Robert Green Ingersoll
He was a colonel and a speaker. But more than that, he was a thinker and lover. In all his pursuits, he wished to give his fellow men a share of the vision he had; a vision of equality and affection. He did not succumb to the superstitions that plagued the minds of religious men, nor did he accept their bigotry or hatred. In his mind, he knew that all men and women were equal, that the public interest should not be held in the hands of a few powerful, greedy men, that life is a thing of sincerest compassion -- and this man's name was Robert Green Ingersoll.
Robert Ingersoll served for the Union during the Civil War. He eventually was promoted to the rank of Colonel. It was somewhat prophetic that he was a soldier for the Union -- he would come to be one of the greatest Civil Rights leaders of all time. He had little formal education and referred to colleges as places where "pebbles were polished and diamonds dimmed." In Peroia, Ingersoll met and married Eva Brown. She influenced through him through his life greatly. As a child, Ingersoll devoured books. He read everything in his father's library and as he grew older, he began to quote Giordano Bruno. As Ingersoll formed his opinions on ethics and religion, philosophy and supernaturalism, he would come to the position of Agnosticism. In fact, he would come to be known as "The Great Agnostic" (although there were others who called him "The American Demosthanes" and "The Shakespeare of Oratory"). As well as detesting religion, he had a fermented hatred of injustice and cruelty that he displayed for many countless years. Traveling from city to city, drawing crowds the size of 50,000. He was an advocate of freedom and liberty. His entire life may be defined as a struggle for liberty, of which he has said, "Liberty sustains the same relation to mind that space does to matter." [The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1877.] Of Christianity, Ingersoll has said...
"...as a torch-bearer, as a bringer of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite consequences to the acts of finite beings, crushing the soul with a responsibility too great for mortals to bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of men. Not satisfied with that, it has deprived God of the pardoning power." [A Christmas Sermon, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1891.]
With countless essays on religious criticism, Ingersoll was called a daemon by the clergy and detested by many zealots. In one speech, Ingersoll said...
"At that time, cruel punishments were inflicted by all governments. People were torn asunder, mutilated, burned. Every atrocity was perpetrated in the name of justice, and the limit of pain was the limit of endurance. These people imagined that God would do as they would do. If they had had it in their power to keep the victim alive for years in the flames, they would most cheerfully have supplied the fagots. They believed that God could keep the victim alive forever, and that therefore his punishment would be eternal. As man becomes civilized he becomes merciful, and the time came when civilized Presbyterians and Congregationalists read their own creeds with horror.
"I am not saying that the Presbyterian creed is any worse than the Catholic. It is only a little more specific. Neither am I saying that it is more horrible than the Episcopal. It is not. All orthodox creeds are alike infamous. All of them have good things, and all of them have bad things. You will find in every creed the blossom of mercy and the oak of justice, but under the one and around the other are coiled the serpents of infinite cruelty." [Crumbling Creeds, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1890.]
One of his most acclaimed and loved works was The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child. After reading this most magnificent of works, only the hardest of men can claim that they have not been moved. It is an testament of affection, beauty, and love; in this work, virtues close to the heart of every man are presented, and vices close to the minds of every tyrant are held in disgrace. In this magnificent speech, he said...
"There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence.
"The history of man is simply the history of slavery, of injustice and brutality, together with the means by which he has, through the dead and desolate years, slowly and painfully advanced. He has been the sport and prey of priest and king, the food of superstition and cruel might. Crowned force has governed ignorance through fear. Hypocrisy and tyranny -- two vultures -- have fed upon the liberties of man. From all these there has been, and is, but one means of escape -- intellectual development. Upon the back of industry has been the whip. Upon the brain have been the fetters of superstition. Nothing has been left undone by the enemies of freedom. Every art and artifice, every cruelty and outrage has been practiced and perpetrated to destroy the rights of man. In this great struggle every crime has been rewarded and every virtue has been punished. Reading, writing, thinking and investigating have all been crimes.
"Every science has been an outcast.
"All the altars and all the thrones united to arrest the forward march of the human race. The king said that mankind must not work for themselves. The priest said that mankind must not think for themselves. One forged chains for the hands, the other for the soul. Under this infamous regime the eagle of the human intellect was for ages a slimy serpent of hypocrisy.
"The human race was imprisoned. Through some of the prison bars came a few struggling rays of light. Against these bars Science pressed its pale and thoughtful face, wooed by the holy dawn of human advancement. Bar after bar was broken away. A few grand men escaped and devoted their lives to the liberation of their fellows.
