American Alchemists: Ethan Allen Hitchcock

Ethan Allen Hitchcock (1817-1870) was the grandson of the Ethan Allen, who captured Fort Ticonderoga with Benedict Arnold. EAH fought in the Mexican-American War (which he opposed), as a major general in the Civil War, and was supposedly a personal friend to Lincoln.

There is a nice biography in a Missouri Historical Review from 1908, and a rather more effusive one from the Fraternitas Rosæ Crucis. The Philosopher's Stone, by General N.B. Buford gives a brief overview of Hitchcock's thinking.
An in-depth appreciation, 'Ethan Allen Hitchcock: soldier-humanitarian-scholar discoverer of the "true subject" of the hermetic art' by I. Bernard Cohen is at the American Antiquarian Society.

He was a great admirer of Spinoza and was among the first modern writers to discuss the idea that alchemists were principally concerned with spiritual or psychological work, rather than physical experimentation.

His 'Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists" is cited by Blavatsky, Albert G. Mackey, Mary Anne Atwood, and Adiramled among many others. It is extensively discussed by AE Waite and Herbert Silberer, who in turn led Jung to become interested in alchemical symbolism.

  • Remarks upon alchemy and the alchemists: indicating a method of discovering the true nature of hermetic philosophy : and showing that the search after the philosopher's stone had not for its object the discovery of an agent for the transmutation of metals : being also an attempt to rescue from undeserved opprobrium the reputation of a class of extraordinary thinkers in past ages. 1857
  • Fifty Years in Camp and Field personal diary, edited by WA Croffut.
    Nov. 12 1866. I wish to say that I saw, a moment since, what the Philosopher's Stone signifies. I do not omit a statement of it from any desire to make it a mystery. My relation to it is still to be determined. A great number of passages in books of alchemy seem perfectly clear now. I have nowhere told what it is or even what I think it is. It is a kind of revelation, but, when seen, has an effect something like looking at the sun. Personally I have much to fear from it, before I can look forward to its benefits. I have nothing to unsay in my books, and have but this to add: that they are studies to reach the One Thing.

  • Swedenborg, a Hermetic Philosopher Being a sequel to the Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists. Showing that Emanuel Swedenborg was a Hermetic Philosopher, and that his writings may be interpreted from the point of view of Hermetic Philosophy. With a chapter comparing Swedenborg to Spinoza. “One truth openeth the way to another.” 1858.
  • Christ, the Spirit: Being an Attempt to State the Primitive View of Christianity
  • Spenser's poem, entitled Colin Clouts come home againe, explained; with remarks upon the Amoretti Sonnets, and also on a few of the Minor Poems of the Early English Poets. 1865.
  • Remarks on the Sonnets of Shakespeare: showing that they belong to the Hermetic class of writings, and explaining their general meaning and purpose.
  • The Red Book of Appin: A Story of the Middle Ages With Other Hermetic Stories and Allegorical Tales.

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