The promotion of reason in opposition to faith is nothing new. Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll (August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899) was a Civil War veteran, American political leader, and orator during the Golden Age of Freethought, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. His arguments have not lost their force. Also a prominent member of the Republican Party, he refused to run for office, and is best known for his speeches for which the public paid as much as $1 to attend. Below is a collection of some of his most salient quotes from books and speeches.
- Nothing is greater than to break the chains from the bodies of men — nothing nobler than to destroy the phantom of the soul.
—Robert Green Ingersoll, quoted from the Address, Ingersoll the Magnificent, delivered by Joseph Lewis on August 11th 1954 dedicating, as a Public Memorial, the house in which Robert G Ingersoll was born, Dresden, Yates County, in the state of New York.
- The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men.
—Robert Green Ingersoll, “The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child”
- They knew no better, but I do not propose to follow the example of a barbarian because he was honestly a barbarian.
—Robert Green Ingersoll, “The Limitations of Toleration”
- The doctrine of eternal punishment is in perfect harmony with the savagery of the men who made the orthodox creeds. It is in harmony with torture, with flaying alive, and with burnings. The men who burned their fellow-men for a moment, believed that God would burn his enemies forever.
—Robert Green Ingersoll, “Crumbling Creeds”