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August 11: Ingersoll Day


It’s Ingersoll Day. So named because on this day in 1833, the oratorical fireball know as Robert G. Ingersoll was set loose on the young Republic. Robert was one of the main figures of the Golden Age of Free Thought, as it has come to be called. He was hailed as, by enemies and allies alike, “The Great Agnostic,” and traveled the country railing that man should be driven by reason and intellect rather than religion and emotion. He palled around with top boozers Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken, so it would not be unreasonable to assume he liked a drink, no? Well, sorta. Robert’s relationship with Sweet Mother Booze was a bit complicated. He would give loud, boisterous, well-paid speeches to temperance groups about alcohol being hell-broth, a diabolical poison only fit for scoundrels and blackguards, yet off the clock he enjoyed drinking to the point of getting all lyrical about it, as evidenced in this private letter to a friend, and I quote: “I send you some of the most wonderful whiskey that ever drove the skeleton from a feast or painted landscapes in the brain of man. It is the mingled souls of wheat and corn. In it you will find the sunshine and the shadow that chased each other over the billowy fields; the breath of June; the carol of the lark; the dews of night; the wealth of summer and autumn’s rich content, all golden with imprisoned light. Drink it and you will hear the voices of men and maidens singing the “Harvest Home,” mingled with the laughter of children. Drink it and you will feel within your blood the star-lit dawns, the dreamy, tawny dusks of many perfect days. For forty years this liquid joy has been within the happy staves of oak, longing to touch the lips of men.” Unquote. Then, throwing a cruel taunt in the face of future generations of drinkers, the great orator fails to mention the brand of that particular beguiling bourbon.


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