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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Holmes, Oliver Wendell (1809-1894)
"The man who is always worrying about whether or not his soul would be damned generally has a soul that isn't worth a damn."

"Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes


Oliver Wendell Holmes the elder, was a physician by profession but achieved fame as a writer; he was one of the best regarded American poets of the 19th century.

He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of a minister. He was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and at Harvard University. He first attained national prominence with his poem "Old Ironsides" about the 18th century battleship USS Constitution, which was to be broken up for scrap; the poem generated public sentiment that resulted in the historic ship being preserved as a monument. One of his most popular works was The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. He was one of the five members of the group known as the Fireside Poets. He contributed poems and essays to the Atlantic Monthly from its inception, and also published novels.

His son was Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

In 1846, in a letter to William T. G. Morton, the dentist who was the first practitioner to publicly demonstrate the use of ether during surgery, Holmes coined the word anæsthesia. He was widely known and admired during his life, so much so that the British author Arthur Conan Doyle named his famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes after him.

Holmes died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1894, and is buried in that city's Mount Auburn Cemetery.

 
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