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Robert Ingersoll Interviews Set 1

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Set 1

Robert Green Ingersoll

37 page printout
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Contents of this file                            page

THE BIBLE AND A FUTURE LIFE.                            1
MRS. VAN COTT, THE REVIVALIST.                          3
THE PRE-MILLENNIAL CONFERENCE.                          7
THE SOLID SOUTH AND RESUMPTION.                         8
THE SUNDAY LAWS OF PITTSBURGH.                          9
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS.                               10
POLITICS AND GEN. GRANT.                               15
REPLY TO CHICAGO CRITICS.                              21
THE REPUBLICAN VICTORY.                                25
INGERSOLL AND BEECHER.                                 26
BEECHER ON INGERSOLL.                                  27
POLITICAL.                                             28
RELIGION IN POLITICS.                                  32
MIRACLES AND IMMORALITY.                               34

****     ****

This file, its printout, or copies of either
are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold.

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****    ****


QUESTION: Colonel, are your views of religion based upon the

ANSWER: I regard the Bible, especially the Old Testament, the
same as I do most other ancient books, in which there is some
truth, a great deal of error, considerable barbarism and a most
plentiful lack of good sense.

QUESTION: Have you found any other work, sacred or profane,
which you regard as more reliable?

ANSWER: I know of no book less so, in my judgment.

QUESTION: You have studied the Bible attentively, have you

ANSWER: I have read the Bible. I have heard it talked about a
good deal, and am sufficiently well acquainted with it to justify
my own mind in utterly rejecting all claims made for its divine

QUESTION: What do you base your views upon?

ANSWER: On reason, observation, experience, upon the
discoveries in science, upon observed facts and the analogies

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


properly growing out of such facts. I have no confidence in
anything pretending to be outside, or independent of, or in any
manner above nature.

QUESTION: According to your views, what disposition is made of
man after death?

ANSWER: Upon that subject I know nothing. It is no more
wonderful that man should live again than that he now lives; upon
that question I know of no evidence. The doctrine of immortality
rests upon human affection. We love, therefore we wish to live.

QUESTION: Then you would not undertake to say what becomes of
man after death?

ANSWER: If I told or pretended to know what becomes of man
after death, I would be as dogmatic as are theologians upon this
question. The difference between them and me is, I am honest. I
admit that I do not know.

QUESTION: Judging by your criticism of mankind, Colonel, in
your recent lecture, you have not found his condition very

ANSWER: Nature, outside of man, so far as I know, is neither
cruel nor merciful. I am not satisfied with the present condition
of the human race, nor with the condition of man during any period
of which we have any knowledge I believe, however, the condition of
man is improved, and this improvement is due to his own exertions.
I do not make nature a being. I do not ascribe to nature intention.

QUESTION: Is your theory, Colonel, the result of investigation
of the subject?

ANSWER: No one can control his own opinion or his own belief.
My belief was forced upon me by my surroundings. I am the product
of all circumstances that have in any way touched me. I believe in
this world. I have no confidence in any religion promising joys in
another world at the expense of liberty and happiness in this. At
the same time, I wish to give others all the rights I claim for

QUESTION: If I asked for proofs for your theory, what would
you furnish?

ANSWER: The experience of every man who is honest with
himself, every fact that has been discovered in nature. In addition
to these, the utter and total failure of all religionists in all
countries to produce one particle of evidence showing the existence
of any supernatural power whatever, and the further fact that the
people are not satisfied with their religion. They are continually
asking for evidence. They are asking it in every imaginable way.
The sects are continually dividing. There is no real religious
serenity in the world. All religions are opponents of intellectual
liberty, I believe in absolute mental freedom. Real religion with
me is a thing not of the head, but of the heart; not a theory, not
a creed, but a life.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: What punishment, then, is inflicted upon man for
crimes and wrongs committed in this life?

ANSWER: There is no such thing as intellectual crime, No man
can commit a mental crime. To become a crime it must go beyond

QUESTION: What punishment is there for physical crime?

ANSWER: Such punishment as is necessary to protect society and
for the reformation of the criminal.

QUESTION: If there is only punishment in this world, will not
some escape punishment?

ANSWER: I admit that all do not seem to be punished as they
deserve. I also admit that all do not seem to be rewarded as they
deserve; and there is in this world, apparently, as great failures
in matter of reward as in manner of punishment. If there is another
life, a man will be happier there for acting according to his
highest ideal in this. But I do not discern in nature any effort to
do justice. --

The Post, Washington, D.C., 1878.


QUESTION: I see, Colonel, that in an interview published this
morning, Mrs. Van Cott the revivalist;, calls you "a poor barking
dog." Do you know her personally?

ANSWER: I have never met or seen her.

QUESTION: Do you know the reason she applied the epithet?

ANSWER: I suppose it to be the natural result of what is
called vital piety; that is to say, universal love breeds
individual hatred.

QUESTION: Do you intend making any reply to what she says.

ANSWER: I have written her a note of which this is a copy:

Buffalo, Feb. 24th, 1878.

Mrs. Van Cott:

Mr dear Madam: -- Were you constrained by the love of Christ
to call a man who has never injured you "a poor barking dog"? Did
you make this remark as a Christian, or as a lady? Did you say
these words to illustrate in some faint degree the refining
influence upon woman of the religion you preach?

What would you think of me if I should retort, using your
language, changing only the sex of the last word?

I have the honor to remain,
yours truly,

R.G. Ingersoll.


QUESTION: Well, what do you think of the religious revival
system generally?

ANSWER: The fire that has to be blown all the time is a poor
thing to get warm by. I regard these revivals as essentially
barbaric. I think they do no good, but much harm, they make
innocent people think they are guilty, and very mean people think
they are good.

QUESTION: What is your opinion concerning women as conductors
of these revivals?

ANSWER: I suppose those engaged in them think they are doing
good. They are probably honest. I think, however, that neither men
nor women should be engaged in frightening people into heaven. That
is all I wish to say on the subject, as I do not think it worth
talking about. --

The Express, Buffalo New York, Feb., 1878.

****    ****


QUESTION: What did you do on your european trip, Colonel?

ANSWER: I went with my family from New York to Southampton,
England, thence to London, and from London to Edinburgh. In
Scotland I visited every place where Burns had lived, from the
cottage where he was born to the room where he died. I followed him
from the cradle to the coffin. I went to Stanford-upon-Avon for the
purpose of seeing all that I could in any way connected with
Shakespeare; next to London, where we visited again all the places
of interest, and thence to Paris, where we spent a couple of weeks
in the Exposition.

QUESTION: And what did you think of it?

ANSWER: So far as machinery -- so far as the practical is
concerned, it is not equal to ours in Philadelphia; in art it is
incomparably beyond it. I was very much gratified to find so much
evidence in favor of my theory that the golden age is in front of
us; that mankind has been advancing, that we did not come from a
perfect pair and immediately commence to degenerate. The modern
painters and sculptors are far better and grander than the ancient.
I think we excel in fine arts as much as we do in agricultural
implements. Nothing pleased me more than the paintings from
Holland, because they idealized and rendered holy the ordinary
avocations of life. They paint cottages with sweet mothers and
children; they paint homes. They are not much on Ariadnes and
Venuses, but they paint good women.

QUESTION: What did you think of the American display?

ANSWER: Our part of the Exposition is good, but nothing to
what it should and might have been, but we bring home nearly as
many medals as we took things. We lead the world in machinery and
in ingenious inventions, and some of our paintings were excellent.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Colonel, crossing the Atlantic back to America, what
do you think of the Greenback movement?

ANSWER: In regard to the Greenback party, in the first place,
I am not a believer in miracles. I do not believe something can be
made out of nothing. The Government, in my judgment, cannot create
money; the Government can give its note, like an individual, and
the prospect of its being paid determines its value. We have
already substantially resumed. Every piece of property that has
been shrinking has simply been resuming. We expended during the war
-- not for the useful, but for the useless, not to build up, but to
destroy -- at least one thousand million dollars. The Government
was an enormous purchaser; when the war ceased the industries of
the country lost their greatest customer. As a consequence there
was a surplus of production, and consequently a surplus of labor.
At last we have gotten back, and the country since the war has
produced over and above the cost of production, something near the
amount that was lost during the war. Our exports are about two
hundred million dollars more than our imports, and this is a
healthy sign. There are, however, five or six hundred thousand men,
probably, out of employment; as prosperity increases this number
will decrease. I am in favor of the Government doing something to
ameliorate the condition of these men. I would like to see
constructed the Northern and Southern Pacific railroads: this would
give employment at once to many thousands, and homes after awhile
to millions. All the signs of the times to me are good. The
wretched bankrupt law, at last, is wiped from the statute books,
and honest people in a short time can get plenty of credit. This
law should have been repealed years before it was. It would have
been far better to have had all who have gone into bankruptcy
during these frightful years to have done so at once.

QUESTION: What will be the political effect of the Greenback

ANSWER: The effect in Maine has been to defeat the Republican
party. I do not believe any party can permanently succeed in the
United States that does not believe in and advocate actual money.
I want to see the greenback equal with gold the world round. A
money below par keeps the people below par. No man can possibly be
proud of a country that is not willing to pay its debts. Several of
the States this fall may be carried by the Greenback party, but if
I have a correct understanding of their views, that party cannot
hold any State for any great length of time. But all the men of
wealth should remember that everybody in the community has got, in
some way, to be supported. I want to see them so that they can
support themselves by their own labor. In my judgment real
prosperity will begin with actual resumption, because confidence
will then return. If the workingmen of the United States cannot
make their living, cannot have the opportunity to labor, they have
got to be supported in some way, and in any event, I want to see a
liberal policy inaugurated by the Government. I believe in
improving rivers and harbors.

I do not believe the trans-continental commerce of this
country should depend on one railroad. I want new territories
opened. I want to see American steamships running to all the great

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ports of the world. I want to see our flag flying on all the seas
and in all the harbors. We have the best country, and, in my
judgment, the best people in the world, and we ought to be the most
prosperous nation on the earth.

QUESTION: Then you only consider the Greenback movement a
temporary thing?

ANSWER: Yes; I do not believe that there is anything permanent
in anything that is not sound, that has not a perfectly sound
foundation, and I mean sound, sound in every sense of that word. It
must be wise and honest. We have plenty of money; the trouble is to
get it. If these Greenbackers will pass a law furnishing all of us
with collateral, there certainly would be no trouble about getting
the money. Nothing can demonstrate more fully the plentifulness of
money than the fact that millions of four Per cent. bonds have been
taken in the United States. The trouble is, business is scarce.

