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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Search Results for: Definition: 'la crosse', Term Type: 'People'

Term: Freethinkers in Wisconsin

Definition: Freethought is the philosophy that man rules his own destiny, rejecting the notion that there is any kind of divine intervention in life. Belief centers on the idea that nature and Natural Law guide mankind and that the use of reason, epistemology, and science are the means by which life is validated. Freethinkers usually espoused current liberal ideals of the day, including racial, social, and sexual equality, the abolition of slavery, and the end of political tyranny. Freethought came to Wisconsin with the massive influx of German immigrants in the 1850s, particularly those known as "Forty-eighters" who had fled autocratic German states after the failed revolts of 1848. The first free congregation formed at Painesville, south of Milwaukee, among of group of dissatisfied Lutherans around 1851. The Forty-eighters set about organizing their own free congregations, or freie gemeinde, soon after arriving in Milwaukee. The most noted and long-lived congregation in Wisconsin was the Freie Gemeinde von Sauk County, founded in 1852. In 1852, congregations were reported in over a dozen cities, including Burlington, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Manitowoc, Oshkosh, Two Rivers, and Watertown. A group in La Crosse County attempted to disrupt Lutheran services across the street, a not uncommon activity among Freethought groups. By 1876, only four congregations submitted reports. The Milwaukee group eventually joined the American Rationalist Association while the Sauk County group affiliated with the Unitarian Church. The German Freethought movement was closely associated with the German Turnverein, social clubs that sponsored lectures and debates and hosted dances, concerts, and other social events. Freethinkers also published a number of newspapers: Banner und Volkesfreund was the leading Freethought paper from 1855 until 1880. The second largest group of Freethinkers were Czech who were easily swayed to Freethought due to their feelings of alienation from the Catholic Church in Wisconsin. Many Czechs formed strong ties with fraternal halls and used them rather than separate "churches" to espouse Freethought philosophy. Freethought began to decline in the late 19th century for a number of reasons, one of which was the very nature of Freethought itself. Its anti-religious and anti-Christian views were too extreme for many people, alienating many would-be sympathizers. Another reason may have been the lack of cohesive ideals within the movement as freethinkers rarely agreed on any social or economic philosophy aside from anti-religion. By the early 20th century, most Freethought congregations had disbanded or joined other mainstream churches, though the Free Congregation of Sauk County continues to this day.

[Source: Wisconsin's Cultural Resources Study Units, Wisconsin Historical Society]

112 records found

Anderson, Wendell Abraham 1840 - 1929
Arnold, Alexander Ahab 1833 - 1915
Bailey, Col. Joseph (1826-1867)
Bashford, Coles 1816 - 1878
Bean, Jacob Linsley 1809 - 1855
Bice, Raymond C. 1896
Boardman, Maj. Frederick A. (1832-1863)
Bosshard, Otto 1876 - 1943
Brayton, Aaron Martin 1872 - 1949
Brunson, Alfred 1793 - 1882
Burns, Timothy 1820 - 1853
Byers, Mark Rhea 1892 - 1950
Cameron, Angus 1826 - 1897
Candrian, Adolph 1850 - 1929
Cargill, William Wallace 1844 - 1909
Cary, John Watson 1817 - 1895
Catholics in Wisconsin
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Wis
Clements, Sylvester G. 1936
Coburn, Frank Potter 1858 - 1932
Cole, Harry Ellsworth 1861 - 1928
Colman, Charles Lane 1826 - 1901
Cowie, Robert Somerville 1873 - 1951
Crocker, Hans 1815 - 1889
Czechs in Wisconsin
Czerwinski, Joseph C. 1944
Davidson, William Fuson ["Commodore"] 1825 - 1887
Decorah family
Devitt, James C. 1929
Dutch in Wisconsin
Edwards, Benjamin Eugene 1845 - 1916
Episcopals in Wisconsin
Esch, John Jacob 1861 - 1941
Faville, John 1847 - 1927
Feingold, Russell D. 1953
Freehoff, William Adolph 1889 - 1950
Freethinkers in Wisconsin
Gale, George 1816 - 1868
Gard, John 1963
Gibson, Lawrence R. 1912
Greider, Gerald A. 1923
Griswold, Harry Wilbur 1886 - 1939
Hadley, Jackson 1815 - 1867
Hastings, Samuel Dexter 1816 - 1903
Heileman, Gottlieb 1824 - 1878
Heiss, Michael 1818 - 1890
Hirshheimer, Albert 1840 - 1924
Hixon, Gideon Cooley 1826 - 1892
Huebsch, Michael D. 1964
Jeskewitz, Suzanne 1942
Jews in Wisconsin
Johnson, Samuel Curtis 1833 - 1919
Kellman, Norris J. 1898
Kellogg, Col. John A. (1828 - 1883)
Kilbourn, Byron 1801 - 1870
Kind, Ron 1963
Kneeland, Moses 1809 - 1864
Knowlton, James H. 1813 - 1879
Knutson, Milo G. 1918
Kohl, Herbert H. 1935
Larsen, [Peter) Laur[Entius] 1833 - 1915
Legler, Henry Eduard 1861 - 1917
Leibham, Joseph K. 1969
Levy, John Meyer 1820 - 1910
Litscher, Leroy "Pete" 1939
Low Cloud, Charles Round 1872 - 1949
Lucey, Patrick J. 1918
Maxon, Densmore William 1820 - 1887
Mcgavick, Alexander Joseph 1863 - 1948
Medinger, John Donald 1948
Merkt, John L. 1946
Merrill, Sherburn Sanborn 1818 - 1885
Meyer, Mark 1963
Miller, Andrew Galbraith 1801 - 1874
Mitchell, Alexander 1817 - 1887
Mittness, Lewis T. 1929
Mulder, Leland E. 1925
Musser, Terry M. 1947
Myrick, Nathan 1822 - 1903
Nicholson, Isaac Lea 1884 - 1906
Nuttelman, Norbert 1911
Oestreicher, John C. 1936 - 2011
Offner, Paul 1942
Peck, George Wilbur 1840 - 1916
Peterson, James D.H. 1894
Pomeroy, Marcus Mills ["Brick"] 1833 - 1896
Powell, David Franklin ["White Beaver"] 1847 - 190
Price, William Thompson 1824 - 1886
Quackenbush, Robert L. 1923
Roberts, Virgil 1922
Rude, Brian D. 1955
Sanasarian, Harout O. 1944
Sanford, Albert Hart 1866 - 1956
Schneider, Marlin D. 1942
Schwebach, James 1847 - 1921
Shilling, Jennifer 1969
Stoddard, Thomas Benton 1800 - 1876
Strong, Moses Mccure 1810 - 1894
Taylor, Horace Adolphus 1837 - 1910
Thompson, George 1918
Trane, Reuben Nicholas 1886 - 1954
Ulrich, John 1828 - 1894
Underheim, Gregg 1950
Universalists in Wisconsin
Usher, Ellis Baker 1852 - 1931
Van Meter, Abraham Chenoweth ["Abe C."] 1842 - 189
Walker, George H. 1811 - 1866
Wartinbee, D. Russell 1903
Washburn, Gov. Cadwallader Colden (1818-1882)
Wells, Daniel Jr. 1808 - 1902
Withrow, Gardner R. 1892
Woodward, Gilbert Motier 1835 - 1914

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