"Only a few years ago there was a great awakening of the human mind. Men began to inquire by what right a crowned robber made them work for him? The man who asked this question was called a traitor. Others asked by what right does a robed hypocrite rule my thought? Such men were called infidels. The priest said, and the king said, where is this spirit of investigation to stop? They said then and they say now, that it is dangerous for man to be free. I deny it. Out on the intellectual sea there is room enough for every sail. In the intellectual air there is space enough for every wing.
"The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellowmen." [The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1877.]
Not only was this speech an attack on established religion and its many ruinous doctrines. It was also a confession of sympathy and a declaration to affection. He also said in the speech...
"...what shall I say of children; of the little children in alleys and sub-cellars; the little children who turn pale when they hear their father's footsteps; little children who run away when they only hear their names called by the lips of a mother; little children -- the children of poverty, the children of crime, the children of brutality, wherever they are -- flotsam and jetsam upon the wild, mad sea of life -- my heart goes out to them, one and all.
"I tell you the children have the same rights that we have, and we ought to treat them as though they were human beings. They should be reared with love, with kindness, with tenderness, and not with brutality. That is my idea of children.
"People justify all kinds of tyranny toward children upon the ground that they are totally depraved. At the bottom of ages of cruelty lies this infamous doctrine of total depravity. Religion contemplates a child as a living crime -- heir to an infinite curse -- doomed to eternal fire.
"Yet some Christians, good Christians, when a child commits a fault, drive it from the door and say: 'Never do you darken this house again.' Think of that! And then these same people will get down on their knees and ask God to take care of the child they have driven from home. I will never ask God to take care of my children unless I am doing my level best in that same direction.
"I do not believe in the government of the lash. If any one of you ever expects to whip your children again, I want you to have a photograph taken of yourself when you are in the act, with your face red with vulgar anger, and the face of the little child, with eyes swimming in tears and the little chin dimpled with fear, like a piece of water struck by a sudden cold wind. Have the picture taken. If that little child should die, I cannot think of a sweeter way to spend an autumn afternoon than to go out to the cemetery, when the maples are clad in tender gold, and little scarlet runners are coming, like poems of regret, from the sad heart of the earth -- and sit down upon the grave and look at that photograph, and think of the flesh now dust that you beat. I tell you it is wrong; it is no way to raise children! Make your home happy. Be honest with them. Divide fairly with them in everything.
"Do not treat your children like orthodox posts to be set in a row. Treat them like trees that need light and sun and air. Be fair and honest with them; give them a chance. Recollect that their rights are equal to yours. Do not have it in your mind that you must govern them; that they must obey. Throw away forever the idea of master and slave.
"In old times they used to make the children go to bed when they were not sleepy, and get up when they were. I say let them go to bed when they are sleepy, and get up when they are not sleepy.
"I despise that way of going through this world. Let us have liberty -- Just a little. Call me infidel, call me atheist, call me what you will, I intend so to treat my children, that they can come to my grave and truthfully say: 'He who sleeps here never gave us a moment of pain. From his lips, now dust, never came to us an unkind word.'" [The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1877.]
It is true by almost any standard that Ingersoll was a man of affection and warmth. An intellectual giant, he could see deep and far. He understood the hardships of others, of what their lives consisted of. In doing so, he saw that the concept of Hell was a destructive one. It was during his lifetime that he would try to destroy it and remove it from the minds of every man alive....
"Who can estimate the misery that has been caused by this infamous doctrine of eternal punishment? Think of the lives it has blighted-of the tears it has caused-of the agony it has produced. Think of the millions who have been driven to insanity by this most terrible of dogmas. This doctrine renders God the basest and most cruel being in the universe.... There is nothing more degrading than to worship such a god." [Heretics and Heresies, Robert Green Ingersoll, 1874.]
Also in the speech entitled Heretics and Heresies, he also said, "Liberty, a word without which all words are vain..."
"WHOEVER has an opinion of his own, and honestly expresses it, will be guilty of heresy. Heresy is what the minority believe; it is the name given by the powerful to the doctrine of the weak. This word was born of the hatred, arrogance and cruelty of those who love their enemies, and who, when smitten on one cheek, turn the other. This word was born of intellectual slavery in the feudal ages of thought. It was an epithet used in the place of argument. From the commencement of the Christian era, every art has been exhausted and every conceivable punishment inflicted to force all people to hold the same religious opinions. This effort was born of the idea that a certain belief was necessary to the salvation of the soul. Christ taught, and the church still teaches, that unbelief is the blackest of crimes. God is supposed to hate with an infinite and implacable hatred, every heretic upon the earth, and the heretics who have died are supposed at this moment to be suffering the agonies of the damned. The church persecutes the living and her God burns, for all eternity, the dead." [Heretics and Heresies, Robert Green Ingersoll, 1874.]
