Freethought of the Day

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There are 1 entries for this date: E. Haldeman-Julius
E. Haldeman-Julius

E. Haldeman-Julius

On this date in 1889, Emanuel Julius, later known as E. Haldeman-Julius, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. An early socialist, he educated himself at party headquarters, reading tracts on freethought, philosophy and economics. In 1906 he left home for good, heading for New York City. His self-education continued when a sympathetic librarian at a girls' school in Tarrytown, where he had found work, introduced him to visiting dignitary Mark Twain. Emanuel's first attributed article, "Mark Twain: Radical," was published in a socialist periodical in 1910.

He worked for a variety of socialist newspapers, including New York Evening Call, Coming Nation, published in Girard, Kansas, the Milwaukee Leader, and the Chicago Evening World. He became editor and briefly acquired the Western Comrade, published in Los Angeles. He met his wife-to-be, Marcet Haldeman, an actress and heiress, in New York City and followed her home to Girard, Kansas. There he worked for Appeal to Reason, the largest socialist weekly in the country. They married in 1916 and legally combined their surnames at the urging of Marcet's aunt, Jane Addams of Hull House fame. They had two daughters and a son. Haldeman-Julius, with his wife's help, purchased Appeal to Reason and its publishing plant in 1918.

By the following year he had initiated his People's Pocket Series — inexpensive paperbacks later renamed Little Blue Books, to match their appearance. Haldeman-Julius reprinted classics, socialist, radical and freethought literature. Most of the paperbacks contained a bonus page of his trademark nonreligious views. He also published a variety of periodicals, including American Freeman. In 1925 he launched the Big Blue Books series, publishing such notable authors as Bertrand Russell and Joseph McCabe.

Haldeman-Julius revolutionized the publishing industry, bringing avant-garde authors to the masses. His radical politics, including attacks against President Herbert Hoover, brought him to the attention of the FBI, which he in turn pilloried in print. He further alienated the status quo by publishing McCabe's allegations of Vatican collaboration with the Axis during World War II. J. Edgar Hoover's 20-year investigation of the publisher resulted in a verdict of tax evasion in 1951. Haldeman-Julius appealed the verdict but was found drowned in his swimming pool later that year. D. 1951.

“It is natural that people should differ most, and most violently, about the unknowable.  ... There is all the room in the world for divergence of opinion about something that, so far as we can realistically perceive, does not exist.”

—Haldeman-Julius, "The Unknowable," The Militant Atheist

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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