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Robert Ingersoll Interviews Set 2

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Set 2

Robert Green Ingersoll

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Contents of this file                            page
THE POLITICAL OUTLOOK.                                  1
MR BEECHER, MOSES AND THE NEGRO.                        4
HADES, DELAWARE AND FREETHOUGHT.                        8
A REPLY TO THE REV. MR. LANSING.                       13
BEACONSFIELD, LENT AND REVIVALS.                       15
ANSWERING THE NEW YORK MINISTERS.                      18
GUITEAU AND HIS CRIME.                                 28
DISTRICT SUFFRAGE.                                     32
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This file, its printout, or copies of either
are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold.

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QUESTION: What phase will the Southern question assume in the
next four years?

ANSWER: The next Congress should promptly unseat ever member
of Congress in whose district there was not a fair and honest
election. That is the first hand work to be done. Let notice, in
this way, be given to the whole country, that fraud cannot succeed.
No man should be allowed to hold a seat by force or fraud. Just as
soon as it is understood that fraud is useless it will be
abandoned. In that way the honest voters of the country can be

An honest vote settles the Southern question, and Congress has
the power to compel an honest vote, or to leave the dishonest
districts without representation. I want this policy adopted, not
only in the South, but in the North No man touched or stained with
fraud should be allowed to hold his seat. Send such men home, and
let them stay there until sent back by honest votes. The Southern
question is a Northern question, and the Republican party must
settle it for all time. We must have honest elections, or the
Republic must fall. Illegal voting must be considered and punished
as a crime.

Taking one hundred and seventy thousand as the basis of
representation, the South, through her astounding increase of
colored population, gains three electoral votes while the North and
East lose three. Garfield was elected by the thirty thousand
colored votes cast in New York.

QUESTION: Will the negro continue to be the balance of power.
and if so, will it inure to his benefit?

ANSWER: The more political power the colored man has the
better he will be treated, and if he ever holds the balance of
power he will be treated as well as the balance or our citizens. My

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


idea is that the colored man should stand on an equality with the
white before the law; that he should honestly be protected in all
his rights; that he should be allowed to vote, and that his vote
should be counted. It is a simple question of honesty. The colored
people are doing well; they are industrious; they are trying to get
an education, and, on the whole, I think they are behaving fully as
well as the whites. They are the most forgiving people in the
world, and about the only real Christians in our country. They have
suffered enough, and for one I am on their side. I think more of
honest black people than of dishonest whites, to say the least of

QUESTION: Do you apprehend any trouble from the Southern
leaders in this closing session of Congress, in attempts to force
pernicious legislation?

ANSWER: I do not. The Southern leaders know that the doctrine
of State Sovereignty is dead. They know that they cannot depend
upon the Northern Democrat, and they know that the best interests
of the South can only be preserved by admitting that the war
settled the questions and ideas fought for and against. They know
that this country is a Nation, and that no party can possibly
succeed that advocates anything contrary to that. My own opinion is
that most of the Southern leaders are heartily ashamed of the
course pursued by their Northern friends, and will take the first
opportunity to say so.

QUESTION: In what light do you regard the Chinaman?

ANSWER: I am opposed to compulsory immigration, or cooley or
slave immigration. If Chinamen are sent to this country by
corporations or companies under contracts that amount to slavery or
anything like or near it, then I am opposed to it. But I am not
prepared to say that I would be opposed to voluntary immigration.
I see by the papers that a new treaty has been agreed upon that
will probably be ratified and be satisfactory to all parties. We
ought to treat China with the utmost fairness. If our treaty is
wrong, amend it, but do so according to the recognized usage of
nations. After what has been said and done in this country I think
there is very little danger of any Chinaman voluntarily coming
here. By this time China must have an exceedingly exalted opinion
of our religion, and of the justice and hospitality born of our
most holy faith.

QUESTION: What is your opinion of making ex-Presidents
Senators for life?

ANSWER: I am opposed to it. I am against any man holding
office for life. And I see no more reason for making ex-Presidents
Senators, than for making ex-Senators Presidents. To me the idea is
preposterous. Why should ex-Presidents be taken care of? In this
country labor is not disgraceful, and after a man has been
President he has still the right to be useful. I am personally
acquainted with several men who will agree, in consideration of
being elected to the presidency, not to ask for another office
during their natural lives. The people of this country should never
allow a great man to suffer. The hand, not of charity, but of
justice and generosity, should be forever open to those who have
performed great public service.
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But the ex-Presidents of the future may not all be great and
good men, and bad ex-Presidents will not make good Senators. If the
nation does anything, let it give a reasonable pension to ex-
Presidents. No man feels like giving pension, power, or place to
General Grant simply because he was once President, but because he
was a great soldier and led the armies of the nation to victory.
Make him a General, and retire him with the highest military title.
Let him grandly wear the laurels he so nobly won, and should the
sky at any time be darkened with a cloud of foreign war, this
country will again hand him the sword. Such a course honors the
nation and the man.

QUESTION: Are, we not entering upon the era of our greatest

ANSWER: We are just beginning to be prosperous. The Northern
Pacific Railroad is to be completed. Forty millions of dollars have
just been raised by that company, and new States will soon be born
in the great Northwest. The Texas Pacific will be pushed to San
Diego, and in a few years we will ride in a Pullman car from
Chicago to the City of Mexico. The gold and silver mines are
yielding more and more, and within the last ten years more than
forty million acres of land have been changed from wilderness to
farms. This country is beginning to grow. We have just fairly
entered upon what I believe will be the grandest period of national
development and prosperity. With the Republican party in power;
with good money; with unlimited credit; with the best land in the
world; with ninety thousand miles of railway; with mountains of
gold and silver; with hundreds of thousands of square miles of coal
fields; with iron enough for the whole world; with the best system
of common schools; with telegraph wires reaching every city and
town, so that no two citizens are an hour apart; with the
telephone, that makes everybody in the city live next door, and
with the best folks in the world, how can we help prospering until
the continent is covered with happy homes?

QUESTION: What do you think of civil service reform?

ANSWER: I am in favor of it. I want such civil service reform
that all the offices will be filled with good and competent
Republicans. The majority should rule, and the men who are in favor
of the views of the majority should hold the offices. I am utterly
opposed to the idea that a party should show its liberality at the
expense of its principles. Men holding office can afford to take
their chances with the rest of us. If they are Democrats, they
should not expect to succeed when their party is defeated. I
believe that there are enough good, honest Republicans in this
country to fill all the offices, and I am opposed to taking any
Democrats until the Republican supply is exhausted.

Men should not join the Republican party to get office, Such
men are contemptible to the last degree. Neither should a
Republican administration compel a man to leave the party to get a
Federal appointment. After a great battle has been fought I do not
believe that the victorious general should reward the officers of
the conquered army. My doctrine is, rewards for friends. --

The Commercial, Cincinnati, Ohio, December 6, 1880.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Mr. Beecher is here. Have you seen him?

ANSWER: No, I did not meet Mr. Beecher. Neither did I hear him
lecture. The fact is, that long ago I made up my mind that under no
circumstances would I attend any lecture or other entertainment
given at Lincoln Hall. First, because the hall has been denied me,
and secondly, because I regard it as exceedingly unsafe. The hall
is up several stories from the ground, and in case of the slightest
panic, in my judgment, many lives would be lost. Had it not been
for this, and for the fact that the persons owning it imagined that
because they had control, the brick and mortar had some kind of
holy and sacred quality, and that this holiness is of such a
wonderful character that it would not be proper for a man in that
hall to tell his honest thoughts, I would have heard him.

QUESTION: Then I assume that you and Mr. Beecher have made up?

ANSWER: There is nothing to be made up so far as I know. Mr.
Beecher has treated me very well, and, I believe, a little too well
for his own peace of mind. I have been informed that some members
of Plymouth Church felt exceedingly hurt that their pastor should
so far forget himself as to extend the right hand of fellowship to
one who differs from him upon what they consider very essential
points in theology. You see I have denied with all my might, a
great many times, the infamous doctrine of eternal punishment. I
have also had the temerity to suggest that I did not believe that
a being of infinite justice and mercy was the author of all that I
find in the Old Testament. As, for instance, I have insisted that
God never commanded anybody to butcher women or to cut the throats
of prattling babes. These orthodox gentlemen have rushed to the
rescue of Jehovah by insisting that he did all these horrible
things. I have also maintained that God never sanctioned or upheld
human slavery; that he never would make one child to own and beat

I have also expressed some doubts as to whether this same God
ever established the institution or polygamy. I have insisted that
that institution is simply infamous; that it destroys the idea of
home; that it turns to ashes the most sacred words in our language,
and leaves the world a kind of den in which crawl the serpents of
selfishness and lust. I have been informed that after Mr. Beecher
had treated me kindly a few members of his congregation objected,
and really felt ashamed that he had so forgotten himself. After
that, Mr. Beecher saw fit to give his ideas of the position I had
taken. ln this he was not exceedingly kind, nor was his justice
very conspicuous. But I cared nothing about that, not the least. As
I have said before, whenever Mr. Beecher says a good thing I give
him credit. Whenever he does an unfair or unjust thing I charge it
to the account of his religion. I have insisted, and I still
insist, that Mr. Beecher is far better than his creed. I do not
believe that he believes in the doctrine of eternal punishment.
Neither do I believe that he believes in the literal truth of the
Scriptures. And, after all, if the Bible is not true, it is hardly
worth while to insist upon its inspiration. An inspired lie is no
better than an uninspired one. If the Bible is true it does not
need to be inspired, If it is not true, inspiration does not help
it. So that after all it is simply a question of fact. Is it true?
I believe: Mr. Beecher stated that one of my grievous faults was

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


that I picked out the bad things in the Bible. How an infinitely
good and wise God came to put bad things in his book Mr. Beecher
does not explain. I have insisted that the Bible is not inspired,
and, in order to prove that, have pointed out such passages as I
deemed unworthy to have been written even by a civilized man or a
savage. I certainly would not endeavor to prove that the Bible is
uninspired by picking out its best passages. I admit that there are
many good things in the Bible. The fact that there are good things
in it does not prove its inspiration, because there are thousands
of other books containing good things, and yet no one claims they
are inspired. Shakespeare's works contain a thousand times more
good things than the Bible; but no one claims he was an inspired
man. It is also true that there are many bad things in Shakespeare
-- many passages which I wish he had never written. But I can
excuse Shakespeare, because he did not rise absolutely above his
time. That is to say, he was a man; that is to say, he was
imperfect. If anybody claimed now that Shakespeare was actually
inspired, that claim would be answered by pointing to certain weak
or bad or vulgar passages in his works. But every Christian will
say that it is a certain kind of blasphemy to impute vulgarity or
weakness to God, as they are all obliged to defend the weak, the
bad and the vulgar, so long as they insist upon the inspiration of
the Bible. Now, I pursued the same course with the Bible that Mr.
Beecher has pursued with me. Why did he want to pick out my bad
things? Is it possible that he is a kind of vulture that sees only
the carrion of another? After all has he not pursued the same
method with me that he blames me for pursuing in regard to the
Bible? Of course he must pursue that method. He could not object to
me and then point out passages that were not objectionable. If he
found fault he had to find faults in order to sustain his ground.
That is exactly what I have done with the Scriptures -- nothing
more and nothing less. The reason I have thrown away the Bible is
that in many places it is harsh, cruel, unjust, coarse, vulgar,
atrocious, infamous. At the same time, I admit that it contains
many passages of an excellent and splendid character -- many good
things, wise sayings, and many excellent and just laws.

