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Posts Tagged ‘Clarence Darrow’

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Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.
Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here,
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Wisdom is the science of happiness.

–Robert Green Ingersoll

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After writing yesterday about a person* with no honor whatsoever I thought I would write just a few words about a man with honor in abundance.

Most likely you don’t know his name, Robert G. Ingersoll. I know he was unknown to me. But while looking up a quote I kept coming across quotes from well known men who spoke of this man in what can only be described as glowing terms. Thomas Edison described him as being perhaps the closest thing to a perfect man on this earth. And Clarence Darrow eulogized him with these words: 

“Robert G. Ingersoll was a great man. a wonderful intellect, a great soul of matchless courage, one of the great men of the earth — and yet we have no right to bow down to his memory simply because he was great. Great orators, great soldiers, great lawyers, often use their gifts for a most unholy cause. We meet to pay a tribute of love and respect to Robert G. Ingersoll because he used his matchless power for the good of man.

And Walt Whitman said this of the living Ingersoll:

“It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is ‘Leaves of Grass’ … He lives, embodies, the individuality, I preach. I see in Bob [Ingersoll] the noblest specimen—- American-flavored—- pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light.”

I found myself asking who the heck was this guy?

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) was perhaps the most famous American of his day. He was a lawyer who was recognized as the preeminent orator of his time. As an enlightened freethinker and pioneer of humane, rational, and agnostic views, Ingersoll was a tireless advocate of rational thought, battling superstition and hypocrisy wherever he found it. Ingersoll would regularly address huge audiences, opening their minds to ideas that often provoked guarded whispers in private. He was a man far ahead of his time, advocating such progressive causes as agnosticism, birth control, voting rights for women, the advancement of science, civil rights, and freedom of speech. He had a wide influence in his day but somehow has been overlooked in the century or so that has passed since his death in 1899.

Ingersoll was born in 1833 not too far from here, up in Dresden, near the west shore of Seneca Lake. I just discovered that there is actually a small museum there dedicated to his life and work. I look forward to visiting it at some point. He only lived there as an infant because his father, an abolitionist preacher, was often on the move. However, a collection of his works published just after his death is called the Dresden Editions, published by the Dresden Publishing Company which was formed to publish this 12 volume set and was named specifically  after his birthplace.

I am still discovering more on this interesting fellow so I am going to urge you to do so as well on your own. I would think that someone who garnered so much openly warm praise from the great men of his time deserves a few moments and has something to offer us now.

Note:

I thought his words at the top were an appropriate response to the ignorance and abhorrent behavior we have been exposed to on a daily basis for the past four years. Also, Ingersoll was a Colonel in the Union army during the Civil War and is buried at Arlington National Cememtery, not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns.

He was captured during the war which I guess, by current standards, makes him a sucker for enlisting and a loser for being captured.

However, even though Ingersoll might be considered a sucker and a loser, I sincerely doubt that the current occupant of our white house will have any of the greats of this age, save Kid Rock and Scott Baio, trumpeting his good works, his love for humanity or his good heart once he is stone cold and forever dead.

 

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