7. Citizen of the World

Vale’s Citizen of the World, or, Sunday Beacon (1850-1851)

Prospectus: We shall then consider the theological question as settled, as to a pure, unerring revelation from deity. No lawyer believes it, nor do doctors, learned men, travelers, or thinking beings,- no, nor do educated priests believe it. . . . We shall therefore, based on equal rights and freedom of speech on all subjects – go on to the superstructure, the perfection of human government, the advancement of universal education, and especially that of women on whose ignorance the priests revel. We shall go in for the support of every reform based on reason, for the abolition of every abuse based on privilege, and for the elevation of the mass to the highest refinement, and for universal happiness based on plenty, the fruit of industry; and on rational contentment, the fruit of philosophy which never sacrifices the real enjoyment of life to a fashion, a folly, or a superstition. We advocate a heaven upon earth- the true millennium.

Examined: 1:1 (Nov. 17, 1850) – 1:39 (Nov. 9, 1851); Nov. 23, 1851.[1]

Editor: Gilbert Vale.

Publication Information: New York, New York.


Weekly 1:1 (Nov. 17, 1850) – 1:26 (May 11, 1851).

Biweekly 1:27 (May 25, 1851) – 1:39 (Nov. 9, 1851); Nov. 23, 1851.

Subjects/Features: Religion, Science and Politics of the Ancients, The Paine Farm, Astronomy, Domestic and Foreign News, Fugitive Slave Law, Sabbath Observance, and the Icarians.

Reprints/Extracts: John Fellows’ Papers, H.G. Atkinson and Harriett Martineau, Letters on the Laws of Man’s Nature and Development.


The Movement

Objects, Initiatives and Status

 G.V. ‘The Citizen of the World, and Sunday Beacon and its Objects.” 1:17 (Mar. 9, 1851): 129-31. Vale states that the motive for continuing the Beacon is to advocate liberal principles, advertise liberal books, and report on projects for the promotion of free enquiry.

“Boston Infidel Relief Society.” 1:21 (Apr. 6, 1851): 172-73. Organized in 1845, “The object of the Infidel Relief Society, are first and primary, to afford assistance to such of its members as are incapable by sickness, poverty, or the infirmities of age, of supplying themselves with the necessaries and comforts which their condition demands.”

“Mechanics’ Institute Rooms.” 1:27 (May 25, 1851): 226-27. This notice announces the removal of the Mechanics’ Institute to a larger building. Founded in 1831, the Mechanics’ Institute is made up of a large exhibition room to showcase the workmanship of mechanics, inventors and artists, a library of over 3,000 volumes, a reading room, and a school of nearly 300 scholars, and features regular lectures on scientific subjects. In addition, “all religious and political topics, as well as improper personal illusions, are strictly prohibited within the precincts of the Institute.”

Letter to editor from G. Mirriwether and reply from G. Vale. 1:31 (July 20, 1851): 292-94. Mirriwether asks Vale “what are the material obstacles” preventing the formation of branches of the Independent Order of Liberals in the countries principal cities.

Church and State

Judicial Oaths

G.V. “Human and Constitutional Rights.” 1:33 (Aug. 17, 1851): 329. Vale remarks, “The judge who covered a crime by refusing the testimony of the injured party because they were Atheists should be hunted from the bench; legally tormented by the Press, and kicked out of decent society.”

Sabbath Observance

“An old Letter from Eld. John Leland [to Hon. Robert M. Johnson.] The Sabbath in 1830.” 15 (Dec. 15, 1850): 37-40.


G. Vale. “A Pastoral Letter” and “Vale’s Pastoral Letter.” 1:1-7 (Nov. 17- Dec. 29, 1850): 1-2, 9-11, 17-18, 25-27, 33-34, 41-43, 49-50.[2] In Vale’s fourth letter, he observes “The reading and thinking people of the present age are numerous. They have been fed by fables; and the mass governed for the benefit of the few; but the splendor of Rome has fallen, and is falling. Episcopacy in England totters before the light of reason; the voluntary system in the United States has been as much abused as any ancient church. The people everywhere now reason; men are already disenthralled, while the education of women will lead to the same result; and popular Christianity will be reformed, its absurdities rejected, and a purer worship be adopted; embracing universal charity, with the acknowledged right of private judgment. In fact, every man will become his own priest; and priests teachers of science, refinement, and morals based on Nature.”

“An Astronomical View, of the story of Adam and Eve, of the Serpent and the forbidden fruit, is founded, forming a beautiful Allegory.” 1:35 (Sept. 14, 1851): 369-70. Reprinted from John Fellows’ Papers.

Thomas Paine

Birthday Celebrations

“The Late Paine Celebration.” 1:13 (Feb. 9, 1851): 97-101. This article features notes of Vale’s speech on “honors given to T. Paine while living,” and regular and volunteer toasts including, “The clergy and other spiritual knockers – may the time soon come when humbug will be unprofitable,” and “fun and philosophy – the best antidotes to theological poison.”

“The Boston Paine Celebration.” 1:14 (Feb. 15, 1851): 109-12. This report features the lyrics of songs sung during the celebration and regular toasts made, including, “The friends of freedom in England, Ireland, Germany, and throughout the world – May the “Rights of Man” be their battle cry in resisting the legions who bind them in slavery; and may crowns, scepters, and mitres, form the bonfire that shall light them on to victory over the thrones of prostrate tyrants.”


“The Paine Ball and Paine Farm.” 1:7 (Dec. 29, 1850): 55.

“The Paine Farm.” 1:15 (Feb. 22, 1851): 114-15. The proposed objects of the farm are reported to be “a cemetery, an industrial school, orphan asylum, horticulture, manufactories, a home, and a resort in summer.”

“The Paine Farm” and “Paine Farm and School.” 1:19 (Mar. 23, 1851): 145-47.

“The Paine Farm.” 1:28 (June 8, 1851): 230.

“Annual Report of the Paine Farm.” 1:29 (June 22, 1851): 254-57.

“Enquiries – The Paine Farm.” 1:32 (Aug. 3, 1851): 309-11.


“The Icarians – Nauvoo.” 1:28 (June 8, 1851): 239-41. According to the report, “No religious ceremonies are observed in the Community. M. Cabet regards his doctrines as being purely that of the Founder of Christianity. In his view work and happiness are the best and truest worship, and a society based on and living in equality and fraternity, needs no other ritual.”

“The Sabbath among the Icarians.” 1:32 (Aug. 3, 1851): 325-27. Reprinted from the Popular Tribune (Organ of the Icarian Community); includes a letter from Mr. E. Stone who accuses the Icarians of engaging in “low and demoralizing amusements” on the Sabbath and the editor’s reply.


“National Convention. Collection of the Civic and Heroic Actions of the French Republicans.” 1:23-25, 27-29 (Apr. 20- May 4; May 25- June 22, 1851): 180-82, 186-88, 196-97, 222-23, 236-37, 264-65.

Preceding Title: Independent Beacon (1849-1850).

Worldcat Accession Number: 46842159.


[1] The November 23, 1851 issue is an unnumbered “supplement” to volume 1 intended to complete the publication of the correspondence between Atkinson and Martineau.

[2] The letter topics include: “Religion of the Past, or the Ancients,” “The Worship of the Ancients,” and “The Connexion between our popular Religion and the Ancients.”

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