Soon after the appointment of the Seybert Commission, I, as Secretary, was asked to make a collection of the best representative literature of Spiritualism, and to prepare for the use of the Commission a sketch of the rise, progress, present condition, doctrines and alleged phenomena of this belief, as well as an account of previous investigations, similar to the one contemplated by ourselves. For a number of months I busied myself diligently with this work, and finally read my sketch before the Commission, at a meeting at which Mr. Thomas R. Hazard, the well-known Spiritualist, was present as our guest. I had at this time seen scarcely anything of Spiritualism, but was much impressed with what I had read, and certainly in a fully receptive attitude towards phenomena supported by so much apparently strong testimony. Mr. Hazard declared himself quite satisfied with the tone of the paper, saying that he had come expecting to hear something very different, but that it was fair and unbiased. I mention these facts to show that my present opinion on the subject was not assumed at the outset, but has been arrived at gradually, and is based upon my own observations.
I have been forced to the conclusion that Spiritualism, as far at least as it has shown itself before me (and I give no opinion upon what has not fallen within my observation), presents the melancholy spectacle of gross fraud, perpetrated upon an uncritical portion of the community; that the testimony of such persons as to what they see is almost valueless, if they are habitually as inaccurate as they have been at the seances at which I have been present with them; and that there is an unwillingness on the part of Mediums to have their powers freely and thoroughly investigated -- a fact which makes any investigation of Spiritualism difficult and expensive. My opinions are not based exclusively upon what I have seen and recorded in my work with my colleagues, but also upon observations made at various times in a private capacity; and there is but one conclusion to be appended to them all. I subjoin notes of seances, recorded by myself as Secretary of the Commission. Their somewhat disjointed form arises from the fact that I have not thought it desirable to make
changes in my notes, except such as were necessary in taking the Records, which are of value as evidence, out of their contextual connection with records of business meetings and matters of no interest to the public. Nothing which could be looked upon as evidence has been purposely suppressed. I have intentionally left out a description of several things which we have been unable to use, and which would have merely swelled our Records; as, for example, the account of our sealing slates for the experiments with Dr. Slade, he afterwards having refused to have anything to do with slates sealed by us. My notes were made during the seances, or as soon as possible after them. They were arranged and copied in no case later than two days after. Explanations and additions, which do not belong to the original Records, but have been inserted later, are put in brackets.
For a justification of the opinion of Spiritualism expressed above, I refer to the Records which follow.
GEO. S. FULLERTON.