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Paul Murphy

Freethought, Ingersoll, and U.S. Intellectual History

Susan Jacoby, The Great Agnostic:  Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2013), x + 246 pages. Review by Paul V. Murphy One of the reasons for the popularity of Robert G. Ingersoll, the once-famous nineteenth-century lawyer and orator, despite his vocal (and scandalous) agnosticism, surely must have been his wry humor.  Ingersoll’s father was a strict Calvinist, and he later recalled the pious oppression of his childhood routine on Sunday, a day “altogether too holy to be happy in.”  He recalled the formidable sermons from the Calvinist divines, commencing with the “firstly” point and continuing on Read more