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“The quality of an action is determined by its consequences.” R.G. Ingersoll
“Respect-worthy,” a sentiment universally attributed to Robert Green Ingersoll. Even his severest critics, and those that actively despised his ideas about religion, agreed that Ingersoll was honest, honorable, and worthy of respect.
In 1868 Bob Ingersoll turned thirty-five, a young man beginning the transition to the full authority of manhood. Filled with energy he was still accelerating looking for his pace, and place. He was happily married and lovingly devoted to Eva, true love of his life. He had a healthy baby girl, and an increasingly successful legal practice in Peoria, Illinois; was the state's Attorney General- it's first. He was beginning to lecture more frequently and, Colonel Ingersoll's powerful and persuasive campaign speeches, made him a bright rising star on the horizon of Republican politics.
As the election year started, Bob's beloved brother, Clark, was seated in the House of Representatives on behalf of citizens in Illinois' 4th District. The Colonel fully expected to be busily engaged on behalf of his brother and the Party throughout the year. At that time, a sitting governor in Illinois could not succeed himself. This meant current Governor Ogelsby was ineligible to run for office. John Palmer and John (Black Jack) Logan were commonly considered as the Republican front-runners.
Logan, who was another of Illinois' Congressman in Washington D.C., had his sights set on becoming a Senator, and did in 1870. He declared early on that he was not interested to be governor. So did John Palmer, for personal and family reasons. After consulting with family, close friends, Republican Party bosses, and newspaper editors throughout the state, Ingersoll determined that he would seek the nomination. This episode of his life became foundation for what biographer Frank Smith says is “the makings of a cherry-tree fable.”
The story most often told and believed concerns an event that took place at the Republican State Convention before nominating ballots were cast by delegates. As it is told, a committee mostly representing the more religious faction of the Party, paid Ingersoll a visit. They told him that he could have the nomination if he would promise to keep his personal religious views out of the campaign.
Supposedly, Colonel Ingersoll drew himself up and replied, “Gentlemen, I am not asking to be Governor of Illinois and it is a grave question to me whether I would accept the nomination if offered. I have in my composition that which I have declared to the world as my views on religion. A position I would not, under any circumstance, seem to renounce. Not even for my life... My religious belief is my own. It belongs to me, not the State of Illinois... I renounce nothing, I promise nothing, I ask nothing of the convention.”
While it is nearly certain that something did happen, that some sort of meeting or encounter took place, the story noted above claims too much and is full of holes. To date, no contemporary record of the event has be discovered; an unofficial and incomplete list of delegates published in the Transcript (6 May 1868), does not include the name of Edward P. Fox, alleged to be an important member of the committee. Plus, Ingersoll would not have dared tell them that he was indifferent to the outcome, and he never mentioned such a momentous encounter to anyone.
However, years later in 1882, Ingersoll himself told a reporter for the New York Herald newspaper that, “I was a candidate for that office, I am sorry to say, and a committee waited on me to know if I was an infidel. I told them I was and they said they would like to go for me, but they were afraid their constituents would 'go' for them. I preserved my manhood and lost the office.”
Truth is Ingersoll was betrayed and sucker-punched by John Palmer, who ultimately won the nomination and became governor of Illinois. Besides, if Robert G. Ingersoll had been successful in pursuing a political career it is fairly certain he would never have become the the preeminent orator and advocate of Free Thought that he did.
Do you remember discovering Robert G. Ingersoll? What did you experience; did his lectures influence or effect your thinking with respect to religion, to Christianity? Has your knowledge and understanding of Ingersoll's ideas changed you in any way? What is your favorite Ingersoll lecture or thought?
Tell the experience of first encountering Colonel Ingersoll, and how it has affected you. Send an email account about your personal experience with Robert G. Ingersoll to:
Put "discovery" in the subject line.
R.G.I. Renewal and Restoration Project
Project Update & Information...
3 December 2010
Hello, once again. Extraordinary circumstances and changes demanding my full focus and attention have resulted in bringing forward progress with the Robert Green Ingersoll Renewal and Restoration Project to a minimum. And though I am facing a new and impending set of challenges, which are likely to be quite disruptive, it is time to move forward.
As excited as I was to write about meeting with Rham Cunningham (rhamedia), and finally having found someone willing to help me with building a more powerful web presence. I was equally disappointed and disheartened to discover that Mr. Cunningham was far less than he represented himself to be. I am afraid his desire to get into Southern politics caused him to decide that being associated with a person or group vigorously unabashedly opposed to Christian orthodoxy might interfere with personal political ambition.
Following a short period of frequent engaging communications, Mr. Cunningham suddenly began avoiding contact, then stopped responding completely. So, based on my experience with him, his mendacity and ignoring an uncomfortable problem, instead dealing with and resolving it, Rham Cunningham will most likely do well among those whose ranks he hopes to join.
I wish him good luck.
Waiting on Cunningham was one of the main factors preventing progress I had hoped the Project would accomplish during the summer. Failing to get any response from him after nearly a week toward the end of August, I determined to abandon any idea of working with Mr. Cunningham, re-group, and move on. And that is where everything stands, now.
I continue to seek person, or persons, that knows about building a strong web presence, how to organize and co-ordinate all the available web-based tools and networks. Though help with this would be voluntary at first, there is great potential to begin generating income within a relatively short time. I am willing to do all the actual work, but require knowledgeable instruction. I am convinced that if I could find just one other person to assist with developing the Ingersoll Project web presence, it would begin to grow quite quickly.
Anyone interested send an email with “helper” in the subject line.
Lastly, I received a letter from Tom Flynn about the Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. Obviously, it is an old building (1833). Mr. Flynn and the Ingersoll Committee need our help paying for a series of repairs and unavoidable maintenance items that have all arisen during this year. Check out the Ingersoll Project Blog posting for full details, and please do everything you can to help.
Until next time, Give Peace a Chance...
James Tinsley-R.G. Ingersoll Renewal and Restoration Project