The Water Cure: 1846–1848

Joan D. Hedrick

in Harriet Beecher Stowe

Published in print July 1995 | ISBN: 9780195096392
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854288 | DOI:
The Water Cure: 1846–1848

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's religious conversion of 1843 was paralleled in 1846 by a secular conversion to the water cure. Both were informed by the millennial hope of a perfect world, and both placed a baptism and a crisis at the heart of the cure. “Wash and Be Healed,” proclaimed the banner of the Water-Cure Journal, unabashedly appealing to millennial hopes. Hydropathy promised to do for the body what religious conversion had done for the soul. Appealing to the reformist striving of the age, hydropathy's goals were framed in specific, this worldly terms, that siphoned off religious energies into secular channels; in this respect the water cure was a harbinger of late-Victorian culture. Hydropathy taught that hygienic living was the best prevention of illness, and that through self-care one could enjoy good health and freedom from drugs and doctors. Hydropathy had strong links with homeopathy, which advocated the use of miniscule doses of medicine.

Keywords: Harriet Beecher Stowe; secular conversion; water cure; hydropathy; baptism; self-care; health; homeopathy

Chapter.  7011 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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