Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 1
Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 2
Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 3

Return to Freethinker Society of Indianapolis minutes, 1870-1890 EXAMINE page

During this year, the society has lost 3 members, but has gained 3 new ones. Membership now totals 35. We are finding it difficult to make up for the loss to the society of Mr. Tschentscher's capable work.

We were also able to carry out the frequently suggested plan of working side by side with the Social Turnverein, after the Cleveland meeting of the Turnerbund had accepted the principles of the Radical Alliance and those elements ill-disposed towards these fundamentals split off from the Social Turnverein.

The Turnverein is comprised mainly of younger forces. With the two societies working together, a portion of these younger forces have come to hear our speeches and debates. Attracting a freethinking youth is of great importance for the ultimate practical establishment of our principles, and I am taking this opportunity to request that the new executive committee consider the question of establishing a Sunday school in which morals and philosophy of life based on freethinking views are to be the subjects of instruction.

From the start, our society has suffered from lack of money. Income from dues is small, and we do not have access to other sources of income. We took over a treasury of $220.00 when it was decided to reorganize the Freethinker Society on February 21, 1875. At the last annual meeting this sum had already shrunk to about $130.00. The executive committee realized that the society would need more money for expanding the scope of activity, especially for engaging
external speakers. To this end it was decided to let our meetings assume part of the expenses through a charge on beer. A special fund was set up for defraying any expenses. All income except dues was to go into this fund. There was some fairly gratifying success, but a deficit of about $25.00 still remained up until a few weeks ago. This had to be recovered. But the question of how was difficult to decide. Our society could not very well sponsor concerts and large or small dances. I succeeded in convincing the executive committee that I could see to the resources needed for sponsoring a theater performance. And I managed to follow through with it, a significant success, I may add, thanks to the endurance and hard work of the participants. The deficit mentioned was covered. Besides, we even have a small surplus, so that our society has not had any actual expenditures since the beginning of the winter season. As a result, our treasury has increased by about $40.00 in comparison with last year.

With the theater performance arranged jointly by the two societies, we achieved--due to the endurance, hard work and good will of the participants--a significant success, both in respect to the performance and in a pecuniary sense.

To the participants I hereby give the most heartfelt thanks in the name of the society. The success of the performance warrants the intention of arranging one again in the beginning of April.

The executive committee has engaged Mr. Robert Reitzel of Washington for a lecture. It will take place sometime in March.

Mr. Schünemann-Pott will begin a lecture tour in the spring. I recommend to the new executive committee to take immediate steps to engage this famous speaker.

I would like further to recommend to the society to expand its membership. If each member would accept the task of bringing just one new member into the society in the course of the coming year, then we will have doubled our number by the next annual meeting. Let us each pick an acquaintance soon and not let up until he is made a member. This does not even require a year.

I hope that the society has no reason to be dissatisfied with the outgoing executive committee. We have spared no effort in promoting the society as much as possible. I give my sincere thanks to the members of the executive who have actively supported me in leading the affairs of the society. And I herewith return my office, which I have always deemed an honor, to your hands. In conclusion, let me express the wish that our society may always prosper; may it never cease to be an arena of diverse views in the progressive and freethinking perspective and to contribute its share to the well-being of humanity.

It was decided, in accord with Mr. Koehne's motion, to make public a statement from the report. Treasurer Koehne then presented his report on the treasury. (See next page.) The report was accepted.

Messrs. Grobe, Schissel and Rappaport were then elected to the Founder's Day committee. Election of the executive committee followed. Messrs. Charles Koehne, Otto Schissel, Charles Grobe, Phil. Rappaport and Miss Fanni Oppenheimer were elected. Mr. Hermann Lieber, who had received sufficient votes in the first round of voting, declined re-election.

Mr. Koehne submitted a motion to form a propaganda committee. The motion, along with the suggestions made by the president in his report, were referred to the new executive committee.

The meeting then adjourned.


Treasurer's Report of the Freethinker
Society, from February 20, 1879 to
February 21, 1880

Income for the last year includes the following fees:

Membership dues collected $110.50
From the joint fund of the Freethinker's Society and the Turnverein $39.00
From the same fund, advance for the theater station $9.25
Interest from deposited money for 1878/79 $9.15

Sum $164.90
Expenditures in the same period:
Leaflets; dues to the Radical Alliance, "Freidenker" subscription and picnic $34.90
Rental of the Turnhalle for 1879 $34.50
Advertisements $21.25
Collectors' fees $11.40
Advance for the theater section $9.15
Postcards and receipt forms $9.00

Sum $120.20
Balance or income surplus $44.70
In addition there is the treasury balance from February 20, 1879 $145.07
Cash assets of the Freethinker Society at present $189.77

In hopes that the coming year may prove at least equally positive in financial matters,


Indianapolis, February 21, 1880

Chas. Koehne
Treasurer F.S.


Monday, March 15, 1880

Executive committee meeting. Present: Chas. Koehne, Otto Schissel, Chas. Grobe, Phil. Rappaport, Fanni Oppenheimer. Results of dividing the offices:

President: Phil Rappaport
Vice-President: Chas. Grobe
Protocol Secretary: Otto Schissel
Corresponding Secretary: Fanni Oppenheimer
Treasurer: Chas. Koehne

As moved by Mr. Koehne, a propaganda committee was set up and the following gentlemen were named members: Armin Bohn, Casper Hedderich, Gottlieb Krug, Louis Schulmeier, Frank Vonnegut.

It was resolved to invite Mr. Schünemann-Pott to lecture, and the corresponding secretary will see to the necessary correspondence.

It was further resolved to urge the women's section of the Social Turnverein to name a committee for discussion with the executive committee about establishing a Sunday school.

Resolved: To have an executive committee meeting every third Tuesday.


Thursday, March 18

Founder's Day celebration in the Turnhalle. Very well attended. Dance. President's speech.


Wednesday, April 28, 1880

Lecture by Mr. Schünemann-Pott on: "Materialism and its Detractors." Average attendance, but a large number of members of the Freethinker's Society and the Social Turnverein were present.

Sunday, April 2

Theater performance in the Maennerchor Hall of "Das Gefängnis" (The Prison), a comedy in 4 acts by R. Benedig.

Indianapolis, Sunday, June 10, 1880

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle

A lecture by Mr. Reitzel on the theme: "Adventures of a Green." The lecture was poorly attended, which was due to the great heat, however.


Indianapolis, September 7, 1880

Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Freethinkers Society

All members present except Mr. Grobe. After opening the meeting, the board discussed the lectures and activities to be conducted this winter, and the same arrangement as last year was accepted: to get together every two weeks and to alternately sponsor lectures or debates and social activities.

