The Group of Twenty-Two

BC SPCA

British Columbia SPCA

Margaret Mead’s rallying call of “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” has inspired many to undertake courageous, seemingly insurmountable tasks.  In the 20th century, Margaret Mead recognized the universal truth that sweeping movements generally begin with an idea shared by a few people.  They are the catalyst for transformation.  Rewind to the 19th century when twenty-two reformers met on the night of June 16, 1824 at “Old Slaughter’s Coffee House.”  What they discussed that evening had far-reaching consequences that have extended into the 21st Century.  Twenty-two people believed that it was possible to stop cruelty to animals, to change the way society views other lives who share the earth. That night marked the genesis of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the first animal welfare charity to be founded in the world.

While the acceptance of animal rights is entrenched within the values and norms of our society, the world in 1824 found the notion of extending kindness to animals rather peculiar. After all, animals were there to be used for food, transportation or amusement.  But change was coming and soon others were persuaded, including Queen Victoria, who bestowed her blessing by granting the fledgling society a royal status:  Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

BC SPCA

British Columbia SPCA

Who were the twenty-two reformers?

  • Arthur Broome, a vicar
  • Richard Martin, aka Humanity Dick
  • Fowell Buxton, Lawyer and Member of Parliament
  • Sir James Mackintosh, Scottish Politician and Historian
  • Lewis Gompertz, Inventor
  • Basil Montagu, Barrister and Philanthropist
  • William Wilberforce, the leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

The names of the others who met the night of June 16, 1824, are hidden in the folds of history.  But their commitment to the noble cause, their determination to seek a better way shaped the world in which we live today.  Their efforts have inspired others to follow; what they began, others have continued.

Next post:

The Vicar who went to prison…

48 thoughts on “The Group of Twenty-Two

    • This is a very interesting narrative, Dallas. The lives of those involved are the stuff of legends; they were passionate, to a fault in their endeavours; even so, there were some difficult challenges, both internal and external. One thing we can count on when it comes to movements – there is never, ever a dull moment.

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    • Grazie per la vostra visita e commenti incoraggianti. Sono così felice che ho trovato il vostro blog. Siamo in un viaggio insieme. Hai fatto il mio giorno bellissimo.

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    • This is the most interesting narrative, especially given that there was an “awakening” to plight of animals. What prompted the change in heart? Who was the first to recognize the problem? To me, these individuals are the outliers that alert society to what is possible and what is necessary.

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  1. I fully agree with you , dear Rebecca, that even small groups of people can change things and they did well in this case of cruelty against animals. I just would like to say that in our parts dogholders are not all well educated that we founded a dogless group of people who are just collecting the many left-behinds of this animals along walking paths. Very best regards and many thanks that you showed us that we can react to a certain situation.😀

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    • I agree, the idea of animals rights is a “work in progress.” Even with the ability to use our technology to communicate the need for animal welfare, many people do not fully appreciate that we owe a great debt of gratitude to our fellow creatures. Many accomplishments are from individual acts of kindness. A friend of mine goes out at night to search for stray cats and takes them to shelters for adoption and medical treatment. Paulette, a fellow blogger, donates ALL PROFITS TO the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA., Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center.

      https://thepersecutionofmildreddunlap.wordpress.com/

      As Gandhi once said: ““The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” The same can be applied to an individual. Thank you so much for adding to the dialogue. 🙂

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  2. A big, warm THANK YOU ❤ to the twenty-two reformers! The noble cause and their efforts made them role models, thank you for this interesting post, dear Rebecca. I love the Margaret Mead quote. Indeed, words and ideas can change the world, we should never forget it.
    Wishing you a wonderful Sunday in Vancouver,
    Dina, Klausbernd, Siri & Selma xxxx

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    • I agree – words have the power to change the world. Even more remarkable, they can take on the greater challenge of changing the hearts and minds of an single person. I enjoyed your Charles Dickens quote from Great Expectations in your last post. That was my first introduction to Charles Dickens when I was in middle school. If anyone could use words to persuade and transform, it was him.

      “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.” Charles Dickens

      Big hugs and many thanks to my dear friends, the Fab Four of Cley!!!

