Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp
Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp

Who was Andrew Jackson Davis?

A lot of you have visited the Bookstore in Cassadaga which is housed in the Andrew Jackson Davis Building. But just who was Andrew Jackson Davis?

Andrew Jackson Davis, the “Prophet of the New Revelation,” the “Poughkeepsie Seer”, was born in Blooming Grove, Orange County, New York, August 11, 1826. His Mother, though uneducated, was thought to be a seer, and his Father was a drunken leather worker.  In this atmosphere as a child he was thought to be “feeble in body and starved in mind”.  At age 16 he could recall reading only one book.  As a boy, Davis began to hear disembodied voices much like Joan of Arc, that advised him and comforted him. Upon his Mother’s passing he saw a beautiful home in the brightness and he knew that was where his Mother went. Years later he coined the phrase “Summerland” to describe his vision of “Heaven”. 

His potential began to reveal itself and after attending a traveling show “exhibiting” the powers of “mesmerism”, he met a local tailor by the name of Levingston who left his job to help the boy develop his abilities.  It began with gatherings for “amusement” where Davis would “read” letters with his eyes bandaged. Soon after he began to use his clairvoyance to diagnose disease, ala Edgar Cayce. 

Andrew Jackson Davis


Then on the evening of March 6, 1844 he had an “episode” of traveling Clairvoyance, in which he traveled to some mountains some forty miles away from where he was, where he “met” two teachers in spirit. Upon awakening from the trance he recalled the “vision” in detail which startled the people who were in attendance. 

At age 19 Davis wrote one of the most profound books of philosophy entitled, “The Principles of Nature, her Divine Revelations and a Voice to Mankind, by and through Andrew Jackson Davis, the Poughkeepsie Seer and Clairvoyant. Levingston stepped down as Davis mesmerist and was replaced by Dr. Lyon. 

A Reverend William Fishbough came forward to record Davis when he was in trance. Davis, in trance, dictated his first book for two years. Although he had no formal education he dictated many concepts that were expounded by Emmanel Swedenborg. Davis’ vision of the other side was similar to Swedenborg’s. 

On March 31, 1848 the date attributed to the beginning of “Modern Spiritualism” Davis wrote in his diary: “about daylight this morning a warm breathing passed over my face and I heard a voice tender and strong say, “Brother the good work has begun”, behold a living demonstration is born.” 

Davis believed the object of his life was to “qualify for advancement, graduating in the phases of Spiritual life, slowly raising to the celestial”. Davis had a profound effect on this new movement called “Spiritualism”. He demonstrated, wrote and lectured. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, “ No man can take the whole message. For it is infinite and rises as we come in contact with higher beings. Davis interpreted so well for his day and generation that little more can be added even now to his conception.” 

You can find more about Andrew Jackson Davis from his books at the Cassadaga Bookstore and from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book, The History of Spiritualism Parts 1. & 2., from which this article was adapted.

Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp thanks Rev. Jim Watson for contributing this article.  

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