June 8 in freethought history…

thomaspaineJune 8, 1809 – Thomas Paine dies in New York City, aged 72. British-born Paine was an influential propagandist for both the American and French Revolutions. Like many of America’s Founders, Paine was a Deist who declared, “My country is the World, and my religion is to do good.” His influential works include Common Sense, The American Crisis, The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason. In this last title, Paine criticized organized religion and questioned Biblical inerrancy; as a result, he fell out of favor with both the American public and its politicians. Only six people attended his funeral.

June 8, 1949 – George Orwell’s novel 1984 is published in the United Kingdom.

hitch22June 8, 2010 – While promoting his recently published memoir Hitch-22, author, journalist, debater and raconteur Christopher Hitchens is taken to a NYC emergency room, suffering from chest pain and vomiting. That evening, despite extreme discomfort, he is a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and participates in a sold-out event with long-time friend Salman Rushdie. Hitchens would soon be diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Author of several books, most notably god Is Not Great, Hitchens chronicled his struggle with illness and impending death in a series of essays, posthumously collected in Mortality. Hitchens died on December 15, 2011.

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