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    • We adopted from the SPCA as well. Our Vancouver chapter is a vibrant group of people. I love going by the SPCA to watch them take the dogs for the walk. The more I look into the next chapters, the more I realize how dramatic it was to take on this project. From prison to courtrooms to drawing rooms of the aristocrats, to the monarchy, there is never a dull moment.

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    • How very well said!! I have been trying to find all the names of the 22 individuals who attended the first meeting and have only come up with a few. It was a reminder to me that when we seek to to achieve positive outcomes for all, our names are not as important as the work itself. It is enough to have been involved in a project that has helped to lighten the burden of another life.

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  3. Great topic Rebecca… Not hard to imagine the smile on Paulette Mahurin’s face, when she reads this, your latest post, that we two legged creatures can but support and applaud the forefathers of this noble movement.
    Your reference to the Margret Mead comment that sweeping movements generally begin with an idea shared by a few people, are a catalyst for transformation, plays well with recent events in Canada. Here a young man and new leader of a floundering third place party, surrounded himself with a few like people, and succeeded in the history making of winning a landslide approval, giving them the victory to unseat the people in power who were systematically destroying what this country had stood for proudly, for decades. In the process he brought to fruition the toast he was given at the age of four month old, by a former President of the United States, and I quote, “Here is to the future Prime Minister of Canada”…!

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    • Oh Jean-Jacques!! What a day that was when our dear Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister of Canada. I remember the announcement of his birth and now, he has been chosen by acclamation to be our leader. It was a good day for Canada.

      “My father’s values and vision of this country obviously form everything I have as values and ideals. But this is not the ghost of my father running for the leadership of the Liberal party. This is me.” Justin Trudeau

      More to come – I want Paulette to continue smiling. She is such a joy.

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    • Thank you, Carrie! This narrative is a page-turner. I have briefly skimmed “The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA” and am only now beginning to see the depth and breadth of the “struggle.” I am curious about beginnings. There has to be an “awakening” to something that doesn’t seem right. How does that happen? Who sees the need first? I like Charles Dickens’s take on this subject:

      “An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” Charles Dickens

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    • Every time I pass by the Vancouver SPCA, which is every day, I think of all the good work you are doing, Paulette! There is so much heart and soul in this narrative. This journey was not for the fainthearted. There were many times when internal crises rocked the group. We all think that the “committed group” of people should be unanimous in their decisions; quite the contrary. We need open discussions, brainstorming sessions etc. When we engage in good faith, the outcomes of debate produces enormous benefits. Stay tuned for more…

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  4. Thanks for this interesting information, Rebecca. It’s so true that all it takes to make a difference, is for a small group of like-minded people to band together and do something, just as it’s true that ““The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke. Great to see you again. 🙂 xx

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    • I always enjoy your comments and visit. This is an amazing story, one that continues to this day and beyond. The Edmund Burke quote is one of my most favourite. The path of mediocrity is the one where you never add to the dialogue or story of humanity. It is so important to “show up” to be counted, to make a difference. We are not measured by our “likes” and “retweets” but my our compassion and determination to respectfully engage within our communities, whether local or global. It is good to be back!! Hugs!

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  5. “In the 20th century, Margaret Mead recognized the universal truth that sweeping movements generally begin with an idea shared by a few people. They are the catalyst for transformation.”

    They are. Non-accepting of what is considered acceptable.

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    • William Wilberforce was remarkable. I am reading Eric Metaxas’s biography: “Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.” What a story and an uphill battle. Thanks for your visit and comments – truly appreciated.

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  6. Many thanks to the group of 22! and, their belief in the value, care and respect to one of the groups of God’s creation! And their valuable work still carries on today. Rescue of poorly treated animals is still vibrant and many have enjoyed the fellowship of animals in need they have taken into their care. My youngest son was surprised and saddened when someone said to him that animals do not have feelings! Sad!

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    • It is difficult to understand how someone could believe that animals lack emotion or experience joy or pain. The journey of animal rights continues. Thank you for adding depth to the discussion.

