The Graham Journal merges with The Library of Health headed by William Alcott, a vegetarian who pushed for total dietary reform.
December 14, 1839
The Library of Health
The fate of the journal at the end of 1839 seems to have offered an answer to the lingering question over the aims of dietary reformers, indicating that total dietary reform had become preferable to Grahamism. After three years of weekly publication, the Graham Journal of Health and Longevity ceased production, with its last issue dated December 14, 1839. The journal had originally planned to release a fourth edition, promising potential subscribers seven free issues for the remainder of 1839 when opening a new account for the coming year. This enticement to subscribe seems to indicate significant financial difficulty for Cambell and the journal.
In the October 12 issue, the journal announced a merger with the Library of Health, edited by William Alcott, second cousin of the young Louisa May Alcott. The Library of Health began publishing in 1837, the same year as the Graham Journal, and offered similar articles focusing on physiology, temperance, and a natural diet, though without the shadow of a singular, dominant, and emblematic leader to define the movement. Alcott himself was a regular contributor to the Graham Journal and a passionate advocate for a vegetable diet. However, he was also an experienced medical doctor, symbolically indicating a shift in meatless dietetics toward part of total dietary reform rather than a goal unto itself. Given the synergies between the two journals and the apparent financial difficulties Cambell faced, the merger was unavoidable. The effort to detaching the meat-free diet from Graham’s shadow had begun. In the process a new movement began to emerge, one indebted to Graham for its birth but dependent on separation to continue to grow.
In twenty short years, meat abstention had moved from the domain of a small, localized religious movement focused on spiritual ascension to a growing community throughout the United States attached to the scientific and moral reform principles of Sylvester Graham. Originally the realm of the Bible Christian Church, meatless dietary reform evolved into an all encompassing ideology that sought to negotiate the challenges and tensions inherent in a rapidly modernizing industrial and urban environment. However, both groups were interested in the total reform possibilities connected to abstaining from meat.
By the 1830s, Grahamism became the most recognized lifestyle attached to meat abstention in the United States, eliciting praise from its adherents and harsh criticism from its opponents. Dietary reformers opened Grahamite boardinghouses in urban areas to serve as moral guardians while creating a larger community of interconnected dietary reformers. The printed word, meanwhile, supported the continued growth of this new community, conjoining Grahamites from disparate geographic regions while providing a forum to offer scientific proof of the diet’s success. The group’s existence, however, would be relatively short-lived. But as Graham’s failing health pushed him into quasi-retirement, his community of meat-abstaining followers did not disappear. Rather, they continued to grow and reinvent themselves