By Susan Jacoby
During the Gilded Age, which observed the sunrise of America’s enduring tradition wars, Robert eco-friendly Ingersoll was once referred to as “the nice Agnostic.” The nation’s most famed orator, he raised his voice on behalf of Enlightenment cause, secularism, and the separation of church and kingdom with a vigour unequalled given that America’s progressive iteration. whilst he died in 1899, even his non secular enemies said that he may need aspired to the U.S. presidency had he been keen to masks his competition to faith. To the query that keeps its arguable energy today—was the USA based as a Christian nation?—Ingersoll replied an emphatic no.
In this provocative biography, Susan Jacoby, the writer of Freethinkers: A historical past of yank Secularism, restores Ingersoll to his rightful position in an American highbrow culture extending from Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine to the present iteration of “new atheists.” Jacoby illuminates the ways that America’s often-denigrated and forgotten secular background encompasses matters, starting from women’s rights to evolution, as effective and divisive this present day as they have been in Ingersoll’s time. Ingersoll emerges during this portrait as one of many integral public figures who maintain another model of heritage alive. He committed his existence to that maximum secular suggestion of all—liberty of moral sense belonging to the non secular and nonreligious alike.