“In the best of all possible Americas every college freshman would be would be required to take a course called ‘The History of American Secularism.’ The text would be Susan Jacoby’s Freethinkers.”
“The great virtue of Susan Jacoby’s book is that it succeeds so well in…showing that secularism, agnosticism, and atheism are as American as cherry pie…In lucid and witty prose, Jacoby has uncovered the history of secular America.”
–Christopher Hitchens, Washington Post Book World
“In view of the tide of religiosity engulfing a once secular republic, it is refreshing to be reminded by Freethinkers that free thought and skepticism are robustly in the American tradition. After all the Founding Fathers began by omitting God from the American Constitution.”
–Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (Holt, 2005)
At a time when the separation of church and state is under attack as never before, Freethinkers offers a powerful defense of the secularist heritage that gave Americans the first government in the world founded not on the authority of religion but on the bedrock of human reason. In impassioned, elegant prose, celebrated author Susan Jacoby traces more than two hundred years of secularist activism, beginning with the fierce debate over the omission of God from the Constitution. Moving from nineteenth-century abolitionism and suffragism through the twentieth century's civil liberties, civil rights, and feminist movements, Freethinkers illuminates the neglected achievements of secularists who, allied with tolerant believers, have led the battle for reform in the past and today.
Rich with such iconic figures as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, and the once-famous Robert Green Ingersoll, Freethinkers restores to history the passionate humanists who struggled against those who would undermine the combination of secular government and religious liberty that is the glory of the American system.