Boston Investigator (1831-1904)


Prospectus: In politics, [the Boston Investigator] [1] advocates the rights of the laboring and producing classes and opposes aristocracy and exclusive monopolies, in all their various forms. In religion, it is the fearless advocate of open and fair investigation, opposed to every species of coercion for the dissemination of opinions, and rejecting all theories as erroneous, that will not bear the test of reasonable examination, however strongly they may have entrenched themselves under the barriers of antiquated formulas, tributary customs, or a pretended divine revelation . . . . Our object is to call the attention of the public from the visionary dreams of superstition and fanaticism, which has too long infested the moral world, to things of known realities, or facts that may be known, which tend to promote the happiness of man in his present state of being, the only state of which we have any knowledge. We wish to not interfere with religion by any coercive means, or any legal enactments: but to leave it entirely to support itself, and to stand or fall upon its own foundation. Its kingdom is professedly not of this world then it should have nothing to do with worldly affairs; but let it be supported wholly by spiritual means, by argument, by persuasion, and not by law. Our laws should relate to worldly matters only, and we should take care that they favor the poor man as much as the rich, and administer equal justice to all.[2]

Examined: 4 (Apr. 23, 1831)-1819 (Apr. 25, 1866).


“Devoted to the Protection and Development of American Principles.” 313 (Mar. 24, 1837) – 468 (Mar. 11, 1840).

“Devoted to the Protection and Development of Liberal Principles.” 469 (Mar. 18, 1840) – 572 (May 4, 1842).

“Devoted to the Protection and Development of Infidel Principles.” 573 (May 11, 1842) – 728 (Apr. 30, 1845).

“Devoted to the Protection and Development of Universal Mental Liberty.” 729 (May 14, 1845) – 733 (June 11, 1845).

“An Infidel Paper – Devoted to the Promotion of Universal Mental Liberty.” 734 (June 18, 1845) – 988 (May 1, 1850).

“Devoted to the Development and Promotion of Mental Liberty.” 991 (May 22, 1850) – 1075 (Dec. 31, 1851).

“Devoted to the Development and Promotion of Universal Mental Liberty.” 1076 (Jan. 7, 1852) – 1819 (Apr. 25, 1866).


Abner Kneeland. 4 (Apr. 23, 1831) – 456 (Dec. 18, 1839).

Frances Wright Darusmont. 313 (Mar. 24, 1837) – 384 (Aug. 3, 1838).

Horace Seaver. 457 (Dec. 25, 1839) – 1819 (Apr. 25, 1866).

Publication Information:

Matthew M. Teprell. Boston, Massachusetts, 4 (Apr. 23, 1831) – 104[3] (Mar. 22, 1833).

Association of Gentlemen. Boston, Massachusetts, 107 (Apr. 12, 1833) – 131 (Sept. 27, 1833).

Abner Kneeland. Boston, Massachusetts, 132 (Oct. 4, 1833) – 151 (Feb. 14, 1834).

J.Q. Adams. Boston, Massachusetts, 152 (Feb. 21, 1834) – 285 (Sept. 9, 1836).

George A. Chapman. Boston, Massachusetts, 313 (Mar. 24, 1837) – 394 (Oct. 12, 1838).

Josiah P. Mendum. Boston, Massachusetts, 396 (Oct. 26, 1838) – 1819 (Apr. 25, 1866).

Frequency: Weekly, 313 (Mar. 24, 1837) – 1819 (Apr. 25, 1866).

Contributors: E. Von Adelung, C. Ahsile, Origen Bacheler, Aron Bard, Joseph Barker, Henry Barton Beal, James M. Beckett, William C. Bell, Peter I. Blacker (P.I.B.), W.J. Boden, Borax, Peter Bussey, S.C. Chandler, Margaret Chappellsmith, Moses B. Church, William Coates, Hiram Colver, William Comstock, William L. Coon, Corrector, Thomas Curtis, J.D. Custer, Tamar Davis, H.E. DeGarmo, William Denovan, Jean Desaix, J.C. Dimick, Eboracum, Lewis R. Edwards, Morris Einstein, D.K. Emerson, John Ewen Jr., Matthew Farrington, Walter Farrington, John Feral, Fulmen, John Grable,  Thomas Granger, K. Graves, S.S. Griswold, Joel M. Hairgrove, C.S. Hale, Herbert Hale, George A. Hammett, David Hartwell, Thomas Herttell, Robert Hewes, A. Hogeboom, Ann E. Hunt, Thomas Illman, Ithelman, Caleb B. Josselyn, Eliphalet Kimball, Abner Kneeland, L. Knight, Charles Knowlton, John Laurens, Joseph Lawton, John W. Le Barnes, William Lewis, Liberalist of Louisiana, William P. Lippincott, Samuel Ludvigh, Lewis Masquerier, Anthony C. Middleton, Montgarnier, Thomas J. Moore, John Morrison, E. Morton, Moses F. Morrison, Orson S. Murray, Robert Bruce Neil, Pierre Odell, James S. Olcott, Tyler Parsons, Charles B. Peckham, O. Perkins, J. Petty, Philo-Spinoza, Matthew F. Pickles, John Porter, Paul Poodle Pranks, S. Robb, Ernestine L. Rose, Henry Rowe, J. Salyards, Leicester A. Sawyer, George W. Searle, Delazon Smith, George B. Smith, Bartholomew Sommer, J.B. Stadler, Luther Stebbins, John Steves, Ira Steward, Chauncey Stephenson, LaRoy Sunderland, C.H. Sweetland, Stephen J.W. Tabor, C. Tewksbury, J.A. Thayer, J.W. Thompson, Joseph Treat, B.G. Veazie, Amator Veritatis, Robert Wallin, Ira Wanzer, Josiah Warren, Benjamin Webb, William West, Otto Wettstein, John T. Williams, Fitch Winchester, Elijah Woodworth, Thos. S. Wright, Yankee-Creole, and William J. Young.

Features/Subjects: Atheism, Pantheism, Infidelity, Skepticism, Secularism, The Bible and the Christian Religion, Priestcraft, Relation Between Religion and Morality, Freedom of Conscience, Opinion and Speech, Sabbath Day Laws, Blasphemy Cases, Judicial Oaths, Millerism, Mormonism, Universalism, Orthography, Thomsonian Doctors, Indian Wars, Trial of Ephraim K. Avery,  Argument from Design, Education, Agriculture, Phrenology, Natural Philosophy, Capital Punishment, Abolition of Slavery, Non-Resistance, Imprisonment for Debt, Materialism, Temperance, Thomas Paine’s Birthday Celebrations, Death Bed Conversions, Socialism, Socialist Associations/Communities, Skaneateles Community, Dorr Rebellion, Poetry, Mechanic Arts, Science and Art, Lecture Announcements, Social Reform Convention (Boston, 1844), Infidel Relief Society, Land Monopoly, Ten-Hour Day, Native Americanism, Foreign Immigration, Women’s Rights, Cholera, Allopathy, Homeopathy, Spiritual Knockings/Rappings, Fugitive Slave Law, Marriage, Lajos Kossuth’s U.S. Tour, Maine’s Liquor Law, Know-Nothings, American Movement, Liberal Emigrant Association, News from Kansas, Revivals, Famous Infidel Conversions (e.g., Robert Dale Owen, Thomas Cooper, Joseph Barker), Henry Ward Beecher, Elder Knapp, Secession, Hinduism, John Dalton’s Atomic Theory, Notes of the War, Soldier Letters, and Boston Liberal Society Meetings.

Reprints/Extracts of: Robert Dale Owen’s Letters to Amos Gilbert; Memoir of Rev. Robert Taylor; Discourses by the Lady of the Rotunda and the Lady of the Isis; Baron D’Holbach, Letters to Eugenia; Neil Arnott, Elements of Physics, or Natural Philosophy; Karl Heinzen, Six Letters to a Pious Man; John S. Hittell, The Evidences Against Christianity; Thomas Herttell, Epistolary Correspondence with Dr. Thomas Cooper; and the writings of Ethan Allen, George Combe, John Locke, Charles MacKay, Percy B. Shelley, Elihu Palmer, John Milton, Voltaire, Volney, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin

Periodical reprints from: Working Man’s Advocate (New York), The Comet (New York), Free Enquirer (New York), Trumpet and Universalist Magazine (Boston), Liberal Advocate (Rochester), The Regenerator (New York; Fruit Hills, Ohio), The Correspondent (New York), New York Daily Sentinel (New York), Delaware Free Press (Wilmington), Peaceful Revolutionist (Cincinnati), Microscope (Albany), Thomsonian Recorder (Columbus, Ohio), Ohio Watchman (Ravenna, Ohio), Temple of Reason (Philadelphia), Western Examiner (St. Louis), The World as it Is (Rochester, New York), New Moral World (London), Portland Pleasure Boat (Portland, Me.), London Reasoner, London Investigator, The Spiritual Age, Banner of Light (Boston), National Reformer (London), and Herald of Progress (N.Y.).

Table of Contents:

The Movement

Church and State

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Religion/Conscience



Women’s Rights

Land and Labor

Law and Government


War and Peace




Civil War Soldier Correspondence

Conventions (Non-Infidel)




The Movement

“Information Wanted.” 71 (Aug. 3, 1832): 2. In answer to the question “what the dogmas and doctrines of infidelity are,” Kneeland answers “a firm belief in all that actually exists, or can be demonstrated as true; and a disbelief in chimeras and dreams, fiction and fable, as well as all that of whose existence there is no evidence.”

Abner Kneeland. “A Philosophical Creed.” 120[4] (July 12, 1833): 2. Kneeland asserts, “I believe in the existence of a universe of suns and planets, among which there is one sun belonging to our planetary system; and that other suns, being more remote, are called stars; but that they are indeed suns to other planetary systems. I believe that the whole universe is NATURE, and that the word NATURE embraces the whole universe, and that God and Nature, so far as we can attach any rational idea to either, are perfectly synonymous terms. Hence, I am not an Atheist but a Pantheist; that is instead of believing there is no God, I believe that in the abstract, all is God; and that all power that is, is in God, and that there is no power except that which proceeds from God. I believe there can be no will or intelligence where there is no sense; and no sense where there are no organs of sense; and hence sense, will, and intelligence, is the effect, and not the cause, of organization. I believe in all that logically results from these premises, whether, good, bad or indifferent. Hence, I believe, that God is all in all; and that it is in God we live, move, and have our being, and that the holy duty of man consists in living as long as he can, and in promoting as much happiness as he can while he lives.”

A.K. “To Our Patrons.” 365 (Mar. 23, 1838): 2-3. Kneeland states, “In regard to all man-made gods, or gods of the imagination, we are Atheists, and glory in the appellation. But in relation to the only true God, we are truly Theists; but to distinguish us from those theists who believe in an imaginary or immaterial god, we call ourselves Pantheists.”

Editor. “Let us Enquire.” 438 (Aug. 14, 1839): 2. The editor argues that “free enquiry is to the moral world what the meridian sun is to the natural. As the latter illuminates and cheers the earth, so the former illumines, expands and elevates the mind; calling into requisition all the faculties of our nature, and leading its votaries farther and farther into the paths of knowledge, happiness and peace.”

Editor. “Skepticism and Infidelity.” 440 (Aug. 28, 1839): 2. The editor asks, “Had skepticism and infidelity been asleep, should we not still have believed that the earth was brought forth by chaos and night- that it stood still, and that the sun and planets moved round it as a centre- that unconditional submission was the duty of the governed- that a wafer was the creator of the universe- that witchcraft was a reality- dreams and visions the fullest confirmation of truth- and that a mere man could by a few words consign soul and body to eternal torments?”

Editor. “Liberalists.” 533 (Aug. 4, 1841): 2. The editor laments infidel’s cautiousness in declaring themselves and states, “Let all disguise be thrown off; all truckling to popular prejudice forever cease; and, planting ourselves immovably upon our principles, proudly declare to all men that we are, have a right to be, and glory in the name of, Infidel- infidel to every species of injustice, bigotry, intolerance, superstition, and everything that tyrannizes over the mind of man, or obstructs him in the possession and enjoyment of the highest good of which his nature is susceptible. . . . Why should any man conceal his adhesion to principles so glorious in their character and tendency?”

Thomas Herttell. “The Spirit of Truth: Being an Exposition of Infidelity, or Religious Unbelief.” 706, 708-12 (Nov. 27, Dec. 12, 1844- Jan. 8, 1845).[5]

Peter Bussey. “Scepticism and Infidelity, with Their Tendencies.” 870–872, 874-875 (Jan. 26-Feb. 9, 23, Mar. 1, 1848). Bussey notes that “Scepticism and Infidelity have, in all ages and under all forms of Government, been denounced as the greatest curses, as the greatest monsters, that can afflict society” but asks “Who are they that oppose the corruption, oppression, and legalized injustice of rulers who base their right to govern and enslave upon antiquated precedent, and the patient endurance of the multitude?”

W.C.R. “Happiness of Infidelity.” 911 (Nov. 8, 1848): 2. The author argues “In the soul of the confirmed and true infidel, there is a placid happiness. He is not tossed about on the tempestuous ocean of hope and despair. He views the world as his home,- a home in which he was intended to be happy; and to be so, he is ready to aid in enhancing the happiness of others.”

“Scepticism and Infidelity, with Their Tendencies.” 1150-51 (June 8-15, 1853). The author asks rhetorically, “who are they whose voice is raised against established error which time has rendered sacred and venerable? Who are they who defend the exercise of reason upon customs and opinions whose antiquity has made them pass for eternal truths? Who are they who oppose the long established tyranny and maintain that the impositions submitted to by one generation is no reason for the servitude of another? Who are they who oppose the corruption, oppression, and legalized injustice of rulers who found their right to govern and enslave upon antiquated precedent and the patient endurance of the multitude? Who are they who expose the boundless selfishness and cunning hypocrisy that lurk under the sanctimonious garb of faith?”

“Infidelity- What Good Does it Do?” 1330-52 (Nov. 19, 1856- Apr. 22, 1857). The editor answers the Christian’s query- what good does Infidelity do? – by detailing how it maintains the unlimited freedom of thought and speech and press, teaches, maintains, and defends human liberty, and opposes superstition. In the third article of the series, the editor defends the infidel maxim – “No infidelity, no progress.” Succeeding articles address: natural and revealed religion, objections to religious faith, thoughts on the supernatural and the universe, the priesthood, science and education, opinions without evidence, and prosecutions for opinions.

“The Legal Oppression of Infidels.” 1373-1402 (Sept. 16, 1857– Apr. 7, 1858). This series includes articles on: liberty of conscience, right of free discussion, the object of government, the national constitution, religion maintained by law, incompetency of witnesses, the law against blasphemy, and whether Christianity is the law of the land.

S.C. Chandler. “The Liberal Cause.” 1411 (June 9, 1858): 1-2. Chandler notes that “Our religion is a life of correct moral action; and our true relations to ourselves, to others, and to the material universe, is the standard by which to judge of the correctness of our acts.” To further the liberal cause, Chandler proposes touring through Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York and the Eastern states and lecturing on “the laws and structure of the universe, the clergy and human government, [and] women and society.”

“Negation- Pulling Down, &c.” 1413-15 (June 23- July 7, 1858). Responding to critics who argue that infidelity is merely a system of negation, the editor remarks, “If it says no to theology, it invariably says yes to the teachings of Nature; hence, infidelity, not withstanding all the sneers hurled against it as a system of negation, is the only positive system, because it rests its foundation upon fact, while religion is only a chimera of faith or fancy.”

Joseph Treat. “Not Religion, but Infidelity.” 1462-63 (June 1-8, 1859): 41, 49. Treat defines infidelity as disbelief in all forms of superstition, that religion is nothing more than superstition, and that infidels aim to “sweep it from the earth.” Treat concludes, “We must be infidel to Deism, to Pantheism, to God – Infidel to all the “great supremes,” “infinite powers,” “he’s” or “it’s,” which underlie revelation. We must be Infidel to Another World, or Future Existence, to what is not of the Here and Now – Infidel to all the “things unseen,” “interests spiritual,” “concerns eternal,” which underlie religion.”


“Infidelity and Atheism.” 75 (Aug. 31, 1832): 1-2. Reprinted from the Maine Wesleyan Journal and followed by comments from Kneeland. The author reports that “a new era has commenced in the history of atheism. . . . It has become a sect. It has its teachers, its defenders, its itinerants, and its believers.” To which, Kneeland comments, “This is true; and we rejoice that religionists are aware of it, and willing to acknowledge it.”

“Atheism.” 554 (May 18, 1842): 2. The editor states, “In regard to all man-made gods, or gods of the imagination – gods immaterial, unreal, and incomprehensible – we are Atheists, and glory in the appellation. But in relation to the only true, real, substantial, comprehensible God, (Nature) we are indeed believers, or theists. In one word, we believe in all that is, and disbelieve only what is not. Why then call us unbelievers, when we believe in everything believable, or credible.”

“Atheism.” 675 (Apr. 24, 1844): 2. The editor defines an atheist as “one who, guided by experience and the evidence of his senses, sees nothing in Nature but what really exists; a natural philosopher, who thinks everything may be accounted for by the laws of motion, without having recourse to a supernatural or chimerical power; one, who knows not what a spirit is, and who rejects a phantom whose ascribed opposite qualities only disturb mankind.”

“Atheists and Atheism.” 690 (Aug. 7, 1844): 2. Citing a Christian editor for stating that atheism is “too heartless a doctrine for a country like ours,” the editor asks, “have the heartless cruelties which disgrace our country been perpetuated by atheists? Were they atheists who drove the red man from the soil of his fathers, and stole the black man from his native home to make a slave of him in this Christian land?”

An Atheist. “Atheism – Mr. Perkins.” 983 (Mar. 27, 1850): 1. The author argues, “Admit the eternity of matter, and there can be no God, because there is no creation, and of course no creator. In fact, the idea of creation, as applied to the universe, is downright absurdity, because it is bringing something out of nothing. If the universe was created, it is not eternal; but if not eternal, it must have been created from nothing; but if eternal, it has no author.”

Harriett Martineau & Henry George Atkinson. “Twenty Four Letters on the Laws of Man’s Nature and Development.” 1045-60 (June 4- Sept. 17, 1851). Originally published as a book and pronounced by “men of the pulpit” as “dangerous, wicked, and unfit to read.”

“Who is an Atheist?” 1066 (Oct. 29, 1851): 2. To the question, the editor answers, “The man who brings mankind back to reason and experience, by destroying prejudices inimical to their happiness; who has no need of resorting to supernatural powers, in explaining the phenomena of nature.”

“Atheism.” 1305 (May 28, 1856): 2. The editor notes that, “With regard to moral obligations, the atheist believes that they have their foundation in the nature of things- the preservation of life, and the relative interests of man in society. He maintains that mankind have but one correct guide by which every action may be rightly steered, and that is morality, or the rule of action that at once respects both self and others.”

J.C. Brown. “Atheism- Practical and Theoretical.” 1539 (Nov. 21, 1860): 241. Brown observes, “Every Infidel desires to see more of the practice of genuine morality and less of religion, more knowledge and less faith than subsists at present among the human family. We want not that kind of morality which is founded on a belief in the gods; we want more of that morality which is founded on a belief in the rights of man.”

Ernestine L. Rose. “A Defense of Atheism.” 1563 (May 8, 1861): 18-19. Delivered in Mercantile Hall, Boston, April 10, 1861. Rose concludes, “the Atheist says to the honest, conscientious believer, though I cannot believe in your God whom you have failed to demonstrate, I believe in man; if I have no faith in your religion, I have faith, unbounded, unshaken faith in the principles of right, of justice, and humanity. Whatever good you are willing to do for the sake of your God, I am full as willing to do for the sake of man. But the monstrous crimes the believer perpetrated in persecuting and exterminating his fellow man on account of difference of belief, the Atheist . . . . could never be guilty of. Whatever good you would do out of fear of punishment, or hope of reward hereafter, the Atheist would do simply because it is good; and being so, he would receive the far surer and more certain reward, springing from well-doing, which would constitute his pleasure, and promote his happiness.”

“Defining Terms – Atheism.” 1772 (May 31, 1865): 28. In part, the editor states that atheism is “merely a system of moral and natural philosophy, in contradistinction to theological or artificial creeds and dogmas. A God is not denied because there is any peculiar objection to him if he really exists in point of fact; but because, as presented by religion and theology, he is not a being whose existence and attributes can be reconciled with truth and reason, and consequently and moreover he is made the basis of a dangerous system of priestcraft and superstition.”


“Liberal Convention.” 282 (Aug. 19, 1836): 2. This convention was held in the Lyceum at Saratoga Springs, New York on August 1-2, 2836, was organized by Ransom Cook, Thomas Thompson, and Charles Knowlton, and resulted in the formation of the United States Moral and Philosophical Society for the General Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Included are the organizations Constitution and a circular which concludes, “In our plan of organization, we have endeavored to avoid every thing that has a tendency to disunion; and shall endeavor, in our future operations, to banish prejudice and passion, and be governed solely by reason, truth and justice, to act always on the principle of utility, by striving to promote the greatest possible good of the greatest number. And we expect every number of this society to be vigilant, in diffusing a spirit of friendship and good will amongst us all. Let us, then, move along like a band of brothers, harmoniously pursuing our own and the general good.”

W. C. Bell. “Infidel Convention.” 589 (Aug. 31, 1842): 1. Bell advocates the convening of Infidels and offers a sample Declaration that might be adopted at such a convention. In part, the declaration reads, “We do solemnly repudiate and disclaim all and every act or acts, whereby an individual may be held accountable or responsible for opinion or opinions, or for their candid and honest avowal; and we hold that judgment, opinion and belief are involuntary operations of mind in their very essence natural, inherent and inalienable. We do declare that the important object that bears upon society refers itself to the actions of men; that the only legitimate enquiries are those in relation to conduct.”

Charles Knowlton. “Infidel Convention.” 628 (May 31, 1843): 1. Knowlton reminds readers of the National Infidel Convention previously held at Saratoga Springs, New York on August 1-2, 1836 for the purpose of organizing a National Infidel Society, which never gained steam due to a lack of support and funds. Knowlton suggests that before convening another national infidel convention, what is needed is an able, talented and dedicated individual to commit to a one year infidel mission in which he will deliver a course of lectures, distribute infidel books and pamphlets, and attempt to organize regional infidel societies.

“Judge Herttell on [an Infidel] Convention.” 700 (Oct. 16, 1844): 1. Reprinted from the Beacon (New York). In support of convening a national infidel convention, Herttell notes “No person or body of men differing essentially from public opinion, whether right or wrong, on the subject of religion, have ever succeeded in the work of reformation, but by a united and simultaneous perseverance in efforts to sustain their views and cause their rights to be respected.”

“Infidel Convention.” 723 (Mar. 26, 1845): 3. Responding to a request from Henry Clapp Jr., editor of the Pioneer, the editor outlines, in brief, what he means by “infidel principles,” including the belief “that all human beings, whoever and wherever they may be, of whatever nation, clime, sex, color, sentiment, or condition, are brethren and sisters, and entitled by their existence to the comforts and pleasures, the rights and privileges necessary to the full development of all their faculties.”

“Infidel Convention. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, holden in the City of New York, May 4th, 5th, and 6th, 1845.” 729-31 (May 14-28, 1845).[6] The proceedings include: Thomas Herttell’s “Declaration of Opinions,” and their newly formed Infidel Society’s preamble and constitution.

“The Late Infidel Convention.” 729 (May 14, 1845): 2-3. The editor notes, “It has come- and gone. The ray of hope, which before beamed dimly upon a scattered and isolated few, shall now, if we are true to ourselves, be reflected from thousands of emancipated minds;- demonstrating that the Eternal Truths which form the basis of our organization shall yet pervade the moral and social world, to the annihilation of the deep-rooted errors of Ignorance and Superstition.”

“Convention of Members and Delegates of the Infidel Society for the Promotion of Universal Mental Liberty” and “The Late Infidel Convention.” 788-89 (July 1-8, 1846).

Thomas Herttell. “Address, to the Delegates of the Infidel Society for the Promotion of Mental Liberty.” 790 (July 15, 1846): 1-2.

“Infidel Convention.” 829 (Apr. 14, 1847): 2. Acknowledging the growing apathy among American Infidels, the editor notes, “Unless we speedily commence to act, instead of talking so frothily and to so little purpose, the past will strive in vain to show so listless, so vapid, so inefficient a set of braggers as we.”

“Minutes of the Second Annual Meeting of the United States Infidel Society for the Promotion of Universal Mental Liberty.” 840 (June 20, 1847): 1.

“The Philadelphia Liberal Convention.” 1380 (Nov. 4, 1857): 2. Featured here is an address signed by Joseph Dean and Thomas Eastman announcing that delegates from Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and other states were present at the convention, and succeeded in drafting a series of resolutions, together with a Declaration of Principles and Objects, which along with the convention proceedings are to be published in pamphlet form.

“Minutes of the Infidel Convention.” 1390 (Jan. 13, 1858): 2. This article provides a very brief outline of the proceedings of the Philadelphia Liberal Convention and announces the publication of a 44 page pamphlet containing the full proceedings.[7]

“Reason for Organization and Declaration of Principles.” 1406 (May 5, 1858): 4.

“Special Notices. Infidel Convention.” 1417 (July 21, 1858): 3. A call from the central committee of the Infidel Union of the United States, and signed by Robert Wallin, to convene in Philadelphia next October. Expected speakers include Joseph Barker, Gilbert Vale and Ernestine L. Rose.

“The Infidel Convention at Philadelphia.” 1419-27 (Aug. 4- Sept. 29, 1858). This series of articles includes letters from Joseph Barker and E. Morton, the remarks of Thomas Illman made during the 1857 convention, and the resolutions passed at the 1857 convention.

“The Infidel Convention at Philadelphia.” 1429 (Oct. 13, 1858): 2. Seaver provides a brief report on the convention’s proceedings.

Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, Held in Philadelphia, Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 4th and 5th, 1858.” 1433 (Nov. 10, 1858): 1, 4. The preamble of the Constitution of the Infidel Association of the United States reads, “We, the Infidels, of the United States, believing that all religions of the earth are based in ignorance or fraud, and that there influence on the character and condition of mankind is injurious, do form ourselves into an Association under the name of the Infidel Association of the United States, for the purpose of overthrowing religion and establishing everywhere in its place the principles of science and the practice of virtue.” In addition to the Association’s constitution, the proceedings include abstracts of speeches, the report of the central committee and an address delivered by William King.

E. Morton. “The Philadelphia Infidel Convention.” 1437 (Dec. 8, 1858): 1. Discussing infidel proselytism, Morton remarks, The difference between a mild and a harsh manner of treating a subject, may in some measure be seen by a comparison between Volney and Paine, possessed of equally good and sincere intentions. Volney’s manner, cool, courteous, and dignified, commands the respect and admiration of thousands on thousands of sincere Christians, with a very moderate share of the hatred and vindictiveness of the priesthood. While Paine, whose reasoning is equally sound, yet so severe, sarcastic, and acrimonious, as to arouse the whole hornet’s nest of priestcraft to the utmost pitch of hostility.”

“A Free Convention in Vermont.” 1409 (May 26, 1858): 2. A circular authored by John Landon and forwarded to the Investigator by Ernestine L. Rose which reads, in part, “Come then, friends of Free Thought. Come one, come all. Men of all religious creeds, and men of no creed shall find equal welcome. . . . The only common ground on which we seek to meet, is that of fearless discussion, and the only pledge we make is to bring a rational investigation to the solution of every problem involving the social or religious duty and destiny of the race.”

“For Rutland.” 1412 (June 16, 1858): 3. Announcing expected speakers at the convention, including Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison and Ernestine L. Rose.

“The Rutland (Vt.) Free Convention.” 1415 (July 7, 1858): 2. This article reports that the convention was held June 25-27, with over 2,000 people in attendance. The following subjects were discussed: spiritualism, women’s rights, and anti-slavery.

“Free Convention at Rutland, Vt.” 1415 (July 7, 1858): 4. This article features the convention’s resolutions, on among other things, land reform, marriage, spiritualism, free trade, and the following resolution on slavery, “that slavery is a wrong which no power in the universe can make right; therefore, any law, constitution, court or government, any church, priesthood, creed or Bible, or any Christ or any God that, by silence or otherwise, authorizes man to enslave man, merits the scorn and contempt of mankind.”

Listener. “The Rutland “Free” Convention.” 1416 (July 14, 1858): 1. The author expresses his frustration that discussion of spiritualism dominated the convention and concludes, “whenever any people follow after creeds based on supernaturalism, no matter whether it be an old or young creed, the evil is the same – indifference to true practical reforms is the result . . . .”

“The Rutland Convention- Marriage.” 1416 (July 14, 1858): 2. Commenting on the presses condemnation of the convention’s resolutions on marriage, the editor notes, “it is a fact that whenever anyone expresses a desire to alter the present marriage laws, making the more lenient and just towards woman, he is obliged to run the gauntlet, as it were, of misrepresentation and abuse; and if a female is found courageous enough and sufficiently devoted to the welfare of her sex to engage in this enterprise, though she is “chaste as ice, as pure as snow, she shall not escape calumny.””

Horace Seaver. “Authority.” 1417 (July 21, 1858): 4. Remarks made by Seaver at the Free Convention held in Rutland. Seaver stresses, “We have secured some political freedom,- I mean for such of us as have white complexions, and are sound in the faith;- but with regard to mental freedom, we are to the present hour almost literally in bondage to this potent spell, Authority. Men and women really dare not think for themselves, because they are fearful of some book or some church, some sect or some creed, that stands in the way.”

“Liberal Convention.” 1477 (Sept. 14, 1859): 164. The editor remarks, “Every observing man is well aware that reforms of any kind never begin in a church; the right of universal mental liberty did not, nor the temperance reform, anti-slavery, and women’s rights reform &c; consequently the first duty for a progressive man to perform, who is unfortunately connected with a church of any description, is to leave it without delay.”

“Minutes of the proceedings of the Infidel Convention, Held in Philadelphia, Oct. 3d and 4th, 1859.” 1483 (Oct. 26, 1859): 210-11. The minutes feature adopted resolutions on, among other things, employment of chaplains in the army and navy, taxation of church property, and Sunday laws; and a declaration of principles.

“A Letter from Mrs. E. L. Rose, to the National Infidel Convention.” 1487 (Nov. 23, 1859): 242. Rose proclaims that “Freedom of conscience- the natural prerogative of every mind to think and express his thoughts on all subjects connected with his interest and well-being, seems to me of such paramount importance, that in comparison with it, every other movement, however good in itself, falls into utter insignificance. For an impediment to mental freedom is an almost insurmountable obstacle to the full growth, development, elevation, and progress of man, and consequently more truly pernicious and destructive to the welfare and happiness of the race than any other tyranny that could be exerted over him.”

“A Letter from Mrs. Tamar Davis, to the Liberal Convention.” 1487 (Nov. 23, 1859): 242. Davis argues that women are the slaves of bigotry and priestly intolerance and that “the first step towards the eradication of superstition should be attempts to disenthrall the female mind.”

The Central Committee’s Report. To the President and Members of the Infidel Association of the United States, assembled in Convention in the City of Philadelphia on the 3rd of October, 1859.” 1490 (Dec. 14, 1859): 266. Respectfully submitted by Robert Wallin.

