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Obscene Literature

Robert Green Ingersoll

                        17 page printout

    Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

          Contents of this file                            page

     THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.                  1
     EFFECT OF THE WORLD'S FAIR ON THE HUMAN RACE.          11
     A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE.                       14
     THE LAW'S DELAY.                                       16

                          ****     ****

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

          Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201

                The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL

                          ****    ****

             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

     ONE of the charges most persistently made against Colonel
Ingersoll is that during and after the trial of D.M. Bennett,
persecuted by Anthony Comstock, the Colonel endeavored to have the
law against sending obscene literature through the mail repealed.
That the charge is maliciously false is fully shown by the
following brief history of events connected with the prosecution of
D.M. Bennett, and Mr. Ingersoll's efforts in his behalf.

     After Mr. Bennett's arrest in 1877, he printed a petition to
Congress, written by T.B. Wakeman, asking for the repeal or
modification of Comstock's law by which he expected to stamp out
the publications of Freethinkers.

     The connection of Mr. Ingersoll with this petition is soon
explained. Mr. Ingersoll knew of Comstock's attempts to suppress
heresy by means of this law, and when called upon by the Washington
committee in charge of the petition, he allowed his name to go on
the petition for modification, but he told them distinctly and
plainly that he was not in favor of the repeal of the law, as he
was willing and anxious that obscenity should be suppressed by all
legal means. His sentiments are best expressed by himself in a
letter to The Boston Journal. He says:

                                   WASHINGTON, March 18, 1878.

To the Editor of the Boston Journal:

     My attention has been called to the following article that
recently appeared in your paper:

     "Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, and others, feel aggrieved because
Congress, in 1873, enacted a law for the suppression of obscene
literature, and, believing it an infringement of the rights of
certain citizens, and an effort to muzzle the press and conscience,

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

petition for its repeal. When a man's conscience permits him to
spread broadcast obscene literature, it is time that conscience was
muzzled. The law is a terror only to evil-doers."

     No one wishes the repeal of any law for the suppression of
obscene literature. For my part, I wish all such laws rigidly
enforced. The only objection I have to the law of 1873 is, that it
has been construed to include books and pamphlets written against
the religion of the day, although containing nothing that can be
called obscene or impure. Certain religions fanatics, taking
advantage of the word "immoral" in the law, have claimed that all
writings against what they are pleased to call orthodox religion
are immoral, and such books have been seized and their authors
arrested. To this, and this only, I object.

     Your article does me great injustice, and I ask that you will
have the kindness to publish this note.

     From the bottom of my heart I despise the publishers of
obscene literature. Below them there is no depth of filth. And I
also despise those, who, under the pretence of suppressing obscene
literature, endeavor to prevent honest and pure men from writing
and publishing honest and pure thoughts. Yours truly.

                                                  R.G. INGERSOLL.

     This is sufficiently easy of comprehension even for ministers,
but of course they misrepresented and lied about the writer. From
that day to this he has been accused of favoring the dissemination
of obscene literature. That the friends of Colonel Ingersoll may
know just how infamous this is, we will give a brief history of the
repeal or modification movement. . . .

     On October 26, the National Liberal League held its Congress
in Syracuse. At this Congress the League left the matter of repeal
or modification of the laws open, taking no action as an
organization, either way, but elected officers known to be in favor
of repeal. On December 10, Mr. Bennett was again arrested. He was
tried, and found guilty; he appealed, the conviction was affirmed,
and he was sentenced to thirteen months' imprisonment at hard
labor.

     After the trial Colonel Ingersoll interposed, and endeavored
to get a pardon for Mr. Bennett, who was held in Ludlow street jail
pending President Hayes's reply. The man who occupied the
President's office promised to pardon the Infidel editor; then he
went back on his word, and Mr. Bennett served his term of
imprisonment.

     Then preachers opened the sluiceways of vituperation and
bilingsgate upon Colonel Ingersoll for having interceded for a man
convicted of mailing obscene literature. The charges were as
infamously false then as they are now, and to show it, it is only
necessary to quote Colonel Ingersoll's words during the year or two
succeeding, when the Freethinkers and the Christians were not only

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

opposing each other vigorously, but the Freethinkers themselves
were divided on the question. in 1879, while Mr. Bennett was in
prison, a correspondent of the Nashville, Tenn., Banner said that
the National Liberal League and Colonel Ingersoll were in favor of
disseminating obscene literature. To this Colonel Ingersoll replied
in a letter to a friend:

                        1417 G St., WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 1879.

     MY DEAR SIR: The article in the Nashville Banner by J.L. is
utterly and maliciously false.

