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Animal flesh was barred from the New York Grahamite home, however, eggs were eaten as they were not directly connected to death or suffering. Meals would be made of "hominy, rice, porridge, and a variety of seasonal vegetables including beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and squash"

April 1, 1837

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Similar rules prevailed at Boston’s first Grahamite boardinghouse, though without the flexibility of democratic decision making for meal times. The home opened at 23 Brattle Street near Harvard Square in April 1837.  The Boston Grahamite home was run by David Cambell, an abolitionist who in 1840 spread the gospel of Graham to reform-minded students at Oberlin College in Ohio. Students embraced the lifestyle, and the college briefly banned meat from all of its dining halls.  Boston’s Grahamite boardinghouse purportedly drew a mixed crowd as well, ranging from “the most laborious to the most sedentary,” and from the permanent to the “transient or occasional.” The home reported housing between twenty and thirty permanent boarders at a time, consistently throughout the year. Advocates for the Boston house emphasized that it sought to draw healthy, vigorous individuals already acclimated to the Graham diet, rather than “invalids” who were “pale and sickly.” Homes that drew unhealthy boarders had another name, one that Grahamites wanted to avoid being connected with: hospitals.  Boston’s Grahamite boardinghouse was also utilized as a meeting place for dietary and social reformers.  


Animal flesh was barred from the New York Grahamite home, as were other poisons such as caffeine and alcohol. Toasted, stale Graham bread brewed with water was off ered to those who craved a cup of morning coffee.  The simple meals furnished centered on vegetables and whole grains. Breakfast consisted of the omnipresent Graham bread, along with a variety of fresh fruits, including apples, peaches, cherries, and strawberries.  


Interestingly, eggs were allowed at the breakfast table, and were even considered an important component of Grahamite diets, despite being animal-based. Eggs were not directly connected to death or suffering. As a result, Grahamites found them to be acceptable for consumption. Dinner— served in the afternoon and the largest meal of the day—consisted primarily of hominy, rice, porridge, and a variety of seasonal vegetables including beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and squash. Supper was a simpler, lighter meal and included Graham bread, milk, oatmeal, hominy, barley gruel, or mashed cornmeal. 


Grahamites represented a cross-section of moral and scientific reformers in the United States. The group’s message eventually reached as far as the South and West, as evidenced by letters and articles that appeared in group’s publication, the Graham Journal of Health and Longevity.  Grahamism, however, was most organized and popular in the Northeast, where Grahamite boardinghouses proliferated.  


The houses drew a mix of urban middle-class reformers. Similar to abolitionists of the period, Grahamites were primarily skilled artisans or trade workers, including housewrights, piano makers, grocers, merchants, bookbinders, and cabinetmakers. These were individuals with respectable occupations, and the boardinghouses provided structure and moral guidance. Residents were often interested in the total reform ideology associated with Grahamism. The boardinghouse on Beekman Street, for example, housed at various times such well-known New York reformers as New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, pacifist Henry Clarke Wright, abolitionists Lewis Tappan and Theodore Weld, and future president of the American Anti-Slavery Society Arthur Tappan. Transcendentalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson— though not a Grahamite—did visit once to dine with Greeley and utopian socialist Albert Brisbane in March 1842.