“The Infidel Convention of 1860.” 1534 (Oct. 17, 1860): 204. The editor reports that the convention was attended by two to three hundred persons and that the number of regional branches attached to the national association had grown to twenty-five. Also reported were the association’s officers: Horace Seaver, President; Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose, Orson S. Murray, Joseph Treat, Robert Wallin, Vice Presidents; James M. Beckett, Thomas Curtis, Secretaries; Josiah P. Mendum, William E. Rose, Otis Clapp, Business Committee.

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention.” 1536-38 (Oct. 31-Nov. 14, 1860): 218-19, 226-27, 235.

R.W. “The Next Infidel Convention.” 1573 (July 17, 1861): 101. Asking whether there should be an annual convention and if so when, the author remarks, “A bloody and insane rebellion exists, which I trust all Infidels not tainted with the corrupting blemish of chattel slavery are exerting all their efforts to suppress, and so will be deprived of the opportunity of attending to Convention business.”

Joseph Treat. “That Question of a Convention.” 1574 (July 24, 1861): 109. Treat supports convening in Boston, if for no other reason but to compile a tract for distribution which proclaims the work of infidels.

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, held in Chapman Hall, Boston, May 27, 1862.” 1617 (June 4, 1862): 35. J.M. Beckett reported that the association’s branches were “disorganized temporarily, by the absence of a working majority of the male members in the war.” Ernestine Rose proposed the following resolution “That it is the bounden duty of every lover of freedom and justice to discard the irresponsible power which has enslaved the human mind, and to aid in emancipating the slaves wherever found, and whatever color.” One member moved to strike out the last sentence of the resolution referring to color, while a few other members expressed their opposition to Infidels meddling with the slavery question. Nonetheless, Rose’s resolution was adopted without amendment.

Rheubin Hall. “Objections to Mrs. Rose’s Resolution.” 1620 (June 25, 1862): 59. Hall argues that the adoption of Rose’s resolution “sounds the death-knell of Infidel organization.” He then remarks, “Would the overthrow of slavery affect the cause of Infidelity, or cripple that of Christianity? Not in the least. For Christianity can live just as well with slavery abolished, as with slavery existent. But slavery cannot live without Christianity, because its authority is founded alone in the Bible. . . . [D]estroy this “divine authority” and we take from the slavery propagandist his most effectual argument; and compel the slavery question to rest on its own merits- which done, it will be an easy task to bear away the paralyzed form to its silent tomb.”

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, Held at Mercantile Hall, Summer Street, Boston, on Wednesday, May 27, 1863.” 1669-70 (June 10-17, 1863): 34-35, 38-39, 43, 46. This article features letters from Ernestine L. Rose, Lewis Masquerier, Joseph Lawton, R. Wallin,  Thomas Curtis, Parker Pillsbury, Oliver White and extended addresses and remarks from LaRoy Sunderland and E. Von Adelung.

Lectures and Tours

Abner Kneeland. “[Lecture] Tour of the Editor.” 281-285 (Aug. 12- Sept. 9, 1836). This is a series of letters chronicling Kneeland’s tour through the state of New York, with stops in, among other places, Skaneateles, Auburn, Seneca Falls, Waterloo, Geneva, Canandaigua, and Rochester.

Elijah Woodworth. “Journal of a Western Liberal Lecturer.” 914-16, 918-20, 923, 925, 932, 939, 943, 945, 948 (Nov. 29- Dec. 13, 27, 1848; Jan. 3- 10, 31, Feb. 14, Apr. 4, May 23, June 20, July 4, 25 1849). Woodworth states that his “object is to give a general view of our cause in the various localities I visit, and also some of the circumstances that occur to me in my enterprise as a Liberal Lecturer.” This series of letters documents his journey through Ohio and Michigan, while the circumstances he confronts include everything from mobs with eggs and death threats to “fair and manly discussions” with the clergy concerning the authenticity of the bible.

Elijah Woodworth. “Journal of a Western Liberal Lecturer.” 1047-49, 1053, 1057, 1060, 1065-71, 1087, 1090, 1093, 1097, 1104, 1108, 1115, 1122, 1157, 1160 (June 18- July 2, 30, Aug. 27, Sept. 17, Oct. 22- Dec. 3, 1851; Mar. 24, Apr. 14, May 5, June 2, July 21, Aug. 18, Oct. 6, Nov. 24, 1852; July 27, Aug. 17, 1853). Under this title appears 23 letters documenting Woodworth’s travels mostly through towns in Ohio, from Akron, Ashfield and Benton to Salem, Shelby and Sullivan. The last two letters cover his travels in parts of Wisconsin.

“Joseph Barker’s Lectures,” “Letters from Joseph Barker,” and “Joseph Barker’s Letters.” 1267-68, 1274, 1278, 1290, 1295, 1306 (Sept. 5-12, Oct. 24, Nov. 21, 1855; Feb. 13, Mar. 19, June 4, 1856). Barker reports on lectures delivered in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Nebraska on the bible, the law of progress, Jesus and the French Revolution.

“A Letter from Joseph Barker.” 1425, 1432, 1436, 1446-47, 1450, 1454 (Sept. 15, Nov. 3, Dec. 1, 1858; Feb. 9-16, Mar. 9, Apr. 6, 1859). Barker reports on his lectures in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia on topics such as temperance, social progress, the bible question, and the French Revolution. Lecturing in Pen Yan, New York on “What can you give us in exchange for the Bible?” Barker answered, “better instructions in matters of science, better principles of Government, better laws for the State, better rules of conduct for private and social life, better histories, better examples, and better domestic and civil institutions.” Barker concludes his letter, “Religion is doomed. It depends for its existence on ignorance and credulity, and both are rapidly diminishing. Never did science advance or spread so rapidly as now; and its advance or spread are the destruction of religious faith.”

“Letter from Joseph Barker.” 1466, 1481, 1494 (June 29, Oct. 12, 1859; Jan. 11, 1860): 73, 197, 301. Barker reports on lectures in Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and comments on how he has “met with quite a number of intelligent, kind, and very agreeable friends. This wandering missionary life, after all, is not without its pleasures. It is rather annoying to meet with so much meanness from ignorant, self-conceited bigots, and to be abused eternally by the interested or misguided advocates of superstition; and it is no light matter to have to forego so often and so long the dear delights of home; but the hearty welcome, the kind attentions, and the cheerful co-operation of friends, together with the success of one’s labors, make these trials tolerable.”

Joseph Treat. “Report of Labor.” 1544 (Dec. 26, 1860): 283. Treat reports delivering sixteen lectures in school-houses in the vicinity of Factoryville, New York. Treat notes that he challenges his audience to discuss the following questions, which he takes the affirmative on: “Is the Bible good for nothing? and “Is the Bible an infinite curse to mankind?”

Joseph Treat. “Report of Labor.” 1553-54 (Feb. 27-Mar. 6, 1861): 353-54, 361-62. Treat provides accounts of his lectures and debates in Halsey Valley, Pen Yan, Italy Hill, Warsaw, Bradford Hollow, Hammondsport and Savona, New York.

Stephen J.W. Tabor. “Infidel Lectures.” 1570 (June 26, 1861): 73. Tabor provides accounts of his lectures, debates and “liberal conventions” held in Dubuque, Olive and Rochester, Iowa and Como and Oregon, Illinois.


Abner Kneeland & O.A. Brownson. “A Discussion on the Question, Can all Phenomena of Consciousness be Traced back to Sensation?” 315-21 (Apr. 7- May 19, 1837).

“Great Debate on Christianity, Between Joseph Barker and Dr. [Joseph] Berg.” 1182-1203 (Jan. 18- June 14, 1854). Reprinted from the Philadelphia Register. This series features highlights from an eight day debate held in Philadelphia between Barker and Berg concerning the authenticity of the Bible, with Barker arguing against and Berg rejoining in favor of the Bible’s authenticity as divine revelation.[7.5]

“Debate between [George Jacob] Holyoake and [Thomas] Cooper.” 1418-19 (July 28- Aug. 4, 1858). Reprinted from London Reasoner.

“Letter from Joseph Barker” and “Barker and Warren’s Debate!” 1479, 1481 (Sept. 28, Oct. 12, 1859): 178-79, 195. Barker provides an account of his debate with the Rev. Dr. Warren, on the “divine influence of the Bible,” held in Quincy, Illinois.

Objects, Initiatives and Status

Observer. “Union.” 540 (Sept. 22, 1841): 2. Observer calls for a union of infidels and contends “Infidelity is getting to be popular. If in twenty years from this time a majority of the people are not converted, it will be the fault of infidels. The way is clear. They have only to unite with the opponents of sabbaths, priests and churches, as men unite when the interests of one great common cause absorb petty jealousies and minor matters of dissent. . . .”

“Constitution and By-Laws of the Boston Infidel Relief Society.” 734 (June 18, 1845): 3. The author reports the formation of the Boston Infidel Relief Society to provide relief to infidel brothers and sisters, “unable by poverty, infirmity, or old age, to provide for themselves.”

“The U.S. Infidel Association.” 1464 (June 15, 1859): 60. The editor reports that since the last meeting of the U.S. Infidel Association in Philadelphia, nearly a dozen regional/auxiliary societies have been organized, a number of infidel tracts have been published and distributed, and Joseph Barker, the infidel lecturer, has been touring, nonstop, throughout the country.

Joseph Smith & David Porter. “Society of Reason – Or a Plan for a Liberal Colony or State.” 1068 (Nov. 12, 1851): 1. Smith and Porter propose the formation of a secret order, to be called the Society of Reason, and recommend the that liberals form a settlement in Oregon aimed at gaining admission to the federal union as the Liberal State of Reasonia, a state “where reason and science alone would control its legislative halls.”

“A Voice from the South.” 1071 (Dec. 3, 1851): 2. Features a letter from William Stanhoff of Nashville, Tennessee in which he reports recruiting 14 new subscribers for the Investigator.

“A New Liberal Organization.” 1170 (Oct. 26, 1853): 1. This article reports how German freethinkers convened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and formed the Freemen’s League. Included are  the new league’s declaration of principles.

“A German Liberal Movement.” 1220 (Oct. 11, 1854): 1. Enclosed is a reprinted circular entitled “The Alliance” which describes the object of the movement, spearheaded by Dr. A. Stamm, with branches already established in England and a paper published in Italy.

“A New Liberal Organization.” 1412 (June 16, 1858): 2. This article announces the formation of the Congregational Friends of Truth in Philadelphia on February 7, 1858 and is signed by Thomas Curtis. Noteworthy is Curtis’s postscript which mentions the existence of a “secret organization which stands behind the public one, so that friends of the cause whose business would otherwise suffer have an opportunity of meeting together and aiding the movement.”

“For the People. Declaration of Independence,- by the Congressional Friends of Truth.” 1416 (July 14, 1858): 3. The declaration reads in part, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are (or should be) free to express their conscientious convictions on all matters pertaining to God, religion, and duty, and that to secure and maintain those privileges, a sound education and impartial Government should be supported.”

“East Saginaw [Michigan] Liberal Association.” 1434 (Nov. 17, 1858): 1. The article reports the association’s preamble, resolutions and approved articles of faith, including the following: “We believe that the only true revelation from God is found in Nature and the study of her laws, and that God does not write books for mankind to read.”

Wm. Coates. “Matters and Things in Boonton, (N.J.).” 1436, 1441, 1443 (Dec. 1, 1858; Jan. 5, 19 1859). Coates reports on the activities of Boonton’s infidels.

William Dickerson. “Liberal Principles in Oregon.” 1451 (Mar. 16, 1859): 2. Dickerson believes “that there is more freedom of thought and mental progress, according to the number of inhabitants in this State, than any other in the Union” and concludes with a pledge to lecture on free thought and philosophical inquiry across the state.

W.P. Lippincott. “Mental Freedom in Iowa.” 1460 (May 18, 1859): 25-26. Lippincott begins by asserting that “eastern folks” are less civilized than western people and supports his assertion by pointing out that the Iowa constitution does not permit the disqualification of witnesses on grounds of their religious beliefs and that “the bible makes no trouble in school; our school law says it “shall not be excluded from the schools, nor shall anybody be compelled to read it.””

“The Party of Liberty and Progress.” 1506 (Apr. 4, 1860): 396. The editor asserts that the Infidel Party is for universal education and peace; advocates woman’s rights and the rights of the workingman, and supports the eventual, rather than the immediate, abolition of slavery.

Yankee-Creole. “The Infidel Association.” 1516 (June 13, 1860): 58. The author argues that the Infidel Association is too narrow and hostile and suggests that rather than attacking “the faith of the ignorant,” that the Infidel Association should prioritize the promotion of science and the right use of reason and philosophy.

Frederick Austin. “Why do we not Organize?” 1517 (June 20, 1860): 66. The author contends that, “While we are separate, we shall have to endure the calumny and anathemas that are heaped upon us unsparingly, by the divines of the present day; but if we organize, they will find that they have a formidable enemy to grapple with. Backed by truth, common sense, and reason, they will be forced to swallow their own words, and their falsehoods will recoil upon themselves. And the Orthodox will find that they have trusted to a hollow reed when they thought slander would answer their purpose.”

Mac. “The Necessity of a Broader Platform.” 1521 (July 18, 1860): 98. The author makes his case for why the United States Infidel Association should no longer denominate themselves as infidels but instead as secularists.

Thomas Curtis. “Infidel” 1523 (Aug. 1, 1860): 114. Curtis puts forth the following argument in support of retaining the name infidel: “You are an infidel. Yes. You are opposed to religion. Yes. Scientific writers are called infidel. Yes. Science is opposed to religion. Yes. Humboldt was a great philosopher and scientific man. Yes. Humboldt is called an infidel. Yes. Ergo, science, philosophy and sensible men are opposed to religion; or, in other words, Infidels are sensible men who favor science and philosophy and oppose religion and priestcraft.”

Wm. P. Carr. “What I Thought on the Subject.” 1525 (Aug. 15, 1860): 133. Carr notes, “It is impossible to select a name that will represent us as a body “positively,” because we are composed of too dissimilar opinions. . . . Our principles can only be represented collectively by a negative name; and “Infidel” is the only one that can embrace us all.”

“What we Are, and What we Strive For.” 1527 (Aug. 29, 1860): 145. Translated from German; reprinted from the July 1860 issue of Blätter Für Freies Religiöses Leben (Philadelphia). The article features the general leading principles of the Free German Congregation of Philadelphia.

J.C. Brown. “The Name Which I Prefer.” 1527 (Aug. 29, 1860): 146. Brown states, “I think it desirable that we, the advocates of genuine, unadulterated Materialism, should form an association under the name of Atheists or Materialists, for the purpose of improving the condition of man, by obliterating all supernatural absurdities, whether of ancient or modern origin. . . . This society will never condescend to enter into an alliance with one sect of superstitionists, to oppose all others, but will contend for truth and right against the world.”

Morris Einstein. “An Unprofitable Controversy.” 1528 (Sept. 5, 1860): 154. Einstein laments the time wasted on a “useless,” and “petty” dispute regarding the name of their association and suggests the upcoming national convention take up more important issues such as how to get “Legislatures to acknowledge to Infidels those rights which the liberal Constitution of the United States grants them, co-equal with religionists, and which the perverseness and bigotry of the nation withholds from them.”

G.W.W. “The Liberals in Richmond, Indiana.” 1538 (Nov. 14, 1860): 234. The author reports on Richmond’s first annual meeting of the Liberal Sunday Institute which convened for three days and featured speeches from S.J. Finney, William Denton, Orson S. Murray, Mrs. Brown, and Joseph W. Smith.

C.M. Sawtelle. “A Letter from Oregon.” 1547 (Jan. 16, 1861): 309. The author reports on the growing Infidel Association of Oregon and an infidel lecture delivered at the Salem courthouse by Theodore Burmester.

Stephen J.W. Tabor. “Stand Firm” 1552 (Feb. 20, 1861): 345. Tabor reports on his reelection as county judge in Buchanan County, Iowa, despite being an open infidel.

K. Heinzen. “Resolutions of the Radical Germans.” 1779 (July 19, 1865): 81. Heinzen notes that “The appointment of days for fasting and prayer, the Sunday constraint, the oath on the Bible, the opening of legislative assemblies with prayer, the exclusion of Infidels from political rights, &c., are direct violations of the Constitution; they make out of religion, which can and should be only a private matter, a State business.”

“Public Opinion – Infidelity.” 1780 (July 26, 1865): 92. The editor remarks, “The author of a book professedly and deliberately denying the truth of Christianity, would become a Pariah in the community. If he were in a profession, he would find his practice fall off; if he turned towards the public service, its avenues would be barred. In society he would find himself shunned or scorned- even his family, as is sometimes the case, would feel the taint of their descent especially if they were religiously inclined. To be suspected of holding Infidel opinions, though without any attempt at their propagation- even in fact without avowing them, is considered rather a misfortune. It “don’t pay,” in the public estimation, and consequently it is an imputation which every prudent man, who would be rich or popular carefully avoids.”

T.R. Kinget. “Independent Order of Liberals.” 1807 (Jan. 31, 1866): 306. Kinget recommends the establishment of an Order of Liberals similar to that of the Odd Fellows or Sons of Temperance.

J.M. Beckett. “Infidel Convention.” 1807 (Jan. 31, 1866): 309. Beckett begins, “The war which, for a time, disorganized our forces, has subsided; the ecclesiastical organizations, taking fresh courage, are again rallying for a more deadly onslaught upon the freedom of thought and speech . . . . and, unless met in a spirit of earnest and unyielding opposition, the next twenty years will witness a fearful retrogression in the progress of mental freedom.”

Mrs. M.E. Austin. “Independent Order of Secularists.” 1816 (Apr. 4, 1866): 382. Austin asks if women will be accepted as members in the proposed Independent Order and points out that “women need the protection such an institution would afford more than men; for it is a well known fact, that there is far more toleration exercised toward men than women as regards free thought and free speech.”

Biographical Sketches

“Death-Bed of William C. Bell.” 738 (July 16, 1845): 3. Reprinted from the Public Ledger. Bell is reported as saying on his death-bed, “when I die, I want you to tell the world that I die in the most perfect confidence in the principles I have advocated and published . . . . Tell them that I believe in nothing above or separate from Nature!”

“Death of Benjamin Offen.” 886 (May 17, 1848): 3. Recognizing the passing of “one of Nature’s Reasoning Nobles.”

William H. Allen. “A Funeral Oration on the Occasion of the Death of Benjamin Offen.” 889 (June 7, 1848): 1. Allen concludes, “On the 12th day of May, 1848, calm and serene, [Benjamin Offen] died in the 76th year of his age, at peace with all men, not depressed with fear, nor elevated with hope; but, like a true philosopher, looking back upon a well spent life, was perfectly willing to trust the future.”

J. Myles. “Frances Wright D’Arusmont.” 910-15 (Nov. 1- Dec. 6, 1848). Reprinted from the Northern (Scotland) Star.

“Death of Thomas Herttell.” 960 (Oct. 17, 1849): 2. The editors note that Herttell was for nearly fifty years “a firm and unflinching adherent to the principles of Infidelity; and the bold and unyielding advocate for moral, civil, political, and national rights and liberty, to the rejection of wrongs and tyranny of every description.”

“The Late Dr. Charles Knowlton.” 1013 (Oct. 23, 1850): 2. The editor describes Knowlton as a “uniformly able and vigilant worker in the cause of Universal Mental Liberty.”

“Romanus Emerson- His Funeral Address.” 1117 (Oct. 20, 1852): 2. This notice of Emerson’s death includes the funeral address, written by Emerson, and an obituary reprinted from the South Boston Gazette.

“Death of Madame F.W. D’Arusmont.” 1126 (Dec. 22, 1852): 2. The editor reports the death of Frances Wright and provides a brief biography of her life.

Samuel Barnes. “Frances Wright.” 1129 (Jan. 12, 1853): 1-2. Barnes concludes his tribute to Frances Wright by stating, “if the promulgation of truth has anything meritorious in it, and if to fearlessly avow it amid persecution and danger is doing good to humanity, then may Frances Wright be justly ranked among the first Reformers of the age.”

“Francis Wright D’Arusmont.” 1131 (Jan. 26, 1853): 1. A lecture delivered in Philadelphia, by Thomas Illman, on the life and character of Francis Wright.

“Funeral of Tyler Parsons.” 1149 (June 1, 1853): 2. This notice of Tyler Parsons death includes a “testimonial of respect” submitted by the Boston Infidel Relief Society.

Samuel Barnes. “Death of Tyler Parsons.” 1152 (June 22, 1853): 2.

Ernestine L. Rose. “Death of John Morrison – His Funeral.” 1222 (Oct. 25, 1854): 1.

“Biographies of Freethinkers.” 1360-61, 1363, 1365, 1367, 1369, 1372, 1375, 1377, 1379, 1383 1385-94 (June 17 -24, July 8, 22, Aug.5, 19, Sept. 9, 30, Oct. 14, 28, Nov. 25, Dec. 9-30, 1857; Jan. 6- Feb. 17, 1858). Includes biographical sketches of: Hobbs, Lord Bolingbroke, Condorcet, Spinoza, Anthony Collins, Rene Descartes, Voltaire, John Toland, Volney, Charles Blount, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Helvetius, Frances Wright D’Arusmont, Epicurus, Zeno, The Stoic, Matthew Tindal, David Hume, Dr. Thomas Burnet, Thomas Paine, Robert Taylor, Joseph Barker. Biographies are authored by A.C., I and J.W.

Anthony Collins. “George Jacob Holyoake.” 1370 (Aug. 26, 1857): 1. Collins briefly sketches the career of the “head of the English Secularists.”

Anthony Collins. “Robert Cooper.” 1373 (Sept. 16, 1857): 4. Cooper is described as a leader of socialism, unrivaled as an Infidel lecturer, and by at least one clergyman as the “most dangerous man in England.”

“Death and Funeral of Mrs. Seaver.” 1404 (Apr. 21, 1858): 2. This article reports the death of Horace Seaver’s wife, Celinda Seaver, and includes LaRoy Sunderland’s funeral address.

Ernestine L. Rose. “Robert Owen.” 1437 (Dec. 8, 1858): 2. Rose notes, “In his death, the world has lost the greatest philanthropist that ever lived.”

“Death of Robert Owen.” 1437 (Dec. 8, 1858): 2. Seaver writes, “Men of more intellect, science, and invention have existed; but few men, perhaps, have occupied so much attention among social philanthropists of all countries on the question of government by persuasion alone, as Robert Owen.” The article also includes a letter from Robert Dale Owen and an obituary, both reprinted from the London News.

“Death of Thomas Illman.” 1437 (Dec. 8, 1858): 2. Includes a tribute from Joseph Barker.

Robert Wallin. “Obituary [for Thomas Illman].” 1437 (Dec. 8, 1858): 3.

“Death of Robert Owen.” 1438 (Dec. 15, 1858): 4. Reprinted from the New York Evening Post.

Robert Wallin and William King. “Life and Services of Thomas Illman.” 1439 (Dec. 22, 1858): 1. Illman was a painter, poet, public speaker, master of several languages and a founder and President of the Sunday Institute in Philadelphia.

“Public Meeting of the Friends of the Late Robert Owen.” 1442 (Jan. 12, 1859): 4. Reprinted from the New York Herald. Features a speech by Ernestine L. Rose.

Louis Wayeley. “Alexander Von Humboldt.” 1507 (Apr. 11, 1860): 403. Wayeley summarizes a lecture on the life and works of Humboldt, delivered by Adolph Douai in Boston. Wayeley highlights that Humboldt “was not only no believer, he was a perfect disbeliever in all creeds whatever. His creed was to believe in nothing but what can be scientifically demonstrated, and to trust to the slow but unfailing power of science.”

Theodore R. Kinget. “Remembrances of Charles Southwell.” 1562 (May 1, 1861): 10-11. Kinget eulogizes Southwell thusly, “He seized old Orthodoxy with a giant’s grasp, and made her dry bones rattle. He advocated no half-way measures. Himself a thorough Atheist, he had no sympathy with “Great First Causes,” “Supreme Beings,” &c. All such he regarded as supreme follies, and great humbugs, fraught with mischief incalculable, and to rid the human mind of which notions he regarded as the highest duty of man.”

“Joseph Barker.” 1672, 1673, 1675, 1677-78, 1684, 1692 (July 1, 8, 22, Aug. 5-12, Sept. 23, Nov. 18, 1863): 62, 69, 82, 98, 109, 157, 219 and “The Infidel, Joseph Barker.” 1690 (Nov. 4, 1863): 204. This series of articles discusses Joseph Barker’s conversion from an Abolitionist and Infidel to a secessionist and orthodox Christian. In the November 4th article, the editor observes, “Infidelity was a “fixed fact” in the world long before Barker was ever heard of, and it will continue to exist as such, long after he and his Methodist Church have gone into oblivion.”

Church and State

“Church and State.” 1188 (Mar. 1, 1854): 2. The editor observes, “In one sense there is no union of Church and State in America like that we discover in England and other countries in the old world; and yet in another sense we sustain the same union to a considerable extent and with remarkable tenacity.” The editor then proceeds to identify the exclusion of infidels from serving as jurors or witnesses in the courts, Sabbath day laws, the appointment of Chaplains to the legislature, and the legislative sanction of fast days as examples of how the State continues to establish religion by law.


“Report of the Select Committee in the New York Assembly, on the Several Memorials Against Appointing Chaplains to the Legislature.” 59-60 (May 11, 1832). Signed by David Moulton, committee chair, and M. Myers, the committee concludes “that the association of ecclesiastical duties with political legislative proceedings is unauthorized by any power delegated by the people- is incompatible with the character of a free government, predicated on the principle of equal rights- uncongenial with the spirit and provisions of the constitution of this State, and that the practice ought therefore to be abolished.”

“Chaplains to the New York Legislature.” 89 (Dec. 7, 1832): 1-2. Reprinted from the N.Y. Daily Sentinel. Addressing the New York legislature on the practice of appointing priests to the office of legislative chaplain, the memorialists allege, “that the frequent repetition of legislative acts and practices unauthorized by the Constitution or repugnant to its spirit or express provisions, is no sufficient reason for their further continuance- no proof of their compatibility with the unalienable rights of conscience- nor evidence of their harmless influence on the religious liberties of the people; nor can the plea of custom excuse or justify them.”

Thomas Herttell. Letter to “Mr. Ransom Cook and Fifty-Five other Inhabitants of the Village of Saratoga Springs.” 131 (Sept. 27, 1833): 1. Herttell provides a detailed account of the proceedings in the New York legislature regarding the “Chaplain Law.”

Thomas Herttell. “[Appointment of] Chaplains.” 134-135 (Oct. 18-25, 1833). Remarks of Herttell to the New York Assembly, January 3, 1832. Herttell presents passages from numerous petitions submitted to the New York legislature since 1831 opposing the appointment of chaplains, and ably demolishes the argument which states that because the legislature has become accustomed to appointing chaplains it is constitutionally permissible to do so.

Thomas Herttell. “A Reminiscence- A Negro Chaplain.” 768 (Feb. 11, 1846): 2. Herttell retells the story of how and why, for a series of years, the New York legislature “had a Negro Priest or Black Divine in pay, as a Chaplain to that Honorable body- not for praying for the members, but for not performing such divine service for them.”

“Legislative Chaplains.” 864 (Dec. 15, 1847): 4. Reprinted from the Express (Madison, Wisconsin). Speaking before the Wisconsin House of Representatives on the subject of appointing chaplains, Mr. Burt states, “to hear an honorable member of this legislative body at this enlightened day and age speak of the necessity of employing a man to pray to an immutable being to change the general laws of nature or his providence, I am astonished. . . . If the clergy can change immutability, or make infinity more infinite, or omnipresent more so, or make infinite goodness more kind, or avert the judgment of immaculate justice, they can do it in the midst of their societies and at home, and without the money which belongs to the people of the Territory at large. “

“Legislative Religion.” 1190 (Mar. 15, 1854): 2. The editor argues that “legislatures possess no legitimate authority to associate religious prayers with legislative proceedings, nor to appoint legislative chaplains, nor to appropriate the public money to pay for any religious service; because, 1st, no such authority has been delegated to them; and 2d, because the exercise of such power is not only repugnant to the Constitution, but expressly interdicted by it.”

“Chaplains to the American Congress.” 1245 (Apr. 4, 1855): 4. Reprinted from the New York Sunday Atlas. The author exclaims, “We believe that the only consideration that induces the two Houses of Congress to elect chaplains is the fear that their constituents will think them wanting in respect for religion. We will frankly tell such members that they would better manifest their respect for religion by not having, than by having chaplains. If we were Infidels, and desired to bring religion into disrepute, we would be in favor of electing chaplains to Congress.”

“Congressional Chaplains.” 1387 (Dec. 23, 1857): 2. The editor reports “that there are no less than fifty-eight Chaplains in the service of the United States, maintained at an annual expense of $100,000” and yet only one congressman, “at the choice of a Chaplain in the present House of Representatives . . . . spoke against the practice as unconstitutional.”

“Chaplains.” 1442 (Jan. 12, 1859): 2. The editor reports that memorials from nearly every state have been sent to Congress calling for the abolition of the office of Chaplain.

“The Chaplain Question.” 1443 (Jan. 19, 1859): 4. Here featured, is a memorial, presented to the U.S. House of Representatives, calling for the “immediate abolition of the office of Chaplain in Congress, in the army and navy, and elsewhere.” The memorial contends that the appointment of Chaplains violates both the first and tenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

“The Chaplain Question.” 1498 (Feb. 8, 1860): 331. A discussion in the assembly of the Wisconsin legislature; reprinted from the Wisconsin State Journal.

“”Because of the Loaves!” The Army of Chaplains.” 1594 (Dec. 11, 1861): 244. The editor remarks, “Very likely if the Spiritualists, Infidels, or Abolitionists, should clamor at the Government for offices and salaries for their several lecturers, they would only get laughed at for their pains. Yet this demand, on their part, as improper as it would be, is just as reasonable, legitimate, and constitutional, as the appointing and paying of chaplains by the Government. The whole thing is wrong, and a species of fraud on the people which they would not endure another hour if they knew their rights and were determined to maintain them.”

“Chaplain in the Army.” 1635 (Oct. 8, 1862): 180. The editor condemns the practice of appointing chaplains and paying them as much as $146 per month when privates are only paid $13 per month and recommends that President Lincoln issue a “proclamation” on the constitutionality of the Chaplain question.

Fast Proclamations

“A New Proclamation.” 1662 (Apr. 15, 1863): 395. Reprinted from the Herald of Progress (N.Y.). The author reports that Lincoln has proclaimed April 30 as a day to fast and pray that our national sins will be pardoned and our country restored “to its former happy condition of unity and peace.” The author then reports, “It is said that the President positively refuses . . . . to grant authority to raise more negro regiments” and remarks, “A people too proud to accept the help of the negro, praying to God for his help! Refusing the outstretched hand of the African, we vainly implore the hand of providence! . . . . What if the real hand of Providence be the dark brawny palm of the African?”

Judicial Oaths

“Competency of Witnesses.” 127-28 (Aug. 30- Sept. 6, 1833). Kneeland reports how Thomas Burnham was disqualified as a witness on account of his religious opinions in the case of Commonwealth v. Lewis Bruce in Boston’s municipal court. The article includes excerpts from Spirit of the Periodical Press (Boston), Mercantile Journal (Boston) and the Morning Post (Boston), and Kneeland’s commentary.

