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: Parker Pillsbury and Eva Ingersoll
Parker Pillsbury

Parker Pillsbury

On this date in 1809, Parker Pillsbury, the freethinker, abolitionist and reformer, was born in Massachusetts. He became a licensed minister in the Congregationalist Church in 1839, after studying at Gilmanton and Andover Theological Seminaries. After preaching briefly, Pillsbury left the ministry over Congregationalist and other Christian complicity with slavery. The abolitionist activist edited The Herald of Freedom (Concord, New Hampshire) in the 1840s and The National Antislavery Standard in New York City in 1866. From 1843 until 1863, Pillsbury worked as an abolitionist agent and lecturer, and rubbed shoulders with most of the notable reformers of his day. Pillsbury became sympathetic to the cause of women, who had to fight to be permitted to work on equal footing with male abolitionists. After the Civil War, Pillsbury collaborated with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as co-editor of the newspaper, The Revolution, published by Susan B. Anthony. His writings include Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles (1883), and the critical Church As It Is (1884). Early feminist Pauline Wright Davis lauded Pillsbury for his "good deeds and unselfish work . . . His pen, wherever found, has always been sharpened against wrong and injustice . . ." (History, 1870). He lectured widely on the "Free Religion" circuit in Ohio and Michigan, was vice president of the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association and lived to age 88. D.1899.

“The Methodist Discipline provides for 'separate Colored Conferences.' The Episcopal church shuts out some of its own most worthy ministers from clerical recognition, on account of their color. Nearly all denominations of religionists have either a written or unwritten law to the same effect. In Boston, even, there are Evangelical churches whose pews are positively forbidden by corporate mandate from being sold to any but 'respectable white persons.' Our incorporated cemeteries are often, if not always, deeded in the same manner. Even our humblest village grave yards generally have either a 'negro corner,' or refuse colored corpses altogether; and did our power extend to heaven or hell, we should have complexional salvation and colored damnation, . . .”

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—Parker Pillsbury, letter, The North Star, Dec. 5, 1850

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Eva Ingersoll

Eva Ingersoll

On this date in 1864, Eva Ingersoll (later Ingersoll-Brown) was the first of two daughters born to freethought great Robert G. Ingersoll and Eva Wakefield Ingersoll. Both Eva and her younger sister Maud shared the same middle name: Robert. Ingersoll, who was a celebrated family man, recorded in a diary in 1875 during a trip abroad: "Today my darling Eva is twelve years old. We all gave her twelve kisses a piece and one to grow on. We gave her the same number of slaps and told her how dearly we love her." The girls were gently tutored. When the family moved to Washington, D.C., from Illinois, they received lessons in music, art, German, French and Italian, piano and singing. Young Eva, a pleasing soprano, who, like her father, enjoyed public performance, toyed with a concert career. As a young woman, she was described by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat as "a most decided beauty, being of that fresh, dewy-eyed and virginal type that the English painters depict" (March 31, 1881). In 1889, Eva married Walston Hill Brown, a well-to-do builder of railroads, and an agnostic. His wedding gift to Eva: a spacious estate known as Castle Walston on the Hudson River at Dobbs Ferry, New York. It was a measure of the family devotion that before the marriage, all parties arranged that the newly-weds would live with the Ingersolls six months, and the Ingersolls would live with the Browns for six months. Homesick Eva cut short her honeymoon after two weeks. Eva, a feminist and suffragist, became a prominent humanitarian in New York, working with the Advisory Board of the New York Peace Society, the Women's Trade Union League, the National Child Labor Committee and its New York chapter, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Society for the Advancement of the Colored People. She was one-time president of the Child Welfare League. D. 1928.

“Tell them that they are my Holy Trinity comprising the only Deity I worship.”

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—1870 letter from Robert G. Ingersoll to his wife, about her and their two daughters. Source:

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.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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