of Science and Health. Gillian Gill argued that that her editor, Reverend James Henry Wiggin, had introduced the references, and Eddy removed from the 1891 revision all the references to Eastern religions. Christian Scientist church member and historian Stephen Gottschalk argued that Eddy consciously distinguished Christian Science from Eastern religions starting in the mid-1880s. Damodar Singhal noted that whether or not Eddy was directly influenced by Hindu philosophy, "the echoes of Vedanta in [her] literature are often striking."
Eddy divorced Daniel Patterson for adultery in 1873. She published her work in 1875 in a book entitled Science and Health (years later retitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures) which she called the textbook of Christian Science, after several years of offering her healing method. The first publication run was 1,000 copies, which she self-published. During these years, she taught what she considered the science of "primitive Christianity" to at least 800 people. Many of her students became healers themselves. The last 100 pages of Science and Health (chapter entitled "Fruitage") contains testimonies of people who claimed to have been healed by reading her book. She made numerous revisions to her book from the time of its first publication until shortly before her death.
In January 1877, Eddy spurned an approach from one of her students, Daniel Spofford, and suddenly married another student of hers, Asa Gilbert Eddy. On January 1, 1877, the two were wed, and she became Mary Baker Eddy in a small ceremony presided over by a Unitarian minister.
In 1881, Mary Baker Eddy started the Massachusetts Metaphysical College with a charter from the state which allowed her to grant degrees. In Spring 1882, the Eddys moved to Boston to Massachusetts Metaphysical College. Gilbert Eddy's health began to decline around this time, and he died June 3 that year.
Eddy devoted the rest of her life to the establishment of the church, writing its bylaws, The Manual of The Mother Church, and revising Science and Health. By the 1870s, she was telling her students, "Some day I will have a church of my own." In 1879, she and her students established the Church of Christ, Scientist, "to commemorate the word and works of our Master [Jesus], which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." In 1881, she founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, where she taught approximately 800 students between the years 1882 and 1889, when she closed it. Eddy charged her students $300 each for tuition, a large sum for the time. In 1892, at Eddy's direction, the church reorganized as The First Church of Christ, Scientist.[non-primary source needed] In 1894, an edifice for The First Church of Christ, Scientist was completed in Boston.
Her students spread across the country practicing healing, and instructing others. Eddy authorized these students to list themselves as Christian Science Practitioners in the church's periodical, The Christian Science Journal. She also founded the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine with articles about how to heal and testimonies of healing.
When the church re-organized in 1892, Eddy was made the leader of the church as "Pastor Emeritus". In 1895, she ordained the Bible and Science and Health as the pastor.
Eddy founded The Christian Science Publishing Society in 1898, which became the publishing home for numerous publications launched by her and her followers. In 1908, at the age of 87, she founded The Christian Science Monitor, a daily newspaper. She also founded the Christian Science Journal in 1883, a monthly magazine aimed at the church's members and, in 1898, the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly religious periodical written for a more general audience, and the Herald of Christian Science, a religious magazine with editions in many languages.
See also: Animal magnetism
The opposite of Christian Science mental healing was the use of mental powers for destructive or selfish reasons – for which Eddy used terms such as animal magnetism, hypnotism, or mesmerism interchangeably. "Malicious animal magnetism", sometimes abbreviated as M.A.M., is what Catherine Albanese called "a Calvinist devil lurking beneath the metaphysical surface". As there is no personal devil or evil in Christian Science, M.A.M. or mesmerism became the explanation for the problem of evil.[page needed] Eddy was concerned that a new practitioner could inadvertently harm a patient through unenlightened use of their mental powers, and that less scrupulous individuals could use them as a weapon.[page needed]
Animal magnetism became one of the most controversial aspects of Eddy's life. The McClure's biography spends a significant amount of time on malicious animal magnetism, which it uses to make the case that Eddy had paranoia.[page needed] During the Next Friends lawsuit, it was used to charge Eddy with incompetence and "general insanity".
According to Gillian Gill, Eddy's experience with Richard Kennedy, one of her early students, was what led her to began her examination of malicious animal magnetism. Eddy had agreed to form a partnership with Kennedy in 1870, in which she would teach him how to heal, and he would take patients. The partnership was rather successful at first, but by 1872 Kennedy had fallen out with his teacher and torn up their contract. Although there were multiple issues raised, the main reason for the break according to Gill was Eddy's insistence that Kennedy stop "rubbing" his patient's head and solar plexus, which she saw as harmful since, as Gill states, "traditionally in mesmerism or hypnosis the head and abdomen were manipulated so that the subject would be prepared to enter into trance." Kennedy clearly did believe in clairvoyance, mind reading, and absent mesmeric treatment; and after their split Eddy believed that Kennedy was using his mesmeric abilities to try to harm her and her movement.
In 1882, Eddy publicly claimed that her last husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, had died of "mental assassination". Daniel Spofford was another Christian Scientist expelled by Eddy after she accused him of practicing malicious animal magnetism. This gained notoriety in a case irreverently dubbed the "Second Salem Witch Trial".
Later, Eddy set up "watches" for her staff to pray about challenges facing the Christian Science movement and to handle animal magnetism which arose. Gill writes that Eddy got the term from the New Testament account of the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus chastises his disciples for being unable to "watch" even for a short time; and that Eddy used it to refer to "a particularly vigilant and active form of prayer, a set period of time when specific people would put their thoughts toward God, review questions and problems of the day, and seek spiritual understanding." Critics such as Georgine Milmine in Mclure's, Edwin Dakin, and John Dittemore, all claimed this was evidence that Eddy had a great fear of malicious animal magnetism; although Gilbert Carpenter, one of Eddy's staff at the time, insisted she was not fearful of it, and that she was simply being vigilant.