Letter from Amos Garnsey. 146 (Jan. 10, 1834): 1-2. Reprinted from the Statesman (Windsor, Vermont), Garnsey reports being prevented from testifying in a court of law on account of his disbelieve in the bible and the doctrine of future rewards and punishments.

Thomas Herttell. “Rights and Competency of Witnesses.” 220-226 (June 12- July 24, 1835). Reprinted from the Albany Argus. Herttell argues before the New York assembly that because the rights of conscience, opinion and speech are inalienable and expressly guaranteed by the constitution the legislature had no authority to enact the “religious test act” and the judiciary has no power to enforce it.

“Competency of a Witness.” 222 (June 26, 1835): 2-3. Featured here is an article entitled “An Atheist,” reprinted from the Atlas, in which an inferior court judge in Essex county, after hearing the testimony of more than a half dozen witnesses regarding the religious opinions of Enoch Winkley, refused to admit Winkley as a witness because of his disbelieve in a “Supreme intelligent Being, who govern all events.”

“Disqualification of Witnesses.” 256 (Feb. 19, 1836): 1. Here featured is Rev. Thomas Whittmore’s remarks on a bill abolishing the disqualification of witnesses on account of their religious opinions. Whittemore observes, “There is a great inconsistency in our courts of justice, which we ought no longer permit. Men are now sometimes called upon to testify in regard to their own religious opinions. The courts are obliged to believe them, in order to say they are not worthy to be believed. This has been repeatedly done. They ask a man if he is an atheist. He says he is. They believe him; and then, because he has told the truth, they declare they can put no confidence in what he says. Is their propriety in this custom of the courts?”

“More Court Bigotry and Intolerance.” 435 (July 24, 1839): 3. The author comments on the disqualification of a witness on account of his atheism by Judge Wilkins of the U.S. Court in Detroit.

“The Witness Bill.” 468 (Mar. 11, 1840): 3. The witness bill sought to prohibit the disqualification of witnesses and jurors on account of their infidelity.  Although the bill was voted down, the author optimistically stated, “Not many sessions will elapse, before this will be effected- before the day will arrive when the credibility of a witness will be determined by the only correct standard, his character and conduct; and not by that absurd criterion, his belief, over which he cannot possibly have control.”

“Mr. [Nathaniel] Hinckley’s Report.” 470 (Mar. 25, 1840): 1. Hinckley served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The report concludes that Massachusetts’ laws which permit the religious beliefs of witnesses to be inquired into, and prohibit unbelievers from testifying in court, is, inter alia, unconstitutional, engenders hypocrisy, and excludes none except the honest from testifying.

“Witness Law.” 560 (Feb. 9, 1842): 2. Reporting that a proposed bill in the Massachusetts Congress provides, “that the testimony of no person be rejected from our Courts of Justice, on account of his sentiments on the subject of religion . . . . unless those sentiments involve a disbelief in the existence of a God.” The author playfully remarks, “Since it is not required that the witness should be a worshiper, but simply a believer in a God, the veriest atheist may be admitted, for every atheist believes in the existence of a God. Every atheist believes in the existence of the Sun  which is a God of the Persians, and of Fire, which is another God of the same people. He is, therefore, a believer in a God.”

“Competency of Atheists as Witnesses.” 794-95 (Aug. 12-19, 1846). Reprint of a debate which occurred in Maine’s House of Representatives, July 28, 1846. The bill under consideration “provides that persons who disbelieve in the existence of a Supreme Being, may be competent as witnesses, and that when testifying they shall affirm. But the fact of their disbelief may be shown as affecting their credibility.”

“Atheists. Competency of Atheists as Witnesses.” 794 (Aug. 12, 1846): 3. The editor exclaims, “It is utter absurdity that a man, honest and virtuous, should be debarred from giving evidence, and deprived of his rights, because he does not profess to believe what he cannot comprehend; while the wretch who pretends to believe in a future state of damnation, fire, and brimstone, is privileged to exercise it without question!”

Montgarnier. “Honor to Maine.” 853 (Sept. 29, 1847): 1. Montgarnier commends Maine for adopting the following witness law: “No person shall be deemed an incompetent witness on account of his or her religious professions or opinions, but shall be subject to the test of credibility; and any person who shall not believe in the existence of a Supreme Being shall be permitted to testify under solemn affirmation, and shall be subject to all the pains and penalties of perjury.”

Vindex. “Law, Justice vs. Superstition.” 1052 (July 23, 1851): 2. The author reports how a married couple (Mr. and Mrs. Thayer) were denied the right to testify against an alleged rapist in a police court in Lowell, Massachusetts on account of their disbelieve in the existence of God.

“Most Shameful Injustice.” 1052 (July 23, 1851): 3. The editor comments, “So it seems the Law allows or permits Christians to debauch an atheist’s wife! They can take advantage of his absence, render her by mesmerism insensible, and then effect their purpose; and when the injured husband goes into Court for justice, the Law virtually tells him he can have no redress because he has no religious faith!!”

“Judicial Testimony. The Recent Case at Lowell.” 1054 (Aug. 6, 1851): 4. Reprinted from the Philadelphia Ledger. The author remarks, “These witnesses did not believe in a God. What then? What concern should that have in the administration of human laws? They have persons, property, and character to protect, and have the same moral right to protection for each and all such rights, as any other persons of the same community, whether they believe in one God or twenty gods.”

“Law in Massachusetts.” 1055 (Aug. 13, 1851): 4. Reprinted from the Philadelphia Ledger. The author asks, “Are the days of witches revived in Massachusetts? Do the rancor and presumption of Cotton Mather about things beyond human settlement, still preside in its courts? Still govern its legislation and jurisprudence?”

John W. Le Barnes. “The Law of Evidence.” 1100 (June 23, 1852): 1. Agitating for the repeal of the laws of Massachusetts which disqualify witnesses on account of their religious opinions, Le Barnes observes, “Public sentiment readily enough asserts its will in defending every man’s right to believe in any religious faith which seems comfortable to his conscience. It has yet to rise above the dominant bigotry of the State, and to assert the equally “inalienable right” of every man to disbelieve whatever religious faith seems uncomfortable to his reason. We have yet to learn that the right to believe, implies the right to doubt; and that Faith is the least, and Scepticism the first of religious virtues.”

John W. Le Barnes. “Appeal to the Public.” 1101 (June 30, 1852): 1. Reprinted from the Boston Herald. Le Barnes recounts his experience being rejected as a witness by a grand jury on account of his infidelity, and recalls the foreman stating that “a person who held such opinions could not be supposed to possess any integrity, or to have any ideas of truth or justice, or to retain any sense of moral duty whatever.”

“Testimony of an Atheist Refused.” 1103 (July 14, 1852): 2. The editor comments on judge Sprague, of the U.S. Circuit Court in Boston, who refused to allow Walter Hunt, a professed atheist, to testify as a witness in a sewing machine patent case.

“The Law Against Infidel Witnesses.” 1133 (Feb. 9, 1853): 2. The editor reports that in the court of common pleas in Worcester County, Massachusetts, a judgment was entered in favor of a defendant accused of manslaughter when the dying declaration of the deceased was excluded on account of his disbelief in God. The editor asks, “was there ever anything more palpably absurd and cruelly unjust? It says, virtually, to Christians, “Do as you please with Infidels – their testimony against you is good for nothing in the eye of the court; and even if you murder them, it can be done with impunity, for killing an infidel is no murder!”

John Porter. “Massachusetts Test Law” 1139 (Mar. 23, 1853): 1. Porter begins, “Another of the almost daily instances of the beauties of the Massachusetts’ test law occurred here in Springfield this winter. A Mr. Ashley, farmer, had his barn burnt by an incendiary. The person suspected was arrested and brought before Judge Hooker, of this city, but acquitted because the principal witness against him had opinions on religious subjects not coinciding with the somewhat obsolete notions of our great grandmothers and fathers who framed this law during the same epoch that they whipped Quaker women and hung their neighbors for witchcraft.”

“Religious Tests.” 1139 (Mar. 23, 1853): 2. Calling for the abolition of religious tests in Massachusetts, the editor observes, “this prohibition of a religious test in the Constitution of the United States, must or ought to be imitated by the Constitutions of all the individual states, because the former Constitution is paramount, and as that prohibits a religious test, it is unconstitutional for a state to adopt it.”

“Incompetent as a Witness.” 1155 (July 13, 1853): 2. The editor reports how Mr. A.D. Brown’s suit against H.S. Salsbury filed in a Pennsylvania court for a debt owed was thrown out of court when it was discovered that Brown did not believe in the doctrine of future rewards and punishments.

G.W.S. “The Sectarian Test Law in Massachusetts.” 1223, 1225, 1227, 1231, 1234, 1239, 1242, 1249-50 (Nov. 1, 15, 29, Dec. 27, 1854; Jan. 17, Feb. 21, Mar. 14, May 2-9, 1855). The author briefly surveys the origin, operation, and reasons given for the law.

“Competency of Witnesses – A Liberal Triumph.” 1344 (Feb. 25, 1857): 2. The editor reports on the Massachusetts House of Representatives voting 209 to 95 in favor of permitting atheists to testify in court. At the same time, the editors express grave concern that the bill reported from the Judiciary Committee included a section that reads: Evidence of disbelief in the existence of a God may be received to affect the credibility, but not the competency, of anyone testifying.” The editor then asks, “Would it be just to test the credibility of a Christian by his religion? No; and if not a Christian, then not an Atheist, for his irreligion.” The editor concludes, “let [credibility] always rest upon the character of the witness for truth and veracity, and never upon his religion or the want of it.”

Jeremiah Arnold. “Experience of a Liberalist.” 1351 (Apr. 15, 1857): 1. Recalling the Vermont Supreme Court’s affirmation[8] of a probate court’s decision to disallow his testimony on grounds of his infidelity, Arnold writes, “The Court and the party deemed me an instrument of hell, depriving me the rights of a citizen, the right to be plaintiff or defendant, a witness or a voter, or the right to hold an office, and made me a prey to thieves, robbers, and even murderers, as I could not obtain a warrant for the apprehension of either.”

“Disqualification of a Witness.” 1385 (Dec. 9, 1857): 2. The editor reports that in the case of Massachusetts v. James Tuttle, for assault and battery upon a boy, the complainant, W.H. Gray was disqualified on grounds of his disbelief in a personal God.

“Debate on the Witness Bill.” and “Competency of Witnesses.” 1445 (Feb. 2, 1859): 2. In these two articles the editor reports that for over a quarter century infidels and atheists have been attempting to gain the right to testify in a court of justice. The editor laments that recent proposed legislation has included the following provision, “Evidence of his disbelief in the existence of God may be received to affect the credibility of any person testifying” and asserts that, “if the credibility of a witness can be destroyed or even impaired by his opinions on religion, it virtually amounts to his rejection on account of his opinions. This matter will never be correctly adjusted, until Infidels and Atheists are allowed precisely the same legal rights as Christians.”

“Law and Justice.” 1508 (Apr. 18, 1860): 413. The editor reports a case in the Police Court of Cambridge, in which William Whitten, a saloon owner, who caught two boys in the act of robbing his business, was disqualified as a witness on grounds of his “positive disbelief in a superintending Providence.”

“A Bigoted Judge.” 1665 (May 13, 1863): 5. The article features an excerpt from the Washington Star which reports how G.P. Fisher, judge of the Criminal Court of Washington, refused to consider the testimony of William P. Wood on the grounds that Wood admitted to not believing in a personal existence after this life. The article also includes a letter from Wood to Judge Fisher.

Religion and Public Schools

“The Bible in Common Schools.” 1122 (Nov. 24, 1852): 2. The editor reminds the reader that, “The spirit of our republican institutions regards every man’s conscience as sacred, and protects his alter and creed, granting equal privileges to each sect and exclusive privileges to none. This is the sum and substance of governmental authority and action as it relates to religion; and hence to enforce by law the reading of any version of the Bible in the common or public schools, is unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional, because it amounts to teaching religion by law.”

“Church and State- The First Successful Blow at Free Schools.” 1163 (Sept. 7, 1853): 2. The editor reports that California enacted a bill allowing Catholic schools “to receive a pro rata of the moneys raised for the support of Common Schools.”

“The Bible in Schools.” 1200 (May 24, 1854): 2. The editor reports that Liberals “maintain that all sectarian influence should be entirely excluded from the school system, and that nothing be taught to the scholars but the rudiments of secular education. This makes common and equal ground for all. It leaves religion to the church and private instruction, where it always ought to be left, if it must exist, and places the schools on their only proper and legitimate basis, making them the nurseries of useful knowledge.”

“The Bible in the Common Schools.” 1215 (Sept. 6, 1854): 2. The editor attributes to the Know-Nothing Party the assertion that in order to preserve our country, the common schools must be Protestant, i.e., use the Protestant’s Bible.

Common Sense. “The Common Schools.” 1216 (Sept. 13, 1854): 1. The author recounts how Sunday schools, once intended to provide secular education to poor children unable to attend school during the week, were turned into sectarian nurseries by priests. The author worries that the common schools will share the same fate, “unless Liberals can succeed in confining the Common Schools to secular teaching, independent of all religious exercises whatever.”

“The True Position.” 1222 (Oct. 25, 1854): 2. Quoting E.R. Potter, commissioner of the public schools of Rhode Island who wrote, “Our school system is a part of the machinery of the State, supported by the funds of the State; and no one has a right to use it as a means to enforce upon others his own religious views.”

“The Bible as a School Book.” 1235 (Jan. 24, 1845): 1. The editor concludes, “We doubt, that the State has any “legitimate” authority to impose the Bible upon schools and require it to be read in those institutions. The Bible is a religious book; but the State is not connected by law with the Church- therefore the State has no right to force upon the schools any religious book whatever. It is not the province of the State to do this, and she usurps power that does not belong to her, whenever she attempts it.”

“The Bible and Religion in Public Schools.” 1256-61 (June 20- July 25, 1855). The editor offers a few comments to support his belief that religious exercises such as prayer and bible reading have no place in the public schools.

“Religion in the Common Schools,” and “Religion in the Common or Public Schools.” 1274-1279 (Oct. 24-Nov. 28, 1855). The editor comments on a school textbook which includes sermons favoring Christianity and condemning infidelity.

Joel M. Hairgrove. “Perversion of Science.” 1360 (June 17, 1857): 1. Hairgrove begins, “It is almost impossible to find a work on any of the sciences, taught in our common schools, without finding therein numerous anomalies and perversions tending to instill, early in the minds of our youths, the superstition of the ancient and contemptible Jews, and also to prejudice them against all other religions or faiths.”

Carlton. “Geology and School Teachers.” 1398 (Mar. 10, 1858): 1. The author laments that in the face of abundant scientific evidence to the contrary, school children are still being taught that the earth and its living inhabitants were created no more than six thousand years ago.

George B. Smith. “The Bible in Public Schools.” 1423-24 (Sept. 1-8 1858). Smith shows “why the Bible is not a good book for reading in the public schools, and that the Book of nature had better be studied in its stead.”

“The Bible in Common Schools.” 1440 (Dec. 29, 1858): 4. Reprinted from The Liberator. The author writes, “We deny the right of the State to take the common money to buy Bibles, any more than to build churches or to sustain a priesthood. It does not come within the province or constitutional right of the Legislature to make or provide for any such expenditure. Ours is a form of government, based upon no book in special, but upon recognized principles, irrespective of religious opinions; and it may not, therefore, assume to decide that the Bible, any more than the Koran, shall be read as a holy book in “our common schools.””

A Teacher. “The Bible in School.” 1445 (Feb. 2, 1859): 1. The author argues that the Bible “has nothing to do in school under any circumstances, for the object of public schools . . . . is not to teach religion- it is to teach the rising generation in such branches as are necessary for “this life and this world.””

“The Bible in the Common Schools,” “The Bible Difficulty in the Schools,” “The Bible Trouble in the Schools” and “The Bible Trouble in the Schools Settled.” 1452-55 (Mar. 23-Apr. 13, 1859). This article chronicles the walkout of several hundred Irish Catholic students from a local “Protestant controlled” common school, and the flogging of one student for refusing to recite the Ten Commandments.

“The Bible as a School-Book.” 1456 (Apr. 20, 1859): 2. The editor opined, “Free schools are really too valuable to be made in any degree the nurseries of superstition and priestcraft. If this scourge to humanity must be taught anywhere, let its legitimate place be a sectarian college, where Wealth can go and buy it; but let it not be taught in our free schools, where the children of Poverty, if they receive not their education, are likely to grow up in ignorance.”

E.G. Kelley. “The Religious Atmosphere in Schools.” 1488 (Nov. 30, 1859): 251. Extract of an address delivered before the Essex County Teachers’ Association at Danvers, Massachusetts; reprinted from the Newburyport Herald. Kelley advocates the “separation of all religious exercises and influences from our public schools,” arguing that “public funds cannot legally be appropriated to the support of any religion, or schools of any religious sect, nor of right, therefore, for religious observances in schools of literature and science, especially if supported at public expense.”

“Religious Bigotry in School.” 1712 (Apr. 6, 1864): 380. The editor reports on the expulsion of two children from a school in Woburn Massachusetts for not “complying with the custom of the school in repeating prayers with the teacher [Mrs. Mary Dennett], and bowing their heads upon the desk while doing so.”

“Legal Opinion in the Woburn Case.” 1712 (Apr. 6, 1864): 381. Lysander Spooner and G. W. Searle[9], as counsel for the children, argue that the expulsion was contrary to state constitutional and statutory law.

“Religious Worship in the Schools. 1713 (Apr. 13, 1864): 389. Reprinted from the Boston Post.

“Religion in Schools” and “Religion and the Schools.” 1809 (Feb. 14, 1866): 324-25. The editor reports on the case of Spiller v. Inhabitants of Woburn [9.5] regarding the expulsion of Spiller’s child for refusing to bow her head during school prayer. The attorney’s argument in defense of the child is featured.

Sabbath Observances

Godfrey Higgins. “Horae sabbaticae: Or, an Attempt to Correct Certain Superstitious and Vulgar Errors Respecting the Sabbath.” 431- 436 (June 26- July 31, 1839). Godfrey provides numerous arguments, from Christian authorities, to prove that the Sabbath is a human institution.

William K. Griffin. “A Speech.” 614 (Feb. 22, 1843): 1. A speech delivered in his own defense, on an indictment of Sabbath-breaking, before a Circuit Court in Kentucky. In addition to arguing that the Sabbatical law violated the establishment clause of the first amendment, Griffin asks, “Can it be said that we enjoy that sacred republican liberty, when we are compelled to remain fifty-two days in every year of our lives, screwed up in a state of penal quiescence; and that, too, for no other conceivable motive but to preserve the sanctity of a religious institution? And how grievously is our ‘pursuit of happiness’ obstructed, when for sixteen waking hours, all employment of a profitable or amusing character is prohibited.”

A Sceptic. “Sabbath Breaking.” 678-79 (May 15-22, 1844). Noting the numerous attempts throughout the states to enact Sabbath laws, the author argues that “in this land of liberty every man has a right to entertain whatever opinions he deems reasonable; by which we must also understand that he has a right to act in conformity to those opinions, except when such actions would be a crime in its proper sense.”

“To Darius Pride, Esq., (One of the Justices of the Peace within and for the County of Orange, Vermont.).” 747 (Sept. 17, 1845): 2. Outraged by the prosecution and imprisonment of Plymon Seaver for Sabbath-breaking, the author writes, “Oh! shame! shame! a thousand times, to such weak, conservative traitors to humanity! To sit calmly down, as an official menial of despotism, and thus violate the self-evident rights of a brother! To compel him to a religion of love and peace by deeds of hatred and violence,- and to achieve this by a most deadly violation of the common duties of a brother, and of a man! Is there any degradation as galling as this?”

“The Sabbath.” 748 (Sept. 24, 1845): 2. Concerning the Sabbath, the editor writes, “We would not abandon the institution of the Sabbath. Neither would we compel the people by law to observe it in a certain prescribed manner. Public opinion should regulate its observance, and penal statutes should have nothing to do with it. If men choose to preach or to do any other kind of work on that day, we would not interfere with them; but society should not, as it now does, compel men to pay a tax to support a class of men who do the chief of their labor on the Sabbath.”

“Plymon Seaver.” 748 (Sept. 24, 1845): 3. Features a letter from Plymon Seaver in which he reports being liberated after twenty-nine days in prison, adding “Since I came out I have . . . . labored two or three whole Sundays, right in the face and eyes of popular prejudices and absurd superstitions. . . . I am not the man to knuckle to such tyranny and usurpation.”

“Anti-Sabbath Convention.” 871 (Feb. 2, 1848): 4. Reprinted from The Liberator and signed by William Lloyd Garrison, James Mott, Lucretia Mott et al. This call for an Anti-Sabbath Convention declares “That all penal laws respecting the religious observance of any day as the Sabbath are despotic and Anti-Christian and ought to be immediately abrogated. That the interference of the State, in matters of religious faith and outward observances, is not only unwarrantable, but an usurpation not to be tolerated.”

W.J. Boden. “The Sabbath.” 878 (Apr. 5, 1848): 1. Boden asks “Why should we, professed republicans, constantly prating about religious liberty and equal rights, by penalties enforce the observance of any religious ceremonies, the observance or non-observance of which does not interfere at all with the rights and happiness of others?”

“Anti-Sabbath Convention.” 879 (Apr. 12, 1848): 4. This article reports twenty resolutions offered by William Lloyd Garrison and adopted during an anti-Sabbath convention convened in Boston. Most notably, the attendees resolved to “recommend to all the friends of religious liberty throughout the country, the presentation of petitions to the next Legislature, in every State in which such laws exist, praying for their immediate repeal, and protesting against their enactment, as an unhallowed union of Church and State.”

“The Sabbath.” 1171-78 (Nov. 2-Dec. 21, 1853). Through this series, the editor identifies what he believes to be the evils of the present observance of the Sabbath, including, the lack of toleration of any activity other than the attendance of religious services, the belief that attending a religious service satisfies one’s moral obligations for the week to come, universal hypocrisy, and the resort to private vice for amusement. The editor ends the series by proposing the establishment of a Sabbath Lyceum.

“A Decision Against the Sunday Law.” 1420 (Aug. 14, 1858). Extract from a decision of the California Supreme Court, authored by Judge Burnett, declaring the state’s Sunday law unconstitutional.[10]

“Religious Persecution of Wm. Coates.” 1438 (Dec. 15, 1858): 1. The article reports how a portion of the household goods of William Coates, a citizen of Boonton, New Jersey, were sold by a constable to satisfy an execution for fine and costs under a charge of laboring on the Sabbath.

“Agitation of the Sunday Question.” 1473 (Aug. 17, 1859): 131. Reprinted from the N.Y. Sunday Atlas. The article reports that more than fifteen thousand “quiet and orderly citizens” gathered in Philadelphia in support of “carrying the Sunday question to the ballot boxes, with a view of compelling the next Legislature of the State to wipe from the statute books all laws relating to the observance of Sunday as a religious institution.”

“The Anti-Sabbatarian Movement.” 1480 (Oct. 5, 1859): 187. Reprinted from the New York Herald. The article features a number of resolutions adopted by a gathering of two to three thousand Americans and Germans opposed to New York’s Sunday laws, held at the Volks Garten. The meeting was organized by The American Society for Promoting Civil and Religious Liberty and the German Association for Resisting all Arbitrary Sunday and Prohibitory Laws.

“Sunday Laws.” 1508 (Apr. 18, 1860): 412. Reprinted from the New York Herald; features an anti-Sunday law petition submitted to the New York legislature, signed by a thousand people. The article mentions that a similar petition, with several thousand German signatures, was also forwarded to the New York legislature.

Freedom of Speech

“Trial of Dr. Cooper, Before the Trustees of South Carolina College, Dec. 4, 1832.” 92 (Dec. 28, 1832): 1. The article reports that Dr. Cooper  was charged with assailing and interfering with the religious opinions and observances of the people of South Carolina and the students of South Carolina College. His defense to these charges is featured.

“Dr. Knowlton.” 99 (Feb. 15, 1833): 2. Reporting the indictment of Charles Knowlton for “publishing the idea of destroying the fecundating property of the sperm [semen] by chemical agents” in a little book entitled Fruits of Philosophy, Kneeland asks, “Who has Dr. Knowlton injured? No one. Is his book an obscene book? It is not even pretended. We might pronounce almost every medical work obscene with the same degree of propriety. Nor is the fact new to medical men. What then has he done? He has made the knowledge too cheap; and that is not the worst of it, he has permitted common people, people who can be benefited by the knowledge to have access to it. It will spoil the trade of the great and rich. Poor people will not raise so many children to be slaves to their most wealthy neighbors when they know that they can limit their number to suit their own circumstances without denying themselves any of the pleasures and enjoyments of a marries state.”

A letter from Charles Knowlton describing the legal proceedings against him which ended in his imprisonment. 100 (Feb. 22, 1833): 1.

“Dr. Cooper’s Case.” 100- 102 (Feb. 22- Mar. 8, 1833). A detailed account of Dr. Cooper’s trial and his defense.

“Free Discussion.” 445 (Oct. 2, 1839): 1. The author begins, “It cannot have escaped notice that a strong predilection exists on the part of the advocates of religion to suppress all discussion respecting it, and to induce the civil power to aid them in retaining the multitude in mental bondage.”

Editor. “Freedom of the Press.” 501 (Dec. 2, 1840): 2. The editor explains, “The object of this article is to demonstrate the truth and benevolence of the principle that on all subjects, social, moral, civil, political, and religious, the press should be perfectly free of all penalty and restraint except that of public opinion.”

“The Right of Free Discussion.” 573 (May 11, 1842): 1. The author contends that, “From the earliest history of civilization to the present day, a doctrine has been sedulously inculcated, and perseveringly enforced, that certain subjects are too momentous for discussion: that the opinions of our rulers respecting them are to be adopted with reverential submission, and without farther enquiry: that they are to be approached (in the language of an old English dignitary, the Bishop of London) “with humble prostration of intellect,” and that the public discussion of doctrines that ought to be received implicitly on the authority of our superiors, is itself a crime. . . . There are even at this moment, and among ourselves, those who deem it nothing less than treason or sedition, to suggest a doubt of the infallibility of our ancestors, or to investigate the principles or tendencies of the constitution under which we live! as if we had not a right to follow the example they set us! as if the world decreased in knowledge as it increased in experience! as if change could never be wrought by time! as if infallibility had ever been the attribute of humanity! as if the circumstances of the present and of all future ages, in all their details, and in all the change of interests arising from them, were clearly foreseen and provided for by men, who lived half a century ago.”

“Free Speech and Free Inquiry.” 830 (Apr. 21, 1847): 4. Reprinted from The Liberator. The author states, “Be assured that whatever cannot bear the test of the closest scrutiny, has no claim to human respect or confidence, even though it assume to be sacred in its origin, or given by inspiration of God, but must be treated as spurious, profane, dangerous. Let, then, the mind, and tongue, and pen, and press, be free. Let free discussion not only be tolerated but encouraged and asserted as indispensable to the freedom and welfare of mankind.”


Editorial. 146 (Jan. 10, 1834): 1-2. Kneeland reports that he has been indicted for blasphemy for the publication of three articles found in the December 20, 1833 issue of the Boston Investigator.

Editorial. 147 (Jan. 17, 1834): 2. Kneeland announces that he is to be “tried in the Municipal Court, for the alleged crime of witchcraft! Or what is as absurd as witchcraft, blasphemy!!”

“The Indictment of the Editor for Blasphemy.” 149 (Jan. 31, 1834): 2. This article surveys the indictment against Kneeland, concedes that at least one of the three articles the indictment was based on was vulgar and obscene (but not blasphemous) and reports that the jury found Kneeland guilty and sentenced him to three months in the common jail.

“The Defense of Abner Kneeland.” 149 (Jan. 31, 1834): 2. This article celebrates Andrew Dunlap’s defense of Kneeland despite abhorring the editor’s opinions.

A Sceptic. “To the Hon. Judge Thatcher.” 152 (Feb. 21, 1834): 2. The author questions Thatcher’s right to express, in court, his hope that Kneeland would disavowal atheism and cease publication of the Boston Investigator.

Abner Kneeland. “To the Learned Clergy of the United States of America, One and All.” 153 (Feb. 28, 1834): 2. Seeking the clergy’s assistance in interpreting the blasphemy statute under which he was indicted, Kneeland asks: what is the meaning of the word God; who, or what, was Jesus Christ; who, or what, is the holy ghost; and are all parts of the canonical scriptures equally the word of God?

Untitled editorial, reprinted from the Prov. Microscope. 156 (Mar. 21, 1834): 1. The editor observes, “The trial of Abner Kneeland for Atheism, appears to have excited no inconsiderable interest, and we have no doubt that the final issue of the persecution will tend to produce a belief which we believe will ultimately become general, that the civil tribunal is not the proper one for the cognizance of any speculative religious notions, however preposterous and erratic.”

“Fourth Trial for Alleged Blasphemy.”and “List of Jurors on the Fourth Trial of the Editor.” 243 (Nov. 20, 1835): 2.

An editorial commenting on Judge Wilde’s instruction to the jury during Kneeland’s trial for blasphemy. 244 (Nov. 27, 1835): 2.

“The Morning Post.” 251 (Jan. 15, 1836): 1-2.[11] Featured here is an article entitled “Libel Law,” reprinted from the Morning Post (Boston). The author demonstrates the “invidious nature” of the libel law by pointing out that Kneeland’s indictment for blasphemous libel was based on the republication of a piece written by Voltaire and freely circulated by every large bookseller within the United States for the last sixty years without impunity.

Abner Kneeland. “Last Scene of the Grand Drama of Superstition- Consummation of Religious Folly.” 378 (June 22, 1838): 2. This feature includes three letters: a letter addressed to Chief Justice Shaw prior to being sentenced to sixty days in jail, followed by two jailhouse letters.

Tyler Parsons. “The Persecution.” 379 (June 29, 1838): 2. Parsons exclaims, “By this decision freedom of enquiry, of speech, and of the press, must be silenced- the jails enlarged- the pillory and the gallows erected and made stationary. This has been the result wherever force has been used to control opinion. If a man can be imprisoned for not believing or for even denying his belief in the God of his neighbor, where is the prison large enough to accommodate them all, or strong enough to retain them?”

A.K. “[Letters from the] Boston Jail- Alias Hades- Alias Hell.” 379-384 (June 29- Aug. 3, 1838).

Charles Knowlton. “Extracts from an Address.” 384 (Aug. 3, 1838): 1. Knowlton endeavors to answer the following question, “Why it is, that inasmuch as legislators may with propriety enact laws to restrain certain acts or crimes, they may not, also, with propriety enact laws to restrain the expression and promulgation of opinions which they or a majority of their constituents fully believe tend to a commission of these same crimes?”

“F.W.D. to A.K. on the Subject of his Prosecution, Trial and Imprisonment. Causes which Instigated to the Same.” 384 (Aug. 3, 1838): 3. Frances Wright observes, “I have seen some marvelous things during a life of attentive and extensive political observation, yet I know not that anything more marvelous – if we consider time, place, persons, the opinion of the epoch and the evident inclination of events – has come to my knowledge than your incarceration in the common jail, in the city of Boston, State of Massachusetts, United States of America, of the year of their Independence and of human liberty 62!”

“[Blasphemy] Case of Mr. [Flavel] Patterson.” 394 (Oct. 12, 1838): 2. Patterson was tried for denying the omniscience of Jesus.

