KNEELAND, ABNER, 1774-1844; was first a Baptist preacher. then a Universalist, and finally a Deist. From 1821 to 1823 he edited a periodical in Philadelphia; iu 1828 he edited the Olive Branch in New York; and in 1830 founded in Boston the Investigator, a weekly expositor of his deistical views, and which is still in existence. He was also for several years in Boston the instructor of a deistical society meeting in Julien hall; and in 1830, when William Lloyd Garrison had sought in vain for a church or hall in which to speak upon slavery and was about to resort to the common, Mr. Kneeland and his friends offered him the use of the hall under their control, and there his lectures were delivered. In 1836 he was tried in the supreme court of Massachusetts for blas phemy, uttered in his own paper. The words chiefly relied upon to support the charge were: " He believes in a God, which I do not," the words being taken as a denial of God's existence. Mr. Kneeland, in his defense, declared that the comma after tile word God was erroneously inserted, and that all he meant to affirm was that he did not believe in the same God that his opponent did. At the first trial the jury stood 11 for convic
tion and 1 for acquittal, the dissentient being Charles Gordon Greene of the Horning Post, now one of the oldest citizens of Boston. A second trial resulted in conviction and Mr. Kneeland was sentenced to imprisonment for a short term in the Boston jail. His conviction was disapproved by many earnest Christian men, who thought it an infraction of the true liberty of speech and calculated to bring Christianity into reproach. The rev. Dr. ()banning and other eminent citizens united in a public protest against the prosecution. There has been no prosecution under the statute since that day, though hundreds of men have avowed their disbelief in God in terms far more offensive than those used by Mr. Kneeland. Public opinion upon the just limitations of the freedom of the press has greatly changed since that day. Mr. Kneeland died at Salubria, Ind. Among his publications were: The Deist; Lectures on Universal Salvation; A Translation of the New Testament; and A Review of the Evidences of Christianity.