Ingersoll, Robert G.

Good content 1889 LS by the noted agnostic regarding oath taking for public officials

Price: $150.00

Description:
(1833-1899) "The Great Agnostic", Illinois lawyer and politician, Civil War veteran, and orator during the "Golden Age of Free Thought", noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. His father was an abolitionist Congregationalist preacher whose radical views forced his family to move often. The elder Ingersoll's later pastoral experiences influenced young Robert negatively and the unjust and bigoted treatment his father received made him the enemy, first of Calvinism, and later of Christianity in other forms. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1854. As an attorney following the court circuit he often practiced with John A. Logan. Ingersoll moved to Peoria in 1857. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he raised and led the 11th Illinois Vol. Regt. which fought at Shiloh. He was captured Dec. 18, 1862, then paroled (resigning as regiment commander June 30, 1863). After the war, he served as Illinois' Attorney General and was a prominent Republican, though he never held an elected office. His speech nominating James G. Blaine for the 1876 GOP presidential nomination was unsuccessful (Hayes won the nomination), but his "Plumed Knight" speech was seen as a model of political oratory. His radical views on religion, slavery, woman's suffrage, and other issues prevented his pursuing or holding political offices higher than state attorney general. State Republicans urged him to run for governor conditioned on concealing his agnosticism during the campaign; he refused as concealing information from the public was immoral. Ingersoll was the most popular orator of the age, when oratory was public entertainment. His most popular subjects were agnosticism and the sanctity and refuge of the family, committing speeches to memory though sometimes over 3 hours long. Many of his speeches poked fun at religious belief. For this the press often attacked him, but neither his views nor negative press stopped his rising popularity. At the height of his fame, audiences pad $1 or more to hear him speak, a giant sum for his day. Ingersoll enjoyed a friendship with poet Walt Whitman, who considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time. Upon Whitman's death in 1892, Ingersoll delivered the eulogy at the poet's funeral, published to great acclaim. There is a statue of him in Peoria. He is mentioned in works by Ambrose Bierce, William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, James Joyce, P. G. Wodehouse, G. K. Chesterton, and other writers. Good content LS on 11 x 8 1/4"Law Office,/Robert G. Ingersoll/40 Wall Street" letterhead, New York City, April 6 1889, to C. R. Chapman of Chicago. Ingersoll states that he believes "in the propriety of some form of induction into office", but as to swearing an oath on a bible, "'swearing' to support the Constitution and to administer the laws - or to support and administer anything, - that is all worse than nonsense. If a man's word, unsupported by an oath, is not good, his oath cannot and does not help it."

Condition: Good, some light staining , some slight bleeding to the ink (both likely from exposure to dampness)
Type:Letter






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