The Twilight Club

The Twilight Club members met at various houses in New York, most frequently at the home of Richard & Helena Gilder. Various members and invited guests presided as speakers at these meetings, Andrew Carnegie, Edwin Markham, Walter Russell and Theodore Roosevelt being among these.

They were interested in furthering the continuation of an ethical society.

The Founders

Herbert Spencer
“The leading traits of a code [of ethics], under which complete living through voluntary cooperation is secured, may be simply stated. The fundamental requirement is that the life-sustaining actions of each shall severally bring him the amounts and kinds of advantage naturally achieved by them ... the highest life being reached only when besides helping to complete one another’s lives by specified reciprocities of aid, men otherwise help to complete one another’s lives.”

from The Data of Ethics

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.”

“Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

from Compensation

Walt Whitman
“I dreamed in a dream I saw a city invincible
to the whole rest of the earth,
I dream’d that was the new city of friends,
Nothing was greater there than the quality
of robust love, it led the rest,
It was seen every hour in the actions
of the men of that city,
And in all their looks and words.”

from Leaves of Grass

Edwin Markham
“Our hope is in heroic men,
Star-led to build the world again.
To this event the ages ran:
Make way for Brotherhood-
make way for Man.”

from Brotherhood

“In vain we build the city
if we do not first build the man.”

Andrew Carnegie
“Since the civilized world is now united by electric bonds into one body in constant and instant communication, it is largely interdependent and rapidly becoming more so. No nation can go to war now against another nation without going to war against all humanity. The world has become a family.”

1907 Andrew Carnegie was then President of the
New York Peace Society

Mark Twain
“Mark Twain’s religion was a faith too wide for doctrines-a benevolence too limitless for creeds. From the beginning he strove against oppression, sham, and evil in every form. He despised meanness; he resented ... everything that savored of persecution or a curtailment of human liberties.”

from Mark Twain, A Biography by Albert Bigelow Paine


Other prominent members of the original Twilight Club were:

James Howard Bridge, who later became Herbert Spencer’s American secretary, and who worked with Walter Russell for a number of years in this movement

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Judge in the Supreme Court of the United States, author of The Common Law, friend of Emerson, Lowell and William James.

John Burroughs, naturalist, who wrote The Gospel of Nature.

Richard Watson Gilder, at that time President and Editor of the Century magazine.

Henry Holt, the publisher