But I would like to ask this: Suppose there were no passages
in the Bible except those upholding slavery, polygamy and wars of
extermination; would anybody then claim that it was the word of
God? I would like to ask if there is a Christian in the world who
would not be overjoyed to find that every one of these passages was
an interpolation? I would also like to ask Mr. Beecher if he would
not be greatly gratified to find that after God had written the
Bible the Devil had got hold of it, and interpolated all these
passages about slavery, polygamy, the slaughter of women and babes
and the doctrine of eternal punishment? Suppose, as a matter of
fact, the Devil did get hold of it; what part of the Bible would
Mr. Beecher pick out as having been written by the Devil? And if he
picks out these passages could not the Devil answer him by saying,
"You, Mr. Beecher, are like a vulture, a kind of buzzard, flying
through the tainted air of inspiration, and pouncing down upon the
carrion. Why do you not fly like a dove, and why do yon not have
the innocent ignorance of the dove, so that you could light upon a
carcass and imagine that you were surrounded by the perfume of
violets?" The fact is that good things in a book do not prove that
it is inspired, but the presence of bad things does prove that it
is not.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: What was the real difficulty between you and Moses,
Colonel, a man who has been dead for thousands of years?

ANSWER: We never had any difficulty. I have always taken pains
to say that Moses had nothing to do with the Pentateuch. Those
books, in my judgment, were written several centuries after Moses
had become dust in his unknown sepulchre. No doubt Moses was quite
a man in his day, if he ever existed at all. Some people say that
Moses is exactly the same as "law-giver;" that is to say, as
Legislature, that is to say as Congress. Imagine some body in the
future as regarding the Congress of the United States as one
person! And then imagine that somebody endeavoring to prove that
Congress was always consistent But, whether Moses lived or not
makes but little difference to me. I presume he filled the place
and did the work that he was compelled to do, and although
according to the account God had much to say to him with regard to
the making of altars, tongs, snuffers and candlesticks, there is
much left for nature still to tell. Thinking of Moses as a man,
admitting that he was above his fellows that he was in his day and
generation a leader, and, in a certain narrow sense, a patriot,
that he was the founder of the Jewish people; that he found them
barbarians and endeavored to control them by thunder and lightning,
and found it necessary to pretend that he was in partnership with
the power governing the universe; that he took advantage of their
ignorance and fear, just as politicians do now, and as theologians
always will, still, I see no evidence that the man Moses was any
nearer to God than his descendants, who are still warring against
the Philistines in every civilized part of the globe. Moses was a
believe in slavery, in polygamy, in wars of extermination, in
religious persecution and intolerance and in almost every thing
that is now regarded with loathing, contempt and scorn. Jehovah of
whom he speaks violated, or commands the violation of at least nine
of the Ten Commandments he gave. There is one thing, however, that
can be said of Moses that cannot be said of any person who now
insists that he was inspired, and that is, he was in advance of his

QUESTION: What do you think of the Buckner Bill for the
colonization of the negroes in Mexico?

ANSWER: Where does Mr. Buckner propose to colonize the white
people, and what right has he to propose the colonization of six
millions of people? Should we not have other bills to colonize the
Germans, the Swedes, the Irish, and then, may be, another bill to
drive the Chinese into the sea? Where do we get the right to say
that the negroes must emigrate?

All such schemes will, in my judgment, prove utterly futile.
Perhaps the history of the world does not give an instance of the
emigration of six millions of people. Notwithstanding the treatment
that Ireland has received from England, which may be designated as
a crime of three hundred years, the Irish still love Ireland. All
the despotism in the world will never crush out of the Irish heart
the love of home -- the adoration of the old sod. The negroes of
the South have certainly suffered enough to drive them into other
countries; but after all, they prefer to stay where they were born.
They prefer to live where their ancestors were slaves, where

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


fathers and mothers were sold and whipped; and I don't believe it
will be possible to induce a majority of them to leave that land.
Of course, thousands may leave, and in process of time millions may
go, but I don't believe emigration will ever equal their natural
increase. As the whites of the South become civilized the reason
for going will be less and less.

I see no reason why the white and black men cannot live
together in the same land, under the same flag. The beauty of
liberty is you cannot have it unless you give it away, and the more
you give away the more you have. I know that thy liberty is secure
only because others are free.

I am perfectly willing to live in a country with such men as
Frederick Douglas and Senator Bruce. I have always preferred a
good, clever black man to a mean white man, and I am of the opinion
that I shall continue in that preference. Now, if we could only
have a colonization bill that would get rid of all the rowdies, all
the rascals and hypocrites, I would like to see it carried out,
though some people might insist that it would amount to a
repudiation of the national debt and that hardly enough would be
left to pay the interest. No, talk as we will, the colored people
helped to save this Nation. They have been at all times and in all
places the friends of our flag; a flag that never really protected
them. And for my part, I am willing that they should stand forever
beneath that flag, the equal in rights of all other people.
Politically, if any black men are to be sent away, I want it
understood that each one is to be accompanied by a Democrat. so
that the balance of power, especially in New York, will not be

QUESTION: I notice that leading Republican newspapers are
advising General Garfield to cut loose from the machine in
politics; what do you regard as the machine?

ANSWER: All defeated candidates regard the persons who
defeated them as constituting a machine, and always imagine that
there is some wicked conspiracy at the bottom of the machine. Some
of the recent reformers regard the people who take part in the
early stages of a political campaign -- who attend caucuses and
primaries, who speak of politics to their neighbors, as members and
parts of the machine, and regard only those as good and reliable
American citizens who take no part whatever, simply reserving the
right to grumble after the work has been done by others. Not much
can be accomplished in politics without an organization, and the
moment an organization is formed, and, you might say, just a little
before, leading spirits will be developed. Certain men will take
the lead, and the weaker men will in a short time. unless they get
all the loaves and fishes, denounce the whole thing as a machine.
and, to show how thoroughly and honestly they detest the machine in
politics, will endeavor to organize a little machine themselves.
General Garfield has been in politics for many years. He knows the
principal men in both parties. He knows the men who have not only
done something, but who are capable of doing something, and such
men will not, in my opinion, be neglected. I do not believe that
General Garfield will do any act calculated to divide the
Republican party. No thoroughly great man carries personal

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


prejudice into the administration of public affairs. Of course,
thousands of people will be prophesying that this man is to be
snubbed and another to be paid; but, in my judgment, after the 4th
of March most people will say that General Garfield has used his
power wisely and that he has neither sought nor shunned men simply
because he wished to pay debts -- either of love or hatred. --

Washington correspondent, Brooklyn Eagle, January 31, 1881.

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QUESTION: Now that a lull has come in politics, I thought I
would come and see what is going on in the religious world?

ANSWER: Well, from what little I learn, there has not been
much going on during the last year. There are five hundred and
twenty-six Congregational Churches in Massachusetts, and two
hundred of these churches have not received a new member for an
entire year, and the others have scarcely held their own. In
Illinois there are four hundred and eighty-three Presbyterian
Churches, and they have now fewer members than they had in 1879,
and of the four hundred and eighty-three, one hundred and
eighty-three have not received a single new member for twelve
mouths. A report has been made, under the auspices of the Pan-
Presbyterian Council, to the effect that there are in the whole
world about three millions of Presbyterians. This is about one-
fifth of one per cent, of the inhabitants of the world. The
probability is that of the three million nominal Presbyterians, not
more than two or three hundred thousand actually believe the
doctrine, and of the two or three hundred thousand, not more than
five or six hundred have any true conception of what the doctrine
is. As the Presbyterian Church has only been able to induce one-
fifth of one percent. of the people to even call themselves
Presbyterians, about how long will it take, at this rate, to
convert mankind? The fact is, there seems to be a general lull
along the entire line, and just at present very little is being
done by the orthodox people to keep their fellow-citizens out of

QUESTION: Do you really think that the orthodox people now
believe in the old doctrine of eternal punishment, and that they
really think there is the kind of hell that our ancestors so
carefully described?

ANSWER: I am afraid that the old idea is dying out, and that
many Christians are slowly giving up the consolations naturally
springing from the old belief. Another terrible blow to the old
infamy is the fact that in the revised New Testament the consoling
word hell has been left out. I am informed that in the revised New
Testament the word Hades has been substituted. As nobody knows
exactly what Hades means, it will not be quite so easy to frighten
people at revivals by threatening them with something that they
don't clearly understand. After this, when the impassioned orator
cries out that all the unconverted will be sent to Hades, the poor
sinners, instead of getting frightened, will begin to ask each

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


other what and where that is. It will take many years of preaching
to clothe that word in all the terrors and horrors, pains and
penalties and pangs of hell. Hades is a compromise. It is a
concession to the philosophy of our day. It is a graceful
acknowledgment to the growing spirit of investigation, that hell,
after all, is a barbaric mistake. Hades is the death of revivals.
It cannot be used in song. It won't rhyme with anything with the
same force that hell does. It is altogether more shadowy than hot.
It is not associated with brimstone and flame. It sounds somewhat
indistinct, somewhat lonesome, a little desolate, but not
altogether uncomfortable. For revival purposes, Hades is simply
useless, and few conversions will be made in the old way under the
revised Testament.

