Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
September 15, 2011
September 15: William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft (1857) It was on this date, September 15, 1857, that the 27th US President, William Howard Taft, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of a Unitarian. As he grew up, in the late 1850s, Dr. Moncure D. Conway, author of The Life of Thomas Paine, was his church minister. Taft graduated […]

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September 14, 2011
September 14: The Woman Rebel, Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger (1879) It was on this date, September 14, 1879, that Margaret Sanger, the founder of the modern birth control movement and the organization that later became Planned Parenthood, was born Margaret Louise Higgins in Corning, New York. She was the sixth of eleven children: her mother died at 50 after eighteen pregnancies and […]

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September 13, 2011
September 13: The Religious Tolerance of Roger Williams

Roger Williams Banished (1635): Separation of Church and State It was on this date, September 13, 1635, that Separatist preacher Roger Williams, aged about 32, was banished by the Massachusetts General Court for perpetually advocating religious tolerance and separation of church and state.[1] For denouncing the Massachusetts Bay Company charter, and for holding "divers new […]

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September 12, 2011
September 12: H. L. Mencken

H.L. Mencken (1880) It was on this date, September 12, 1880, that the "Bard of Baltimore," Henry Louis Mencken – H.L. Mencken – was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His father was an Agnostic, his mother a Lutheran, and Mencken grew up with a disdain for all orthodoxies, especially Christian. In a letter to historian Will […]

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September 10, 2011
September 10: Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould (1941) It was on this date, September 10, 1941, that "One of the most influential evolutionary biologists of the 20th century and perhaps the best known since Charles Darwin"[1] - Stephen Jay Gould - was born. He grew up in New York City, graduated from Antioch College and in 1967 earned his […]

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September 9, 2011
September 9: The “Red Eminence” and Religion

Cardinal Richelieu (1585) It was on this date, September 9, 1585, that Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu et de Fronsac, who achieved prominence during the reign of French King Louis XIII as Cardinal Richelieu, was born in Paris, the son of Maria de' Medici. Originally trained for a military career, his brother's resignation […]

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September 8, 2011
September 8: Pledge of Allegiance … to God?

Pledge of Allegiance Published (1892) It was on this date, September 8, 1892, that the issue of The Youth's Companion, containing the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag, was published. The author, Francis Bellamy, was a Baptist minister and a Christian Socialist. The original pledge was 22 words and said, […]

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September 7, 2011
September 7: Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I (1533) It was on this date, September 7, 1533, that the first Queen Elizabeth, monarch of the "Golden Age" of English history, was born at Greenwich Palace. She was a disappointment to her father, King Henry VIII, who desperately wanted a son. Henry had gone so far as to break away from […]

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September 6, 2011
September 6: Jane Addams

Jane Addams (1860) It was on this date, September 6, 1860, that American social reformer Jane Addams, was born in Cedarville, Illinois. Addams graduated valedictorian from the Rockford Female Seminary in 1881. She met and became life-long friends with Ellen Gates Starr,* with whom she traveled in Europe from 1883-1885. There they studied social conditions. […]

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September 4, 2011
September 4: Richard Wright

Richard Wright (1908) It was on this date, September 4, 1908, that African-American writer Richard Wright was born outside Natchez, Mississippi, the son of an illiterate sharecropper father and a well-educated school teacher mother. Early on, Wright developed a fascination with books – a love of learning that only deepened his dissatisfaction with life as […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

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This Week in Freethought History (June 23-29)

Read about Joss Whedon, religion and celibacy, Ricky Gervais, Pearl S. Buck, Lafcadio Hearn, the “Lemon Test” and Alton Lemon, forging the Papacy and more …



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