July 23, 1838 – Samuel Porter Putnam is born in Chichester, New Hampshire. After graduating from Dartmouth and serving the Union in the American Civil War, Putnam attended seminary, became a Congregationalist minister, then a Unitarian minister before finally renouncing Christianity to become a freethinker. He served as president of the American Secular Union, the California State Liberal Union and the Freethought Federation of America. PutnamÂ toured widely throughout America, giving numerous lectures and writing several books, most notably 400 Years of Freethought. His death in 1896 was a minor scandal: while lecturing in Boston, he died, along with a young fellow freethought lecturer named May Collins, in her hotel room, apparently of gaslight asphyxiation. Both were found on the floor, fully clothed.
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