QUESTION: But do you not think the Greenback movement will
help the Democracy to success in 1880?

ANSWER: I think the Greenback movement will injure the
Republican party much more than the Democratic party. Whether that
injury will reach as far as 1880 depends simply upon one thing If
resumption -- in spite of all resolutions to the contrary --
inaugurates an era of prosperity, as I believe and hope it will,
then it seems to me that the Republican party will be as strong in
the north as in its palmiest days. Of course I regard most of the
old issues as settled, and I make this statement simply because I
regard the financial issue as the only living one.

Of course, I have no idea who will be the Democratic
candidate, but I suppose the South will be solid for the Democratic
nominee, unless the financial question divides that section of the

QUESTION: With a solid South do you not think the Democratic
nominee will stand a good chance?

ANSWER: Certainly, he will stand the best chance if the
Democracy is right on the financial question; if it will cling to
its old idea of hard money, he will. If the Democrats will
recognize that the issues of the war are settled, then I think that
party has the best chance.

QUESTION: But if it clings to soft money?

ANSWER: Then I think it will be beaten, if by soft. money it
means the payment of one promise with another.

QUESTION: You consider Greenbackers inflationists, do you not?

ANSWER: I suppose the Greenbackers to be the party of
inflation. I am in favor of inflation produced by industry. I am in
favor of the country being inflated with corn, with wheat, good
houses, books, pictures, and plenty of labor for everybody. I am in
favor of being inflated with gold and silver, but I do not believe

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


in the inflation of promise, expectation and speculation. I
sympathize with every man who is willing to work and cannot get it,
and I sympathize to that degree that I would like to see the
fortunate and prosperous taxed to support his unfortunate brother
until labor could be found.

The Greenback party seems to think credit is just as good as
gold. While the credit lasts this is so; but the trouble is,
whenever it is ascertained that the gold is gone or cannot be
produced the credit takes wings. The bill of a perfectly solvent
bank may circulate for years. Now, because nobody demands the gold
on that bill it doesn't follow that the bill would be just as good
without any gold behind it. The idea that you can have the gold
whenever you present the bill gives it its value. To illustrate: A
poor man buys soup tickets. He is not hungry at the time of the
purchase, and will not be for some hours. During these hours the
Greenback gentlemen argue that there is no use of keeping any soup
on hand with which to redeem these tickets, and from this they
further argue that if they can be good for a few hours without
soup, why not forever? And they would be, only the holder gets
hungry. Until he is hungry, of course, he does not care whether any
soup is on hand or not, but when he presents his ticket he wants
his soup, and the idea that he can have the soup when he does
present the ticket gives it its value, And so I regard bank notes,
without gold and silver, as of the same value as tickets without
soup. --

The Post, Washington, D.C., 1878.

****     ****


QUESTION: What do you think of THE Pre-Millennial Conference
that was held in New York City recently?

ANSWER: Well, I think that all who attended it were believers
in the Bible, and any one who believes in prophecies and looks to
their fulfillment will go insane. A man that tries from Daniel's
ram with three horns and five tails and his deformed goats to
ascertain the date of the second immigration of Christ to this
world is already insane. It all shows that the moment we leave the
realm of fact and law we are adrift on the wide and shoreless sea
of theological speculation.

QUESTION: Do you think there will be a second coming?

ANSWER: No, not as long as the church is in power. Christ will
never again visit this earth until the Freethinkers have control.
He will certainly never allow another church to get hold of him.
The very persons who met in New York to fix the date of his coming
would despise him and the feeling would probably be mutual. In his
day Christ was an Infidel, and made himself unpopular by denouncing
the church as it then existed. He called them liars, hypocrites,
thieves, vipers, whited sepulchers and fools. From the description
given of the church in that day, I am afraid that should he come

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


again, he would be provoked into using similar language. Of course,
I admit there are many good people in the church, just as there
were some good Pharisees who were opposed to the crucifixion. --

The Express, Buffalo, New York, Nov. 4th 1878.

****     ****


QUESTION: Colonel, to start with, what do you think of the
solid South?

ANSWER: I think the South is naturally opposed to the
Republican party; more, I imagine, to the name, than to the
Personnel of the organization. But the South has just as good
friends in the Republican party as in the Democratic party. I do
not think there are any Republicans who would not rejoice to see
the South prosperous and happy. I know of none, at least. They will
have to get over the prejudices born of isolation. We lack direct
and constant communication. I do not recollect having seen a
newspaper from the Gulf States for a long time. They, down there,
may imagine that the feeling in the North is the same as during the
war. But it certainly is not. The Northern people are anxious to be
friendly; and if they can be, without a violation of principles,
they will be. Whether it be true or not, however, most of the
Republicans of the North believe that no Republican in the South is
heartily welcome in that section, whether he goes there from the
North, or is a Southern man. Personally, I do not care anything
about partisan polities. I want to see every man in the United
State guaranteed the right to express his choice at the ballot-box,
and I do not want social ostracism to follow a man, no matter how
he may vote. A solid South means a solid North. A hundred thousand
Democratic majority in South Carolina means fifty thousand
Republican majority in New York in 1880. I hope the sections will
never divide, simply as sections. But if the Republican party is
not allowed to live in the South, the Democratic party certainly
will not be allowed to succeed in the North. I want to treat the
people of the South precisely as though the Rebellion had never
occurred. I want all that wiped from the slate of memory, and all
I ask of the Southern people is to give the same rights to the
Republicans that we are willing to give to them and have given to

QUESTION: How do you account for the results of the recent

ANSWER: The Republican party won the recent election simply
because it was for honest money, and it was in favor of resumption.
And if on the first of January next, we resume all right, and
maintain resumption, I see no reason why the Republican party
should not succeed in 1880. The Republican party came into power at
the commencement of the Rebellion, and necessarily retained power
until its close; and in my judgment, it will retain power so long
as in the horizon of credit there is a cloud of repudiation as
large as a man's hand.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Do you think resumption will work out all right?

ANSWER: I do. I think that on the first of January the
greenback will shake hands with gold on an equality, and in a few
days thereafter will be worth just a little bit more. Everything
has resumed, except the Government. All the property has resumed,
all the lands, bonds and mortgages and stocks. All these things
resumed long ago -- that is to say, they have touched the bottom.
Now, there is no doubt that the party that insists on the
Government paying all its debts will hold control, and no one will
get his hand on the wheel who advocates repudiation in any form.
There is one thing we must do, though. We have got to put more
silver in our dollars. I do not think you can blame the New York
banks -- any banks -- for refusing to take eighty-eight cents for
a dollar. Neither can you blame any depositor who puts gold in bank
for demanding gold in return. Yes, we must have in the silver
dollar a dollar's worth of silver. --

The Commercial, Cincinnati, Ohio, November, 1878.

****     ****


QUESTION: Colonel, what do you think of the course the Mayor
has pursued toward you in attempting to stop your lecture?

ANSWER: I know very little except what I have seen in the
morning paper. As a general rule, laws should be enforced or
repealed; and so far as I am personally concerned, I shall not so
much complain of the enforcing of the law against Sabbath breaking
as of the fact that such a law exists. We have fallen heir to these
laws. They were passed by superstition, and the enlightened people
of today should repeal them. Ministers should not expect to fill
their churches by shutting up other places. They can only increase
their congregations by improving their sermons. They will have more
hearers when they say more worth hearing. I have no idea that the
Mayor has any prejudice against me personally and if he only
enforces the law, I shall have none against him. If my lectures
were free the ministers might have the right to object, but as I
charge one dollar admission and they nothing, they ought certainly
to be able to compete with me.

QUESTION: Don't you think it is the duty of the Mayor, as
chief executive of the city laws, to enforce the ordinances and pay
no attention to what the statutes say?

ANSWER: I suppose it to be the duty of the Mayor to enforce
the ordinance of the city and if the ordinance of the city covers
the same ground as the law of the State, a conviction under the
ordinance would be a bar to a prosecution under the State law.

QUESTION: If the ordinance exempts scientific, literary and
historical lectures', as it is said it does, will not that exempt

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ANSWER: Yes, all my lectures are historical; that is, I speak
of many things that have happened. They are scientific because they
are filled with facts, and they are literary of course. I can
conceive of no address that is neither historical nor scientific,
except sermons. They fail to be historical because they treat of
things that never happened and they are certainly not scientific,
as they contain no facts.

QUESTION: Suppose they arrest you what will you do?

ANSWER: I will examine the law and if convicted will pay the
fine, unless I think I can reverse the case by appeal. Of course I
would like to see all these foolish laws wiped from the statute
books. I want the law so that everybody can do just as he pleases
on Sunday, provided he does not interfere with the rights of
others. I want the Christian, the Jew, the Deist and the Atheist to
be exactly equal before the law. I would fight for the right of the
Christian to worship God in his own way just as quick as I would
for the Atheist to enjoy music, flowers and fields. I hope to see
the time when even the poor people can hear the music of the finest
operas on Sunday. One grand opera with all its thrilling tones,
will do more good in touching and elevating the world than ten
thousand sermons on the agonies of hell.

QUESTION: Have you ever been interfered with before in
delivering Sunday lectures?

ANSWER: No, I postponed a lecture in Baltimore at the request
of the owners of the theater because they were afraid some action
might be taken. That is the only case. I have delivered lectures on
Sunday in the principal cities of the United States, in New York,
Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, San Francisco, Cincinnati and many other
places. I lectured here last winter; it was on Sunday and I heard
nothing of its being contrary to law. I always supposed my lectures
were good enough to be delivered on the most sacred days.  --

The Leader, Pittsburgh, Pa. October 27, 1879.

****     ****


QUESTION: What do you think about the recent election, and
what will be its effect upon political matters and the issues and
candidates of 1880?

ANSWER: I think the Republicans have met with this almost
universal success on account, first, of the position taken by the
Democracy on the currency question; that is to say, that party was
divided, and was willing to go in partnership with anybody,
whatever their doctrines might be, for the sake of success in that
particular locality. The Republican party felt it of paramount
importance not only to pay the debt, but to pay it in that which
the world regards as money. The next reason for the victory is the
position assumed by the Democracy in Congress during the called
session. The threats they then made of what they would do in the
event that the executive did not comply with their demands, showed

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


that the spirit of that party had not been chastened to any
considerable extent by the late war. The people of this country
will not, in my judgment, allow the South to take charge of this
country until they show their ability to protect the rights of
citizens in their respective States.

