"The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall." Thomas Paine, 1794
Voices of Reason is a non-partisan forum where policies, issues, and ideas are debated on their merits, the facts, and rational argumentation. A new voice is expressed every Sunday.
Since its inception in April, 2004, Voices of Reason has welcomed reader participation, not only through the comments pages, but also through guest pieces expressing opinion from across the political & cultural spectrum. If you would like to contribute a piece, please e-mail it to for consideration.
Who's Who On The Masthead
Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer. Called "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia," Douglass was one of the most prominent figures of African American history during his time, and one of the most influential lecturers and authors in American history... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Thomas Jefferson(See Editor's note.) (April 13, 1743 N.S. – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and an influential founder of the United States. With James Madison he founded the Democratic-Republican Party in 1792. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Embargo Act of 1807, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806)... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) was a major political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha — resistance through mass civil disobedience strongly founded upon ahimsa (non-violence) becoming one of the strongest philosophies of freedom struggles worldwide. Gandhi is commonly known and spoken of worldwide as Mahatma Gandhi... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Fannie Lou Hamer (born Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977) was an American voting rights activist and civil rights leader. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi's "Freedom Summer" for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in that capacity. Her plain-spoken manner and fervent belief in the Biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker and constant champion of civil rights... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (born 18 July 1918) was the first President of South Africa to be elected in fully-representative democratic elections. Before his presidency he was a prominent anti-apartheid activist and leader of the African National Congress. He was tried and imprisoned for his involvement in underground armed resistance activities. The armed struggle was a last resort; he had remained steadfastly committed to non-violence. Through his 27-year imprisonment, much of it spent in a cell on Robben Island, Mandela became the most widely-known figure in the struggle against South African apartheid. Although the apartheid regime and nations sympathetic to it considered him and the ANC to be communists and terrorists, the armed struggle was an integral part of the overall campaign against apartheid. The switch in policy to that of reconciliation, which Mandela pursued upon his release in 1990, facilitated a peaceful transition to fully-representative democracy in South Africa... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), better known by the pen name Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, essayist, deist and philosopher. Voltaire was known for his sharp wit, philosophical writings, and defense of civil liberties, including freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform despite strict censorship laws in France and harsh penalties for those who broke them. A satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize Church dogma and the French institutions of his day. Voltaire is considered one of the most influential figures of his time... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a theoretical physicist. He formulated the special and general theories of relativity. In addition, he made significant contributions to quantum theory and statistical mechanics. While best known for the Theory of Relativity (and specifically mass-energy equivalence, E=mc²), he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905 (his "wonderful year" or "miraculous year") and "for his services to Theoretical Physics". For his many contributions Einstein is widely regarded as one of the greatest physicists who ever lived. In popular culture, the name "Einstein" has become synonymous with great intelligence and genius... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American political activist, the most famous leader of the American civil rights movement, and a Baptist minister. Considered a peacemaker throughout the world for his promotion of nonviolence and equal treatment for different races, he received the Nobel Peace Prize before he was assassinated in 1968. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter in 1977, the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004, and in 1986, Martin Luther King Day was established in his honor. King's most influential and well-known speech is the "I Have A Dream" speech... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American political leader who used her stature as First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945 to promote her husband's (Franklin D. Roosevelt's) New Deal, as well as Civil Rights. After his death she built a career as an author-speaker, a New Deal Coalition advocate and spokesperson for human rights. She was a First-wave feminist (though she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment) and was an activist role model as First Lady. Eleanor was a leader in forming the United Nations, the United Nations Association and Freedom House. She chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. President Harry S. Truman called her the First Lady of the World in honor of her extensive human rights promotions... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873), English philosopher and political economist. In metaphysics and epistemology, Mill was an exponent of British empiricism; in ethics and politics, he is widely recognized as one of the most influential theorists of classical utilitarianism and liberalism... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Albert Schweitzer, M.D. (January 14, 1875 – September 4, 1965) was a German Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. He was born in Kaysersberg, Alsace-Lorraine, Germany (now in Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France). He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for founding the Lambaréné Hospital in Gabon, west central Africa... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Harriet Tubman (c. 1822–March 10, 1913), also known as "Black Moses, "Grandma Moses," or "Moses of Her People," was an African-American abolitionist. An escaped slave, she worked as a lumberjack, laundress, nurse, and cook. As an abolitionist, she acted as intelligence gatherer, refugee organizer, raid leader, nurse, and fundraiser... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist who achieved lasting fame by producing considerable evidence that species originated through evolutionary change, at the same time proposing the scientific theory that natural selection is the mechanism by which such change occurs. This theory is now considered a cornerstone of biology... Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of an American abolitionist born into slavery from Hurley, New York. (Her original name was Isabella Baumfree, but some sources list her name as Isabella Van Wagener.).. Continue reading the Wikipedia Biography.
Editor's Note: I understand how reasonable people might question why I've chosen to include some of these historic figures in the masthead, particularly Thomas Jefferson, who not only did nothing to end the practice of slavery but actively participated in it as a slaveowner. What they all have in common, however, is that they championed the use of reason to advance society; however imperfect their records, it's my judgment that we are forever indebted to them. Societal injustice will always exist. It's the burden and duty of each generation to use the example of those who came before, taking care to weigh their various successes and failures, to ensure that reason and justice continue to guide our public discourse.