PERIODS of social unrest and change are sometimes characterized by a multiplication of reformers, each with a panacea that he sincerely believes will cure the woes of the world, and of quacks with plausible--and profitable--economic nostrums. The forties and fifties bred a vast number of these peculiar doctrines, some of them good and some of them bad, but each of them was advocated with deadly, humorless earnestness by its devoted adherents. There were the Antimasons, the Mormons, the Native Americans, the phrenologists, the socialists, the Millerites, the Fourierists, the Spiritualists, the free-traders, the tariff advocates, the temperance people, the abolitionists, and the feminists. Some of them had their origin before 1840, but all except the first reached their flower after that date.
All of these theorists and reformers had a hearing in Pittsburgh at one time or another, but after the fall of the Antimasons the last four named above were by far the most prominent. A Millerite called Brother Fitch spent some time in Pittsburgh in 1843 but apparently left after converting only a few women to his belief that the world was to end in 1849; Minersville had a short scare brought on by reputed spirit rappings; Sidney Rigdon, who was prominent in the founding of Mormonism, was for a