     A petition was sent to Congress praying for the repeal or
modification of certain postal laws, to the end that the freedom of
conscience and of the press should not be abridged.

     Nobody holds in greater contempt than I the writers,
publishers, or dealers in obscene literature. One of my objections
to the Bible is that it contains hundreds of grossly obscene
passages not fit to be read by any decent man, thousands of
passages, in my judgment, calculated to corrupt the minds of youth.
I hope the time will soon come when the good sense of the American
people will demand a Bible with all obscene passages left out.

     The only reason a modification of the postal laws is necessary
is that at present, under color of those laws, books and pamphlets
are excluded from the mails simply because they are considered
heterodox and blasphemous. In other words, every man should be
allowed to write, publish, and send through the mails his thoughts
upon any subject, expressed in a decent and becoming manner. As to
the propriety of giving anybody authority to overhaul mails, break
seals, and read private correspondence, that is another question.

     Every minister and every layman who charges me with directly
or indirectly favoring the dissemination of anything that is
impure, retails what he knows to be a wilful and malicious lie. I
remain, Yours truly,

                                             R.G. INGERSOLL.

     Three weeks after this letter was written the National Liberal
League held its third annual Congress at Cincinnati. Colonel
Ingersoll was chairman of the committee on resolutions and platform
and unfinished business of the League. One of the subjects to be
dealt with was these Comstock laws. The following are Colonel
Ingersoll's remarks and the resolutions he presented:

     It may be proper, before presenting the resolutions of the
committee, to say a word in explanation. The committee were charged
with the consideration of the unfinished business of the League. It
seems that at Syracuse there was a division as to what course
should be taken in regard to the postal laws of the United States.
These laws were used as an engine of oppression against the free
circulation of what we understand to be scientific literature.

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

Every honest man in this country is in favor of allowing every
other human being every right that he claims for himself. The
majority at Syracuse were at that time simply in favor of the
absolute repeal of those laws, believing them to be
unconstitutional -- not because they were in favor of anything
obscene, but because they were opposed to the mails of the United
States being under the espionage and bigotry of the church. They
therefore demanded an absolute repeal of the law. Others, feeling
that they might be misunderstood, and knowing that theology can
coin the meanest words to act as the vehicle of the lowest lies,
were afraid of being misunderstood, and therefore they said, Let us
amend these laws so that our literature shall be upon an equality
with that of theology. I know that there is not a Liberal here, or
in the United States, that is in favor of the dissemination of
obscene literature. One of the objections which we have to the book
said to be written by God is that it is obscene.

     The Liberals of this country believe in purity, and they
believe that every fact in nature and in science is as pure as a
star. We do not need to ask for any more than we want. We simply
want the laws of our country so framed that we are not
discriminated against. So, taking that view of the vexed question,
we want to put the boot upon the other foot. We want to put the
charge of obscenity where it belongs, and the committee, of which
I have the honor to be one of the members, have endeavored to do
just that thing. Men have no right to talk to me about obscenity
who regard the story of Lot and his daughters as a fit thing for
men, women, and children to read, and who worship a God in whom the
violation of [Cheers drowned the conclusion of this sentence so the
reporters could not hear it.] Such a God I hold in infinite
contempt.

     Now I will read you the resolutions recommended by the
committee.

                          RESOLUTIONS.

     Your committee have the honor to submit the following report:

     First, As to the unfinished business of the League, your
committee submits the following resolutions --

     Resolved, That we are in favor of such postal laws as will
allow the free transportation through the mails of the United
States of all books, pamphlets, and papers, irrespective of the
religious, irreligious, political, and scientific views they may
contain, so that the literature of science may be placed upon an
equality with that of superstition.

     Resolved, That we are utterly opposed to the dissemination,
through the mails, or by any other means, of obscene literature,
whether "inspired" or uninspired, and hold in measureless contempt
its authors and decameters.

     Resolved, That we call upon the Christian world to expunge
from the so-called "sacred" Bible every passage that cannot be read
without covering the cheek of modesty with the blush of shame and

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

until such passages are expunged, we demand that the laws against
the dissemination of obscene literature be impartially enforced.

