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Robert Ingersoll Thanksgiving Sermon

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Thanksgiving Sermon

Robert Green Ingersoll

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Many ages ago our fathers were living in dens and caves. Their
bodies, their low foreheads, were covered with hair. They were
eating berries, roots, bark and vermin. They were fond of snakes
and raw fish. They discovered fire and, probably by accident,
learned how to cause it by friction. They found how to warm
themselves -- to fight the frost and storm. They fashioned clubs
and rude weapons of stone with which they killed the larger beasts
and now and then each other. Slowly, painfully, almost
imperceptibly they advanced. They crawled and stumbled, staggered
and struggled toward the light. To them the world was unknown. On
every hand was the mysterious, the sinister, the hurtful. The
forests were filled with monsters, and the darkness was crowded
with ghosts, devils, and fiendish gods.

These poor wretches were the slaves of fear, the sport of

Now and then, one rose a little above his fellows -- used his
senses -- the little reason that he had -- found something new --
some better way. Then the people killed him and afterward knelt
with reverence at his grave. Then another thinker gave his thought
-- was murdered -- another tomb became sacred -- another step was
taken in advance. And so through countless years of ignorance and
cruelty -- of thought and crime -- of murder and worship, of
heroism, suffering, and self-denial, the race has reached the
heights where now we stand.

Looking back over the long and devious roads that lie between
the barbarism of the past and the civilization of to-day, thinking
of the centuries that rolled like waves between these distant
shores, we can form some idea of what our fathers suffered -- of
the mistakes they made -- some idea of their ignorance, their
stupidity -- and some idea of their sense, their goodness, their

It is a long road from the savage to the scientist -- from a
den to a mansion -- from leaves to clothes -- from a flickering
rush to the arc-light -- from a hammer of stone to the modern mill
-- a long distance from the pipe of Pan to the violin -- to the
orchestra -- from, a floating log to the steamship -- from a sickle
to a reaper -- from a flail to a threshing machine -- from a
crooked stick to a plow -- from a spinning wheel to a spinning

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jenny -- from a hand loom to a Jacquard -- a Jacquard that weaves
fair forms and wondrous flowers beyond Arachne's utmost dream --
from a few hieroglyphics on the skins of beasts -- on bricks of
clay -- to a printing press, to a library -- a long distance from
the messenger, traveling on foot, to the electric spark -- from
knives and tools of stone to those of steel -- a long distance from
sand to telescopes -- from echo to the phonograph, the phonograph
that buries in indented lines and dots the sounds of living speech,
and then gives back to life the very words and voices of the dead
-- a long way from the trumpet to the telephone, the telephone that
transports speech as swift as thought and drops the words, perfect
as minted coins, in listening ears, a long way from a fallen tree
to the suspension bridge -- from the dried sinews of beasts to the
cables of steel -- from the oar to the propeller -- from the sling
to the rifle -- from the catapult to the cannon -- a long distance
from revenge to law -- from the club to the Legislature -- from
slavery to freedom -- from appearance to fact -- from fear to

And yet the distance has been traveled by the human race.
Countless obstructions have been overcome -- numberless enemies
have been conquered -- thousands and thousands of victories have
been won for the right, and millions have lived, labored and died
for their fellow-men. For the blessings we enjoy -- for the
happiness that is ours, we ought to be grateful. Our hearts should
blossom with thankfulness.

Whom, what, should we thank?

Let us be honest -- generous.

Should we thank the church?

Christianity has controlled Christendom for at least fifteen
hundred years.

During these centuries what have the orthodox churches
accomplished, for the good of man?

In this life man needs raiment and roof, food and fuel. He
must be protected from heat and cold. from snow and storm. He must
take thought for the morrow. In the summer of youth he must prepare
for the winter of age. He must know something of the causes of
disease -- of the conditions of health. If possible he must conquer
pain, increase happiness and lengthen life. He must supply the
wants of the body -- and feed the hunger of the mind.

What good has the church done?

Has it taught men to cultivate the earth? to build homes? to
weave cloth? to cure or prevent disease? to build ships, to
navigate the seas? to conquer pain, or to lengthen life?

Did Christ or any of his apostles add to the sum of useful
knowledge? Did they say one word in favor of any science, of any
art? Did they teach their fellow-men how to make a living, how to
overcome the obstructions of nature, how to prevent sickness -- how
to protect themselves from pain, from famine, from misery and rags?

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Did they explain any of the phenomena of nature? any of the
facts that affect the life of man? Did they say anything in favor
of investigation -- of study -- of thought? Did they teach the
gospel of self-reliance, of industry -- of honest effort? Can any
farmer, mechanic, or scientist find in the New Testament one useful
fact? Is there anything in the sacred book that can help the
geologist, the astronomer, the biologist, the physician, the
inventor -- the manufacturer of any useful thing?

What has the church done?

From the very first it taught the vanity -- the worthlessness
of all earthly things. It taught the wickedness of wealth, the
blessedness of poverty. It taught that the business of this life
was to prepare for death. It insisted that a certain belief was
necessary to insure salvation, and that all who failed to believe,
or doubted in the least would suffer eternal pain. According to the
church the natural desires, ambitions and passions of man were all
wicked and depraved.

To love God, to practice self-denial, to overcome desire, to
despise wealth, to hate prosperity, to desert wife and children, to
live on roots and berries, to repeat prayers, to wear rags, to live
in filth, and drive love from the heart -- these, for centuries,
were the highest and most perfect virtues, and those who practiced
them were saints.

The saints did not assist their fellow-men. Their fellow-men
assisted them. They did not labor for others. They were beggars --
parasites -- vermin. They were insane. They followed the teachings
of Christ. They took no thought for the morrow. They mutilated
their bodies -- scarred their flesh and destroyed their minds for
the sake of happiness in another world. During the journey of life
they kept their eyes on the grave. They gathered no flowers by the
way -- they walked in the dust of the road -- avoided the green
fields. Their moans made all the music they wished to hear. The
babble of brooks, the songs of birds, the laughter of children,
were nothing to them. Pleasure was the child of sin, and the happy
needed a change of heart. They were sinless and miserable -- but
they had faith -- they were pious and wretched -- but they were
limping towards heaven.

