Susan Jacoby and an Ingersoll Letter

September 8, 2014

During the recent Ingersoll Conference here at CFI, I was able to show-off many of the amazing artifacts that we have here as a part of CFI and the library collections. I was able to bring one such artifact to the attention of Susan Jacoby after her lecture, one that I see on an almost daily basis.

Jacoby, noted author of The Age of American Unreason, Pantheon (2008), Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, Metropolitan Press (2004), and The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought, Yale University Press (2013), spoke at the 2014 Ingersoll Conference. Her lecture titled “Where Are You, Robert Ingersoll, Now that We Need You Again?” covered those topics that we need to address again today, ideas Ingersoll himself lectured on and are still problems over a hundred years later.

One topic mentioned during her speech was vivisection, and, after her lecture, I went to my office and grabbed this artifact from the wall of my office and waited until she had completed signing books for our guests. It is a photograph of Ingersoll and a letter from Ingersoll on the topic of vivisection:

Law Office
Robert G. Ingersoll
45 Wall Street,                                                          New York, Sept.23rd, 1890.

Mrs. J. Campbell Verplanck
Wayne, Delaware Co., Pa.

My dear madam,

Accept my thanks for your letter of the 21st., enclosing a clipping from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

When I said that vivisectors would try their experiments on man, I took it for granted that cruelty is always the same, and that a man careless of the sufferings of animals, would also be careless in the sufferings of human beings.

What Dr. Dixon says in regard to foreign hospitals is exactly in fruit.

Thanking you for your kind words,

I am

Yours respectfully,

R.G. Ingersoll

Ingersoll dictated this letter and signed it, and this item now hangs in my office at CFI. I have found the newspaper article mentioned in this article online, and Dr. Dixon does not explicitly discuss vivsection, he does talk about foriegn hospitals experimenting on humans.

Susan Jacoby seemed to be impressed with the letter, and thought it was an interesting artifact to own. This image of her, the artifact, and myself is currently a part of her Wikipedia article.