     We believe that lotteries and obscenity should be dealt with
by State and municipal legislation, and offenders punished in the
county in which they commit their offence. So in those days we
argued for the repeal of the Comstock laws, as did dozens of others
-- James Parton, Elizur Wright, O.B. Frothingham, T.C Leland,
Courtland Palmer, and many more whose names we do not recall. But
Colonel Ingersoll did not, and when the National Liberal League met
the next year at Chicago (September 17, 1880), he was opposed to
the League's making a pledge to defend every case under the
Comstock laws, and he was opposed to a resolution demanding a
repeal of those laws. The following is what Colonel Ingersoll said
upon the subject:

     Mr. Chairman, I wish to offer the following resolution in
place and instead of resolutions numbered 5 and 6:

     Resolved, That the committee of defence, whenever a person has
been indicted for what he claims to have been an honest exercise of
the freedom of thought and expression, shall investigate the case,
and if it appears that such person has been guilty of no offence,
then it shall be the duty of said committee to defend such person
if he is unable to defend himself.

     Now, allow me one moment to state my reasons. I do not, I have
not, I never shall, accuse or suspect a solitary member of the
Liberal League of the United States of being in favor of doing any
act under heaven that he is not thoroughly convinced is right. We
all claim freedom of speech, and it is the gem of the human soul.
We all claim a right to express our honest thoughts. Did it ever
occur to any Liberal that he wished to express any thought
honestly, truly, and legally that he considered immoral? How does
it happen that we have any interest in what is known as immoral
literature? I deny that the League has any interest in that kind of
literature. Whenever we mention it, whenever we speak of it, we put
ourselves in a false position. What do we want? We want to see to
it that the church party shall not smother the literature of
Liberalism. We want to see to it that the viper of intellectual
slavery shall not sting our cause. We want it so that every honest
man, so that every honest Woman, can express his or her honest
thought upon any subject in the world. And the question, and the
only question, as to whether they are amenable to the law, in my
mind, is, Were they honest? Was their effort to benefit mankind?
Was that their intention? And no man, no woman, should be convicted
of any offence that that man or woman did not intend to commit.
Now, then, suppose some person is arrested, and it is claimed that
a work written by him is unmoral, is illegal. Then, I say, let our
committee of defence examine that case, and if our enemies are
seeking to trample out Freethought under the name of immorality,
and under the cover and shield of our criminal law, then let us
defend that man to the last dollar we have. But we do not wish to
put ourselves in the position of general defenders of all the slush
that may be written in this or any other country. You cannot afford
to do it. You cannot afford to put into the mouth of theology a
perpetual and continual slur. You cannot afford to do it. And this

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

meeting is not the time to go into the question of what authority
the United States may have over the mails. It is a very "Wide
question. It embraces many others. Has the Government a right to
say what shall go into the mails? Why, in one sense, assuredly.
Certainly they have a right to say you shall not send a horse and
wagon by mail. They have a right to fix some limit; and the only
thing we want is that the literature of liberty, the literature of
real Freethought, shall not be discriminated against. And we know
now as well as if it had been perfectly and absolutely
demonstrated, that the literature of Freethought will be absolutely
pure. We know it. We call upon the Christian world to expunge
obscenity from their book, and until that is expunged we demand
that the laws against obscene literature shall be executed. And how
can we, in the next resolution, say those laws ought all to be
repealed? We cannot do that. I have always been in favor of such an
amendment of the law that by no trick, by no device, by no judicial
discretion, an honest, high, pure-minded man should be subjected to
punishment simply for giving his best and his honest thought. What
more do we need? What more can we ask? I am as much opposed as my
friend Mr. Wakeman can be to the assumption of the church that it
is the guardian of morality. If our morality is to be guarded by
that sentiment alone, then is the end come. The natural instinct of
self-defence in man-kind and in all organized society is the
fortress of the morality in mankind. The church itself was at one
time the outgrowth of that same feeling, but now the feeling has
outgrown the church. Now, then, we will have a Committee of
Defence. That committee will examine every case. Suppose some man
has been indicted, and suppose he is guilty. Suppose he has
endeavored to soil the human mind. Suppose he has been willing to
make money by pandering to the lowest passions in the human breast.
What will that committee do with him then? We will say, "Go on; let
the law take its course." But if, upon reading his book, we find
that he is all wrong, horribly wrong, idiotically wrong, but make
up our minds that he was honest in his error, I will give as much
as any other living man of my means to defend that man. And I
believe you will all bear me witness when I say that I have the
cause of intellectual liberty at heart as much as I am capable of
having anything at heart. And I know hundreds of others here just
the same. I understand that. I understand their motive. I believe
it to be perfectly good, but I truly and honestly think they are
mistaken.