What has the church done?

It has denounced pride and luxury -- all things that adorn and
enrich life -- all the pleasures of sense -- the ecstasies of love
-- the happiness of the hearth -- the clasp and kiss of wife and

And the church has done this because it regarded this life as
a period of probation -- a time to prepare -- to become spiritual
-- to overcome the natural -- to fix the affections on the
invisible -- to become passionless -- to subdue the flesh -- to
congeal the blood -- to fold the wings of fancy -- to become dead
to the world -- so that when you appeared before God you would be
the exact opposite of what he made you.

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What has the church done?

It pretended to have a revelation from God. It knew the road
to eternal joy, the way to death. It preached salvation by faith,
and declared that only orthodox believers could become angels, and
all doubters would be damned. It knew this, and so knowing it
became the enemy of discussion, of investigation, of thought. Why
investigate, why discuss, why think when you know? It sought to
enslave the world. It appealed to force. It unsheathed the sword,
lighted the fagot, forged the chain, built the dungeon, erected the
scaffold, invented and used the instruments of torture. It branded,
maimed and mutilated -- it imprisoned and tortured -- it blinded
and burned, hanged and crucified, and utterly destroyed millions
and millions of human beings. It touched every nerve of the body --
produced every pain that can be felt, every agony that can be

And it did all this to preserve what it called the truth -- to
destroy heresy and doubt, and to save, if possible, the souls of a
few. It was honest. It was necessary to prevent the development of
the brain, to arrest all progress -- and to do this the church used
all its power. If men were allowed to think and express their
thoughts they would fill their minds and the minds of others with
doubts. If they were allowed to think they would investigate, and
then they might contradict the creed, dispute the words of priests
and defy the church. The priests cried to the people: "It is for us
to talk. It is for you to hear. Our duty is to preach and yours is
to believe."

What has the church done?

There have been thousands of councils and synods -- thousands
and thousands of occasions when the clergy have met and discussed
and quarreled -- when pope and cardinals, bishops and priests have
added to or explained their creeds -- and denied the rights of
others. What useful truth did they discover? What fact did they
find? Did they add to the intellectual wealth of the world? Did
they increase the sum of knowledge?

I admit that they looked over a number of Jewish books and
picked out the ones that Jehovah wrote.

Did they find the medicinal virtue that dwells in any weed or

I know that they decided that the Holy Ghost was not created
-- not begotten -- but that he proceeded.

Did they teach us the mysteries of the metals and how to
purify the ores in furnace flames?

They shouted: "Great is the mystery of Godliness."

Did they show us how to improve our condition in this world?

They informed us that Christ had two natures and two wills.

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Did they give us even a hint as to any useful thing?

They gave us predestination, foreordination and just enough
"free will" to go to hell.

Did they discover or show us how to produce anything for food?

Did they produce anything to satisfy the hunger of man?

Instead of this they discovered that a peasant girl who lived
in Palestine, was the mother of God.

This they proved by a book, and to make the book evidence they
called it inspired.

Did they tell us anything about chemistry -- how to combine
and separate substances -- how to subtract the hurtful -- how to
produce the useful?

They told us that bread, by making certain motions and
mumbling certain prayers, could be changed into the flesh of God,
and that in the same way wine could be changed to his blood. And
this, notwithstanding the fact that God never had any flesh or
blood, but has always been a spirit without body, parts or

What has the church done?

It gave us the history of the world -- of the stars, and the
beginning of all things. It taught the geology of Moses -- the
astronomy of Joshua and Elijah. It taught the fall of man and the
atonement -- proved that a Jewish peasant was God -- established
the existence of hell, purgatory and heaven.

It pretended to have a revelation from God -- the Scriptures,
in which could be found all knowledge -- everything that man could
need in the journey of life. Nothing outside of the inspired book
-- except legends and prayers -- could be of any value. Books that
contradicted the Bible were hurtful, those that agreed with it --
useless. Nothing was of importance except faith, credulity --
belief. The church said: "Let philosophy alone, count your beads.
Ask no questions, fall upon your knees. Shut your eyes, and save
your souls."

What has the church done?

For centuries it kept the earth flat, for centuries it made
all the hosts of heaven travel around this world -- for centuries
it clung to "sacred" knowledge, and fought facts with the ferocity
of a fiend. For centuries it hated the useful. It was the deadly
enemy of medicine. Disease was produced by devils and could be
cured only by priests, decaying bones, and holy water. Doctors were
the rivals of Priests. They diverted the revenues.

The church opposed the study of anatomy -- was against the
dissection of the dead. Man had no right to cure disease -- God
would do that through his priests.

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Man had no right to prevent disease -- diseases were sent by
God as judgments. The church opposed inoculation -- vaccination,
and the use of chloroform and ether. It was declared to be a sin,
a crime for a woman to lessen the pangs of motherhood. The church
declared that woman must bear the curse of the merciful Jehovah.

What has the church done?

It taught that the insane were inhabited by devils. Insanity
was not a disease. It was produced by demons. It could be cured by
prayers -- gifts, amulets and charms. All these had to be paid for.
This enriched the church. These ideas were honestly entertained by
Protestants as well as Catholics -- by Luther, Calvin, Knox and

What has the church done?

It taught the awful doctrine of witchcraft. It filled the
darkness with demons -- the air with devils, and the world with
grief and shame. It charged men, women and children with being in
league with Satan to injure their fellows. Old women were convicted
for causing storms at sea -- for preventing rain and for bringing
frost. Girls were convicted for having changed themselves into
wolves, snakes and toads. These witches were burned for causing
diseases -- for selling their souls and for souring beer. All these
things were done with the aid of the Devil who sought to persecute
the faithful, the lambs of God. Satan sought in many ways to
scandalize the church. He sometimes assumed the appearance of a
priest and committed crimes.