Resolved: to write to the Lyra and urge it to sponsor joint activities with the Freethinker's Society and the Turnverein in the Turnhalle this winter.
Resolved: To open the winter season with a lecture on September 26th.
Resolved: to sponsor several theater performances also this winter.
In regard to a Sunday school, it was resolved that the attempt would be made to bring one to life, and to meet next Tuesday again to discuss how best to conduct one.


Otto Schissel
Protocol Secretary

Indianapolis, September 14, 1880

Special Meeting of the Executive Committee of
the Freethinkers Society in the Office of
H. Lieber & Co.

All members were present.

Opening of the meeting by president Phil. Rappaport. The minutes of the last meeting were read and accepted.

In regard to the Sunday school, it was resolved to open one in the building of the German-English school on Sunday, October 3rd, and the hours of instruction should be from 2 to 3:30 in the afternoon. Serving as teachers for now will be Fanni Oppenheimer, Mr. Phil. Rappaport and Mr. A. Vonnegut, Sr..

It was further resolved to leave the acquisition of the necessary books to the teachers.


Resolved: to advertise the Sunday school in the "Tribune" and the "Spottvogel."
Resolved: to have an executive committee meeting every first Tuesday of the month.


Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, September 26, 1880

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle

Lecture by Mr. Phil. Rappaport. "The Purpose of Life." It was fairly well attended (48 present) and the speaker received lively applause at the end.

Indianapolis, October 18, 1880

Executive Committee Meeting of the
Freethinkers Society

Mr. Grobe was absent.

After opening the meeting, we discussed what kind of program to set up for the first social, and how to do it. It is scheduled for Sunday, October 24th. We agreed that we should cancel it if there would not be an adequate program.

Chas. Koehne made an official announcement of the invitation of the Freethinkers Society to the New Year's Eve dance given by the Indianapolis Social Turnverein.


Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, November 2, 1880

Executive Committee Meeting in
Mr. Lieber's Office

All present except Mr. Grobe. The following was resolved regarding the Sunday school: to pay the janitor $2.00 per month; to appoint Mr. Karste as singing teacher and to agree to $1.00 for each Sunday.


A letter from Schünemann-Pott was read. In it he inquires whether the Freethinkers Society anticipates engaging him to give another lecture. The society declined. Mr. Koehne took the letter in order to acquaint the Turnverein in the Indiana district with its contents and, if possible, to consider deliberations with Mr. Schünemann-Pott.

Resolved: to hold a meeting in the Turnhalle next Sunday, November 7th, for debate and discussion on the question: "What position should radicals take towards the two political parties?"


Otto Schissel, Sec.

Indianapolis, November 7, 1880

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle

Debate and discussion on the question: "What position should radicals take towards the two political parties?" Participating in the debate were Messrs. Rappaport, Koehne, Metzger, Vonnegut and Grobe. Attendance fairly good.

Otto Schissel, Sec.

Indianapolis, December 14, 1880

Executive Committee Meeting in
Mr. Lieber's Office

All members present.

We first dealt with the Christmas celebration for Turner pupils, to which the boy and girl pupils of the Sunday school are invited. It will take place on the first day of Christmas in the Turnhalle, and the society is accepting its share in case of a deficit.

Resolved: to sponsor a concert of the Sunday school in the Maennerchor Hall on Sunday, January 2, 1881. It will begin at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and admission is 15 cents a person.

Koehne, Rappaport and Grobe were assigned to consult with the Maennerchor and a few soloists, in order to obtain their participation, and to reserve the hall.

Adjournment until next Tuesday.

Otto Schissel


Indianapolis, December 23, 1880

Executive Committee Meeting in
Mr. Rappaport's Office

Ch. Koehne and Miss. Oppenheimer absent.

Not all the resources for the Sunday school concert to take place on January 2, 1881 had been ascertained, so we adjourned until next Thursday.

Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, Jan. 16, 1881

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle

Lecture by Mr. Carl Pingpank on the topic: "How and What to Read." The meeting was well attended and the audience followed the well prepared lecture with interest.

Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, January 18, 1881

Executive Committee Meeting in Mr. Lieber's Office

Mr. Grobe absent.

Mr. Rappaport was assigned to consult with Dr. Scheller about giving a lecture.

It was resolved that the next membership meeting would continue the debate about what position radicals should take towards the two political parties.

The following gentlemen were accepted as members: Louis Ruth, Conrad Mueller, Gustav Hauser, A. Kipp, R. Kipp, Leonard Mueller, August Schmidt.

Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, January 30, 1881

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle

Twenty-seven persons were present.

Because those who had proposed the arranged debate were absent, it was moved to drop the planned topic and to substitute another. Adopted.

The president then suggested a change and supported the argument: to elect the board in May instead of January. Motion adopted without debate.

The topic accepted for debate was on the book published by Fritz Schütz: "Das Heil der Vvlker" (The Welfare of the Nations). Participants in the debate were Messrs. Rappaport, Vonnegut, Grumann and Brown.

Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, March 6, 1881

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle
Lecture by Mr. Ph. Rappaport. Topic: "The Property Question."

The meeting was well attended. A discussion of the lecture followed its presentation.

Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, March 18, 1881

Executive Committee Meeting in Lieber's Office

Resolved: to ask Prof. A. Weyher to give his lecture on March 27th and to pay his travel and hotel expenses.

Because Miss Oppenheimer has left Indianapolis, Mr. Rappaport has been looking for help for the Sunday school. Since none has been found yet, the board members should all look for help.

Resolved: to have a Sunday school picnic in May.

The president read an invitation from the Socialists of Indianapolis in which the society is asked to participate in the reception of Herr T.W. Fritzsche, member of the German parliament, and Dr. Viereck, presiding member of the Prussian supreme court. Accepted.

Otto Schissel

Indianapolis, March 27, 1881

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle

Lecture by Prof A. Weyher of Lafayette. Topic: "The Social Status of Jews." Attendance was average. The audience listened attentively to the very well-prepared lecture.

After the lecture, the executive members came forward for a moment and set the following question for debate at the next meeting: "Are the measures in the platform of the Radical Alliance suitable for the long-range improvement of social relations?"

The question was adopted by the meeting. The president assigned Messrs. H. Lieber and Cl. Vonnegut to open the debate.

Otto Schissel.

Indianapolis, July 3

Annual Meeting of the Society

The president of the society, Phil. Rappaport, presented the following report:

Greetings to all!

I am following a custom begun long ago in our society when I review the past year at the conclusion of my term of office and offer suggestions for the coming year which are based on my experience.

Even though not everything in the past year developed as we might wish, yet, on the whole, we can look back with some satisfaction. The number of lectures held was unfortunately not as great as in previous years, and because of the insufficient participation of our own forces, we had to turn to external forces that did not satisfy our own wishes. Mr. Robert Reitzel visited in the warmest time of the year and therefore had to be content with a small audience. His lecture, "Adventures of a Green," was, under the circumstances, directed more at entertaining than at stimulating thought. Mr. Schünemann-Pott's lecture, "The Enemies of Materialism," was not very satisfying because it was entirely lacking in originality in the selection and treatment of material. In contrast, the lecture of Mr. R. Weyher of Lafayette, "The Social Status of the Jews," met with more approval due to the diligent and careful treatment of his material. Mr. Pingpank gave a lecture on the topic "How and What to Read," and I gave two lectures titled "The Purpose of Life" and "On the Property Question."

