A Long History
Why Were Americans Interested in the Supernatural?
The Supernatural as a Means for Restoring Lost Faith (con.)
Ghost stories from the period infused the spiritual world with a set of moral values which contradicted those of materialist ideologies like Social Darwinism. William Douglas’ 1867 novel revolved around the attempts by an apparition to convince his still living friend, a wealthy doctor and landlord, to open a heart hardened by years of selfish unconcern for the plight of those in need (8). The spirit is finally able to get the man to renounce his belief that, “[e]very man for himself, is a good general rule” (9). Writers sometimes even imbued dogs and other animals both with immortality and with a desire to perform selfless deeds. In one such story, a collie came back as a ghost in order to help save the life of her owner who had fallen gravely ill (10).
ghost, supernatural, Spiritualism, antebellum,