QUESTION: Then, as you regard the victories, they are largely
due to a firm adherence to principle, and the failure of the
Democratic party is due to their abandonment of principle, and
their desire to unite with anybody and everything, at the,
sacrifice of principle, to attain success?

ANSWER: Yes. The Democratic party is a general desire for
office without organization. Most people are Democrats because they
hate something, most people a Republicans because they love

QUESTION: Do you think the election has brought: about any
particular change in the issues that will be involved in the
campaign of 1880?

ANSWER: I think the only issue is who shall rule this country.

QUESTION: Do you think, then, the question of State Rights,
hard or soft money and other questions that have been prominent in
the campaign are practically settled, and so regarded by the

ANSWER: I think the money question is, absolutely. I think the
question of State Rights is dead, except that it can still be used
to defeat the Democracy. It is what might be called a convenient
political corpse.

QUESTION: Now, to leave the political field and go to the
religious at one jump -- since your last visit here much has been
said and written and published to the effect that a great change,
or a considerable change at least, had taken place in your
religious, or irreligious views. I would like to know if that is

ANSWER: The only change that has occurred in my religious
views is the result of finding more and more arguments in favor of
my position, and, as a consequence, if there is any difference, I
am stronger in my convictions than ever before.

QUESTION: I would like to know something of the history of
your religious views?

ANSWER: I may say right here that the Christian idea that any
God can make me his friend by killing mine is about as great a
mistake as could be made. They seem to have the idea that just as
soon as God kills all the people that a person loves, he will then
begin to love the Lord What drew my attention first to these
questions was the doctrine of eternal punishment. This was so
abhorrent to my mind that I began to hate the book in which it was
taught. Then, in reading law, going back to find the origin of
laws, I found one had to go but a little way before the legislator

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


and priest united. This led me to study a good many of the
religions of the world. At first I was greatly astonished to find
most of them better than ours. I then studied our own system to the
best of my ability, and found that people were palming off upon
children and upon one another as the inspired word of God a book
that upheld slavery, polygamy and almost every other crime. Whether
I am right or wrong, I became convinced that the Bible is not an
inspired book; and then the only the question for me to settle was
as to whether I should say what I believed or not. This really was
not the question in my mind, because, before even thinking of such
a question, I expressed my belief, and I simply claim that right
and expect to exercise it as long as I live. I may be damned for it
in the next world, but it is a great source of pleasure to me in

QUESTION: It is reported that you are the son of a
Presbyterian minister?

ANSWER: Yes, I am the son of a New School Presbyterian

QUESTION: About what age were you when you began this
investigation which led to your present conventions?

ANSWER: I cannot remember when I believed the Bible doctrine
of eternal punishment. I have a dim recollection of hating Jehovah
when I was exceedingly small.

QUESTION: Then your present convictions began to form
themselves while you were listening to the teachings of religion as
taught by your father?

ANSWER: Yes, they did.

QUESTION: Did you discuss the matter with him?

ANSWER: I did for many years, and before he died he utterly
gave up the idea that this life is a period of probation. He
utterly gave up the idea of eternal punishment, and before he died
he had the happiness of believing that God was almost as good and
generous as he was himself.

QUESTION: I suppose this gossip about a change in your
religious views arose or was created by the expression used at your
brother's funeral, "In the night of death hope sees a star and
listening love can hear the rustle of a wing"?

ANSWER: I never willingly will destroy a solitary human hope.
I have always said that I did not know whether man was or was not
immortal, but years before my brother died, in a lecture entitled
"The Ghosts," which has since been published, I used the following
words: "The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and
flowed in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and
fear, beating against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was
not born of any book, nor of any creed, not of any religion. It was
born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love
kisses the lips of death. It is the rainbow -- Hope, shining upon
the tears of grief."

QUESTION: The great objection to your teaching urged by your
enemies is that you constantly tear down, and never build up?

ANSWER: I have just published a little book entitled, "Some
Mistakes of Moses," in which I have endeavored to give most of the
arguments I have urged against the Pentateuch in a lecture I
delivered under that title. The motto on the title page is, "A
destroyer of weeds, thistles and thorns is a benefactor, whether he
soweth grain or not." I cannot for my life see why one should be
charged with tearing down and not rebuilding simply because he
exposes a sham, or detects a lie. I do not feel under any
obligation to build something in the place of a detected falsehood.
All I think I am under obligation to put in the place of a detected
lie is the detection. Most religionists talk as if mistakes were
valuable things and they did not wish to part with them without a
consideration. Just how much they regard lies worth a dozen I do
not know. If the price is reasonable I am perfectly willing to give
it, rather than to see them live and give their lives to the
defence of delusions. I am firmly convinced that to be happy here
will not in the least detract from our happiness in another world
should we be so fortunate as to reach another world; and I cannot
see the value of any philosophy that reaches beyond the intelligent
happiness of the present. There may be a God who will make us happy
in another world. If he does, it will be more than he has
accomplished in this. I suppose that he will never have more than
infinite power and never have less than infinite wisdom, and why
people should expect that he should do better in another world than
he has in this is something that I have never been able to explain.
A being who has the power to prevent it and yet who allows
thousands and millions of his children to starve; who devours them
with earthquakes; who allows whole nations to be enslaved, cannot
in my judgment be implicitly depended upon to do justice in another

QUESTION: How do the clergy generally treat you?

ANSWER: Well, of course there are the same distinctions among
clergymen as among other people. Some of them are quite respectable
gentlemen, especially those with whom I am not acquainted. I think
that since the loss of my brother nothing could exceed the
heartlessness of the remarks made by the average clergyman. There
have been some noble exceptions, to whom I feel not only thankful
but grateful; but a very large majority have taken this occasion to
say most unfeeling and brutal things. I do not ask the clergy to
forgive me, but I do request that they will so act that I will not
have to forgive them. I have always insisted that those who love
their enemies should at least tell the truth about their friends,
but I suppose, after all, that religion must be supported by the
same means as those by which it was founded. Of course, there are
thousands of good ministers, men who are endeavoring to make the
world better, and whose failure is no particular fault of their
own, I have always been in doubt as to whether the clergy were
necessary or an unnecessary evil.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: I would like to have a positive expression of your
views as to a future state?

ANSWER: Somebody asked Confucius about another world, and his
reply was: "How should I know anything about another world when I
know so little of this?" For my part, I know nothing of any other
state of existence, either before or after this, and I have never
become personally acquainted with anybody that did. There may be
another life, and if there is, the best way to prepare for it is by
making somebody happy in this. God certainly cannot afford to put
a man in hell who has made a little heaven in this world. I propose
simply to take my chances with the rest of the folks, and prepare
to go where the people I am best acquainted with will probably
settle. I cannot afford to leave the great ship and sneak off to
shore in some orthodox canoe. I hope there is another life, for I
would like to see how things come out in this world when I am dead.
There are some people I would like to see again, and hope there are
some who would not object to seeing me; but if there is no other
life I shall never know it. I do not remember a time when I did not
exist; and, if, when I die, that is the end, I shall not know it,
because the last thing I shall know is that I am alive, and if
nothing is left, nothing will be left to know that I am dead; so
that so far as I am concerned I am immortal; that is to say, I
cannot recollect when I did not exist, and there never will be a
time when I shall remember that I do not exist. I would like to
have several millions of dollars, and I may say that I have a
lively hope that some day I may be rich, but to tell you the truth
I have very little evidence of it. Our hope of immortality does not
come from any religion, but nearly all religious come from that
hope. The Old Testament, instead of telling us that we are
immortal, tells us how we lost immortality. You will recollect that
if Adam and Eve could have gotten to the Tree of Life, they would
have eaten of its fruit and would have lived forever; but for the
purpose of preventing immortality God turned them out of the Garden
of Eden, and put certain angels with swords or sabres at the gate
to keep them from getting back. The Old Testament proves, if it
proves anything -- which I do not think it does -- that there is no
life after this; and the New Testament is not very specific on the
subject. There were a great many opportunities for the Savior and
his apostles to tell us about another world, but they did not
improve them to any great extent; and the only evidence, so far as
I know, about another life is, first, that we have no evidence; and
secondly, that we are rather sorry that we have not, and wish we
had. That is about my position.

QUESTION: According to your observation of men, and your
reading in relation to the men and women of the world and of the
church, if there is another world divided according to orthodox
principles between the orthodox and heterodox, which of the two
that are known as heaven and hell would contain, in your judgment,
the most good society?

ANSWER: Since hanging has got to be a means of grace, I would
prefer hell. I had a thousand times rather associate with the Pagan
philosophers than with the inquisitors of the Middle Ages. I
certainly should prefer the worst man in Greek or Roman history to
John Calvin; and I can imagine no man in the world that I would

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


rather not sit on the same bench with than the Puritan fathers and
the founders of orthodox churches. I would trade off my harp any
minute for a seat in the other country. All the poets will be in
perdition, and the greatest thinkers, and, I should think, most of
the women whose society would tend to increase the happiness of
man; nearly all the painters, nearly all the sculptors, nearly all
the writers of plays, nearly all the great actors, most of the best
musicians, and nearly all the good fellows -- the persons who know
stories, who can sing songs, or who will loan a friend a dollar.
They will mostly all be in that country, and if I did not live
there permanently, I certainly would want it so I could spend my
winter months there. But, after all, what I really want to do is to
destroy the idea of eternal punishment. That doctrine subverts all
ideas of justice. That doctrine fills hell with honest men, and
heaven with intellectual and moral paupers. That doctrine allows
people to sin on a credit. That doctrine allows the bassist to be
eternally happy and the most honorable to suffer eternal pain. I
think of all doctrines it is the most infinitely infamous, and
would disgrace the lowest savage; and any man who believes it, and
has imagination enough to understand it, has the heart of a serpent
and the conscience of a hyena.

QUESTION: Your objective point is to destroy the doctrine of
hell, is it?

ANSWER: Yes, because the destruction of that doctrine will do
away with all cant and all pretence. It will do away with all
religious bigotry and persecution. lt will allow every man to think
and to express his thought. It will do away with bigotry in all its
slimy and offensive forms. --

Chicago Times, November 14, 1879.

****     ****


QUESTION: Some people have made comparisons between the late
Senators O. P. Morton and Zach Chandler. What did you think of
them, Colonel?

