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Seven Years of Grace
The Inspired Mission of Achsa W. Sprague

The story of a popular trance lecturer from the peak of the American Spiritualist movement

In November 1852, a shy and sickly young spinster in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, glimpses a blinding rush of angel wings. Restored to health and given an urgent mission by these guardians, she embraces the Spiritualist movement and embarks on a seven-year crusade across America. Though publicly rejecting the doctrine of Free Love embraced by many Spiritualists, she secretly struggles against the growing love she feels for the married man she calls her “Evil Genius.”

Seven Years of Grace is a dramatized account of the life of Achsa Sprague (1827–1862), who in the decade preceding the American Civil War lectured to audiences of thousands on Spiritualism, the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, and prison reform. She presented herself as a medium, lecturing and singing hymns in a state of trance. Alone on stage, she drew acclaim and admiration but also jeers, ridicule, and condemnation. A skeptic in Oswego, New York, asked, “Why is it that all the world should run nightly mad to hear her in a pretended trance?” A Milwaukee newspaper proclaimed her words “profound twaddle from beginning to end.” Yet Achsa’s crowds continued to grow in size and enthusiasm.

Grounded in the extensive collection of Achsa Sprague’s papers at the Vermont Historical Society, Seven Years of Grace is both a fascinating tale and a revealing window into the past.


Sara Rath is the author of fifteen books, including H.H. Bennett, Photographer: His American Landscape. The Vermont Historical Society awarded her its Weston A. Cate Fellowship to support her research on Achsa W. Sprague. She lives in Spring Green, Wisconsin.





“Impeccably researched. . . . Fans of antebellum America and the spiritualism craze shouldn’t miss this one.”
Historical Novels Review

“A wonderful historical novel. Sara Rath has deeply researched the small but highly influential number of itinerant woman lecturers during the mid-nineteenth century, and she has found a brilliant way to tell Achsa Sprague’s story.”
—John B. Buescher, author of The Other Side of Salvation: Spiritualism and the Nineteenth-Century Religious Experience



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Also by Sara Rath

Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages

Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages
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Night Sisters

Night Sisters
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Seven Years of Grace
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June 2016
LC: 2015044763 PS
230 pp. 6 x 9
15 b/w illus.

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Paper $24.95 t
ISBN 978-0-934720-66-3
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