D. M. Bennett

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Tomb in Brooklyn

DeRobigne Mortimer Bennett (December 23, 1818 – December 6, 1882) was the founder and publisher of Truth Seeker, a radical freethought and reform American periodical.[1] Bennett was a devout member of the Shakers for 13 years before evolving into a "freethinker", founding the Truth Seeker newspaper in 1873.[2] In 1878, Bennett wrote that "Jesuism", rather than Pauline Christianity, was the gospel taught by Peter, John and James.[3]

On 1 September 1873, D.M. and M.W. Bennett released the first tabloid edition of the Truth Seeker. Its masthead announced its purpose as follows:
"Devoted to: science, morals, free thought, free discussions, liberalism, sexual equality, labor reform, progression, free education and whatever tends to elevate and emancipate the human race."
"Opposed to: priestcraft, ecclesiasticism, dogmas, creeds, false theology, superstition, bigotry, ignorance, monopolies, aristocracies, privileged classes, tyranny, oppression, and everything that degrades or burdens mankind mentally or physically." [4] Truth Seeker was extreme for its times, and it persists to this day though in self-resuscitating form. D.M. Bennett is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. His monument, erected by his fellow freethinkers, is covered with his statements.

Bennett was the subject of the biography D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker (2006) by Roderick Bradford and a 2009 documentary.[5]

Obscenity Prosecution[edit]

United States Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock had Bennett arrested on December 10, 1878, for mailing Cupid's Yokes, a free-love pamphlet. Bennett was prosecuted, subjected to a widely publicized trial, and imprisoned in the Albany Penitentiary for thirteen months, in which his health greatly suffered. Despite a strong campaign in his favor for President Rutherford B. Hayes to pardon him, Hayes declined, pardoning the actual author (Ezra Heywood) instead.[6]


  1. Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery: New York's Buried Treasure by Jeffrey I. Richman
  1. ^ "D. M. Bennett". findagrave.com. 
  2. ^ Roderick Bradford. "D. M. Bennett". 
  3. ^ D. M. Bennett. The Champions of the Church: Their crimes and persecutions. p. 84. The Progress of Jesuism 
  4. ^ Truth Seeker Company. (ISSN 0041-3712). "Truth Seeker Journal". 
  5. ^ "Truth Seeker D. M. Bennett". 
  6. ^ D. M. Bennett Pardon Campaign, Church and State UK

Further reading[edit]

  • Bradford, Roderick (2006). D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker (New York: Prometheus Books). ISBN 1-59102-430-7
  • Jacoby, Susan (2004). Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (New York: Metropolitan Books). ISBN 0-8050-7442-2

External links[edit]