Elbert Hubbard on Robert Green Ingersoll

December 19, 2019

Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915) published many books, periodicals, and other series through the Roycrofters in East Aurora, New York. Without going into much detail, Hubbard brought the Arts and Crafts Movement to the United States around 1895 with the founding of his artisan community.

The Roycrofters had a very distinctive style and were known for their quality handmade items, including furniture, lamps, and other household goods; their books were no exception. The books and periodicals were handmade with high-quality papers and printed (mostly) by hand.

Hubbard produced a series of monthly periodicals that were titled Little Journeys, and each year was dedicated to a different subject. Famous Artists, Famous Reformers, and Famous Authors are just a few examples. Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators included the volume on Robert Green Ingersoll.

The series was part travelogue, part historical essay, and part Hubbard’s viewpoint on these famous personages. In the Ingersoll volume, he briefly mentions Ingersoll’s home in Dresden, New York (now the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum), and shares Ingersoll anecdotes.

Hubbard points out that Ingersoll was under constant scrutiny from “prevaricators” who tried to impugn his reputation, but that his reputation was never “besmirched.” In this volume, Hubbard relays the famous “peacock tongues” story, which he himself witnessed.

Hubbard was a great admirer of Ingersoll, and after Ingersoll’s death in 1899, he reminded everyone of the ideals Ingersoll strove for during his life.