Episode 239 – “Taking The Freethought Trail on the Road”

This week on CenterStage, activist Margaret Downey shares her experiences presenting west-central New York’s Freethought Trail to audiences in far-distant parts of the country.

On August 16th and 17th, 2014, the Center for Inquiry presented a conference entitled “Robert Green Ingersoll and the Reform Imperative” at its headquarters in Amherst, New York. This event celebrated Ingersoll, perhaps the best-known unbeliever of America’s Gilded Age. Ingersoll was born in 1833 in Dresden, a village in New York’s Finger Lakes district. The conference placed Ingersoll in context with other freethinking reformers with roots in west-central New York State, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, and Matilda Joslyn Gage.

This week, Margaret Downey presents “Taking the Freethought Trail on the Road.”

Margaret Downey founded the Freethought Society, the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, and the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee, and has held numerous posts at atheist, humanist, and freethought organizations. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum.

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Welcome to Center Stage. I’m Debbie Goddard director of outreach at the Center for Inquiry. Today on center stage, activist Margaret Downey shares her experiences presenting West Central New York’s Freethought Trail to audiences in far distant parts of the country. 

And I’m Tom Flynn editor of Free Inquiry magazine. On August 16th and 17th, 2014, the Center for Inquiry presented a conference entitled Robert Green, Ingersoll and the Reform Imperative at its headquarters in Amherst, New York. 

This event celebrated Ingersol. Perhaps the best known unbeliever of America’s Gilded Age. 

Ingersoll was born in 1833 in Dresden, a village in New York’s Finger Lakes district. 

The conference placed Ingersol in context with other freethinking reformers with roots in west central New York state, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass and Matilda Jocelin Gage. 

Over our next three episodes, Center Stage will present key lectures from this one of a kind event this week. 

Margaret Doney presents Taking the Freethought Trail on the Road. 

Margaret Downey founded the Freethought Society, the Anti-Discrimination Support Network and the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee and has held numerous posts at Atheist, Humanist and Freethought organizations. She is a member of the advisory board of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. 

She is introduced to the Ingersol Conference audience by my co-host, Tom Flynn. 

Margaret is a longtime Freethought activist. 

And by the way, today’s her birthday. 

She founded the Freethought Society, the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, and the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee. She served as president of the Atheist Alliance International for two years. She’s a past board member of the American Humanist Association, the Humanist Institute. And the Thomas Paine is a historical association. She’s a current board member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Scouting for All. And as a member of the advisory board of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum, she she’s also the only person who ever met me at a train station when I was on one of my trouble with Christmas tours by fielding a whole battalion of her friends. And there’s like nine or 10 people on the platform with posters Save a tree and ninety three parents, stop lying to your kids. I’ve never had an experience like it before or since, and I won’t even talk about the time that we put atheist tracks under the windshield wipers of all those cars at the country club. Ladies and gentlemen, Margaret Downey. 

Well, as you notice, I took a picture of everybody clapping when times it was my birthday because now I can say, look at all the people that came to my birthday. 

So I’m 64 years old today and I’m so happy to be with my friends here at the Center for Inquiry. I want to dedicate this speech to my new granddaughter, who was just born yesterday. 

And thank you. 

And may she have a full life expressing herself with freedom, enjoying her rights and living with the knowledge that science is truth and religion is bullshit. 

So I want to thank my dear friend, Rebote Boyd Wooden, for working my PowerPoint slide presentation. That frees me up. So I really appreciate that. It’s so wonderful to be with you here today, helping you celebrate the life and work of Robert Green Ingersoll. 

Now, while I’ve appreciated Ingersol for about 30 years, I’ve really never developed a formal presentation about the importance of his work. So when Tom Flynn had to cancel his Ingersol themed speech last year in Philadelphia, I asked Tom if I could present on his behalf. Well, he agreed, and he sent me his PowerPoint slide presentation and the text that he used. So with Tom’s permission, I downy eyes to the wording and I put my own special touch to Tom’s slide show. The Philadelphia Ingersol event was a huge success, and I soon found myself delivering the same presentation in Virginia, South Carolina and two separate times in two separate locations in California. And in each presentation, I make sure to always give Tom full credit for his historical research. The presentation was well received in every location, and many people told me that they would actually plan excursions to the Finger Lakes area, specifically to see the historical sites that are highlighted in the slideshow. 

