Elihu Palmer, Principles of Nature (1801)

Principles of nature

Principles of Nature: Booksellers in England were jailed for printing this work.

This work by Elihu Palmer, a friend of Thomas Paine, is sometimes known as the "Bible" of American deism. Deism, the philosophical belief in a supreme being that can be understood rationally without organized religion, became influential in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Reason. Palmer, also a great orator, helped organize the Deistical Society of New York and founded two deist newspapers, The Temple of Reason and Prospect, or View of the Moral World.

First printed in America, Palmer's book was published in London in 1819 by the bookseller Richard Carlile. His wife Jane did the work while he was in jail on a sentence for printing other publications. Carlile received an additional sentence for Palmer's book, and in 1824, other booksellers were jailed for three years each for publishing Palmer's Principles of Nature and Paine's The Age of Reason.

Clements Library copy of Principles of Nature