From Destructiontionist to Restorationist:
The Religious Evolution of Rev. Adin Ballou
Adin Ballou was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island in 1803. He was a descendant
of Maturin Ballou, a Huguenot who was with Roger Williams at the time of the
founding of Rhode Island.
Adin went to school about three months a year until he was fifteen and then went to
Dean Academy in Franklin for a few months.
In 1813, during a period referred to as the Second Great Awakening, Ballou's
parents joined a newly organized faith called the Christian Connexion. (The Spann
book, Hopedale: Commune to Company Town, uses this spelling. I've seen it
elsewhere as "Connection.") A common argument of the time involved the fate of
sinners. Many rejected the idea of Hell, and questioned why God would create
billions of souls, while knowing that many (probably most of us) were to suffer
eternal punishment. Some felt that all would be saved, while members of the
Christian Connexion thought that, rather than being punished, the souls of the
sinners would be destroyed. This view became known as "Destructionism."
At the age of seventeen, engaged to Abby Sayles and with no particular career in
mind, Ballou began giving some thought to the ministry but was evidently not totally
sold on the idea. One night, however, he had a vision of his late brother, Cyrus,
saying, "God commands you to preach the Gospel of Christ to your fellow man."
Soon after, he preached a sermon at the local meeting-house where his father was
a deacon, and shortly later he became its minister.
In time, Ballou became the defender of the local Destructionists. As he debated the
merits of the idea with the Universalists, he eventually became convinced that he
was wrong and they were right. This, of course, led to his dismissal by the Christian
Connexion congregation. Ballou joined the Universalists and spent a brief but
somewhat lively period as a once a month preacher in Bellingham.
In 1823, at the age of twenty, he became the Universalist minister in Milford. While
he didn't believe in eternal damnation, neither did he believe that the souls of the
sinners were to be let off easy. He felt there would be a time of punishment for those
who deserved it, followed by salvation.
While in Milford, three weeks after the birth of their second child, his wife Abby died.
A year later Ballou married Lucy Hunt.
Most Universalists of the time believed in universal salvation without punishment but
as time went on, Ballou became more vocal in his opinion that sinners would be
punished before being restored to their rightful place in Heaven. Those who held
this view were referred to as Restorationists. In 1830, Ballou began publishing The
Independent Messenger, a Restorationist weekly newspaper. Within a month, he
was fired from the Milford church.
Before long, Ballou's Restorationism as well as his other liberal religious beliefs led
to his appointment as minister of the First Congregational (Unitarian) Church in
Mendon. He remained there until his move to Hopedale in 1842. During his time in
Mendon in the 1830s, Ballou gradually increased his interest in the various causes
of the era. These included opposition to smoking (after a successful struggle to give
it up himself) and alcohol, promotion of moral reform, women's rights, non-
resistance, Practical Christian socialism and, above all, abolitionism. In 1841, these
ideals became the basis for the formation of the Hopedale Community.
In The History of the Hopedale Community, writing of the year 1867, Ballou states,
"The end of the Community was now at hand. That consummation was hastened by
the formation of what was called The Hopedale Parish; a name which the
organization still bears. The reason for this new movement can be briefly stated and
easily apprehended. With the advance of time the disproportion between the
number of Community members resident at Hopedale and non-members had so
greatly increased that the latter were largely in the majority. And yet they had no
voice whatever in the management of matters pertaining to the activities and
institutions of religion, in which they took more or less an interest, and for the
maintenance of which they were year by year asked to contribute. There was an
inequality in this which arrested attention -- a wrong which the common moral
judgement recognized and affirmed ought to be righted.
"Measures were therefore initiated looking to some change in the administration of
religious affairs... These resulted in the organization on the 27th of October, 1867,
of an association bearing the before mentioned name, under a Constitution setting
forth its origin, its relations to the Community, its functions, and general mode of
administration. This new body, which three months later, with myself as Pastor, was
admitted to "The Worcester Conference of Congregational (Unitarian) and other
Christian Societies," entered directly upon the execution of its proper work, the
responsibilities and duties of which were cheerfully transmitted to it by the
Community, and as cheerfully assumed on its part. The formal act of transmission
took place at the Annual Community Meeting held Jan. 8, 1868.
Ballou died in Hopedale on August 5, 1890.
Most of the above is a summary of Edward Spann's From Commune to
Company Town, pp. 3-9. The "end of the Community" paragraph, as stated,
is from Ballou's The History of the Hopedale Community, pp. 333 - 334.
Hopedale Community was founded upon Ballou’s Universalist beliefs about
Christianity. He believed that Jesus Christ had made it possible for people to live a
good life on Earth and so this community was instituted to be an example of this life.
The Christian lifestyle at Hopedale was more concerned with equality, love and
sharing than it was about the dogmas of religion. In his book, Practical Christian
Socialism, Ballou outlines the principles of theology, righteousness and social order.
I. Principles of Theological Truth
2. The mediatorial manifestation of God through Christ.
3. Divine revelations and inspirations given to men.
4. The immortal existence of human and angelic spirits.
5. The moral agency and religious obligation of mankind.
6. The certainty of a perfect divine retribution.
7. The necessity of man’s spiritual regeneration.
8. The final universal triumph of good over evil.
II. Principles of Personal Righteousness.
2. Self-denial for righteousness’ sake.
3. Justice to all beings.
4. Truth in all manifestations of mind.
5. Love in all spiritual relations.
6. Purity in all things.
7. Patience in all right aims and pursuits.
8. Unceasing progress towards perfection.
III. Principles of Social Order
2. The universal Brotherhood of Man.
3. The declared perfect love of God to Man.
4. The required perfect love of Man to God.
5. The required perfect love of Man to Man.
6. The required just reproof and disfellowship of evildoers.
7. The required non-resistance of evildoers with evil.
8. The designed unity of the righteous.
For much more on Ballou, click here to go to a biography on the Unitarian-
Adin Ballou Park Ballou Home Ballou Family at Hopedale Village Cemetery
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Hopedale streets. In 1900 it was moved to 64 Dutcher Street, across from
the town park. The original house lot is now the site of Adin Ballou Park.
Ballou's house in Mendon: 1831 - 1842.The storefront
was added for a barber shop, long after the Ballou family
lived there. The Ballou's had also lived at another home
in Mendon, at a house no longer standing.
on Hopedale Street between Freedom and Chapel streets.
Church. It served as the Practical Christian Church until 1868, when it became the
This article is from Perry MacNevin's collection
of Hopedale history items. It appears to be
from the Milford Daily News. It seems likely that
t was written by Gordon Hopper, but it's also
possible that it was done by Peter Hackett.
Thanks to Rev. Patricia Hatch for sending this picture
of the Ballou home in Cumberland. It's from Adin
Ballou's Elaborate History of the Ballous in America.
Descendants of Adin Ballou, from Lynn Gordon Hughes.
Here's what I know about Adin's descendants: His granddaughter Lucy Florence Heywood married
attorney John Holden in 1892. They had two children: Heywood and Constance. They lived in New
Heywood Holden was born in 1894, married Grace Flannery in 1921, and died in 1971. No children
that I know of.
Constance Holden was born in 1900. She seems never to have married, and to have lived with her
parents all her life. She lived until at least 1956, but I haven't found a death date.
I'm pretty sure there are no further descendants after Heywood and Constance Holden.
Adin Ballou Park Ballou Home
Ballou Family at Hopedale Village Cemetery
Hopedale Community Menu HOME