Now, Tom has not seen most of the changes that I made to a slide show, so I thought it would be fun to share a few things with you and him today as I speak with you. Now, in this slide, I am pictured giving Tom Flynn an original Angasi Ingersol photograph, and this was to be placed on display at the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. Is it there? You. Wonderful. So in nineteen ninety five you can see I was dressed as a suffragist. I helped the Center for Inquiry host a bus tour in the Finger Lakes area and this is a photo from that event. 

Now, during that Chieu tour, we actually visited many historical sites in Seneca Falls and we will be visiting this site during the Motorcoach tour tomorrow on Sunday. 

Landmarks in Seneca Falls include the site of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention, which is the birthplace of the suffrage movement. The Wesleyan Chapel in downtown Seneca Falls, in which the event was held, has been lavishly restored. It’s now a national historic park with an impressive adjacent museum established by the United States Park Service. Most leaders of the women’s rights movement was we’re also free thinkers. On July 19th, through the 20th, 1848, the first women’s rights convention took place at the Wesleyan Chapel on the second day of the convention. One hundred women and men signed the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. And this image is a group sculpture by Lloyd Lilly. It’s entitled The First Wave. The sculpture depicts 20 convention attendees, including Marianne and Thomas McLintock, Lucretia and James Mott, Jane and Richard Hunt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Martha Wright and eleven anonymous participants. 

These men and women were just some of the people who attended the convention. 

Many who attended the convention did not sign the declaration out of fear and possible retribution. Now, if I had been around in those days, I would have attended, signed the document and spoken out to find more supporters. I was born too late to be of help, but I so enjoy speaking about the struggle these brave people undertook so that we can all enjoy equal rights. In this photo, I’m pictured with Tom in front of the Wall of Fame in Seneca Falls. Tom is holding a fan I designed and made for the attendees. It reads Women’s rights. Not a fanciful idea. March is National Women’s History Month, and I bring my suffragist character back to life almost every year to speak about the 80 year. Long struggle for voting rights. I have delivered that speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York City, Burbank, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. And so I’d like to have you remember this. And please let me know if you or an organization that you belong to can host me as a Women’s History Month speaker. My calendar is pretty much clear in March 2015. So please talk to me about booking me for that time. Children and adults really love the presentation in Burbank, California. I delivered the speech to an assisted care facility where the audience average age was about 80. And then the very next day I delivered the speech to a group of children from Camp Quest, whose average age was 10 years old. My women’s rights presentation is a way to honor the men and women who fought so gallantly for equality. And Ingersoll was one of those fighters and his words about the subject are poetic. 

In his counter to commentary made by the Reverend T. DeWitt, Talmage Ingersoll’s said, and I quote, The early fathers of the church held that woman was inferior to man because man was not made for woman, but woman for man because Adam was made first and Eve afterwards by this foolish story of creation. 

Women and all Christian countries are degraded. They are considered too impaired to preach the gospel to impaired, to distribute the sacramental bread, too impaired to hand about the sacred wine to impair to step within the holy of holies in the Catholic churches, too impaired to be touched by a priest. 

Unmarried men were considered pure than husbands and fathers. Nuns were regarded as superior to mothers. 

A monastery holier than a home. 

A nunnery nearer than the cradle. 

And through all these years it has been thought better to love God than to love man. Better to love God than to love your wife and children. Better to worship an imaginary deity than to help your fellow man. I regard the rights of men and women equal in love’s fair realm. Husband and wife are king and queen, sceptered and crowned alike and seated on the same self throne. 

End quote. 

