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 3 entries for this date: Eugene M. MacDonald , Carl Brandes and Bill Haywood
Eugene M. MacDonald

Eugene M. MacDonald

On this date in 1855, Eugene M. MacDonald was born. The American journalist became a foreman at The Truth Seeker, a 19th-century freethought newspaper. When Truth Seeker founder D.M. Bennett died, MacDonald and two others established The Truth Seeker Company, buying the newspaper in 1883. MacDonald edited the 19th century's leading freethought publication for 26 years. His brother, George MacDonald, took over editorship when Eugene retired shortly before his death. Truth Seeker readers and contributors included Clarence Darrow, who, in 1931, wrote that he had been connected with The Truth Seeker for 50 years. D. 1909.

Sample of The Truth Seeker coverage, 1892

“The Chicago World's Fair having been decreed, the kind of church people who adopt meddling as a means of grace saw that now was their day of salvation. Hitherto, with their fussy restrictions on Sunday work and amusements, they had been obliged to function merely as local nuisances. Now they would close the World's Fair on Sunday and make themselves felt as pests by all nations. . . . The meddlers resolved to memorialize Congress to pay no money, make no appropriations in behalf of the Fair, save on the promise that the key should be turned on the exhibits every Saturday night, with no relief until Monday morning. They circulated petitions to this effect, and did such a business in collecting names that in some places they claimed more signatures than there were people.”

—George MacDonald, Fifty Years of Freethought, Vol. II (1929)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Carl Brandes

On this date in 1847, Carl Brandes was born. The Danish writer and politician received a Ph.D. from Copenhagen University, and edited several radical political publications. His novels and plays propounded rationalist and progressive ideals. Brandes notably refused, as a freethinker, to take the oath when elected to the Folketing in 1880. Despite attempts to unseat him, he won the right to affirm. Even with his openly atheist views, he was appointed to the the post of Minister of Finance.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Bill Haywood

Bill Haywood

On this date in 1869, William Dudley Haywood, commonly known as “Big Bill Haywood,” was born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. In 1896, when working in an Idaho silver mine, Haywood joined the Western Federation of Miners and became active in the union. By 1900, he was already a member of the union’s General Executive Board. Haywood was an advocate for industrial unionism, uniting all workers in one union, and was a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905. Haywood advocated direct action and strikes, and was involved in many strikes, where he used innovative tactics in order to attract the attention of the press. Haywood had been involved with the Socialist Part of America, but he and many members of the IWW, preferring to focus on direct action and radical revolution rather than electoral politics, left the Socialists in 1913. Haywood was also an advocate for racial unity in the labor movement, bringing black and white workers in segregated states like Louisiana into IWW-affiliated unions.

In 1917, Haywood and 100 other members of the IWW were charged and convicted of espionage under the Espionage Act of 1917. Haywood, sentenced to 20 years in prison, instead skipped bail and fled to the newly-formed USSR. Haywood served as a labor advisor to the Leninist government until 1923, when Stalin rose to power. He did not speak Russian, and died a few years later from a stroke. After his cremation, his ashes were split between the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow and Chicago, where they were buried near the Haymarket Martyr’s Monument. D. 1928.

“To me [Christianity] was all nonsense, based on that profane compilation of fables called the Bible.”

—Bill Haywood’s Book: The Autobiography of William Haywood (1929)

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

© 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  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  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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