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By a vote of the Executive Committee, the Treasurer's accounts are balanced at the close of each calendar year, and subscriptions, whenever made, are considered as standing for the current year. This will explain the appearance of two parts to the above Report. It should also be noticed that no returns had been received from the Worcester County Auxiliary Association, and that peculiar circumstances had occasioned a delay of the application for subscriptions in Boston. A great part of the payments for life membership were made by ladies of religious societies in behalf of their clergymen. The Treasurer's Report was accepted.
The Report of the Executive Committee was read by the Secretary, and is here published in compliance with a vote of the Meeting. REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE,
1826. The Executive Committee of the American Unitarian Association in offering their first annual report, cannot but
express their gratification at the circumstances under which it is presented. They behold in the numbers and character of those who compose this meeting, not only a proof of interest in the Association, but evidence of its stability, and the promise of its future usefulness. In reviewing the past year, the Committee find much to encourage, and nothing to dishearten them; and this anniversary is welcomed by them with feelings of satisfaction, which a few months since they did not dare to anticipate. This Association was organized under some disadvantages. Its plan was suggested by a few gentle
men on the evening preceding the last election, at too late an hour to secure the advice and cooperation of many of those whose judgment would be useful in forming, and whose influence would be important in strengthening such a society. The time for a more general and effective concert seemed, however, to have arrived ; and the presence
of many Unitarians from distant towns, who annually assemble in this city, showed the necessity of an immediate effort for the accomplishment of this object. It would have been impossible to ascertain in a few hours the sentiments of the great body of Unitarian Christians, in relation to the measures, which they should adopt for the diffusion of pure religion. The friends of more united efforts than had hitherto been employed, trusted to their own convictions of duty, and to their belief that an occasion only was needed to call forth zeal and energy among us.
From the circumstances, to which allusion has been made, the meeting at which the project of this Association was discussed, and its constitution adopted, was necessarily small. Notice could only be given at the close of the Berry Street Conference on Wednesday morning, that such a meeting would be held in the afternoon. At that meeting, it was unanimously voted, that it is expedient to form a society to be called the American Unitarian Association. At an'adjourned meeting, held the next morning, a constitution, reported by a committee appointed for the purpose, was accepted, and the officers required by the constitution were elected. This brief statement will explain the fact, that the existence of this society was unknown to most Unitarians
in this city and commonwealth, until some weeks after its organization ; and will also show under what doubtful prospects of support it was commenced.
The expectations of its early friends have not been disappointed, and the Committee hope, in the sketch, which they shall now give of their labours and success, to satisfy all inquiries respecting the utility of this institution, or the favour which has been bestowed upon
it. A serious embarrassment occurred at the entrance of their duties. Two of the gentlemen who had been chosen directors declined to act in that capacity, on account of the previous engagements under which they were labouring. Another officer of the Association plead the state of his health as an excuse for avoiding any new
These persons expressed at the same time their friendly dispositions, and are among our most liberal subscribers, and from one of them a letter has been received in reply to our invitation to this meeting, in which the writer “regrets his absence the less, as it will not at all be required as a proof of his strong interest in the objects of the Association, and his earnest wishes for its success. The places of these gentlemen, were filled according to the 8th article of the constitution ; and the Committee immediately proceeded to devise and execute such measures, as seemed to them fitted to produce the most extensive and efficient cooperation. A correspondence was opened with Unitarians in various parts of our country ; an agent was employed to visit some portions of New England, and copies of the Constitution and of a Circular, explaining the origin and purposes of the Association,
distributed. The result of
these measures was favourable ; the health of the agent allowed him to effect less than he wished, but he obtained many subscriptions, and was in every place received with kindness. Letters were addressed to the gentlemen who had been elected Vice Presidents, who acknowledged the appointment, and declared their approbation of the decisive step which Unitarian Christians had here taken. By a vote passed at the time of the organization of the Society, the Executive Committee were authorized to complete the number of Vice Presidents, but they have felt an unwillingness to make the choice, and the places of six officers have therefore remained vacant. A second Circular explanatory of the views of the Committee was printed in the course of the last winter, and has been useful in bringing the community to a better acquaintance with the course which it was intended to pursue, and the means by which assistance might be rendered. The Committee have been gratified by the sympathy expressed for them in the prosecution of their duties by Unitarians near and at a distance. They have been favoured with letters from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, from all sections of this state, from the city of New York, and from the western part of the state of New York, from Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Northumberland, Pittsburg, and Meadville in Pennsylvania, from Maryland, from the District of Columbia, from South Carolina, from Kentucky, and from Indiana. In all these letters the same interest is exhibited in the efforts which the Association promises to make for the diffusion of pure Christianity. Many of them have contained in
teresting accounts of the state of religion in different places, and especially correspondents have furnished the Committee with ample details respecting the history and condition of Unitarians in Pennsylvania. If similar accounts could be obtained from all the states of the Union, they would embody an amount of knowledge, that is now much wanted. And the Committee avail themselves of this opportunity to remind Unitarians, that they will render a service to the cause of truth by communicating facts connected with the progress and present state of Unitarian Christianity. The existence of a body of christians in the Western States, who have for years been Unitarians, have encountered persecution on account of their faith, and have lived in ignorance of others east of the mountains, who maintained many similar views of christian doctrine, has attracted the attention of the Committee. Measures have been taken to ascertain more correctly the situation and character of this fraternity, who have adopted various names significant of their attachment to freedom of inquiry, and to a purer gospel than that embraced by other sects, and who, though they have refused to assume the title, openly avow themselves Unitarians. With two ministers of this body a correspondence has been continued for some time. The Committee have watched with peculiar interest the growth of the Christian Connexion, which is daily becoming more numerous and respectable. From members of that body, they have received expressions of fraternal regard ; and although there should not be a more intimate nion between these disciples and ourselves, than now exists, yet we rejoice that. they have the same great work at heart, and we doubt