ANSWER: I think Morton had the best intellectual grasp of a
question of any man I ever saw. There was an infinite difference
between the two men. Morton's strength lay in proving a thing;
Chandler's in asserting it. But Chandler was a strong man and no

QUESTION: Have you any objection to being interviewed as to
your ideas of Grant, and his position before the people?

ANSWER: I have no reason for withholding my views on that or
any other subject that is under public discussion. My idea is that
Grant can afford to regard the presidency as a broken toy. It would
add nothing to his fame if he were again elected, and would add
nothing to the debt of gratitude which the people feel they owe
him. I do not think he will be a candidate. I do not think he wants
it. There are men who are pushing him on their own account. Grant

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


was a great soldier, He won the respect of the civilized world. He
commanded the largest army that ever fought for freedom, and to
make him President would not add a solitary leaf to the wreath of
fame already on his brow; and should he be elected, the only thing
he could do would be to keep the old wreath from fading.

I do not think his reputation can ever be as great in any
direction as in the direction of war. He has made his reputation
and has lived his great life. I regard him, confessedly, as the
best soldier the Anglo-Saxon blood has produced. I do not know that
it necessarily follows because he is a great soldier he is great in
other directions. Probably some of the greatest statesmen in the
world would have made the worst soldiers.

QUESTION: Do you regard him as more popular now than ever

ANSWER: I think that his reputation is certainly greater and
higher than when he left the presidency, and mainly because he has
represented this country with so much discretion and with such
quiet, poised dignity all around the world. He has measured himself
with kings, and was able to look over the heads of every one of
them. They were not quite as tall as he was, even adding the crown
to their original height. I think he represented us abroad with
wonderful success. One thing that touched me very much was, that at
a reception given him by the workingmen of Birmingham, after he had
been received by royalty, he had the courage to say that that
reception gave him more pleasure than any other. He has been
throughout perfectly true to the genius of our institutions, and
has not upon any occasion exhibited the slightest toadyism. Grant
is a man who is not greatly affected by either flattery or abuse.

QUESTION: What do you believe to be his position in regard to
the presidency?

ANSWER: My own judgment is that he does not care. I do not
think he has any enemies to punish, and I think that while he was
President he certainly rewarded most of his friends.

QUESTION: What are your views as to a third term?

ANSWER: I have no objection to a third term on principle, but
so many men want the presidency that it seems almost cruel to give
a third term to anyone.

QUESTION: Then, if there is no objection to a third term what
about a fourth?

ANSWER: I do not know that that could be objected to either.
We have to admit, after all, that the American people, or at least
a majority of them, have a right to elect one man as often as they
please. Personally, I think it should not be done unless in the
case of a man who is prominent above the rest of his
fellow-citizens, and whose election appears absolutely necessary.
But I frankly confess I cannot conceive of any political situation
where one man is a necessity. I do not believe in the one-man-on-
horseback idea, because I believe in all the people being on

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: What will be, the effect of the enthusiastic
receptions that are being given to General Grant?

ANSWER: I think these ovations show that the people are
resolved not to lose the results of the great victories of the war,
and that they make known this determination by their attention to
General Grant. I think that if he goes through the principal cities
of this country the old spirit will be revived everywhere, and
whether it makes him President or not the result will be to make
the election go Republican. The revival of the memories of the war
will bring the people of the North together as closely as at any
time since that great conflict closed, not in the spirit of hatred,
or malice or envy, but in generous emulation to preserve that which
was fairly won. I do not think there is any hatred about it, but we
are beginning to see that we must save the South ourselves, and
that is the only way we can save the nation.

QUESTION: But suppose they give the same receptions in the

ANSWER: So much the better.

QUESTION: Is there any split in the solid South?

ANSWER: Some of the very best people in the South are
apparently disgusted with following the Democracy any longer, and
would hail with delight any opportunity they could reasonably take
advantage of to leave the organization, if they could do so without
making it appear that they were going back on Southern interests,
and this opportunity will come when the South becomes enlightened,
and sees that it has no interests except in common with the whole
country. That I think they are beginning to see.

QUESTION: How do you like the administration of President

ANSWER: I think its attitude has greatly improved of late.
There are certain games of cards -- pedro for instance, where you
can not only fail to make something, but be set back. I think that
Hayes's veto messages very nearly got him back to the commencement
of the game -- that he is now almost ready to commence counting,
and make some points His position before the country has greatly
improved, but he will not develop into a dark horse. My preference,
is of course, still for Blaine.

QUESTION: Where do you think it is necessary the Republican
candidate should come from to insure success?

ANSWER: Somewhere out of Ohio. I think it will go to Maine,
and for this reason: first of all, Blaine is certainly a competent
man of affairs, a man who knows what to do at the time; and then he
has acted in such a chivalric way ever since the convention at
Cincinnati, that those who opposed him most bitterly, now have for
him nothing but admiration. I think John Sherman is a man of
decided ability, but I do not believe the American people would
make one brother President, while the other is General of the Army.
It would be giving too much power to one family.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: What are your conclusions as to the future of the
Democratic party?

ANSWER: I think the Democratic party ought to disband. I think
they would be a great deal stronger disbanded, because they would
get rid of their reputation without decreasing.

QUESTION: But if they will not disband?

ANSWER: Then the next campaign depends undoubtedly upon New
York and Indiana. I do not see how they can very well help
nominating a man from Indiana, and by that I mean Hendricks. You
see the South has one hundred and thirty-eight votes, all supposed
to be Democratic; with the thirty-five from New York and fifteen
from Indiana they would have just three to spare. Now, I take it,
that the fifteen from Indiana are just about as essential as the
thirty-five from New York. To lack fifteen votes is nearly as bad
as being thirty-five short, and so far as drawing salary is
concerned it is quite as bad. Mr. Hendricks ought to know that he
holds the key to Indiana, and that there cannot be any possibility
of carrying this State for Democracy without him. He has tried
running for the vice-presidency, which is not much of a place
anyhow -- I would about as soon be vice-mother-in-law -- and my
judgment is that he knows exactly the value of his geographical
position. New York is divided to that degree that it would be
unsafe to take a candidate from that State; and besides, New York
has become famous for furnishing defeated candidates for the
Democracy. I think the man must come from Indiana.

QUESTION: Would the Democracy of New York unite on Seymour?

ANSWER: You recollect what Lincoln said about the powder that
had been shot off once. I do not remember any man who has once made
a race for the presidency and been defeated ever being again

QUESTION: What about Bayard and Hancock as candidates?

ANSWER: I do not see how Bayard could possibly carry Indiana,
while his own State is too small and too solidly Democratic. My
idea of Bayard is that he has not been good enough to be popular,
and not bad enough to be famous. The American people will never
elect a President from a State with a whipping-post. As to General
Hancock, you may set it down as certain that the South will never
lend their aid to elect a man who helped to put down the Rebellion.
It would be just the same as the effort to elect Greeley. It cannot
be done. I see, by the way, that I am reported as having said that
David Davis, as the Democratic candidate, could carry Illinois. I
did say that in 1876, he could have carried it against Hayes; but
whether he could carry Illinois in 1880 would depend altogether
upon who runs against him. The condition of things has changed
greatly in our favor since 1876. --

The Journal, Indianapolis, Ind. 1879.

****     ****

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: you have traveled about this State more or less,
lately, and have, of course, observed political affairs here. Do
you think that Senator Logan will be able to deliver this State to
the Grant movement according to the understood plan?

ANSWER: If the State is really for Grant, he will, and if it
is not, he will not. Illinois is as little "owned" as any State in
this Union. Illinois would naturally be for Grant, other things
being equal, because he is regarded as a citizen of this State, and
it is very hard for a State to give up the patronage naturally
growing out of the fact that the President comes from that State.

QUESTION: Will the instructions given to delegates be final?

ANSWER: I do not think they will be considered final at all;
neither do I think they will be considered of any force. It was
decided at the last convention, in Cincinnati, that the delegates
had a right to vote as they pleased; that each delegate represented
the district of his State that sent him. The idea that a State
convention can instruct them as against the wishes of their
constituents smacks a little too much of State sovereignty. The
President should be nominated by the districts of the whole
country, and not by massing the votes by a little chicanery at a
State convention, and every delegate ought to vote what he really
believes to be the sentiment of his constituents, irrespective of
what the State convention may order him to do. He is not
responsible to the State convention, and it is none of the State
convention's business. This does not apply, it may be, to the
delegates at large, but to all the others it certainly must apply.
It was so decided at the Cincinnati convention, and decided on a
question arising about this same Pennsylvania delegation.

QUESTION: Can you guess as to what the platform is going to

ANSWER: I suppose it will be a substantial copy of the old
one, I am satisfied with the old one with one addition. I want a
plank to the effect that no man shall be deprived of any civil or
political right on account of his religious or irreligious
opinions. The Republican party having been foremost in freeing the
body ought to do just a little something now for the mind. After
having wasted rivers of blood and treasure uncounted, and almost
uncountable, to free the cage, I propose that something ought to be
done for the bird. Every decent man in the United States would
support that plank. People should have a right to testify in
courts, whatever their opinions may be, on any subject. Justice
should not shut any door leading to truth, and as long as just
views neither affect a man's eyesight or his memory, he should be
allowed to tell his story. And there are two sides to this
question, too. The man is not only deprived of his testimony, but
the commonwealth is deprived of it. There should be no religious
test in this country for office; and if Jehovah cannot support his
religion without going into partnership with a State Legislature,
I think he ought to give it up.

QUESTION: Is there anything new about religion since you were
last here?

