Robert G. Ingersoll

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Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899) was a prominent American atheist lecturer and writer. A hero from the Civil War and a leading Republican, he was one of the most dynamic speakers of the late 19th century, but he made few converts to his cause. His greatest speech was the "Plumed Knight" nomination of James G. Blaine for president in 1876. Blaine lost the nomination. Ingersoll's sudden death gave rise to unfounded rumors that he had made a conversion to religion on his deathbed.


Although his agnosticism was controversial, his legal and political theories reveal a faith in scientific rationality and human progress, common ideas for modernizers of the Gilded Age.

Further reading

  • Smith, Frank. Robert G. Ingersoll: A Life (1990). 417 pp.
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