Professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.
Discovered the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. Author of more than 150 papers on
scientific subjects, writer on political and moral questions and one of
the first scientific authorities to denounce early American Spiritualism
in the Press. He considered it "an act of duty to his fellow creatures to
bring whatever influence he possessed to the attempt to stem the tide of
popular madness which, in defiance of reason and science, was fast setting
in favour of the gross delusion called spiritualism." So in 1853, at the
age of 72, he began his investigations and devised a number of instruments
which, contrary to his expectations, conclusively proved that a power and
intelligence, not that of those present, was at work.
His book, Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestation,
published in 1855, summed up the results as follows:
"The evidence may be
contemplated under various phases; first, those in which rappings or other
noises have been made which could not be traced to any mortal agency;
secondly, those in which sounds were so made as to indicate letters
forming grammatical, well-spelt sentences, affording proof that they were
under the guidance of some rational being; thirdly, those in which the
nature of the communication has been such as to prove that the being
causing them must, agreeably to accompanying allegations, be some known
acquaintance, friend, or relative of the inquirer.
"Again, cases in which movements have been made of ponderable bodies of a
nature to produce intellectual communications resembling those obtained,
as above-mentioned, by sounds.
"Although the apparatus by which these various proofs were attained with
the greatest possible precaution and precision, modified them as to the
manner, essentially all the evidence which I have obtained tending to the
conclusions above mentioned, has likewise been substantially obtained by a
great number of observers. Many who never sought any spiritual
communications and have not been induced to enroll themselves as
Spiritualists, will nevertheless not only affirm the existence of the
sounds and movements, but also admit their inscrutability."
Reaction was quick to set against Hare. The professors of Harvard
University passed a resolution denouncing him and his "insane adherence to
a gigantic humbug." He was howled down by the American Association for the
Advancement of Science when in Washington in 1854 he tried to address them
on the subject of Spiritualism. Finally he paid for his convictions by
resigning from his chair.