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As Bradlaugh's health failed he made the decision to resign as President of the National Secular Society. His obvious replacement was George William Foote who assumed office in 1890. Foote had achieved notoriety when he was so appalled by Bradlaugh's treatment that he founded The Freethinker in 1881. He decided to take the battle to the Christian establishment using the weapons of parody and satire: he published a weekly 'Bible cartoon'. Blasphemy prosecutions were brought in 1883 and Foote was sentenced to 12 months in Holloway gaol.

After Bradlaugh's death with the rise of modern party politics, the secular movement was no longer such a significant political force, though established itself as a pressure group. Foote, who continued as editor of The Freethinker and President until 1915, said the 'heroic age' of freethought had passed.