On this date in 1874, Elbert Hubbard was born in Bloomington, Illinois, the son of a country doctor. During his youth, the family moved to Buffalo, New York. Hubbard joined one of the first successful mail order businesses, JP Larkin of Buffalo, selling his interest in it at 36. After a trip abroad, he established Roycroft Printing Shop in East Aurora, New York, producing what are considered some of the finest handmade books of the 19th century, serving clients such as Henry Ford, Teddy Roosevelt and Queen Victoria. Hubbard published several periodicals, including a monthly, The Philistine (1895-1915) and The Fra, also a monthly, with circulations that grew into the tens of thousands. Hubbard, a firm freethinker, wrote eight books himself, and produced a series, Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great (1895-1909), including one little book about Robert Green Ingersoll, the 19th century's most well-known "infidel." Gradually, Hubbard created a Roycroft community, including factory, blacksmith shop, farms, bank and an inn that is still standing. East Aurora today houses many of his artifacts in an Elbert Hubbard Museum. Hubbard became a popular lecturer, and was hired as a columnist by Hearst Newspapers. He and his freethinking wife Alice Hubbard went down on the Lusitania on May 7, 1915.
“To talk about a Superior Being is a dip in superstition, and is just as bad as to let in an Inferior Being or a Devil.
When you once attribute effects to the will of a personal God, you have let in a lot of little gods and evils--then sprites, fairies, dryads, naiads, witches, ghosts and goblins, for your imagination is reeling, riotous, drunk, afloat on the flotsam of superstition. What you know then doesn't count. You just believe, and the more you believe the more do you plume yourself that fear and faith are superior to science and seeing.”
—Elbert Hubbard section, from An American Bible, edited by Alice Hubbard (1912)
Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
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