June 18 in freethought history…


Alfred Russel Wallace

June 18, 1858 – Charles Darwin receives Alfred Russel Wallace’s essay “On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type,” which concurred with Darwin’s unpublished views on the theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin had been sitting on his theory for 20 years, reluctant to endure the popular backlash that would surely come, but equally determined not to be “scooped” by Wallace.  Eventually Darwin and his colleagues contrived a way to ensure Darwin would receive prime credit on the theory of evolution without denying Wallace his due. Both Wallace’s essay and an extract of what would eventually be Darwin’s magnum opus Origin of Species were presented jointly at a meeting of the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858.

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