Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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There are 2 entries for this date: Achille Murat and Helen H. Gardener
Achille Murat

Achille Murat

On this date in 1801, Achille Murat was born in Paris, France. Murat was a prince: His father was Joachim Murat, the King of Naples, and his mother was Caroline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon. The people of Naples eventually executed Murat's father, prompting Murat to emigrate to the United States, renounce his regal titles, and become an American citizen. Murat settled in Florida, where he became a colonel in the Florida militia, served as postmaster of Tallahassee, and built and owned a large plantation. Murat wrote extensively about American society. In his writings he criticized the pervasiveness of religion, particularly Christianity, in American politics and society.

Murat became good friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson called Murat a "consistent atheist and "intrepid doubter," (Peter S. Field, Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Making of a Democratic Individual). Murat married Catherine Willis Gray, a descendent of George Washington, in 1826. After his death his wife purchased the Bellevue Plantation, which later became part of the Tallahassee Museum. D. 1847.

"They [early New England colonial governments] established among themselves a species of theocratic government. Although the persecutions they had suffered ought to have taught them tolerance, they began to persecute with all their might Quakers, Catholics, and witches."

"There is certainly no clergy so costly to the people as the American clergy; but it is only fair to add that these contributions are strictly voluntary, and I, for instance, have no right to complain, for no preacher ever received a cent from me."

——Achille Murat in his book “The United States of North America” (1833).

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Helen H. Gardener

On this date in 1853, freethinker and suffragist Helen H. Gardener, née Alice Chenoweth, was born in Virginia, the youngest daughter of a minister. Changing her name in her thirties, Alice became a writer in New York City, studied biology at Columbia and met "the Great Agnostic" Robert Green Ingersoll. Helen undertook a lecture series in 1884, which was published the next year by the Truth Seeker in book form, Men, Women and Gods. A friend of feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Helen was a member of Stanton's Woman's Bible Committee. Chosen by Stanton to deliver her memorial service, Gardener quipped that while most suffragists found the Woman's Bible too radical, she found it not radical enough! Helen also used fiction to crusade for women's rights, writing novels, for example, showing the harm of the scandalously low age of consent laws of her era. Helen became vice-president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1917, working as the chief liaison with President Wilson's administration, and credited with being a "worker of miracles" by sister suffragists. At age 67, Helen became the first woman appointed to the United States Civil Service Commission, serving with distinction for five years. D. 1925.

“I do not know of any divine commands. I do know of most important human ones. I do not know the needs of a god or of another world. . . . I do know that women make shirts for seventy cents a dozen in this one. I do know that the needs of humanity and this world are infinite, unending, constant, and immediate. They will take all our time, our strength, our love, and our thoughts; and our work here will be only then begun.”

—Helen H. Gardener, Men, Women and Gods (1885). See

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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