September 14 in freethought history…

September 14, 1793 – Scottish philosopher and revolutionary John Oswald dies supporting the French Revolution at the Battle of Les Ponts-de-Cé, France. Born in Edinburgh between 1755 and 1760, Oswald served with the British army in India, where his exposure to Hindu practices led him to write the essay “The Cry of Nature,” a seminal work of Western vegetarianism. He also wrote tracts in favor of British republicanism, the French Revolution and atheism.

September 14, 1901 – Vice President Teddy Roosevelt is sworn in as President of the United States after the assassination of William McKinley. He took the oath of office in Buffalo, New York, at the home of his friend Ansley Wilcox. Roosevelt used no Bible: he simply raised his right hand, took the oath, then added “And thus I swear.” The Constitution does not require the use of a Bible, nor does the oath contain the phrase “So help me God,” although nearly all presidents have chosen to tack it on.

September 14, 1879 - Birth control activist Margaret Sanger is born Margaret Louise Higgins in Coming, New York. Raised in a family of freethinkers, she worked tirelessly for women’s rights, opening the first family planning clinic in the United States, and founding the organization that would eventually become Planned Parenthood. She was named Humanist of the Year in 1957 by the American Humanist Association. Her legacy is tainted by her support of eugenics and views on race, and Planned Parenthood remains a lightning rod for controversy to this day. Sanger died 1966 in Tucson, Arizon, aged 86.

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