     If we have an interest in the business, I would fight for it.
If our cause were assailed by law, then I say fight; and our cause
is assailed, and I say fight. They will not allow me, in many
States of this Union, to testify. I say fight until every one of
those laws is repealed. They discriminate against a man simply
because he is honest. Repeal such laws. The church, if it had the
power to-day, would trample out every particle of free literature
in this land. And when they endeavor to do that, I say fight. But
there is a distinction wide as the Mississippi -- yes, wider than
the Atlantic, wider than all the oceans -- between the literature
of immorality and the literature of Freethought. One is a crawling,
slimy lizard, and the other an angel with wings of light. Now, let
us draw this distinction, let us understand ourselves, and do not
give to the common enemy a word covered with mire, a word stained
with cloaca, to throw at us. We thought we had settled that
question a year ago. We buried it then, and I say let it rot.

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

     This question is of great importance. It is the most important
one we have here. I have fought this question; I am ever going to
do so, and I will not allow anybody to put a stain upon me. This
question must be understood if it takes all summer. Here is a case
in point. Some lady has written a work which, I am informed, is a
good work, and that has nothing wrong about it. Her opinions may be
foolish or wise. Let this committee examine that case. If they find
that she is a good woman, that she had good intentions, no matter
how terrible the work may be, if her intentions are good, she has
committed no crime, I want the honest thought. I think I have
always been in favor of it. But we haven't the time to go into all
these questions.

     Then comes the question for this house to decide in a moment
whether these cases should have been tried in the State or Federal
court. I want it understood that I have confidence in the Federal
courts of the nation. There may be some bad judges, there may be
some idiotic jurors. I think there was in that case [of Mr.
Bennett]. But the Committee of Defence, if I understand it,
supplied means, for the defence of that man. They did, but are we
ready now to decide in a moment what courts shall have
jurisdiction? Are we ready to say that the Federal courts shall be
denied jurisdiction in any case arising about the mails? Suppose
somebody robs the mails? Before whom shall we try the robber? Try
him before a Federal judge. Why? Because be has violated a Federal
law. We have not any time for such an investigation as this. What
we want to do is to defend free speech everywhere. What we want to
do is to defend the expression of thought in papers, in pamphlets,
in books. What we want to do is to see to it that these books,
papers, and pamphlets are on an equality with all other books,
papers, and pamphlets in the United States mails. And then the next
step we want to take, if any man is indicted under the pretence
that he is publishing immoral books, is to have our Committee of
Defence well examine the case; and if we believe the man to be
innocent we will help defend him if he is unable to defend himself;
and if we find that the law is wrong in that particular, we will go
for the amendment of that law. I beg of you to have some sense in
this matter. We must have it. If we don't, upon that rock we shall
split -- upon that rock we shall again divide. Let us not do it.
The cause of intellectual liberty is the highest to the human mind.
Let us stand by it, and we can help all these people by this
resolution. We can do justice everywhere with it, while if we agree
to the fifth and sixth resolutions that have been offered I say we
lay ourselves open to the charge, and it will be hurled against us,
no matter how unjustly, that we are in favor of widespread
immorality.

     Mr. Clarke: -- We are not afraid of it.

     Colonel Ingersoll: You may say we are not afraid. I am not
afraid. He only is a fool who rushes into unnecessary danger.

     Mr. Clarke: What are you talking about, anyway?

     Colonel Ingersoll: I am talking with endeavor to put a little
sense into such men as you. Your very question shows that it was
necessary that I should talk. And now I move that my resolution be
adopted.

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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

     Mr. Wakeman moved that it be added to that portion of the
sixth resolution which recommended the constitution of the
Committee of Defence.

     Col. Ingersoll: I cannot agree to the sixth resolution. I
think nearly every word of it is wrong in principle. I think it
binds us to a course of action that we shall not be willing to
follow; and my resolution covers every possible case. My resolution
binds us to defend every honest man in the exercise of his right.
I can't be bound to say that the Government hasn't control of its
morals -- that we cannot trust the Federal courts -- that, under
any circumstances, at any time, I am bound to defend, either by
word or money, any man who violates the laws of this country.