We also had several stimulating debates. I will give attention particularly to the last one on the question, "Are the demands of the radical platform suitable for bringing long-range improvement of economic conditions?" It was introduced by Messrs. Hermann Lieber and Clemens Vonnegut, and Mr. Lieber's opening speech was especially remarkable for its careful and detailed treatment. Since I know that there are still some members who want to express themselves on this question, I recommend that the debate be continued at the start of the coming season. At this point, mention should be made of the memorial in honor of the deceased Karl Heinzen, which was co-sponsored by our society. In him, the Radical Alliance lost its founder, and the Freethinkers Society lost its best, most enthusiastic and most loyally convicted advocate.

[91, 2]
In regard to our Sunday school, I must mention that it was led with fair success up until the nice time of the year. Except for the singing teacher, the teaching forces were voluntary. Because Miss Oppenheimer left the city and Mr. Vonnegut was prevented by illness in his family, the burden of instruction lay exclusively upon Mr. Pingpank and myself. I am in favor of continuing the Sunday school next winter, but numerous teaching forces should be recruited. I want to take this opportunity to mention that the Sunday school was least attended by children of members, which is all the more regrettable because there is no reason why parents cannot see to it that their children attend the Sunday school just as they would see to attendance at any other school.

Our finances are in very good order. Although we paid $25 for Mr. Reitzel's lecture, $50 for Mr. Schünemann-Pott's and $15 for Mr. Weyher's, and despite costs of the Sunday school in paying the singing teacher, the janitor and for heat, the deficit is still less than $15. A picnic in late summer might cover this deficit. In any case, the income of the society should increase by adding new members. In the past year we have gained nine new members and have lost only five. The increase was thus not significant. We now have forty members, but considering the strength of the freethinking element in our city, we should have more. I suggest that the next executive committee prepare a list of people, judging from their outlook, who should belong to us, and that a special committee be set up to invite such people to join.

I also mention with satisfaction the fact that the founding of the Anti-Prohibition League was stimulated first in our society, and that the first steps towards its establishment took place here. For us, the question of prohibition is linked by an unusual chain of circumstances with the question of women's right to vote. The necessity will arise that we take a practical position on this question, and we should use one of the first meetings of the coming season to clarify our position and to draft resolutions.

Concerning attendance of our meetings, I can say that it has been satisfactory, but the fact remains that non-members, especially socialists, are more eager to attend our meetings than our own members. Also, attendance of our meetings by young Turners is very heartening. But as I said, members should show more enthusiasm themselves and should especially encourage the younger members of their families to attend frequently.

As I now return with thanks the office entrusted to me, let me express my hope that you are content with the conduct of office on my part, as well as with that of the other members of the executive committee. I would like to thank in the name of the society those who supported us with lectures and in the Sunday school.

In conclusion, I hope that our society may also grow and prosper in the future. A new age is dawning on the horizon. The desire for material welfare is increasing in the masses of the people. The old order of things is no longer sufficient. Something new and better must replace it to make people happy. The justice of the longing for improvement is recognized everywhere, but for most people it is not yet clear as to what is to happen, what is to be.

If we cannot lift the veil of the future, we nevertheless can achieve the ability to think about the future through diligent study of the past and the present. Knowledge of what is to be depends on knowledge of what has been and what is in the present. Passing from one set of fundamental rights to the next should not be the result of a vague urge, but of clear knowledge. To acquire this knowledge is our aspiration.

With highest regard,
Philip Rappaport
Indianapolis, July 2, 1881

The treasurer, Mr. Chas. Koehne, presented the following report:

Indianapolis, July 2, 1881

To the members of the Freethinker's Society:

Today's treasurer's report entails 5 quarters, since it was resolved by the society to conclude the financial year with June instead of with February. This is better for the treasury and the treasurer of the society because the first quarter of the previous administration was heavily burdened by two paid lectures and because our "pet project"--the Sunday school--left us with a considerable deficit to pay. Both were doubtless worthwhile expenditures, but concerning lectures, the executive committee has arrived at the conclusion that financial conditions force us to limit ourselves to our own resources. On the other hand, we are convinced that the Sunday school--as an important avenue of propaganda--is worthy of all support that could sustain and strengthen it. But it would be good to be cautious for the time being and to avoid any special burden on the treasury in the future; contributions can take place through voluntary contributions or through a fund based on pledges. The discussion of this problem, as well as the improvement of our financial situation in general, should be one of the first items of business of the new administration.

The following is a summary of income and expenditure to date:
The previous balance of the account had a surplus of $189.77
Income since then:

From dues $132.25

From the surplus at the Sunday school concert $18.55

Through voluntary collections for sending representatives to the Freethinker Congress $18.00

Through interest payments of 5 1/2% and 5% $10.78

From admission charge at Reitzel's lecture $7.60

From the surplus from the joint operating expense fund $4.00

From the surplus from the Founders' Festival $3.50

Sum $194.68

Total $384.45
Expenditures in the same period:

For lectures: to Schünemann-Pott $50, to Reitzel $25, and to Weyher $15 $90.00

To the Sunday school, singing teacher and janitor $44.00

For advertising the opening $10.50

For coal $3.00

For sending representatives to the Brussels Freethinker Congress, including collection fees $26.20

For post cards $11.75

For collection fees $11.65

For advertising $11.00

For the deficit in connection with evening activities $3.50

For the subscription to "Freidenker" $3.00

For cleaning the hall $1.50

For express charges $0.75

Accordingly in the treasury to date $167.60

Finally, I would like to mention the deficit of 5 to 7 dollars at the memorial for Karl Heinzen sponsored with great success under cooperation of the Freethinkers and the Turner Society. This deficit was covered by voluntary contributions of various members.

With best wishes for the continued prosperity of the society,

Chas. Koehne
Outgoing Treasurer of the Freethinker Society

The reports of the officers, the suggestions contained in them and the assignment of committees were referred to the future executive committee, and it was charged with the task of presenting a plan for the society's activity to the first membership meeting of the coming season.

Then the election of executive committee members took place. After Mr. Lieber declined, the following were elected:
Mr. Chas. Koehne, Mr. Phil. Rappaport, Miss Fanni Oppenheimer, Mr. Conrad Mueller and Mr. Gottlieb C. Krug.

In accord with the society's statutes, the executive committee members will divide the various offices among themselves.

Then adjournment.