On one occasion he personated a bishop -- a bishop renowned
for his sanctity -- allowed himself to be discovered and dragged
from the room of a beautiful widow. So perfectly did he counterfeit
the features and form of the bishop, that many who were well
acquainted with the prelate, were actually deceived, and the widow
herself thought her lover was the bishop. All this was done by the
Devil to bring reproach upon holy men.

Hundreds of like instances could be given, as the war waged
between demons and priests was long and bitter.

These popes and priests -- these clergymen, were not
hypocrites. They believed in the New Testament -- in the teachings
of Christ, and they knew that the principal business of the Savior
was casting out devils.

What has the church done?

It made the wife a slave -- the property of the husband, and
it placed the husband as much above the wife as Christ was above
the husband. It taught that a nun is purer, nobler than a mother.
It induced millions of pure and conscientious girls to renounce the
joys of life -- to take the veil woven of night and death, to wear
the habiliments of the dead -- made them believe that they were the
brides of Christ.

For my part, I would as soon be a widow as the bride of a man
who had been dead for eighteen hundred years.

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The poor deluded girls imagined that they, in some mysterious
way, were in spiritual wedlock united with God. All worldly desires
were driven from their hearts. They filled their lives with
fastings -- with prayers -- with self-accusings. They forgot
fathers and mothers and gave their love to the invisible. They were
the victims, the convicts of superstition -- prisoners in the
penitentiaries of God. Conscientious, good, sincere -- insane.

These loving women gave their hearts to a phantom, their lives
to a dream.

A few years ago, at a revival, a fine buxom girl was
"converted," "born again." In her excitement she cried, "I'm
married to Christ -- I'm married to Christ." In her delirium she
threw her arms around the neck of an old man and again cried, "I'm
married to Christ." The old man, who happened to be a kind of
skeptic, gently removed her hands, saying at the same time: "I
don't know much about your husband, but I have great respect for
your father-in-law."

Priests, theologians, have taken advantage of women -- of
their gentleness -- their love of approbation. They have lived upon
their hopes and fears. Like vampires, they have sucked their blood.
They have made them responsible for the sins of the world. They
have taught them the slave virtues -- meekness, humility --
implicit obedience. They have fed their minds with mistakes,
mysteries and absurdities. They have endeavored to weaken and
shrivel their brains, until, to them, there world be no possible
connection between evidence and belief -- between fact and faith.

What has the church done?

It was the enemy of commerce -- of business. It denounced the
taking of interest for money. Without raking interest for money,
progress is impossible. The steamships, the great factories, the
railroads have all been built with borrowed money, money on which
interest was promised and for the most part paid.

The church was opposed to fire insurance -- to life insurance.
It denounced insurance in any form as gambling, as immoral. To
insure your life was to declare that you had no confidence in God
-- that you relied on a corporation instead of divine providence.
It was declared that God would provide for your widow and your
fatherless children.

To insure your life was to insult heaven.

What has the church done?

The church regarded epidemics as the messengers of the good
God. The "Black Death" was sent by the eternal Father, whose mercy
spared some and whose Justice murdered the rest. To stop the
scourge, they tried to soften the heart of God by kneelings and
prostrations -- by processions and prayers -- by burning incense
and by making vows. They did not try to remove the cause. The cause
was God. They did not ask for pure water, but for holy water. Faith
and filth lived or rather died together. Religion and rags, piety
and pollution kept company.

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Sanctity kept its odor.

What has the church done?

It was the enemy of art and literature. It destroyed the
marbles of Greece and Rome. Beauty was Pagan. It destroyed so far
as it could the best literature of the world. It feared thought --
but it preserved the Scriptures, the ravings of insane saints, the
falsehoods of the Fathers, the bulls of popes, the accounts of
miracles performed by shrines, by dried blood and faded hair, by
pieces of bones and wood, by rusty nails and thorns, by
handkerchiefs and rags, by water and beads and by a finger of the
Holy Ghost.

This was the literature of the church.

I admit that the priests were honest -- as honest as ignorant.
More could not be said.

What has the church done?

Christianity claims, with great pride, that it established
asylums for the insane. Yes, it did. But the insane were treated as
criminals. They were regarded as the homes -- as the tenement-
houses of devils. They were persecuted and tormented. They were
chained and flogged, starved and killed. The asylums were prisons,
dungeons, the insane were victims and the keepers were ignorant,
conscientious, pious fiends. They were not trying to help men, they
were fighting devils -- destroying demons. They were not actuated
by love -- but by hate and fear.

What has the church done?

It founded schools where facts were denied, where science was
denounced and philosophy despised. Schools, where priests were made
-- where they were taught to hate reason and to look upon doubts as
the suggestions of the Devil. Schools where the heart was hardened
and the brain shriveled. Schools in which lies were sacred and
truths profane. Schools for the more general diffusion of ignorance
-- schools to prevent thought -- to suppress knowledge. Schools for
the purpose of enslaving the world. Schools in which teachers knew
less than pupils.

What has the church done?

It has used its influence with God to get rain and sunshine --
to stop flood and storm -- to kill insects, rats, snakes and wild
beasts -- to stay pestilence and famine -- to delay frost and snow
-- to lengthen the lives of kings and queens -- to protect
presidents -- to give legislators wisdom -- to increase collections
and subscriptions. In marriages it has made God the party of the
third part. It has sprinkled water on babes when they were named.
It has put oil on the dying and repeated prayers for the dead. It
has tried to protect the people from the malice of the Devil --
from ghosts and spooks, from witches and wizards and all the
leering fiends that seek to poison the souls of men. It has
endeavored to protect the sheep of God from the wolves of science

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-- from the wild beasts of doubt and investigation. It has tried to
wean the lambs of the Lord from the delights, the pleasures, the
joys, of life. According to the philosophy of the church, the
virtuous weep and suffer, the vicious laugh and thrive, the good
carry a cross, and the wicked fly. But in the next life this will
be reversed. Then the good will be happy, and the bad will be

The church filled the world with faith and crime. It polluted
the fountains of joy. It gave us an ignorant, jealous, revengeful
and cruel God -- sometimes merciful -- sometimes ferocious. Now
just, now infamous -- sometimes wise -- generally foolish. It gave
us a Devil, cunning, malicious, almost the equal of God, not quite
as strong -- but quicker -- not as profound -- but sharper.

