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Periodical: Freethought

Summary:  From Pat Deveney's database:

A Liberal Journal.
1888--1890 Weekly
San Francisco, CA.
Editor: Samuel P. Putnam and George E. Macdonald, editors and proprietors.
Corporate author: American Secular Union
1/1, January 7, 1888-3/52, December 27, 1890.
12-16 pp., $2.00 a year.

The journal seems to have still been extant in July 1891 when an advertisement for it appeared in Carrier Dove. This was the organ of the American Secular Union, which was the successor of the the ill-fated National Liberal League that had destroyed itself in internecine squabbles and the increasing radicalization of a section of the members over free love and pornography. It is included here not so much for its content, which was fairly middle-of-the road secularism, but for the cast of characters who participated in the journal who demonstrate the close intertwining of reform, spiritualism and Theosophy in the period. As Putnam opined in 1890, "The heart of Spiritualism is for reform and progress every time, and the question of immortality brings no division." With that principle as foundation, the journal regularly noted the foibles of believers (Diss Debar's conviction, Alexander Dowie, H.P. Blavatsky, George Chainey's joining Christian Science, etc.). Notable participants in the journal included Ida C. Craddock, who regularly wrote as the Secretary of the American Secular Union, and who at the time was the mistress of Richard Brodhead Westbrook, D.D., Ll.D., the President of the Liberal League. He was a judge who had originally shared a law office with the young H.S. Olcott, and a devoted spiritualist who had been one of the original officers of the Theosophical Society. His relationship with the society came to an end when he revealed that Madame Blavatsky had proposed to Jennie Holmes that they form a partnership to exploit the appearances of John King, and that the "veiled oriental woman or elemental" who had breathlessly broken into a meeting to hand Blavatsky a missive from the Masters was in reality an Irish servant girl whom Blavatsky had promised $5.00 (never paid) for the personation. Macdonald edited The Truth Seeker and later published his gossipy history of free thought in America. Putnam, in addition to various other quirks, was the author of Golden Throne, A Radical romance of pioneer life, delineating the virtues of natural humanity as opposed to the hypocrisy of a supernatural religion; crowded with incident and full of progressive ideas and the poetry of the future, the title of which alone reflects the innocence of many secularists.

Issues:Freethought V1 1888
Freethought V2 1889
Freethought V3 1890

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