Wednesday, August 3, 1881

Executive Committee Meeting

Present: Miss Oppenheimer, Messrs. Rappaport, G. Krug, Koehne and Mueller.

The offices for the coming years were divided as follows:
President Mr. Phil. Rappaport
Vice-President Mr. G. Krug
Treasurer Mr. Ch. Koehne
Corresponding Secretary Miss Fanni Oppenheimer
Protocol Secretary Mr. Conr. Mueller

Mr. Krug makes a motion to send printed circulars to those gentlemen whom we should be considering for an invitational visit.

Mr. Koehne moves to select a committee which will make these propaganda visits.
Recommended: Messrs. Alb, Krull, Armin Bohn, G. Krug, Phil. Rappaport, N. Kothe, Cl. Vonnegut.
These gentlemen are to be invited to appear at the next meeting. The corresponding secretary is charged with sending the circulars mentioned in the course of next week.

Accepted as new members are: Mr. Ed. Longerich and Hugo Pantzer.

Resolved: to hold a picnic on September 4th of this year and to invite Mr. Grobe to appear at the next meeting for arranging it.

Adjourned until Wednesday, August 17th.

Conr. Mueller
Protocol Sec.


Wednesday, August 17, 1881

Meeting of the executive committee. Those present: Messrs. Rappaport, Krug, Koehne, Miss Oppenheimer and Mueller, as well as the gentlemen invited as guests: Grobe, Krull and Bohn, Accepted as new members: Messrs. Fr. Noelke, Woche and Alb. Grumann.

First, dividing up the propaganda list.-----
Mr. Koehne moves to hold the picnic at Knarzer's Grove. Carried.
Resolved: to assign Mr. Grobe to contact Mr. Knarzer.
Resolved: to set the admission to the picnic area at one dollar (including all food and drink).
Mr. Vonnegut makes the motion to have 100 tickets printed and to assign Mr. Grobe to take around a sign-up list for the picnic. Carried.

Adjourned until Thursday, August 25th.

Conrad Müller

Sunday, September 14th
Picnic in German Park


Wednesday, September 7, 1881

Regular executive committee meeting.

Report of the propaganda committee and acceptance of new members (see the membership list).

Conrad Müller,

Wednesday, October, 1881

Regular meeting of the executive committee. Those present: Messrs. Rappaport, Miss Oppenheimer, H. Koehne, Vonnegut, Krug and Müller.

Recommended as new members:
Messrs. G. Hermann
R. Freund

Miss Oppenheimer reports that Miss Anna Despa and Miss Flora Koster have agreed to participate in the first social.

Resolved: to hold the first social of the season on Sunday the 16th.


Conrad Müller,

Sunday, October 16th

Opening celebration of the season, which was very numerous in attendance. The program included singing of songs (Miss Anna Despa and Mr. A. Heckler), declamation (Mr. Kohster), and a piano piece (Mr. Kipp). The following toasts were made:

Free Thoughts (Dr. Pantzer)
Science (Mr. Grohmann)
Youth (Mr. C. Müller)
Women (Mr. Heckler)
German Sociability (Mr. Grobe)


Conrad Müller


Sunday, November 6, 1881

Membership Meeting in the Turnhalle

Talk by Mr. Conrad Müller. (Creation-Evolution) with discussion following.

Conrad Müller, Sec.


May 14/71. Talk by Mr. Schmitt on heathen, Jewish and Christian sacrifices.
May 21st. Talk by Mr. Dingeldey on chemistry.
June 4th. Talk by Mr. Schmitt on languages.
June 11th. Lecture by Mr. Schmitt on communism.
June 18th. Talk by Mr. Schmitt on the age of man.
July 2nd. Talk by Mr. Schmitt on the morality of the New Testament.
July 9th. Lecture by Mr. Schmitt on the horror of the Thirty Years' War.
July 16th. Lecture by Mr. Vonnegut on baths.
July 23rd. Lecture by Mr. H. Lieber from Johann Scheres' works on the cult of the Aztecs.
July 30. Talk by Mr. Bopp on botany.
August 13th. Lecture by Mr. Th. Dingeldey on the influence of the mind on the body and conversely of the body on the mind.
August 27th. Lecture by Mr. Th. Dingeldey on the religion of primitive peoples.
September 3rd. Lecture by Mr. Dingeldey on the education of children.
September 10. Talk by Mr. Kessly on the freethinker and his task.
September 17. Talk by Mr. Dingeldey on the saying, "Know thyself," or on the influence of the body on the mind.
September 24th. Lecture by Mr. Kessly on the theory of political economy.
October 1st. Talk by Mr. Vonnegut on the German-English school here, its beginning, achievements and its future.
October 8th. Lecture by Mr. Dingeldey on the influence of climate on the character of the human being.
October 15th. Talk by Mr. Kessly on the Sins against our German mother tongue.
October 22nd. Lecture by Mr. Dingeldey on the Advantage of Smallpox Vaccination.

October 29/1871. Lecture by Mr. Vonnegut on John Huss and his judges.
November 6/71. Reading/lecture by Mr. Vonnegut from Boernstein's works on the natural sciences.
November 13th. Reading/lecture by Mr. Vonnegut from Boernstein's works on the natural sciences.
November 26. Reading/lecture by Mr. Vonnegut from the natural science of animals.

January 8th. Reading by Mr. Vonnegut from Boerne's works of the natural sciences.
January 15th. Reading by Mr. Vonnegut of a written essay by Mr. Louis Schulmeyer on the duties of a freethinker, then reading from the natural sciences.
January 21st. Talk by Mrs. Marie Schulmeyer on women's rights and free love.
February 4th. Talk by Mr. Rappaport of Cincinnati on the theme: reason and instinct.
February 18th. Lecture by Mr. Kothe on the social influence of various age groups and of the sexes on each other.
February 25. Talk by Mr. Julius B. Weil on the introduction of [principles of] the Bible into the Constitution of the United States.
May 3rd. Talk by Mr. S.H. Lang of Cleveland on the introduction of [principles of] the Bible into the Constitution of the United States.
May 10th. Reading by Mr. Vonnegut from the natural history of bees.
May 17th. Reading by Mr. Vonnegut from the natural history of ants.


