July 1 in freethought history…

barreJuly 1, 1776Jean-Francois de la Barre is tortured and beheaded by French authorities in Abbeville, France for (among other things) failing to show proper respect to a Roman Catholic procession. His body was burned on a pyre along with a book by Voltaire found in his living quarters. The ashes were poured into the Somme River. La Barre was only 20 years old. Today Chevalier de la Barre is honored throughout France, with statues in Abbeville and Paris, and street names in dozens of towns.

July 1, 1840 – English agnostic and skeptic Edward Clodd is born in Margate. Though he earned a living as a banker, Clodd was an anthropologist and early proponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He was chairman of the Rationalist Press Associate and wrote numerous books on science, religion and spiritualism.

July 1, 1858 – Papers on natural selection by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace are read in a joint presentation to the Linnean Society of London.

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