It gave us angels with wings -- cherubim and seraphim and a
heaven with harps and hallelujahs -- with streets of gold and gates
of pearl.

It gave us fiends and imps with wings like bats. It gave us
ghosts and goblins, spooks and sprites, and little devils that
swarmed in the bodies of men, and it gave us hell where the souls
of men will roast in eternal flames. Shall we thank the church?
Shall we thank the orthodox churches?

Shall we thank them for the hell they made here? Shall we
thank them for the hell of the future?


We must remember that the church was founded and has been
protected by God, that all the popes, and cardinals, all the
bishops, priests and monks, all the ministers and exhorters were
selected and set apart -- all sanctified and enlightened by the
infinite God -- that the Holy Scriptures were inspired by the same
Being, and that all the orthodox creeds were really made by him.

We know what these men -- filled with the Holy Ghost -- have
done. We know the part they have played. We know the souls they
have saved and the bodies they have destroyed. We know the
consolation they have given and the pain they have inflicted -- the
lies they have defended -- the truths they have denied. We know
that they convinced millions that celibacy is the greatest of all
virtues -- that women are perpetual temptations, the enemies of
true holiness -- that monks and priests are nobler than fathers,
that nuns are purer than mothers. We know that they taught the
blessed absurdity of the Trinity -- that God once worked at the
trade of a carpenter in Palestine. We know that they divided
knowledge into sacred and profane -- taught that Revelation was
sacred -- that Reason was blasphemous -- that faith was holy and
facts false. That the sin of Adam and Eve brought disease and pain,
vice and death into the world. We know that they have taught the
dogma of special providence -- that all events are ordered and
regulated by God -- that he crowns and uncrowns kings -- preserves
and destroys -- guards and kills -- that it is the duty of man to
submit to the divine will, and that no matter how much evil there
may be -- no matter how much suffering -- how much pain and death,
man should pour out his heart in thankfulness that it is no worse.

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Let me be understood. I do not say and I do not think that the
church was dishonest, that the clergy were insincere. I admit that
all religions, all creeds, all priests, have been naturally
produced. I admit, and cheerfully admit, that the believers in the
supernatural have done some good -- not because they believed in
gods and devils -- but in spite of it. I know that thousands and
thousands of clergymen are honest, self-denying and humane -- that
they are doing what they believe to be their duty -- doing what
they can to induce men and women to live pure and noble lives. This
is not the result of their creeds -- it is because they are human.

What I say is that every honest teacher of the supernatural
has been and is an unconscious enemy of the human race.

What is the philosophy of the church -- of those who believe
in the supernatural?

Back of all that is -- back of all events -- Christians put an
infinite Juggler who with a wish creates, preserves, destroys. The
world is his stage and mankind his puppets. He fills them with
wants and desires, with appetites and ambitions -- with hopes and
fears -- with love and hate. He touches the springs. He pulls the
strings -- baits the hooks, sets the traps and digs the pits.

The play is a continuous performance.

He watches these puppets as they struggle and fail. Sees them
outwit each other and themselves -- leads them to every crime,
watches the births and deaths -- hears lullabies at cradles and the
fall of clods on coffins. He has no pity. He enjoys the tragedies
-- the desperation -- the despair -- the suicides. He smiles at the
murders. the assassinations, -- the seductions, the desertions --
the abandoned babes of shame. He sees the weak enslaved -- mothers
robbed of babes -- the innocent in dungeons -- on scaffolds. He
sees crime crowned and hypocrisy robed.

He withholds the rain and his puppets starve. He opens the
earth and they are devoured. He sends the flood and they are
drowned. He empties the volcano and they perish in fire. He sends
the cyclone and they are torn and mangled. With quick lightnings
they are dashed to death. He fills the air and water with the
invisible enemies of life -- the messengers of pain, and watches
the puppets as they breathe and drink. He creates cancers to feed
upon their flesh -- their quivering nerves -- serpents, to fill
their veins with venom, -- beasts to crunch their bones -- to lap
their blood.

Some of the poor puppets he makes insane -- makes them
struggle in the darkness with imagined monsters with glaring eyes
and dripping jaws, and some are made without the flame of thought,
to drool and drivel through the darkened days. He sees all the
agony, the injustice, the rags of poverty, the withered hands of
want -- the motherless babes, the deformed -- the maimed -- the
leprous, knows the tears that flow -- hears the sobs and moans --
sees the gleam of swords, hears the roar of the guns -- sees the

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fields reddened with blood -- the white faces of the dead. But he
mocks when their fear cometh, and at their calamity he fills the
heavens with laughter. And the poor puppets who are left alive,
fall on their knees and thank the Juggler with all their hearts.

But after all, the gods have not supported the children of
men, men have supported the gods. They have built the temples. They
have sacrificed their babes, their lambs, their cattle. They have
drenched the altars with blood. They have given their silver, their
gold, their gems. They have fed and clothed their priests -- but
the gods have given nothing in return. Hidden in the shadows they
have answered no prayer -- heard no cry -- given no sign --
extended no hand -- uttered no word. Unseen and unheard they have
sat on their thrones, deaf and dumb -- paralyzed and blind. In vain
the steeples rise -- in vain the prayers ascend.

And think what man has done to please the gods. He has
renounced his reason -- extinguished the torch of his brain, he has
believed without evidence and against evidence. He has slandered
and maligned himself. He has fasted and starved. He has mutilated
his body -- scarred his flesh -- given his blood to vermin. He has
persecuted, imprisoned and destroyed his fellows. He has deserted
wife and child. He has lived alone in the desert. He has swung
censers and burned incense, counted beads and sprinkled himself
with holy water -- shut his eyes, clasped his hands -- fallen upon
his knees and groveled in the dust -- but the gods have been silent
-- silent as stones.

Have these cringings and crawlings -- these cruelties and
absurdities -- this faith and foolishness pleased the gods?

We do not know.

Has any disaster been averted -- any blessing obtained? We do
not know.

