converted to Christian pacifism in 1838. Standard of Practical Christianity was composed in 1839 by Ballou and a few ministerial colleagues and laymen. The signatories announced their withdrawal from "the governments
of the world." They believed the dependence on force to maintain order was unjust, and vowed to not participate in such government. While they did not acknowledge the earthly rule of man, they also did not rebel or "resist any of their ordinances by physical
force." "We cannot employ carnal weapons nor any physical violence whatsoever," they proclaimed, "not even for the preservation of our lives. We cannot render evil for evil... nor do otherwise than 'love our enemies.'"
Starting in 1843, he served as president of the New England Non-Resistance Society.He
worked with his friend William
Lloyd Garrison until they broke over Garrison's support for violence in fighting slavery. In 1846 Ballou published his principal work on pacifism, Christian non-Resistance. Ballou was also involved with the Universal Peace Union founded in 1866.
During the American Civil War, Ballou stood by his pacifist views unlike other Christian pacifist leaders.
In 1837, Ballou publicly announced he was an abolitionist. He made anti-slavery lecture tours in Pennsylvania in 1846 and in New York in 1848.
Ballou's antislavery sentiments are exemplified in his 1843 Fourth of July address entitled "The Voice of Duty," in which he called on Americans
to honor the foundations of the country by not being selective or hypocritical in their judgment of who should be free: "We honor liberty only when we make her impartial--the same for and to all men." Ballou also responded to those who claimed that abolitionists
dishonor the U.S.
Constitution, saying that he stood "on a higher moral platform than any human compact." Of the Founding Fathers Ballou stated: "I honor them with all my heart for their devotion to right principles,
for all the truly noble traits in their character, for their fidelity to their own highest light. But because I honor their love of liberty, must I honor their compromises with slavery?"
Through the temperance movement, Ballou outlined "three great
practical data in ethics":
- That righteousness must be taught definitely, specifically, and practically to produce any marked results.
- That adherents of a cause must be unequivocally pledged to the practice of definitely declared duties.
- That such
pledged adherents must voluntarily associate under explicit affirmations of a settled purpose to cooperate in exemplifying and diffusing abroad the virtues and excellences to which they are committed and not act at random in disorganized and aimless individualism.
By 1840, Ballou was convinced his Christian convictions would not allow him to live in the worldly
governments. In 1841, he and the Practical Christians purchased a farm west of Milford, Massachusetts and named it Hopedale. The community was settled in 1842.
The practical end of the Community came in 1856 when two of Ballou's closest supporters, Ebenezer and George Draper, withdrew their 75% share of the community's stock to
form the successful Hopedale Manufacturing Company. George claimed the community was not using sound business practices. The community, however, continued on as a religious group until 1867, when it became the Hopedale Parish and rejoined mainstream Unitarianism.
December 15, 1873 the Trustees of the Community conveyed all right, title, interest and control over to Community Square. Ballou remained as Hopedale's pastor throughout its transformation and finally retired in 1880. Adin
Street in the town of Hopedale, Massachusetts is named after him.