As most of you know, Tom and Sally Roche, Wagner started the ambitious endeavor to establish what has become known as the Freethought Trail. The Freethought Trail identifies and connects some of the region’s most significant Freethought history sites. And tomorrow we will travel on that trail visiting a few of the sites on the map you see on the screen. The highlight being the visit to the Ingersol Birthplace Museum, roughly centered in the Freethought Trail is Dresden, where the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum is located. While Ingersoll was a famous orator and writer, he was really not a very good organizer. And since he made no effort to establish an organization or institution, it’s up to us to make sure that his legacy is not forgotten. I remember when the Center for Inquiry put up the nineteen ninety seven billboard advertising. The Robert Green Ingersoll Museum noticed that Ingersoll is billed as a civil war hero and a free thinker. In that ad campaign in 2014, the billboards identify Ingersol as the great agnostic and hopefully that will drive up. Susan Jacoby book sales of the same title and that would be probably the true test that outdoor advertising works. I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I thank the Center for Inquiry for putting up the 2014 billboards dedicated to our hero Robert Green. Ingersoll outreaching to highway passers by. But speaking of passers by. Isn’t this a great poster? Advertising the nineteen ninety two Steamboat Classic in Peoria, Illinois. The Steamboat Classic is regarded as the world’s fastest four run mile, the toughest fifteen K in Illinois and Peoria’s easiest for K. And the event is open to both runners and walkers of all ability levels. What I love about this nineteen ninety two Steamboat Classic poster is that the sponsors of the race are all major companies. Note the Bud Light, True Value Hardware, Pepsi and the United Airlines endorsements at the bottom of the poster. And I have to wonder if they realized at the time that the statue of the Great Agnostic would be so prominently featured on the poster. Someday I hope to see these same sponsors listed on Reason Rally posters. The Ingersol statue is located in Glen Oak Park and it is considered the most lovely attraction in Peoria, Illinois. The statue is located near the entrance to Glen Oak Park at Perry and Abington Streets. It was dedicated on October twenty eight, 1911. The statue’s sculpture, Frederick Tripp, tribal. I think that’s how you pronounce it, tribal. You created the tribute to Ingersol in Genoa, Italy, but Tribal was actually born in Peoria. Tribal also created a statue of Henry Moer Rice and this statue of Henry Moore. Rice was given to the Washington, D.C. National Statuary Hall collection by the state of Minnesota in 1916. The Ingersol statue was created at the behest of a prominent Peoria resident, Eugene Baldwin. After being admitted to the Illinois bar, Ingersoll decided to move to Peoria with his brother, Yvonne. And there he met Śiva Amelia Parker, whose father was a well respected judge. Ingersoll and his family resided in Peoria for 20 years, and I would very much like to see more celebrations taking place in Peoria to honor Ingersoll’s legacy. And I hope that we can try to make that happen soon. The presence of an Ingersol statue is good enough reason to plan a big event. 

There is anyone here from the Illinois area today? Anybody? 

Only one person. I want to talk to you later. Okay. Well. 

Well, one does not need to live in the area to plan an event. So I’m officially going to ask you and anyone else to help me implement a Robert Green Ingersoll celebration at the Glen Oak Park. I am the author of about six. Thomas Paine Day City proclamation’s, so I have a lot of experience, I’m sure we can come up with a beautiful Robert Green Ingersoll City proclamation. I would love to create a Peoria city proclamation to honor the legacy of Ingersol and his ties to the area. So please contact me later if you are willing to be of any assistance. Perhaps we can duplicate the already successful Washington, D.C. Ingersol oratory contest. Maybe we can do it in Peoria and have a host of dignitaries who can gather near the statue. And one such Freethought dignitary currently resides in or Bana, Illinois, which is an hour and a half north east of Peoria. That dignitaries name is Daniel McCullom, and he is the son of the United States Supreme Court plaintiff Vashti McCullom. And the family actually has a connection to Ingersoll. Vashti Krom. Well, McCullom was the. Outside, Vashti Crum McCullom was the plaintiff in the 1948 case entitled McCullom versus Board of Education, and that case was the first of some really great 20th century United States Supreme Court decisions on separation of religion and government. The case tested the principle of release time where public schools set aside class time for religious instruction. The Supreme Court struck down a Champagne, Illinois program as unconstitutional because of the public school system’s involvement in the administration, organization and support of religious instruction classes. Vashti’s other son lives in Arkansas. But he visits Danial, often in Illinois. So here is where the Ingersol connection appears. Varsity’s parents, Arthur and Ruth Krom, well inspected the Robert Green Ingersoll home in the early 1950s on behalf of Joseph L. Lewis, who intended to restore it. The Krom Wells also served as Lewis’s primary agents for much of the restoration work. Lewis restored the house and reopened it as a museum in 1954. Since Tom will probably give you more details about the museum, the events that actually led up to 2014, I think you highlighted some of the renovations that took place already this morning. You talked about that. I’m going to instead of talking about the renovations, I’m going to tell you a little bit more about Joseph L. Lewis. In 1920, Lewis moved to New York, where he made contact with the Free Thinkers Society, an organization that was founded in 1915. Fifteen, fifty eight years later. Lewis incorporated the organization and renamed it The Freethinkers of America. He became its president and later started his own publishing company, the Freethought Press Association. Lewis also started publishing The Freethinkers of America Bulletin in 1928. In the 1930s. Lewis expanded his business with the creation of the Eugenics Publishing Company. And through that company, Lewis published low cost books for the common people. Medical experts wrote the books about many controversial subjects, including contraception. Profits from the Eugenics Publishing Company enabled Lewis to live comfortably with an estate in Westchester County, New York, an apartment on Park Avenue in New York City and a house in Miami Beach. He was also able to fund the freethinkers of America’s annual deficit. Yes, even back then, Freethought groups struggled to remain solvent in the 1940s. That bulletin was renamed Freethinker, and in the 1950s the title was once again changed to the age of reason. And this title change was, of course, to honor and promote Thomas Paine’s book, The Age of Reason. One of the contributors to the bulletin was the great humanist Coreless Lamont over the years. Lewis brought forth a series of lawsuits that were generally unsuccessful. He challenged what he saw as violations of religion and government separations. But his lawsuits were only publicized in the pages of the Freethinkers of America’s bulletins. Lewis was prominent not only as a publisher but as an activist and as part of his activism. Lewis challenged notable faith healers, among whom was the Reverend Oral Roberts. Lewis tried to have the courts declare that Faith Healing is actually practicing medicine without a license. Lewis played an important role as a bridging figure between the golden age of free thought and the reappearance of Athie ism on the public stage in the 1960s, Madalyn Murray O’Hair rose to prominence by her unexpected victory in the United States Supreme Court case, which was very much like the lawsuits that Lewis had repeatedly brought forth with very modest success. During his lifetime, Lewis raised funds to erect statues of Thomas Paine in Morristown, New Jersey, and also at Payne’s birthplace in that Difford England and in Paris, France, where Paine was an honorary member of the French Academy of Sciences. Lewis also placed a bust of Thomas Paine in New York University’s Hall of Fame. He also tried to place a bust of Ingersol there, but he was not successful. It was the campaigning of Lewis that prompted the United States to finally issue a Thomas Paine postage stamp in 1968. By the way, when the Thomas Paine stamp was unveiled in a ceremony in Philadelphia, Lewis walked out after an opening prayer was said, and he was practically screaming at the speaker. And he caused a great upheaval at the event and I would have done the same thing. 