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ANSWER: Since I was here I have spoken in a great many cities,
and to-morrow I am going to do some missionary work at Milwaukee.
Many who have come to scoff have a remained to pray, and I think
that my labors are being greatly blessed, and all attacks on me so
far have been overruled for good. I happened to come in contact
with a revival of religion, and I believe what they call an
"outpouring" at Detroit, under the leadership of a gentleman by the
name of Pentecost. He denounced me as God's greatest enemy. I had
always supposed that the Devil occupied that exulted position, but
it seems that I have, in some way, fallen heir to his shoes. Mr.
Pentecost also denounced all business men who would allow any
advertisements or lithographs of mine to hang in their places of
business, and several of the gentlemen thus appealed to took the
advertisements away. The result of all this was that I had the
largest house that ever attended a lecture in Detroit. Feeling that
ingratitude is a crime, I publicly returned thanks to the clergy
for the pains they had taken to give me an audience. And I may say,
in this connection, that if the ministers do God as little good as
they do me harm, they had better let both of us alone. I regard
them as very good, but exceedingly mistaken men. They do not come
much in contact with the world, and get most of their views by
talking with the women and children of their congregations. They
are not permitted to mingle freely with society. They cannot attend
plays nor hear operas. I believe some of them have ventured to
minstrel shows and menageries, where they confine themselves
strictly to the animal part of the entertainment. But, as a rule,
they have very few opportunities of ascertaining what the real
public opinion is. They read religious papers, edited by gentlemen
who know as little about the world as themselves, and the result of
all this is that they are rather behind the times. They are good
men, and would like to do right if they only knew it, but they are
a little behind the times. There is an old story told of a fellow
who had a post-office in a small town in North Carolina, and being
the only man in the town who could read, a few people used to
gather in the post-office on Sunday, and he would read to them a
weekly paper that was published in Washington. He commenced always
at the top of the first column and read right straight through,
articles, advertisements, and all, and whenever they got a little
tired of reading he would make a mark of red ochre and commence at
that place the next Sunday. The result was that the papers came a
great. deal faster than he read them, and it was about 1817 when
they struck the war of 1812. The moment they got to that, every one
of them jumped up and offered to volunteer. All of which shows that
they were patriotic people, but a little slow, and somewhat behind
the times.

QUESTION: How were you pleased with the Paine meeting here,
and its results?

ANSWER: I was gratified to see so many people willing at last
to do justice to a great and a maligned man. Of course I do not
claim that Paine was perfect. All I claim is that he was a patriot
and a political philosopher; that he was a revolutionist and an
agitator; that he was infinitely full of suggestive thought, and
that he did more than any man to convince the people of America not
only that they ought to separate from Great Britain, but that they
ought to found a representative government. He has been despised

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


simply because he did not believe the Bible. I wish to do what I
can to rescue his name from theological defamation. I think the day
has come when Thomas Paine will be remembered with Washington,
Franklin and Jefferson, and that the American people will wonder
that their fathers could have been guilty of such base ingratitude.

Chicago Times, February 8, 1880.

****     ****


QUESTION: Have you read the replies of the clergy to your
recent lecture in this city on "What Must we do to be Saved?" and
if so what do you thiNk of them?

ANSWER: I think they dodge the point. The real point is this:
If salvation by faith is the real doctrine of Christianity, I asked
on Sunday before last, and I still ask, why didn't Matthew tell it?
I still insist that Mark should have remembered it, and I shall
always believe that Luke ought, at least, to have noticed it, I was
endeavoring to show that modern Christianity has for its basis an
interpolation. I think I showed it, The only gospel on the orthodox
side is that of John, and that was certainly not written, or did
not appear in its present form, until long after the others were

I know very well that the Catholic Church claimed during the
Dark Ages, and still claims, that references had been made to the
gospels by persons living in the first, second, and third
centuries; but I believe such manuscripts were manufactured by the
Catholic Church. For many years in Europe there was not one person
in twenty thousand who could read and write. During that time the
church had in its keeping the literature of our world. They
interpolated as they pleased. They created. They destroyed. In
other words, they did whatever in their opinion was necessary to
substantiate the faith.

The gentlemen who saw fit to reply did not answer the
question, and I again call upon the clergy to explain to the people
why, if salvation depends upon belief on the Lord Jesus Christ,
Matthew didn't mention it. Some one has said that Christ didn't
make known this doctrine of salvation by belief or faith until
after his resurrection. Certainly none of the gospels were written
until after his resurrection; and if he made that doctrine known
after his resurrection, and before his ascension, it should have
been in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as in John.

The replies of the clergy show that they have not investigated
the subject; that they are not well acquainted with the New
Testament. In other words, they have not read it except with the
regulation theological bias. There is one thing I wish to correct
here. In an editorial in the Tribune it was stated that I had
admitted that Christ was beyond and above Buddha, Zoroaster,
Confucius, and others. I did not say so. Another point was made
against me, and those who made it seemed to think it was a good
one. In my lecture I asked why it was that the disciples of Christ

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


wrote in Greek, whereas, in fact, they understood only Hebrew. It
is now claimed that Greek was the language of Jerusalem at that
time; that Hebrew had fallen into disuse; that no one understood it
except the literati and the highly educated. If I fell into an
error upon this point it was because I relied upon the New
Testament. I find in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts an
account of Paul having been mobbed in the city of Jerusalem; that
he was protected by a chief captain and some soldiers that, while
upon the stairs of the castle to which he was being taken for
protection, he obtained leave from the captain to speak unto the
people, In the fortieth verse of that chapter I find the following:

"And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs
and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made
a areat silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,"

And then follows the speech of Paul, wherein he gives an
account of his conversion. It seems a little curious to me that
Paul, for the purpose of quieting a mob, would speak to that mob in
an unknown language. If I were mobbed in the city of Chicago and
wished to defend myself with an explanation, I certainly would not
make that explanation in Choctaw even if I understood that tongue.
My present opinion is that I would speak in English; and the reason
I would speak in English is because that language is generally
understood in this city, and so I conclude from the account in the
twenty-first chapter of the Acts that Hebrew was the language of
Jerusalem at that time, or that Paul would not have addressed the
mob in that tongue.

QUESTION: Did you read Mr. Courtney's answer?

ANSWER: I read what Mr. Courtney read from others, and think
some of his quotations very good; and have no doubt that the
authors will feel complimented by being quoted. There certainly is
no need of my answering Dr. Courtney; sometime I may answer the
French gentlemen from whom he quoted.

QUESTION: But what about there being "belief" ln Matthew?

ANSWER: Mr. Courtney says that certain people were cured of
diseases on account of faith. Admitting that mumps, measles, and
whooping-cough could be cured in that way, there is not even a
suggestion that salvation depended upon a like faith. I think he
can hardly afford to rely upon the miracles of the New Testament to
prove his doctrine. There is one instance in which a miracle was
performed by Christ without his knowledge; and I hardly think that
even Mr. Courtney would insist that any faith could have been great
enough for that, The fact is, I believe that all these miracles
were ascribed to Christ long after his death, and that Christ
never, at any time or place pretended to have any supernatural
power whatever. Neither do I believe that he claimed any
supernatural origin. Be claimed simply to be a man; no less, no
more. I do not believe Mr. Courtney is satisfied with his own

QUESTION: And now as to Prof. Swing?

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ANSWER: Mr. Swing has been out of the orthodox church so long
that he seems to have forgotten the reasons for which he left it.
I do not believe there is an orthodox minister in the city of
Chicago who will agree with Mr. Swing that salvation by faith is no
longer preached. Prof. Swing seems to think it of no importance who
wrote the gospel of Matthew. In this I agree with him. Judging from
what he said there is hardly difference enough of opinion between
us to justify a reply on his part. He, however, makes one mistake.
I did not in the lecture say one word about tearing down churches.
I have no objection to people building all the churches they wish.
While I admit that it is a pretty sight to see children on a
morning in June going through the fields to the country church I
still insist that the beauty of that sight does not answer the,
question how it is that Matthew forgot to say anything about
salvation through Christ. Prof. Swing is a man of poetic
temperament, but this is not a poetic question.

QUESTION: How did the card of Dr. Thomas strike you?

ANSWER: I think the reply of Dr. Thomas is in the best
Possible spirit. I regard him to-day as the best intellect in the
Methodist denomination. He seems to have what is generally
understood as a Christian spirit. He has always treated me with
perfect fairness, and I should have said long ago many grateful
things, had I not feared I might hurt him with his own people. He
seems to be by nature a perfectly fair man; and I know of no man in
the United States for whom I have a profounder respect. Of course,
I don't agree with Dr. Thomas. I think in many things he is
mistaken. But I believe him to be perfectly sincere. There is one
trouble about him -- he is growing; and this fact will no doubt
give great trouble to many of his brethren. Certain Methodist
hazel-brush feel a little uneasy in the shadow of this oak. To see
the difference between him and some others, all that is necessary
is to read his reply, and then read the remarks made at the
Methodist ministers' meeting on the Monday following. Compared with
Dr, Thomas, they are as puddles by the sea. There is the same
difference that there is between sewers and rivers, cesspools and

QUESTION: What have you to say to the remarks of the Rev. Dr.
Jewett before the Methodist ministers' meeting?

ANSWER: I think Dr. Jewett is extremely foolish. I did not say
that I would commence suit against a minister for libel. I can
hardly conceive of a proceeding that would be less liable to
produce a dividend. The fact about it is, that the Rev. Mr. Jewett
seems to think anything true that he hears against me. Mr. Jewett
is probably ashamed of what he said by this time. He must have
known it to be entirely false. It seems to me by this time even the
most bigoted should lose their confidence in falsehood. Of course
there are times when a falsehood well told bridges over quite a
difficulty, but in the long run you had better tell the truth, even
if you swim the creek. I am astonished that these ministers were
willing to exhibit their wounds to the world, I supposed of course
I would hit some, but I had no idea of wounding so many.

QUESTION: Mr. Crafts stated that you were in the habit of
swearing in company and before your family?

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ANSWER: I often swear. In other words, I take the name of God
in vain: that is to say, I take it without any practical thing
resulting from it, and in that sense I think most ministers are
guilty of the same thing. I heard an old story of a clergyman who
rebuked a neighbor for swearing, to whom the neighbor replied, "You
pray and I swear, but as a matter of fact neither of us means
anything by it." As to the charge that I am in the habit of using
indecent language in my family, no reply is needed. I am willing to
leave that question to the people who know us both. Mr, Crafts says
he was told this by a lady. This cannot by any possibility be true,
for no lady will tell a falsehood. Besides, if this woman of whom
he speaks was a lady, how did she happen to stay where obscene
language was being used? No lady ever told Mr, Crafts any such
thing. It may be that a lady did tell him that I used profane
language. I admit that I have not always spoken of the Devil in a
respectful way; that I have sometimes referred to his residence
when it was not a necessary part of the conversation, and that at
divers times I have used a good deal of the terminology of the
theologian when the exact words of the scientist might have done as
well. But if by swearing is meant the use of God's name in vain,
there are very few preachers who do not swear more than I do, if by
"In vain" is meant without any practical result. I leave Mr. Crafts
to cultivate the acquaintance of the unknown lady, knowing as I do,
that after they have talked this matter over again they will find
that both have been mistaken.

