Charles Bradlaugh (September 26, 1833 - January 30, 1891) was a political activist and one of the most famous English atheists of the 19th century.
He attained prominence in a number of liberal or radical political groups or societies, including the Reform League, Land Law Reformers, and Secularists. He was President of the London Secular Society from 1858. In 1860 he became editor of the [secularism|secularist] newspaper, the National Reformer, and in 1866 co-founded the National Secular Society, in which Annie Besant became his close associate. In 1868, the Reformer was prosecuted by the British Government for blasphemy and sedition. Bradlaugh was eventually acquitted on all charges, but fierce controversy continued both in the courts and in the press.
A decade later (1876), Bradlaugh and Besant decided to republish the American Charles Knowlton's pamphlet advocating birth control, The Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People, whose previous British publisher had already been successfully prosecuted for obscenity. The two activists were both tried in 1877, and Charles Darwin refused to give evidence in their defence. They were sentenced to heavy fines and six months' imprisonment, but their conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal on a legal technicality.
Bradlaugh's funeral was attended by 3,000 mourners, including Mahatma Gandhi.
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