ROBERT GREEN INGERSOLL (1833-1899), American lawyer and lecturer, was born in Dresden, New York, on the 11th of August 1833. His father was a Congregational minister, who removed to Wisconsin in 1843 and to Illinois in 1845. Robert, who had received a good common-school education, was admitted to the bar in 1854, and practised law with success in Illinois. Late in 1861, during the Civil War, he organized a cavalry regiment, of which he was colonel, until captured at Lexington, Tennessee, on the 18th of December 1862, by the Confederate cavalry under General N. B. Forrest. He was paroled, waited in vain to be exchanged, and in June 1863 resigned from the service. He was attorney-general of Illinois in 1867-1869, and in 1876 his speech in the Republican National Convention, naming James G. Blaine for the Presidential candidate, won him a national reputation as a public speaker. As a lawyer he distinguished himself particularly as counsel for the defendants in the "Star-Route Fraud" trials. He was most widely known, however, for his public lectures attacking the Bible, and his anti-Christian views were an obstacle to his political advancement. Ingersoll was an eloquent rhetorician rather than a logical reasoner. He died at Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., on the 21st of July 1899.
His principal lectures and speeches were published under the titles: The Gods and Other Lectures (1876); Some Mistakes of Moses (1879); Prose Poems (1884); Great Speeches (1887). His lectures, entitled "The Bible," "Ghosts," and "Foundations of Faith," attracted particular attention. His complete works were published in 12 vols. in New York in 1900.
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