Income Since the First
April 1st. in the treasury $21.28
May 1st. Talk by Schünemann-Pott $46.75

Contributions $3.25

Delivered to the treasurer
May 4th. Contributions delivered to the treasurer 40.00
May 26th. The same 40.00
August 8th. The same 41.50
Sept 15th. The same 19.00
October 1st. Remainder 12.54


October 9th. Contributions delivered to the treasurer 68.75
October 30th. The same 40.00
January 8th. The same 93.25
Carried over

April 1871 and Expenditures
April 20th. Th. Dingeldey $2.55
April 28th. Clemens Vonnegut.(Sunday school books) 2.20
May 3rd. Th. Fahrbach (Washington Hall) 10.00
May 3rd. Schünemann-Pott, Talk 40.00
May 3rd. Tickets 2.50
May 5th. Clemens Vonnegut, Sunday school books 13.90
May 6th. Robertson and Schindler, 10 yards of drilling 2.00
May 19th. G.A. Schmitt for Sunday school until May 15th 12.50
May 22nd. Clemens Vonnegut. Sunday school books 2.28
May 26th. The same 14.20
June 6th. Theodor Dingeldey, 2 months Sunday school 16.76
June 10th. G.A. Schmitt Sunday school until July 1st 12.50
June 17th. Robertson and Schindler, 10 yards of drilling 2.00
June 25th. C. Bopp for Sunday school until July 1st 25.00
August 12th. Th. Dingeldey for Sunday school 8.33
September 11th. F. Schulmeyer for collection 5.60

C. Bopp for Sunday school until October 1st 25.00
September 21st. Th. Dingeldey Sunday school until October 1st 25.00
September 27 Gutenberg Co. for advertisements 2.00


October 1st. For the Jaldo talk 12.54

To Gutenberg Co. for advertisements 1.00
June 23rd. Clemens Vonnegut for Sunday school books 1.60
September 19th. The same for the same 8.00
November 23rd. F. Schulmeyer for collection 10.85
December 10th. Ernst Knotel for Sunday school from September first to December first, 1871 25.00
December 15th. Theodor Dingeldey for Sunday school from October 1, 1871 to January 1, 1872 25.00
December 15th. C. Bopp for Sunday school from October 1, 1871 to January 1, 1872 25.00

Carried over 108.99

Income Since the First of April
January 1872 Carried over $201.00
January 30th. Contributions delivered to the treasurer 26.00


April 3rd. as ready cash of the treasurer 25.06
April 3rd. as an error in the last balance 1.74
April 3rd. as cash from Mr. Post 10.00
April 7th. as contributions collected by Schulmeyer, January to May 96.25
April 7th. as cash from Mr. Reese, quarterly contributions 2.50
June 10 as cash from W. Flickinger 1.00
June 30 as cash from Charles Gauss 2.50
July 18 Collected by Schulmeyer as cash from Henry Reese, quarterly contribution, April to January 2.50
September 2nd. Collected by Schulmeyer 18.00
November 25th. Collected by Mr. Ramp 55.50
November 25th Cash from H. Reese, quarterly contribution from July to September 2.50
November 25th. Cash from Chs. Gauss 2.50
January 5th. Collected by A. Ramp 17.00
April 5th. Collected by A. Ramp 115.00
April 7th. Cash from Mr. Reese, semi-annual contribution 2.50


April As balance with the treasurer Henry Reese 159.77
April 21st. as cash from Mr. Scheller 7.50
June 10th. Collected by R. Sticker 71.75
January 16th. Interest from C. Vonnegut 4.70


1871 and 1872 Expenditures
January Carried over $108.99
January 30th. Schulmeyer for collection 11.65
January 31st. Clemens Vonnegut for Sunday school books 2.55
February Gutenberg Co. for advertisements 1.50
February 29th. E. Knotel for Sunday school books until May first 25.00
May 12th. C. Bopp for Sunday school until April first. 25.00
May 12th. Clemens Vonnegut for Sunday school books 2.25
May 31st. Th. Dingeldey Sunday school until April first 25.00
April 1st. Balance $25.06


April 7th. F. Schulmeyer for collection $9.60
April 7th. to the same for services rendered 26.00
April 8th. to Personal Establishment to bind books 11.45
April 29th. to C. Vonnegut for Sunday school books 6.40
May to Robertson and Schindler 10 yards of drilling 2.00
May 27th to Clemens Vonnegut, Sunday school books 14.95
June to Th. Dingeldey Sunday school books until July first 25.00
June 27th. to C. Bopp for the same 25.00
June 27th. to E. Knotel for the same 33.33
June 28th. Gutenberg Co. for advertisements 2.50
September to Mrs. Schulmeyer for collection 8.70

February 28th. Charles Gauss for books to C. Steiger 64.35
April 3rd. Hubert Recker for bookcase 35.00
April 3rd. Balance with the treasurer $159.77


April 21st. to Mr. H. Lieber per Mrs. Neimann $6.50
May 7th. to H. Lieber per C. Steiger in NY 12.51

January 30th. Telegraph, Gutenberg Co. 1.00
February 5th. Gutenberg Co. 1.00
May 5th. cash to the treasurer 222.71




Sunday, July 9, 1882
Annual Meeting and Election of Officers

The president of the association, Mr. Phil. Rappaport, reported on the activity of the association in the past year, which on the whole can be called very successful. His report contained various recommendations for the new executive committee. These were distributed to the assembly for discussion. Namely, the question was raised whether to hold a picnic this year; a lively discussion. All present were agreed that a picnic should by held again this year, because freethinker picnics have always provided an exceptional amount of pleasure for all participants.

Another suggestion of the president was likewise accepted. It was a recommendation to the new executive committee to select an entertainment committee that would consist mainly of younger members, in whom leadership of the socials gatherings of the coming winter season would be entrusted.

In this report the president also remembered the members of the Freethinker Society who died this year, Rudolph Tschentscher and Dr. Max Schneller. He asked all present to stand in silence in memory of the deceased. The president's report and recommendations were accepted, as well as the report of Treasurer Koehne. The report the latter is the gratifying fact that the Freethinker Society has gained many new members in the past year so that it now has the impressive number of 80 members. (Full report see next page.)

The election of officers was undertaken in the customary way of the Freethinker Society. Five officers were elected who then divided the offices among themselves. The election results are as follows: Chas. Koehne, Phil. Rappaport, Gottlieb C. Krug, Miss Fanni Oppenheimer, Clemens Vonnegut, Sr.

Dr. Hugo Pantzer served as protocol secretary of the meeting. His minutes read as follows:

[advertisement inset]

Indianapolis, July 1, 1882


The Treasurer of the Freethinkers Society for the Year 1881/1882

Since the last statement, which reported a balance of $166.65 the income proceeds were as follows:

Dues collected $219.25
Sale of tickets for 4 talks 26.00
Surplus of the finance account 23.00
Interest on deposited money 5.80
Total $440.90
Expenditures in the same period:
For collectors' fees $20.75
For Sunday school, teachers(40.00), janitor(10.00), coal(4.00), advertisements(5.00) 59.00
For 4 talks(95.00) including tickets(2.50) 97.00
For settlement of the annual Freethinker contribution 12.00
For rent, Turnhalle(38.50) and Maennerchor Hall(15.00) 53.00
For advertisements (of meetings) 27.00
For the share (half) of funeral costs, for Dr. Scheller 24.63
For deficit from the picnic, 1881 16.46
Total Expenditure $310.84
There remains thus in the treasury $130.06


Annual Meeting of the Indianapolis Freethinker
Society, Held in the Turnhalle on July 9, 1882

The association's speaker, Mr. Phillip Rappaport, called the meeting to order and gave an oral report on behalf of the executive committee on the activity of the association in the past year. It was reported that the association had been well attended, that only one talk had been given by local forces (Mr. Rappaport) while 4 had been given through external offices, the latter by Messrs. Reitzel and Schütz, whose talks were well attended, especially that of Mr. Reitzel. The reason that Mr. Schütz had a smaller audience, according to executive members, was that his came during the week, when, as experience has shown, talks of any kind are poorly attended.

