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In the early years of the American Republic, men and women across the United States began forming social libraries, Bible societies, and dozens of other associations. These groups reflected Enlightenment beliefs about mankind's ability to improve the world and the human condition. In the newly formed United States, citizens were expected to take the lead in ushering in this new era of knowledge and freedom. A number of Deerfield men formed the Literary Adelphi society in 1804 to maintain the intellectual character of the town. In this 1854 meeting, society members debated which was the greater evil: intemperance or slavery. After "animated debate" it was decided that slavery was the greater evil.