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Robert G. Ingersoll
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Advocate
    (August 11, 1833-July 21, 1899)
    Born in Dresden, New York
    Attorney/soldier/politician/orator
    Commanded the 11th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Cavalry during the Civil War
    Attorney General of Illinois (1867-69)
    Lecturer on literature, politics, women's rights, freethought and humanism
    Known as 'the Great Agnostic'
    Notable Quotes
    'An honest God is the noblest work of man'
    'Hands that help are far better than lips that pray'
    'An error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it truth'
    'Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself'
    'I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot'
    'Pious ignorance always regards intelligence as a kind of blasphemy'
    'And yet this Deity says to me, 'Resist not evil. Pray for those that despitefully use you. Love thy enemies, but I will eternally damn mine.' It seems to me that even gods should practice what they preach'
    Ironically, he was the son of a clergyman.
    He insisted agnosticism and atheism were the same thing, a view many an agnostic and atheist would disagree with.
    His outspokenness on religion limited his political career.
    He turned down the Republican nomination for governor of Illinois when he was asked to conceal his agnosticism during the campaign: 'I would not smother one sentiment of my heart to be the Emperor of the round world.'
    He supported equal rights for blacks and women.
    Oscar Wilde called him 'the most intelligent man in America.'
    Frederick Douglass said the only two men who never tried to make him feel inferior were Lincoln and Ingersoll.
    The Washington Post wrote, 'He was the Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins of his day, but without those writers' acid tone.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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