I sincerely regret that clergymen who really believe that an
infinite God is on their side think it necessary to resort to such
things to defeat one man. According to their idea, God is against
me, and they ought to have confidence enough in his infinite wisdom
and strength to suppose that he could dispose of one man, even if
they failed to say a word against me. Had you not asked me I should
have said nothing upon these topics. Such charges cannot hurt me.
I do not believe it possible for such men to injure me. No one
believes what they say, and the testimony of such clergymen against
an Infidel is no longer considered of value. I believe it was
Goethe who said, "I always know that I am traveling when I hear the
dogs bark."

QUESTION: Are you going to make a formal reply to their

ANSWER: Not unless something better is done than has been. Of
course, I don't know what another Sabbath may bring forth. I am
waiting. But of one thing I feel perfectly assured; that no man in
the United States, or in the world, can account for the fact, if we
are to be saved only by faith in Christ, that Matthew forgot it,
that Luke said nothing about it, and that Mark never mentioned it
except in two passages written by another person. Until that is
answered, as one grave-digger says to the other in "Hamlet," I
shall say, "Ay, tell me that and unyoke." In the meantime I wish to
keep on the best terms with all parties concerned. I cannot see why
my forgiving spirit fails to gain their sincere praise. --

Chicago Tribune, September 30, 1880.

****     ****

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Do you really think, Colonel, that the country has
just passed through a crisis?

ANSWER: Yes; there was a crisis and a great one. The question
was whether a Northern or Southern idea of the powers and duties of
the Federal Government was to prevail. The great victory of
yesterday means that the Rebellion was not put down on the field of
war alone, but that we have conquered it in the realm of thought.
The bayonet has been justified by argument. No party can ever
succeed in this country that even whispers "State Sovereignty."
That doctrine has become odious. The sovereignty of the State means
a Government without power, and citizens without protection.

QUESTION: Can you see any further significance in the present
Republican victory other than that the people do not wish to change
the general policy of the present administration?

ANSWER: Yes; the people have concluded that the lips of
America shall be free. There never was free speech in the South,
and there never will be until the people of that section admit that
the Nation is superior to the State, and that all citizens have
equal rights. I know of hundreds who voted the Republican ticket
because they regarded the South as hostile to free speech. The
people were satisfied with the financial policy of the Republicans,
and they feared a change. The North wants honest money -- gold and
silver. The people are in favor of honest votes, and they feared
the practices of the Democratic party. The tissue ballot and
shotgun policy made them hesitate to put power in the hands of the
South. Besides, the tariff question made thousands and thousands of
votes. As long as Europe has slave labor, and wherever kings and
priests rule, the laborer will be substantially a slave. We must
protect ourselves. If the world were free, trade would be free, and
the seas would be the free highways of the world. The great objects
of the Republican party are to preserve all the liberty we have,
protect American labor, and to make it the undisputed duty of the
Government to protect every citizen at home and abroad. The
Republican party intends to civilize this country.

QUESTION: What do you think was the main cause of the
Republican sweep?

ANSWER: The wisdom of the Republicans and the mistakes of the
Democrats. The Democratic party has for twenty years underrated the
intelligence, the patriotism and the honesty of the American
people. That party has always looked upon politics as a trade, and
success as the last act of a cunning trick. It has had no
principles, fixed or otherwise. It has always been willing to
abandon everything but its prejudices. It generally commences where
it left off and then goes backward. In this campaign English was a
mistake, Hancock was another. Nothing could have a been more
incongruous than yoking a Federal soldier with a peace-at-any-price
Democrat. Neither could praise the other without slandering
himself, and the blindest partisan could not like them both. But,
after all, I regard the military record of English as fully equal
to the views of General Hancock on the tariff. The greatest mistake
that the Democratic party made was to suppose that a campaign could
be fought and won by slander, The American people like fair play

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


and they abhor ignorant and absurd vituperation. The continent knew
that General Garfield was an honest man; that he was in the
grandest sense a gentleman; that he was patriotic, profound and
learned; that his private life was pure; that his home life was
good and kind and true, and all the charges made and howled and
screeched and printed and sworn to, harmed only those who did the
making and the howling, the screeching and the swearing. I never
knew a man in whose perfect integrity I had more perfect
confidence, and in less than one year even the men who have
slandered him will agree with me.

QUESTION: How about that "personal and confidential letter"?
(The Morey letter.)

ANSWER: It was as stupid as devilish, as basely born as
godfathered. It is an exploded forgery, and the explosion leaves
dead and torn upon the field the author and his witnesses.

QUESTION: Is there anything in the charge that the Republican
party seeks to change our form of government by gradual

ANSWER: Nothing whatever. We want power enough in the
Government to protect, not to destroy, the liberties of the people.
The history of the world shows that burglars have always opposed an
increase of the police. --
New York Harold, November 5, 1880.

****     ****


QUESTION: What is your opinion of Mr. Beecher?

ANSWER: I regard him as the greatest man in any pulpit of the
world. He treated me with a generosity that nothing can exceed, He
rose grandly above the prejudices supposed to belong to his class,
and acted as only a man could act without a chain upon his brain
and only kindness in his heart.

I told him that night that I congratulated the world that it
had a minister with an intellectual horizon broad enough and a
mental sky studded with stars of genius enough to hold all creeds
in scorn that shocked the heart of man. I think that Mr. Beecher
has liberalized the English-speaking people of the world.

I do not think he agrees with me. He holds to many things that
I most passionately deny. But in common, we believe in the liberty
of thought.

My principal objections to orthodox religion are two --
slavery here and hell hereafter. I do not believe that Mr. Beecher
on these points can disagree with me. The real difference between
us is -- he says God, I say Nature. The real agreement between us
is -- we both say -- Liberty.

QUESTION: What is his forte?

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ANSWER: He is of a wonderfully poetic temperament. In pursuing
any course of thought his mind is like a stream flowing through the
scenery of fairyland. The stream murmurs and laughs while the banks
grow green and the vines blossom.

His brain is controlled by his heart. He thinks in pictures.
With him logic means mental melody. The discordant is the absurd.

For years he has endeavored to hide the dungeon of orthodoxy
with the ivy of imagination. Now and then he pulls for a moment the
leafy curtain aside and is horrified to see the lizards, snakes,
basilisks and abnormal monsters of the orthodox age, and then he
utters a great cry, the protest of a loving, throbbing heart.

He is a great thinker, a marvelous orator, and, in my
judgment, greater and grander than any creed of any.

Besides all this, he treated me like a king. Manhood is his
forte, and I expect to live and die his friend.

****     ****


QUESTION: What is your opinion of Colonel Ingersoll?

ANSWER: I do not think there should be any misconception as to
my motive for indorsing Mr. Ingersoll. I never saw him before that
night, when I clasped his hand in the presence of an assemblage of
citizens, yet I regard him as one or the greatest men of this age.

QUESTION: Is his influence upon the world good or otherwise?

ANSWER: I am an ordained clergyman and believe in revealed
religion. I am, therefore, bound to regard all persons who do not
believe in revealed religion as in error. But on the broad platform
of human liberty and progress I was bound to give him the right
hand of fellowship. I would do it a thousand times over. I do not
know Colonel Ingersoll's religious views precisely, but I have a
general knowledge of them. He has the same right to free thought
and free speech that I have. I am not that kind of a coward who has
to kick a man before he shakes hands with him. If I did so I would
have to kick the Methodists, Roman Catholics and all other creeds.
I will not pitch into any man's religion as an excuse for giving
him my hand. I admire Ingersoll because he is not afraid to speak
what he honesty thinks, and I am only sorry that he does not think
as I do. I never heard so much brilliancy and pith put into a two
hours' speech as I did on that night. I wish my whole congregation
had been there to hear it. I regret that there are not more men
like Ingersoll interested in the affairs of the nation. I do not
wish to be understood as indorsing skepticism in any form. --

New York Harold, November 7, 1880.

****     ****

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Is it true, as rumored, that you intend to leave
Washington and reside in New York?

ANSWER: No, I expect to remain here for years to come, so far
as I can now see. My present intention is certainly to stay here
during the coming winter.

QUESTION: Is this because you regard Washington as the
pleasentest and most advantageous city for a residence?

ANSWER: Well, in the first place, I dislike to move. In the
next place, the climate is good. In the third place, the political
atmosphere has been growing better of late, and when you consider
that I avoid one dislike and reap the benefits of two likes, you
can see why I remain.

QUESTION: Do you think that the moral atmosphere will improve
with the political atmosphere?

ANSWER: I would hate to say that this city is capable of any
improvement in the way of morality. We have a great many churches,
a great many ministers, and, I believe, some retired chaplains, so
I take it that the moral tone of the place could hardly be
bettered. One majority in the Senate might help it. Seriously,
however, I think that Washington has as high a standard of morality
as any city in the Union, And it is one of the best towns in which
to loan money without collateral in the world.

QUESTION: Do you know from experience?

ANSWER: This I have been told was the solemn answer.

QUESTION: Do you think that the political features of the
incoming administration will differ from the present?

ANSWER: Of course, I have no right to speak for General
Garfield. I believe his administration will be Republican, at the
same time perfectly kind, manly, and generous. He is a man to
harbor no resentment. He knows that it is the duty of statesmanship
to remove causes of irritation rather than punish the irritated.

QUESTION: Do I understand you to imply that there will be a
neutral policy, as it were, towards the South?

ANSWER: No, I think there will be nothing neutral about it. I
think that the next administration will be one-sided -- that is, it
will be on the right side. I know of no better definition for a
compromise than to say it is a proceeding in which hypocrites
deceive each other. I do not believe: that the incoming
administration will be neutral in anything. The American people do
not like neutrality. They would rather a man were on the wrong side
than on neither. And, in my judgment, there is no paper so utterly
unfair, malicious and devilish, as one that claims to be neutral.
No politician is as bitter as a neutral politician. Neutrality is
generally used as a mask to hide unusual bitterness. Sometimes it
hides what it is -- nothing. It always stands for hollowness of
head or bitterness of heart, sometimes for both. My idea is -- and

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


that is only one reason I have the right to express it -- that
General Garfield believes in the platform adopted by the Republican
party. He believes in free speech, in honest money, in divorce of
church and state, and he believes in the protection of American
citizens by the Federal Government wherever the flag flies. He
believes that the Federal Government is as much bound to protect
the citizen at home as abroad. I believe he will do the very best
he can to carry these great ideas into execution and make them
living realities in the United States. Personally, I have no hatred
toward the Southern people. I have no hatred toward any class. I
hate tyranny, no matter weather it is South or North; I hate
hypocrisy, and I hate above all things, the spirit of caste. If the
Southern people could only see that they gained as great a victory
in the Rebellion as the North did, and some day they will see it,
the whole question would be settled. The South has reaped a far
greater benefit from being defeated than the North has from being
successful, and I believe some day the South will be great enough
to appreciate that fact. I have always insisted that to be beaten
by the right: is to be a victor. The Southern people must get over
the idea that they are insulted simply because they are out-voted,
and they ought by this time to know that the Republicans of the
North, not only do not wish them harm, but really wish them the
utmost success.