QUESTION: Do you really think that the church is losing

ANSWER: I am not, as you probably know, connected with any
orthodox organization, and consequently have to rely upon them for
my information. If they can be believed, the church is certainly in
an extremely bad condition. I find that the Rev. Dr. Cuyler, only
a few days ago, speaking of the religious condition of Brooklyn --
and Brooklyn, you know, has been called the City of Churches --
stated that the great mass of that Christian city was out of
Christ, and that more professing Christians went to the theatre
than to the prayer meeting. This, certainly, from their standpoint,
is a most terrible declaration. Brooklyn, you know, is one of the
great religious centers of the world -- a city in which nearly all
the people are engaged either in delivering or in hearing sermons;
a city filled with the editors of religious periodicals; a city of
prayer and praise; and yet, while prayer meetings are free, the
theatres, with the free list entirely suspended, catch more
Christians than the churches; and this happens while all the
pulpits thunder against the stage, and the stage remains silent as
to the pulpit. At the same meeting in which the Rev. Dr. Cuyler
made his astounding statements the Rev Mr. Pentecost was the bearer
of the happy news that four out of five persons living in the city
of Brooklyn were going down to hell with no God and with no hope.
If he had read the revised Testament he would have said "Hades,"
and the effect of the statement would have been entirely lost. If
four-fifths of the people of that great city are destined to
eternal pain, certainly we cannot depend upon churches for the
salvation of the world. At the meeting of the Brooklyn pastors they
were in doubt as to whether they should depend upon further
meetings, or upon a day of fasting and prayer for the purpose of
converting the city.

In my judgment, it would be much better to devise ways and
means to keep a good many people from fasting in Brooklyn. If they
had more meat, they could get along with less meeting. If fasting
would save a city, there are always plenty of hungry folks even in
that Christian town. The real trouble with the church of to-day is,
that it is behind the intelligence of the people. Its doctrines no
longer satisfy the brains of the nineteenth century; and if the
church proposes to hold its power, it must lose its superstitions.
The day of revivals is gone. Only the ignorant and unthinking can
hereafter be impressed by hearing the orthodox creed. Fear has in

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


it no reformatory power, and the more intelligent the world grows
the more despicable and contemptible the doctrine of eternal misery
will become. The tendency of the age is toward intellectual
liberty, toward personal investigation. Authority is no longer
taken for truth. People are beginning to find that all the great
and good are not dead -- that some good people are alive, and that
the demonstrations of to-day are fully equal to the mistaken
theories of the past.

QUESTION: How are you getting along with Delaware?

ANSWER: First rate. You know I have been wondering where
Comegys came from, and at last I have made the discovery. I was
told the other day by a gentleman from Delaware that many years ago
Colonel Hazelitt died; that Colonel Hazelitt was an old
Revolutionary officer, and that when they were digging his grave
they dug up Comegys. Back of that no one knows anything of his
history. The only thing they know about him certainly, is, that he
has never changed one of his views since he was found, and that he
never will. I am inclined to think, however, that he lives in a
community congenial to him. For instance, I saw in a paper the
other day that within a radius of thirty miles around Georgetown,
Delaware, there are about two hundred orphan and friendless
children. These children, it seems, were indentured to Delaware
farmers by the managers of orphan asylums and other public
institutions in and about Philadelphia. It ia stated in the paper,

Many of these farmers are rough task-masters. and if a boy
fails to perform the work of an adult, he is almost certain to be
cruelly treated, half starved, and in the coldest weather
wretchedly clad. If he does the work, his life is not likely to be
much happier, for as a rule he will receive more kicks than candy.
The result in either case is almost certain to be wrecked
constitutions, dwarfed bodies, rounded shoulders, and limbs
crippled or rendered useless by frost or rheumatism. The principal
diet of these boys is corn pone. A few days ago, Constable W.H.
Johnston went to the house of Rouben Taylor, and on entering the
sitting room his attention was attracted by the moans or its only
occupant. a little colored boy, who was lying on the hearth in
front of the fireplace. The boy's head was covered with ashes from
the fire, and he did not pay the slightest attention to the
visitor, until Johnston asked what made him cry. Then the little
fellow sat up and drawing an old rag off his foot said, "Look
there." The sight that met Johnston's eye was horrible beyond
description. The poor boy's feet were so horribly frozen that the
flesh had dropped off the toes until the bones protruded. The flesh
on the sides, bottoms and tops or his feet was swollen until the
skin cracked in many places, and the inflamed flesh was sloughing
off in great flakes. The frost-bitten flesh extended to his knees,
the joints of which were terribly inflamed. The right one had
already begun suppurating. This poor little black boy, covered with
nothing but a cotton shirt, drilling pants, a pair of nearly worn
out brogans and a battered old hat, on the morning of December
30th, the coldest day of the season, when the mercury was seventeen
degrees below zero, in the face of a driving snowstorm, was sent
half a mile from home to protect his master's unshucked corn from

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


the depredations of marauding cows and crows. He remained standing
around in the snow until four o'clock, then he drove the cows home,
received a piece of cold corn pone, and was sent out in the snow
again to chop stove wood till dark. Having no bed, he slept that
night in front of the fireplace, with his frozen feet buried in the
ashes. Dr. C.H. Richards found it necessary to cut off the boy's
feet as far back aa the ankle and the instep.

This was but one case in several. Personally, I have no doubt
that Mr. Rubin Taylor entirely agrees with Chief Justice Comegys on
the great question of blasphemy, and probably nothing would so
gratify Mr. Rubin Taylor as to see some man in a Delaware jail for
the crime of having expressed an honest thought. No wonder that in
the State of Delaware the Christ of intellectual liberty has been
crucified between the pillory and the whipping-post. Of course I
know that there are thousands of most excellent people in that
State -- people who believe in intellectual liberty, and who only
need a little help -- and I am doing what I can in that direction
-- to repeal the laws that now disgrace the statute book of that
little commonwealth. I have seen many people from that State lately
who really wish that Colonel Hazelitt had never died.

QUESTION: What has the press generally said with regard to the
action of Judge Comegys? Do they, so far as you know, justify his

ANSWER: A great many papers having articles upon the subject
have been sent to me. A few of the religious papers seem to think
that the Judge did the best he knew, and there is one secular paper
called the Evening News, published at Chester, Pa., that thinks
"that the rebuke from so high a source of authority will have a
most excellent effect, and will check religious blasphemers from
parading their immoral creeds before the people." The editor of
this paper should at once emigrate to the State of Delaware, where
he probably belongs. He is either a native of Delaware, or most of
his subscribers are citizens of that country; or, it may be that he
is a lineal descendant of some Hessian, who deserted during the
Revolutionary war. Most of the newspapers in the United States are
advocates of mental freedom. Probably nothing on earth has been so
potent for good as an untrammeled, fearless press. Among the papers
of importance there is not a solitary exception. No leading journal
in the United States can be found upon the side of intellectual
slavery. Of course, a few rural sheets edited by gentlemen, as Mr.
Greeley would say, "whom God in his inscrutable wisdom had allowed
to exist," may be found upon the other side, and may be small
enough, weak enough and mean enough to pander to the lowest and
basest prejudices of their most ignorant subscribers. These editors
disgrace their profession and exert about the same influence upon
the heads as upon the pockets of their subscriber, that is to say,
they get little and give less.

QUESTION: Do you not think after all, the people who are in
favor of having you arrested for blasphemy, are acting in
accordance with the real spirit of the Old and New Testaments?

ANSWER: Of course, they act in exact accordance with many of
the commands in the Old Testament, and in accordance with several
passages in the New. At the same time, it may be said that they

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


violate passages in both. If the Old Testament is true, and if it
is the inspired word of God, of course, an Infidel ought not to be
allowed to live; and if the New Testament is true, an unbeliever
should not be permitted to speak. There are many passages, though,
in the New Testament, that should protect even an Infidel. Among
them this: "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto
you." But that is a passage that has probably had as little effect
upon the church as any other in the Bible. So far as I am
concerned, I am willing to adopt; that passage, and I am willing to
extend to every other human being every right that I claim for
myself. If the churches would act upon this principle, if they
would say -- every soul, every mind, may think and investigate for
itself; and around all, and over all, shall be thrown the sacred
shield of liberty, I should be on their side.

QUESTION: How do you stand with the clergymen, and what is
their opinion of you and of your views?

ANSWER: Most of them envy me; envy my independence; envy my
success; think that I ought to starve; that the people should not
hear me; say that I do what I do for money, for popularity; that I
am actuated by hatred of all that is good and tender and holy in
human nature; think that I wish to tear down the churches, destroy
all morality and goodness, and usher in the reign of crime and
chaos. They know that shepherds are unnecessary in the absence of
wolves, and it is to their interest to convince their sheep that
they, the sheep, need protection. This they are willing to give
them for half the wool. No doubt, most of these ministers are
honest, and are doing what they consider their duty. Be this as it
may, they feel the power slipping from their hands. They know that
they are not held in the estimation they once were. They know that
the idea is slowly growing that they are not absolutely necessary
for the protection of society. They know that the intellectual
world cares little for what they say, and that the great tide of
human progress flows on careless of their help or hindrance. So
long as they insist on the inspiration of the Bible, they are
compelled to take the ground that slavery was once a divine
institution; they are forced to defend cruelties that would shock
the heart of a savage, and besides, they are bound to teach the
eternal horror of everlasting punishment.

They poison the minds of children; they deform the brain and
pollute the imagination by teaching the frightful and infamous
dogma of endless misery. Even the laws of Delaware shock the
enlightened public of to-day. In that State they simply fine and
imprison a man for expressing his honest thoughts; and yet, if the
churches are right, God will damn a man forever for the same
offence. The brain and heart of our time cannot be satisfied with
the ancient creeds. The Bible must be revised again. Most of the
creeds must be blotted out. Humanity must take the place of
theology. Intellectual liberty must stand in every pulpit. There
must be freedom in all the pews, and every human soul must have the
right to express its honest thought. --

Washington Correspondent, Brooklyn Eagle, March 19, 1881.

****     ****

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Rev. Isaac J. Lansing of Meriden, Conn., recently denounced
Col. Robert G. Ingersoll from the pulpit of the Meriden Methodist
Church, and had the Opera House closed against him. This led a
Union reporter to show Colonel Ingersoll what Mr. Lansing had said
and to interrogate him with the following results.


QUESTION: Did you favor the sending of obscene matter through
the mails as alleged by the Rev. Mr. Lansing?

ANSWER: Of course not, and no honest man ever thought that I
did. This charge is too malicious and silly to be answered. Mr.
Lansing knows better. He has made this charge many times and he
will make it again.

QUESTION: Is it a fact that there are thousands of clergymen
in the country whom you would fear to meet in fair debate?

