On the night of March 31st, 1848—on April Fools’ Day eve—an entity tore the veil thought to forever dissever the living from the dead and spoke in code through knocks and raps to two teenage sisters, Catherine and Margaret Fox. After a persistent and creative Q&A, The Fox Sisters discovered they were communicating with the Spirit of a Peddler who was murdered and bricked up in their cellar.
Soon The Fox Sisters were telling their story to spellbound crowds at a time when women rarely gave public lectures, making them unforeseen missionaries for the budding Spiritualism Movement: a practice involving conversing with the dead. Spiritualism became enormously popular during the Civil War when so many women lost their male family members to the conflict.
Katie and Maggie Fox’s journey made it possible for many female Spiritualists to become financially independent and gain positions of authority in the male-majority society. Though the connection between Spiritualism, antislavery, and women’s rights is often absent from history books, the three revolutionary movements clearly fueled each others’ success.
So The Great Civil War had just come to an end. An event most historians don’t recommend
The repeating-of, seeing that so many died: Far too many sons lost, scores of mothers left crying.
Our Nation Divided was eager to heal—Like the thousands of families hearing the pealing of
Funeral Bells echo all the night long: “Gone along, gone along. Gone untimely along.”
But the mourning kept going. Folks came to discover They weren’t quite ready to fully recover
From such luscious sadness; the dabbing of eyes, All the whimpering, groaning, and speaking in sighs.
And so very eventually—ocean-to-ocean—The Nation subscribed to a curious notion:
A fervent belief, linking opposite coasts, That their dearly departed had just become ghosts.
Who though no longer living, nor breathing, nor seen, Were still sharing their houses as they’d used-to been.
And were dying to tell that they didn’t much mind Being spirits—great comfort to those left-behind.
The Civil War’s carnage, our national schism, Set fuse to a movement called Spiritualism.
Ted Enik © 2021
Ted Enik was part of the favored stable of Magic School Bus artists, channeled Hilary Knight for the canonical hardcoverEloise in Hollywood, is the co-author / illustrator of the well-received Wee Witches, and for a decade was the primary artist for the popular Fancy Nancy “I Can Read™” series. Throughout Ted has been a writer—plays and film—and now hopefully resonant, unexpected-and-collectible illustrated books and graphic novels. Most recently, Ted has joined Pixel Mouse House Books, Publisher / Packager, where he works to rejuvenate properties in the public domain or marry ideal collaborators.
Shiloh Penfield’s previous works include the children’s book Unraveling Rose, Boy Zero Comic, a guest artist spot on Red Knight comic, and multiple independent projects.
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