Every August 11th is observed as Ingersoll Day—a holiday that celebrates the life of Robert G. Ingersoll on the anniversary of his birth. Nicknamed “The Great Agnostic,” Ingersoll was an American writer, orator, and lawyer who campaigned in defense of agnosticism during the Golden Age of Free Thought.
His powerful speeches and writings challenged traditional religious beliefs and advocated for humanism, science, and reason. He was also a strong supporter of civil rights, an abolitionist working towards the abolition of slavery, and an advocate for women’s suffrage. His contributions to politics, philosophy, and religion cannot be overlooked, and that’s why his birthday is observed as a holiday each year.
The History of Ingersoll Day
Robert Green Ingersoll was born on August 11, 1833, in Dresden, New York. His father was John Ingersoll—an abolitionist-sympathizing Congregationalist preacher who had to move frequently due to his unpopular and often radical opinions.
In 1854, Robert Ingersoll was admitted to the bar and moved to Peoria, Illinois, where he opened his law office. In 1862, he not only married Eva Parker but also became commander of the 11th Illinois Cavalry. He ended up fighting at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War.
Ingersoll began as a Democrat but changed his political affiliation to Republican because of his opposition to slavery. During the late 1860s, he became the Attorney General of Illinois, and afterward, he moved to Washington, D.C. He traveled the lecture circuit for over 25 years and compiled many of his lectures into writings. Today, his work on secular humanism can be easily found on the Internet.
Observing Ingersoll Day
Ingersoll Day is a holiday that’s currently observed by secular humanists and other free thinkers from around the world. It’s a day to promote the values that he often stood up for himself.
These principles include individual rights, intellectual freedom, and religious skepticism. It’s a day to read his writings and discuss his ideas with others. People can also spread the word about this holiday using the hashtag #IngersollDay.