ANSWER: No; the fact is I would like to meet them all in one.
The pulpit is not burdened with genius. There are a few great men
engaged in preaching, but they are not orthodox. I cannot conceive
that a Freethinker has anything to fear from the pulpit, except
misrepresentation. Of course, there are thousand of ministers too
small to discuss with -- ministers who stand for nothing in the
church -- and with such clergymen I cannot afford to discuss
anything. If the Presbyterians, or the Congregationalists, or the
Methodists would select some man, and endorse him as their
champion, I would like to meet him in debate. Such a man I will pay
to discuss with me. I will give him most excellent wages, and pay
all the expenses of the discussion besides. There is but one safe
course for ministers -- they must assert. They must declare. They
must swear to it and stick to it, but they must not try to reason.

QUESTION: You have never seen Rev. Mr. Lansing. To the people
of Meriden and thereabouts he is well-known. Judging from what has
been told you of his utterances and actions, what kind of a man
would you take him to be?

ANSWER: I would take him to be a Christian. He talks like one,
and he acts like one. If Christianity is right, Lansing is right.
If salvation depends upon belief, and if unbelievers are to be
eternally damned, then an Infidel has no right to speak. He should
not be allowed to murder the souls of his fellow-men. Lansing does
the best he knows how. He thinks that God hates an unbeliever, and
he tries to act like God. Lansing knows that he must have the right
to slander a man whom God is to eternally damn.

QUESTION: Mr. Lansing speaks of you as a wolf coming with
fangs sharpened by three hundred dollars a night to tear the lambs
of his flock. What do you say to that?

ANSWER: All I have to say is, that I often get three times
that amount, and sometimes much more. I guess his lambs can take
care of themselves. I am not very fond of mutton anyway. Such talk
Mr. Lansing ought to be ashamed of. The idea that he is a shepherd
-- that he is on guard -- is simply preposterous. He has few sheep

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


in his congregation that know as little on the wolf question as he
does. He ought to know that his sheep support him -- his sheep
protect him; and without the sheep poor Lansing would be devoured
by the wolves himself.

QUESTION: Shall you sue the Opera House management for breach
of contract?

ANSWER: I guess not; but I may pay Lansing something for
advertising my lecture. I suppose Mr. Wilcox (who controls the
Opera House) did what he thought was right. I hear that he is a
good man. He probably got a little frightened and began to think
about the day of judgment, He could not help it, and I cannot help
laughing at him.

QUESTION: Those in Meriden who most strongly oppose you are
radical Republicans. Is it not a fact that you possess the
confidence and friendship of some of the most respected leaders of
that party?

ANSWER: I think that all the respectable ones are friends of
mine. I am a Republican because I believe in the liberty of the
body, and I am an Infidel because I believe in the liberty of the
mind. There is no need of freeing cages. Let us free the birds. If
Mr. Lansing knew me, he would be a great friend. He would probably
annoy me by the frequency and length of his visits.

QUESTION: During the recent presidential campaign did any
clergymen denounce you for your teachings, that you are aware of?

ANSWER: Some did, but they would not if they had been running
for office on the Republican ticket.

QUESTION: What is most needed in our public men?

ANSWER: Hearts and brains.

QUESTION: Would people be any more moral solely because of a
disbelief in orthodox teaching and in the Bible as an inspired
book, in your opinion?

ANSWER: Yes; if a man really believes that God once upheld
slavery; that he commanded soldiers to kill women and babes; that
he believed in polygamy; that he persecuted for opinion's sake;
that he will punish forever, and that he hates an unbeliever, the
effect in my judgment will be bad. It always has been bad. This
belief built the dungeons of the Inquisition. This belief made the
Puritan murder the Quaker. and this belief has raised the devil
with Mr. Lansing.

QUESTION: Do you believe there will ever be a millennium, and
if so how will it come about?

ANSWER: It will probably start in Meriden, as I have been
informed that Lansing is going to leave.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Is there anything else bearing upon the question at
issue or that would make good reading, that I have forgotten, that
you would like to say?

ANSWER: Yes. Good-bye. --

The Sunday Union, New Haven, Conn. April 10, 1881.

****     ****


QUESTION: What have you to say about the attack of Dr. Buckley
on you, and your lecture?

ANSWER: I never heard of Dr. Buckley until after I had
lectured in Brooklyn. He seems to think that it was extremely ill
bred in me to deliver a lecture on the "Liberty of Man, Woman and
Child, "during Lent. Lent is just as good as any other part of the
year, and no part can be too good to do good. It was not a part of
my object to hurt the feelings of the Episcopalians and Catholics.
If they think that there is some subtle relation between hunger and
heaven, or that faith depends upon, or is strengthened by famine,
or that veal, during Lent, is the enemy of virtue, or that beef
breeds blasphemy, while fish feeds faith -- of course, all this is
nothing to me. They have a right to say that vice depends on
victuals, sanctity on soup, religion on rice and chastity on
cheese, but they have no right to say that a lecture on liberty is
an insult to them because they are hungry. I suppose that Lent was
instituted in memory of the Savior's fast. At one time it was
supposed that only a divine being could live forty days without
food. This supposition has been overthrown.

It has been demonstrated by Dr. Tanner to be utterly without
foundation. What possible good did it do the world for Christ to go
without food for forty days? Why should we follow such an example?
As a rule, hungry people are cross, contrary, obstinate, peevish
and unpleasant. A good dinner puts a man at peace with all the
world -- makes him generous, good natured and happy. He feels like
kissing his wife and children. The future looks bright. He wants to
help the needy. The good in him predominates, and he wonders that
any man was ever stingy or cruel. Your good cook is a civilizer,
and without good food, well prepared, intellectual progress is
simply impossible. Most of the orthodox creeds were born of bad
cooking. Bad food produced dyspepsia, and dyspepsia produced
Calvinism, and Calvinism is the cancer of Christianity. Oatmeal is
responsible for the worst features of Scotch Presbyterianism. Half
cooked beans account for the religion of the Puritans. Fried bacon
and saleratus biscuit underlie the doctrine of State Rights. Lent
is a mistake, fasting is a blunder, and bad cooking is a crime.

QUESTION: It is stated that you went to Brooklyn while Beecher
and Talmage were holding revivals, and that you did so for the
purpose of breaking them up. How is this?

ANSWER: I had not the slightest idea of interfering with the
revivals. They amounted to nothing. They were not alive enough to
be killed. Surely one lecture could not destroy two revivals.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Still, I think that if all the persons engaged in the revivals had
spent the same length of time in cleaning the streets, the good
result would have been more apparent. The truth is, that the old
way of converting people will have to be abandoned. The Americans
are getting hard to scare, and a revival without the "scare" is
scarcely worth holding. Such maniacs as Hammond and the "Boy
Preacher" fill asylums and terrify children. After saying what he
has about hell, Mr. Beecher ought to know that he is not the man to
conduct a revival. A revival sermon with hell left out -- with the
brimstone gone -- with the worm that never dies, dead, and the
Devil absent is the broadest farce. Mr. Talmage believes in the
ancient way. With him hell is a burning reality. He can hear the
shrikes and groans. He is of that order of mind that rejoices in
these things. If he could only convince others, he would be a great
revivalist. He cannot terrify, he astonishes, He is the clown of
the horrible -- one of Jehovah's jesters, I am not responsible for
the revival failure in Brooklyn. I wish I were. I would have the
happiness of knowing that I had been instrumental in preserving the
sanity of my fellow-men.

QUESTION: How do you account for these attacks?

ANSWER: It was not so much what I said that excited the wrath
of the reverend gentlemen as the fact that I had a great house.
They contrasted their failure with my success. The fact is, the
people are getting tired of the old ideas. They are beginning to
think for themselves. Eternal punishment seems to them like eternal
revenge. They see that Christ could not atone for the sins of
others; that belief ought not to be rewarded and honest doubt
punished forever; that good deeds are better than bad creeds, and
that liberty is the rightful heritage of every soul.

QUESTION: Were you an admirer of Lord Beaconsfield?

ANSWER: In some respects. He was on our side during the war,
and gave it as his opinion that the Union would be preserved. Mr.
Gladstone congratulated Jefferson Davis on having founded a new
nation. I shall never forget Beaconsfield for his kindness, nor
Gladstone for his malice. Beaconsfield was an intellectual gymnast,
a political athlete, one of the most adroit men in the world. He
had the persistence of his race. In spite of the prejudices of
eighteen hundred years, he rose to the highest position that can be
occupied by a citizen. During his administration England again
became a Continental power and played her game of European chess.
I have never regarded Beaconsfield as a man controlled by
principle, or by his heart. He was strictly a politician. He always
acted as though he thought the clubs were looking at him. He knew
all the arts belonging to his trade. He would have succeeded
anywhere, if by "succeeding" is meant the attainment of position
and power. But after all, such men are splendid failures. They give
themselves and others a great deal of trouble -- they wear the
tinsel crown of temporary success and then fade from public view.
They astonish the pit, they gain the applause of the galleries, but
when the curtain falls there is nothing left to benefit mankind.
Beaconsfield held convictions somewhat in contempt. He had the
imagination of the East united with the ambition of an Englishman.
With him, to succeed was to have done right.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: What do you think of him as an author?

ANSWER: Most of his characters are like himself -- puppets
moved by the string of self-interest. The men are adroit, the women
mostly heartless. They catch each other with false bait. They have
great worldly wisdom. Their virtue and vice are mechanical. They
have hearts like clocks -- filled with wheels and springs. The
author winds them up. In his novels Disraeli allows us to enter the
greenroom of his head. We see the ropes, the pulleys and the old
masks. In all things, in politics and in literature, he was cold,
cunning, accurate, able and successful. His books will, in a little
while, follow their author to their grave. After all, the good will
live longest. --

Washington Correspondent, Brooklyn Eagle, April 24, 1881.

****     ****

Ever since Colonel Ingersoll began the delivery of his lecture
called The Great Infidels, the ministers of the country have made
him the subject of special attack. One week ago last Sunday the
majority of the leading ministers in New York made replies to
Ingersoll's last lecture. What he has to say to these replies will
be found in a interview with Colonel Ingersoll. No man is harder to
pin down for a long talk than the Colonel. He is so beset with
visitors and eager office seekers anxious for his help, that he can
hardly find five minutes unoccupied during an entire day. Through
the shelter of a private room and the guardianship of a stout
colored servant, the Colonel was able to escape the crowd of
seekers after his personal charity long enough to give him time to
answer some of the ministerial arguments advanced against him in
New York.


QUESTION: Have you seen the attacks made upon you by certain
ministers of New York, published in the Harold last Sunday?

