Charles Bradlaugh

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Charles Bradlaugh

Charles Bradlaugh (26 September 1833 – 30 January 1891) was a political activist and one of the most famous English atheists of the 19th century.


  • The Bible God I deny; the Christian God I disbelieve in; but I am not rash enough to say there is no God as long as you tell me you are unprepared to define God to me.
    • Charles Bradlaugh, in Paul Edwards, "Atheism." Paul Edwards, editor, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Macmillan, 1967, vol. 1, p. 177.
  • Without free speech no search for Truth is possible; without free speech no discovery of Truth is useful; without free speech progress is checked, and the nations no longer march forward towards the nobler life which the future holds for man. Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day; the denial slays the life of the people and entombs the hope of the race.
    • Speech at Hall of Science c.1880 quoted in An Autobiography of Annie Besant; reported in Edmund Fuller, Thesaurus of Quotations (1941), p. 398; reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).

Quotes about Bradlaugh[edit]

  • On 24 March 1877 Annie (Besant) worked with Bradlaugh to republish Dr Charles Knowlton’s Fruits of Philosophy [1832] (a pamphlet that advocated the use of contraceptive practice); an act that led to the arrest of Besant and Bradlaugh on 6 April 1877 for transgressing the Obscene Publications Act 1857. The following ‘Obscenity trial’ was held on 18 June... both were proclaimed guilty. However, the sentence was overturned on a technicality so Besant and Bradlaugh were able to walk free. The arrest and trial were widely publicised across the country...the associated press coverage succeeded in propelling the pamphlet’s informative advice far beyond their initial reach... 1891 saw the death of Charles Bradlaugh who had become one of Annie’s closest and longest friends. Perhaps in recognition of this, this is the year in which Annie chose to bring her autobiography to an end when she was writing it in 1893, aged 46.

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