Shall we thank these gods?

Shall we thank the church's God?

Who and what is he?

They say that he is the creator and preserver of all that has
been -- of all that is -- of all that will be -- that he is the
father of angels and devils, the architect of heaven and hell --
that he made the earth -- a man and woman -- that he made the
serpent who tempted them, made his own rival -- gave victory to his
enemy -- that he repented of what he had done -- that he sent a
flood and destroyed all of the children of men with the exception
of eight persons -- that he tried to civilize the survivors and
their children -- tried to do this with earthquakes and fiery
serpents -- with pestilence and famine. But he failed. He intended
to fail. Then he was born into the world, preached for three years,
and allowed some savages to kill him. Then he rose from the dead
and went back to heaven.

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He knew that he would fail, knew that he would be killed. In
fact he arranged everything himself and brought everything to pass
just as he had predestined it an eternity before the world was. All
who believe these things will be saved and they who doubt or deny
will be lost.

Has this God good sense?

Not always. He creates his own enemies and plots against
himself. Nothing lives, except in accordance with his will, and yet
the devils do not die.

What is the matter with this God? Well, sometimes he is
foolish -- sometimes he is cruel and sometimes he is insane.

Does this God exist? Is there any intelligence back of Nature?
Is there any being anywhere among the stars who pities the
suffering children of men?

We do not know.

Shall we thank Nature?

Does Nature care for us more than for leaves, or grass, or

Does Nature know that we exist? We do not know.

But we do know that Nature is going to murder us all.

Why should we thank Nature? If we thank God or Nature for the
sunshine and rain, for health and happiness, whom shall we curse
for famine and pestilence, for earthquake and cyclone -- for
disease and death?


If we cannot thank the orthodox churches -- if we cannot thank
the unknown, the incomprehensible, the supernatural -- if we cannot
thank Nature -- if we can not kneel to a Guess, or prostrate
ourselves before a Perhaps -- whom shall we thank?

Let us see what the worldly have done -- what has been
accomplished by those not "called," not "set apart," not
"inspired," not filled with the Holy Ghost -- by those who were
neglected by all the Gods.

Passing over the Hindus, the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans,
their poets, philosophers and metaphysicians -- we will come to
modern times.

In the 10th century after Christ the Saracens governors of a
vast empire -- "established colleges in Mongolia, Tartary, Persia,
Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa, Morocco, Fez and in
Spain." The region owned by the Saracens was greater than the Roman
Empire. "They had not only college. -- but observatories. The
sciences were taught. They introduced the ten numerals -- taught

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algebra and trigonometry -- understood cubic equations -- knew the
art of surveying -- they made catalogues and maps of the stars --
gave the great stars the names they still bear -- they ascertained
the size of the earth -- determined the obliquity of the ecliptic
and fixed the length of the year. They calculated eclipses,
equinoxes, solstices, conjunctions of planets and occultations of
stars. They constructed astronomical instruments. They made clocks
of various kinds and were the inventors of the pendulum. They
originated chemistry -- discovered sulfuric and nitric acid and

They were the first to publish pharmacopeias and

"In mechanics they determined the laws of falling bodies. They
understood the mechanical powers, and the attraction of

"They taught hydrostatics and determined the specific
gravities of bodies.

"In optics they discovered that a ray of light did not proceed
from the eye to an object -- but from the object to the eye."

They were manufacturers of cotton, leather, paper and steel --
"They gave us the game of chess." They produced romances and novels
and essays on many subjects.

"In their schools they taught the modern doctrines of
evolution and development." They anticipated Darwin and Spencer.

These people were not Christians. They were the followers, for
the most part, of an impostor -- of a pretended prophet of a false
God. And yet while the true Christians, the men selected by the
true God and filled with the Holy Ghost were tearing out the
tongues of heretics, these wretches were irreverently tracing the
orbits of the stars. While the true believers were flaying
philosophers and extinguishing the eyes of thinkers, these godless
followers of Mohammed were founding colleges, collecting
manuscripts, investigating the facts of nature and giving their
attention to science. Afterward the followers of Mohammed became
the enemies of science and hated facts as intensely and honestly as
Christians. Whoever has a revelation from God will defend it with
all his strength -- will abhor reason and deny facts.

But it is well to know that we are indebted to the Moors -- to
the followers of Mohammed -- for having laid the foundations of
modern science. It is well to know that we are not indebted to the
church, to Christianity, for any useful fact.

It is well to know that the seeds of thought were sown in our
minds by the Greeks and Romans, and that our literature came from.
those seeds. The great literature of our language is Pagan in its
thought -- Pagan in its beauty -- Pagan in its perfection. It is
well to know that when Mohammedans were the friends of science,
Christians were its enemies. How consoling it is to think that the

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friends of science -- the men who educated their fellows -- are now
in hell, and that the men who persecuted and killed philosophers
are now in heaven! Such is the justice of God.

The Christians of the Middle Ages, the men who were filled
with the Holy Ghost, knew all about the worlds beyond the grave,
but nothing about the world in which they lived. They thought the
earth was flat -- a little dishing if anything -- that it was about
five thousand years old, and that the stars were little sparkles
made to beautify the night.

The fact is that Christianity was in existence for fifteen
hundred years before there was an astronomer in Christendom. No
follower of Christ knew the shape of the earth.

The earth was demonstrated to be a globe, not by a pope or
cardinal -- not by a collection of clergymen -- not by the "called"
or the "set apart," but by a sailor. Magellan left Seville, Spain,
August 10th, 1519, sailed west and kept sailing west, and the ship
reached Seville, the port it left, on Sept. 7th, 1522.

The world had been circumnavigated. The earth was known to be
round. There had been a dispute between the Scriptures and a
sailor. The fact took the sailor's side.

In 1543 Copernicus published his book, "On the Revolutions of
the Heavenly Bodies."

He had some idea of the vastness of the stars -- of the
astronomical spaces -- of the insignificance of this world.