So it might be time for us to follow Lewis’s lead and perhaps petition the United States Postal Service to finally issue a Robert Green Ingersoll stamp. 

Yeah, I think that’s a pretty stout, don’t you? 

Now, while stamps are being used less and less thanks to e mail. Such a petition might likely bring us a little bit of media attention and help us educate more people about the great agnostic. I so appreciated Lewis’s work to recognize Thomas Paine. But today we need to give Lewis credit for the restoration of the Robert Greene Birthplace Museum. Green Ingersol Birthplace Museum in 1954. Without Lewis and Cromwell’s dedication to the project, the Ingersoll birthplace home would surely have been torn down. And what a terrible shame that would have been. And now the home can be used to educate the public and promote free thinking. As a retired decorator, I’m going to use a bit of my presentation time to make a few suggestions about how you can set up Ingersol tributes in your own home. I have no time to take care of birds, but I look for decorative birdcages and they can be found easily in the stores or on the Internet. And the reason I search for these little decorative bird cases birdcages is just so that I can tie in an Ingersol display element. And I love this Ingersol quotation. A believer is a bird in a cage. A freethinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wings. The quotation can be easily framed and placed next to a decorative bird cage. It makes for a great conversation piece and imagine all the wonderful discussions that can take place by proudly displaying the words of Ingersol. Another way to display his words would be to have them painted on a wall. And this slide is an example of the decorative value. Words can be on a wall. And how interesting it can make a room. The words I use for this decorative wall, however, would be the place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. And Kudo’s to Cody is Cody here in the room? He showed us a slide of that chalkboard in his kitchen where he had the same quotation that he could read every morning. Recently, I was pleased to have an opportunity to promote Ingersol in a very unexpected way during a photo shoot at my home. Photographer and writer Chris Johnson asked me to show him one of my favorite pastimes. So I took a book off of my library shelf and told Chris to follow me outside. 

Press the button one more time. 