ANSWER: Yes, I read, or heard read, what was in Monday's
Harold. I do not know that you could hardly call them attacks. They
are substantially a repetition of what the pulpit has been saying
for a great many hundred years, and what the pulpit will say just
so long as men are paid for suppressing truth and for defending
superstition. One of these gentlemen tells the lambs of his flock
that three thousand men and a few women -- probably with quite an
emphasis on the word "Few" -- gave one dollar each to hear their
Maker cursed and their Savior ridiculed. Probably nothing is so
hard for the average preacher to bear as the fact that people are
not only willing to hear the other side, but absolutely anxious to
pay for it. The dollar that these people paid hurt their feelings
vastly more than what was said after they were in. Of course, it is
a frightful commentary on the average intellect of the pulpit that
a minister cannot get so large an audience when he preaches for
nothing, as an Infidel can draw at a dollar a head. If I depended
upon a contribution box, or upon passing a saucer that would come
back to the stage enriched with a few five cent pieces, eight or
ten dimes, and a lonesome quarter, these gentlemen would, in all
probability, imagine Infidelity was not to be feared.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The churches were all open on that Sunday, and all could go
who desired. Yet they were not full, and the pews were nearly as
empty of people as the pulpit of ideas. The truth is, the story is
growing old, the ideas somewhat moss-covered, and everything has a
wrinkled and withered appearance. This gentleman says that these
people went to hear their Maker cursed and their Savior ridiculed.
Is it possible that in a city where so many steeples pierce the
air, and hundreds of sermons are preached every Sunday, there are
three thousand men, and a few women, so anxious to hear "their
Maker cursed and their Savior ridiculed" that they are willing to
pay a dollar each? The gentleman knew that nobody cursed anybody's
Maker. He knew that the statement was utterly false and without the
slightest foundation. He also knew that nobody had ridiculed the
savior of anybody, but, on the contrary, that I had paid a greater
tribute to the character of Jesus Christ than any minister in New
York has the capacity to do. Certainly it is not cursing the Maker
of anybody to say that the God described in the Old Testament is
not the real God. Certainly it is not cursing God to declare that
the real God never sanctioned slavery or polygamy, or commanded
wars of extermination, or told a husband to separate from his wife
if she differed with him in religion. The people who say these
things of God -- if there is any God at all -- do what little there
is in their power, unwittingly of course, to destroy his
reputation. But I have done something to rescue the reputation of
the Deity from the slanders of the pulpit. If there is any God, I
expect to find myself credited on the heavenly books for my defence
of him. I did say that our civilization is due not to piety, but to
Infidelity. I did say that every great reformer had been denounced
as an Infidel in his day and generation. I did say that Christ was
an Infidel, and that he was treated in his day very much as the
orthodox preachers treat an honest man now. I did say that he was
tried for blasphemy and crucified by bigots. I did say that he
hated and despised the church of his time, and that he denounced
the most pious people of Jerusalem as thieves and vipers. And I
suggested that should he come again he might have occasion to
repeat the remarks that he then made. At the same time I admitted
that there are thousands and thousands of Christians who are
exceedingly good people. I never did pretend that the fact that a
man was a Christian even tended to show that he was a bad man.
Neither have I ever insisted that the fact that a man is an Infidel
even tends to show what, in other respects, his character is. But
I always have said, and I always expect to say, that a Christian
who does not believe in absolute intellectual liberty is a curse to
mankind, and that an Infidel who does believe in absolute
intellectual liberty is a blessing to this world. We cannot expect
all Infidels to he good, nor all Christians to be bad, and we might
make some mistakes even if we selected these people ourselves. It
is admitted by the Christians that Christ made a great mistake when
he selected Judas. This was a mistake of over eight per cent.

Chaplain Newman takes pains to compare some great Christians
with some great Infidels. He compares Washington with Julian, and
insists, I suppose, that Washington was a great Christian.
Certainly he is not very familiar with the history of Washington,
or he never would claim that he was particularly distinguished in
his day for what is generally known as vital piety. That he went
through the ordinary forms of Christianity nobody disputes. That he

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


listened to sermons without paying any particular attention to
them, no one will deny. Julian, of course, was somewhat prejudiced
against Christianity, but that he was one of the greatest men of
antiquity no one acquainted with the history of Rome can honestly
dispute. When he was made emperor he found at the palace hundreds
of gentlemen who acted as barbers, hair-combers, and brushers for
the emperor. He dismissed them all, remarking that he was able to
wash himself. These dismissed office-holders started the story that
he was dirty in his habits, and a minister of the nineteenth
century was found silly enough to believe the story. Another thing
that probably got him into disrepute in that day, he had no private
chaplains. As a matter of fact, Julian was forced to pretend that
he was a Christian in order to save his life. The Christians of
that day were of such a loving nature that any man who differed
with them was forced to either fall a victim to their ferocity or
seek safety in subterfuge. The real crime that Julian committed,
and the only one that has burned itself into the very heart and
conscience of the Christian world, is, that he transferred the
revenues of Christian churches to heathen priests. Whoever stands
between a priest and his salary will find that he has committed the
unpardonable sin commonly known as the sin against the Holy Ghost.

This gentleman also compares Luther with Voltaire. If he will
read the life of Luther by Lord Brougham, he will find that in his
ordinary conversation he was exceedingly low and vulgar, and that
no respectable English publisher could be found who would soil
paper with the translation. If he will take the pains to read an
essay by Macaulay, he will find that twenty years after the death
of Luther there were more Catholics than when he was born. And that
twenty years after the death of Voltaire there were millions less
than when he was born. If he will take just a few moments to think,
he will find that the last victory of Protestantism was won in
Holland; that there has never been one since, and will never be
another. If he would really like to think, and enjoy for a few
moments the luxury of having an idea, let him ponder for a little
while over the instructive fact that languages having their root in
the Latin have generally been spoken in Catholic countries; and
that those languages having their root in the ancient German are
now mostly spoken by people of Protestant proclivities. It may
occur to him, after thinking of this a while, that there is
something deeper in the question than he has as yet perceived.
Luther's last victory, as I said before, was in Holland; but the
victory of Voltaire goes on from day to day. Protestantism is not
holding its own with Catholicism, even in the United States. I saw
the other day the statistics, I believe, of the city of Chicago,
showing that, while the city had increased two or three hundred per
cent., Protestantism had lagged behind at the rate of twelve per
cent. I am willing for one, to have the whole question depend upon
a comparison of the worth and work of Voltaire and Luther. It may
be, too, that the gentleman forgot to tell us that Luther himself
gave consent to a person high in office to have two wives, but
prudently suggested to him that he had better keep it as still as
possible. Luther was, also, a believer in a personal Devil. He
thought that deformed children had been begotten by an evil spirit.
On one occasion he told a mother that, in his judgment, she had
better drown her child; that he had no doubt the Devil was its
father. This same Luther made this observation: "Universal

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


toleration is universal error, and universal error is universal
hell." From this you will see that he was an exceedingly good man,
but mistaken upon many questions. So, too, he laughed at the
Copernican system, and wanted to know if these fool astronomers
could undo the work of God. He probably knew as little about
science as the reverend gentlemen does about history.

QUESTION: Does he compare any other Infidels with Christians?

ANSWER: Oh, yes; he compares Lord Bacon with Diderot. I have
never claimed that Diderot was a saint. I have simply insisted that
he was a great man; that he was grand enough to say that
"incredulity is the beginning of philosophy;" that he had sense
enough to know that the God described by the Catholics and
Protestants of his day was simply an impossible monster; and that
he also had the brain to see that the little selfish heaven
occupied by a few monks and nuns and idiots that they had fleeced,
was hardly worth going to; in other words, that he was a man of
common sense, greatly in advance of his time, and that he did what
he could to increase the sum of human enjoyment to the end that
there might be more happiness in this world.

The gentleman compares him with Lord Bacon, and yet, if he
will read the trials of that day -- I think in the year 1620 -- he
will find that the Christian Lord Bacon, the pious Lord Bacon, was
charged with receiving pay for his opinions, and, in some
instances, pay from both sides; that the Christian Lord Bacon, at
first upon his honor as a Christian lord, denied the whole
business; that afterward the Christian Lord Bacon, upon his honor
as a Christian lord, admitted the truth of the whole business, and
that, therefore, the Christian Lord Bacon was convicted and
sentenced to pay a fine of forty thousand pounds, and rendered
infamous and incapable of holding any office. Now, understand me,
I do not think Bacon took bribes because he was a Christian,
because there have been many Christian judges perfectly honest;
but, if the statement of the reverend gentleman, of New York is
true, his being a Christian did not prevent his taking bribes. And
right here allow me to thank the gentleman with all my heart for
having spoken of Lord Bacon in this connection. I have always
admired the genius of Bacon, and have always thought of his fall
with an aching heart, and would not now have spoken of his crime
had not his character been flung in my face by a gentleman who asks
his God to kill me for having expressed my honest thought.

The same gentleman compares Newton with Spinoza. In the first
place, there is no ground of parallel. Newton was a very great man
and a very justly celebrated mathematician. As a matter of fact, he
is not celebrated for having discovered the law of gravitation.
That was known for thousands of years before he was born; and if
the reverend gentleman would read a little more he would find that
Newton's discovery was not that there is such a law as gravitation,
but that bodies attract each other "with a force proportional
directly to the quantity of matter they contain, and inversely to
the squares of their distances." I do not think he made the
discoveries on account of his Christianity. Laplace was certainly
in many respects as great a mathematician and astronomer, but he
was not a Christian.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Descartes was certainly not much inferior to Newton as a
mathematician, and thousands insist that he was his superior; yet
he was not a Christian. Euclid, if I remember right, was not a
Christian, and yet he had quite a turn for mathematics. As a matter
of fact, Christianity got its idea of algebra from the Mohammedans,
and, without algebra, astronomical knowledge of to-day would have
been impossible. Christianity did not even invent figures. We got
those from the Arabs. The very word "algebra" is Arabic. The
decimal system, I believe, however, was due to a German, but
whether he was a Christian or not, I do not know.

We find that the Chinese calculated eclipses long before
Christ was born; and, exactness being the rule at that time, there
is an account of two astronomers having been beheaded for failing
to tell the coming of an eclipse to the minute; yet they were not
Christians. There is another fact connected with Newton, and that
is that he wrote a commentary on the Book of Revelation. The
probability is that a sillier commentary was never written. It was
so perfectly absurd and laughable that some one -- I believe it was
Voltaire -- said that while Newton had excited the envy of the
intellectual world by his mathematical accomplishments, it had
gotten even with him the moment his commentaries were published.
Spinoza was not a mathematician, particularly. He was a
metaphysician, an honest thinker, whose influence is felt and will
be felt so long as these great questions have the slightest
interest for the human brain.