As time went on, Eddy tried to lessen the focus on animal magnetism within the movement, and she worked to clearly define it as unreality which only had power if one conceded to it. Though, it continued to play an important role in the teaching of Christian Science.
The belief in malicious animal magnetism remains a part of Christian Science doctrine.[page needed] Christian Scientists use it as a specific term for a hypnotic belief in a power apart from God.
See also: British Israelism
There was a complex interaction between Christian Science and British Israelism, a belief which was popular during Eddy's lifetime among a number of well known Christian Scientists. Until her death, Eddy continued to keep an interest in British Israelism. Early members of the Christian Science Mother Church accepted the Anglo-Israel message of Mrs Eddy. However, after Eddy's death in 1910, the Mother Church denied the validity of anything having to do with British Israelism, and any Christian Scientists supporting British Israelism in the Mother Church were excommunicated. Nevertheless, British Israelism remained attractive to many in the Christian Science movement after Eddy's death. Since the Mother Church no longer wanted to teach British Israelism, a number of offshoot Christian Science churches and groups were set up to continue teaching British Israelism. For example, an English Christian Scientist named Annie Cecilia Bill (1859-1936) became convinced she was the true successor of Mary Baker Eddy. In 1912 Bill began an organization in England known as the Christian Science Parent Church. Bill moved to the United States after World War I, and in 1924 she established her Christian Science Parent Church in America.
There is controversy about how much Eddy used morphine. Biographers Ernest Sutherland Bates and Edwin Franden Dakin described Eddy as a morphine addict. Miranda Rice, a friend and close student of Eddy, told a newspaper in 1906: "I know that Mrs. Eddy was addicted to morphine in the seventies." A diary kept by Calvin Frye, Eddy's personal secretary, suggests that Eddy occasionally reverted to "the old morphine habit" when she was in pain.[page needed] Gill writes that the prescription of morphine was normal medical practice at the time, and that "I remain convinced that Mary Baker Eddy was never addicted to morphine."
Eddy recommended to her son that, rather than go against the law of the state, he should have her grandchildren vaccinated. She also paid for a mastectomy for her sister-in-law. Eddy used glasses for several years for very fine print, but later dispensed with them almost entirely. She found she could read fine print with ease. In 1907, Arthur Brisbane interviewed Eddy. At one point he picked up a periodical, selected at random a paragraph, and asked Eddy to read it. According to Brisbane, at the age of eighty six, she read the ordinary magazine type without glasses.[page needed] Towards the end of her life she was frequently attended by physicians.
Main article: The Next Friends suit
In 1907, the New York World sponsored a lawsuit, known as "The Next Friends suit", which journalist Erwin Canham described as "designed to wrest from [Eddy] and her trusted officials all control of her church and its activities." During the course of the legal case, four psychiatrists interviewed Eddy, then 86 years old, to determine whether she could manage her own affairs, and concluded that she was able to. Physician Allan McLane Hamilton told The New York Times that the attacks on Eddy were the result of "a spirit of religious persecution that has at last quite overreached itself", and that "there seems to be a manifest injustice in taxing so excellent and capable an old lady as Mrs. Eddy with any form of insanity."
A 1907 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that Eddy exhibited hysterical and psychotic behavior. Psychiatrist Karl Menninger in his book The Human Mind (1927) cited Eddy's paranoid delusions about malicious animal magnetism as an example of a "schizoid personality".
Psychologists Leon Joseph Saul and Silas L. Warner, in their book The Psychotic Personality (1982), came to the conclusion that Eddy had diagnostic characteristics of Psychotic Personality Disorder (PPD). In 1983, psychologists Theodore Barber and Sheryl C. Wilson suggested that Eddy displayed traits of a fantasy prone personality.
Psychiatrist George Eman Vaillant wrote that Eddy was hypochrondriacal. Psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel has written that Eddy's lifelong secret morphine habit contributed to her development of "progressive paranoia".
Eddy died of pneumonia on the evening of December 3, 1910, at her home at 400 Beacon Street, in the Chestnut Hill section of Newton, Massachusetts. Her death was announced the next morning, when a city medical examiner was called in. She was buried on December 8, 1910, at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her memorial was designed by New York architect Egerton Swartwout (1870–1943).
A bronze memorial relief of Eddy by Lynn sculptor Reno Pisano was unveiled in December 2000, at the corner of Market Street and Oxford Street in Lynn near the site of her fall in 1866.
Eddy was named one of the "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time" in 2014 by Smithsonian Magazine, and her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was ranked as one of the "75 Books by Women Whose Words Have Changed the World" by the Women's National Book Association in 1992.
In 1921, on the 100th anniversary of Eddy's birth, a 100-ton (in rough) and 60–70 tons (hewn) pyramid with a 121 square foot (11.2 m2) footprint was dedicated on the site of her birthplace in Bow, New Hampshire. A gift from James F. Lord, it was dynamited in 1962 by order of the church's board of directors. Also demolished was Eddy's former home in Pleasant View, as the Board feared that it was becoming a place of pilgrimage. Eddy is featured on a New Hampshire historical marker (number 105) along New Hampshire Route 9 in Concord.
Several of Eddy's homes are owned and maintained as historic sites by the Longyear Museum and may be visited (the list below is arranged by date of her occupancy):