Abby Hills Price was the most prominent feminist of the Hopedale Community. She
    left Hopedale in 1853 after the controversy that she wrote about below.

                                           NQUIRY AND EXPLANATION

                                  From The Practical Christian, July 2, 1853

    Providence, June 23, 1853

    Dear Friend Price:-
      I write to you because I am troubled in spirit. It is reported that you, with two or
    three others, (Henry Fish is named as one,) are about being, or are excluded from
    the Hopedale Community. I hear nothing as a reason but that you have adopted
    what is called by some the "Free Love" principle. What is it? What does it mean?
    Will you not gratify an earnest and true soul, who desires your welfare and
    happiness and the welfare and happiness of all the members of your Community,
    by communicating as soon as it may be practicable, the facts in relation to this
    story. I dare not say a word to any one until I hear something definite, and not
    then, unless I am permitted to do so; but for my own gratification, will you not write,
    or if not, ask Br. Wm. H. Fish to do so; if agreeable to you. You cannot imagine my
    feelings. Seldom, if ever, has my spirit been troubled as it is now. Do write

      God Bless you and yours. My love to all. Yours, Sam'l W. Wheeler


    Dear Br. Wheeler:
      Your letter came duly to hand. The facts in regard to the last sad transgressions
    are due to your long tried friendship; but I had rather some other hand might give
    you the painful recital. I had much rather contemplate my untrodden path before
    me, that the shadowed way behind.

      For sometime past suspicion has rested upon the minds of our Community of
    improper intercourse between brother Henry Fish and sister Seaver, a woman who
    came among us some two years ago, well recommended. She was a great sufferer
    from domestic troubles, diseased, bodily and mentally. Br. Fish protested that what
    he did for her, was as for a sister, that he could not see any one in his family
    needing assistance without giving such kind offices and sympathy as he thought
    would be helpful to her. His wife said to me that although she believed Henry's
    attentions to Mrs. Seaver were pure and well-meant, yet his course made her feel
    wretchedly, and that she feared her bad feelings in consequence would alienate
    his love from her. Often my feelings of sympathy would be much aroused for her,
    but on hearing Henry's version of the same thing, the blame would appear divided
    -- and while I was earnestly requested by Mrs. Fish to make no public stir abut the
    matter, with the hope that it would be finally adjusted among themselves, I
    sometimes felt that they were all to blame. I believed enough was known to incite to
    investigation should it be deemed advisable, while I had no fear of criminal
    intercourse, believing that their relation was only fraternal. I often told Br. Fish that
    any course of conduct that would be disapproved by the Community was wrong,
    that however good his intentions might be I could not justify it for myself, nor for
    him-- I also aid to him that no wife could happily consent to such things, and
    therefore it was wrong to grieve a companion's feelings. I felt sometimes called on
    for what I deemed Justice's sake to palliate his conduct, feeling that I understood
    his motives better than many, and did not think so badly of them.

      Mrs. Fish finally complained to the Council, and startling facts were brought out
    that left little or no doubt on the minds of our people, that crime had been
    committed. Facts from which they inferred crime -- I had only seen hazardous
    impropriety -- Here let me state that Mrs. Fish has ever affirmed her belief that no
    crime had been done, but her great trouble was the loss of his affection.

      By the report of the Council I was seriously implicated as having known too much
    to keep still. My course was pronounced by one person deeply reprehensible, and
    that it was a sad sad night for Hopedale when one of their Teachers was proved to
    sanction crime.

      I called upon the Council to prove that their report was correct. A searching
    investigation was entered into by them, and I was charged, 1, with knowing too
    much to keep dark, and 2, with double dealing. Facts to sustain the first charge
    were abundant, and therefore I had aided and abetted wrong. I confess with great
    sorrow my want of decision, and that had I seen the end from the beginning I
    should have acted differently. In regard to the second charge which imputed to me
    contradictory statements at different times, I confess also that it had some
    apparent foundation in the changes of opinion through which I passed, and of
    course expressed, during different stages of the affair, respecting the comparative
    blame of the parties concerned. But my God knows that I have not intended to
    sanction or cover crime; that my errors have been of judgment, not of intention. In
    the panic and dismay of the excitement I found I could not make myself fully
    understood by the Council, and that injustice has been done me, I am sure time will
    prove. I therefore quietly withdrew from the Community membership. Should we
    decide to go to the Raritan Bay Union, I shall be received with a cordial welcome by
    friends who know me better than do the persons here who so bitterly condemn me.
    I have no views in regard to "free love" different from the others here.

      In relation to the whole matter, my opinion is that in their zeal for principle and
    purity, our people have been less merciful than their better judgment will incline
    them to be after mature deliberation.

                                                                                               Yours with a sad heart.
                                                                                               A.H. Price

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