Further, the report mentioned the Sunday school, the picnic and other matters, which will not be dealt with at this point since they will be mentioned later in the minutes. In his conclusion, the speaker asked all gathered to silently stand in memory of this year's deceased, Dr. Max Scheller and Mr. Tschentscher. The requested honor was observed.

The speaker's report was accepted. Resolved: to discuss each recommendation of the report individually. After a five-minute recess with refreshments, the assembly appointed Dr. Pantzer secretary pro. tem.

Now Mr. Koehne presents his report, which was accepted as read for entry in the minutes. It reads as follows:
[see previous page]

Mr. Rappaport suggested that the association's copy of the "Freidenker," which had been sent to him until August, should be addressed to a member whose circumstances do not provide the means for his own subscription to the "Freidenker." Mr. Koehne wished that the person would undertake to circulate the copies among members in the same circumstances. The whole matter was deferred to the new executive committee.

Resolved: to hold a picnic again this year, at which the invited guests of members would enjoy equal rights with them, without special payment.
Resolved: to also defer to the new executive committee the selection and renting of the place.

Resolved: the new executive committee will elect an entertainment committee for the coming year. It will see to the entertainment activities of the society.
Resolved: the new executive committee should call a membership meeting of the association prior to (the) reopening of the Sunday school to discuss its necessity and advantages.
Resolved: to approve the recommendation of the old executive committee to always combine debates and talks with social entertainment, and to recommend that this be the task of the next entertainment committee.
Resolved: the new executive committee should make arrangements for meeting the wishes of members in regard to debates. It is left up to it as to whether this is done through a voluntary fund or is made possible in some other way.

The election of the new executive committee then took place with the following results: Chas. Koehne, Phil. Rappaport, Cl. Vonnegut, Sr., Miss Fanni Oppenheimer and Gottlieb Krug, who will divide the 5 offices of the executive committee among themselves.

Adjournment then followed.

H. Pantzer, Sec. pro. tem.


Thursday, July 13, 1882

Executive committee meeting. Those present were Charles Koehne, Gottlieb Krug, Philip Rappaport and Fanni Oppenheimer.

The offices were divided as follows:
President Phil. Rappaport
Vice-President Gottl. Krug
Protocol Secretary
Corresponding Secretary
Treasurer Charles Koehne

The following gentlemen were elected to the entertainment committee: Charles Grobe, Albert Krug, Caspar Hedderich, Charles Ziegler and Armin Bohn.

Resolved, that the members of this committee be invited to all executive committee meetings.
Resolved, to hold a picnic in Meyer's Grove on July 30th.


Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

Thursday, July 27, 1882

Executive committee meeting. The executive committee and the entertainment committee had a joint meeting in order to discuss preparations for the picnic. It was decided that members or invited guests attending the picnic each have to pay $1.00, but that food and drink should then be provided free for them and their immediate families.


Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

Sunday, July 30, 1882

Large picnic. The picnic took place in Meyer's Grove and was favored with the most beautiful weather. There were numerous participants, and the mood could not have been better. It was arranged ahead of time that the gentlemen would pay one dollar and their immediate families would receive free food and drink. I am not sure whether appetite and thirst were so exceptionally keen because of this arrangement or because of the fresh air and the "enlivening" play at forfeits, but I am sure that a bit of a deficit was found in the resulting receipts.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

Tuesday, September 25, 1882.

The executive committee and the entertainment committee met in a joint meeting in the office of the Indiana Tribune in order to draft a plan for the winter season. Absent were Messrs. Charles Grobe, C. Hedderich and Ch. Ziegler, all members of the entertainment committee.

Resolved: to hold the opening ceremony for the beginning of the season on October 8th. It is planned as a social entertainment evening. The entertainment committee is responsible for the program.

The next meeting is scheduled for October 15th. This meeting is called to hear the opinion of members and friends of the society on the continuation of the Freethinkers Sunday School. It should also be discussed if the founding of a school for continuing education, as suggested recently in the "Tribune," would be desirable. This school would aim at instructing young people who have already outgrown their childhood years in fields like history and literature.

The first lecture is to take place on October 29. A social evening shall follow on November 12. On November 26, lectures on compulsory education are scheduled in the following manner: The Freethinkers Society will award two prizes for the two best lectures. The lectures may not exceed 15 minutes and have to be written .

The executive committee has otherwise refrained from scheduling events for the winter season. We would first like to see if speakers can be found in our city to give a lecture at the freethinkers meetings. Furthermore, outside speakers will be engaged again this year and topics for debates are being considered.

An invitation by Lyra to attend the inauguration of their new hall on October 3rd was received with many thanks. The secretary was charged with answering the letter.

The corresponding secretary was also charged with asking Mr. Boppe in Milwaukee as well as Mr. Fritz Schütz in [ ] Minn. if they would be interested in giving a lecture here at their convenience.

Adjournment then followed.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Secr.

Sunday, October 8, 1882.

Opening of the new season.

Attendance was very well and everybody present enjoyed some pleasant hours. Mr. Albert Krull opened the entertainment evening with a solo on the piano, a double quartet of the Lyra then performed a song which was very well received.

Miss. Nannie Schnull, with her pleasant voice, earned much applause with her two presentations. Mr. Rappaport gave a short speech pointing out the aspirations of the society. He encouraged members as well as non-members to participate actively and to support the society through lectures and debates. He pointed out in particular the award to be given for the lecture and hoped that as many as possible would participate in the competition. Miss Marie Schulmeyer recited a suitable poem and enjoyed much applause . Mr. Rappaport also recited a poem.

The Lyra double quartet sang again at the end, and everybody left with the assurance of good entertainment, even though the evening ended a little too early.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Secr.

Sunday evening, October 15, 1882.

The meeting called for today in the Turnhalle concerned the question if it is desirable to continue the Sunday School and also to establish a school for continuing education. Mr. Rappaport took the opportunity and presented to the gathered the following resolutions before discussing the agenda for today.

We are filled with deepest regret by the death of our member Wilhelm Reger, especially since he died suddenly and unexpectedly in an accident. We therefore resolve to express our condolences to the family of the deceased member in a most heartfelt manner. Not only do we lose in him a good and active member and a loyal comrade but also a good man whose unpretentious character, honesty and unselfishness was a pleasure to all of us.

