February 7 in freethought history…

charleschiltonmooreFebruary 7, 1906 - Freethought publisher Charles Chilton Moore dies near Lexington, Kentucky, aged 68. He was a pastor when, as Moore himself told it, he invited a distant cousin to read and discuss with him a selection of books both for and against religion, in hopes of converting his cousin to Christianity through intellectual debate. In the end, the cousin embraced Christ and Moore became an “infidel.” He resigned his church position and began publishing the freethought newspaper the Blue Grass Blade. The Blade, although sporadically published, was a sensation in Lexington, and attracted subscribers from around the US. Moore railed against religious bigotry, political corruption, and argued for the abolition of the “liquor trade.” In 1899 he was convicted under the Comstock Act of publishing “obscene” material (namely, articles and letters concerning birth control and “free love”). During his months as a federal prisoner at the Ohio State Penitentiary, he was well-treated by the warden and his fellow inmates. Moore’s sentence was commuted by President William McKinley, and his return to Lexington was celebrated at banquets and parties.

February 7, 1901 - British rationalist Hector Hawton is born in Plymouth, Devon, England. He was editor of The Humanist for the Rationalist Press Association for many years, and wrote several nonfiction books, including Men without Gods, Philosophy for Pleasure, The Thinker’s Handbook and The Feast of Unreason. He died in 1975, aged 74.

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