     Mr. Wakeman: We do not say that.

     Colonel Ingersoll: I beg of you, I beseech you, not to pass
the sixth resolution. If you do, I wouldn't give that [snapping his
fingers] for the platform. A part of the Comstock law authorizes
the vilest possible trick. We are all opposed to that.

     Mr. Leland: What is the question?

     Colonel Ingersoll: Don't let us be silly. Don't let us say we
are opposed to what we are not opposed to. If any man here is
opposed to putting down the vilest of all possible trash he ought
to go home. We are opposed to only a part of the law -- opposed to
it whenever they endeavor to trample Freethought under foot in the
name of immorality.

     Afterward, at the same session of the Congress, the following
colloquy took place between Colonel Ingersoll and T.B. Wakeman

     Colonel Ingersoll: You know as well as I that there are
certain books not fit to go through the mails -- books and pictures
not fit to be delivered.

     Mr. Wakeman: That is so.

     Colonel Ingersoll: There is not a man here who is not in
favor, when these books and pictures come into the control of the
United States, of burning them up when they are manifestly obscene.
You don't want any grand jury there.

     Mr. Wakeman: Yes, we do.

     Colonel Ingersoll: No, we don't. When they are manifestly
obscene, burn them up.

     A delegate: Who is to be judge of that?

     Colonel Ingersoll: There are books that nobody differs about.
There are certain things about which we can use discretion. If that
discretion is abused, a man has his remedy. We stand for the free
thought of this country. We stand for the progressive spirit of the
United States. We can't afford to say that all these laws should be
repealed. If we had time to investigate them we could say in what

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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

they should be amended. Don't tie us to this non-sense -- to the
idea that we have an interest in immoral literature. Let us
remember that Mr. Wakeman is sore. He had a case before the Federal
courts, and he imagines, having lost that case, you cannot depend
on them. I have lost hundreds of cases. I have as much confidence
in the Federal courts as in the State courts. I am not to be a
party to throwing a slur upon the Federal judiciary. All we want is
fair play. We want the same chance for our doctrines that others
have for theirs. And how this infernal question of obscenity ever
got into the Liberal League I could never understand. If an
innocent man is convicted of larceny, should we repeal all the laws
on the subject? I don't pretend to be better than other people. It
is easy to talk right -- so easy to be right that I never care to
have the luxury of being wrong. I am advocating something that we
can stand upon. I do not misunderstand Mr. Wakeman's motives. I
believe they are perfectly good -- that he is thoroughly honest.
Why not just say we will stand by freedom of thought and its
expression? Why not say that we are in favor of amending any law
that is wrong? But do not make the wholesale statement that all
these laws ought to be repealed. They ought not to be repealed.
Some of them are good. The law against sending instruments of vice
in the mails is good, as is the law against sending obscene books
and pictures, and the law against letting ignorant hyenas prey upon
sick people, and the law which prevents the getters up of bogus
lotteries sending their letters through the mail.

          At the evening session of the Congress, on the same day,
     Mr. Ingersoll made this speech in opposition to the resolution
     demanding the repeal of the Comstock laws:

     I am not in favor of the repeal of those laws. I have never
been, and I never expect to be. But I do wish that every law
providing for the punishment of a criminal offence should
distinctly define the offence. That is the objection to this law,
that it does not define the offence, so that an American citizen
can readily know when he is about to violate it and consequently
the law ought in all probability to be modified in that regard. I
am in favor of every law defining with perfect distinctness the
offence to be punished, but I cannot say by wholesale these laws
should be repealed. I have the cause of Freethought too much at
heart. Neither will I consent to the repeal simply because the
church is in favor of those laws. In so far as the church agrees
with me, I congratulate the church. In so far as superstition is
willing to help me, good! I am willing to accept it. I believe,
also, that this League is upon a secular basis, and there should be
nothing in our platform that would prevent any Christian from
acting with us. What is our platform? -- and we ought to leave it
as it is. It needs no amendment. Our platform is for a secular
government. Is it improper in a secular government to endeavor to
prevent the spread of obscene literature? It is the business of a
secular government to do it, but if that government attempts to
stamp out Freethought in the name of obscenity, it is then for the
friends of Freethought to call for a definition of the word, and
such a definition as will allow Freethought to go everywhere
through all the mails of the United States. We are also in favor of
secular schools. Good! We are in favor of doing away with every law
that discriminate against a man on account of his belief. Good! We

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             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

are in favor of universal education. Good! We are in favor of the
taxation of church property, Good! -- because the experience of the
world shows that where you allow superstition to own property
without taxing it, it will absorb the net profits. Is it time now
that we should throw into the scale, against all these splendid
purposes, an effort to repeal some postal laws against obscenity?
As well might we turn the League into an engine to do away with all
laws against the sale of stale eggs.