Toward the close of the sixteenth century, Bruno, one of the
greatest men this world has produced, gave his thoughts to his
fellow-men. He taught the plurality of worlds. He was a Pantheist,
an Atheist, an honest man. He called the Catholic Church the
"Triumphant Beast." He was imprisoned for many years, tried,
convicted, and on the 6th day of February, 1600, burned in Rome by
men filled with the Holy Ghost, burned on the spot where now his
monument rises. Bruno, the noblest, the greatest of all the
martyrs. The only one who suffered death for what he believed to be
the truth. The only martyr who had no heaven to gain, no hell to
shun, no God to please. He was nobler than inspired men, grander
than prophets, greater and purer than apostles. Above all the
theologians of the world, above the makers of creeds, above the
founders of religions rose this serene, unselfish and intrepid man.

Yet Christians, followers of Christ, murdered this
incomparable man. These Christians were true to their creed. They
believed that faith would be rewarded with eternal joy, and doubt
punished with eternal pain. They were logical. They were pious and
pitiless -- devout and devilish -- meek and malicious -- religious
and revengeful -- Christ-like and cruel -- loving with their mouths
and hating with their hearts. And yet, honest victims of ignorance
and fear.

What have the worldly done?

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In 1608, Lippersheim, a Hollander, so arranged lenses that
objects were exaggerated.

He invented the telescope.

He gave countless worlds to our eyes, and made us citizens of
the Universe.

In 1610, on the night of January 7th, Galileo demonstrated the
truth of the Copernican system, and in 1632, published his work on
"The System of the World."

What did the church do?

Galileo was arrested, imprisoned, forced to fall upon his
knees, put his hand on the Bible, and recant. For ten years he was
kept in prison -- for ten years until released by the pity of
death. Then the church -- men filled with the Holy Ghost -- denied
his body burial in consecrated ground. It was feared that his dust
might corrupt the bodies of those who had persecuted him.

In 1609, Kepler published his book "Motions of the Planet
Mars." He, too, knew of the attraction of gravitation and that it
acted in proportion to mass and distance. Kepler announced his
Three Laws. He found and mathematically expressed the relation of
distance, mass, and motion. Nothing greater has been accomplished
by the human mind.

Astronomy became a science and Christianity a superstition.

Then came Newton, Herschel and Laplace. The astronomy of
Joshua and Elijah faded from the minds of intelligent men, and
Jehovah became an ignorant tribal god.

Men began to see that the operations of Nature were not
subject to interference. That eclipses were not caused by the wrath
of God -- that comets had nothing to do with the destruction of
empires or the death of kings. that the stars wheeled in their
orbits without regard to the actions of men. In the sacred East the
dawn appeared.

What have the worldly done?

A few years ago a few men became wicked enough to use their
senses. They began to look and listen. They began to really see and
then they began to reason. They forgot heaven and hell long enough
to take some interest in this world. They began to examine soils
and rocks. They noticed what had been done by rivers and seas. They
found out something about the crust of the earth. They found that
most of the rocks had been deposited and stratified in the water --
rocks 70,000 feet in thickness. They found that the coal was once
vegetable matter. They made the best calculations they could of the
time required to make the coal, and concluded that it must have
taken at least six or seven millions of years. They examined the
chalk cliffs, found that they were composed of the microscopic
shells of minute organisms, that is to say, the dust of these

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shells. This dust settled over areas as large as Europe and in some
places the chalk is a mile in depth. This must have required many
millions of years.

Lyell, the highest authority on the subject, says that it must
have required, to cause the changes that we know, at least two
hundred million years. Think of these vast deposits caused by the
slow falling of infinitesimal atoms of impalpable dust through the
silent depths of ancient seas! Think of the microscopical forms of
life, constructing their minute houses of lime, giving life to
others, leaving their mansions beneath the waves, and so through
countless generations building the foundations of continents and

Go back of all life that we now know -- back of all the flying
lizards, the armored monsters, the hissing serpents, the winged and
fanged horrors -- back to the Laurentian rocks -- to the eozoon,
the first of living things that we have found -- back of all
mountains, seas and rivers -- back to the first incrustation of the
molten world -- back of wave of fire and robe of flame -- back to
the time when all the substance of the earth blazed in the glowing
sun with all the stars that wheel about the central fire.

Think of the days and nights that lie between! -- think of the
centuries, the withered leaves of time, that strew the desert of
the past!

Nature does not hurry. Time cannot be wasted -- cannot be
lost. The future remains eternal and all the past is as though it
had not been -- as though it were to be. The infinite knows neither
loss nor gain

We know something of the history of the world -- something of
the human race; and we know that man has lived and struggled
through want and war, through pestilence and famine, through
ignorance and crime, through fear and hope, on the old earth for
millions and millions of years.

At last we know that infallible popes, and countless priests
and clergymen, who had been "called," filled with the Holy Ghost,
and presidents of colleges, kings, emperors and executives of
nations had mistaken the blundering guesses of ignorant savages for
the wisdom of an infinite God.

At last we know that the story of creation. of the beginning
of things, as told in the "sacred book," is not only untrue, but
utterly absurd and idiotic. Now we know that the inspired writers
did not know and that the God who inspired them did not know.

We are no longer misled by myths and legends. We rely upon
facts. The world is our witness and the stars testify for us.

What have the worldly done?

They have investigated the religions of the world -- have read
the sacred books, the prophecies, the commandments, the rules of
conduct. They have studied the symbols, the ceremonies, the prayers

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


and sacrifices. And they have shown that all religions are
substantially the same -- produced by the same causes -- that all
rest on a misconception of the facts in nature -- that all are
founded on ignorance and fear, on mistake and mystery.

They have found that Christianity is like the rest -- that it
was not a revelation, but a natural growth -- that its gods and
devils, its heavens and hells, were borrowed -- that its ceremonies
and sacraments were souvenirs of other religions -- that no part of
it came from heaven, but that it was all made by savage man. They
found that Jehovah was a tribal god and that his ancestors had
lived on the banks of the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Ganges and the
Nile, and these ancestors were traced back to still more savage

They found that all the sacred books were filled with inspired
mistake and sacred absurdity.