He also compares Chalmers with Hume. Chalmers gained his
notoriety from preaching what are known as the astronomical
sermons, and, I suppose, was quite a preacher in his day.

But Hume was a thinker, and his works will live for ages after
Mr. Chalmers' sermons will have been forgotten. Mr. Chalmers has
never been prominent enough to have been well known by many people.
He may have been an exceedingly good man, and derived, during his
life, great consolation from a belief in the damnation of infants.

Mr. Newman also compares Wesley with Thomas Paine. When Thomas
Paine was in favor of human liberty, Wesley was against it. Thomas
Paine wrote a pamphlet called "Common Sense," urging the colonies
to separate themselves from Great Britain. Wesley wrote a treatise
on the other side. He was the enemy of human liberty; and if his
advice could have been followed we would have been the colonies of
Great Britain still. We never would have had a President in need of
a private chaplain. Mr. Wesley had not a scientific mind. He
preached a sermon once on the cause and cure of earthquakes, taking
the ground that earthquakes were caused by sins, and that the only
way to stop them was to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He also
laid down some excellent rules for rearing children, that is, from
a Methodist standpoint. His rules amounted to about this:

First. Never give them what they want.

Second. Never give them what you intend to give them, at the
time they want it.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Third. Break their wills at the earliest possible moment. Mr.
Wesley made every family an inquisition, every father and mother
inquisitors, and all the children helpless victims. One of his
homes would give an exceedingly vivid idea of hell. At the same
time, Mr. Wesley was a believer in witches and wizards, and knew
all about the Devil. At his request God performed many miracles. On
several occasions he cured his horse of lameness. On others,
dissipated Mr Wesley's headaches. Now and then he put off rain on
account of a camp meeting, and at other times stopped the wind
blowing at the special request of Mr. Wesley. I have no doubt that
Mr. Wesley was honest in all this, -- just as honest as he was
mistaken. And I also admit that he was the founder of a church that
does extremely well in new countries, and that thousands of
Methodists have been exceedingly good men. But I deny that he ever
did anything for human liberty. While Mr. Wesley was fighting the
Devil and giving his experience with witches and wizards, Thomas
Paine helped to found a free nation. helped to enrich the air with
another flag. Wesley was right on one thing, though. He was opposed
to slavery, and, I believe, called it the sum of all villainies. I
have always been obliged to him for that. I do not think he said it
because he was a Methodist; but Methodism, as he understood it, did
not prevent his saying it, and Methodism as others understood it,
did not prevent men from being slaveholders, did not prevent them
from selling babes from mothers, and in the name of God beating the
naked hack of toil. I think, on the whole, Paine did more for the
world than Mr. Wesley. The difference between an average Methodist
and an average Episcopalian is not worth quarreling about. But the
difference between a man who believes in despotism and one who
believes in liberty is almost infinite. Wesley changed
Episcopalians into Methodists; Paine turned lickspittles into men.
Let it be understood, once for all, that I have never claimed that
Paine was perfect. I was very glad that the reverend gentleman
admitted that he was a patriot and the foe of tyrants; that he
sympathized with the oppressed, and befriended the helpless; that
he favored religious toleration, and that he weakened the power of
the Catholic Church. I am glad that he made these admissions.
Whenever it can be truthfully said of a man that he loved his
country, hated tyranny, sympathized with the oppressed, and
befriended the helpless, nothing more is necessary. If God can
afford to damn such a man, such a man can afford to be damned.
While Paine was the foe of tyrants, Christians were the tyrants.
When he sympathized with the oppressed, the oppressed were the
victims of Christians. When he befriended the helpless, the
helpless were the victims of Christians. Paine never founded an
inquisition; never tortured a human being; never hoped that
anybody's tongue would be paralyzed, and was always opposed to
private chaplains.

It might be well for the reverend gentleman to continue his
comparisons, and find eminent Christians to put, for instance,
along with Humboldt, the Shakespeare of science; somebody by the
side of Darwin, as a naturalist; some gentleman in England to stand
with Tyndall, or Huxley; some Christian German to stand with
Haeckel and Helmholtz. May-be he knows some Christian statesman
that he would compare with Gambetta. I would advise him to continue
his parallels.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: What have you to say of the Rev. Dr. Fulton?

ANSWER: The Rev. Dr. Fulton is a great friend of mine. I am
extremely sorry to find that he still believes in a personal Devil,
and I greatly regret that he imagines that this Devil has so much
power that he can take possession of a human being and deprive God
of their services. It is in sorrow and not in anger, that I find
that he still believes in this ancient superstition. I also regret
that he imagines that I am leading young men to eternal ruin. It
occurs to me that if there is an infinite God, he ought not to
allow anybody to lead young men to eternal ruin. If anything I have
said, or am going to say, has a tendency to lead young men to
eternal ruin, I hope that if there is a God with the power to
prevent me, he will use it. Dr. Fulton admits that in politics I am
on the right side. I presume he makes this concession because he is
a Republican. I am in favor of universal education, of absolute
intellectual liberty. I am in favor, also, of equal rights to all.
As I have said before we have spent millions and millions of
dollars and rivers of blood to free the bodies of men; in other
words, we have been freeing the cages. My proposition now is to
give a little liberty to the birds. I am not willing to stop where
a man can simply reap the fruit of his hand. I wish him, also, to
enjoy the liberty of his brain. I am not against any truth in the
New Testament. I did say that I objected to religion because it
made enemies and not friends. The Rev. Dr. says that is one reason
why he likes religion. Dr. Fulton tells me that the Bible is the
gift of God to man. He also tells me that the Bible is true, and
that God is its author. If the Bible is true and God is its author,
then God was in favor of slavery four thousand years ago. He was
also in favor of polygamy and religious intolerance. In other
words, four thousand years ago he occupied the exact position the
Devil is supposed to occupy now. If the Bible teaches anything it
teaches man to enslave his brother, that is to say, if his brother
is a heathen. The God of the Bible always hated heathens. Dr.
Fulton also says that the Bible is the basis of all law. Yet, if
the Legislature of New York would re-enact next winter the Mosaic
code, the members might consider themselves lucky if they were not
hung upon their return home. Probably Dr. Fulton thinks that had it
not been for the Ten Commandments, nobody would ever have thought
that stealing was wrong. I have always had an idea that men
objected to stealing because the industrious did not wish to
support the idle; and I have a notion that there has always been a
law against murder, because a large majority of people have always
objected to being murdered. If he will read his Old Testament with
care, he will find that God violated most of his own commandments
except that "Thou shalt worship no other God before me," and, may-
be, the commandment against work on the Sabbath day. With these two
exceptions I am satisfied that God himself violated all the rest.
He told his chosen people to rob the Gentiles: that violated the
commandment against stealing. He said himself that he had sent out
lying spirits; that certainly was a violation of another
commandment. He ordered soldiers to kill men, women and babes; that
was a violation of another. He also told them to divide the maidens
among the soldiers; that was a substantial violation of another.
One of the commandments was that you should not covet your
neighbor's property. In that commandment you will find that a man's
wife is put on an equality with his ox. Yet his chosen people were

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


allowed not only to covet the property of the Gentiles, but to take
it. If Dr. Fulton will read a little more, he will find that all
the good laws in the Decalogue had been in force in Egypt a century
before Moses was born. He will find that like laws and many better
ones were in force in India and China, long before Moses knew what
a bulrush was. If he will think a little while, he will find that
one of the Ten Commandments, the one on the subject of graven
images, was bad. The result of that was that Palestine never
produced a painter, or a sculptor, and that no Jew became famous in
art until long after the destruction of Jerusalem. A commandment
that robs a people of painting and statuary is not a good one The
idea of the Bible being the basis of law is almost too silly to be
seriously refuted. I admit that I did say that Shakespeare was the
greatest man who ever lived; and Dr. Fulton says in regard to this
statement, "What foolishness! He then proceeds to insult his
audience by telling them that while many of them have copies of
Shakespeare's works in their houses, they have not read twenty
pages of them. This fact may account for their attending his church
and being satisfied with that sermon. I do not believe to-day that
Shakespeare is more influential than the Bible, but what influence
Shakespeare has, is for good. No man can read it without having his
intellectual wealth increased. When you read it, it is not
necessary to throw away your reason. Neither will you be damned if
you do not understand it. It is a book that appeals to everything
in the human brain. In that book can be found the wisdom of all
ages. Long after the Bible has passed out of existence, the name of
Shakespeare will lead the intellectual roster of the world. Dr.
Fulton says there is not one word in the Bible that teaches that
slavery or polygamy is right. He also states that I know it. If
language has meaning -- if words have sense, or the power to convey
thought, -- what did God mean when he told the Israelites to buy of
the heathen round about, and that the heathen should be their
bondmen and bondmaids forever?

What did God mean when he said, If a man strike his servant so
that he dies, he should not be punished, because his servant was
his money. Passages like these can be quoted beyond the space that
any paper is willing to give. Yet the Rev. Dr. Fulton denies that
the Old Testament upholds slavery. I would like to ask him if the
Old Testament is in favor of religious toleration? If God wrote the
Old Testament and afterward came upon the earth as Jesus Christ,
and taught a new religion, and the Jews crucified him was this not
in accordance with his own law, and was he not, after all, the
victim of himself?

QUESTION: What about the other ministers?

ANSWER: Well, I see in the Harold that some ten have said they
would reply to me. I have selected the two, simply because they
came first. I think they are about as poor as any; and you know it
is natural to attack those who are the easiest answered. All these
ministers are now acting as my agents, and are doing me all the
good they can by saying all the bad things about me they can think
of. They imagine that their congregations have not grown, and they
talk to them as though they were living in the seventeenth instead
of the nineteenth century. The truth is, the pews are beyond the
Pulpit, and the modern sheep are now protecting the shepherds.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Have you noticed a great change in public sentiment
in the last three or four years?

