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Sprague, Achsa W. (17 November 1827–06 July 1862), spiritualist and reformer, was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, the daughter of cousins Charles Sprague and Betsy Sprague, farmers. Her formal education was limited, yet Achsa was precocious and began teaching in the village school by the age of twelve. The Sprague family was considered quite intellectual for the small rural town, and their children were immersed in the classics. The Spragues also shared a predisposition to ill health; of the six siblings, three were considered mentally imbalanced. At the age of twenty, Achsa developed a severe case of arthritis that left her bedridden for over seven years. She considered herself healed through “angelic powers” and by 1854 began a career as a traveling lecturer and spiritualist....

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Sunderland, La Roy (22 April 1804–15 May 1885), Methodist abolitionist and mental theorist, was born in Exeter, Rhode Island. Little is known about Sunderland’s parents or early childhood. As a young man Sunderland was apprenticed to a shoemaker in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, but was later enrolled as a student at Day’s Academy in Wrentham, Massachusetts, in 1819....