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  7. We’ve caused animals a lot of suffering through the ages, and maybe especially now. I suspect there have always been thoughtful, kind people, though. One example is St. Francis of Assisi. “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
    ― Francis of Assisi

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    • I agree wholeheartedly. I believe more is being done today because of the work of others that came before. The issue of food supply and costs play a big role in our current reality. The dialogue continues – we all must be active participants in the conversation. Thank you for that wonderful quote by St. Frances.

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  8. Rebecca, all we need for the best to occur is to believe it can be done, and so be it; as this group achieved. The way forward depends upon those in our society, whose belief is for something better, to remain true to their beliefs. As with all great leaps forward, a few good men and women are all that is required to begin the process. Then, like the domino effect, others follow. Here’s to many, many more good men and women.

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    • How very well said!! I agree, movements begin with the courage and insight of a few. What I wonder is: what awakens our hearts and minds to the need for change? How does the idea germinate? How can we be open to what is possible? I especially like your words, “Whose belief is for something better, to remain true to their beliefs.” Thank you for your visit and comments – so very much appreciated.

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      • I don’t believe any venture (of any kind) can be artificially manufactured. I am of the belief, Rebecca, that if a cause or belief is not fundamentally innate it will remain out of touch, so to speak, for the individual. If, on the other hand, a belief or idea corresponds to the individual’s unique parameters, the idea/cause will fuse, bringing the concept into the arena of opportunity and practicality.
        Some, it is my belief, take that bull by the horns with vigour, whilst others are subject to their insecurities and fears, and fail to take up the challenge. Naturally, this is always subject to ‘choice’.
        Also, we cannot all be ‘chiefs’, as such. There is a need for many ‘fire-fighters’. Those who are ‘fire-fighters’ have just as much a role to play in the process by adding their agreement; albeit silent, in most cases.
        In the scenario, which you have presented so eloquently, many such individuals were required to agree to the initial proposal. To my way of thinking, this occurred, allowing the process to become concretised. It takes a ‘village’, comes to mind.

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      • Thank you for adding depth and extraordinary insight to this discussion! I agree wholeheartedly! Without the village, the compassionate community we cannot prevail! Thank you again for sharing your wisdom! Many hugs!

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  9. Pingback: The Vicar Who Went to Prison | Clanmother

  10. I just read through this post again and find it so inspiring how this group banded together with the goal to fight animal cruelty. Through collaboration, we can attain amazing results! ♥ Happy weekend, dear friend

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    • Thank you, Christy!!! Next on the list is Humanity Dick – what an amazing story. Coming next week. I’ve been off the grid for a few days visiting family in Alberta. What I find most refreshing is that we continue to have ‘groups of 22’ that make a difference. We are a part of a compassionate blogging community that continues to focus on positive outcomes for all. The work is far from over, the effort goes on. We are the ones who speak for our generation – every voice counts.

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  11. Thanks to the SPCA in a local town here in B.C., my brother and his lovely wife got a puppy there that they rescued, he was an angel dog, and I went along too, so I am close to Ray too because he came to my home a lot right from when he was only 8 weeks old.

    I agree with the SPCA and PETA too: only get a rescue dog — save a life don’t go buying a pure bred dog (because they are all puppy milled), and I know this for a fact, I’ve had only pure bread dogs (because I love Border Collies) and every one of them, even though they came from a farm, had bone problems, whereas, Ray was healthy (I know this is not aways the case), but why not rescue one, even if it too becomes I’ll? (and a lot of it comes from the awful food that is put in kibble) …I make organic home cooked food for all of my dogs, takes a lot f time, but it’s a labour of love, and not anymore expensive than “high end” kibble.

    Great post! Yes! Let’s applaud Heros who care about animals, I’m happy to find out some of their names.

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    • I agree wholeheartedly. I remember when the SPCA introduced us to our beautiful cat we called “Whiskers.” (she had amazing long whiskers) When we took her home, she went into our basement and hid in the darkest area. It took us a few weeks until she trusted us. And then she became part of the family. I still grieve her passing, but celebrate the time we had with her. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the creatures that share our world. I have often wondered if we are the most advanced species!!??? I’m delighted to know that you live in my side of the world. I really enjoy your poetry. Thank you for creating an amazing space to exchange ideas. Have a great weekend.

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