Modern Immortals: Leonard “Live-Forever” Jones

Court room illustration of Live Forever Jones, the long-haired, long-bearded gentleman seated on the left, answering the query of prosecutor Ben Hardin, Public Domain via KookScience

Court room illustration of Live Forever Jones, the long-haired, long-bearded gentleman seated on the left, answering the query of prosecutor Ben Hardin, Public Domain via KookScience

We’ve all seen some pretty wacky political candidates, but Leonard “Live-Forever” Jones (1797-no real surprise 1868) might beat them all. He ran for each presidential election from the 1840s until 1868. His platform? That death was a moral issue and one could live forever through prayer and fasting (caloric restriction?).

Born in Virginia in 1797, he made his fortune in land speculation. The Second Great Awakening found him converting four times before he found his calling in the “Live-Forever” church. He and the founder, preacher McDaniel, believed moral purity could bring on immortality.

They went out to preach together and even planned a city that would headquarter their new church. It had no funeral parlors or cemeteries. To his embarrassment, McDaniel died not long after, but he was still so convinced of his own immortality he settled in Kentucky and formed the “High Moral Party” and started running for office.

He nominated himself for local offices, congress, even US president. He declared Taylor’s death and Lincoln’s assassination were evidence he should have been elected. Though he never even came close to office, he was a popular orator. Not because he was believable, but because he was considered an amusing eccentric. He was known for a passionate oratories where he startled his audiences by leaping into the air and pounding the podium with his cane so loudly he drowned out his own voice. In August 1868, he came down with pneumonia and insisted he did not need treatment, which was probably the best option anyway considering some of the treatments of the day.

It’s no surprise to most of us that he died, but will there come a time when we’ll be surprised if someone dies? There is a lot of money and time being spent to lengthen human life these days. Is it just a matter of time before prayer and fasting is replaced by supplements and treatments? Are the claims of companies selling those treatment just as crazy as Jones’ rhetoric?

And what happens if politics and immortality ever do intersect? If Jones was elected president would he stand back and urge people to be moral, or would he try to legislate morality in order to eradicate death? Would an opponent rise up in the next election and insist upon the necessity of death?

These are all questions that might come up in The Phoenix Series (and by that I mean my novels and this blog).

Sources:

Leonard Jones

http://hatch.kookscience.com/wiki/Leonard_Jones

Ever After- Solving the problem of mortality, one plan at a time   Miles Klee

http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundtable/ever-after

 

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