Biography of James E. Padgett

James Edward Padgett was born August 25, 1852, in Washington, D.C. He attended the Polytechnic Academy Institute in New Market, Virginia, and in 1880 was admitted to the bar. Thereafter, he practiced law in the Nation's Capital for forty-three years until his passing in 1923. Padgett was not a Spiritualist but a Methodist and taught Sunday school at the Trinity Methodist Church at 5th St. and Seward Place, N.E. in Washington. He had no previous experience with psychic phenomenon his conception of religious doctrine was simply that of the Protestant Church.

After his wife’s passing he was reluctant to attend his first seance, but his longing for Helen and at the insistence of friends he agreed to investigate the possibility of contact with her. During the seance held at the home of a Mrs. Maltby, she described Helen perfectly and told Padgett that his wife wanted to make contact with him and that she would come to him from her spirit home. The medium recognized that this would be within Padgett’s psychic ability to link with Helen and record her thoughts. His loneliness motivated him to follow Mrs. Maltby's instructions and attempt this rather unorthodox endeavour.

In the evenings after work, in his study Padgett sat at his desk with pencil in hand patiently hoping to hear from his dear departed wife. In time, his hand moved and he scribbled scrolllike characters that he described as "fish hooks" and "hangers". Soon he wrote a short note signed Helen stating she was often present with him in her spirit form and was glad she could come and be close to him in this way.

Padgett was not convinced that the letter actually came from his deceased wife, and being a practical lawyer he asked for proof. In the months that followed, Helen, through her letters, provided accounts of their lives that only the two of them had shared. Padgett thought that even this could be explained as coming from his own mind, except the writings came in a rapid sweep of connected words giving him no time for thought. In fact, he insisted that he had no clear idea what the pencil was writing until he read it afterwards. Besides, many of the details of their lives together that he had written only Helen would have remembered.

Helen continued to write and remained adamant that her letters originate from her mind and not from his. At this point, the understanding that this phenomenon could not have been the brainchild of his own imagination came forcibly to Padgett. He became compelled to accept the evidence of Helen’s communications as assuredly as any proof that he had heard in a court of law. The truth was now evident to him that his wife was alive and well, living in another dimension, and that she was able to transmit her thoughts to him and he was able to write them down.

The writing sessions then took a turn from the personal to the spiritual. Padgett learned that through prayer he could improve his soul condition, increase his vibration and developed his psychic powers to a greater degree. This would enable him to link with spirits of a higher order and receive their instruction. Padgett was able to accomplish this mediumistic task because he had the mental capacity to make his mind completely passive, so that he could be used as a clear channel to write accurately what the spirits wanted to convey.

Once Helen established her identity, she explained to her husband that inhabitants of the higher realms who possessed sacred knowledge, and that Jesus himself, would come to bring his lost teachings to mankind once again. When the first message signed "Jesus of the Bible” was received is not known because Padgett felt it absurd and threw it away. Mr. Colburn, who formed part of the fellowship stated, he could not be persuaded that Jesus had actually written to him. Although his friends had the instinctive feeling that the message was genuine.

The earliest surviving message from Jesus dated September 28, 1914, tells Padgett that certain passages in “The New Testament”, though thoroughly believed by him, were not true. Jesus stated, that he was not born of a virgin, his death did not pay a price for sin, nor is he God to be worshipped. Neither is God spirit only, but is soul, not the soul that is in the created human, but the soul that is Deity, whose entity is the one great fact in the universe of being.

Padgett continued to be doubtful, but in a letter Jesus told him to have faith that it was he, Jesus of the Bible and encouraged him to pray often and that he would soon know the truth. As Padgett developed psychically he came to the realization that he had been chosen as the mortal instrument whereby great spiritual knowledge would be imparted to him for the benefit of mankind. Padgett never practiced his mediumship as a means of earning money, but was wholly dedicated to the reception of the messages signed Jesus and his disciples.

One may wonder if such an important spiritual event took place, why has it gone unnoticed all these years? The reason is Helen suffered from a long illness which depleted Padgett's savings, and he was raising their two boys and had to continue practicing law to provide for his family. Padgett surely realised that if he were to reveal his mediumship, it could jeopardize his reputation and law career his only means of support. Thus, he decided to keep his writings private, disclosing them only to his most trusted friends - Dr. Leslie Stone, Eugene Morgan, Rollison Colburn and Dr. Goerger.

It wasn’t until Padgett’s passing nine years later that his writings could be made public without repercussions. The task of publishing them went to his closest friend Dr. Stone. Producing the first book of writings was a considerable undertaking because with Padgett's style of automatic writing the words are interconnected without breaks or punctuation. Nevertheless, Dr. Stone persevered and completed his book of "messages" as he called them, in 1940. Unfortunately by then, Spiritualism's popularity in America had waned dramatically predominantly from the successful campaign by the celebrated escape artist Harry Houdini, to expose fraud in the seance room.

Houdini succeeded in discrediting the spiritualist mediums to such an extent that Spiritualism became a mere shadow of its former self, with churches closing and mediums retiring. This unfavorable timing for a book on the subject of Spiritualism contributed sharply to the obscurity of James Padgett and his mediumistic work. Nevertheless, a small but dedicated group headed by Dr. Stone continued to transcribe and publish Padgett's writings until today there exists four sizeable volumes.

In the fall of 1954, Dr. Stone met Dr. Daniel G. Samuels in Washington, D.C., and a lasting friendship ensued. Dr. Samuels was a graduate from City College (New York) in 1930 and received an M.A. from Columbia University in 1931 and his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1940. In November of 1954, Dr. Samuels began taking automatic writing, and it was soon realized by others in the group that he had been chosen to be the second mortal instrument to continue where Padgett left off. He wrote messages automatically from Jesus for eleven years until his passing in 1966.

Padgett’s work represents a purposeful spiritual revelation that was destined for Spiritualism, but never came into its possession. I believe that both mediums warrant being known because their spirit writings can make sense of the world, and alleviate the fear of death.

Although, Padgett and his voluminous work has gone undiscovered for the past century, I am certain that they are worthy of investigation.

Alan Ross