Short Biography

(From Council for Secular Humanism)

Ingersoll & Politics

Ingersoll was the best-known political speechmaker in 19th century America. In 1876 he gave a speech before the Republican National Convention in Cincinnati, nominating James G. Blaine for the presidency. The party nominated Rutherford B. Hayes instead, but Ingersoll’s nominating speech – known ever after as the “Plumed Knight” speech – was considered for decades afterward the classic political speech of the age. Candidates sought Ingersoll’s oratorical services eagerly. He campaigned for every Republican Presidential candidate but one, from Grant to McKinley. Yet because of his outspoken and controversial views, Ingersoll was never appointed to public office by any of the politicians whose election he helped to secure.