     What have we to do with those things? Is it possible that
Freethought can be charged with being obscene? Is it possible that,
if the charge is made, it can be substantiated? Can you not attack
any superstition in the world in perfectly pure language? Can you
not attack anything you please in perfectly pure language? And
where a man intends right, no law should find him guilty; and if
the law is weak in that respect, let it be modified. But I say to
you that I cannot go with any body of men who demand the
unconditional repeal of these laws. I believe in liberty as much as
any man that breathes. I will do as much, according to my ability,
as any other man to make this an absolutely free and secular
government. I will do as much as any other man of any strength and
of my intellectual power to give every human being every right that
I claim for myself. But this obscene law business is a stumbling
block. Had it not been for this, instead of the few people voting
here -- less than one hundred -- we would have had a Congress
numbered by thousands. Had it not been for this business, the
Liberal League of the United States would to-night hold in its hand
the political destiny of the United States. Instead of that, we
have thrown away our power upon a question in which we are not
interested. Instead of that, we have wasted our resources and our
brain for the repeal of a law that we don't want repealed. If we
want anything, we simply want a modification. Now, then, don't
stain this cause by such a course. And don't understand that I am
pretending, or am insinuating, that anyone here is in favor of
obscene literature. It is a question, not of principle, but of
means, and I beg pardon of this Convention if I have done anything
so horrible as has been described by Mr. Pillsbury. I regret it if
I have ever endeavored to trample upon the rights of this
Convention.

     There is one thing I have not done -- I have not endeavored to
cast five votes when I didn't have a solitary vote. Let us be fair;
let us be fair. I have simply given my vote. I wish to trample upon
the rights of no one; and when Mr. Pillsbury gave those votes he
supposed he had a right to give them; and if he had a right, the
votes would have been counted. I attribute nothing wrong to him,
but I say this: I have the right to make a motion in this Congress,
I have the right to argue that motion, that I have no more rights
than any other member, and I claim none. But I want to say to you
-- and I want you to know and feel it -- that I want to act with
every Liberal man and woman in this world. I want you to know and
feel it that I want to do everything I can to get every one of
these statutes off our books that discriminates against a man be
cause of his religious belief -- that I am in favor of a secular
government, and of all these rights. But I cannot, and I will not,
operate with any organization that asks for the unconditional
repeal of those laws. I will stand alone, and I have stood alone.
I can tell my thoughts to my countrymen, and I will do it, and

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                               10

             THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE.

whatever position you take, whether I am with you or not, you will
find me battling everywhere for the absolute freedom of the human
mind. You will find me battling everywhere to make this world
better and grander; and whatever my personal conduct may be, I
shall endeavor to keep my theories right. I beg of you, I implore
you, do not pass the resolution No. 6. It is not for our interest;
it will do us no good. It will lose us hosts of honest, splendid
friends. Do not do it; it will be a mistake; and the only reason I
offered the motion was to give the members time to think this over.
I am not pretending to know more than other people. I am perfectly
willing to say that in many things I know less. But upon this
subject I want you to think. No matter whether you are afraid of
your sons, your daughters, your wives, or your husbands, that isn't
it -- I don't want the splendid prospects of this League put in
jeopardy upon such an issue as this. I have no more to say. But if
that resolution is passed, all I have to say is that, while I shall
be for liberty everywhere, I cannot act with this organization, and
I will not.

          The resolution was finally adopted, and Colonel Ingersoll
     resigned his office of vice-president in the League, and never
     acted with it again until the League dropped all side issues,
     and came back to first principles -- the enforcement of the
     Nine Demands of Liberalism.

          In 1892, Writing upon this subject in answer to a
     minister who had repeated these absurd charges, Colonel
     Ingersoll made this offer:

     I will pay a premium of one thousand dollars a word for each
and every word I ever said or wrote in favor of sending obscene
publications through the mails.

                               END

Bank of Wisdom

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

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

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

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

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

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

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201

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