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Richmond, Cora L(inn) V(ictoria)(1840-1923)

Richmond, Cora L(inn) V(ictoria)(1840-1923)

The most famous American Spiritualist inspirational speaker and healer, variously known under her married names as Cora Scott, Cora Hatch, Cora L. V. Tappan, and Cora L. V. Tappan-Richmond. She was born April 21, 1840, a noteworthy event in that she had a veil (membrane) covering her face, an event often seen as portending a psychically aware life. She was named Cora, a seeress. Her family was attracted to Spiritualism and in 1851, as a child of eleven, she resided some months in the Spiritualist community headed by Adin Ballou at Hoped-ale and at the ranch community at Waterloo, Wisconsin. Passing into a trance while at Waterloo, she was controlled by the spirit of young Ballou. Two years later, she was appearing as a public speaker. At the age of sixteen she was famous, had traveled throughout the United States, often lecturing with great elocution before scientists on randomly-selected subjects.

She married while still a teen, but soon got a divorce because of spousal abuse. She worked out of Baltimore for many years prior to moving to England in 1873. While in England, she delivered some three thousand lectures. Frank Podmore wrote of her in his book Modern Spiritualism (2 vols., 1902),

"That the flow of verbiage never fails is a small matter; Mrs. Tappan's trance-utterances surpass those of almost every other automatist in that there is a fairly coherent argument throughout. Two at least of the subjects sent to her in 1874 'The Origin of Man' and 'The Comparative Influence of Science and Morality on the Rise and Progress of Nations,' may be presumed to have been little familiar. But the speaker is never at a loss Again, we find none of the literary artifices by which ordinary speakers are wont to give reliefthere is no antithesis, no climax, no irony or humour in any form. And the dead level of style reflects a dead level of sentiment; there is no scorn or indignation, no recognition of human effort and pain, no sense of the mystery of things. The style is clear, as jelly is clear; it is the proto-plasm of human speech; and it is flavoured throughout with mild, cosmic emotions.

"Frequently at the close of an address Mrs. Tappan would recite an impromptu poem, again on a subject chosen at the moment by the audience. Some of these poems are strikingly melodious, and it is interesting to note how the melody continually overpowers the sense."

After her return to America, Richmond married William Richmond and settled in Chicago. She pastored the First Society of Spiritualists and he operated as her publisher and book agent. From her platform in Chicago she became one of the movement's most famous leaders. In 1892, she officiated at the funeral of Nettie Colburn Maynard (also known as HenriettaS. Maynard ), the medium who had worked with Abraham Lincoln. The next year she assisted in the founding of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches and became its first vice president and a national lecturer through the first decades of the new century.

She was equally renowned for her healing power and for her trance utterances. Of her excursions into the spirit world in trance she brought back recollections of an absorbing interest. She died January 2, 1923.

Sources:

Barrett, Harrison D. The Life and Work of Cora L. V. Richmond. Chicago: Hack & Anderson Printers, 1895.

Melton, J. Gordon. Religious Leaders of America. Detroit: Gale Research, 1991.

Podmore, Frank. Modern Spiritualism. London: Methuen, 1902. Reprinted as Mediums of the Nineteenth Century. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1963.

Richmond, Cora L. V. Discourses Through the Mediumship of Mrs. Cora L. V. Tappan. Boston: Colby & Rich, 1876. Reprint, London, N.p., 1878.

. My Experiments While out of the Body and My Return after Many Days. Boston: Christopher Press, 1915.

. Psychosophy. Chicago: The Author, 1888. Reprint, Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1915.

. The Soul in Human Embodiment. Chicago: Spiritualist Publishing, 1887.

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