“Valedictory Address of Abner Kneeland to the First Society of Free Enquirers in Boston.” 419 (Apr. 3, 1839): 1. Reflecting on his imprisonment for blasphemy, Kneeland asks, “Why should the opinions of Christians be protected by law, any more than the opinions of other men? Why should the opinions of anybody be protected by law? If people do not wish to see their opinions ridiculed, they must not hold opinions which are in themselves ridiculous. The whole world is at full liberty to ridicule my opinions as much as they please. I will never ask for any law to protect them. I only ask the privilege of propagating them the same as others. And I am willing to accord to each and every individual the same liberty and the same privilege which I claim for myself.”

Trial of Mr. Henry Hetherington[12].” 521 (May 12, 1841): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Chronicle.

“Publicola[13], To Lord Denman, on the Late Prosecution for Blasphemy.” 524 (June 2, 1841): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Dispatch.

“Blasphemous Libel- Queen’s Bench- Special Juries.” 530 (July 14, 1841): 2. This editorial examines the trial of Henry Hetherington.

“Another Prosecution in England for Blasphemy!” 532 (July 28, 1841): 2. The editor reports that Mr. Edward Moxon, a bookseller in London, was found guilty of having published a “‘blasphemous libel’ in an edition of the poetical works of Shelley.” The editor states, “Cannot Christianity be supported without these foolish, absurd, and contemptible prosecutions? Has it no merit of its own, no goodness, no virtue, that it cannot be vindicated and advanced only by law?”

Publicola. “Mr. Serjeant Talfourd Upon Blasphemy.” 559 (Feb. 2, 1842): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Dispatch. Publicola critically examines Sergeant Talfourd’s court statement in defense of Mr. Moxon.

Publicola. “The Recent Prosecution for Blasphemy.” 536 (Aug. 25, 1841): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Dispatch. The author analyzes “parts of Lord Denham’s disgraceful charge to the jury, which ought to be held up to public shame.”

Publicola. “Is a Jury a Tribunal Competent to Try Cases of Libel, Religious or Political?” 541 (Sept. 29, 1841): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Dispatch. Publicola pledges to prove that “few things can be more absurd, malevolent, fraudulent, and pernicious, than submitting to the decisions of juries, questions of opinion upon speculative subjects.”

Editor. “Prosecution for “Blasphemy”!” 556 (Jan. 12, 1842): 2. The editor reports Artemas Rogers was indicted and tried in Otsego, New York for asserting that God had had “carnal connexion with a woman.”

“Prosecution for Blasphemy.” 567 (Mar. 30, 1842): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Dispatch. The author reports Charles Southwell was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for blasphemous libels found in his work – The Oracle of Reason.

Publicola. “Another Prosecution for Blasphemy.” 568 (Apr. 6, 1842): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Dispatch. Publicola argues that, “No man in a free state ought to be prosecuted in any shape for any offence that does not admit of a definition.”

“Freedom of the Press.” 574 (May 18, 1842): 1. The author asks, “In which of our States is not the offence called blasphemy indictable? In which of our States dare you speak of Jesus Christ in the contemptuous terms that all good Christians speak of the Jews, and of Mahomet?”

Publicola. “Trials for Blasphemy. To Judge Erskine, of the Common Pleas.” 598 (Nov. 2, 1842): 1. Reprinted from the London Weekly Dispatch. This letter concerns the trials of Adams and Holyoake.

“The Blue Laws of 1846.” 766 (Jan. 28, 1846): 3. Reprinted from the Life in Lowell. The editor of the Life in Lowell reports on his upcoming trial “for the alleged crime of blasphemy.”

“The Constitution and Religion.” 1239 (Feb. 21, 1855): 2. The editor demonstrates why “the Statute of Blasphemy in Massachusetts cannot stand consistently with the Constitution of the United States and the Laws of Naturalization under that Constitution.”

“The Civil Rights of Atheist.” 1274 (Oct. 24, 1855): 4. Reprinted from the London Reasoner. Features the “Loring-Channing Petition for the Unconditional Pardon of Abner Kneeland” originally circulated in 1839. The petitioners argue in favor of a pardon on, among other grounds, “Because the freedom of speech and the press is the chief instrument of the progress of truth and of social improvement, and is never to be restrained by legislation, except when it invades the rights of others, or instigates to specific crimes. . . .”

“Christianity is Maintained by Law.” 1371 (Sept. 2, 1857): 2. The editor reports a new case of blasphemy indicting Thomas Pooley, a fifty year-old laborer, “for  having blasphemously spoken against God, and profanely scoffed at the Holy Scriptures, and exposed them to contempt and ridicule.”


Common Sense. “The Criminal Law of Libel.” 227 (July 31, 1835): 1. Reprinted from the Boston Morning Post. Speaking about the law of libel relied upon by judges in Massachusetts’ courts; the author observes “They have drawn their law from the usages in Great Britain. They however, seem to forget that our revolution was brought about for the purpose of casting off the British yoke- not merely the yoke of their political power, but that far more galling weight, the yoke of her barbarous civil code- of her bloody and hideous criminal code- of her bigoted and intolerant ecclesiastical code- of her parliamentary and judicial corruptions- of her vague usages, called common law, those snares which a vindictive judge may always entrap his victim- and of her unyielding prejudices.”

“Libel Law.” 253, 256-58, 260 (Jan. 29, Feb. 19- Mar. 4, 18, 1836). Reprinted from the Boston Morning Post. This excellent series captures the heated debate within the press concerning the constitutionality of the judge made law of criminal libel.

Question of Slavery

A.K. “The Alton Riots and Murder.” 349 (Dec. 1, 1837): 2. Reporting on the murder of Elijah Lovejoy by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois, Kneeland comments, “we believe that the death of Lovejoy will aid the cause of abolition; not so much because abolitionists are right, or that they are wise in all their measures (for we are decidedly opposed to much of their proceedings on this score); but because the cause of abolition is inseparably connected with the cause of free discussion, which is also inseparably connected with all our civil and religious liberties.”

“Free Thought and Free Speech.” 1306, 1309-1310 (June 4, 25, July 2, 1856). In the first article of the series, the editor observes, “The cloud that now hangs over our political horizon, and alarms by its portentous appearance the wise and prudent, engendering civil war in the West and attempted assassination in the Senate Chamber at Washington, had its origin in the denial of the principle for which we are contending.The discussion of a certain question was endeavored to be prohibited, but as the prohibition was impossible in the very nature of the human mind, the discussion went on, until finally this vast nation shakes with the frenzy and excitement produced by the efforts to prevent this discussion; and in the angry feelings that it has caused between the South and the North, it has realized in itself the prediction charged to religion – “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” And thus we stand at the present moment in regard to the “vexed question” of slavery. The trouble growing there form, has been produced by the vain attempt to stop its discussion; for as this was impossible, nothing but trouble could follow such an attempt.”

“Brooks and Sumner.” 1308 (June 18, 1856): 2. The editor describes the attack of Brooks upon Mr. Sumner as “cowardly,” a “national calamity,” and “a blow intended for the destruction of Free Speech.”

“North and South.” 1311 (July 9, 1856): 2. The editor remarks, “It is not much to be wondered at perhaps that Southern men, surrounded by slavery and growing up under its influence, should be in favor of it, at least to a greater extent than the inhabitants of the North, where it does not exist. Yet it is a curious fact, that the position we have taken in our paper (that slavery should be discussed as well as other subjects) meets with opposition from some of our subscribers at the North not less than at the South.”

A. Ballou’s “Freedom of Debate.” 1312 (July 16, 1856): 1. Astonished by liberals who would request that their paper be stopped on account of the Investigator‘s defense of freedom of speech on the question of slavery, Ballou remarks, “Had the words of censure emanated from the “church,” they would have been deemed reprehensible, but from persons supposed to entertain Liberal views, they are entirely unaccountable and cannot be too severely condemned.”

William P. Lippincott. “Free Thought and Free Speech.” 1313 (July 23, 1856): 1. Following the discussion regarding free speech and the question of slavery in the Investigator, Lippincott concludes, “Calling Infidels “Liberals” is wrong, for there are as many bigots amongst Infidels as there are amongst Christians, in proportion to their numbers.”

J.A. Stewart. “Free Thought and Free Speech.” 1314 (July 30, 1856): 1. Reflecting on the beating of Sumner in the Senate of the United States, Stewart argues that “An honest conviction is not a sufficient license for inconsiderate and foolish freedom of speech,” and concludes “if rash men of the South, and fanatics of the North would exercise more prudence in debate and in their general deportment, there would be fewer acts of violence to disturb the public peace.” The editor remarks, “if we understand our friend, slavery must not be discussed, because such discussion is fanatical,” and reminds Stewart that there is a remedy at law for speech which destroys another man’s character.

Minor Meriwether. “The Boston Investigator.” 1316 (Aug. 13, 1856): 2. Meriwether writes, “Shame! Shame upon the proscriptive bigotry of such men- men who profess to love universal mental liberty, and yet stretch you on the Procrustean bed of their own narrow creed, and lop off your head for advocating freedom of speech on the subject of slavery! And they call themselves Infidels!” In his reply, the editor reports that this ongoing controversy has resulted in having “to cross off the names of seven hundred subscribers from our list.”

J.A. Stewart. “Freedom of Speech.” 1318 (Aug. 27, 1856): 1. Stewart adds, “I object to the discussion of slavery only when the time and manner and place of said discussion threaten the dissolution of our Union, or tend to incite negroes to insurrection against their masters, or to seriously disturb the peace of our society.”

“Patience – Decision – Newspapers.” 1496 (Jan. 25, 1860): 317. The editor responds to a “stop my paper” request from a Georgia subscriber and self-described “obedient servant” to the Investigator  by remarking, in part, that “as the Investigator is not a political paper, we do not wish to publish partisan articles either for or against Southern Slavery. The paper was not established for any such purpose, nor do we feel disposed to change the course it has pursued for nearly twenty-nine years. What it has been, it is and will be – an Infidel or anti-religious journal, devoted to mental, moral, and theological subjects, rather than the maintenance of the tactics of any political party.”

“Giving Satisfaction.” 1508 (Apr. 25, 1860): 5. Under this title is a letter from Anson Hull of East Berkshire, Vermont which begins, “I regret to say, “stop my paper,” for the same reason that many others do. I dislike the fumes of Abolitionism and holy-loving niggerism.”

Jno. Downright. “What an Old Fogey Thinks.” 1539 (Nov. 21, 1860): 242. Downright expresses his contempt for modern Infidelity especially those “sects” which advocate temperance, spiritualism and the emancipation of slaves and concludes, “while the advocates of mental liberty are advocates, also, of free love, free niggers, and the like dangerous systems of fool-osophy, I do not wish to be identified with them.”

Jno. Ambrose. “Slavery- Reply to Dr. Hammett.” 1540 (Nov. 28, 1860): 250. Writing from Richland, Mississippi, Ambrose asserts that “The Dr. takes it for granted that the Negroes desire freedom, that it would be a boon to them. These are perhaps great mistakes, the latter especially. As for the first, it does not exist generally, and would not even partially, were they not meddled with and stimulated with false hopes by occasionally a busybody in the shape of a bigoted and fanatical abolitionist.”

From the South- Stopping Papers.” 1543 (Dec. 19, 1860): 278. Responding to yet another request from a Southern subscriber to stop the Investigator, the editor remarks, “in the Southern states we have but few subscribers in comparison with Northern and Western States; and what we do have (or some of them) are seceding from our list, one after another. Every week we receive notices of a dissolution of the union that once existed between Southern subscribers and the Investigator; not because these friends love the Church, but because they hate the North. We don’t exactly see, though, why they should spite themselves, and make a scapegoat of us, merely on account of their dislike of our politicians! We Infidels are crowded down enough politically, one would think, by Northern bigots, without having the screws put upon us by Southern Infidels.”

Dutchman. “Mind your own Business!” 1552 (Feb. 20, 1861): 346. The Dutchman writes, “I see that the “disturbing element of the North American continent”- the negro- has wriggled itself into the center of those Infidel battalions, which, firm and fearless thus far, have gathered around the ancient standard of Union- the Investigator. Mayhap- and the very idea breeds gloom- there will be a division in these ranks, similar to that which exists in the Methodist, and other Christian sects, in the United States . . . . If so, I hope our anti-slavery Infidel friends will not treat us- the pro-slavery minority- as the dominant party of the North treat their brethren of the South.” The author concludes, “[I]n respect of slavery, I think it best for each Infidel to adopt the Investigator editorial notion, and “Mind his own business.” Not wishing to prevent free discussion, I yet humbly wish to read an infidel paper, without being free discussion-ed into an “irrepressible” word-war about negro, negro, negro!”

“Encouraging Letter from the South.” 1552 (Feb. 20, 1861): 349. Writing from Uniontown, Alabama, the author qualifies himself as a union man and states, “I shall not- no never! desert the Investigator, so long as she maintains the right of Freethinking and Truth-speaking.”

“The Investigator.” 1554 (Mar. 6, 1861): 364. This article features a letter in which the author notes that Boston’s German language Infidel paper, Der Pionier, edited by Karl Heinzen, has lost about all its Southern subscribers on account of its discussion of slavery.

B.L. Prescott. “A Letter from Georgia” and James D. Harris. “A Letter from Mississippi.” 1557 (Mar. 27, 1861): 387. Prescott requests that his paper be stopped given that, “in this quarter” it “brings odium on all who wink at it,” while Harris pleads for unity among infidels, arguing that “our political troubles have all originated from the Bible, or the religious sects, and now is the accepted time to strike a deadly blow at its roots.”

K.W. “What will you Do?” 1557 (Mar. 27, 1861): 389. Responding to a correspondent’s suggestion that the Investigator “give up the discussion of slavery” on grounds that it sows “dissensions in our ranks” and the “abolitionist have little or no sympathy for us,” the editor responds, “while we are sorry to see any division among us, and are well aware that our paper is in a critical condition, still we cannot dictate to our correspondents what subjects they shall write upon. Our press being free, we ought not to turn censor; for in that case, the freedom we claim for ourselves, we refuse to others, and that principle will never do for us.”

J.U. Ball. “Another Letter from Louisiana.” 1560 (Apr. 17, 1861): 413. Ball contends, “We have enemies enough in the ranks of bigotry and superstition, and it is too great a satire upon our philosophy for the world to behold our wrangling and quarreling with each other. In order to effect a better state of feeling, I would respectfully suggest that you keep to your text and do not fill your paper with opprobrious epithets against those whose destiny has been thrown with the institution of slavery.”

Wm. C. Hunt. “A Liberal Letter from Arkansas.” 1561 (Apr. 24, 1861): 5. Hunt reveals, “I have been a regular subscriber for about seven years. I cannot part with the Investigator now. The great truths, for which you are so nobly contending, become dearer to me with the advance of age. True we may differ on many points. On the subject of slavery, Northern and Southern opinion must ever be essentially different. It cannot be otherwise. Our opinions are the necessary result of our surroundings. We of the South know that you of the North are a great people, without African slavery. We of the South have already shown the world that national prosperity and greatness are not inconsistent with the so-much abused system of African slavery. Let us agree to differ – the right to differ is one of the dearest, for which the Investigator contends.”

Here is a letter from J.W. Jones of Schenectady, New York. 1562 (May 1, 1861): 13. The author confesses to be a Southern man in sentiment and feeling after residing in the South for nearly 15 years. However, he expresses “regret to see so many ungenerous notices from our Southern friends “to stop my paper.” Our professedly Liberal friends are too sensitive, and I fear in many cases too hasty.”

J. Seebold. “Taking Sides.” 1563 (May 8, 1861): 18. Seebold recommends, “Atheists and Infidels, living North and South, as well as others, have their own opinions on the subject of Slavery, and the less it is adverted to and published in our paper, the Investigator, the more harmony and good feeling will prevail amongst our kindred spirits, or moralists, North and South. Whether Slavery is good or evil, let it rest with those who have it. . . . Let our broadsides be fired against the prevailing superstition of the masses, or rather against the mass of superstition, for which purpose I hope we have all of us enlisted.”

Orson S. Murray. “Slavery – Free Discussion.” 1564 (May 15, 1861): 26. Murray swears, “The Infidels who think Infidelity is to save the world from the evil of Ignorance, and yet counsel silence on what is now passing, are ignorant of their own epoch. Such are worthy the stigma cast upon them by the superstitious, in giving them an opprobrious name. They are wanting in fidelity to humanity. They forfeit the confidence of those who look to them to save mankind from the thralldom of ignorance, imposed by State as well as Church. Infidelity to Superstition is good- great good; but if it does not imply and involve fidelity to all great truths, promotive of human improvement, it so much belittles and makes bigots. If an infidel is to be a man of but one idea, he is to be a very small man. It is this one-ideaism, this opposition to investigation for self-knowledge and self-improvement, that is the destruction of religionists.”

“A Letter from the South.” 1564 (May 15, 1861): 29. Writing from El Dorado, Arkansas, Edmond Mahony testifies, “I should be wanting in my duty to my State and country, if I continued subscribing for a paper which is calling us traitors, rebels, revolutionists, &c.; which is selecting news (relating to secessionists and secession States) which have no foundation in truth-  news which are distorting facts, and a paper whose columns are filled with abolition slang disgusting to the Southern mind, and insulting to their feelings.”

Dutchman. “Free Speech Run Mad.” 1567 (June 5, 1861): 51. The author asks, “When danger to our cause or our paper threatens, as a consequence of slavery agitation, will not free speech avert the danger by good-natured forbearance? Or will it blindly invite its approach? What fanaticism more fanatic? In the name of common sense, is there nothing to talk about but “nigger?”  . . . . Everyday’s experience teaches me that there are times to speak and times to be silent. If I think a man a rogue, it is not necessary for me to tell him so, and thereby risk a broken head, or the hatred of him and his people.”

T.W.G. “Conservatism.” 1568 (June 12, 1861): 61. After suggesting that anti-slavery subscribers send their abolitionist’s articles to the Liberator instead of the Investigator, the author remarks, “Some of your contributors seem to write as if they thought that enough had been said on the subject of Infidelity, and that it was time to drop it; but they should remember that inquirers are every day looking for Infidel arguments, and if we neglect our young friends, the church may catch them.”

Thomas Curtis. “Is Infidelity of any Practical Service?” 1569 (June 19, 1861): 66. Reflecting upon all the requests from infidels to put aside the discussion of slavery, Curtis contends “there can never be any important question regarding man’s welfare raised, without infidelity being deeply interested. . . . And in no subject are infidels more deeply interested than human slavery. It is all the same whether of the muscles or the brain; without the first being set free the second must remain in bondage, and in my opinion the only true Infidel is he who would break every chain that fetters man mentally and physically.”

“Extract from a Letter.” 1569 (June 19, 1861): 70. Expressing his opposition to “party politics” in the Investigator, the author suggests “I think we had all better keep to our text, if we desire to make headway against priestcraft and superstition; for if we become a political party, we shall be divided in sentiment, weakened in strength, and the day of our deliverance put further off.”

Robert Wilde. “Free Thought and Free Speech.” 1571 (July 3, 1861): 85. Wilde concludes his letter “no one can be a consistent Infidel who is anxious to exclude any subject from being discussed that affects our character before the world, or the permanent peace of our country. Further, it appears to me that we have not only the right, or rather, it is not only just that we expose existing evils, but it is our duty. And once more – “None ever feared that the truth should be heard, But they whom the truth would indict.””

“Friendly Criticism.” 1572 (July 10, 1861): 93. J. Williams Thorne introduces this letter by asking, “If Infidels, as a class, are as likely to be pro-slavery and unjust as Christians, what shall we gain by substituting the former for the later.”

J. Warnock. “A Few Words to Thomas Curtis.” 1572 (July 10, 1861): 93. Warnock accuses Curtis of being a “fanatic on the subject of slavery” and then asks, “is it not a right under our Constitution to hold slaves?” and is it not “best under all circumstances, for every man to attend to his own business and let that of other people alone?”

J. Van Trump. “A Letter from Missouri.” 1573 (July 17, 1861): 101. The author writes, “I am extremely sorry to see your Southern subscribers dropping off so fast. I cannot see what kind of Infidelity or Liberalism they possess. I am myself a Southern rights man of the Jefferson or Douglas school, yet I am always ready and ever glad to hear opinions from the opposition, as it gives me an opportunity to present to them what I conceive to be truth; but to break out, as our Southern brethren do and halloo “stop my paper” and quarrel about this and that article, shows a bigoted disposition, and is a virtual acknowledgement of the position of your antagonist.”

Orson S. Murray. “Discussion – Investigation.” 1575 (July 31, 1861): 114. Murray notes, “Now, if some of the readers of the Investigator can’t bear investigation of the subject of human rights, and if it is indispensible to humor them all and not to frighten nor agonize any of them with overmuch of reason and righteousness, why, then those who want the food that belongs to grown-up humanity must refrain from what they want and put up with the treatment that belongs to babes. . . . I do believe though – I must believe – that if the pleasure of the readers could be consulted, and if we could have a vote, an overwhelming majority would sustain the Editor and Publisher in their desire to “allow freedom of speech on all subjects.””

Dutchman. “Who Cares?” 1575 (July 31, 1861): 115. The Dutchman clarifies, “I do not deny the right of Free Speech. I merely suggest that it be not exercised to the hurting of the Infidel organ. . . . I care not if the Investigator overflow with Abolition theories and possibilities, so it be leavened with Infidelity: one will recover one’s lost diamond, be its resting place never so filthy.”

W.J. Boden. “Free Speech.” 1578 (Aug. 24, 1861): 137. Boden opines, “Spiritualism, land monopoly, slavery, intemperance, health, and many other topics, are all fraught with interest to all, and ought not to be excluded from the columns of any Liberal paper; and to exclude any or all of these because a few subscribers take offence, and narrow the paper down to mere anti-religious articles having for its object the disproving of pretended divine revelations, would almost entirely destroy its usefulness. Its motto is, “Hear All Sides.” Keep your ship, then, in the old channel; go in for free soil, free men, free speech, free labor, and a free world. Free discussion is the main feature of Infidelity. Those who discard it and show their intolerance by saying “Stop my paper!” are none of us, and are better suited in some bigoted Christian church.”

John Abbott. “The Investigator – Its Editor, &c.” 1581 (Sept. 11, 1861): 162. Abbott asserts, “the investigation of the Negro question is not compatible with the objects of the Investigator, and all articles on the subject in our paper are as firebrands cast amongst us, which, if persevered in will utterly divide and disintegrate us.”

Charles Edwin. “The War Between the North and the South.” 1581 (Sept. 11, 1861): 163. Edwin concludes, “Infidels should not be afraid of the issue of this contest, nor afraid to assume the duties of its press. At least one thing is sure – if the Government at Washington is lost, freedom of speech in our country is lost with it for a time, so that in sustaining, as far as we consistently can, that Government, we sustain ourselves.”

“Stop my Paper.” 1581 (Sept. 11, 1861): 165. Here featured is a letter from C.L. Young of Bricksville, Ohio, a subscriber for thirty years and agent for the Investigator. Young requests that his paper be stopped because it is clear to him that the editor considers “that the negro has the same consanguinity and purpose to fulfill as the white race” and that the “South is the guilty party in this war.”

A. Nevens. “Free Speech.” 1583 (Sept. 25, 1861): 179. Nevens advocates refraining from the exercise of free speech on the subject of slavery arguing that, “Our country has been brought to the verge of dissolution by vilifying and heedless epithets and assertions. Slavery is not the great “Bohun-Upas,” but it is the agitation, the meddling, and the “accustomed” meddlers, that has poisoned the country.”

“Replies to Correspondents.” 1592 (Nov. 27, 1861): 230. The editor remarks, “We suppose one reason why some of our subscribers do not like to see abolitionism in the paper is, they think it the main cause of the present civil war, and do not wish to hear any more about it. We don’t blame them. The short-sighted policy, both at the North and South, that has been pursued in regard to slavery, has probably destroyed the republic, and we do not wonder that sensible men are getting tired of the whole subject.”

Alvin High. “Suggestions to Liberals.” 1593 (Dec. 4, 1861): 233. The author begins, “It is with profound regret that I learnt that the struggle that is now going on between Freedom and Slavery (political) and which not only threatens the destruction of our Government, but everything which approximates to republican form of Government in the whole earth – also threatens the perpetuity of that degree of mental liberty which we as American citizens have heretofore enjoyed – the prelude to a night of mental slavery being the probable discontinuance of the Investigator, especially when we know that this bad condition of things was brought about by a relapse of its former supporters into that intolerant bigotry which would break its victims on the rack or burn them at the stake.”

Orson S. Murray. “Will the Investigator abide Investigation?” 1599-1600 (Jan. 15-22, 1862): 282, 290. Murray observes, “The Investigator seems to sympathize with the idea obtruded by some of its correspondents, that Abolitionists better mind their own business, and leave slavery in the care of the South and the Constitution. As if it were not the business of every honest man to oppose slavery in the Constitution or out of it, South or North.”

“Reply.” 1600 (Jan. 22, 1862): 290. The editor replies “Because we do not approve of Abolitionism, as at present managed, and dislike the policy of both North and South in regard to slavery, it hardly follows that we respect that system of oppression, or are opposed to its discussion or removal. . . . if the same moderate course in regard to the evil [slavery] had been pursued that was in vogue sixty or seventy years ago, in all probability the evil would have nearly or entirely ceased, the Union be now intact, and civil war would not be desolating the country.”

T. Jantre. “Extract of a Letter.” 1600 (Jan. 22, 1862): 293. The author believes that “Murray, and the other fanatics associated with him in this movement [abolitionism], are crazy people, and the President couldn’t do a better thing for the country in this crisis, than to ship them all off to Africa in the ‘stone fleet’ and keep them there for the rest of their natural lives. . . . Let there be one journal in whose columns the trail of the black serpent may not be constantly visible, and let Murray and his misguided crew seek a more congenial medium through which to pour their rabid effusions.” To which the editor replies, “As for Abolitionism, though we never thought so much of it as he [Murray] does, yet as we are in favor of free speech, we do not see that we can consistently refuse him a hearing.”

G.E. “The Slave Power.” 1610 (Apr. 2, 1862): 371. The author begins by lamenting the cry from “Infidel” subscribers to stop their paper because they do not wish the question of slavery to be discussed. The author adds, “If we have an “institution” in our country that cannot withstand free discussion, we had better get rid of it as speedily as possible, or else give up the liberty of speech and press, and adopt a controlling despotism.”

Jno. C. Campbell. “The Negro and the War.” 1617 (June 4, 1862): 34. Campbell renews his subscription and explains why he is for the union but not the negro. In a footnote, the editor warns, “unless we can tolerate a difference of opinion without losing our tempers, we are no better in that respect than Christians. . . . If we Infidels cannot boast of much else, let us show that we are in favor of free discussion, and mean to maintain it consistently and at all hazards.”

“Please Discontinue.” 1633 (Sept. 24, 1862): 166. In response to a request that the Investigator be discontinued given its views on slavery, the editor replies that “it surpasses our comprehension how any Infidel . . . . can object to [Thomas Paine’s] self-evident maxim” that, “man has no right to hold property in man.”

“A Free and Independent Press.” 1634 (Oct. 1, 1862): 172. Here featured is a letter from S. Robb in which he asks, “How could a paper, maintaining the freedom of the mind, be favorable to the bondage of the body? The thing is impossible with any degree of consistency. We might just as well talk of the freedom of locomotion with our hands and feet in fetters. Your paper must therefore be an advocate of both physical and mental liberty – not in any party or restricted view, but upon the broad and liberal ground of universal humanity. Who can reasonably object to this? Where is the man who really desires that the only “Infidel paper” in the country should stand upon any other platform?”

“Stop my Paper.” 1680 (Aug. 26, 1863): 125. In a letter to the editor, James Phillips reveals, “I have been a constant subscriber of your journal from its commencement, and should probably have continued so for life, if it had been conducted on first principles – opposition to priestcraft. I have opposed the Christian superstition as worse than useless for forty years, but I believe the combined powers of religion could not have inflicted so great a curse in a thousand years on this country as abolitionists in power have inflicted in the last two years.”

Orson S. Murray. “Two or Three Things.” 1703 (Feb. 3, 1864): 305-06. Murray contends that “all those who are opposed to this discussion [of slavery in the Investigator] are opposed to the abolition of slavery. They don’t want that crime and curse purged from the Constitution and the country. They who don’t want this discussion in the Investigator don’t want it anywhere. They who don’t want it “now,” never have wanted it, at anytime. These are they who impute the war to this discussion- thus virtually conceding that those who began the war began it as a war upon discussion- began it to build up a system that can prosper, can exist, only by suppressing speech, suppressing thought, suppressing in the masses all aspiration to freedom and enjoyment of the rights and immunities of manhood.”

Freedom of Religion/Conscience

“To Our Subscribers, Readers, and All Others Interested.” 670 (Mar. 20, 1844): 2. The editors state, “It is idle to say that religious liberty exists here in this pretended land of freedom. What is here misnamed religious liberty, is liberty for Christians, and perhaps for other religions, but not for Infidels. So long as there exists a single statute in our written laws, or remains in force a single precedent of the unwritten law, which gives the Court, or any body of men, the power of exercising any species of jurisdiction over a man’s opinions, or his declaration, defense, and promulgation of those opinions, religious freedom is not established under our laws.”

“Does the [Massachusetts] Constitution Protect the Atheist?” 711 (Jan. 1, 1845): 3. The author contends that the second article of the Massachusetts’ constitution guarantees all persons the right to hold and unrestrainedly profess their opinions on the subject matter of religion whether they are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, etc.

“Chief Objection to Religion.” 1053 (July 30, 1851): 2. The editor contends that “intolerance is the worst feature in religion. We can have no objection to a man’s entertaining an agreeable illusion; but we do object to his persecuting his brother because he will not entertain the same illusion.”

“Religious Freedom- The Constitution.” 1160-62 (Aug. 17-31, 1853). The editor begins by pointing out that the second article of the Massachusetts Constitution which reads, “It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great creator and Preserver of the Universe” is “entirely out of place in a Republican Constitution” and “thereby comes into collision with the Constitution of the United States.”

“Religion and the Constitution.” 1181-82 (Jan. 11-18, 1854). The editor argues that “The Constitution of the United States gives no preference to belief or unbelief, since all that it has to do with either is to protect both and let them alone.”

“General Cass and Archbishop Hughes” and “The Great Speech of General Cass, In Reply to Archbishop Hughes.” 1204-09 (June 21-July 26, 1854).[14] Featured here is a speech delivered by Michigan Senator Lewis Cass, in the Senate of the United States, on the subject of the religious rights of American citizens residing or traveling in foreign countries.

“Constitutional Protection of Unbelief.” 1240 (Feb. 28, 1855): 2. The editor pens, “It is argued . . . that the Constitution permits a man to believe what he pleases in relation to religion, but does not protect a party in promulgating and maintaining his sentiments. Such a distinction is more nice than wise. It refines away the Constitution, and renders it a mere cobweb, not a substantial bulwark of the liberties of the people. . . . Such a construction renders the Constitution a mere mockery, for a man does not need the Constitution to protect him in the enjoyment of his secret opinions.”

