July 4 in freethought history…

declarationJuly 4, 1776 – The Continental Congress approves “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress Assembled,” more commonly known as the Declaration of Independence.

July 4, 1826 – Former president Thomas Jefferson, considered the author of the Declaration of Independence, dies, rather poetically, on the 50th anniversary of the approval of that document. As fate would have it, former president John Adams also died on the same day. Adams was once Jefferson’s bitterest political rivals, but the two reconciled in later years and exchanged many warm letters. The last words of Adams (who had not yet received news of Jefferson’s death) were reportedly, “Jefferson survives!”

July 4, 1978 – The Haldeman-Julius Publishing Company, which published the Little Blue Books titles, is destroyed by fire in Girard, Kansas. From 1919-1978, the 3 1/2 x 5 inch Little Blue Books  introduced millions of readers to works of philosophy, history, science and more for as little as five cents a copy. Editor and publisher Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (an atheist) printed or reprinted works–over 1,900 in all–by authors such as Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Robert Ingersoll, Clarence Darrow and many more. Notably, Will Durant’s classic The Story of Philosophy began as a series of Little Blue Books. The company began a slow and gradual decline after the death of Haldeman-Julius in 1951, and the destruction of the printing operation spelled the end of Little Blue Books.

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