QUESTION: But has the Republican party all the good and the
Democratic all the bad?

ANSWER: No, I do not think that the Republican party has all
the good, nor do I pretend that the Democratic party has all the
bad; though I may say that each party comes pretty near it. I admit
that there are thousands of really good fellows in the Democratic
party, and there are some pretty bad people in the Republican
party. But I honestly believe that within the latter are most of
the progressive men of this country. That party has in it the
elements of growth. It is full of hope. It anticipates. The
Democratic party remembers. It is always talking about the past. It
is the possessor of a vast amount of political rubbish, and I
really believe it has outlived its usefulness. I firmly believe,
that your editor, Mr. Hutchins, could start a better organization,
if he would only turn his attention to it. Just think for a moment
of the number you could get rid of by starting a new party. A
hundred names will probably suggest themselves to any intelligent
Democrat, the loss of which would almost insure success, Some one
has said that a tailor in Boston made a fortune by advertising that
he did not cut the breeches of Webster's statue. A new party by
advertising that certain men would not belong to it, would have an
advantage in the next race.

QUESTION: What, in your opinion, were the causes which led to
the Democratic defeat?

ANSWER: I think the nomination of English was exceedingly
unfortunate. Indiana, being an October State, the best man in that
State should have been nominated either for President or Vice-
President. Personally, I know nothing of Mr. English, but I have
the right to say that he was exceedingly unpopular. That was
mistake number one. Mistake number two was putting a plank in the

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


platform insisting upon a tariff for revenue only. That little word
"only" was one of the most frightful mistakes ever made by a
Political party. That little word "only" was a millstone around the
neck of the entire campaign. The third mistake was Hancock's
definition of the tariff. It was exceedingly unfortunate,
exceedingly laughable, and came just in the nick of time. The
fourth mistake was the speech of Wade Hamption, I mean the speech
that the Republican papers claim he made. Of course I do not know,
personally, whether it was made or not. If made, it was a great
mistake.Mistake number five was made in Alabama, where they refused
to allow a Greenbacker to express his opinion. That lost the
Democrats enough Greenbackers to turn the scale in Maine, and
enough in Indiana to change that election. Mistake number six was
in the charges made against General Garfield. They were insisted
upon, magnified and multiplied until at last the whole thing
assumed the proportions of a malicious libel. This was a great
mistake, for the reason that a number of Democrats in the United
States had most heartily and cordially indorsed General Garfield as
a man of integrity and great ability. Such indorsement had been
made by the leading Democrats of the North and South, among them
Governor Hendricks and many others I might name. Jere Black had
also certified to the integrity and intellectual grandeur of
General Garfield, and when afterward he certified to the exact
contrary, the people believed that it was a persecution. The next
mistake, number seven, was the Chinese letter. While it lost
Garfield California, Nevada and probably New Jersey, it did him
good in New York. This letter was the greatest mistake made,
because a crime is greater than a mistake. These, in my judgment,
are the principal mistakes made by the Democratic party in the
campaign. Had McDonald been on the ticket the result might have
been different, or had the party united on some man in New York,
satisfactory to the factions, it might have succeeded. The truth,
however, is that the North to-day is Republican, and it may be that
had the Democratic party made no mistakes whatever the result would
have been the same, But that mistakes were made is now perfectly
evident to the blindest partisan, If the ticket originally
suggested, Seymour and McDonald, had been nominated on an
unobjectionable platform, the result might have been different. One
of the happiest days in my life was the day on which the Cincinnati
convention did not nominate Seymour and did nominate English. I
regard General Hancock as a good soldier, but not particularly well
qualified to act as President. He has neither the intellectual
training nor the experience to qualify him for that place.

QUESTION: You have doubtless heard of a new party, Colonel.
What is your idea in regard to it?

ANSWER: I have heard two or three speak of a new party to be
called the National party, or National Union party, but whether
there is anything in such a movement I have no means of knowing.
Any party in opposition to the Republican, no matter what it may be
called, must win on a new issue, and that new issue will determine
the new party, Parties cannot be made to order. They must grow.
They are the natural offspring of national events. They must embody
certain hopes, they must gratify, or promise to gratify, the
feelings of a vast number of people. No man can make a party, and
if a new party springs into existence it will not be brought forth

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


to gratify the wishes of a few, but the wants of the many. It has
seemed to me for years that the Democratic party carried too great
a load in the shape of record; that its autobiography was nearly
killing it all the time, and that if it could die just long enough
to assume another form at the resurrection, just long enough to
leave a grave stone to mark the end of its history, to get a
cemetery back of it, that it might hope for something like success.
In other words, that there must be a funeral before there can be
victory. Most of its leaders are worn out. They have become so
accustomed to defeat that they take it as a matter of course; they
expect it in the beginning and seem unconsciously to work for it.
There must be some new ideas, and this only can happen when the
party as such has been gathered to its fathers. I do not think that
the advice of Senator Hill will be followed. He is willing to kill
the Democratic party in the South if we will kill the Republican
party in the North. This puts me in mind of what the rooster said
to the horse "Let us agree not to step on each other's feet."

QUESTION: Your views of the country's future and prospects
must naturally be rose colored?

ANSWER: Of course, I look at things through Republican eyes
and may be prejudiced without knowing it. But it really seems to me
that the future is full of great promise. The South, after all, is
growing prosperous. It is producing more and more every year, until
in time it will become wealthy, The West is growing almost beyond
the imagination of a speculator, and the Eastern and Middle States
are much more than holding their own, We have now fifty millions of
people and in a few years will have a hundred, That we are a Nation
I think is now settled. Our growth will be unparalleled. I myself
expect to live to see as many ships on the Pacific as on the
Atlantic, In a few years there will probably be ten millions of
people living along the Rocky and Sierra Mountains. It will not be
long until Illinois will find her market west of her. In fifty
years this will be the greatest nation on the earth, and the most
populous in the civilized world. China is slowly awakening from the
lethargy of centuries. It will soon have the wants of Europe, and
America will supply those wants. This is a nation of inventors and
there is more mechanical ingenuity in the United States than on the
rest of the globe. In my judgment this country will in a short time
add to its customers hundreds of millions of the people of the
Celestial Empire. So you see, to me, the future is exceedingly
bright. And besides all this, I must not forget the thing that is
always nearest my heart. There is more intellectual liberty in the
United States to-day than ever before. The people are beginning to
see that every citizen ought to have the right to express himself
freely upon every possible subject. In a little while, all the
barbarous laws that now disgrace the statute books of the "States
by discriminating against a man simply because he is honest, will
be repealed, and there will he one country where all citizens will
have and enjoy not only equal rights, but all rights. Nothing
gratifies me so much as the growth of intellectual liberty. After
all, the true civilization is where every man gives to every other,
every right that he claims for himself. --

The Post, Washington, D.C., November 14, 1880.

****     ****

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: How do you regard the present political situation?

ANSWER: My opinion is that the ideas the North fought for upon
the field have at last triumphed at the ballot-box. For several
years after the Rebellion was put down the Southern ideas traveled
North. We lost West Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and
a great many congressional districts in other States. We lost both
houses of Congress and every Southern State. The Southern ideas
reached their climax in 1876. In my judgment the tide has turned,
and hereafter the Northern idea is going South. The young men are
on the Republican side. The old Democrats are dying. The cradle is
beating the coffin. It is a case of life and death, and life is
ahead. The heirs outnumber the administrators.

QUESTION: What kind of a President will Garfield make?

ANSWER: My opinion is that he will make as good a President as
this nation ever had. He is fully equipped. He is a trained
statesman. He has discussed all the great questions that have
arisen for the last eighteen years, and with great ability. He is
a thorough scholar, a conscientious student, and takes an
exceedingly comprehensive survey of all questions. He is genial,
generous and candid, and has all the necessary qualities of heart
and brain to make a great President. He has no prejudices.
Prejudice is the child and flatterer of ignorance. He is firm, but
not obstinate. The obstinate man wants his own way; the firm man
stands by the right. Andrew Johnson was obstinate -- Lincoln was

QUESTION: How do you think he will treat the South?

ANSWER: Just the same as the North. He will be the President
of the whole country. He will not execute the laws by a compass,
but according to the Constitution. I do not speak for General
Garfield, nor by any authority from his friends. No one wishes to
injure the South. The Republican party feels in honor bound to
protect all citizens, white and black. It must do this in order to
keep its self-respect. It must throw the shield of the Nation over
the weakest, the humblest and the blackest citizen. Any other
course is suicide. No thoughtful Southern man can object to this,
and a Northern Democrat knows that it is right.

QUESTION: Is there a probability that Mr. Sherman will be
retained in the Cabinet?

ANSWER: I have no knowledge upon that question, and
consequently have nothing to say. My opinion about the Cabinet is,
that General Garfield is well enough acquainted with public men to
choose a Cabinet that will suit him and the country. I have never
regarded it as the proper thing to try and force a Cabinet upon a
President. He has the right to be surrounded by his friends, by men
in whose judgment and in whose friendship he has the utmost
confidence, and I would no more think of trying to put some man in
the Cabinet than I would think of signing a petition that a man
should marry a certain woman. General Garfield will, I believe,
select his own constitutional advisers, and he will take the best
he knows.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: What, in your opinion, is the condition of the
Democratic party at present?

ANSWER: It must get a new set of principles, and throw away
its prejudices. It must demonstrate its capacity to govern the:
country by governing the States where it is in power. In the
presence of rebellion it gave up the ship. The South must become
Republican before the North will willingly give it power; that is,
the great ideas of nationality and Federal protection must be
absolutely accepted. Ideas are greater than parties, and if our
flag is not large enough to protect every citizen, we must add few
more stars and stripes. Personally I have no hatreds in this
matter. The present is not only the child of the past, but the
necessary child. A statesman must deal with things as they are. He
must not be like Gladstone, who divides his time between foreign
wars and amendments to the English Book of Common Prayer.

