The Truth Seeker Annual and Freethinkers Almanac (New York): 22-25.

History of the formation and first years of the New York Freethinkers Association.

The New York Freethinkers Association.

On Friday morning, Aug. 17, 1877, the meeting was called to order, and Giles B. Stebbins, of Detroit, was appointed temporary chairman, and E. M. Sellon, then of Buffalo, temporary secretary.  The next morning C. D. B. Mills, of Syracuse, was elected permanent chairman of the Convention.  The meeting was a most enthusiastic and earnest one throughout, and able and eloquent speeches were delivered by the following named persons:  Horace Seaver, Giles B. Stebbins, C. D. B. Mills, Dr. M. Woolley, of Streator, Ill.; Dr. T. L. Brown of Binghamton; D. M. Bennett, of New York city, ex-Rev. J. H. Harter, of Auburn; Amy Post, of Rochester; Mrs. R. W. Scott Briggs, of West Winfield, N. Y.; Mr. J. P. Mendum, of Boston; Mrs. Cornelia Gardner, of Rochester, and a very remarkable address was delivered on the occasion by Rev. Mr. Ellis, of North Huron, who had then but recently been a Methodist preacher, and here for the first time in public espoused the Freethought cause.

At this meeting the Freethinkers’ Association was organized, with Dr. T. L. Brown, of Binghamton, as President; E. M. Sellon, of Boston, Recording Secretary; Amy Post, of Rochester, Treasurer, and H. L. Green, of Salamanca, Corresponding Secretary, with the following Executive Committee: C. D. B. Mills, Syracuse; Sigmond Block, Cape Vincent; Dr. T. L. Brown, Binghamton; Charles A. Gurly, Pulaski; David Cosad, Jr., Wolcott; N. G. Upson, Nunda Station, and Clement Austin, Rochester.  There were thirty of the western counties of the state included in the Association, with a vice-president for each.

[. . .]

There have been six annual conventions held, each an improvement on all previous ones.  They have been held in the following places, viz.: first, Watkins; second, Chautauqua Lake; third, Hornellsville; fourth, Hornellsville; fifth, Watkins; sixth, Rochester.

The first Watkins convention was distinguished for being the place where D. M. Bennett was first arrested for selling a copy of “Cupid’s Yokes,” at the request of other parties who had it for sale; and the second Watkins convention was distinguished for giving a grand reception and dinner to Mr. Bennett, after his trip around the world.

Most of the Freethought speakers of the United States, and some from other countries, have addressed these conventions, among whom are the names of Robert G. Ingersoll, Horace Seaver, D. M. Bennett, Hon. George W. Julian, Thaddeus B. Wakeman, Judge E. B. Hurlbut, George Jacob Holyoake, Charles Bright, of Australia; Charles Watts, of London; Courtlandt Palmer, J. H. Burnham, Judge Krekel, of Missouri; George Chainey, W. S. Bell, Samuel P. Putnam, Mrs. Mattie Krekel, Hon. Elizur Wright, Amelia H. Colby, George G. Meikel, of Canada; Juliet H. Severance, Susan H. Wixon, C. Fannie Allyn, Dr. T. L. Brown, Jay Chaapel, Charles B. Reynolds, C. D. B. Mills, John E.Remsburg, Giles B. Stebbins, Dr. M. Woolley, J. H. Harter, Amy Post, Lucy N. Colman, Mrs. H. S. Lake, Mrs. R. W. Scott Brings, Mrs. Cornelia Gardner, Mrs. P. R. Lawrence, Elder F. W. Evans, Elder G. A. Lomis, Rev. Thomas Mitchell, Mrs. Laura Kendrick, Rev. J. L. Alcott, John W. Truesdell, Rev. W. E. Copeland, Judge R. S. McCormick, G. L. Henderson, Prof. J. H. W. Toohey, Mrs. Matilda Joselyn Gage, Hon. A. B. Bradford, George C. Miln, Dr. J. M. Peebles, T. C. Leland, Mrs. Clara Neymann, Prof. A. L. Rawson, Mrs. Mary E. Tillotson, Dr. T. B. Taylor, Mrs. Ella E. Gibson, Mrs. A. C. Bristol, J. E. Verity, Rev. E. W. Abbey, and John Stolz, M. D.

The last convention of this association, held at Rochester, was without doubt the largest and important Liberal convention ever held in this country.  The most noticeable occurrence of this convention was the public discussion between Hon. Thaddeus B. Wakeman and the Rev. Thomas Mitchell.

The conventions have come to be national institutions, attracting the attention of the press and the public everywhere.

It was left with the Executive Committee to appoint the place for holding the next convention, and already a number of our large cities are applying for it, one of which has promised to do as much or more than the Freethinkers of Rochester did for it, if it is held there.  The prospects are that the next New York State Freethinkers’ Convention will be about as large, and attract nearly as much public attention, as will either of the great political conventions next year.

The peculiarity of this association is that it includes, under the name “Freethinker,” all the various branches of the Liberal party—Materialists, Spiritualists, Free Religionists, and all others who indorse the Nine Demands of Liberalism.  Its catholic liberality is the secret of its wonderful success.

The following are the present officers of this association, with one Vice-President for every country of this state:

President, T. L. Brown, M.D., Binghamton; Treasurer, W. S. Bell, Boston, Mass.; Recording Secretary, A. B. Stebbins, Canisteo; Corresponding Secretary, H. L. Green, Salamanca.

Executive Committee—Samuel P. Putnam, New York City; Dr. A. Robinson, McLean; Sigmond Block, Cape Vincent; C. B. Reynolds, Rochester; John Peck, Naples; Mrs. A. C. Macdonald, New York City; Clement Austin, Rochester; C. Houghton, Batavia; and Amy Post, Rochester.

The convention of this association meets every year on Wednesday, before the first Sunday in September, and holds five days.

H. L. Green


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