Although Ingersoll was certainly not a Christian, he still believed that many of the Christian holidays -- which were based on Paganism -- should still be celebrated for the sake of joy. This seems to be of practical modern knowledge, that even today's non-believers will show reverence for each other on December 25th, be it called Christmas, the birth of Christ, or Saturnalia, the birth of Saturn. In one speech, What I Want For Christmas, Ingersoll said...
"If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow the people to govern themselves. I would have all the nobility crop their titles and give their lands back to the people. I would have the Pope throw away his tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not acting for God -- is not infallible -- but is just an ordinary Italian. I would have all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and clergymen admit that they know nothing about theology, nothing about hell or heaven, nothing about the destiny of the human race, nothing about devils or ghosts, gods or angels. I would have them tell all their 'flocks' to think for themselves, to be manly men and womanly women, and to do all in their power to increase the sum of human happiness. I would have all the professors in colleges, all the teachers in schools of every kind, including those in Sunday schools, agree that they would teach only what they know, that they would not palm off guesses as demonstrated truths. I would like to see all the politicians changed to statesmen, -- to men who long to make their country great and free, -- to men who care more for public good than private gain -- men who long to be of use. I would like to see all the editors of papers and magazines agree to print the truth and nothing but the truth, to avoid all slander and misrepresentation, and to let the private affairs of the people alone." [What I Want For Christmas, Robert Green Ingersoll, December, 1897.]
Of individuality, Ingersoll was a master. Of oratory, he was a genius. Of the things that make a man humane and rational, he was incomparable to others. In several speeches and books, Ingersoll wrote...
"Who at the present day can imagine the courage, the devotion to principle, the intellectual and moral grandeur it once required to be an infidel, to brave the church, her racks, her fagots, her dungeons, her tongues of fire, -- to defy and scorn her heaven and her hell -- her devil and her God? They were the noblest sons of earth. They were the real saviors of our race, the destroyers of superstition and the creators of Science. They were the real Titans who bared their grand foreheads to all the thunderbolts of all the gods.... The church has been, and still is, the great robber. She has rifled not only the pockets but the brains of the world. She is the stone at the sepulchre of liberty; the upas tree, in whose shade the intellect of man has withered; the Gorgon beneath whose gaze the human heart has turned to stone. Under her influence even the Protestant mother expects to be happy in heaven, while her brave boy, who fell fighting for the rights of man, shall writhe in hell. [Individuality, Robert Green Ingersoll, 1873.]
"The intelligent and good man holds in his affections the good and true of every land -- the boundaries of countries are not the limitations of his sympathies. Caring nothing for race, or color, he loves those who speak other languages and worship other gods. Between him and those who suffer, there is no impassable gulf. He salutes the world, and extends the hand of friendship to the human race. He does not bow before a provincial and patriotic god -- one who protects his tribe or nation, and abhors the rest of mankind." [God In The Constitution, Robert Green Ingersoll, date unknown.]
"For many years I have regarded the Pentateuch [first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses] simply as a record of a barbarous people, in which are found a great number of the ceremonies of savagery, many absurd and unjust laws, and thousands of ideas inconsistent with known and demonstrated facts. To me it seemed almost a crime to teach that this record was written by inspired men; that slavery, polygamy, wars of conquest and extermination were right, and that there was a time when men could win the approbation of infinite Intelligence, Justice, and Mercy, by violating maidens and by butchering babes. To me it seemed more reasonable that savage men had made these laws." [Some Mistakes of Moses, Robert Green Ingersoll, October, 1879.]
Ingersoll was a lover of Democracy. He believed that people deserved to choose the journey of their country -- that all people are deserving of this right. In a speech to Chicago, he said...
"This is our country. The legally expressed will of the majority is the supreme law of the land. We are responsible for what our Government does. We cannot excuse ourselves because of the act of some king, or the opinions of nobles. We are the kings. We. are the nobles. We are the aristocracy of America, and when our Government does right we are honored, and when our Government does wrong the brand of shame is on the American brow." [The Chicago and New York Golden Speech, by Robert Green Ingersoll.]
