Robert G. Ingersoll [between 1865 and 1880]

Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll (1833 - 1899) was a Civil War veteran, noted orator, political leader, and forceful defender of agnosticism. Clarence Darrow wrote in his autobiography:

"When I was beginning to absorb and to act, all the young lawyers and speakers were aping Ingersoll's style. No one ever really spoke as he did; one could analyze Ingersoll's speeches if not imitate them; every sentence was rhythmical and in prose; as much so as the best of Keats or Robert Burns, or Housman in poetry. There was never so much as a word awry. There were the exact number of feet to fit the prose measure, and the subject. Evidently most of his speeches were accurately prepared; and, above all, he had something to say. I heard him twice, and with every one in the audience I was entranced. Along with the other aspiring lawyers I tried to adopt his style, and I think I succeeded fairly well, at that time, but it was not Ingersoll. Others tried, too, but most of them failed, so far as I knew. I have found a few who mastered his form of expression, but they lacked what Ingersoll never lacked and that was something worth saying.

I took myself in hand. I made up my mind that I could not be Ingersoll and had no right to try, and did not want to try; that the best I could do was to be myself."

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-cwpbh-04126