“Political Action Against Religion.” 1254 (June 6, 1855): 2. The editor notes, “So far as the “Know-Nothing” party expose in their papers and other publications the true character of Catholicism, they are doing good service. . . . But we doubt the wisdom of pursuing any other course against Catholicism, To attack it politically, is not only a violation of the Constitution, which guarantees to all the enjoyment of their opinions, but it is adopting the dangerous precedent of introducing religion into politics.”

“Does the Constitution Protect the Atheist?” 1304 (May 21, 1856): 2. The editor examines whether the second article of the bill of rights of the Constitution of Massachusetts which states that “no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained in his person, liberty or estate, for his religious profession or sentiments,” protects atheists.


Moses B. Church. “All Religions Alike.” 1287-89 (Jan. 23-Feb. 6, 1856). Church contends that “All religionists think that their religion alone is right; that they are the favorites of heaven, and that they alone will be saved; and that all other persons are sinners, are hated by God, and will finally be damned.”

Samuel Ludvigh. “The Origin of Religion.” 1381, 1383 1389 (Nov. 11, 25, 1857; Jan. 6, 1858). Translated from the German by H.I. Fisher. Ludvigh writes that, “Man, in the infancy of his reason, prayed to the sun and moon; he animated, with his spirit and passions, the natural powers; he believed that by words, tears, and offerings, he might check the elements in their natural course, evade the effects of the lightening, arrest the fury of the storm, conquer his enemies, and add fruitfulness to his corn. Thus we observe that all the ideas in relation to God and religion, have their origin in physical objects, and are the natural result’s of man’s feelings, necessities, social relations, and advancing civilization.”


“To Our Patrons, In Particular, and the Public Generally.” 53 (Mar. 30, 1832): 2. The editor challenges Christians “1. To state the facts, real or supposed, on which the Christian hope is based, and which, if true, will warrant such a hope. 2. To prove those facts true. This is what they have never yet done, and more than this, it is what they are incapable of doing. If anyone thinks otherwise, let him try.”

Charles B. Peckham.[15] “An Historical Sketch of the ‘Manifestation of the Spirit’ alias the Holy Ghost from the time of our Savior to ___.” 219, 221-23, 225-28, 230-33 (June 5, 19- July 3, 17- Aug. 7, 21- Sept. 11, 1835). In the first article of the series, Peckham notes that “whoever searches the bible with the eyes of his understanding unclosed, will not fail to discover that its predominant spirit is barbarous, sanguinary and vicious. . . . We shall doubtless be met with the miserable subterfuge and forlorn hope of the christian – It is the abuse or want of religion and not the spirit of it that baptizes the earth in blood and affliction. But neither god’s holy word nor the acts of Christians, since they have existed under the name, will sustain so pitiful an evasion.”

Abner Kneeland. “Lectures at Providence and Newport, R.I.” 236-240 (Oct. 2- 30, 1835). Kneeland asks whether there is any evidence, historical or internal, to support a rational belief that the bible is a revelation from God.

“Miscellany.” 335 (Aug. 25, 1837): 2.  Kneeland responds to a letter from Nathan Adams on the question of a future state by asserting that when man is dead, “he is no longer man, any more than a tree is a tree when it is cut down, or that the wood is still wood when it is burnt to ashes.”

Antitheos. “Refutation of the Argument A Priori for the Being and Attributes of God: Showing the Irrelevancy of that Argument, as well as the Fallacious Reasoning of Dr. Samuel Clarke and others, Especially of Mr. Gillespie, in Support of It.” 460-61, 463-64, 467-68 (Jan. 15-22, Feb. 5-12, Mar. 4-11, 1840).

“A Future State.” 478-79 (June 24- July 1, 1840). The author begins, “The belief in a future state of existence is so flattering to human vanity, that to question its correctness may seem like a wanton attack upon human happiness. But error can never be more beneficial to man than truth; and what is error, can, so far as man is concerned, be tested only by subjecting the proofs in relation to it to the investigations of reason.”

Edward Palmer. “A Letter to those who Think.” 485 (Aug. 12, 1840): 1. Here featured are extracts from Palmer’s letter. Commenting on the bible, Palmer warns that “the book is not to be worshipped; nor regarded as the fountain of truth. For truth is above and independent of all books: and is at best but poorly recorded upon paper. Almost all nations of people have some recording of it, which they come to regard with great veneration, as essential to the very existence of truth. And this is the evil. Men are led to look to a book, instead of looking into their own souls for the light of truth. They hold on to the book, and deny the present inspiration of truth; contend stoutly for an imperfect record of its revelations to others in past ages, and reject the present living word. They thus become so blinded as to deny that each has a standard in himself by which to judge and determine the truth or falsity of what is written; lose sight of the all important fact that each and all are inspired by the same infinite spirit of truth, and have free access to the same illimitable fountain.”

Editor. “Biblical History,” “The Philosophy of the Bible, Exclusive, False and Absurd”, “The Morality of the Bible, Exclusive, False and Absurd” and “Rational Conviction.” 508-11 (Jan. 20-Feb. 10, 1841). The editor concludes this series, “if [the bible] sanctioned in any part of it war and bloodshed, licentiousness, violence and lust; if, with the accession of knowledge and science, it became invalidated, so that its advocates had to continually change their ground; if it violate the principles of science by affirming things which could never take place, and which natural philosophy and universal history affirms never have; if its doctrines and precepts are not accommodated to the condition of man in his social and political capacity; if it has come down to us through an uncertain channel, tradition, age of ignorance and superstition; and finally, if it have no seal impress to convince us (of its specific difference from all other books) of its divine originality, we may well reject it. Such, in every respect, is the Bible.”

Moses B. Church. “Letters to Christians.” 933-39, 942-43, 945-49, 951-52, 954, 958-63, 965, 967-68, 970-71, 978, 981, 983, 985, 991, 997, 1005, 1007, 1017, 1019-20, 1022, 1024, 1026, 1029-31, 1034, 1037-38, 1041-42 (Apr. 11- May 23, June 13-20, July 4- Aug. 1, 15, 22, Sept. 5, Oct. 3- Nov. 7, 21, Dec. 5-12, 26, 1849; Jan. 2, Feb. 20, Mar. 13, 27, Apr. 10, May 22, July 3, Aug. 28, Sept. 11, Nov. 20, Dec. 4, 11, 25, 1850; Jan. 8, 22, Feb. 12-26, Mar. 19, Apr. 9-16, May 7-14, 1851). Church provides “the most prominent reasons” for his conversion from minister of the gospel to Infidel. The letters address the following subjects: ministers, seeing God, Jewish history, angels, performing miracles, evil spirits, demonology, Salem Witchcraft, Prophets of Judea, the Prophecies, etc.

Walter Farrington. “True Religion.” 1007 (Sept. 11, 1850): 1. Farrington attempts to prove that “Reformers are not Christians, but Infidels” by showing how the goals of the Peace Party, temperance reformers, and the anti-slavery man are at odds with Christian doctrine.

A Rational Puritan. “Priestly Despotism.” 1054-75 (Aug. 6- Dec. 31, 1851). Writing from Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio, the author begins his series with the following contention, “We may emancipate the slave, dethrone the monarch, abolish all titles of nobility, feudal tenures, and laws of primogeniture; yet mankind will never be free while their superstitions make them the willing subjects of an order of men who claim a divine right to teach them, and consequently to rule them in all the affairs of life. Priestly imposition and priestly despotism have laid the foundation for all forms of tyranny.” Subjects covered include: slavery, circumcision, bible history and teaching, the chosen people, revelation, temperance, the Essenes, political priests, French Revolution, religious newspapers, etc.

An Independent Irishman. “Familiar Letters to John B. Fitzpatrick, the Catholic Bishop of Boston.” 1139-1153 (Mar. 23-June 29, 1853). Addressing the absurdity of Catholic claims of infallibility and the denial of the right of private judgment as well as condemning Catholicism’s opposition to religious liberty and free schools, the author explains that his “principal object in these letters is to convince Catholic laymen that their religion is directly subversive of Republicanism, and that if it should ever acquire the ascendency in America, the Republic must come to an end.”

Philo Spinoza. “The Origin of the “Acts of the Apostles.”” 1175-81, 1183-84, 1186, 1189-91, 1193-1199 (Nov. 30, 1853- Jan. 11, 1854, Jan. 25-Feb. 1, 15, Mar. 8-22, Apr. 5-May 17, 1854). The author begins this series of twenty articles by stating, “The most casual reader will observe, that the Paul of the “Galatians” cannot be the Paul of the two “Corinthians;” that the Paul of the first eight chapters to the “Romans” is quite a different genius from him of the rest of the epistle; and again, that the Paul of the “Acts” is but a miserable specimen of a Paul. The idea of identity between their various characters, minds, and temperaments, cannot for a moment be entertained. The only solution to this apparent difficulty can be found in the supposition, that Paul was already a mythic person where some parts of the New testament were written, and that his name offered to numerous sects into which Christendom was divided in the second century, a ready vehicle by which to give currency to the most clashing doctrines and interests. The investigation of the “Acts,” which we will presently undertake, will reduce this supposition to a certainty.”

Ernestine L. Rose. “Rise, Progress, and Fall of a Free Church.” 1492 (Dec. 28, 1859): 281-82. Rose conveys her experience with the First Independent Society at Hope Chapel. She begins by observing, “On a subject of a purely secular nature, no one seems to be afraid to hear the opinions of another, and bring it to the test of reason and of truth, by it to stand or to fall. But the moment you touch on religion, the believer seems to shrink as if afraid that an exposure to the light might impair its beauty, in which he seems to have no great confidence, or to discover its deformity, which his very fear gives evidence to have been more than half suspected.”

Joseph Barker. “Religious Confessions. Mr. Barker’s Letter to Mr. Holyoake.” 1435-38 (Nov. 24- Dec. 15, 1858). Reprinted from the London Reasoner. Barker reveals in his first letter that “The doctrine of a personal God, and of a future life, appear to me to rest on no proof. I look in vain for anything in nature or in history to justify a belief in them. I am compelled to regard them as the offspring, not of the understanding, but of the imagination and affections. Christianity is not a revelation, either natural or supernatural, but a creation. And so of all the religions of the earth. They are fictions of the human imagination.”

Religion and Morality

“A Code of Morals, Drawn up by Abner Kneeland, Which Should be Observed by Every Man, Woman and Child, That has Come to Years of Discretion.” 151 (Feb. 14, 1834): 2. With this code, Kneeland aims to combat the “malicious falsehoods” circulated by members of the pulpit regarding the moral standards of “free enquirers.”

“Influence of Christianity upon the Morals of the Community.” 651 (Nov. 8, 1843): 2. The author asks, “What is the moral state of those nations to whom religion is of such importance, in order to preserve them from wickedness and licentiousness? Are they any more honest, more just, more humane, less corrupt or less depraved, than those nations whom we call Heathen, uncivilized, barbarian?”

Observator. “Morality.” 952 (Aug. 22, 1849): 1. The author points out that “The assertion, that Christianity teaches the only pure system of morality, is, moreover, disproved by the fact, that the most valuable and important maxims which its founder is said to have inculcated, are to be found in the writings of philosophers who existed many ages before him.”

“Morality.” 980 (Mar. 6, 1850): 2. The editor opines, “Were we to believe Christians, there could have been no true morality on earth before the coming of the founder of their sect. . . . Yet morality was always necessary to mankind; for, without it, no society can exist. . . . . We find amongst heathens, innumerable instances of equity, humanity, temperance, disinterestedness, patience, and meekness, which flatly contradict the pretensions of the Christians, and prove that, before Christ was known on earth, virtues flourished, which were far more real than those he came to teach.”

Thomas Herttell. “The Right of Free Discussion.” 1109 (Aug. 25, 1852): 1. Herttell notes, “Actions are distinguished as right or wrong by their respective consequences. Those which produce the most happiness and the least misery are right, and those which occasion the most misery and the least happiness are wrong; and this is the only true criterion by which man can ascertain the merit or demerit of his conduct. How unfortunate, therefore, is it for mankind, that they are educated to believe that the mysteries of religion are paramount to the principles of morality, and threatened with punishment here and hereafter if they doubt the word or opinion of the priesthood, who teach us, as the cardinal virtue and the greatest source of human happiness, unqualified faith in their doctrines . . . ! This is called religion, and, to believe it without proof and to adopt it without examination or discussion, is to have religious faith.”

“The Moral Influence of Christianity.” 1110 (Sept. 1, 1852): 2. The editor begins “There are two classes of people who give their support to Christianity, one consisting of those who believe in its divine origin, and the other who do not believe in its divine origin, but consider its influence upon human conduct as necessary and salutary; who support it not for its truth, but for the good it may be the means of producing.”

“Religion and Morality.” 1112 (Sept. 15, 1852): 2. The editor argues that “religious systems have never bettered the morals of a people” and that “morality is founded on nature and experience.”

“What will you Substitute for Religion.” 1189 (Mar. 8, 1854): 2. To which the editor answers, “Set nothing up as dogmatic and arbitrary, but cultivate a moral principle in the breast of man, without reference to, and totally independent of, any separate existence. Let him rely upon no superstructure that is not founded upon known facts. Instead of a long and incomprehensible creed, let his motto consist of these three words- injure no one. Whenever the question occurs with respect to the omission or commission of any act in the affairs of life, instead of referring for sanction to scripture, to the church, the ministry, to custom, or fashion, let him ask himself the simple question, “Is the thing in itself right and proper to be done, or not done?” as the case may be; and, as his best judgment shall dictate, so let him govern.”

E. Morton. “Moral Virtues and Duties.” 1414 (June 30, 1858): 4. Morton argues that, “The difference between the views of the religionist and sceptic is this- the former is actuated by a fear to disobey the commands and requirements of his God, and the latter by a wish to promote the individual and social good of himself and his fellow men; and yet not without a fear of evil consequences from neglect or disobedience.”

Religion and Science

On the Connection between Geology and the Pentateuch: in a letter to Professor Silliman, from Thomas Cooper, M.D.” 112-118 (May 17- June 28, 1833).

Nature Discipulus. “Christianity the Enemy of Science.” 629 (June 7, 1843): 1. The author asserts that, “Superstition has been the sworn and irreconcilable enemy of Science in all ages and in all countries.”

Montgarnier. “Nature’s Law of Development.” 779, 781-84, 787, 789, 791 (Apr. 29, May 13- June 3, July 24, Aug. 8, 22, 1846). Montgarnier reviews Robert Chamber’s Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation and its Sequel. Montgarnier writes, “Here, in the volume under notice, and its sequel, are developed the principles of a theory which shall yet prove the true Iconoclast of the nineteenth century, and shall grind to an impalpable powder the theological idols of the Mosaic chronologists.”

Geo. A. Hammett. “Reply to Mr. Perkins.” 991 (May 22, 1850): 2. Hammett argues there are only three theories of change: there has been a succession of changes having a beginning, there has been a succession of changes having no beginning, and change exists merely in appearance, and no real change is possible. Hammett points out that only one of these theories can be true and argues that none requires us to suppose the existence of a Deity.

“Phreno-Geology.” 1022-23 (Dec. 25, 1850 – Jan. 1, 1851). The editor concludes, “The science of phreno-geology we regard as a future fixed fact, and it will yet receive a development that shall cast faith and its illusions beyond the farthest land of dreams. Every attempt to reconcile faith with science is a new illustration that the two are utterly and irretrievably irreconcilable; and day by day, science ushers in new stars in the firmament of wisdom while the twinkling meteors of faith are disappearing with the rapidity of shooting stars.”

“No. 1, Vol. XXI.” 1041 (May 7, 1851): 2. The editor reports “We know the cause is progressing; that Reason and Science are continually beating, like the waves of the ocean, their incessant surges upon the old sand-banks of Superstition and Ignorance;- we see a continual “caving in” of spiritual nostrums and dogmas;- we see man after man emerging from the fog and darkness of the church to the glare of mid-day, and the light of common sense;- but still we feel as though we could battle with Titans to hurry on the hour when the sun shall rise and set upon a nation of free men, women, and children.”

Vindex. “The Religion of Geology.” 1061-92 (Sept. 24- Apr. 28, 1852). The author reviews Edward Hitchcock’s The Religion of Geology and Its Connected Sciences.

“The Age of the World.” 1296 (Mar. 26, 1856): 2. Citing a Christian editor’s assertion that the world is only 5,856 years old, the editor remarks, “How a man, who ever heard of the science of astronomy, or ever looked into a book that taught it, could make such an absurd statement, it is difficult to imagine, unless he is one of those fanatics whose zeal is without knowledge, and whose devotion to Bible tradition completely blinds his judgment in regard to fact.”

O.S. Murray. “The Christian Religion Against Science.” 1372 (Sept. 9, 1857): 2. Murray observes, “It really appears to me a sufficient condemnation of any system of religion, that it puts men in such fear as to deter them from investigations- frightening them from the road which leads to knowledge, to the greater truths of nature, the highest and deepest sources of rational enjoyment.”

“Natural Science and Revealed Religion.” 1376 (Oct. 7, 1857): 4. Reprinted from the American Liberalist. The author argues, “If then revealed religion be a true and infallible doctrine, it must be susceptible of demonstration.- no one can believe without evidence- and as revealed religion is said to be of the utmost importance to mankind, the evidence should be of the clearest and most incontrovertible kind; if such evidence cannot be produced, and we are required to accept faith instead of evidence, it is equivalent to a demand to surrender the use and functions of our senses and discard reason.”

George B. Smith. “Miracle vs. Law.” 1400 (Mar. 24, 1858): 1. Smith notes, “A power of adaptation is seen to exist in the mutations of matter, essentially as one of its properties.”

G.A. Hammett. “A New Demonstration of Atheism.” 1403 (Apr. 14, 1858): 1. Hammett presents, “My first position is, that no system of regular, complex adaptation resembling those that we see around us could have existed from eternity.”

Celsus. “Geology and the Pentateuch.” 1408 (May 19, 1858): 4. An address delivered before the Cincinnati Sunday Institute. Celsus presents the various ways in which theologians have attempted to explain or harmonize the bible with geological science. According to Celsus, theologians first contended that Genesis was merely an allegory, then to deny that the facts of geology were facts, then that the fossil remains of animals and vegetables were originally created just as we find them, and finally to attempt to make the statements of the bible conform to the facts of geology.

“Natural Phenomena – Religious Belief.” 1418 (July 28, 1858): 2. Seaver observes, “The almost universal propensity to refer natural facts, of which the proximate cause is unknown, to supernatural interposition, will never be subdued so long as the pernicious notion of “design” continues in force.”

Herbert Spencer. “The Development Hypothesis.” 1440 (Dec. 29, 1858): 4. Spencer asks, “Which then is the most rational hypothesis? That of special creations which has neither a fact to support it nor is even definitely conceivable; or that of modification, which is not only definitely conceivable, but is countenanced by the habitudes of every existing organism?”

Eboracum. “Hugh Miller’s “Footprints of the Creator,” Versus “Vestiges of Creation.”” 1561, 1565, 1571, 1576 (Apr. 24, May 22, July 3, Aug. 7, 1861): 1-2, 34, 83, 122. The author pledges to show that, contrary to Miller’s contentions, “the facts of geology as set forth by Murchison, and Lyell; the facts of Zoology as set forth by Professors Darwin, Draper, Huxley, and Wallace; and of Botany as set forth by Professors Hooker, and Asa Gray” support rather than subvert the Development Theory as put forth in Vestiges of a Natural History of Creation, i.e., “that there has been but one creation, of which all objects that have since existed are but modifications.”

F.A. Herwig. “Formation of Plants.” 1452 (Mar. 23, 1859): 1. Herwig begins by asking, “Is it not more beautifully demonstrated, in the everyday walks of life, and everyday’s proceedings, that the world has been created gradually- in what space of time, it is not for me to tell- than that it sprung into existence in six days?”

John T. Williams. “Religion and Astronomy.” 1456 (Apr. 20, 1859): 1. Williams begins, “It is somewhat strange to see to what shifts, speculations, calculations, &c., religionists are driven to, to support their tottering fabric, mathematically, astronomically, geologically; but as extreme cases require extreme measures, they must do something to make a show, “to gull the mob and keep them under.””

“Joseph Barker’s Farwell Letter.” 1496-97 (Jan. 25- Feb. 1, 1860): 315, 323. Barker remarks, “Some contend that false theologies and religions should not be assailed directly, but undermined only by the diffusion of natural science. They are ever applauding those who build up, and disparaging those who pull down. I am not disposed to undervalue the indirect efforts against religious error. Science is all irreligious, thoroughly irreligious, and cannot spread without abating the evil of religion. . . . But it should be understood, that many dare not read, and if they read, dare not believe, a scientific book, till their faith in theology, the known antagonist of science, has been shaken. Theology keeps the door of the mind, and will not allow science to enter. Show those people a palpable contradiction, or a manifest falsehood, in the Bible, and the door is at once opened for science.”

“Interesting Scientific Theory. Darwin’s New Book.” 1499 (Feb. 15, 1860): 341. Brief review of the Origin of Species; reprinted from the N.Y. Evening Post. The author comments, “Darwin does not seem to believe in species at all, and hardly in genera; he thinks Nature works up very distinct varieties by natural selection from a common stock. His facts are overwhelming and most curious. How simple when you see it, and yet how grand is the law!”

O.H. “Origin of Organization.” 1523 (Aug. 1, 1860): 117. Identifying five answers that may be given to the question, “how did we begin?,” the author remarks, “Those who adopt Darwin’s theory of variations from one organization, do not lessen the difficulty, because the main question, of how did the first organization originate remains untouched.”

Tamar Davis. “Letters on Chemistry.” 1567-69, 1571-80 (June 5-19, July 3- Sept. 4, 1861): 51, 57, 65, 81, 89, 97, 105, 113, 121, 129, 137, 145, 153.

T.D. “Letters on the Physiology of Plants.” 1592-97 (Nov. 27, 1861- Jan. 1, 1862): 225-26, 233, 241, 249, 257, 265.

Eboracum. “On Materialism and Spiritualism, and the [Zoological][16] Relations of Man with the Lower Animals.” 1592 (Nov. 27, 1861): 227. The author surveys recent scientific research to assess whether or not “men are created specifically and miraculously distinct from apes or beasts” and whether the difference between man and ape is merely that of degree.

Eboracum. “Is a Species a “Fixed Eternal Form?”” 1601(Jan. 29, 1862): 297. The author observes that, “The mutability of species is now becoming the dominant idea with some of the eminent zoologists and physiologists; the tendency of modern science is to show that a unity of life pervades the animal world . . . . and that throughout this whole chain of being it is impossible to fix a limit by which we could separate the chain, and affirm that one part is destined to enjoy an immortal, independent, conscious life forever, and that the life of the other part will perish with the death of the body.”

Eboracum. “Toes and Brain.” 1654 (Feb. 18, 1863): 329. The author reports that Thomas Huxley “believes that man is not the result of a special creation by a Deity, but that he is the modified descendant of some other mammal, probably from some of the anthropoid apes . . . . This avowal the clergy affirm to be tantamount to avowing a belief that there is no more evidence of man possessing a mind or soul separate from the body, than there is of monkeys possessing such an entity. Mr. Huxley is courageous in the interest of science, and though he does not discuss the question of Deity, and the Immortality of the Soul, he must expect that such expositions of Nature’s laws as he puts forth, or helps to sustain, must give some destructive blows to superstition.”

Eboracum. “Once a Spider Always a Spider.” 1669-70 (June 10-17, 1863): 33, 41. The author concludes, that “there is evidence that Nature does not “hold inviolate the stamp,” which Agassiz says God has “set upon his creatures.” It is more likely that all the variety of organic beings are deviations from some primordial form or cell, than that the fiat of a Creator, from time to time, commands some elementary atoms to flash into living tissues, for the purpose of making a horse or an ass to differ from each other.”

“The Creation of the World.” 1701-02 (Jan. 20-27, 1864): 292, 300. The editor remarks, “It must be perfectly clear, we think that any idea of the creation of infinite Nature is an absurdity. As long as the universe is considered as a certain determinate quantity of matter, there does appear a probability, nay, there seems at first a necessity for supposing a beginning, a premium mobile, and a sustaining power for this beautiful arrangement of worlds which we find so incomprehensibly solitary in infinite space. But where is the possibility of a contriver, a creator, for infinite activity? All is time, space, matter- no beginning, no end.”

John Chappellsmith. “Darwin’s Origin of the Species.” 1706 (Feb. 24, 1864): 331. Reviewing Origin of the Species, Chappelsmith remarks, “Previous to the publication of this book three years ago, the standard treatises on botany, zoology, physiology, and geology, dogmatically forced on us the idea that one species, or kind, of animal or plant could never be changed into another species, and that, as different species have appeared in succession at distant intervals of time, the necessity for some creative and superintending power was affirmed to be inevitable. Darwin’s book destroys these grand assumptions. . . .”

Eboracum. “The Testimony of the Rocks.” 1773-74, 1777, 1780-81, 1791-94, 1803, 1806-09, 1811, 1813 (June 7-14, July 5, 26- Aug. 2, Oct. 11- Nov.1, 1865; Jan. 3, 24-Feb 14, 28, Mar. 14, 1866): 33-34, 41, 65, 89, 97, 177, 185, 193, 201, 273, 297, 305, 313, 321, 337, 353. This series of articles is a review of Hugh Miller’s efforts to reconcile scripture with geology.

A.B. “Geology and Religion.” 1782 (Aug. 9, 1865): 105-06. The author briefly comments on Edward Hitchcock’s attempt to reconcile geology and the scriptures.

Argument from Design

Fulmen. “Paley’s Argument of the Watch Answered.” 425 (May 15, 1839): 1. Fulmen asks, “And if every effect must have a cause, as Paley has said in order to support his argument of the existence of the Deity, reasoning from analogy, must not this great author of his have an author? . . . Where are we to stop in this unnatural flight of the imagination? . . . We are dropping what Paley calls an absurdity to embrace a greater.”

Henry Field and William West. “Deism.” and “Reply.” 498, 500, 502, 507, 514 (Nov. 11, 25, Dec. 9, 1840; Jan. 13, Mar. 3, 1841). In this exchange Field offers the argument from design and West the refutation.

H.W. Tuller. “Paley’s Theology Alias Humbug.” 936 (May 2, 1849): 1. The author, “a boy who has scarcely attended school three years in his whole life,” observes that “before the conclusion that spiritual immateriality contrived the organism of man and produced the harmony of parts, must it not be shown how and in what manner immateriality or nonentity works upon materiality . . . . before the above conclusion can be drawn? And if this connecting link- the premises, be neglected, is not the conclusion forced, premature, abortive? In logic can the propositions and the premises be left unnoticed and the bare assertion produce the conclusion?”

W.J. Boden. “Adaptation – Design.” 978 (Feb. 20, 1850): 1. Boden asks, “If matter is eternal, which is a more rational idea than that it was called into existence by an eternal first cause, what use would we have for such an independent power in accounting for all the phenomena of Nature? Is not matter endowed with the property of acting upon matter, and reacting in such a manner as to produce all the changes and harmony of Nature which we behold?”

“Nature and Design.” 1119 (Nov. 3, 1852): 2. The editor notes, “The difficulty . . . . with all Christians when arguing for a Designer of Nature, is, the idea that Nature is devoid of the inherent power to produce her own phenomena. This is the petition principii, the mere begging of the question. Nature, or the material universe, possesses all the intelligence there is in the universe, more or less; but that there is any other intelligence except what proceeds from organic matter, is the real matter in dispute, and is what remains for Christians to prove.”

Yankee-Creole. “To Mr. G.A. Hammett.” 1234 (Jan. 17, 1855): 1. The author asks Hammett a series of questions including, “What is the difference between the intelligence exhibited in the mechanism of a steam engine and that exhibited in the mechanism of the universe? Do they not both use light, heat, electricity, gravitation, &c., and why do you admit that intelligence is necessary in one case as a designing cause and not in the other? Do the rules of logic change or differ in the two cases?”

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Yankee-Creole.” 1236 (Jan. 31, 1855): 1. Hammett responds, “The works of nature differ from a steam engine, because, in those works, the influence of supposed design is derived from adaptation alone, whereas, with regard to the steam engine, we reason not only from its regular adaptation, but from the difference between the engine and works of nature, and from our experience that men are capable of forming machines.”

I. Salyards. “A Supreme Intelligent Cause.” 1237 (Feb. 7, 1855): 1.

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Mr. Salyards.” 1241 (Mar. 7, 1855): 1. Hammett concludes his refutation of Salyards by stating that, “the non-mechanical principles of order, harmony, and adaptation have been always in existence; and that these principles, existing eternally in unintelligent matter, were the causes from which the present visible universe arose.”

Yankee-Creole. “To Dr. G.A. Hammett.” 1243-46, 1259 (Mar. 21-Apr. 11, July 11, 1855).

J. Salyards. “Misconceptions.” 1248-49 (Apr. 25- May 2, 1855).

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Yankee-Creole” and “To Yankee-Creole.” 1248-51 (Apr. 25- May 16, 1855). Hammett points out, “You quote the principle that we should not assume more causes than are sufficient to account for an effect, and you maintain that it favors your doctrine; but I conceive that quite the contrary is the fact, for since an eternal first cause possessing regular adaptation without intelligence is sufficient to account for the formation of the universe, it follows that to maintain that the first cause possesses not only adaptation but intelligence is to assume more causes than are required.”

Celsus. “Christian Argument from Design.” 1250-51 (May 9-16, 1855). The author examines the argument from design in support of the Christian dogma that the universe was created out of nothing.

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to Mr. Salyards. 1255-58 (June 13-July 4, 1855).

Celsus. “Formation of the Universe.” 1256 (June 20, 1855): 1-2. The author remarks, “no atheist with whose writings I am acquainted anywhere asserts that the formation of the universe requires no intelligence. All that they deny is, that the universe was formed at all, and they call upon “bigoted theists” to prove their assertion that the universe was formed. When theists shall demonstrate that the universe was “formed” or created by a word out of nothing, and that there was an eternity of time anterior to the existence of boundless space and the infinite number of worlds which revolve throughout its immensity, then, but not till then, will atheists be willing to “grant” that the “formation” of the universe, like the formation of the watch; required intelligence.”

Lewis R. Edwards. “Origin of the Universe and of Animated Tribes.” 1257 (June 27, 1855): 1. Edwards contends that geology demonstrates that our earth had a beginning, that “the first germs of life . . . . were produced by an electro-chemical process,” and “that there has not been one break in this developmental chain since its first commencement.”

Yankee-Creole. “To Celsus.” 1262-63 (Aug. 1-8, 1855). The author asks Celsus, “What else is the atheistical argument about the “impossibility of the universe being formed at all,” but the quintessence of metaphysics?”

Celsus. “Universal Causes.” 1264 (Aug. 15, 1855): 1.

Celsus. “Theism and Atheism – Reply to Yankee-Creole.” 1266-67 (Aug. 29-Sept. 5, 1855). Celsus states, “The great question between Atheism and Theism is, whether the universe, with all its infinitude of matter, laws, and phenomena, had a beginning and was created. Formed, or sprang from nothing, or existed from all past eternity, without creation, and without design, and will continue to exist through all future duration, without change and without control?”

Yankee-Creole. “Universal Intelligence, &c.” 1271 (Oct. 3, 1855): 1.

Remarker. “Natural Theology Exposed.” 1699-1703 (Jan. 6- Feb. 3, 1864): 273, 281-82, 289, 297, 305. The author critically examines Lord Brougham’s Discourse on Natural Theology and Paley’s Natural Theology.

