J.B. Stallo

On this date in 1823, Johann Bernard Stallo, academic, religious dissenter, jurist, political philosopher and ambassador, was born in the Catholic village of Damme in Germany. He studied at home, as well as at a Catholic school. Since his family could not afford to send him to a gymnasium (a secondary school with an emphasis on preparing students for higher education), Stallo emigrated to the United States in 1839. He settled in Cincinnati, close to extended family, and met his wife Helena Zimmerman in 1850. The couple had 10 children, five of which survived childhood.

Stallo taught at numerous Jesuit institutions until he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in 1849. Contradicting his involvement in religious schools, he played a critical role in the Cincinnati Bible War, a longstanding local “war” between Protestants, Catholics and Jews over the role of religion in their public schools (specifically whether or not the King James version of the bible should be used as reading material in classrooms). The decision by the board of education against using the bible paved the way for secularization in numerous other school districts.

Stallo also participated in the Liberal Republican movement of 1872, organized to oppose the reelection of President Ulysses S. Grant and his supporters. Before he retired to Florence, Italy, Stallo’s most famous works were published, such as The Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics (1882), which represents some of the early thought that led to the modern philosophy of science. (D. 1900) 

PHOTO: Portrait of Stallo from the frontispiece of “The Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation