Wallace Delois Wattles (1860–1911) was a New Thought writer, one of the most prolific in my opinion.Wallace is listed as being born in Illinois while his parents are listed as born in New York. According to the 1910 census, Wattles had changed the spelling of his last name from Walters to Wattles. He was married to Abbie Walters, 47, at the time. They had three children: Florence Walters, 22, Russell H. Walters, 27, and Agnes Walters, 16. It also shows that at the time Wallace’s mother Mary A. Walters was living with the family at the age of 79.
Florence wrote that “he made lots of money, and had good health, except for his extreme frailty” in the last three years before his death. Wattles died on February 7, 1911 in Ruskin, Tennessee and his body was transported home for burial to Elwood, Indiana. As a sign of respect businesses closed throughout the town for two hours on the afternoon of his funeral.
His death at age 51 was regarded as “untimely” by his daughter. In the previous year he had not only published two books (The Science of Being Well and The Science of Getting Rich), but he had also run for public office.
In 1896 in Chicago, Illinois, Wattles attended “a convention of reformers” and met George Davis Herron, a Congregational Church minister and professor of Applied Christianity at Grinnell College who was then attracting nationwide attention by preaching a form of Christian Socialism.
After meeting Herron, Wattles became a social visionary and began to expound upon what Florence called “the wonderful, social message of Jesus.”According to Florence, he at one time had held a position in the Methodist Church, but was ejected for his “heresy”. Two of his books (A New Christ and Jesus: The Man and His Work) dealt with Christianity from a Socialist perspective.
In the 1908 election, he ran as a Socialist Party of America candidate in the Eighth Congressional District; in 1910 he again ran as a Socialist candidate, for the office of Prosecuting Attorney for the Madison County, Indiana 50th court district. He did not win either election. Florence Wattles remained a Socialist after his death, and was a delegate to the Socialist Party National Committee in 1912 and 1915. I
As a Midwesterner, Wattles travelled to Chicago, where several leading New Thought leaders were located, among them Emma Curtis Hopkins and William Walker Atkinson, and he gave “Sunday night lectures” in Indiana; however, his primary publisher was Massachusetts-based Elizabeth Towne.
He studied the writings of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and recommended the study of their books to his readers who wished to understand what he characterized as “the monistic theory of the cosmos.”
Through his personal study and experimentation Wattles claimed to have discovered the truth of New Thought principles and put them into practice in his own life. He also advocated the then-popular health theories of “The Great Masticator” Horace Fletcher as well as the “No-Breakfast Plan” of Edward Hooker Dewey, which he claimed to have applied to his own life. He wrote books outlining these principles and practices, giving them titles that described their content, such as Health Through New Thought and Fasting and The Science of Being Great. His daughter Florence recalled that “he lived every page” of his books.
A practical author, Wattles encouraged his readers to test his theories on themselves rather than take his word as an authority, and he claimed to have tested his methods on himself and others before publishing them.
Wattles practiced the technique of creative visualization. In his daughter Florence’s words, he “formed a mental picture” or visual image, and then “worked toward the realization of this vision”:
He wrote almost constantly. It was then that he formed his mental picture. He saw himself as a successful writer, a personality of power, an advancing man, and he began to work toward the realization of this vision. He lived every page… His life was truly the powerful life.