As well as a lover of Democracy, Ingersoll was a lover of freedom and equality. Since Ingersoll was a colonel for the Union in the Army, he held an unbridled love of duty and liberty. It was one of his sole goals in life to eradicate any antipathy held towards minorities. In one speech, he addressed Africans on slavery and its brutality....
"Fellow-Citizens: Slavery has in a thousand forms existed in all ages, and among all people. It is as old as theft and robbery.
"Every nation has enslaved its own people, and sold its own flesh and blood. Most of the white race are in slavery to-day. It has often been said that any man who ought to be free, will be. The men who say this should remember that their own ancestors were once cringing, frightened, helpless slaves.
"When they became sufficiently educated to cease enslaving their own people, they then enslaved the first race they could conquer. If they differed in religion, they enslaved them. If they differed in color, that was sufficient. If they differed even in language, it was enough. If they were captured, they then pretended that having spared their lives, they had the right to enslave them. This argument was worthless. If they were captured, then there was no necessity for killing them. If there was no necessity for killing them, then they had no right to kill them. If they had no right to kill them, then they had no right to enslave them under the pretence that they had saved their lives.
"Every excuse that the ingenuity of avarice could devise was believed to be a complete justification, and the great argument of slave-holders in all countries has been that slavery is a divine institution, and thus stealing human beings has always been fortified with a 'Thus saith the Lord.'" [An Address to the Colored People, Robert G. Ingersoll, 1867.]
In the 1880's, the Supreme Court heard a case for Civil Rights. It was a case to grant equality between different races. To a crowd of people, on the subject of Civil Rights, Ingersoll spoke...
"This decision takes from seven millions of people the shield of the Constitution. It leaves the best of the colored race at the mercy of the meanest of the white. It feeds fat the ancient grudge that vicious ignorance bears toward race and color. It will be approved and quoted by hundreds of thousands of unjust men. The masked wretches who, in the darkness of night, drag the poor negro from his cabin, and lacerate with whip and thong his quivering flesh, will, with bloody hands, applaud the Supreme Court. The men who, by mob violence, prevent the negro from depositing his ballot -- who with gun and revolver drive him from the polls, and those who insult with vile and vulgar words the inoffensive colored girl, will welcome this decision with hyena joy. The basest will rejoice -- the noblest will mourn." [Civil Rights, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1883.]
It was not only for the rights of African humans that Ingersoll fought for. It is clear that he abhorred slavery and detested religious intolerance. He left the Democratic Party and joined the Republic Party, mostly because the Republican Party was against slavery and the Democratic Party embraced it. In fact, he once said, "Most people are Democrats because they hate something, most people a Republicans because they love something." ["Political And Religious," an interview with Robert Green Ingersoll, Chicago Times, November 14, 1879.] When prejudice towards the incoming Chinese population began -- in fact, when anti-Chinese laws were being put into place --, Ingersoll saw it fit to comment on it....
"The average American, like the average man of any country, has but little imagination. People who speak a different language, or worship some other god, or wear clothing unlike his own, are beyond the horizon of his sympathy. He cares but little or nothing for the sufferings or misfortunes of those who are of a different complexion or of another race. His imagination is not powerful enough to recognize the human being, in spite of peculiarities. Instead of this he looks upon every difference as an evidence of inferiority, and for the inferior he has but little if any feeling. If these 'inferior people' claim equal rights be feels insulted, and for the purpose of establishing his own superiority tramples on the rights of the so-called, inferior.
"In our own country the native has always considered himself as much better than the immigrant, and as far superior to all people of a different complexion. At one time our people hated the Irish, then the Germans, then the Italians, and now the Chinese. The Irish and Germans, however, became numerous. They became citizens, and, most important of all, they had votes. They combined, became powerful, and the political parties sought their aid. They had something to give in exchange for protection -- in exchange for political rights. In consequence of this, they were flattered by candidates, praised by the political press, and became powerful enough not only to protect themselves, but at last to govern the principal cities in the United States....
"In olden times each nation hated all others. This was considered natural and patriotic. Spain, after many centuries of war, expelled the Moors, then the Moriscoes, and then the Jews. And Spain, in the name of religion and patriotism, succeeded in driving from its territory its industry, its taste and its intelligence, and by these mistakes became poor, ignorant and weak. France started on the same path when the Huguenots were expelled, and even England at one time deported the Jews. In those days a difference of race or religion was sufficient to justify any absurdity and any cruelty.
