Robert Green “Bob” Ingersoll (; August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899) was an American lawyer, a Civil War veteran, politician, and orator of the United States during the Golden Age of Free Thought, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. He was nicknamed “The Great Agnostic“.
Ingersoll enjoyed a friendship with the poet Walt Whitman, who considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time. “It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is ‘Leaves of Grass‘ … He lives, embodies, the individuality, I preach. I see in Bob [Ingersoll] the noblest specimen—- American-flavored—- pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light.”
The feeling was mutual. Upon Whitman’s death during 1892, Ingersoll delivered the eulogy at the poet’s funeral. The eulogy was published to great acclaim and is considered a classic panegyric.