Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
2011-12-14
December 14: John Oldcastle (d. 1417) and the Lollard Heresy

It was on this date, December 14, 1417, that Sir John Oldcastle, a leader of the Lollard religious sect, was hanged and burned in Britain. He was born in Herefordshire on an unknown date in 1378, matured as a soldier, then adopted the teachings of John Wycliffe (1324-84). Oldcastle married into nobility and served in […]

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2011-12-14
December 14: Pierre Samuel Dupont (1739)

It was on this date, December 14, 1739, that French economist and industrialist Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours was born in Paris. The family name is chiefly remembered for the company founded by his son, but the elder Dupont influenced Adam Smith‘s ideas in the latter’s Wealth of Nations during the 1760s with his own […]

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2011-12-13
December 13: William Lloyd Garrison (1805)

It was on this date, December 13, 1805, that the great American abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Apprenticed early on to a printer, he rose to become editor of several journals after becoming involved in the early fight against slavery, a socially destructive institution the churches had long ignored — when […]

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2011-12-13
December 13: Council of Trent (1545)

It was on this date, December 13, 1545, that the Council of Trent met in the Italian border town of Trento. The Council was urged on a reluctant Pope to clean up the sewer of corruption and vice that had been the Roman Catholic Church for the preceding two centuries, and even the Catholic Encyclopedia […]

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2011-12-13
December 13: Heinrich Heine (1797)

It was on this date, December 13, 1797, that one of the greatest poets of the mid 1800s, Heinrich Heine, was born in Düsseldorf. Heine was pushed toward a commercial career, studied at the universities of Bonn (under Schlegel), Berlin (under Hegel) and Göttingen. But though he took a degree in 1825, Heine was more […]

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2011-12-12
December 12: Erasmus Darwin (1731)

It was on this date, December 12, 1731, that British physiologist, and grandfather of Charles Darwin, Erasmus Darwin was born in Nottinghamshire. He was educated at Cambridge and Edinburgh. His medical practice became so respected that he was invited, though he declined, to be personal physician to King George III. Erasmus Darwin was also a […]

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2011-12-12
December 12: Gustave Flaubert (1821)

It was on this date, December 12, 1821, that the French novelist of the Realist school, Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen into a family of doctors. Naturally he began to train for a medical career, but rebelled against that, took up law, failed his exams, and turned to literature. He lived with his mother […]

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2011-12-11
December 11: Hector Berlioz (1803)

It was on this date, December 11, 1803, that French Romantic composer Louis Hector Berlioz was born in La Côte St. André, Isère. His father, a well-to-do physician, aimed his son toward a medical career, but his son missed the mark when he taught himself harmony and learned the flute and guitar. Berlioz never studied […]

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2011-12-10
December 10: Hugh M. Hefner and Playboy (1953)
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2011-12-10
December 9: John Milton (1608)

It was on this date, December 9, 1608, that the second greatest English poet, John Milton, was born in London. Best known for his 1667 epic poem Paradise Lost, Milton had turned away from study for the ministry and toward letters. He is known widely as a “great Christian poet,” but his Paradise Lost is […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.


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July 28: Karl Popper (1902)

Sir Karl Popper (1902) It was on this date, July 28, 1902, that British philosopher Sir Karl Popper was born in Austria. He studied and taught in Vienna until the rise of the Nazis forced this son of Jewish parents to emigrate. He was sympathetic to the Vienna School of philosophy, though he was never […]



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