"Our Government is founded on the equality of human rights -- on the idea, the sacred truth, that all are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our country is an asylum for the oppressed of all nations -- of all races. Here, the Government gets its power from the consent of the governed. After the abolition of slavery these great truths were not only admitted, but they found expression in our Constitution and laws.
"Shall we now go back to barbarism?
"Russia is earning the hatred of the civilized world by driving the Jews from their homes. But what can the United States say? Our mouths are closed by the Geary Law. We are in the same business. Our law is as inhuman as the order or ukase of the Czar.
"Let us retrace our steps, repeal the law and accomplish what we justly desire by civilized means. Let us treat China as we would England; and, above all, let us respect the rights of Men." [Should the Chinese be Excluded?, by Robert Green Ingersoll, North American Review, July, 1898.]
A firm believer in Civil Rights, Ingersoll fought ardently against Censorship of any kind. Senator Comstock would come to pass a law that disallowed the mailing of any obscene literature. Ingersoll collected the signatures of over 70,000 men who disagreed with the law, causing the senator to repeal the law in place of a lighter Censorship law. The law of Comstock disallowed the publication of any materials that were not Christian. It was during this incident that Robert Ingersoll said the following to the committee for investigating such crimes...
"If we have an interest in the business, I would fight for it. If our cause were assailed by law, then I say fight; and our cause is assailed, and I say fight. They will not allow me, in many States of this Union, to testify. I say fight until every one of those laws is repealed. They discriminate against a man simply because he is honest. Repeal such laws. The church, if it had the power to-day, would trample out every particle of free literature in this land. And when they endeavor to do that, I say fight. But there is a distinction wide as the Mississippi -- yes, wider than the Atlantic, wider than all the oceans -- between the literature of immorality and the literature of Freethought. One is a crawling, slimy lizard, and the other an angel with wings of light. Now, let us draw this distinction, let us understand ourselves, and do not give to the common enemy a word covered with mire, a word stained with cloaca, to throw at us. We thought we had settled that question a year ago. We buried it then, and I say let it rot." [Circulation of Obscene Literature, by Robert Green Ingersoll.]
Another famous incident of the late 1800's was the Trial of C. B. Reynolds. Reynolds had been charged for the crime of blasphemy. It was at this trial that Ingersoll spoke...
"The question to be tried by you is whether a man has the right to express his honest thought; and for that reason there can be no case of greater importance submitted to a jury. And it may be well enough for me, at the outset, to admit that there could be no case in which I could take a greater -- a deeper interest. For my part, I would not wish to live in a world where I could not express my honest opinions. Men who deny to others the right of speech are not fit to live with honest men.
"Are we not all children of the same Mother? Are we not all compelled to think, whether we wish to or not? Can you help thinking as you do? When you look out upon the woods, the fields, -- when you look at the solemn splendors of the night -- these things produce certain thoughts in your mind, and they produce them necessarily. No man can think as he desires. No man controls the action of his brain, any more than he controls the action of his heart. The blood pursues its old accustomed ways in spite of you. The eyes see, if you open them, in spite of you. The ears hear, if they are unstopped, without asking your permission. And the brain thinks in spite of you. Should you express that thought? Certainly you should, if others express theirs. You have exactly the same right. He who takes it from you is a robber." [Trial Of C. B. Reynolds For Blasphemy, Ingersoll addressing the jury.]
It is clear that Ingersoll thought with a clear and open mind. It should also be clear without a doubt that Ingersoll held a deep sense of warmth and kindness in everything he did and everything he wrote or spoke about. It should be no surprise then, that he held a fiery hatred of Corporal Punishment. Of it, he has said...
"The Dean of St. Paul protests against the kindness of parents, guardians and teachers toward children, wards and pupils. He believes in the gospel of ferule and whips, and has perfect faith in the efficacy of flogging in homes and schools. He longs for the return of the good old days when fathers were severe, and children affectionate and obedient.... In America, for many years, even wife-beating has been somewhat unpopular, and the flogging of children has been considered cruel and unmanly. Wives with bruised and swollen faces, and children with lacerated backs, have excited pity for themselves rather than admiration for savage husbands and brutal fathers. It is also true that the church has far less power here than in England, and it may be that those who wander from the orthodox fold grow mindful and respect the rights even of the weakest.... But whatever the cause may be, the fact is that we, citizens of the Republic, feel that certain domestic brutalities are the children of monarchies and despotisms, that they were produced by superstition, ignorance, and savagery; and that they are not in accord with the free and superb spirit that founded and preserves the Great Republic." [Is Corporal Punishment Degrading?, Robert Green Ingersoll, 1891.]
