November 1, 2010
To Tolstoy and Beyond
Hopedale in October Hopedale Pond, October 19 Hopedale Pond, October 26.
Worcester County Industrial Pistol Club, 1958 (Photo of winners taken at Nipmuc Rod & Gun Club.)
Historic tour of Hopedale and Mendon by Hopedale Boy Scout Troop 1 - 1966
The William F. Draper home in Washington, D.C. Thanks to Giancarlo BonTempo for sending it.
Milford Daily News October 19 article on the Freedom Street dam.
To Tolstoy and Beyond
Adin Ballou was especially interested in the cause of non-resistance and had joined a society for that cause in
1830, having been inspired by the New Testament ideas on the subject. It was but natural that the Hopedale
Community printing press would publish some of Ballou’s tracts on this subject, such as “On Christian Non-
resistance. The great Russian, Tolstoy was devoted to the principles of non-resistance and Reverend Lewis B.
Wilson, who was a devoted student of Ballou’s works, decided that these two men, the noted writer in Russia,
the humbler one in America, should know one another. Accordingly, he sent some of the non-resistance
pamphlets with a letter to Tolstoy. Tolstoy was much impressed and wrote to Ballou, “Two of your tracts are
very well translated into Russian and propagated among believers, and richly appreciated by them.” To
Reverend Wilson, who had suggested in a letter that Ballou’s writing was not destined for the immortality that
his (Tolstoy’s) was sure to enjoy, Tolstoy replied, “He will be in the future acknowledged as on of the chief
benefactors of mankind,” and again Tolstoy asserted that Ballou was “the greatest American writer.” This
correspondence was printed in a periodical named “The Arena,” published December 1890, compiled by Rev.
Wilson. The Arena, here mentioned, is bound for careful preservation and may be read at the Bancroft Library.
Apropos of this correspondence between Tolstoy and Ballou a friend of mine wrote to me that she had heard a
guest minister applying for a friend in a town near Boston preach on the power of an idea, or some such topic.
When the minister spoke of a seedling idea nourished in the little town of Hopedale (of which many of his
congregation had never heard), my friend pricked up her ears, for she had visited me here. Then she heard
how Adin Ballou’s tracts, printed on a tiny press in the Community, had fallen into Tolstoy’s hands. Tolstoy had
been in communication with a young man in South Africa who had been attracted by Tolstoy’s ideas and
writing on non-resistance. The young man was an Indian who had fallen afoul of British Authorities. Tolstoy
sent him the Ballou pamphlets, printed in Hopedale, in the English with which he was familiar. Are you
surprised to know that the political prisoner languishing in a South African prison was none other than
Gandhi? So little seeds grow to great size and create great turns in the history of nations.
Since writing this last paragraph, I have read that Gandhi was influenced by the writings and thought of
Thoreau. This must have been the idea of others who wrote of the ”American” influence on Gandhi through his
communication with Tolstoy.
This is a subject that can well be worth looking into but takes more research that I have had time for. I intend to
write to the author of the article I read last week and ask for his authority in naming Thoreau as the American
who influenced Gandhi so strongly in his non-resistant policy throughout his struggles for Indian
independence. Rachel Day.
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Photo taken a half-mile upstream from
the Rustic Bridge - October 26.