ANSWER: Yes, I think there are ten times as many Infidels
to-day as there were ten years ago. I am amazed at the great change
that has taken place in public opinion. The churches are not
getting along well. There are hundreds and hundreds who have not
had a new member in a year. The young men are not satisfied with
the old ideas. They find that the church, after all, is opposed to
learning; that it is the enemy of progress; that it says to every
young man, "Go slow. Don't allow your knowledge to puff you up.
Recollect that reason is a dangerous thing. You had better be a
little ignorant here for the sake of being an angel hereafter, than
quite a smart young man and get damned at last." The church warns
them against Humboldt and Darwin, and tells them how much nobler it
is to come from mud than from monkeys; that they were made from
mud. Every college professor is afraid to tell what he thinks, and
every student detects the cowardice. The result is that the young
men have lost confidence in the creeds of the day and propose to do
a little thinking for themselves. They still have a kind of tender
pity for the old folks, and pretend to believe some things they do
not, rather than hurt grandmother's feelings. In the presence of
the preachers they talk about the weather and other harmless
subjects, for fear of bruising the spirit of their pastor. Every
minister likes to consider himself as a brave shepherd leading the
lambs through the green pastures and defending them at night from
Infidel wolves. All this he does for a certain share of the wool.
Others regard the church as a kind of social organization, as a
good way to get into society. They wish to attend sociables, drink
tea, and contribute for the conversion of the heathen. It is always
so pleasant to think that there is somebody worse than you are,
whose reformation you can help pay for. I find, too, that the young
women are getting tired of the old doctrines, and that everywhere,
all over this country, the power of the pulpit wanes and weakens.
I find in my lectures that the applause is just in proportion to
the radicalism of the thought expressed. Our war was a great
educator, when the whole people of the North rose up grandly in
favor of human liberty. For many years the great question of human
rights was discussed from every stump. Every paper was filled with
splendid sentiments. An application of these doctrines -- doctrines
born in war -- will forever do away with the bondage of
superstition. When man has been free in body for a little time, he
will become free in mind, and the man who says, "I have an equal
right with other men to work and reap the reward of my labor," will
say, "I have, also, an equal right to think and reap the reward of
my thought."

In old times there was a great difference between a clergyman
and a layman. The clergyman was educated; the peasant was ignorant.
The tables have been turned. The thought of the world is with the
laymen. They are the intellectual pioneers, the mental leaders, and
the ministers are following on behind, predicting failure and
disaster, signing for the good old times when their word ended
discussion. There is another good thing, and that is the revision
of the Bible. Hundreds of passages have been found to be
interpolations, and future revisers will find hundreds more. The
foundation crumbles. That book, called the basis of all law and

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


civilization, has to be civilized itself. We have outgrown it. Our
laws are better; our institutions grander; our objects and aims
nobler and higher.

QUESTION: Do many people write to you upon this subject; and
what spirit do they manifest?

ANSWER: Yes, I get a great many anonymous letters -- some
letters in which God is asked to strike me dead, others of an
exceedingly insulting character, others almost idiotic, others
exceedingly malicious, and others insane, others written in an
exceedingly good spirit, winding up with the information that I
must certainly be damned. Others express wonder that God allowed me
to live at all, and that, having made the mistake, he does not
instantly correct it by killing me. Others prophesy that I will yet
be a minister of the gospel; but, as there has never been any
softening of the brain in our family, I imagine that the prophecy
will never be fulfilled. Lately, on opening a letter and seeing
that it is upon this subject, and without a signature, I throw it
aside without reading. I have so often found them to be so grossly
ignorant, insulting and malicious, that as a rule I read them no

QUESTION: Of the hundreds of people who call upon you nearly
every day to ask your help, do any of them ever discriminate
against you on account of your Infidelity?

ANSWER: No one who has asked a favor of me objects to my
religion, or, rather, to my lack of it. A great many people do come
to me for assistance of one kind and another. But I have never yet
asked a man or woman whether they were religious or not, to what
church they belonged, or any questions upon the subject. I think I
have done favors for persons of most denominations. It never occurs
to me whether they are Christians or Infidels. I do not care. Of
course, I do not expect that Christians will treat me the same as
though I belonged to their church. I have never expected it. In
some instances I have been disappointed. I have some excellent
friends who disagree with me entirely upon the subject of religion.
My real opinion is that secretly they like me because I am not a
Christian, and those who do not like me envy me the liberty I
enjoy. --

New York correspondent, Chicago Times, May 29, 1881.

****     ****

Our "Royal Bob" was found by The Gazette, in the gloaming of
a delicious evening, during the past week, within the open portals
of his friendly residence, dedicated by the gracious presence
within to a simple and cordial hospitality, to the charms of
friendship and the freedom of an abounding comradeship. With
intellectual and untrammered life, a generous, wise and genial
host, whoever enters finds a welcome, seasoned with kindly wit and
Attic humor, a poetic insight and a delicious frankness which
renders an evening there a veritable symposium. The wayfarer who
passes is charmed, and he who comes frequently, goes always away
with delighted memories.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


What matters it that we differ? such as he and his make our
common life the sweeter. An hour or two spent in the attractive
parlors of the Ingersoll homestead, amid the rare group, lends a
newer meaning to the idea of home and a more secure beauty of the
fact of family life. During the past exciting three weeks Colonel
Ingersoll has been a busy man. He holds no office. No position
could lend him an additional crown and even recognition is no
longer necessary. But it has been well that amid the first fierce
fury of anger and excitement, and the subsequent more bitter if not
as noble outpouring of fiction's suspicions and innuendoes, that so
manly a man, so sagacious a counsellor, has been enabled to hold so
positive a balance. Cabinet officials, legal functionaries,
detectives, citizens -- all have felt the wise, humane instincts,
and the capacious brain of this marked man affecting and
influencing for this fair equipoise and calmer judgement.

Conversing freely on this evening of this visit, Colonel
Ingersoll, in the abundance of his pleasure at the White House
news, submitted to be interviewed, and with the following results.


QUESTION: By-the-way, Colonel, you knew Guiteau slightly, we
believe. Are you aware that it has been attempted to show that some
money loaned or given him by yourself was really what he purchased
the pistol with?

ANSWER: I knew Guiteau slightly; I saw him for the first time
a few days after the inauguration. He wanted a consulate, and asked
me to give him a letter to Secretary Blaine. I refused, on the
ground that I didn't know him. Afterwards he wanted me to lend him
twenty-five dollars, and I declined. I never loaned him a dollar in
the world. If I had, I should not feel that I was guilty of trying
to kill the President. On the principle that one would hold the man
guilty who had innocently loaned the money with which he bought the
pistol, you might convict the tailor who made his clothes. If he
had had no clothes he would not have gone to the depot naked, and
the crime would not have been committed. It is hard enough for the
man who did lend him the money to lose that, without losing his
reputation besides. Nothing can exceed the utter absurdity of what
has been said upon this subject.

QUESTION: How did Guiteau impress you and what have you
remembered, Colonel, of his efforts to reply to your lectures?

ANSWER: I do not know that Guiteau impressed me in any way. He
appeared like most other folks in search of a place or employment.
I suppose he was in need. He talked about the same as other people,
and claimed that I ought to help him because he was from Chicago.
The second time he came to see me he said that he hoped I had no
prejudice against him on account of what he had said about me. I
told him that I never knew he had said anything against me. I
suppose now that he referred to what he had said in his lectures.
He went about the country replying to me. I have seen one or two of
his lectures. He used about the same arguments that Mr. Black uses
in his reply to my article in the North American Review, and
denounced me in about the same terms. He is undoubtedly a man who

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


firmly believes in the Old Testament, and has no doubt concerning
the New. I understand that he puts in most of his time now reading
the Bible and rebuking people who use profane language in his

QUESTION: You most certainly do not see any foundation a for
the accusations of preachers like Sunderland, Newman and Power, et
al, that the teaching of a secular liberalism has had anything to
do with the shaping of Guiteau's character or the actions of his
vagabond life or the inciting to his murderous deeds?

ANSWER: I do not think that the sermon of Mr. Power was in
good taste. It is utterly foolish to charge the "Stalwarts" with
committing or inciting the crime against the life of the President.
Ministers, though, as a rule, know but little of pubic affairs, and
they always account for the actions of people they do not like or
agree with, by attributing to them the lowest and basest motives.
This is the fault of the pulpit -- always has been, and probably
always will be. The Rev. Dr. Newman of New York, tells us that the
crime of Guiteau shows three things: First, that ignorant men
should not be allowed to vote; second, that foreigners should not
be allowed to vote; and third, that there should not be so much
religious liberty.

It turns out, first, that Guiteau is not an ignorant man;
second, that he is not a foreigner; and third, that he is a
Christian. Now, because an intelligent American Christian tries to
murder the President, this person says we ought to do something
with ignorant foreigners and Infidels. This is about the average
pulpit logic. Of course, all the ministers hate to admit that
Guiteau was a Christian; that he belonged to the Young Men's
Christian Association, or at least was generally found in their
rooms; that he was the follower of Moody and Sankey, and probably
instrumental in the salvation of a great many souls. I do not blame
them for wishing to get rid of this record. What I blame them for
is that they are impudent enough to charge the crime of Guiteau
upon Infidelity. Infidels and Atheists have often killed tyrants.
They have often committed crimes to increase the liberty of
mankind; but the history of the world will not show an instance
where an Infidel or an Atheist has assassinated any man in the
interest of human slavery. Of course, I am exceedingly glad that
Guiteau is not an Infidel. I am glad that he believes the Bible,
glad that he has delivered lectures against what he calls
Infidelity, and glad that he has been working for years with the
missionaries and evangelists of the United States. He is a man of
small brain, badly balanced. He believes the Bible to be the word
of God. Be believes in the reality of heaven and hell. He believes
in the miraculous. He is surrounded by the supernatural, and when
a man throws away his reason, of course no one can tell what he
will do. He is liable to become a devotee or an assassin, a saint
or a murderer; he may die in a monastery or in a penitentiary.

QUESTION: According to your view, then, the species of
fanaticism taught in sectarian Christianity, by which Guiteau was
led to assert that Garfield dead would be better off than living --
being in Paradise -- is more responsible than office seeking or
political factionalism for his deed?