"IN my judgment, no human being was ever made better, nobler, by being whipped or clubbed.
"Mr. Brockway, according to his own testimony, is simply a savage. He belongs to the Dark Ages -- to the Inquisition, to the torture-chamber, and he needs reforming more than any prisoner under his control. To put any man within his power is in itself a crime. Mr. Brockway is a believer in cruelty -- an apostle of brutality. He beats and bruises flesh to satisfy his conscience -- his sense of duty. He wields the club himself because he enjoys the agony he inflicts.
"When a poor wretch, having reached the limit of endurance, submits or becomes unconscious, he is regarded as reformed. During the remainder of his term he trembles and obeys. But he is not reformed. In his heart is the flame of hatred, the desire for revenge; and he returns to society far worse than when he entered the prison.
"Mr. Brockway should either be removed or locked up, and the Elmira Reformatory should be superintended by some civilized man -- some man with brain enough to know, and heart enough to feel." [Cruelty In the Elmira Reformatory, by Robert Green Ingersoll]
It is also true of Ingersoll that he held contempt for the powerful individuals who had control over society but had little care for the public interest. He also detested the very system that allowed such corruption to happen: Capitalism. In one speech, he argues that the minimum hours per week should be lowered....
"I HARDLY know enough on the subject to give an opinion as to the time when eight hours are to become a day's work, but I am perfectly satisfied that eight hours will become a labor day.
"The working people should be protected by law; if they are not, the capitalists will require just as many hours as human nature can bear. We have seen here in America street-car drivers working sixteen and seventeen hours a day. It was necessary to have a strike in order to get to fourteen, another strike to get to twelve, and nobody could blame them for keeping on striking till they get to eight hours.
"For a man to get up before daylight and work till after dark, life is of no particular importance. He simply earns enough one day to prepare himself to work another. His whole life is spent in want and toil, and such a life is without value.
"Of course, I cannot say that the present effort is going to succeed -- all I can say is that I hope it will. I cannot see how any man who does nothing -- who lives in idleness -- can insist that others should work ten or twelve hours a day. Neither can I see how a man who lives on the luxuries of life can find it in his heart, or in his stomach, to say that the poor ought to be satisfied with the crusts and crumbs they get." [Eight Hours Must Come, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1890.]
When we look at Ingersoll and see a man who vigorously attacked revealed religion, Capitalism, Corporal Punishment, slavery, bigotry, and prejudice, we also see a man who attacked injustice and inhumanity; a man whose live consisted of the constant struggles for rights and pleas for humanity. The speeches he delivered brought a thrill to the hearts and minds of Freethinkers. He had numerous goals: to alleviate the brutality done to the workers, to remove the concept of hell from the minds of any believer, to revitalize a sense of humaneness towards every living creature. With consideration, it is easy to see that his primary end was to attain truth. His mind was not burdened with the prejudice of others at his time. He held that men and women, of all races and religions, had undeniable rights. Working relentlessly for these goals, he spent a lifetime speaking to crowds of thousands, trying to give them a glimpse of what it means to be humane and what it means to be rational. Robert Green Ingersoll was a man of duty and unbridled passion.
"The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and fear, beating against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book, nor of any creed, nor of any religion. It was born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death. It is the rainbow -- Hope shining upon the tears of grief." - Robert Green Ingersoll, The Ghosts, 1877.
"BORN of love and hope, of ecstasy and pain, of agony and fear, of tears and joy -- dowered with the wealth of two united hearts -- held in happy arms, with lips upon life's drifted font, blue-veined and fair, where perfect peace finds perfect form -- rocked by willing feet and wooed to shadowy shores of sleep by siren mother singing soft and low -- looking with wonder's wide and startled eyes at common things of life and day -- taught by want and wish and contact with the things that touch the dimpled flesh of babes -- lured by light and flame, and charmed by color's wondrous robes -- learning the use of hands and feet, and by the love of mimicry beguiled to utter speech -- releasing prisoned thoughts from crabbed and curious marks on soiled and tattered leaves -- puzzling the brain with crooked numbers and their changing, tangled worth -- and so through years of alternating day and night, until the captive grows familiar with the chains and walls and limitations of a life." - Robert Green Ingersoll, Life, September 14, 1879.