Yeah. So I often take a book outside to enjoy reading while laying in a hammock. I listen to the birds, read a little and drop off to sleep for a few minutes. And Johnson snapped this photo of me as I lay in the hammock. The resulting photo was published in his book, A Better Life. And as you can see, I’m holding Lewis’s book, Ingersol the Magnificent. But I was not the only one in the book A Better Life who took the opportunity to promote. Ingersol and this page layout. James Croft is holding a framed Ingersol photo that he purchased through the Internet. According to Croft, more Ingersol photos can be found at fairly reasonable prices. And I, too, have framed Ingersol pieces in my home. This piece was created when I happened upon an old book that was literally falling apart at the seams. I had no guilt extracting a few Ingersol prose pages in his portrait from from the binding of the book. And as you can see, I had special matting and an engraved brass plate made to complete. This interesting work of art is prominently displayed at my home and it has prompted many interesting discussions. I also framed and displayed my favorite Ingersol prose entitled Love. This Ingersol prose is perfect for reciting at weddings and anniversary celebrations. I suggest its use. Each time I perform a wedding and I carry it with me in case I am asked to say something at a wedding reception. I hope to have this text committed to memory soon. But in the meantime, I will demonstrate why this Ingersol prose is so very special. 

Love is the only bow on LIFESTAR cloud. It is the morning and the evening star. It shines upon the babe and sheds its radiance upon the quiet, too. It is the mother of art, the inspiration for poet, patriot and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart builder of every home Kendler, of every fire on every heart. It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody, for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician. The Enchanter. That change is worthless things to joy and makes right. 

What Royal King and Queen of common clay love is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart. And without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts. 

But with it, birth is heaven and we are God’s. 

I love that, as many of you already know, Paul Kirk certified me as a secular officiant in 2001 on my Web site, visitors will come across Ingersol words in the category of unions, but they will also find him in the category of life’s end. Just last weekend, I performed a life memorial for an atheist family, and the words of Ingersol helped us get through the sad occasion at the close of the celebration of life. I said The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead. And every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower. I recommend using this Ingersol quotation should you be asked to speak at a life memorial? You can then talk about the person’s unselfish acts and honor the legacy of a friend or family member that you are celebrating the life of. When I use the quotation, I describe it as having been said, but by the great agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll, who is also a great writer and orator. Since I don’t want to end my presentation talking about death, I will tell you about Ingersol item that I had the pleasure of having in my home for about a year on my fifty fifth birthday. My friend George Kelly delighted in giving me a James Albert Welles cartoon, which was first printed in a national political publication entitled The Judge. Ingersoll is sketched inside a tent, presumably talking about religion and morality with Henry Ward Beecher, the most prominent liberal press material Christian minister at the time. Now, what you see on the screen is a black and white version of the cartoon. But the cartoon that George Kelly gave me is in full color. I thoroughly enjoyed having it on display in my office. The cartoon, however, was so beautiful that I thought it should be enjoyed by others. So with George in agreement, we donated it to the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. And George is here. George, where are you? 

I want everyone stand up, stand up, because isn’t it great? 

George is here on my sixty fourth fourth day so you will see this beautiful car to tune on the tour and I will be happy to help you understand its significance. Tomorrow, briefly, the cartoon depicts 12 people who were considered national cranks at the time. Yeah, the cartoon title is The Dress of the Awkward Squad. Now, fortunately, Ingersol is not part of the Awkward Squad dressed parade, but instead he’s depicted as being an influence who’s behind the scenes. And he’s in there know in the gospel tent in a post war era chatting session. So we estimate that the cartoon was first published in the mid eighteen hundreds. Following the brief Garfield administration. I look forward to standing next to that cartoon tomorrow to hopefully answer any questions you have about it. Now, Tom asked me the other day about the reactions attendees had to my presentations about Ingersol and the Freethought Trail, and he said that he was curious about what they found most interesting, wondering in particular what say people in California had questions about or wanted to know more about. So I want to tell you, Tom, that the audience always enjoyed learning that Ingersol was D.M. Bennett’s attorney when Bennett was arrested on dubious obscenity charges. Bennett was a free speech advocate and a reform campaigner. He was deeply involved in freedom of the press struggles in that time period. And after various developments in the case, Bennett was jailed. The Bennett case was instrumental in establishing rules in an effort to form a legal definition of obscenity, and the rules became known as the Hicklin standard. Benjamin Hicklin was the official in charge of destroying materials that would. And here’s a quote. Deprave and corrupt. Those whose minds were open to such immoral influences. Now, interestingly, materials Hicklin refused to destroy were written to expose problems with the Catholic Church, while only a portion of these materials exposed sexual concerns. The court ruled that if any portion of the work was deemed obscene, the entire work must be destroyed. The Hicklin standard prevailed in American courts until nineteen nine. And it’s too bad because it’s taken much too long to expose the horrible side of the Catholic Church and many innocent people have suffered and the audiences around the country. Tom also enjoyed learning more about the creation of women’s bloomers. Elizabeth Smith Miller was a suffragist and a philanthropist. She developed the radical address reform in women’s clothing that became known as Bloomers. The name for the garment, of course, came from Amelia Bloomer, the fashion’s most conspicuous promoter. Blumer fashion was consisted of a mid-cap skirt over pants and that enabled women to ride. Bicycle’s easier and the style continued to evolve. The freedom that bloomers provided allowed more and more women to meet, socialize and share ideas. Without a change of fashion, the women’s movement would have been delayed for years, maybe even decades. Bloomers allowed women to ride the bicycle’s easily to meet, often to get organize. That’s the key, was to get organized. And some women actually fought hard against the change of scandalous clothing. But common sense prevailed and women finally were freed of constricted clothing styles. Well, I look forward to being with all of you on the Freethought Trail tomorrow, and I hope you’ve been inspired to honor Robert Green Ingersoll at every opportunity. His legacy is worthy of emulation and his legacy is worth remembering now, even though today is my sixty fourth birthday. I have some gifts for you. Please see me later for some frame lable Ingersol quotations and thank you very much for your attention. 