Other Religions

A Tradesman.[17]Jehovah Unveiled; or the Character of the Jewish Deity Delineated.” 122- 126 (July 26- Aug. 23, 1833). Prefixed to the series is a letter to “The Right Reverend Father in God, Richard Watson, Bishop of Landaff,” dated March 27, 1799. The author concludes, “We have now taken a general survey of the character of the Hebrew Deity, from the sacred books of the Jews; books which his votaries pretend were inspired and dictated by the God himself. But have we found a God of holiness, truth, justice, goodness? Far, very far from it. These books represent their God, as a being of ferocious cruelty, tyrannical, unjust, false, deceitful, passionate, angry, revengeful, and capricious, continually repenting and changing his mind. True indeed, they also say that he is good, merciful, and just, slow to anger, and of great kindness, one whose tender mercies are above all his other works, in short they blow hot and cold alternately, and give him such discordant qualities, that no such being did or can exist, but in the distempered imagination of gloomy superstition, and blind credulity.”

Anthony C. Middleton. “The Festival of Ashtaroth, A Tale of Palestine.” 1263-1269 (Aug. 8-Sept. 19, 1855). The author prefaces his work by stating that readers “will find here a correct portraiture of those relentless savages whose disgusting, obscene, and barbarous records still constitute a large portion of what is styled inspiration. Aye! the inspiration of a benevolent and merciful deity, when the books shame the legends of the Druids, or the traditions of the Celts.”


Institution of Slavery

B. Webb. “Slavery.” and Z. “Reply to Mr. Webb.” 413 (Feb. 22, 1839): 2-3. Webb asserts that “The right of the master to the slave is the right of force, which right has been confirmed by legislative authority; therefore the redress of the evil is a proper subject for ‘political action.’”  Z unequivocally states his opposition to slavery, points out that Southern people do not consider slavery morally wrong, contends that the first thing to be performed is to change that opinion, and warns that without the consent and cooperation of Southern people, political action by abolitionists will only result in disunion.

D. “Mr. Z. and Slavery.” 414 (Mar. 1, 1839): 2. D. asks, “admitting that the Southerners think it right to hold slaves; are we to sit quietly down, until they feel disposed to relinquish what you call ‘their lawful property.’” Furthermore, D adds, “If by the Constitution and Laws, they hold their slaves, what is there so dreadful in a dissolution of the Union? If our union is founded in injustice and oppression; why let it be dissolved, to make way for a better.”

Z. “Reply to Mr. Webb.” 414 (Mar. 1, 1839): 3. Z reiterates his view that slavery is a moral rather than a political question and consequently is to be reasoned away rather than forced away.

Z. “Untitled Editorial.” 420 (Apr. 10, 1839): 3. Z contends that the Investigator “is second to none in its condemnation of slavery- slavery in its most hideous and degrading form- slavery of the mind; from which, follows slavery of the body, as necessarily as effect springs from cause.” However, Z reiterates his emphatic opposition to political abolitionism which he argues aggravates the evil it pretends to remedy.

B. Webb. “Rejoinder to Z’s Reply to Mr. Webb.” 421 (Apr. 17, 1839): 1-2. Webb argues that “human rights are a subject over which majorities have no jurisdiction. When the strong deprive the weak of personal liberty, it is, to say the least of the act, a debt due from the strong to the weak, and to reason with the strong on the validity of the claim, would be to acknowledge it a disputed right, which if carried out and acted upon, would uproot and destroy every vestige of liberty.”

Reply of Z. to Mr. Webb’s Article.” 422 (Apr. 24, 1839): 1. Z puts forth his belief that Northern abolitionists have no right under the federal constitution to force Southern states to abolish slavery, expresses his partiality for the Colonizationists, and his certainty that Southern people are “determined to regulate and abolish slavery in their own way and time, independent of northern officiousness, or any dictation whether foreign or domestic.”

W.W. “Slavery- Right of Petition.” 423 (May 1, 1839): 1-2. W.W. recites some of the barbaric practices of American slavery and concludes, “What inertness to permit such a state of things to remain! And what infatuation to defend it, merely because custom, and law, have built a hedge about it; when it is a dereliction from the dictates of reason, a violation of natural feeling, and a prostration of immutable right!”

Z. “Reply to Mr. West.” 426 (May 22, 1839): 3. Z clarifies his position by stating, “Slaveholding States may vote for the abolition of slavery within their own borders, for this right the constitution secures to them; but they have no authority to meddle with slavery in other States; nor has a free State any power thus to interfere with the proceedings of a slave State. Each State in its sovereignty is perfectly absolute and independent, so far as she is not limited by the United States; but this limitation in no wise has reference to the slave question, because slavery being one of those reserved rights which the slaveholding States retained at the time they joined the union, the Constitution of the United States has no power over it.”

B. Webb. “Slavery- No. III.” 430 (June 19, 1839): 2. Webb concludes, “Z admits that slavery must eventually fall before the spirit of democracy; but how is it to fall without political action? I am not aware of any peaceable mode of effecting revolution in our legal institutions, but by political action going hand in hand with conviction. If slavery is ever abolished, it must be by repealing the laws that make the slave the property of the master.” To which Z replies, “The enforcement of a law compelling the slaveholder to yield his slaves, would inevitably result in the withdrawal of the slave States, in which case slavery would probably never be abolished. Legislation, to be effectual and right, cannot take precedence of public opinion.”

A Citizen of the United States. “To the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.” 535-36 (Aug. 18-25, 1841). The author denies the right of Congress or the President to interfere or abolish slavery in either the District of Columbia or the South; contends that immediate emancipation would be a curse rather than a blessing; and implores the abolitionists to “take off the shackles and chains that gall the bodies, stupefy the minds, and sear the consciences of your own white slave brethren first.”

Corrector. “Hon. John Quincy Adams’s Speech at Dedham.” 653 (Nov. 22, 1843): 1. The Corrector ridicules Adams’s contention that slavery is contrary to the laws of God.

Horace Greeley. “What is Slavery?” 738 (July 16, 1845): 4. Reprinted from the Onondaga Standard. Greeley argues for an expansive definition of slavery as that “condition in which one human being exists mainly as a convenience for other human beings- in which the time, the exertions, the faculties of a part of the Human Family are made to subserve, not their own development, physical, intellectual, and moral, but the comfort, advantage or caprices of others.”

Matthew Farrington. “The United States.” 864, 868, 876, 878, 886, 888, 892 (Dec. 15, 1847; Jan. 12, Mar. 8, Apr. 5, May 17, 31, June 28, 1848). Farrington calls upon “all who have the welfare of humanity at heart . . . to raise their voices against the cursed system of American slavery, and the blood-stained government that sanctions and sustains it.” In subsequent essays, Farrington condemns the “offensive war” against Mexico for the purpose of annexing Texas and re-establishing slavery there. Finally, Farrington asks “But what shall be done? I answer,- let the free States immediately separate from the Slave States, and form a distinct and independent nation; unless the South will immediately abolish slavery.”

“A Letter on Slavery, &c.” 984 (Apr. 3, 1850): 2. Featured is a pro-slavery letter written by L.J. McCormick of Carlowville, Alabama, followed by a detailed rebuttal from the Investigator’s editors. The editors conclude, “we are opposed to slavery:- Because it is unnecessary. Because it produces immorality, in outraging social laws. Because it produces aristocracy, in outraging political injustice. Because it produces tyranny, in outraging civil laws. Because it produces degradation to labor. Because it ultimately destroys a nation. Because it is opposed to free institutions.”

G.A. Hammett. “Slavery and Christianity.” 1545 (Jan. 2, 1861): 289. Hammett contends that “the intellectual inferiority of the negroes is exaggerated” that the white race is not really superior in beauty to the black race, that the condition of the slaves would be improved by emancipation and only questions whether “the emancipation of the slaves would be beneficial to their owners, if there were paid to them a sum sufficient for complete indemnification against pecuniary lose.”

Mac. “Reply to Dr. Hammett on Slavery.” 1550 (Feb. 6, 1861): 328. Mac contends that since the Negroes were forcibly brought to this country, justice demands that they be returned to their homes, however, if they cannot be purchased and repatriated, given their intellectual inferiority, it is better for them to “remain as they are.”

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to “Mac,” on Slavery.” 1556 (Mar. 20, 1861): 378. Responding to Mac’s assertion that he would not support emancipation without complete repatriation, Hammett replies, “[T]hough it is often irksome to do our duty and render justice to our fellow men, yet reason and experience indicate that undeviating integrity is best adapted to promote our permanent welfare.” Oddly, Hammett signs, “Yours, for Christian Atheism.”

LaRoy Sunderland. “Thoughts on the Times.” 1582 (Sept. 18, 1861): 171. Sunderland argues that “Slavery is “total depravity,” and the leaders in this rebellion are hopeless pirates. . . . The hope has prevailed among the masses at the North that some good would yet come from slavery. This has been the mistake of our Government, and this war will be continued until this mistake is corrected.”

James Phillips. “Thoughts on the Times.” 1592 (Nov. 27, 1861): 226. Phillips, a subscriber for thirty years, argues that “The institution of slavery, as our wise fathers left it in the hands of the Government of the States where it exists, has proved a blessing to the slave and one of the principal sources of our national prosperity. Has not anti-slavery equally been a curse to the slave by compelling his master to tighten his chains for his own protection, and a curse to his master by stealing his property; a curse to the nation by being the whole cause of the war, and proved what every great and good man from Washington to Douglas has predicted, that when a sectional party got possession of this Government the Union would be dissolved?”

L.R.S.. “The Cause of the War.” 1609 (Mar. 26, 1862): 363. Responding to a correspondent’s suggestion that slavery is not an evil in itself which should be resisted by war, Sunderland concludes “To me, liberty is better than life, and slavery is worse than death. And I hope the time is at hand when no Infidel, or Liberalist . . . . will be found, directly or indirectly, on the side of slavery.”

“Emancipation.” 1611 (Apr. 9, 1862): 381. Responding to the suggestion that the Investigator is inclined to emancipation, the editor remarks “The plan of Henry Clay, that the Government should buy the slaves and set them free, always seemed to us to be right and proper under the circumstances. And it has been most disastrous for the country that his plan was not adopted. It would have taken less money than to carry through this war, to say nothing of the sacrifice of life, which is altogether incalculable in dollars and cents. We see no good reason to suppose that the experiment of emancipation “would be dangerous,” or if so, that it could be as dangerous as this war, for we presume the blacks might be hired as free laborers.”

Tho. S. Wright. “Slavery.” 1655 (Feb. 25, 1863): 337-38. Wright concludes that “the right of slavery is a State right, legalized by the great compact of the Federal Government; and if the General Government undertakes to admonish that right, it acts on the principle of usurpation; which usurpation, most assuredly will destroy the loyalty of the several slave States, and produce rebellion.”

“Replies to Correspondents.” 1713 (Apr. 13, 1864): 390. In response to Murray’s article under the title “”Truth” and “Earnestness,”” the editor responds, “Not a line did we ever write that by any fair interpretation could be made to favor slavery; and if you intend to intimate any such thing, you are governed more by fanaticism and prejudice than by reason and judgment. We have said, and now say again, that neither in the North nor South has any feasible, practicable plan been brought forward for the settlement of the slavery question; and nothing that you have advanced. . . . has changed in the slightest degree our former and present opinion.”

John Dary. “To General Simon Cameron.” 1798 (Nov. 29, 1865): 234. Dary, a “black-skinned son of the Union,” criticizes Cameron for crediting an “imaginary God alone” for delivering four million colored Americans from enforced moral degradation and physical slavery.

“Slavery Forever Dead.” 1803 (Jan. 3, 1866): 275. Announcing the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the editor reflects, “The great National Triumph of the present century has been achieved. Chattel Slavery is abolished forever! Thanks to the good sense of the American People by whom the curse has been removed. They have now ratified the doctrine first proclaimed seventy years ago by Thomas Paine that “Man has no property in Man;” and today throughout all our vast borders, the Great Republic is Free.”

Slavery and the Bible

Z. “Slavery.” 420 (Apr. 10, 1839): 3. Z notes that “The prevalent idea seems to be, that Slavery originated not many generations ago with our Southern brethren, and has since been continued among them by reason of their looseness or immorality of principles, and their rejection of the doctrines of Christianity. But it should be known and remembered that Slavery itself is a Christian institution, and that this plague-spot and curse of our country originated with Christians, and was inflicted on us by Christians!”

“Religious Instruction of Slaves.” 638 (Aug. 9, 1843): 3. The author concludes that, “beyond all doubt, slavery is a doctrine of the Bible, and as the Christian religion is derived from that book, it necessarily follows that just so long as we reverence the Bible, just so long we must witness in a republican country the strange and painful anomaly of the institution of human slavery.”

“The Church in Favor of Slavery.” 731 (May 28, 1845): 2. The article reports that the Presbyterian Convention adopted the following: “1. That the institution of slavery, existing in these United States, is not sinful on the part of civil society. 2. That slavery as it exists, in these United States, is not a sinful offence. 3. That civil government is not bound to abolish Slavery in these United States. 4. That it is not agreeable to the Word of God for any person intentionally to induce those held in slavery to rebel against their masters.”

An Infidel. “Religious Consistency of Abolitionists.” 843 (July 21, 1847): 1. The author condemns the cowardly tendency among liberal Christian Abolitionists to “designate all those Christians who approve of slavery, war, &c., as Infidels and Atheists,” and suggests they turn their righteous denunciations towards the rightful culprit- the Bible.

E. Woodworth. “Anti-Slavery- Infidelity in Disguise.” 852 (Sept. 22, 1847): 1. Woodworth concludes that “abolitionists maneuvering, so far as theology is concerned, is strongly marked with sophistry, cant, and craft, and will only have the effect to prolong the day of slavery and superstition – physical and mental bondage: and I am also persuaded that if Abolitionists were to speak the honest sentiments of their minds, on the subject of religion, they would be found to be Infidel to the Bible and Christianity.”

J.C. “Abolition Unfairness.” 1537 (Nov. 7, 1860): 230. The author reports that the following resolution was adopted at an abolition convention in Bradford, Vermont: “Resolved, that those who attempt to defend slavery from the bible- to impose upon community the odious lie that God, in his word, sanctions a sin so heinous- are guilty of one of the worst and most dangerous forms of infidelity exhibited in this age and nation.” The author then points to Leviticus, Chp. 25, verses 44-46, to illustrate how the Bible sanctions slavery and then counsels the Vermont abolitionists to study the Bible and learn to be candid.

T.W.G. “Abolitionism and Infidelity.” 1549 (Jan. 30, 1861): 325. This article features excerpts from a sermon delivered by Rev. H.J. Van Dyke in Brooklyn in which he claims that, “Whenever the seed of Abolitionism has been sown broadcast, a plentiful crop of Infidelity has sprung up. In the communities where anti-slavery excitement has been most prevalent the power of the gospel has invariably declined.”

“New York Paine Celebration.” 1552 (Feb. 20, 1861): 347. Features a lecture by Ernestine L. Rose where, in reflecting on the role the bible has played in resolving the question of slavery observes, “the Raphalls and the Van Dykes proved slavery a divine institution, the Beechers and the Cheevers proved it from his Satanic Majesty; one side claims the Bible for and the other claims it against slavery, and they are both right. That book is so accommodating that it proves and disproves anything you choose. Chameleon like, it reflects the color of the glass you look through.”

LaRoy Sunderland. “Jefferson’s Oath.” 1584 (Oct. 2, 1861): 186. Sunderland notices that “eternal hostility against every species of tyranny over the mind of man” has been the all pervading object of the Investigator, that it could never have been published in any of the slave states, that “slavery depends upon the Bible and tradition very much for its support, and hence slavery always did and always will oppose the Boston Investigator,” and that “the time has come for us one and all to swear eternal hostility against every species of slavery over the mind of man.”

Joseph Treat. “Letter to Parker Pillsbury.” 1671 (June 24, 1863): 50. Treat asserts that “slavery exists in this country only upon the account of the Bible; and that therefore, the only way to be a true and consistent Abolitionist, is to be a pronounced Infidel. . . . I submit that all you are Pro-Slavery, in not being either God-deniers or God-haters.”

Orson S. Murray. “Slavery and the Bible.” 1754 (Jan. 25, 1865): 298. Murray explains, “I do not go to the Bible to put down slavery any more than I do to the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is an attempted compromise between freedom and slavery – just as the Bible is a conglomeration, and at the same time a segregation, of truths and errors, of rights and wrongs, of moralities and immoralities. To go to either of them, as to infallible authorities, is self-stultification.”

John W. Cole. “Slavery and the Bible.” 1755 (Feb. 1, 1865): 309. Cole concludes, “It is only within the past one or two hundred years that slavery has been considered unjust, and this state of feeling is the product of Infidelity, which has made innovations upon the Bible and shown the wickedness of many of its divinely sanctioned customs and practices.”

Abolitionist Movement

Anti-Slavite. “Anti-Slavery Society.” 56 (Apr. 20, 1832): 2. In reviewing a recent address of the anti-slavery society, the author, while approving “the general tenor of the address,” endeavors to show that “whenever [the anti-slavery society] wander into unknown regions, and lug in “God,” neck and heels, and providence, immortal souls, the judgment of heaven, &c, &c, they lose their reason and common sense, and then become inconsistent with themselves.”

Letter from William R. Rodgers. 233 (Sept. 11, 1835): 1-2. Rodgers begins, “If the emancipationists for the abolition of slavery at the South, would turn their attention to the north and emancipate the human mind by the abolition of priestcraft, what a noble service they would render to their fellow men. The slavery of the body is nothing, compared with the slavery of the mind. . . .”

A.K. “Abolitionists.” 315 (Apr. 7, 1837): 2. Kneeland writes, “We are not prepared to admit that slavery in our southern states is an evil until we can see better proof than we have hitherto seen that the slaves of the South are less happy than the free Negroes of the North. We believe there is a chain from the vegetable organic matter upwards, even to the most polished man; and we are not disposed to alter the size of the links.”

Henry Dow. “Abolitionism.” 356 (Jan. 19, 1838): 2.  Dow, a southern subscriber, charges the editor of the Investigator with being an abolitionist.  Kneeland responds, “If an Abolitionist means one who is in favor of the abolition of all slavery, mental as well as bodily, and mental first, taking good care to begin at home, without disturbing our neighbors, then we are an Abolitionist, and glory in the charge. But if an Abolitionist means one who is in favor of agitating the question in the North, respecting Southern slavery, then we are not an Abolitionist.”  Kneeland adds, “If slavery is ever abolished, it must be done by the sovereign power of the States where it exists.”

Abolition and Abolitionists.” 496 (Oct. 28, 1840): 2. The Corrector reports on the Anti-Slavery convention held in London, the exclusion of women from the convention, and the subsequent meeting convened in Glasgow.

Editor. “The Come-Outists.” 583 (July 20, 1842): 2. The editor reports that the Come-out-ists, a sect of the abolition movement, resolved to no longer extend “their fellowship” to abolitionists unwilling to use active means to abolish slavery. The editor further notes that, “they are determined not to make boy’s play of abolitionism. They wish to revive the decayed zeal of the party; but, to their great chagrin, they find the great body of the church and of the priesthood determinedly opposed to them.”

Montgarnier. “The “Scrap Book.”- No. 62. The Abolition Movement.” 748 (Sept. 24, 1845): 1. Montgarnier states, “The come-outers attack Church and State as the two most active engines of tyranny extant. In attacking them, they attack also the usurpations of these two institutions in the social as well as the moral world. For this, they are denounced as Infidels, disorganizers, traitors, fanatics, madman, etc., by the same meek and charity-loving church which has cast them out.”

“Cassius M. Clay.” 765 (Jan. 21, 1846): 3. The editor contends that many of the most prominent abolitionists in New England are Infidels, suggests that “if all but Christians were weeded out of the ranks of the Anti-Slavery party, its numbers would be woefully thinned,” and concludes “if slavery is ever abolished, it will be done in spite of Christians and Christianity.”

Truth-Teller. “Free Meetings.” 850 (Sept. 8, 1847): 2. The author reports, “I once heard William Lloyd Garrison say in a public assembly, that when he delivered his first anti-slavery lecture in Boston, the only Hall he could obtain in the city for that purpose was the Hall occupied by the Infidels, or Abner Kneeland’s society, and that they invited him to lecture there. Every church and Christian hall of every kind was shut against him.”

“Infidels- Atheists.” 1007 (Sept. 11, 1850): 2. This article includes Henry C. Wright’s report of an abolitionist meeting held in Lichfield, Medina Co., Ohio and reprinted from The Liberator. The following resolution was offered at the meeting. “Resolved, That the popular ideas of religion entertained by this nation, in Church and State, co-exist in harmony with slavery, and that fidelity to self-evident truth demands that we should be Infidels to such a religion, and seek its overthrow as the enemy of human freedom.”

“Letter from Dr. [Samuel] Ludvigh.” 1347 (Mar. 18, 1857): 1-2. Writing from New Orleans, Ludvigh reports on his arrest and denouncement as an abolitionist in Savannah Georgia.

Orson S. Murray. “Crying unto Heavens for Redress.” 1469 (July 20, 1859): 97. Murray takes issue with the Liberator’s call for a 4th of July Anti-Slavery celebration on behalf of the “millions whose unutterable wrongs are crying unto Heavens for redress,” asks “Why look to such a source for relief, or expect anything from it?,” and counsels, “It is high time for our Anti-Slavery friends to take their work out of the influence of such a power. . . . Emancipators to be most effective, must not themselves be in this [mental] bondage.”

G.A. Hammett. “Good Will to the Master. Charity to the Slave.” 1536 (Oct. 31, 1860): 217. Hammett suggests to those opposed to slavery to sacrifice one-fourth of their property to purchase the freedom of slaves, state-by-state, until the whole union is free.

W.G. “Atheism – Abolitionism – Wendell Phillips.” 1562 (May 1, 1861): 14. Having read abolitionist speeches for some twenty years, the author claims that its most prominent orators constantly trash atheism and infidelity as immoral and knavish and then provides a recent example from a sermon delivered by Wendell Phillips.

LaRoy Sunderland. “Wendell Phillips.” 1564 (May 15, 1861): 29. Sunderland disputes that Phillips recently trashed atheists and attests that Phillips is a “friend to the cause of Mental Freedom,” and that “His goodness, his truthfulness, and his integrity of character, place him in the front rank among Nature’s noblemen.”

Matthew F. Pickles. “Truth Better than Earnestness.” 1687 (Oct. 14, 1863): 179. Pickles argues that if the object of the war is to preserve the union than those who have planned and plotted for disunion are the cause of the war. He then presents evidence to prove that abolitionists were the first people to publish arguments in favor of the right of secession.

Orson S. Murray. ““Truth” and “Earnestness” “Better Than” Pretension without Performance.” 1711-13 (Mar. 30 – Apr. 13, 1864): 371, 379, 387. Murray argues, “If any party in the North are justly chargeable with doing anything to “cause” the war, it is the party who have encouraged the South in their course- who have shown the South sympathy in their aggressions upon freedom, and given them to expect aid from the Northern allies, in their war for the subjugation of all to the Southern sovereignty. These are justly chargeable with having helped to cause the war.” In addition, Murray remarks, “Abolition stands in the same relation to State slavery that Infidelity does to church-slavery. Abolition is no more responsible for the war than infidelity is responsible for the persecution of Thomas Paine, Abner Kneeland, the Boston Investigator and all heretics. Infidels expose and denounce church-slavery; and the church wages war to deprive them of their natural rights. Abolitionists expose and denounce state-slavery; and slaveocracy wages war upon Abolitionists and as many as stand in the way of its supremacy.” Finally, Murray responds to Seaver’s assertion that “no practicable, feasible plan has been brought forward for the relief of the slave.”

M.F. Pickles. “Abolition.” 1714 (Apr. 20, 1864): 394. Pickles replies to Murray, “It comes with bad grace from one in sympathy with violence and vandalism, to stigmatize the Southerners with being gentlemen of the bowie-knife and revolver, in the presence of all this abolition cry for “blood letting.  John Brown, an “earnest” abolitionist stole (under a false name) into a peaceable valley in Virginia with abolition rifles, pistols, bowie-knifes, and pikes, for the purpose of massacre; and, strange to relate, to Mr. Murray this midnight murderer occupies the place of the abolished Bible God. Worthy successor! What strange, fantastic tricks some men perform in the name of philanthropy! ”

M.F. Pickles. “Abolition. Its Pretensions – Its Performance.” 1716 (May 4, 1864): 410. Pickles provides additional quotations from abolitionist writings to support his thesis that abolitionists have long supported disunion.

James Phillips. “Abolition and the War.” 1706 (Mar. 2, 1864): 338. Phillips, a subscriber, concludes, “Those that have witnessed the carnage of one battle field to abolish slavery, have seen more human misery in one day than slavery has inflicted on the negro since the first African set foot on American soil. These two pet phrases, “the curse of slavery” and “the horrors of infidelity,” are coined by demagogues to deceive their dupes, while one is robbing Uncle Sam’s treasury and the other the Lord’s treasury.”


G. Meriwether. “Slavery – Emancipation.” 942 (June 13, 1849): 4. Reprinted from the Green River Whig (Kentucky). Meriwether proposes putting the scheme of emancipation (the gradual removal of the slave population via colonization) before the electorate.

“Slavery- Colonization.” 1007 (Sept. 11, 1850): 1. A letter signed by “A Friend of Colonization, but not of Abolition Without It,” mailed from St. Louis, Missouri. The author concludes, “Now if the friends of Abolition will only first prove that the blacks are of the same race as the whites, and that they will mix without deterioration to either, and that they can live together on an equality, they will have some reason to advocate it against Colonization. If, however, they cannot satisfactorily prove these things, then it would appear that they are fanatics.”

“Colonization – Emancipation.” 1632 (Sept. 17, 1862): 157. Reporting on a meeting between the U.S. President and a “committee of colored men” to discuss “emigrating to Central America,” the author remarks, “We doubt the feasibility of colonization, while we can discover no good reason why universal emancipation should not take place. It would of course be more in harmony with the genius of free institutions, for slavery in a republic is a frightful inconsistency. As a war measure, also, it is unobjectionable, for we have a right to take from the enemy anything that he calls property. And finally, it would be better for the pecuniary interest of the planters, for we believe it can be shown by reliable figures that colored people can produce more as freemen than as slaves. If these three reasons are sound, they prove the righteousness, the justice, and the profit of emancipation.”


“Letter from Mr. S. Rhodes.” 907 (Oct. 11, 1848): 1-2. Proclaiming to be “a liberal in principle and untrammeled by prejudice,” Rhodes comments on the two plans for abolition – colonization and immediate emancipation. Rhodes concludes that the United States does not possess the power or means to colonize the enslaved and that immediate abolition is implausible, given the “inferior intellect” and “animal passions” of the African race.

W.J. Boden. “Slavery-Reply to S. Rhodes.” 917 (Dec. 20, 1848): 1. Boden accuses Rhodes of being ignorant of anatomical and physiological science, argues that Africans are just as capable of progressing in civilization, the arts, sciences and government as any other nation, and asks, “Admitting all true what Mr. Rhodes says, is that sufficient reason to condemn them to eternal servitude like brutes?”

“Negro-Mania.” 1059 (Sept. 10, 1851): 2. Reviewing a book by the same title and written by John Campbell whose object is to prove that the negro race is not physically or mentally equal to the white race, the editor remarks, “No one assumes or presumes that the [negro] race is equal to the white. What is claimed for it, is that it is part and parcel of the great human family; that it has the germ of the same faculties in common with all other members of that family; and has an equal claim on society with all other members to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.””

Tamar Davis. Negroes in the Free States.” 1141 (Apr. 6, 1853): 1. Davis calls on her detractors to “point out one State in the Union in which negroes are regarded and treated as men” and asserts that “The North talks loudly of equality and fraternity, but takes good care to prevent this equal brother from approaching the ballot-box, or sharing civil and political emoluments.”

F.H.M. “The True Relations of the Human Races.” 1510 (May 2, 1860): 10. The author argues that “The erroneous doctrine of the equality of the races is the fatal stumbling block in the way of the Northern Anti-Slavery men; they follow the teachings of fanaticism rather than of philosophy. Nature teaches that the Negro race, in relation to the white race, stands no higher than a child to an adult.”

Reflector. “The Negro.” 1784 (Aug. 23, 1865): 125. The author concludes, “The Negro deserves better treatment than he has yet received, and now that he is no longer a slave and the reconstruction of the Government on the basis of Freedom is talked of, I hope his rights will be acknowledged and protected. He may be ignorant, but he is capable of instruction. Loyalty he possesses already, and for my part I prefer a loyal and ignorant Negro who fights for the preservation of the Union and Liberty, to the disloyal and learned white traitor who seeks to destroy our free Government and erect on its ruins the odious institution of human slavery, for ignorance is only a misfortune after all, but treason is the worst of crimes.”

“The Negro Question.” 1793 (Oct. 25, 1865): 197. In response to a reader who criticizes the Investigator for its abolitionism, the editor remarks, “we are not and never were in favor of chattel slavery . . . . Negroes are men, and if not as a race equal in all respects to the whites, still they are men, naturally and physiologically considered. That has always been our opinion of them, and hence when we claim “equal and exact justice to all men,” we include negroes in the sum total, for we are not able to understand, as yet, that rights depend on nationality and color.”

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Norfolk. “Constitutions and Laws.” 1024 (Jan. 8, 1851): 2. Advocating disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Law, Norfolk explains, “constitutions and laws may not violate with impunity the plain principles of justice; that when they do so, they cease to be safeguards to human rights, and merit in consequence the execration of all men.”

“The Fugitive Slave Case.” 1031 (Feb. 26, 1851): 3. Reporting the rescue of a fugitive slave from a U.S. Court in Boston by a “body of negroes,” the editors comment “The rescue of the fugitive slave from the officers of the law was altogether wrong, and no excuse can justify it, because, when once the principle is admitted, there is an end at once to all law, and mobs must rule, which is the worst kind of tyranny. If this ground is correct it is better to obey even a bad law than resist by physical force its execution.”

“The Higher Law.” 1032 (Mar. 5, 1851): 2. The editor opines, “This appeal to God’s laws for support of the common principles of justice only involves every idea of justice in a thick fog. The discussions on slavery, and the moral influence of it, have only shown that the moral force of the nation rests upon the Bible instead of resting upon everlasting principles of right; and that the slaveholders have continually the best of it, in sustaining their institution from the Bible.”

A Southerner. “Stand by the Law! A Brief Reply to Norfolk.” 1033 (Mar. 12, 1851): 2. The author reaffirms his commitment to stand by the law, adding “There is no other alternative, if we mean to have any Law at all; for if you allow one body of men to trample down a Law they do not approve of, you must allow the same liberty to others, and this principle carried out cannot fail to destroy all Law and throw society back to that savage condition in which “might makes right,” for there are many other Laws besides the Fugitive Slave Law that are objectionable.”

Norfolk. The Fugitive Slave Law.” 1038 (Apr. 16, 1851): 1. Replying to A Southerner, Norfolk writes that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 “is a graceless document, ripe for “treason, stratagems and spoils.” It is a shaft leveled at the weak and defenseless, having for its object aggression and outrage. No “law abiding” person can assist in carrying out that law without violating the fundamental principles of all law. To assist in carrying out that law, would be to act the part of traitor to mankind.”

