Josiah P. Mendum

On this date in 1811, Josiah P. Mendum was born in Kennebunk, Maine. In 1844, Mendum took over as editor and proprietor of the Boston Investigator, the first U.S. rationalist news publication, after Abner Kneeland retired. Under Mendum’s businesslike management, the newspaper became prosperous and influential. Mendum also republished books by Voltaire, D’Holbach, Volney and Paine. He lobbied hard for the building of a hall to memorialize Thomas Paine in 1870. By 1874, the Paine Memorial Hall was opened in Boston.

Mendum spent 40 years as rationalist advocate. He and Horace Seaver as co-editors were succeeded by Mendum’s son, Ernest Mendum, and by Lemuel K. Washburn. When J.P. Mendum died, a memorial was fittingly held at Paine Hall. Mendum was lauded for helping to turn “the strait-laced Boston of sixty years ago [into] the enlightened Hub of today … to ‘destroy bigotry and uproot the evils of superstition.’ ” (Boston Globe, Feb. 3, 1891.) D. 1891

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