No time for questions. There’s time for questions. OK, so all of the giveaway items will be up here on stage, as well as a sign up sheet for all of those volunteers who are going to help me in Peoria. 

So a question about tomorrow, Margueritte, relating to your map of the Finger Lakes district for those of us who haven’t been there yet or before. It reminded me that map reminded me of others I’ve seen before that have Seneca Falls, not on Seneca Lake. What’s the story behind that? Oh, boy. That’s a Tom Flynn answer. 

Seneca Falls is flat on Seneca Lake. It’s between the legs it’s on. 

Oh, thank you, Rick. It’s on a creek that has a falls. And there was a water mill built there to provide water power. But it’s a river town. So it’s not on it’s not on any of the Finger Lakes. 

It’s between a couple of them. So you when you drive up there from the Ingersol Museum, you go north on Route 14 into Geneva and then you go east on Route 20, you go a few miles through Waterloo, a couple more miles. You’re in territory between the lakes, but you’re still on a river, you’re still on a canal. And that’s where Seneca Falls is. 

Stay here. Stay here. 

I’m just. What are the questions that your 10 year old audiences ask of you? Oh, yeah. Those are really great questions. Some people are really surprised about how long it took for women to get the vote. They are shocked. It took 80 years and they don’t get taught all of this in school. And so I did this presentation and this young man, Rose, he was in the back and he rose up and he says, Miss, Miss, I just have to tell you, I learned one hundred percent more about women’s suffrage today than in school. 

A hundred percent more. 

But, you know, Tom knows well that I enjoy costuming and I enjoy teaching in costume because it really does get the attention of the children and they enjoy the presentation so much more. When I do the Tom Paine, the life and Work of Thomas Paine, I dress as a colonial woman. And it keeps their attention. I really think that that’s a key element in teaching, especially for poor children. Oh, I have to tell you about the assistant care facility. There was a woman in the audience who got up and recalled that as a child, she was taken to the White House to protest. And she actually, with her mother demand held up signs demanding women’s rights to vote. And that was really cool. 

So when I noticed the fear benefactor whose name was Joseph Lewis, is that correct? Yes, he. It was something called the eugenics, Prestwich, eugenics. It was here eugenicist or beginning eugenics movement here. 

I don’t know why he named it that. Do you, Tom? 

Oh, well, yeah, he was. There was a lot of crossover between the Freethought movement and the eugenics movement in the early 20th century. And Joseph Lewis did some publishing in this area. And basically there was good money in it. And that’s it paid the bills for a lot of other things. But, yeah, there was a Margaret Sanger left some pretty dubious quotations down through history to it. But there’s there was a pretty unpleasant flirtation between the free thought movement and the eugenics movement in the 20s and 30s. And this was one of the legacies of that. 

Don’t we make a good team? Tom and I just a quick suggestion while you’re giving the presentation, I tried to look at the free throw up trail up on Wikipedia. There’s no entry. You want to. You may want to get an entry on Wikipedia, but some people. So, sir, do you want to volunteer? 

No, no. Don’t go there. 

So. Well, I don’t see any other questions, so I will say goodbye. And thank you very much for coming to my birthday party. 

We have heard Margaret Downey present taking the Freethought Trail on the road from the Ingersol conference held in Amherst, New York, in August of 2014. 

The original recording was engineered by Monica Harmsen. The music was by Adam Fields. Postproduction was by Inquiry Media Productions. 

This has been episode two hundred thirty nine. Visit us again on center stage. 

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