But, say the Christians, we have the only inspired book. We
have the Old Testament and the New. Where did you get the Old
Testament? From the Jews? -- Yes.

Let me tell you about it.

After the Jews returned from Babylon, about 400 years before
Christ, Ezra commenced making the Bible. You will find an account
of this in the Bible.

We know that Genesis was written after the Captivity --
because it was from the Babylonians that the Jews got the story of
the creation -- of Adam and Eve, of the Garden -- of the serpent,
and the tree of life -- of the flood -- and from them they learned
about the Sabbath.

You find nothing about that holy day in Judges, Joshua,
Samuel, Kings or Chronicles -- nothing in Job, the Psalms, in
Esther, Solomon's Song or Ecclesiastes. Only in books written by
Ezra after the return from Babylon.

When Ezra finished the inspired book, he placed it in the
temple. It was written on the skins of beasts, and, so far as we
know, there was but one.

What became of this Bible?

Jerusalem was taken by Titus about 70 years after Christ. The
temple was destroyed and, at the request of Josephus, the Holy
Bible was sent to Vespasian the Emperor, at Rome.

And this Holy Bible has never been seen or heard of since. So
much for that.

Then there was a copy, or rather a translation, called the

How was that made?

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It is said that Ptolemy Soter and his son Ptolemy Philadelphus
obtained a translation of the Jewish Bible. This translation was
made by seventy persons.

At that time the Jewish Bible did not contain Daniel,
Ecclesiastes, but few of the Psalms and only a part of Isaiah.

What became of this translation known as the Septuagint?

It was burned in the Bruchium Library forty-seven years before

Then there was another so-called copy of part of the Bible,
known as the Samaritan Roll of the Pentateuch.

But this is not considered of any value.

Have we a true copy of the Bible that was in the temple at
Jerusalem -- the one sent to Vespasian?

Nobody knows.

Have we a true copy of the Septuagint?

Nobody knows.

What is the oldest manuscript of the Bible we have in Hebrew?

The oldest manuscript we have in Hebrew was written in the
10th century after Christ. The oldest pretended copy we have of the
Septuagint written in Greek was made in the 5th century after

If the Bible was divinely inspired, if it was the actual word
of God, we have no authenticated copy. The original has been lost
and we are left in the darkness of Nature.

It is impossible for us to show that our Bible is correct. We
have no standard. Many of the books in our Bible contradict each
other. Many chapters appear to be incomplete and parts of different
books are written in the same words, showing that both could not
have been original. The 19th and 20th chapters of 2nd Kings and the
37th and 38th chapters of Isaiah are exactly the same. So is the
36th chapter of Isaiah from the 2nd verse the same as the 18th
chapter of 2nd Kings from the 2nd verse.

So, it is perfectly apparent that there could have been no
possible propriety in inspiring the writers of Kings and the
writers of Chronicles. The books are substantially the same,
differing in a few mistakes -- in a few falsehoods. The same is
true of Leviticus and Numbers. The books do not agree either in
facts or philosophy. They differ as the men differed who wrote

What have the worldly done?

They have investigated the phenomena of nature. They have
invented ways to use the forces of the world, the weight of falling

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water -- of moving air. They have changed water to steam, invented
engines -- the tireless giants that work for man. They have made
lightning a messenger and slave. They invented movable type, taught
us the art of printing and made it possible to save and transmit
the intellectual wealth of the world. They connected continents
with cables, cities and towns with the telegraph -- brought the
world into one family -- made intelligence independent of distance.
They taught us how to build homes, to obtain food, to weave cloth.
They covered the seas with iron ships and the land with roads and
steeds of steel. They gave us the tools of all the trades -- the
implements of labor. They chiseled statues, painted pictures and
"witched the world" with form and color. They have found the cause
of and the cure for many maladies that afflict the flesh and minds
of men. They have given us the instruments of music and the great
composers and performers have changed the common air to tones and
harmonies that intoxicate, exalt and purify the soul.

They have rescued us from the prisons of fear, and snatched
our souls from the fangs and claws of superstition's loathsome,
crawling, flying beasts. They have given us the liberty to think
and the courage to express our thoughts. They have changed the
frightened, the enslaved, the kneeling, the prostrate into men and
women -- clothed them in their right minds and made them truly
free. They have uncrowned the phantoms, wrested the scepters from
the ghosts and given this world to the children of men. They have
driven from the heart the fiends of fear and extinguished the
flames of hell.

They have read a few leaves of the great volume -- deciphered
some of the records written on stone by the tireless hands of time
in the dim past. They have told us something of what has been done
by wind and wave, by fire and frost, by life and death, the
ceaseless workers, the pauseless forces of the world.

They have enlarged the horizon of the known, changed the
glittering specks that shine above us to wheeling worlds, and
filled all space with countless suns.

They have found the qualities of substances, the nature of
things -- how to analyze, separate and combine, and have enabled us
to use the good and avoid the hurtful.

They have given us mathematics in the higher forms, by means
of which we measure the astronomical spaces, the distances to
stars, the velocity at which the heavenly bodies move, their
density and weight, and by which the mariner navigates the waste
and trackless seas. They have given us all we have of knowledge, of
literature and art. They have made life worth living. They have
filled the world with conveniences, comforts and luxuries.

All this has been done by the worldly -- by those who were not
"called" or "set apart" or filled with the Holy Ghost or had the
slightest claim to "apostolic succession." The men who accomplished
these things were not "inspired." They had no revelation -- no
supernatural aid. They were not clad in sacred vestments, and
tiaras were not upon their brows. They were not even ordained. They
used their senses, observed and recorded facts. They had confidence

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


in reason. They were patient searchers for the truth. They turned
their attention to the affairs of this world. They were not saints.
They were sensible men. They worked for themselves, for wife and
child and for the benefit of all.

To these men we are indebted for all we are, for all we know,
for all we have. They were the creators of civilization -- the
founders of free states -- the saviors of liberty -- the destroyers
of superstition and the great captains in the army of progress.