Plymon Seaver. “Remarks on Law.” 1039 (Apr. 23, 1851): 1. Commenting on the editor’s disparaging remarks concerning the rescue of a fugitive slave in Boston, Seaver asks, “Must we condescend to outrage every feeling of benevolence, to trample on every principle of natural justice, and stifle the very heart beatings of humanity, because forsooth! a Congress of aspiring tyrants, bent on rendering perpetual the enslavement of a portion of the human race, have issued a law, making it our duty to do so?”

“The Fugitive Slave – Riots – Law.” 1202 (June 7, 1854): 2. Reporting on the arrest, trial and remand of fugitive slave Anthony Burns in Boston, the editor argues that the only way to change unjust and tyrannical laws in a Republic is by changing public opinion rather than by mob violence.

G.A. Hammett. “Practical Applications of Atheism.” 1573 (July 17, 1861): 97-98. Beginning with the question, “What, then, should be the opinion of Atheists with regard to the return of fugitive slaves?” Hammett, in part, replies, “Let this most unjustifiable rebellion be suppressed by open, manly force; let hundreds of thousands of troops be precipitated upon the Southern States; but let not a great, a powerful, a warlike people endeavor to protect themselves by betraying the helpless fugitive slave. By returning fugitives, the Northern States do, in fact, become accessory to the guilt of slave-holding, and therefore if the practice should continue, the war would be merely between two nations of slave-holders.”

Women’s Rights

Paul Brown. “Examination of Objections and Arguments Opposed to the Equality of the Sexes.” 695 (Sept. 11, 1844): 1. Brown concludes “Our first step towards elevating the character of females and qualifying them to be institutors of mankind in the principles of self-government, is to enroll them with the electors. The next is, to alter the boundaries of female education; making it equal with that of males, in all solid accomplishments. And until these things shall be done, a human republic will not exist upon earth.”

Crito. “To the Females of the United States of America.” 815 (Jan. 6, 1847): 1. Lamenting that women are so far behind men in freedom and knowledge, Crito writes, “That so is so, is no reproach to her intellectual capacity; to man alone is it entirely attributable- to his apathy and blindness to State and Priestcraft, and the fashionable hypocrisy of the present age; and it is apparent to all strict observers, that in all the relations of domestic life, he has proved himself as great a tyrant as a king or priest in olden time, that is, in withholding from Woman her natural rights.”

“Woman’s Rights.” 901 (Aug. 30, 1848): 4. Features a reprint of the Declaration of Sentiments adopted at the Women’s Rights Convention in Rochester, August 2, 1848.

Susan. “Woman’s Rights.” 928 (Mar. 7, 1849): 1. Susan reminds the editors of “a very important omission in your list of laws that Infidels want- namely, a law making woman equal to man, a law recognizing her as a being possessed of rights, instead of being as she is now, a non-entity.”

Anna. “The Women’s Rights Convention.” 1016 (Nov. 13, 1850): 1. The author argues “There is but little hope for woman as long as she considers the church her best friend. If she would break away from the church and clergy, use her reason instead of regarding old traditions as sacred, emancipation in other things would speedily follow.”

A Looker On. “The Rights of Women.” 1127 (Dec. 29, 1852): 1. The author states that “the male and female sex being different, their duties are also different; and we cannot make the later the same without abrogating the former- in other words, without destroying the order of Nature, which cannot be done, and should not be attempted nor desired, for Nature is wiser than “conventions” or any of the efforts of irrational reformers.”

H.R.H. “Women’s Rights” 1130 (Jan. 19, 1853): 2. Responding to the argument that women should not possess the same political rights as men because of their inability to perform certain political duties, such as work as a police officers, constables, or watchmen, the author suggests commencing a movement to deprive “all those men who are rather weakly in body, of their political rights.”

A Looker On. “The Rights of Women- H.R.H.” 1136 (Mar. 2, 1853): 1-2. The author argues that “equality of civil, social, and political rights, in the sexes, must be accompanied with the ability to perform all the duties which those rights enjoin- in other words, women must be able to perform those duties as well as men.”

H.R.H. “Women’s Rights- A Looker On.” 1138 (Mar. 16, 1853): 1. The author clarifies, “what we ask is, that women may have precisely the same rights as men in all respects- the right to vote, to hold office, &c; the right to choose their own profession exactly as men do, with no interference of law or public opinion.”

A Looker On. “Woman’s Rights- Once More.” 1144 (Apr. 27, 1853): 2. The author contends that nature “has plainly denoted a different sphere of action for the sexes. We may frustrate this plan; think we can improve upon it; and adopt a system of an opposite character; but the end of attempting to improve upon Nature, will be to reap the disappointment that always attends on folly.”

“H.R.H. “Women’s Rights- The End.” 1147 (May 18, 1853): 1. The author asserts that “Every human being should have a voice in the affairs of government, for if one-half the race is deprived of this right they are so far slaves.”

H.R.H. “Women’s Rights- Begun Again.” 1152 (June 22, 1853): 1. The author argues that those fundamental principles recognized as the “rights of man” should likewise be recognized as the rights of women, namely, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to vote and be voted for, the exclusive right to their own property, and earnings, and the right to choose their own employment in life, uncontrolled by law or public opinion.

P.I.B. “The Sphere of Woman.” 1155 (July 13, 1853): 2. Blacker contends that “the first step for woman to take is to assert her right to self-ownership. This will give her the right to select her occupation and choose her own sphere. As to voting and legislating, I have seen women sit in conventions, fill offices, and take part in debates, and acquit themselves with credit; and there would be no more impropriety in going to the polls to deposit a ballot, than there is in going to the Post Office and depositing and getting a letter.”

“Address of Mrs. E. L. Rose, Before the People’s Sunday Meeting, in Cochituate Hall.” 1067 (Nov. 5, 1851): 4. A lecture on woman’s rights delivered Oct. 19, 1851.

“Letter from Harriett Martineau.” 1068 (Nov. 12, 1851): 4. A letter sent to the President of the Woman’s Rights Convention held at Worcester from Cromer, England, dated Aug. 3, 1851. Martineau writes, “Whether we regard the physical fact of what women are able to do, or the moral fact of what women ought to do, it is equally necessary to abstain from making any decision prior to experiment.”

Ernestine L. Rose. “Review of Horace Mann’s Two Lectures. Delivered in New York, Feb, 17th and 29th.” 1091-92 (Apr. 21-28, 1852). Rose comments on a series of lectures by Horace Mann entitled “Hints to a Young Woman.” Also featured is a letter from Rose to Mann.

“A Speech by Mrs. E. L. Rose, at the Late Woman’s Right Convention at Syracuse (N.Y.).” 1116 (Oct. 13, 1852): 1. Commenting on a resolution in favor of the bible, presented by Miss Brown, Rose remarks, “All the hatred and persecutions between sect and sect, man and man, have arisen from the different interpretations of [biblical] passages which can have no meaning in themselves, or there could be no doubt on the subject, each interpreter claiming to be the true oracle. The Pope, claiming to be the greatest, instituted an inquisition against every other interpreter. A book that is so ambiguous as not to convey any definite idea, can furnish no authority to this convention.”

General Intelligence: “Petition for Women’s Rights.” 1344 (Feb. 25, 1857): 3. Reprint of a petition submitted to the Massachusetts legislature by Antoinette L. Brown, Ernestine L. Rose and Lucy Stone.

“Women.” 1375 (Sept. 30, 1857): 2. Addressing Christians’ notions of the proper “sphere” of women, the editor remarks, “Since the human mind belongs to no sex in particular, and as every individual should do what lies in his or her power to benefit humanity, we should suppose that the “sphere” of every woman was preciously that condition or situation in which she could be useful, herself being the judge of what the “sphere” shall be.”

“Woman’s Rights.” 1468 (July 13, 1859): 93. The editor identifies Francis Wright and Ernestine L. Rose as early advocates of woman’s rights and concludes, “We are aware that such women as Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelley Foster, and others have labored long and well for this reform, but we believe that the honor of its origin can be fairly set down to the credit of Infidels.”

“Female Reformers – A Speech by Mrs. Rose.” 1532 (Oct. 3, 1860): 187. Delivered at a Woman’s Rights Convention in New York. Rose remarks, “I said some years ago when laying our claims before the Legislature, “I know you are not prepared to give us all we ask, but we claim all our rights. We ask for no more; we can be satisfied with no less. Yet we will take what you are prepared to give us, and then claim the rest.” That is the only position for a reformer to take. The Anti-Slavery Society, the Garrisonian Society, is consistent. It declares that principle does not admit of compromise. It asks all, or none. We ask all, but we differ from that society in this, that we are ready to take as much as we can get, for we know that society is not prepared to give the whole at once.”

“Political Rights of Woman.” 1804 (Jan. 10, 1866): 284. Reprinted from the last issue of The Liberator, a petition for universal suffrage written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to which the editor comments there can be no “reasonable objection.”


Robert Dale Owen.[18] “Marriage.” 64 (June 15, 1832): 1. Owen explains why he has chosen to marry, that he will do so without the aid of a religious cleric, and that he intends to morally divest himself of any rights over his future wife’s person or property.

“Marriage.” 774 (Mar. 25, 1846): 2. The editor proposes making marriage “a voluntary transaction of their own formation, and liable, if the conditions cannot be performed, to a like voluntary dissolution.”

John Ewen Jr. “Marriage Relation.” 944 (June 27, 1849): 1. Ewen advocates the right of partners to a marriage to mutually dissolve their marriage contract.

Tyler Parsons. “The Marriage Relation.” 946 (July 11, 1849): 1. Parsons claims that the view that a marriage may be dissolved when the parties to it mutually agree to separate is not a view “generally entertained or tolerated” by Infidels.

R.R. “Tyler Parsons – Marriage Relation.” 951 (Aug. 15, 1849): 1. The author outlines some of the evils which may accompany marriage and suggests that “were marriage placed on the ground it ought to be, simply a social contract, leaving each to live together or separate as they pleased, dividing property and children between themselves, and making all personal violence and abuse as far as publicly penal in the domestic circle as in public, and you would have a natural exhibition of life.”

Correspondents review and comment on Thomas Low Nichols and Mary S. Gove Nichols advocacy of variety and absolute freedom in sexual relations in their book, Marriage: Its History, Character and Results.

P.I.B. “Dr. Nichols’s Book on Marriage.” 1203 (June 14, 1854): 2. According to P.I.B., the Nichols’ “declare the absolute right of every man and woman to own themselves, and not to own others; that woman should take her stand on the ground of Individual Sovereignty; that she should sustain herself and not be dependent on man for home and subsistence, nor subject to his will or caprice; that she has a natural right to live up to her highest aspirations of a true life; that the improvement and happiness of the race is mainly to be secured by establishing the rights of choice or refusal as to who shall be the father of her child.”

Common Sense. “Marriage.” 1204 (June 21, 1854): 2. The author asks, “Is marriage per se, or in itself, an evil? If it is, then Dr Nichols’s theory of “variety,” is correct; and all that a man or woman have to do, when sameness begets satiety, is to exchange partners. But if marriage is not an evil or wrong; if it is right, proper, or natural, for a man and woman to be faithful to each other through life, (as I contend it is) then constancy in love is a virtue, and “variety” is a vice. If the argument is not conclusive, let its fallacy be shown.”

Marie. “Dr. Nichols’s Book on “Marriage.”” 1207 (July 12, 1854): 2. The author explains, “I understand Dr. Nichols to advocate liberty, perfect liberty, or the sovereignty of the individual, to be maintained at his or her own cost- that is, without encroaching upon the liberty of any other individual, and as each one may decide what then liberty would lead them to, it may be “promiscuous intercourse” to “Common Sense,” though to me a release from soul crushing, life destroying bondage.”

John Adams. “”Omnigamy” – Again.”  1208 (July 19, 1854): 1. Adams writes that “Common Sense” “would have us believe that the Christians or religionists of the times defend this new doctrine of variety in love relations. If the clergymen of New England should chance to see his statement, methinks they would smile at his absurdities. The fact is, the clergy teach the same doctrine and agree with “Common Sense” – that is, they are both satisified with marriage as it is, that man and woman shall be bound together by laws, and however sad the mistakes may be which they may fall into, there is no redress but by crime or death, for only by committing crime will our laws tolerate separation.”

“Letter from Dr. Nichols.” 1218 (Sept. 27, 1854): 1. Nichols argues that “The evils of marriage are- early passional starvation, of those who hesitate to enter upon so serious an engagement; the risk of perjury, in taking vows often impossible to keep; the fear of the fact of mistakes in the choice of partners; the risk of diseased offspring in consequence of an unfitness which cannot be remedied; the life-long punishment of being compelled to live in a false relation. Women also have to bear, in thousands of cases, the horrors of compulsory marital union, or legal rape- and compulsory, dreaded, and often murderous maternity.”

A Married Woman. “Marriage – Dr, Nichols.” 1222 (Oct. 25, 1854): 1. The author agrees that married women often suffer at the hands of tyrannical husbands, but, nonetheless, argues that the law of marriage “tends to restrain the passions of men within the bounds of order and decency.”

“Marriage at the Sunday Institute.” 1210 (Aug. 2, 1854): 1. This article reports the performance of two nonsectarian marriage ceremonies by Thomas Illman and includes his remarks made on the occasion.

Ernestine L. Rose. “Woman’s Rights.” 1507 (Apr. 11, 1860): 401-02. This article features an Act on the Rights and Liberties of Husband and Wife” just adopted by the New York legislature, followed by Rose’s commentary.

Land and Labor

Editorial. 57 (Apr. 27, 1832): 2. The editor announces that “we have never pledged ourselves that the Investigator should be devoted exclusively to theology; but also to “espouse the cause of the Working-men;” for a great proportion of our subscribers are such. And the Working-men must learn that they will never be able to meliorate their condition so long as priest-craft, doctor-craft, and law-craft, hold the ascendency over the human mind which they now do. As long as they are afraid of Infidelity, and afraid of offending the aristocracy, so as not to speak out what they think, they must be virtually slaves. On the other hand, if we wish to show the people the danger of the learned crafts, particularly priestcraft, we must convince the great mass of the people, which are always the laboring classes- the producers of all the wealth, that we are their real friends.”

“New England Convention.” 83-88 (Oct. 26- Nov. 30, 1832). This series covers a regional convention of farmers, mechanics, and other workingmen and includes addresses from Charles Douglass, John Eldridge, committee reports and a memorial concerning the hours of labor.

“Address of the Shoebinders of Lynn.” 146 (Jan. 10, 1834): 1. A manifesto of the “Female Society of Lynn and Vicinity, for the Protection and Promotion of Female Industry,” delivered at a public meeting, December 30, 1833. The manifesto explains “All that we have ever demanded or expected is such a reasonable compensation for our labor, as shall defray our reasonable expenses, and ensure to us that freedom from want, which is the natural right of the honest and industrious.”

Montgarnier. “For ‘The Social Radical.’” 481, 483-85 (July 15, 29- Aug. 12, 1840) with reply from, William West. “Radicalism- In Reply to Montgarnier.” 488, 490, 492, 494, 496 (Sept. 2, 16, 30, Oct. 14, 28, 1840). These articles feature a discussion between an “ultra-radical” and a “conservative” on how to remedy the inequality of property.

O.A. Brownson. “The Laboring Classes.” 487-88 (Aug. 26- Sept. 2, 1840). Reprinted from the Boston Quarterly Review.  Brownson argues that if our object is the elevation of the working classes, we must, inter alia, breakdown the power of the priesthood, free government from the control of banks, and destroy all monopolies and privileges, specifically hereditary property.

B. Webb. “O.A. Brownson- Quarterly Review.” 495, 497 (Oct. 21, Nov. 4, 1840): 1-2. Webb contends that “the title to private property lies at the very foundation of all human rights” and if hereditary property were abolished and the government empowered to confiscate the estates of the rich, the result would be “the most perfect despotism of any heretofore known.”

A Mechanic. “The Banking System.” 547 (Nov. 10, 1841): 2. A Mechanic contends that if banks cannot be proved advantageous to the interests of laborers but instead are nothing more than monopolies “established and perpetuated by men who really earn nothing themselves” then they “ought to be exterminated root and branch.”

George H. Evans. “To the Free Enquirers of the United States.” 667 (Feb. 28, 1844): 1. Evans calls for the abolition of property in land.

B.G. Veazie. “Land Monopoly.” 772 (Mar. 11, 1846): 1. Veazie asserts “Secure for the inhabitants of our beautiful country an inalienable homestead; give them a free soil, and the grandest, the most extraordinary revolution that the world has ever seen will be accomplished.”

“Land Monopoly.” 784 (June 3, 1846): 2. The editor writes, “We have come to the full conviction of the truth of the following proposition: That the possession of more land than is necessary to support a family in food, raiment, and a few contingent expenses, until the children shall be old enough to marry and provide for themselves, is a violation of one of the natural laws of human society.”

“Poverty and Ignorance,” “The Bible. Code of Superstition, of Usury, and of Barbarity,” “The Aim of Revolutions,” “Right of Property,” “Usury,” 984-88 (Apr. 3- May 1, 1850). A series of excerpts from Alphonse Toussenel’s Address to the Laborers of the Seine, translated by Marx Edgeworth Lazarus. The series begins, “Humanity bleeds by two wounds, poverty and ignorance. Poverty is sustained by usury, ignorance by superstition. There have never been but two principles struggling in this world; right and privilege, otherwise named labor and idleness. There has never been but one oppressed, the laborer; but one oppressor, the idler. The privilege of idleness is the privilege of consuming without producing, of avoiding for oneself repugnant labor, and enforcing it on others.”

John Adams. “Social Reform.” 1220, 1222, 1227 (Oct. 11, 25, Nov. 29, 1854). Adams asserts that labor is entitled to the whole of its production, calls for the abolition of rent, interest and usury, and a war against the present banking system, and announces “Fellow toilers, the future is ours!”

“A Letter from John Farral.” 1667 (May 27, 1863): 22. Farral argues that, “In all manufacturing States the laborer only vegetates; he does not live; his condition is more galling to the comparatively intelligent toiler, than is the suffering of the chattel, who has been trained up in that condition; not deceived as is the wages slave with the theory of liberty, while his life’s best efforts for wealth production are put forth only to make the rich richer.”

A Northern Laborer. “The Wages Slave.” 1668 (June 3, 1863): 29. The author believes that Farral’s use of the phrase “wages slave” does Northern laborers injury and argues that, while slaves are the property of a master with no say in determining their wages, and may be sold like cattle, the Northern laborer is consulted about wages and may “strike” for more.

“Meeting of Mechanics.” 1695 (Dec. 9, 1863): 246. Reports a meeting at Williams Hall in Boston where Horace Seaver was among the principal speakers, the eight hour work day was discussed, and a collection was taken to aid striking workers in New York.

Alvin Holt. “Explanations Wanted.” 1698 (Dec. 30, 1863): 266. In response to John Farral’s assertion that wages slaves suffer greater misery than chattel slaves, Holt writes that he has never met “the free laborer that would exchange his condition for that of chattel slavery.”

A Mechanic. “Eight Hours a Day’s Work.” 1783 (Aug. 16, 1865): 117. Responding to an editorial in the Boston Post condemning the Eight Hour Movement, A Mechanic contends that “The sort of democracy advocated by that paper amounts to this: Capital is entitled to legislative favor, but Labor is not; Capital can make laws for itself – but Labor, the creator of Capital, must not be allowed that right and privilege! Is this democracy? Then what is despotism?”

“Eight Hours Labor.” 1793 (Oct. 25, 1865): 197. Supporting the eight hour movement, the editor observes that “the laboring classes are often cruelly over-worked and under-paid, by covetous, avaricious, flinty-hearted employers, and a day of leisure which they look for is too often only found in the grave.”

Cambridge. “The Eight Hour System.” 1809 (Feb. 14, 1866): 322. The author argues that “the only escape for the laboring man from the discouraging situation in which he finds himself, is not in shortening the hours of labor – they are about right – but in devising some plan by which he shall receive a fair share of the product of his labor. So long as he receives but a bare subsistence, while his employer receives a princely revenue, he will remain immersed in a sea of troubles.”

“The Eight Hour System.” 1810-11 (Feb. 21-28, 1866): 333, 341. The editor defends the eight hour system as a “righteous measure” and expresses his hope that it “prevail throughout the land.”

Law and Government

Editor. “Civil, Political, and Religious Liberty.” 444 (Sept. 25, 1839): 2. The editor states, “The establishment of [civil, political, and religious liberty] in our political code, and acting upon it in all our legislative acts and judicial decisions, is one of the brightest features of our government, and the noblest triumph of mind and principle over prejudice, ignorance and tyranny, which the world has ever witnessed.” The editor also reminds the reader that “this principle of liberty has to be secured at the price of individual vigilance and sacrifice.”

“Intervention- Civil, Political, and Religious Liberty.” 1097 (June 2, 1852): 2. The editors remark that “the conflict has to come between Republicanism and Imperial institutions throughout the world, and it is not by Despots that we are to stand, but by the mighty strength of the People concentrated in the cause of civil and political liberty throughout the world. The next great conflict will be universal in its character; and America, on the side of the great principles of civil, political and religious liberty, can have no rear position, but must lead the van. There is no alternative. It is “onward or perish.””

“The Constitution and Religion.” 1349 (Apr. 1, 1857): 2. To refute the Boston Travelers’ editorial contending that “The Christian religion is substantially a part of the law of the land,” the editor draws the Travelers attention to article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli (1797).

“The U.S. Constitution and Religion.” 1439 (Dec. 22, 1858): 2. Seaver argues that, “A more thoroughly Atheistical document than the Constitution of the United States was never penned.”

“Sermon of the Rev. Dr. Wilson.” 1506 (Apr. 4, 1860): 395. Reprinted from the Albany Daily Advertiser, a sermon delivered October 23, 1831, in which Wilson attempts to show that “the Constitution is not Christian; and further, that we have had no Christian Presidents.”

Moses B. Church. “Massachusetts. To the Hon. N.P. Banks, Governor of Massachusetts.” 1512 (May 16, 1860): 29. Responding to the Governor’s message to the Massachusetts’ legislature in which the governor intimates that the people of Massachusetts will not submit to any infringement on the freedom of speech, of the press or of opinion, Church reminds the governor of the laws prohibiting: blasphemy, work on the Sabbath, and Infidel testimony in court.

Publicola. “Is Secession a Crime?” and “Secession is Right.” 1635, 1640, 1644 (Oct. 8, Nov. 12, Dec. 10, 1862): 179, 218, 251. Publicola, of Cincinnati, Ohio, answers in the negative, while the editor remarks, “secession is a crime when carried on in Southern style” and contends that “the only proper and Constitutional way for a State to withdraw from the Union (supposing the thing allowable) is for her to be voted out by Congress, as she was voted in.”

Dorr’s Rebellion

Editor. “Rhode Island Affairs.” 587 (Aug. 17, 1842): 3. Responding to a critic of the Dorr Rebellion, the editor states that, “We know not exactly what our friend means when he avows himself a friend to suffrage; but for ourselves, we have no hesitation in declaring that we advocate it “on Dorr principles” – and we will add further, that we believe them to be the only correct principles- the only ones that can avert “anarchy and confusion,” and render this country the abode of order, harmony, and peace. Once establish the doctrine that the minority shall have power to make Constitutions for the majority, and “anarchy and confusion” must ensue until every vestige of freedom is entirely obliterated.  Our friend must have studied republicanism to but very small purpose, if he believes, as he intimates, that the Suffrage Party had no right to assemble together in mass meetings and form their own Constitution. . . . . The true Republican doctrine is that ‘a majority of a community have an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish government.’”

“Rhode Island.” 590 (Sept. 7, 1842): 3. The author argues that the Suffrage Party should “carry their case before the Supreme Court of the United States,” encouraging them to “adhere to their own Constitution as the right and true one, until the highest legal tribunal has decided either for or against them.”

“Letter from a [Rhode Island] Suffrage Woman.” 591 (Sept. 14, 1842): 3. On behalf of the Committee of Suffrage Ladies, the author reports their efforts to alleviate the hardships suffered by imprisoned Suffrage Men.

“Governor Dorr’s Imprisonment.” 687 (July 17, 1844): 2. The editor describes Dorr as a “martyr to liberty” and a “victim of Lynch law exercised by a State tribunal.”

“Might and Right.” 701 (Oct. 23, 1844): 2. The editor reviews Frances Greene’s Might and Right and states “The perusal of this book has rendered still deeper our conviction of the integrity both of the character of Dorr and the cause for which he contended. We cannot understand by what sophistry any man can convince himself that the grand movement of the Suffrage Party in Rhode Island was wrong, without first denying the American principle of popular sovereignty.”

Massachusetts’s Proposed New Constitution

These articles capture the debate among liberalists and infidels concerning whether to vote for a new constitution that adopted several “reformatory features,” such as abolishing imprisonment for debt, doing away with property qualifications for voting, and increasing the school fund, but failed to abolish religious tests.

Memorial. To the Convention Assembled to revise the Constitution of Massachusetts.” 1153-54 (June 29-July , 1853). Drafted by John W. LeBarnes, the memorial asks “that the Constitution be so amended, that the doctrines of no religion shall be established or recommended therein, and that no religious or ecclesiastical interference with the Laws of the State, its Official Institutions, or its Public Schools, shall be hereafter possible in this Commonwealth.”

J.W.L. “The New Constitution.” 1169 (Oct. 19, 1853): 2.

John Hardy. “The New Constitution.” 1171 (Nov. 2, 1853): 2. Includes editorial remarks.

Ira Steward. “The New Constitution.” 1172 (Nov. 9, 1853): 2. Includes editorial remarks.

“The New Bedford Standard.” 1173 (Nov. 16, 1853): 2.

Ira Steward. Progress and Truth.” 1174 (Nov. 23, 1853): 1. Includes editorial remarks.

J.W.L. “The Infidel Question- And the Rejected Constitution.” 1175 (Nov. 30, 1853): 2.

J.W.L. “The Rejected Constitution- No. 2. The School Question.” 1176 (Dec. 7, 1853): 2.

James Phillips. “Freedom and Equal Rights.” 1180 (Jan. 4, 1854): 2.

National Association for the Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

These articles report on a national association of Christians who have petitioned the federal government to amend the constitution to recognize “Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government,” and Jesus’ “revealed will as the supreme law of the land.”

“Altering the U.S. Constitution.” 1704 (Feb. 17, 1864): 321-22.

“Priestcraft vs. the National Constitution.” 1706-07 (Feb. 24- Mar. 2, 1864): 332, 341.

John Steves. “The Constitution and its Amendment.” 1708 (Mar. 9, 1864): 345-46.

LaRoy Sunderland. “The Constitution and Theology.” 1710 (Mar. 23, 1864): 361. Sunderland observes, “This Nation is made up of people who entertain all sorts of notions in respect to what should be understood by the terms “God,” “Christ,” “the Savior,” “religion,” and the “Bible”! And now to undertake to incorporate these terms into a Constitution designed only for civil government, would be the height of fanatical madness, as there is, there could be, no other purpose served by such a change in our supreme law, but to gratify sectarian zeal, and thus to produce discord and war, even more bitter than any we have yet known.”

W. “The Religious Amendment to the Constitution.” 1753 (Jan. 18, 1865): 289-90.

J.C. Dimick. “An Atheistical Nation.” 1754 (Jan. 25, 1865): 297.


LaRoy Sunderland. “Sectarian Revivals.” 1384-90 (Dec. 2, 1857 – Jan. 13, 1858). Sunderland distinguishes revivalism from spiritualism (“spiritualism may justly be said to be a sectarian revival, without hell and the devil”) and pathetism and identifies “three elements which combine in sectarian revivals, which hinder the progression of the race” – exclusiveness, censoriousness, and dogmatism.

LaRoy Sunderland. “Gullibility.” 1406-07, 1415-16, 1419, 1423, 1427, 1429 (May 5-12, July 7-14, Aug. 4, Sept. 1, 29, Oct. 13, 1858). Sunderland presents a series of articles on the “hocus pocus work” of clairvoyants, fortune tellers, astrologers, soothsayers and spiritualists. At the conclusion of the first article, Sunderland remarks that “the more absurd the pretension or imposture is, the more power it has over gullibility. Hence the prevalence of Mormonism, and the immense credulity which prevails in what passes under the name of Spiritualism.” Sunderland commences his fourth article by contending that it would be easy to show that “in connection with no other subject, not even with religion, have mortals shown more gullibility than in respect to spiritualism and clairvoyance.”

Vidi. “Anti-Spiritualism.” 1491 (Dec. 21, 1859): 273. The author begins, “I conceive that modern spiritualism, so-called, is merely an ancient absurdity in a new form, and that in many cases it favors the popular, established superstition, by pretending to demonstrate the doctrine of immortality.”

Robert Dale Owen. “Robert Dale Owen’s “Footfalls.”” 1503 (Mar. 14, 1860): 369. Responding to his infidel critics, Owen, an infidel turned spiritualist, argues that Footfalls “is written strictly according to the inductive method . . . . the surest enemy of superstition; the surest ally of truth.”

A.L.O.A. “Horrors of Spiritualists.” 1511 (May 9, 1860): 19. The author suggests, “If we should believe in the manifestations of modern spiritualism, we should have no certain ground for rejecting the narratives of the spiritual manifestations of Jesus and his apostles,; and those narrations are advanced to prove the doctrine of eternal misery. Even numbers of modern spiritualists maintain that this barbarous doctrine is true.”

Wm. P. Wood. “Reply to Friend Beckett.” 1513 (May 23, 1860): 33. Part of a series of letters between Wood and Beckett involving Beckett’s assertion that he is both infidel and spiritualist and Wood challenging to debunk any evidence Beckett could put forth in support of spiritualism at the next national infidel convention, Wood remarks, “You may presume you have proof, but I believe no evidence is good, or natural, if not universal; but unlike you, I do not laugh at, but pity all such as imagine they have an especial or providential proof dealt out to themselves, and denied to equally meritorious individuals. Spiritualists assert that we do not seek it diligently, or have not the faith, and when they resort to that species of credulity, wherein are their delusions better than the Christianity of today?”

George B. Smith. “Spiritualism.” 1518 (June 27, 1860): 74. Smith avers that, “liberal minds will hardly dispute that Spiritualism, is doing immense service to mankind in the cause of mental liberty. It is observable to all that within ten years, or since the manifestations began, that Christianity is fast losing its influence and power in our country.”

“Spiritualism is True.” 1605 (Feb. 26, 1862): 331. Responding to a correspondent’s letter attesting to the truth of spiritualism, the editor remarks, “The Spiritualists, themselves, are as a class as good if not better than any other religionists, on the score of liberality, freedom, and kind feeling; but they are enormously deluded, we believe, in regard to the existence and communication with spirits.”

War and Peace

“Replies to Correspondents.” 1563 (May 8, 1861): 22. In response to a Southern subscriber requesting that his paper be stopped, the editor comments, “In regard to the war itself, we are sorry to see it, for after it is over, the trouble that produced it will still remain: slavery will exist, and the South be determined to be out of the Union; whereas if she had been allowed to secede peaceably, perhaps it would be better for the whole country. Almost anything is to be preferred to civil war; at the same time, we do not see how, under the circumstances, the Federal Government can do otherwise than fight. She has been attacked, and now she must fight in self-defense, or else give up the capitol, disband her troops, and submit.”