QUESTION: How do you regard the religious question in

ANSWER: Religion is a personal matter -- a matter that each
individual soul should be allowed to settle for itself. No man shod
in the brogans of impudence should walk into the temple of
another's soul. While every man should be governed by the highest
possible considerations of the public weal, no one has the right to
ask for legal assistance in the support of his particular sect. If
Catholics oppose the public schools I would not oppose them because
they are Catholics, but because I am in favor of the schools. I
regard the public school as the intellectual bread of life.
Personally I have no confidence in any religion that can be
demonstrated only to children. I suspect all creeds that rely
implicitly on mothers and nurses. That religion is the best that
commends itself the strongest to men and women of education and
genius. After all, the prejudices of infancy and the ignorance of
the aged are a poor foundation for any system of morals or faith.
I respect every honest man, and I think more of a liberal Catholic
than of an illiberal Infidel. The religious question should be left
out of politics. You might as well decide questions of art and
music by a ward caucus as to govern the longings and dreams of the
soul by law. I believe in letting the sun shine whether the weeds
grow or not. I can never side with Protestants if they try to put
Catholics down by law, and I expect to oppose both of them until
religious intolerance is regarded as a crime.

QUESTION: Is the religious movement of which you are the chief
exponent spreading?

ANSWER: There are ten times as many Freethinkers this year as
there were last. Civilization is the child of freethought. The new
world has drifted away from the rotting wharf of superstition. The
politics of this country are being settled by the new ideas of
individual liberty; and parties and churches that cannot accept the
new truths must perish. I want it perfectly understood that I am
not a politician. I believe in liberty and I want to see the time
when every man, woman and child will enjoy every human right.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The election is over, the passions aroused by the campaign
will soon subside, the sober judgment of the people will, in my
opinion, indorse the result, and time will indorse the indorsement.

The Evening Express, New York City, November 19, 1880.

****     ****


QUESTION: you have seen some accounts of the recent sermon of
Dr. Tyng on "Miracles," I presume, and if so, what is your opinion
of the sermon, and also what is your opinion of miracles?

ANSWER: From an orthodox standpoint, I think the Rev. Dr. Tyng
is right. If miracles were necessary eighteen hundred years ago,
before scientific facts enough were known to overthrow hundreds and
thousands of passages in the Bible, certainly they are necessary
now. Dr. Tyng sees clearly that the old miracles are nearly worn
out, and that some new ones are absolutely essential. He takes for
granted that, if God would do a miracle to found his gospel, he
certainly would do some more to preserve it, and that it is in need
of preservation about now is evident. I am amazed that the
religious world should laugh at him for believing in miracles. It
seems to me just as reasonable that the deaf, dumb, blind and lame,
should be cured at Lourdes as at Palestine. It certainly is no more
wonderful that the law of nature should be broken now than that it
was broken several thousand years ago. Dr. Tyng also has this
advantage. The witnesses by whom he proves these miracles are
alive. An unbeliever can have the opportunity of a cross-
examination. Whereas, the miracles in the New Testament are
substantiated only by the dead. It is just as reasonable to me that
blind people receive their sight in France as that devils were made
to vacate human bodies in the holy land.

For one I am exceedingly glad that Dr. Tyng has taken this
position. It shows that he is a believer in a personal God, in a
God who is attending a little to the affairs of this world, and in
a God who did not exhaust his supplies in the apostolic age. It is
refreshing to me to find in this scientific age a gentleman who
still believes in miracles. My opinion is that all thorough
religionists will have to take the ground and admit that a
supernatural religion must be supernaturally preserved.

I have been asking for a miracle for several years, and have
in a very mild, gentle and loving way, taunted the church for not
producing a little one. I have had the impudence to ask any number
of them to join in a prayer asking anything they desire for the
purpose of testing the efficiency of what is known as supplication.
They answer me by calling my attention to the miracles recorded in
the New Testament. I insist, however, on a new miracle, and,
personally, I would like to see one now. Certainly, the Infinite
has not lost his power, and certainly the Infinite knows that
thousands and hundreds of thousands, if the Bible is true, are now
pouring over the precipice of unbelief into the gulf of Hell. One
little miracle would save thousands. One little miracle in
Pittsburgh, well authenticated, would do more good than all the

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


preaching ever heard in this sooty town. The Rev. Tyng clearly sees
this, and he has been driven to the conclusion, first, that God can
do miracles; second, that he ought to, third, that he has. In this
he is perfectly logical. After a man believes the Bible; after he
believes in the flood and in the story of Jonah, certainly he ought
not to hesitate at a miracle of to-day. When I say I want a
miracle, I mean by that, I want a good one. All the miracles
recorded in the New Testament could have been simulated. A fellow
could have: pretended to be dead or blind, or dumb, or deaf, I want
to see a good miracle I want to see a man with one leg, and then I
want to see the other leg grow out.

I would like to see a miracle like that performed in North
Carolina. Two men were disputing about the relative merits of the
salve they had for sale. One of the men, in order to demonstrate
that his salve was better than any other, cut off a dog's tail and
applied a little of the salve to the stump and, in the presence of
the spectators, a new tail grew out. But the other man, who also
had salve for sale, took up the piece of tail that had been cast
away, put a little salve at the end of that, and a new dog grew
out, and the last heard of those parties they were quarrelling as
to who owned the second dog. Something like that is what I call a

QUESTION: What do you believe about the immortality of the
soul? Do you believe that the spirit lives as an individual after
the body is dead?

ANSWER: I have said a great many times that it is no more
wonderful that we should live again than that we do live. Sometimes
I have thought it not quite so wonderful for the reason that we
have a start. But upon that subject I have not the slightest
information. Whether man lives again or not I cannot pretend to
say. There may be another world and there may not be. If there is
another world we ought to make the best of it after arriving there.
If there is not another world, or if there is another world, we
ought to make the best of this. And since nobody knows, all should
be permitted to have their opinions, and my opinion is that nobody

If we take the Old Testament for authority, man is not
immortal. The Old Testament shows man how he lost immortality.
According to Genesis, God prevented man from putting forth his hand
and eating of the Tree of Life. It is there stated, had he
succeeded, man would have lived forever. God drove him from the
garden, preventing him eating of this tree, and in consequence man
became mortal; so that if we go by the Old Testament we are
compelled to give up immortality. The New Testament has but little
on the subject. In one place we are told to seek for immorality. If
we are already immortal, it is hard to see why we should go on
seeking for it. In another place we are told that they who are
worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection of the dead, are
not given in marriage. From this one would infer there would be
some unworthy to be raised from the dead. Upon the question of
immortality, the Old Testament throws but little satisfactory
light. I do not deny immortality, nor would I endeavor to shake the
belief of anybody in another life. What I am endeavoring to do is

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


to put out the tires of hell. If we cannot have heaven without
hell. I am in favor of abolishing heaven. I do not want to go to
heaven if one soul is doomed to agony. I would rather be

My opinion of immortality is this:

Fist. -- I live, and that of itself is infinitely wonderful.

Second. -- There was a time when I was not, and after I was
not, I was. Third. -- that I am, I may be again; and it is no more
wonderful that I may be again, if I have been, than I am, having
once been nothing. If the churches advocated immortality, if they
advocated eternal justice, if they said that man would be rewarded
and punished according to deeds; if they admitted that some time in
eternity there would be an opportunity given to lift up the souls,
and that throughout all the ages the angels of progress and virtue
would beckon the fallen upward and that some time, and no matter
how far away they might put off the time, all the children of men
would be reasonably happy, I never would say a solitary word
against the church, but just as long as they preach that the
majority of mankind will suffer eternal pain, just so long I shall
oppose them; that is to say, as long as I live.

QUESTION: Do you believe in a God; and, if so, what kind of a

ANSWER: Let me, in the first place, lay a foundation for an

First. -- Man gets all food for thought through the medium of
the senses. The effect of nature upon the senses, and through the
senses upon the brain, must be natural. All food for thought, then,
is natural. As a consequence of this there can be no supernatural
idea in the, human brain whatever idea there is must have been a
natural product. If, then, there is no supernatural idea in the
human brain. then there cannot be in the human brain an idea of the
supernatural. If we can have no idea of the supernatural, and if
the God of whom you spoke is admitted to be supernatural, then, of
course, I can have no idea of him, and I certainly can have no very
fixed belief on any subject about which I have no idea.

There may he a God for all I know. There may be thousands of
them. But the idea of an infinite Being outside and independent of
nature is inconceivable. I do not know of any word that would
explain my doctrine or my views upon that subject. I suppose
Pantheism is as near as I could go, I believe in the eternity of
matter and in the eternity of intelligence, but I do not believe in
any Being outside of nature. I do not believe in any personal
Deity. I do not believe in any aristocracy of the air. I know
nothing about origin or destiny, Between these two horizons I live,
whether I wish to or not, and must be satisfied with what I find
between these two horizons, I have never heard any God described
that I believe in. I have never heard any religion explained that
I accept. To make something out of nothing cannot be more absurd
than that an infinite intelligence made this world, and proceeded
to fill it with crime and want and agony, and then, not satisfied

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


with the evil he had wrought, made a hell in which to consummate
the great mistake.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the world and all that is in it
came by chance?

ANSWER: I do not believe anything comes by chance I regard the
present as the necessary child of a necessary past. I believe
matter is eternal; that it has eternally existed and eternally will
exist. I believe that in all matter, in some way, there is what we
call force; that one of the forms of force is intelligence. I
believe that whatever is in the universe has existed from eternity
and will forever exist.

Secondly. -- I exclude from my philosophy all ideas of chance.
Matter changes eternally its form, never its essence. You cannot
conceive of anything being created. No one can conceive of anything
existing without a cause or with a cause. Let me explain; a thing
is not a cause until an effect has been produced; no that, after
all, cause and effect are twins coming into life at precisely the
same instant, born of the womb of an unknown mother. The Universe
is the only fact, and everything that ever has happened, is
happening, or will happen, are but the different aspects of the one
eternal fact. --

The Dispatch, Pittsburgh, Pa. December 11, 1880.

****     ****

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful,
scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of
suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the
Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our
nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and
religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to
the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so
that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old,
hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts
and information for today. If you have such books please contact
us, we need to give them back to America.

****     ****

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
all rights reserved

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201