The resolutions were passed unanimously.

Mr. Rappaport then explained the usefulness of a school for continuing education and the Sunday School. He encouraged the gathered to express their opinion in the matter and make practical suggestions. The matter was discussed and it was agreed on almost unanimously that such a school would be desirable. Considering the Sunday School, it was suggested to maybe find volunteers to teach the classes. Mesdames Müller, Ida Steffens, Fanni Oppenheimer and Flora Koster as well as Messrs. Vonnegut, Sr. and P. Rappaport agreed to alternately teach classes. At least the continuation of the Sunday School seems thus guaranteed. Concerning the school for continuing edution, a definite agreememt could not be reached, in particular the question of raising money remains unclear. Mr. Vonnegut's motion was adopted and the executive committee of the Freethinkers Society was asked to contact the board of directors of the Social Turnverein as well as professional teachers. This question will be discussed further in a meeting next Wednesday.

Fanni Oppenheimer

Wednesday, October 18.

The executive committees of the Freethinkers Society and the Social Turnverein had a joint meeting concerning the founding of a school for continuing education. The advantages of such a school were clear to all present; only the ways and means of how to raise the necessary resources caused some boggling of minds. Finally it was decided to assign a rough estimate of costs to Mr. Vonnegut and Mr. Pingpank, the latter having been called in to participate as an expert in such matters.

Fanni Oppenheimer

Monday, October 23, 1882

The executive committee of the Freethinkers Society and the teaching staff of the Sunday school, i.e. Messrs. Vonnegut, Sr., Philip Rappaport (the latter was unable to attend, however) and Mesdames Miller, Steffens, Koster and Oppenheimer held a meeting about the next steps in regard to the Sunday school and the continuing education school. It was decided to open the Sunday school on October 29th and, in fact, to admit all children free of charge. Mr. C. Bopp was employed as singing teacher at payment of $1.00 per hour.

Regarding the continuing education school, it was decided to raise its support money through voluntary contributions.


Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


Sunday, October 29, 1882

A talk by Mr. Carl Pingpank on the findings of language research.

A talk by Mr. Pingpank on the findings of language research was presented under the auspices of the Freethinkers Society to a very numerous audience.

The speaker introduced his talk by showing the importance of linguistic study, which deserves to stand side by side with modern natural science. When the discoveries of modern scholars of language have not met with the same attention and popularity as the modern natural scientists, it is mainly because people have associated language scholarship with grammar and have not been able to give attention to knowledge that seems to them unpleasant and boring because of this notion. The speaker then took up the nature of language in general. This he characterized as a prerogative of the human being among all creatures, for even in the case of the most highly organized mammals, the apes, which in other respects are frighteningly similar to us--particularly in the formation of mouth parts that could produce sounds similar to human ones--there is no trace of language. The speaker then described the difference between classic philology and the more modern linguistic science. He then took up the classification of language and concluded with an overview of its developmental stages. The talk was extremely profound. It is only regrettable that the various comments were not based on examples which would have improved the audience's understanding considerably. Also, we would have appreciated a more detailed treatment of the last section on the origin of language, which is especially interesting to a lay audience.

The people there would no doubt have listened to an expanded treatment with great interest, because it was evident from the quiet in the hall that the speaker had managed to engross his audience to an exceptional degree.

It also should be noted clearly that the applause given the speaker was not just a polite gesture, but sincere recognition for his first-rate performance.

After the conclusion of the talk the executive committee met for a short consultation about

the continuing education school. It was decided to open the school on November 6th.

Because the school involves considerable expense, it is reasonable for the association to expect participants in instruction to make a small contribution. Therefore tuition is being set at 50 cents per month, payable monthly in advance.

It was resolved to form a school board for the continuing education school. It will consist of the following elected members: Messrs. Cl. Vonnegut, Phil. Rappaport and Charles Koehne. It was also resolved to always invite any teachers involved in executive committee discussions to attend.

Adjournment followed.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

November 19, 1882

The social sponsored by the Freethinkers Society in Turner Hall last evening was very well attended.

Members and friends of the association attended in large numbers, and it seemed that all the people there had an extremely good time.

After the social had been opened by a piano solo performed by Mr. Krull, Miss Anna Despa sang a song in her usual accomplished manner, receiving exceptionally great and well deserved applause. People liked her performance so much that she had to fulfill the request for a second solo later in the evening.

Messrs. Hoffmann and Schwarze sang comical songs that were indeed so comical that people laughed until they cried. Mr. Hoffmann is inexhaustible in creating such performances, and his delivery is so charming that one really could bear a grudge against his father, because he kept such a genius from the stage.

Mr. Wohlleben received much applause with his presentation of a comical poem, and Mrs. Schulmeyer also gave a humorous declamation that received much applause.

Mr. Rappaport was also rewarded with stormy applause for his presentation.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


November 26th, 8:00 p.m.

Executive committee meeting on the premises of the "Indiana Tribune."

It was decided to spend $5.00 for the prize awards for the contest.

Resolved: to hold the next social evening on November 30th.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

November 30, 1882.

Last evening, the speech contest sponsored by the Freethinkers Society took place at the Turnhalle.

Four persons, namely Messrs. Vonnegut, Sr. and Pflumm and Mesdames Ida Steffens and Müller, participated in the contest, in which they read aloud short essays on compulsory education.

All spoke in favor of compulsory education.

The talks were given in the order submitted to the contest judges. Mr. Vonnegut spoke first, then Miss Steffens followed by Herr Pflum, and Miss Müller last.

After the works were read aloud, the panel of judges-- consisting of Messrs. Chas. Koehne, Carl Pingpank and Phil. Rappaport--retired to an adjoining room to make their decision.

After considerable deliberation, the conclusion of the judges was given to the assembly, and the decision was as follows: Mr. Vonnegut would have deserved the prize because of his good delivery if he had held strictly to the prescribed topic. But his talk dealt with the benefits of instruction rather than with the advantages of compulsory education.

Miss Steffen's talk was not as thorough as Mr. Pflumm's but her delivery and pronunciation were significantly better, for Mr. Pflumm spoke somewhat quickly and unclearly.

Miss Müller had already told the judges before starting her talk that she had little time to prepare and therefore had not expected a prize.

On the basis of these considerations, the panel decided to award the two prizes to Miss Steffens and Mr. Pflumm, and since under the circumstances it was difficult to decide which of the two had earned first prize, it seemed appropriate to let them divide the prizes between themselves, especially since the two prizes were of equal value.

The prizes were Byron's Works and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and Dante's Divine Comedy.

After the awarding of prizes, Mr. Rappaport gave a talk on the topic at hand, which he had written several years earlier, and finally Mr. Grumann also spoke on this question.

Afterwards the people there stayed for a good while socializing.

Adjournment came at a late hour.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

December 18, 1882.

