Robert Green Ingersoll

1833-1899. American politician and agnostic. Born in New York and educated in Illinois, he was admitted to the bar in 1854 and served in the Civil War from 1861 to 1863. His unsuccessful attempt in 1860 to become the Democratic candidate for Congress led him to change party tickets; as a Republican he was appointed attorney general (1867-69) for the state of Illinois. He moved his residence to Washington, D.C., in 1879 and to New York in 1885. Ingersoll received as much as $5,000 for some of his famous antireligious speeches. His main attacks were directed against the authority of the Bible and its alleged inaccuracies. He gave titles to his famous speeches: “The Gods,” “Ghosts,” “Skulls,” and “Some Mistakes of Moses.” Few have rivaled his eloquence. Some historians feel that his agnostic beliefs kept him from becoming the Republican nominee for the presidency.