Chicago Times -- January 30, 1875Thomas Paine's Birthday Anniversary Was Celebrated by the Scandinavians Yesterday.
The Skandinaviske Frioenker Forening, or the Scandinavian Free Thinking Society, of this city, held its eighth annual celebration commemorating the 138th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Paine, last evening, at Orpheus Hall, on the corner of West Lake and Peoria Streets. The society was established nine years ago and consists at present of about one hundred members, the majority of whom are Swedes and Norwegians. They hold their regular sessions at No. 113 Milwaukee Avenue, where they meet twice a month and advocate the principles of their leader.
About nine o'clock the hall was filled with a large representation of the Scandinavian race of both sexes, a number of the latter (women) having been attracted by the festivities which the latter part of the program offered.
Upon the platform of the stage stood a rough representation of the Goddess of Liberty, and upon the pedestal which supported it were inscribed the words, "Friheds 2Gudinde Dit Nawn Er Godt Spred Sandheds Wisdoms Lys Fra Bol Til Bol."Goddess of Liberty, thy name is good. Spread the light of truth and wisdom from pole to pole." Over the center of the stage hung suspended a portrait of Paine, surrounded by a sketch designed to represent the American eagle, carrying in his beak the usual streamers, which bore the motto, "Frem itiden Komer Sandhedens Lys," or "In the future the light of truth will come." From the balconies on either side, the banners of the different nations represented alongside of the American flag were unfurled and the whole apartment was arranged with reference to the occasion. After an overture by the Exposition band, which furnished the music for the evening, Dr. G. Paoli, the president of the society, made an eloquent address in the Scandinavian tongue, eulogizing the founder of their principles of belief, and expressing himself as opposed to the religious doctrines propagated in this country. The president was succeeded by Gen. I.N.Stiles, whom he introduced to the audience as one of the strongest and most sincere free-thinkers in the city.
Gen. Stiles began by stating that liberty might well point to Thomas Paine, for he was her noble son; genius might point to him also, for he was her brother. Few men 3were abused as much as he had been because he did not agree with the majority. The thinkers, the men who moved the world, always started from among the minority, and labored among the many. Paine had been calumniated because he had dared to think for himself, and had set priests at defiance. The world was his country, he said, and to do good was his religion. The speaker challenged any one to find a sentence uttered by Paine which had ever savored of immorality. He had thought for himself, and had then doubted that God could be such as Moses had described him. Nothing so delighted him (God) as a sacrifice, and what pleased Him above all things was the blood of women and children. Paine had defied the priests of the so-called Christian religion to demonstrate to him that God was a being of such atrocious cruelty. When men come to think for themselves, they no longer desired the services of a priest. The priest insisted that fixed belief should be indoctrinated in the minds of children when they were too young to use their reason. In that they were mistaken. In addition to his doctrines of free thought, Paine had advocated the principles of liberty, and aided Jefferson and Adams in establishing a republic in this country. No man had done so much to impress the American people with the importance of independent thought and action. The nineteenth century had produced her Darwin, 4her Tyndall, and her Huxley, and the time was not far distant when the people could embrace the doctrines of liberty and truth.
Marc Trans was the next speaker. He began by giving a sketch of the life of Thomas Paine. He considered him the real founder of the republic, because the idea of liberty and free thought originated with him. Paine was not only a speaker and a writer, but an actor as well, for he had served as a soldier in defense of his country. It is Tom Paine the people should thank for the free institutions of this country, nothwithstanding the fact that the press and the pulpit had united to caluminate him; that he was not held in greater estimation did not speak well for the character of the American people.
At the conclusion of the addresses, which were received with enthusiastic applause, the hall was cleared, and dancing succeeded, a part of the program which continued until an early hour in the morning.
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