Last evening the Freethinkers Society sponsored a debate on women's suffrage.

It was initiated by the ladies, Mrs. Rappaport and Miss Koster, who gave positive arguments. Messrs. Sputh and Pflumm presented the negative case. The debate was extremely interesting because great differences of opinion emerged. But the majority spoke in favor of women's suffrage, namely Koehne, Rappaport, Weymann, A. Bohn, A. Grumann and Mesdames Oppenheimer, Frauenholtz, Müller and Rappaport. Besides Messrs. Pflumm and

[119] Schuth, Mr. Ch. Weil also spoke in opposition.

In the same meeting, Mr. Pingpank read a status report on the continuing education school.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

January 1, 1883

The Freethinkers Society and the Social Turnverein greeted the new year in the Turnhalle. It was a sociable gathering, one big family that bade the old year farewell in splendid harmony and greeted the entry of the new year with cheers. The evening was filled out by a very good program.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

January 15, 1883.

The meeting of the Freethinker Society last evening was very well attended, considering how dangerous it was to walk on the icy sidewalks, and that many perhaps preferred not to venture out. The entertainment began with a piano piece presented by Mr. Weymann and Miss Kerber.

Then Mr. Koehne introduced Weymann to the assembly as the speaker of the evening. Mr. Weymann spoke on the relations between Germans and Americans in the United States. He referred to the fact that in general Americans bear considerable hatred of strangers for the Germans and let them know, as often as possible, that they are only being tolerated, and that only Americans can lay claim to being master of the land.

The speaker then attempted to put the injustice of the treatment in the correct light and critized Americans particularily for estalishing the word "dutsch" as the incorrect and degrading term for "Deutsch."

He criticized Americans for not wanting to recognize Germans in political life, so that while heartily railing against the Germans, it never occurs to anyone to appreciate a Dekalb, a Steuben, a Sigel, etc.

Although this hatred of strangers on the part of Americans cannot be denied, it nevertheless seems to us as if the speaker were somewhat pessimistic in this matter. He might have investigate more thoroughly the cause underlying this hatred in many cases, and should have given more consideration to the fact that the Germans themselves are often to blame when foreign nations do not acquaint themselves with their language and therefore their achievements.

Let us look at our own immediate surroundings. Is it not actually the Germans themselves who in many cases pride themselves on disclaiming their heritage?

Many German parents who themselves hardly understand English, let alone speak it, find it necessary to speak English with their children, because they never managed to impart a sense of the beauty of the German language to them. Under such circumstances it is no wonder that the American finds it no more worthwhile than these mothers to study the German language in order to learn appreciation of German literature.

Also, it would have indeed been better if the speaker had mentioned a Heinzen, Hecker, Douai or Schurz, rather than the gentlemen he named.

Finally, it seems that the topic, like no other topic, was most suitable to awaken in Germans first and foremost the warning: "Look within, then look about."

Every such discussion can contribute to learning to recognize one's own errors, and only on the basis of such knowledge will we manage to win the respect we deserve from other nations.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.

February 19, 1883.

Executive Committee Meeting

It was decided to engage Mr. Fritz Schütz for a talk or a debate on March 11th. The debate would be between the outside speaker and Mr. Rappaport.

Fanni Oppenheimer, Sec.


March 12, 1883.

A large audience was gathered in the Turnhalle last evening to hear the talk by Mr. Fr. Schütz on the topic: "Communism Means Slavery, Death," and the debate that followed.

The room was filled to the last seat, an indication that the audience took an interest both in the speaker and the topic.

Mr. Schütz gave short description of current conditions in the introduction of his talk, and he said that relief was urgently needed, but that he could not glimpse any relief in communism. He then gave a description of the communist state, as in his view it would have to emerge. He based this description on manifestations in the various communist communities, on various comments by Bebel, Liebknecht, Bruno Geiser related to co-operative labor and organization of labor. On this basis Mr. Schütz was of the opinion that the state would have to determine what each person may eat, how each person has to dress, and where he must reside. In short, all individuality would be suppressed. Luxury, which occupies so many hands, would have to end, because, in keeping with equality, whatever cannot be produced in sufficient quantity for all would not be produced. A cessation of intellectual aspirations would occur, because everything "would be dictated from above, and there would be neither motivation nor possibility" for the individual to distinguish himself. But where would the world be without great men? In such a communist state nothing but slavery and conditioning would reign, and the result would be a regression of humanity, intellectually and physically.

Mr. Schütz spoke for nearly one hour, and it was already 9:30 when the debate began with Mr. Rappaport's speech.

Mr. Rappaport said approximately the following: if what Mr. Schütz described were really communism, then he would be correct. But this is not communism. If the communist state were ever introduced, then Mr. Schütz would fare in respect to its arrangement much the same as Prof. Wiggins with his great storm. Mr. Schütz should consider the facts that men like Bebel and Liebknech, who sacrifice liberty and property for their cause, cannot possibly teach such notions which are contrary to freedom. Mr. Schütz seems not to know the modern socialist content of the word communism, seems to forget that in the course of time words often acquire a completely different meaning from the original ones. Here Mr. Rappaport gave as examples the words "gemein" (mean, common) and "Denunziant" (informer).

The word communism is often used today to indicate merely a legal concept or idea opposed to individualism, but not the practical attempts which have been made towards carrying out this idea. From a man of Mr. Schütz's level of education one would expect that a distinction between abstract legal idea in the raw attempts at implementation would be drawn.

Mr. Schütz forgets that progress does not proceed in leaps, but follows the path of development. How the communist state will develop in the future cannot be said today, and it would be useless and pointless to attempt to scribble a detailed picture. But such frightening visions as Mr. Schütz described only exist in his head and, unfortunately, also yet in the heads of others. Progress moves in the direction of freedom, and such circumstances as Mr. Schütz has thought up are impossible.

Today every individual confronts the whole of the rest of humanity and must fight to get from it whatever he wants to enjoy. The fundamental principle of today's social order is: "Everyone for himself and against all others. That is individualism." To this we offer the contrary principle: One for all, and all for one. That is communism. Which is the more humane principle? We must leave to time how this principle will be carried out in the future, a time in which this principle will be universally accepted as the legal concept and legal basis. Today we can do nothing more than preach this principle and suggest reforms that are possible today, yet have the recognition of this principle of their purpose.

With equal possibilities of enjoyment, of course, what is termed luxury would cease, because then the best is indeed good enough for everyone. Under individualism, individuality is destroyed. Under communism it acquires validity because the human being is relieved of the struggle of existence. The rights to enjoyment will no longer depend upon natural advantage, but will be the same for all.


Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 1
Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 2
Freethinkers' Minutes, Part 3

Return to Freethinker Society of Indianapolis minutes, 1870-1890 EXAMINE page

Created: 12 June 1998, CAC
Updated: 8 February 1999, BAS