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ANSWER: Guiteau seemed to think that the killing of the
President would only open the gates of Paradise to him, and that,
after all, under such circumstances, murder was hardly a crime.
This same kind of reasoning is resorted to in the pulpit to account
for death. If Guiteau had succeeded in killing the President,
hundreds of ministers would have said, "After all, it may be that
the President has lost nothing; it may be that our loss is his
eternal gain; and although it seems to us cruel that Providence
should allow a man like him to be murdered, still, it may have been
the very kindest thing that could have been done for him." Guiteau
reasoned in this way, and probably convinced himself, judging from
his own life, that this world was, after all, of very little worth.
We are apt to measure others by ourselves. Of course, I do not
think that Christianity is responsible for this crime. Superstition
may have been, in part -- probably was. But no man believes in
Christianity because he thinks it sanctions murder. At the same
time, an absolute belief in the Bible sometimes produces the worst
form of murder. Take that of Mr. Freeman, of Poeasset, who stabbed
his little daughter to the heart in accordance with what he
believed to be the command of God. This poor man imitated Abraham;
and, for that matter, Jehovah himself. There have been in the
history of Christianity thousands and thousands of such instances,
and there will probably be many thousands more that have been and
will be produced by throwing away our own reason and taking the
word of some one else -- often a word that we do not understand.

QUESTION: What is your opinion as to the effect of praying for
the recovery of the President, and have you any confidence that
prayers are answered?

ANSWER: My opinion as to the value of prayer is well known. I
take it that every one who prays for the President shows at least
his sympathy and good will. Personally, I have no objection to
anybody's praying. Those who think that prayers are answered should
pray. For all who honestly believe this, and who honestly implore
their Deity to watch over, protect, and save the life of the
President, I have only the kindest feelings.

It may be that a few will pray to be seen of men; but I
suppose that most people on a subject like this are honest.
Personally, I have not the slightest idea of the existence of the
supernatural. Prayer may affect the person who prays. It may put
him in such a frame of mind that he can better bear disappointment
than if he had not prayed; but I cannot believe that there is any
being who hears and answers prayer.

When we remember the earthquakes that have devoured, the
pestilences that have covered the earth with corpses, and all the
crimes and agonies that have been inflicted upon the good and weak
by the bad and strong, it does not seem possible that anything can
be accomplished by prayer. I do not wish to hurt the feelings of
anyone, but I imagine that I have a right to my own opinion. If the
President gets well it will be because the bullet did not strike an
absolutely vital part; it will be because he has been well cared
for; because he has had about him intelligent and skillful
physicians, men who understood their profession. No doubt he has
received great support from the universal expression of sympathy

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and kindness. The knowledge that fifty millions of people are his
friends has given him nerve and hope. Some of the ministers, I see,
think that God was actually present and deflected the ball. Another
minister tells us that the President would have been assassinated
in a church, but that God determined not to allow so frightful a
crime to be committed in so sacred an edifice. All this sounds to
me like perfect absurdity -- simple noise. Yet, I presume that
those who talk in this way are good people and believe what they
say. Of course, they can give no reason why God did not deflect the
ball when Lincoln was assassinated. The truth is, the pulpit first
endeavors to find out the facts, and then to make a theory to fit
them. Whoever believes in a special providence must, of necessity,
be illogical and absurd; because it is impossible to make any
theological theory that some facts will not contradict.

QUESTION: Won't yon give us, then, Colonel, your analysis of
this act, and the motives leading to it?

ANSWER: I think Guiteau wanted an office and was refused. He
became importunate. He was, substantially, put out of the White
House. He became malicious. He made up his mind to be revenged.
This, in my judgment, is the diagnosis of his case. Since he has
been in jail he has never said one word about having been put out
of the White House; he is lawyer enough to know we must not furnish
any ground for malice He is a miserable, malicious and worthless
wretch, infinitely egotistical, imagines that he did a great deal
toward the election of Garfield, and upon being refused the house
a serpent of malice coiled in his heart, and he determined to be
revenged. That is all!

QUESTION: Do you, in any way, see any reason or foundation for
the severe and bitter criticisms made against the Stalwart leaders
in connection with this crime. As you are well known to be a friend
of the administration, while not unfriendly to Mr. Conkling and
those acting with him, would you mind giving the public your
opinion on this point?

ANSWER: Of course, I do not hold Arthur, Conkling and Platt
responsible for Guiteau's action. In the first excitement a
thousand unreasonable things were said; and when passion has
possession of the brain, suspicion is a welcome visitor.

I do not think that any friend of the administration really
believes Conkling, Platt and Arthur responsible in the slightest
degree. Conkling wished to prevent the appointment of Robertson.
The President stood by his friend. One thing brought on another,
Mr. Conkling petulantly resigned, and made the mistake of his life.
There was a good deal of feeling, but, of course, no one dreamed
that the wretch, Guiteau, was lying in wait for the President's
life. In the first place, Guiteau was on the President's side, and
was bitterly opposed to Conkling. Guiteau did what he did from
malice and personal spite. I think the sermon preached last Sunday
in the Campbellite Church was unwise, ill advised, and calculated
to make enemies instead of friends. Mr. Conkling has been beaten.
He has paid for the mistake he made. If he can stand it, I can; and
why should there be any malice on the subject? Exceedingly good men
have made mistakes, and afterward corrected them.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Is it not true, Colonel Ingersoll, that the lesson
of this deed is to point the real and overwhelming need of re-
knitting and harmonizing the factions?

ANSWER: There is hardly faction enough left for "knitting."
The party is in harmony now. All that is necessary is to stop
talking. The people of this country care very little as to who
holds any particular office. They wish to have the Government
administrated in accordance with certain great principles, and they
leave the fields, the shops, and the stores once in four years, for
the purpose of attending to that business. In the meantime,
politicians quarrel about offices. The people go on. They plow
fields, they build homes, they open mines, they enrich the world,
they cover our country with prosperity, and enjoy the aforesaid
quarrels. But when the time comes, these gentlemen are forgotten.

Principles take the place of politicians, and the people
settle these questions for themselves. --

Sunday Gazette, Washington, D.C., July 24, 1881.

****     ****


QUESTION: You have heretofore incidentally expressed yourself
on the matter of local suffrage in the District of Columbia. Have
you any objections to giving your present views of the question?

ANSWER: I am still in favor of suffrage in the District. The
real trouble is, that before any substantial relief can be reached,
there must be a change in the Constitution of the United States.
The mere right to elect aldermen and mayors and policemen is of no
great importance. It is a mistake to take all political power from
the citizens of the District. Americans want to help rule the
country. The District ought to have at least one Representative in
Congress, and should elect one presidential elector. The people
here should have a voice. They should feel that they are a part of
this country. They should have the right to sue in all Federal
courts, precisely as though they were citizens of a State. This
city ought to have half a million of inhabitants. Thousands would
come here every year from every part of the Union, were it not for
the fact that they do not wish to become political nothings. They
think that citizenship is worth something, and they preserve it by
staying away from Washington. This city is a "flag of truce" where
wounded and dead politicians congregate; the Mecca of failures, the
perdition of claimants, the purgatory of seekers after place, and
the heaven only of those who neither want nor do anything. Nothing
is manufactured, no solid business is done in this city, and there
never will be until energetic, thrifty people wish to make it their
home, and they will not wish that until the people of the District
have something like the rights and political prospects of other
citizens. It is hard to see why the right to representation should
be taken from citizens living at the Capital of the Nation. The
believers in free government should believe in a free capital.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


QUESTION: Are there any valid reasons why the constitutional
limitations to the elective franchise in the District of Columbia
should not be removed by an amendment to that instrument?

ANSWER: I cannot imagine one. If our Government is founded
upon a correct principle there can be no objection urged against
suffrage in the District that cannot, with equal force, be urged
against every part of the country. If freedom is dangerous here, it
is safe nowhere. If a man cannot be trusted in the District, he is
dangerous in the State. We do not trust the place where the man
happens to be; we trust the man. The people of this District cannot
remain in their present condition without becoming dishonored. The
idea of allowing themselves to be governed by commissioners, in
whose selection they have no part, is monstrous. The people here
beg, implore, request, ask, pray, beseech, intercede, crave, urge,
entreat, supplicate, memorialize and most humbly petition, but they
neither vote nor demand. They are not allowed to enter the Temple
of Liberty; they stay in the lobby or sit on the steps.

QUESTION: They say Paris is France, because her electors or
citizens control that municipality. Do you foresee any danger of
centralization in the full enfranchisement of the citizens of

ANSWER: There was a time when the intelligence of France was
in Paris. The country was besotted, ignorant, Catholic; Paris was
alive, educated, Infidel, full of new theories, of passion and
heroism. For two hundred years Paris was an athlete chained to a
corpse. The corpse was the rest of France. It is different now, and
the whole country is at last filling with light. Besides, Paris has
two millions of people. It is filled with factories. It is not only
the intellectual center, but the center of money and business as
well. Let the Corps Legislatif meet anywhere, and Paris will
continue to be in a certain splendid sense -- France. Nothing like
that can ever happen here unless you expect Washington to outstrip
New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. If allowing the people of the
District of Columbia to vote was the only danger to the Republic,
I should be politically the happiest of men. I think it somewhat
dangerous to deprive even one American citizen of the right to
govern himself.

QUESTION: Would you have Government clerks and officials
appointed to office here given the franchise in the District? and
should this, if given, include the women clerks?

ANSWER: Citizenship should be determined here as in the
States. Clerks should not be allowed to vote unless their intention
is to make the District their home. When I make a government I
shall give one vote to each family. The unmarried should not be
represented except by parents. Let the family be the unit of
representation Give each hearthstone a vote.

QUESTION: How do you regard the opposition of the local clergy
and of the Bourbon Democracy to enfranchising the citizens of the

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


ANSWER: I did not know that the clergy did oppose it. If, as
you say, they do oppose it because they fear it will extend the
liquor traffic, I think their reason exceedingly stupid. You cannot
make men temperate by shutting up a few of the saloons and leaving
others wide open. Intemperance must be met with other weapons. The
church ought not to appeal to force. What would the clergy of
Washington think should the miracle of Cana be repeated in their
day? Had they been in that country, with their present ideas, what
would they have said? After all there is a great deal of philosophy
in the following: "Better have the whole world voluntarily drunk
then sober on compulsion." Of course the Bourbons object. Objecting
is the business of a Bourbon. He always objects. If he does not
understand the question he objects because he does not, and if he
does understand he objects because he does. With him the reason for
objecting is the fact that he does.

QUESTION: What effect, if any, would the complete franchise to
our citizens have upon real estate and business in Washington?

ANSWER: If the people here had representation according to
numbers -- if the avenues to political preferment were open -- if
men here could take part in the real government of the country, if
they could bring with them all their rights, this would be a great
and splendid Capital. We ought to have here a University, the best
in the world, a library second to none, and here should be gathered
the treasures of American art. The Federal Government has been
infinitely economical in the direction of information. I hope the
time will come when our Government will give as much to educate two
men as to kill one. --

The Capital, Washington, D.C., December 18, 1881.

****     ****

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.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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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