Whom shall we thank? Standing here at the close of the 19th
century -- amid the trophies of thought -- the triumphs of genius
-- here under the flag of the Great Republic -- knowing something
of the history of man -- here on this day that has been set apart
for thanksgiving, I most reverently thank the good men. the good
women of the past, I thank the kind fathers, the loving mothers of
the savage days. I thank the father who spoke the first gentle
word, the mother who first smiled upon her babe. I thank the first
true friend. I thank the savages who hunted and fished that they
and their babes might live. I thank those who cultivated the ground
and changed the forests into farms -- those who built rude homes
and watched the faces of their happy children in the glow of
fireside flames -- those who domesticated horses, cattle and sheep
-- those who invented wheels and looms and taught us to spin and
weave -- those who by cultivation changed wild grasses into wheat
and corn, changed bitter things to fruit, and worthless weeds to
flowers, that sowed within our souls the seeds of art. I thank the
poets of the dawn -- the tellers of legends -- the makers of myths
-- the singers of joy and grief, of hope and love. I thank the
artists who chiseled forms in stone and wrought with light and
shade the face of man. I thank the philosophers, the thinkers, who
taught us how to use our minds in the great search for truth. I
thank the astronomers who explored the heavens, told us the secrets
of the stars, the glories of the constellations -- the geologists
who found the story of the world in fossil forms, in memoranda kept
in ancient rocks, in lines written by waves, by frost and fire --
the anatomists who sought in muscle, nerve and bone for all the
mysteries of life -- the chemists who unraveled Nature's work that
they might learn her art -- the physicians who have laid the hand
of science on the brow of pain, the hand whose magic touch restores
-- the surgeons who have defeated Nature's self and forced her to
preserve the lives of those she labored to destroy.

I thank the discoverers of chloroform and ether, the two
angels who give to their beloved sleep, and wrap the throbbing
brain in the soft robes of dreams. I thank the great inventors --
those who gave us movable type and the press, by means of which
great thoughts and all discovered facts are made immortal -- the
inventors of engines, of the great ships, of the railways, the
cables and telegraphs. I thank the great mechanics, the workers in
iron and steel, in wood and stone. I thank the inventors and makers
of the numberless things of use and luxury.

I thank the industrious men, the loving mothers, the useful
women. They are the benefactors of our race.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The inventor of pins did a thousand times more good than all
the popes and cardinals, the bishops and priests -- than all the
clergymen and parsons, exhorters and theologians that ever lived.

The inventor of matches did more for the comfort and
convenience of mankind than all the founders of religions and the
makers of all creeds -- than all malicious monks and selfish

I thank the honest men and women who have expressed their
sincere thoughts, who have been true to themselves and have
preserved the veracity of their souls.

I thank the thinkers of Greece and Rome. Zeno and Epicurus,
Cicero and Lucretius. I thank Bruno, the bravest, and Spinoza, the
subtlest of men.

I thank Voltaire, whose thought lighted a flame in the brain
of man, unlocked the doors of superstition's cells and gave liberty
to many millions of his fellow-men. Voltaire -- a name that sheds
light. Voltaire -- a star that superstition's darkness cannot

I thank the great poets -- the dramatists. I thank Homer and
Aeschylus, and I thank Shakespeare above them all. I thank Burns
for the heart-throbs he changed into songs. for his lyrics of
flame. I thank Shelley for his Skylark, Keats for his Grecian Urn
and Byron for his Prisoner of Chillon. I thank the great novelists.
I thank the great sculptors. I thank the unknown man who molded and
chiseled the Venus de Milo. I thank the great painters. I thank
Rembrandt and Corot. I thank all who have adorned, enriched and
ennobled life -- all who have created the great, the noble, the
heroic and artistic ideals.

I thank the statesmen who have preserved the rights of man. I
thank Paine whose genius sowed the seeds of independence in the
hearts of '76. I thank Jefferson whose mighty words for liberty
have made the circuit of the globe. I thank the founders, the
defenders, the saviors of the Republic. I thank Ericsson, the
greatest mechanic of his century, for the monitor. I thank Lincoln
for the Proclamation. I thank Grant for his victories and the vast
host that fought for the right, -- for the freedom of man. I thank
them all -- the living and the dead.

I thank the great scientists -- those who have reached the
foundation, the bed-rock -- who have built upon facts -- the great
scientists, in whose presence theologians look silly and feel

The scientists never persecuted, never imprisoned their
fellow-men. They forged no chains, built no dungeons, erected no
scaffolds -- tore no flesh with red hot pincers -- dislocated no
joints on racks, crushed no hones in iron boots -- extinguished no
eyes -- tore out no tongues and lighted no fagots. They did not
pretend to be inspired -- did not claim to be prophets or saints or
to have been born again. They were only intelligent and honest men.
They did not appeal to force or fear. They did not regard men as

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slaves to be ruled by torture, by lash and chain, nor as children
to be cheated with illusions, rocked in the cradle of an idiot
creed and soothed by a lullaby of lies.

They did not wound -- they healed. They did not kill -- they
lengthened life. They did not enslave -- they broke the chains and
made men free. They sowed the seeds of knowledge, and many millions
have reaped, are reaping, and will reap the harvest: of joy.

I thank Humboldt and Helmholtz and Haeckel and Buchner. I
thank Lamarck and Darwin -- Darwin who revolutionized the thought
of the intellectual world. I thank Huxley and Spencer. I thank the
scientists one and all.

I thank the heroes, the destroyers of prejudice and fear --
the dethroners of savage gods -- the extinguishers of hate's
eternal fire -- the heroes, the breakers of chains -- the founders
of free states -- the makers of just laws -- the heroes who fought
and fell on countless fields -- the heroes whose dungeons became
shrines -- the heroes whose blood made scaffolds sacred -- the
heroes, the apostles of reason, the disciples of truth, the
soldiers of freedom -- the heroes who held high the holy torch and
filled the world with light.

With all my heart I thank them all.

****     ****

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful,
scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of
suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the
Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our
nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and
religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to
the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so
that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old,
hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts
and information for today. If you have such books please contact
us, we need to give them back to America.

****     ****

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
all rights reserved

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201