“The Religious View.” 1565 (May 22, 1861): 38. An excerpt from the Southern Presbyterian in which the editor describes the civil war as “a contest of Bible truth against Infidel heresy; of plain, simple, Scriptural religion, against the abominable corruptions of modern philosophy and fanaticism; and the Southern people go into it from their prayers and with the Bible in their hands.”

“The War – Infidels, &c.” 1585 (Oct. 9, 1861): 194. The editor notes that, “the North is fighting for her very existence, and as she has a right to do this, and is also maintaining a Government founded by Infidels, it is our ardent desire that she may soon be victorious.”

L. Knight. “Thoughts on the Times.” 1627, 1630, 1632, 1639-40, 1650 (Aug. 13, Sept. 3, 17, Nov. 5-12, 1862; Jan. 21, 1863): 113, 137, 154, 210, 217-18, 295. Knight asserts, “It would be very desirable to emancipate the negro, but if it can only be done by the destruction and enslavement of the white race, I say the game is not worth the powder. Furthermore, Knight insists, “there is no civilized war; every war is barbarous, inhuman, and brutal” and suggests that “If we were really a wise and enlightened nation, we would do what nobody has done yet, namely, adjust all our disputes by compromise.” Later, the author suggests that “the settlement by compromise, on the basis of gradual emancipation . . . . seems to be the only safe and practical way for the solution of this question.”

W.O. Spenser. “Thoughts on the Times. Reply to L. Knight.” and “War. Reply to Mr. Knight.” 1634, 1645-46 (Oct. 1, Dec. 17-24, 1862): 171, 257-58, 265. Spenser contends that “Mr. Knight, in dwelling upon the evils of war, entirely forgets the good which may result from war waged in behalf of human rights” and later adds that “an oppressed people, making war for their rights, can make no compromises, for they have all to ask, and nothing to give.”


“Non-Resistance.” 641 (Aug. 30, 1843): 2. The author views the doctrine of non-resistance as a “mere phantom of the imagination.”

“The Liberator – Ourselves – Non-Resistance.” 752 (Oct. 22, 1845): 2. The editor states “We are willing to banish all hatred and vengeance from our moral creed, but resistance is a law of nature, instituted for self-defense, and the individual or the society who should literally and completely refuse to practice it, must soon perish.”

“Non-Resistance- The Regenerator.” 799 (Sept. 16, 1846): 1. The editor affirms his hatred of war but believes that “so long as there are nations which are corrupt and inhuman, the gun and the sword must be used to subdue them to the laws of humanity and civilization.”

Orson S. Murray. “Non-Resistance.” 1535 (Oct. 24, 1860): 210. Intended as a letter to Charles K. Whipple of The Liberator, who “was carrying on a controversy with a correspondent of that paper, on the subject of non-resistance,” Murray exclaims, “Our non-resistance friends have made the discovery and the declaration that “the United States Constitution is a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell.” . . . . Now, such discoveries of legalized oppression should long ago have seen that their language, applied to the United States Constitution, is far more applicable to their own allegiance to their Christian law-maker and dictator, who has made a hell for the multitude, allowing but “few” to escape. His ban, his malediction, is the oppression of all oppressions- the slavery of all slaveries- throughout Christendom. He puts in fear of an almighty tyrant, “who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” There is no other slavery comparable to being brought under this restraint.”


“Socialism.” 657, 659, 661, 663 (Dec. 20, 1843, Jan. 3, 17, 31, 1844). The author provides brief expositions of: the principles of the community of Lycurgus, Robert Owens’s rational system of society, Fourier’s system of association, and John A. Collin’s community at Skaneateles, New York.


“Principles and Progress of an Experiment of rational Social Intercourse.” 98, 105,[19] 108 (Feb. 8, Mar. 29, Apr. 19, 1833). Reprinted from the Peaceful Revolutionist.

Maria L. Varney and Thomas Varney. “Equitable Commerce or Association Without Combination.” 776-77, 780 (Apr. 8-15, May 6, 1846). The Varneys introduce and examine the following principles underlying Josiah Warren’s “self-supporting village” system: complete individuality of all interests and responsibilities; the preservation, at all times, of individual sovereignty; cost, the limit of price; a circulating medium or labor note; and adapting the supply to the demand in all things.

Josiah Warren. “Equitable Commerce.” 933 (Apr. 11, 1849): 3. Warren contends that “simple equity is sufficient in itself if acted on, to neutralize destructive competition and to produce all the co-operation and all the economies aimed at by common property or by Fourierism.”

“Letter from Josiah Warren” is continued by Josiah Warren. “Equitable Commerce.” 957, 959, 962, 965 (Sept. 26, Oct. 10, 31, Nov. 21, 1849). In these letters, Warren first identifies the principles of equitable commerce and then aims to “show up the practical workings of these ‘new principles.’”

John Grable. “Reform and Reform Associations.” 1235 (Jan. 24, 1855): 1-2. Grable explains that individual sovereignty “accords to man, woman, and child, the enjoyment of their natural instincts, passions, and propensities, at the same time demands individual responsibility in the exercise of all their rights and duties to their fellow beings.”

P.I.B. “The Government Mania.” 1244 (May 2, 1855): 2. The author contends that “The Catholic Church, with the aid of their different religious orders . . . . have sought and still seek to annihilate every vestige of the principal of Individual Sovereignty or Self-Government in the people throughout the world, and the subjugation of both mind and body to the Church.”

Eliphalet Kimball. “Law, Commerce and Religion.” 1625 (July 30, 1862): 97-98.

Eliphalet Kimball. “Origin of Law: Law the Primary Cause of all Prevailing Social Evils.” 1649 (Jan. 14, 1863): 290. Kimball contends, “Far back as history reaches, in every country governed by artificial law, society has been full of wrongs, vices and miseries, in proportion to the amount of law. Law and government came first and were the cause of it, for the great evil of commercial speculation is a consequence of law and could not exist without it. Under natural or spontaneous law, religion can do comparatively little harm. The crimes of religion are the crimes of the State. The world had to be law-damned before it could be God-damned.”

Eliphalet Kimball “Civilization – Anarchy.” 1679-80 (Aug. 19-26, 1863): 114, 121. In this article, Kimball contends “It is the fault of radical reformers, that they are not radical enough. They think something must be done to regulate society, when in truth doing anything is doing too much. Any general arrangement or organization whatever by man is sure to bring evil without good, because it conflicts with the laws of order and harmony which prevail in the anarchical Universe.”

Eliphalet Kimball. “Diseases and Medicine. Reason in Diseases and Medicine is Confidence in Nature and Infidelity in the Medical Profession.” 1713 (Apr. 13, 1864): 386. The author contends that, “vaccination is one of the shams of the medical art. It is an example of the injurious consequences and folly of interfering with the course of nature. It always injures the health, and sometimes causes dangerous sickness. . . . It is no doubt, more dangerous than small pox, and as a preventative is of little consequence.”

Eliphalet Kimball. “Reason – Government. Reason in Government is Confidence in Nature and Infidelity to Public Law.” 1715 (May 4, 1864): 410. Kimball contends that “Atheism and anarchy are one. Public law is entirely inconsistent with the self-government of the Universe, of which man is a part. Atheism pronounces against all forms of government.”


Patrick Henry. “A Serious Address to Parents and Guardians, on Irrational and rational Education, Moral and Physical.” 119[20] (July 5, 1833): 1. Henry contends that “It is barbarous to frighten little children, and paralyze their tender intellects with horrible stories of chimerical, supernatural occurrences. . . . Therefore children ought not to be allowed to read the Bible until the age of 14 or 15 years nor even then, until it is purged of its immoral lascivious stories and songs.”

“Corporeal Punishment in Schools.” 783 (May 27, 1846): 3. Noting the fact that “flogging is still universally permitted and practiced in our public schools,” the author argues that schools can be governed by moral discipline alone and pleads, “Let us procure teachers who will teach our children to be moral, rational, and independent beings, instead of passively obedient slaves- brought up with the fear of the rod before their eyes, like dogs and cats.”

Civil War Soldier Correspondence

A Soldier. “God in our Army.” 1580 (Sept. 4, 1861): 157. Beginning with an excerpt from a New York weekly that “no army was ever set on foot so thoroughly imbued with enlightened religious sentiment,” the solider rebuts “The soldiers don’t want religious ceremonies, tracts, and sermons. They are forced upon them – and so are chaplains, who are considered no better than bores. . . . a newspaper is more prized in camp than any quantity of pious books, and I can also safely add that a jolly companion is far more acceptable than any number of chaplains.”

Wm. M. Robinson. “A Good Letter from a Soldier.” 1586 (Oct. 23, 1861): 202. Robinson remits ten dollars for ten copies of the Investigator for six months and asks that they be sent to the Sturgis Rifle Corps, a “company of heroic, patriotic, and intelligent men.”

“About Fighting and Soldiers.” 1593 (Dec. 4, 1861): 237. The author notes that Infidels are to be found in all the Regiments of the Union army, identifies General Nathaniel Lyon as a gallant soldier and old subscriber of the Investigator, and reprints two letters from union soldiers to demonstrate that “the Infidel philosophy is sufficient, on a field of battle, to sustain the soul as it is called.”

C.B.B. “A Good Letter from a Soldier.” 1603 (Feb. 12, 1862): 317. The soldier expresses a desire to acquire some “reading matter” that is “not hampered with religious council” and that can “counteract the influence of the chaplains.”

“Chaplains in the Army.” 1604 (Feb. 19, 1862): 322. Features a poem entitled “Lines to the Chaplain of our Regiment” from a soldier in Camp Griffin, Virginia which begins “Luxurious priest! that feedest and grows fat/ Upon a burdened, rent, and shattered nation,/ What do’st thou here, with sleek and white cravat,/ But take thy ease, and munch thy ration?”

P.V. Wise. “Army Correspondence of the Investigator.” 1611 (Apr. 9, 1862): 379. Wise observes, “The savages of America in their most cruel wars have never been so devilish and lost to every principle of honorable warfare as these perjured rebels have in this. And it is allowing to the influence of what some persons term the “divine” institution of slavery, which is the cause of this the slaveholders great rebellion.”

Lott S, Bayless. “A Letter from Indiana.” 1616 (May 28, 1862): 26-7. Bayless, a subscriber to the Investigator for over thirty years, recounts the battle of Fort Donelson, reports that he has visited more than a 100 regiments and notes “I found almost a general complaint with both officers and men that their chaplain was a great nuisance; and yet our Government will continue to violate the Constitution by employing chaplains to make the world believe that we are not an Infidel Government! What cowards men are to fear such a shadow as religion!”

L.R.S. “The Chaplain Nuisance.” 1622 (July 9, 1862): 74. The article includes an excerpt from a letter by John Hardy, hospital steward in the 29th Mass., regiment, which states “Chaplains are the greatest nuisance in the army. We have a very good man, Brother H., but nobody in the regiment, save some ten or a dozen, cares for him as a religious man. When he holds a meeting it is attended only by a few. He has only preached some five or six times since he has been here. He makes himself handy as a postmaster- that is about all a chaplain is good for here.”

G.W.W. “A Letter from a Soldier.” 1626 (Aug. 6, 1862): 110. Written from Camp Solomon, the author remarks, “I am happy to see that your paper has taken the field so fearlessly in the cause of man as to not forget the long forgotten negro, whose circumstances has made him the prey of grasping avaricious men; aye, men who call themselves the highest development of the race – Christians! praying men who pray more for the sake of prey than for God’s sake; and if preying will make an army successful, I do not see why my rebel friends across the Tennessee are not always victorious, for never since the days of Cromwell have fighters prayed so devoutly.”

Wm. Carr. “A Word in Explanation.” 1638 (Oct. 29, 1862): 201. A letter from a soldier/subscriber in Company E, 149th Regiment explaining how he responded to a “religious soldier” who argued “infidelity is a curse to the world.”

“A Soldier’s Letter.” 1638 (Oct. 29, 1862): 202. The editor reports that “The office of the Investigator is pretty well represented in the Union Army – four of our boys being in the ranks, viz., Wallace Ransom, Edwin F. Cummings, James Muldoon, and Patrick Desmond. The letter featured is from Wallace Ransom who remarks, “It is a hard fight we are having, but as I put my faith in batteries, balls, muskets, soldiers, and Union principles, we are bound to conquer some day or other. And while we in the South are doing all in our power to sustain the Government, I hope the Liberals in the North, East, and West are doing what they can to sustain the good old Investigator.”

“An Englishman in the Federal Army.” 1661 (Apr. 8, 1863): 385. This is a letter from Henry Barton Beal sent from Head Camp, near Nashville, Tennessee which concludes, “But the day of redemption is at hand, for the death knell of slavery has gone forth, and upon its ruins shall be erected a monument of human freedom, that shall endure for ages to come. No longer will the opposers of liberty in other lands point at us with a sneer, and say, behold the only civilized nation on earth that openly supports human slavery.”

“An Interesting and Suggestive Letter.” 1670 (June 17, 1863): 45. Featured here is a letter from J.E. Cowden of Company E, 2nd Massachusetts Regiment. Cowden explains how he was made to “dig a sink for the cook” after leaving a church service without permission and adds, “We are here to defend the Constitution from the assaults of traitors. That Constitution, Sir, guarantees to you and me the right of our own private opinions in regard to religion, and especially forbids that we shall be deprived of that right or punished for daring to maintain it. Am I right, or are am I fighting for a Constitution which will rob me of my dearest rights and privileges? If so, the sooner I ground my arms the better, not only for myself but the world.”

“A Letter from a Soldier.” 1671 (June 24, 1863): 51. Written by Captain F.L. Taylor, Company H., 23rd Regiment New Jersey Volunteers, this letter is a tribute to Joseph N. Moreau, described as an out-spoken Atheist and champion of Thomas Paine. Also included is Moreau’s obituary, reprinted from the Philadelphia Press.

“A Letter from the Army.” 1680 (Aug. 26, 1863): 124. The author, a soldier in the 29th Massachusetts Volunteers, 9th Army Corps, reports obtaining a copy of the Investigator from an army chaplain and on the near universal perception among soldiers of army chaplains being nothing more than “leech[es] upon the pocket of the Government.”

Richard Austin. “Obituary” and Frederick Austin, “My Experience and Belief.” 1702 (Jan. 27, 1864): 299. The obituary announces the death of young infidel activist Frederick Austin from dysentery while serving in the union army. Frederick’s letter chronicles his journey from the son of Baptists to infidelity.

“Bigotry of the Baltimore Hospital.”  1709 (Mar. 23, 1864): 364. A letter from Wm. Schultz reporting the confiscation of the Investigator from the hospital reading room and how Schultz elected to read the Investigator aloud to patients in the dispensary.

George F. Hanson. “A Letter from a Soldier.” 1753 (Jan. 18, 1865): 291. Writing from Fort Bunker Hill, D.C., Hanson encourages his “infidel companions in arms” to send letters to the Investigator that “narrate your personal observation, show your colors, and let your brethren know of your whereabouts.” Hanson also encourages infidel soldiers to help their comrades “crawl out from the muck of superstition” by circulating the Investigator.

L.B. Crooker. “A Soldier’s Letter.” 1791 (Oct. 11, 1865): 178. Recounting his years of service to the Union army, the author notes, “During all this period, and through all these scenes; in the poisonous Southern swamps, or on the battle field, where I expected to die, I never once thought of calling on the name of an imaginary Deity for help. My skeptical philosophy was always sufficient to sustain me.”

Conventions (Non-Infidel)

“Social Reform Convention.” 682-3 (June 12-19, 1844). Convened in Boston, May 28, 1844. The convention was called by John Collins, attended by Ernestine Rose, Charles Knowlton, John Chandler, et al., opened with an address by Capt. George W. Taylor of the Skaneateles Community and concluded with a report “To the Friends of Social Reform and Liberal Principles” drafted by John Collins, James M. Beckett, and Isaac N. Swasey.

W.C. Bell. “The Social Reform Convention.” 689, 691 (July 31, Aug. 14, 1844). Bell provides “desultory sketches” of the conventions proceedings.

“Letters from Mrs. [Ernestine L.] Rose.” 1269-70, 1280 (Sept. 19-26, Dec. 5, 1855). Rose reports on the Convention of the Friends of Progress which assembled for three days in Waverly, Tioga County, New York and in her third letter reports on a just completed lecture tour in the West.


“Religion and Politics. Dreadful Riots in Philadelphia.” 678 (May 15, 1844): 2. The author reports a riot which resulted in the deaths of fourteen people, and the burning of two Catholic churches and fifty Irish dwelling houses.

“Liberty of Conscience Attacked by the Native Party.” 679 (May 22, 1844): 2. The author argues that the riots in Philadelphia “were not so much the result of an American prejudice against foreigners, as of a Protestant prejudice against Catholics,” and advises the Native American Party to adopt American principles which consists “in allowing every sect to worship God, or to neglect to worship him, as they believe to be right.”

“Native Americanism.” 706 (Nov. 27, 1844): 2. The editor opposes the Native American Association’s proposal to extend the period of residence from five to twenty-one years before a foreign emigrant could become a citizen.

““Know-Nothings”- Foreigners.” 1211 (Aug. 9, 1854): 2. Accused of being opposed to foreigners, the editors make clear that they recognize “all mankind as free and equal and entitled to the same rights and privileges; that the mere accident of a man’s birthplace was nothing at all in a question of birth-rights; and that the only qualification for office we believed in was the standard laid down by Jefferson- “Is he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful to the Constitution?””

I.G. Methua. “Foreigners.” 1212 (Aug. 23, 1854): 1. Methua contends that “Everyone who understands the Constitution of this land (and this should be made a general rule) and the true principles of Liberty and Republican virtue, has a right to claim the blessings of this country. The “foreigners” who are not fit to bear the name of American are mostly Catholics; because their priests will not allow them to occupy themselves with political matters, nor to even throw a glance at free institutions.”

Samuel Bernstein. “Political Confession – The Germans. Position Towards the Know-Nothings.” 1216 (Sept. 13, 1854): 1. Bernstein shares the German Liberal war-cry, “Destruction to Political Monopoly and National Prejudice! Destruction to capitalism and Native Fanaticism! Destruction to Puritanical Intolerance and Hypocrisy! and consequently, Destruction to “Know-Nothings!””

John Ewen Jr. “The Know-Nothings.” 1228 (Dec. 6, 1854): 1. Ewen “fail[s] to see the necessity of an exclusive American party” and condemns as illegal their advocacy of an “alien and sedition law.”

E.U. “A Defence of Know-Nothings” and “The American Movement.” 1229-33 (Dec. 13-20, 1854). The author explains that the Native movement “has for its object the unity of native born citizens, who are not Catholics” and asks “Has not every freeman an inalienable right to exclude from his society every one whom he distrusts, or whom he fears would betray his confidence, or wrest from him his most sacred rights?” Editor remarks follow each article.

E.U. “The American Movement.” 1231-33 (Dec. 27, 1854- Jan. 10, 1855). The author defends the American movement’s right to meet secretly and contends that “if law and order shall rule society, then individual and national rights will be secured by excluding the participation of all foreigners, in domestic or national affairs, except so far as granted to them as a boon, on certain prescribed conditions.” Editor remarks follow each article.

P.P.P. “The Know-Nothings. A reply to John Ewen Jr.” 1234-35 (Jan. 17-24, 1855): 1. The author asserts that “there is an exclusive Foreign party, which, though invisible, holds the balance of power in closely-contested elections,” who are “opposed to the principles of the Constitution” and that the Know-Nothing party’s advocacy of an alien and sedition law is designed to “nip this strong and rapidly growing party in the bud.”

William Hick. “The American Movement.” 1236 (Jan. 31, 1855): 1. Hick recommends E.U. “read the accusations in the Declaration of Independence made against George the Third, and then say if Nativism is not as guilty. I give two: “He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States- for that purpose obstructing the Laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands. For imposing taxes on us with out our consent.””

E.U. “The Native American Movement.” 1240-41 (Feb. 28- Mar. 7, 1855). Arguing that Hick confuses natural rights and constitutional rights, the author writes, “if by nature all are “created,” or “born” free and equal, it does not necessarily follow, that in a state of society and under the control of human laws, all the members of any society are equally entitled to all the rights of all other societies, and may justly take possession, without leave or permission being previously given by those in possession.”

“Religion- Know-Nothings.” 1242 (Mar. 14, 1855): 2. The editor begins, “One of the bad “signs of the times” is the doctrine, which appears to be just now gaining ground, that religion, or rather the Protestant religion, must enter into, and form part of, the Government, as one of its necessary and indispensable elements.”

William P. Lippincott. “The American Movement.” 1257-58 (June 27-July 4, 1855). Lippincott denies that nativists hate foreigners and states, “What Americans want is, that foreigners will either stay at home and have their own liberties, in their own way, or else when they come amongst us, that they will abjure their foreign allegiance, and become Americanized, and not set themselves up as distinct classes amongst us.”

William Hick. “Know-Nothingism- Or the New Party.” 1259 (July 11, 1855): 1. Hick suggests that the movement’s professed goal of saving the country from the despotism of popery is a sham and that their real aim is to monopolize the land and force foreigners to accept servitude under Nativism and Protestantism.

“Know-Nothingism and the Investigator.” 1280-81, 1283 (Dec. 5-12, 26, 1855).


Paul Brown. “A Circular Address to the Infidels and Materialists of the United States.” 808 (Nov. 11, 1846): 1. Brown argues that temperance crusaders’ efforts to dictate to others what they shall eat and drink constitutes an invasion of the personal rights of individuals and encourages Infidels to “stand for the right of private judgment in every individual on the means of conserving his health, and the liberty in every one, of following that judgment in regulating his own diet.”

“Excitement about Sunday Laws at St. Louis.” 1812 (Mar. 7, 1866): 350. Under this title, the editor reprints a resolution adopted by the Germans of St. Louis in opposition to the Missouri legislature’s enactment of a law prohibiting the sale of beer or liquor on Sunday.

J.M. Stanton. “The German Resolutions of St. Louis.” 1816 (Apr. 4, 1866): 378. Stanton suggests that it would be better for the Germans of St. Louis to belong to a good temperance society than to be supporting the “demoralizing, ruinous, and wicked” business of liquor selling. To which the editor remarks, “though we consider it an excellent thing to keep sober, we like the kind of temperance the best which has the least bigotry in it, which depends more on reason, kindness, and persuasion for its converts, than on law, force, and the calling of hard names.”


Ira Steward. “The Boston Investigator.” 1255, 1258, 1263 (June 13, July 4, Aug. 8, 1855). Steward argues that, “upon the great mass of questions or reforms which agitate mankind, the Investigator is comparatively silent. In support, Steward alleges that “In the last fifty-two numbers of the Investigator there cannot be found a column of earnest protest from the Editor’s pen against American slavery, intemperance, or women’s wrongs.” Editor remarks follow each article.

“Farwell Letter of Mrs. [Ernestine L.] Rose.” 1302 (May 7, 1856): 3. Rose reports that after twenty years of service as a “volunteer soldier in the cause of truth” she is taking a leave of absence to visit Europe in order to “gather fresh strength for the glorious battle of freedom” in support of human rights regardless of sex, national origin, or color, and against superstition.

“Letters from Ernestine L. Rose.”[21] 1314-17, 1324-25, 1327, 1330-33 (July 30-Aug. 20, Oct. 8-15, 29, Nov. 19- Dec. 10, 1856). This series of letters chronicles Rose’s European vacation.

“The Liberator – Reminiscences.” 1805 (Jan. 17, 1866): 292. The editor concludes, “The Liberator and the Investigator were commenced in the same year – one as the opponent of physical slavery, the other of mental. The former has triumphantly succeeded – the negro is now a free man. And when the time comes in which there is no more religious bigotry, superstition, [or] priestcraft, but everyone is at liberty to think and speak his thoughts without civil and social proscription, then let the Investigator die – but not before!”


Prospectus: [As] a general object, the Investigator is intended to improve the condition of man, by disseminating the knowledge of that which is true, and thereby the better enabling him to judge of what is probably false. It will develop facts rather than contend for opinions; and advocate practical utility, rather than defend speculative theories. It will endeavor to discover truth in relation to all subjects of which it will treat, and follow it wherever it leads. It will expose vice, deception and fraud in all their forms; from “spiritual wickedness in high places,” down to the lowest species of iniquity. It will oppose all monopolies and unnecessary monied Institutions . . . . It will advocate the existence of no being, beings, or things, whether angelic, internal or divine, of which the senses of man can take no cognizance; and which are neither visible nor tangible objects; or else which cannot otherwise be demonstrated by their visible effects; and it will expose every species of superstition, by whatever name it may be called. . . . It will advocate a general system of education as a public good . . . . It will contend for the repeal, or modification of all unequal and oppressive laws, the abolition of slavery, the abolishment of imprisonment for debts . . . . In a word, it will advocate the liberty, the rights, and the privileges of each and every individual in the community, and particularly espouse the cause of the laboring and producing classes; and last though not least, it will advocate the rights of women. 1:30 (Oct. 21, 1831).

“A Liberal paper, as we conceive, is not designed so much to teach people, as to induce people to teach themselves. All our exertions therefore, should be directed to this end; for this alone can promote Truth, since this alone is legitimate Free Enquiry. We seek not to build up a sect, to increase a party, or to advance any particular men; but rather to urge upon mankind the necessity and importance of being their own masters, of thinking for themselves, of forming their own opinions and acting upon the basis of their own conclusions, independent of church, state, or any compulsory power or influence whatsoever.” Untitled. 417 (Mar. 19, 1839): 3.

Prospectus: It will earnestly endeavor, with such ability as it can command, to protect and develop Universal Mental Liberty, as the only promoter of those genuine Liberal Principles which alone form the basis of moral, social, and political well-being. Hence it will be opposed to every species of coercion for the dissemination of opinions. Adopting Reason and Free Inquiry for its guides, it will be the fearless advocate of open and fair investigation; and while accepting Truth wherever it may be found, it will as frankly reject all theories and practices as erroneous that will not bear the test of reasonable examination, however strongly they may have entrenched themselves under the barriers of antiquated formulas, tributary customs, or a pretended divine revelation. In short, its aim will be to advocate the paramount importance of the Philosophy of Nature and the dignity of Reason, believing that it is by departing from these, that good sense is diminished; that mankind are in darkness as to their true interests; and that all the miseries which afflict society have originated. Boston Investigator Extra (Apr. 1855).

“Truth, Perseverance, Union, Justice – Means: Happiness— The End. Hear all Sides — Then Decide.” 313 (Mar. 24, 1837) – 1819 (Apr. 25, 1866).

Title Block Slogan: “Freedom of Speech, and Liberty of the Press.” 313 (Mar. 24, 1837) – 1819 (Apr. 25, 1866).


Volume 1 at 52 (Mar. 23, 1832): 208.

Volume 2 at 104[22] (Mar. 22, 1833): 4.

Volume 3 at 156 (Mar. 21, 1834): 4.

Volumes VI and VII at 364 (Mar. 16, 1838): 4.

Volume IX at 468 (Mar. 11, 1840): 4.

Volume XXIX at 1509 (Apr. 18, 1860): 415-416.

Volume XXX at 1560 (April 17, 1861): 415-416.

Volume XXXI at 1612 (Apr. 16, 1862): 391-92.

Volume XXXII at 1664 (April 29, 1863): 413-414.

The Investigator was discontinued April 15-May 13, 1840 due to lack of funds.[23]

Mis-numbered Issues: April 20, 1842 -June 1, 1842; Jan. 5, 1848 – Jan. 27, 1848; Mar. 28 – Apr. 25, 1860.

Agents for the Boston Investigator

“List of Agents for the Boston Investigator.” 1277 (Nov. 14, 1855): 4. The Boston Investigator had agents in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, California, and Oregon.

“Agents for the Boston Investigator.” 1462 (June 1, 1859): 47. The Boston Investigator had agents in the following states and territories: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Kansas, California, Oregon, and Washington.

“Agents for the Boston Investigator.”1658 (Mar. 18, 1863): 367. The Boston Investigator had agents in the following states and territories: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Kansas, California, Oregon, and Washington.


[1] According to Albert Post, the Boston Investigator was “undoubtedly the best freethought sheet published during the period 1825 to 1850.” Albert Post, Popular Freethought in America, 1825-1850 (New York: Octagon Books, 1974), 56. In 1839, the Boston Investigator reported that it enjoyed the patronage of more than 2,000 subscribers. “Prospectus of the Boston Investigator.” 414 (Mar. 1, 1839): 4. However, by 1850, due to a “no pay, no paper” plan, the total number of subscribers fell to about five hundred. Post, supra at 56. The paper nearly went out of existence again in 1862 when, according to the editor, the Investigator lost over 1500 subscribers due to delinquent subscribers and loss of their Southern patronage. “Close of Volume XXXI.” 1612 (Apr. 16, 1862): 388.

[2] “Prospectus of the Boston Investigator.” 414 (Mar. 1, 1839): 4

[3] Whole number 104 is mis-numbered 164.

[4] Whole number 119 is mis-numbered 120.

[5] J.P. Mendum published this essay as a separate 72-page pamphlet in 1845, and included it in Infidel Miscellany, a two-volume compilation of infidel pamphlets published between 1823 and 1845.

[6] J.P. Mendum published the proceedings of the infidel convention as a pamphlet in 1845.

[7] Minutes of the Infidel Convention, held in the city of Philadelphia, Sept. 7th and 8th, 1857 (Philadelphia, Central Committee of the Infidel Association of the United States, 1857).

[7.5] For additional accounts of the debate, see Great Discussion on the Origin, Authority, and Tendency of the Bible (1854), and The Bible Vindicated Against the Aspersions of Joseph Barker (1854).

[8] See, Arnold v. Arnold’s Estate, 13 Vt. 362 (1841).

[9] “Religious Worship in the Schools.” 1713 (Apr. 13, 1864): 388.

[9.5] See, Spiller v. Inhabitants of Woburn, 94 Mass. 127 (1866).

[10] Ex Parte Newman, 9 Cal. 502 (1858).

[11] In his introductory remarks, Kneeland reports that over the past nine months, the Boston Investigator had gained 898 subscribers, and “more than double that number since the [blasphemy] prosecution commenced!”

[12] Hetherington was arrested, convicted and imprisoned for publishing a “blasphemous libel” entitled, “Haslam’s Letters to the Clergy of all Denominations.”

[13] Pen name of David Williams. “Death of “Publicola” of the London Dispatch,” 780 (May 6, 1846): 3.

[14] Described by Celsus, one of the Investigator’s regular contributors, as “one of the most vitally important documents which has been spread before the American people since the famous Sunday mail report of Col. Johnson of Kentucky.”  Celsus. “Rights of Conscience,” 1217 (Sept. 20, 1854): 1.

[15] Byline reads “Charles B. Peckham, farmer and S.D. Doctor of the Supernatural.”

[16] Eboracum. “Is a Species a “Fixed Eternal Form?”” 1601 (Jan. 29, 1862): 297. The original title incorrectly read, “Theological” rather than “Zoological.”

[17] Pseudonym used by William Skinner.

[18] Mary Jane Robinson simply writes “I concur in these sentiments.”

[19] Whole number 105 is mis-numbered 163.

[20] Mis-numbered whole number 118.

[21] “Letter from Mrs. Rose” appears in 1331 (Nov. 26, 1856): 2 and announces her return from Europe.

[22] Whole number 104 is mis-numbered 164.

[23] J.P. Mendum. “Notice to Liberals.” 472 (Apr. 8, 1840): 4.