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Mar 07

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March 7: André Morellet (1727)

MorelletAndréIt was on this date, March 7, 1727, that French economist and contributor to the Encyclopédie André Morellet was born. After a Jesuit education, he kept all his life the title of the Abbé Morellet without religious conviction: according to the Grande Encyclopédie, he “did more than any in spreading the views of the philosophers,” that is, Deism. His writings – including a translation of Beccaria’s Treatise, a smart pamphlet in answer to Charles Palissot’s scurrilous play Les Philosophes (the reward for which was a short stay in the Bastille), a reply to Ferdinando Galiani’s Dialogues sur le commerce des blés (Dialogues on the commerce in wheat), and a French translation of On Crimes and Punishments – were published in 4 vols. in 1818, the year before his death. Because of his able and biting wit, his close friend Voltaire called him “L’Abbé Mords-les” (“Father Bite-them”). Morellet’s semi-satirical translation of Nicolau Eymerich’s Directorium Inquisitorum (written by the 14th century Inquisitor General of Aragon) led to the cessation of some of the French Catholic Church’s more inquisitorial practices.

Next to Voltaire, André Morellet counted among his friends Denis Diderot, Jean le Rond D’Alembert and Benjamin Franklin. Two years after his death, on 12 January 1819, his valuable Memories on the 18th Century and the Revolution were published.

About the author

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Freethought Almanac was created by Ronald Bruce Meyer, in collaboration with freethoughtradio.com, in March 2003. What started with a brief notice on the birthday of Albert Einstein, grew into almost 250,000 words on not only biography but history, philosophy, theology and politics — one day at a time. Freethought Almanac looks at these daily subjects from a godless point of view, that is, a point of view that is based not on fantasies, delusions or wishful thinking, but a view that is evidence-based.

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