Publication information
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Source: Truth Seeker
Source type: magazine
Document type: public address
Document title: “Dolliver’s Outrageous Speech”
Author(s): Maple, W. H.
Date of publication: 16 November 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 46
Pagination: 723

Maple, W. H. “Dolliver’s Outrageous Speech.” Truth Seeker 16 Nov. 1901 v28n46: p. 723.
full text
W. H. Maple (public addresses); Jonathan P. Dolliver (public addresses); Jonathan P. Dolliver (public statements); McKinley assassination (personal response: criticism); atheism; Robert G. Ingersoll; presidential assassinations (comparison); assassinations (comparison); resolutions (Ingersoll Memorial Association); McKinley assassination (public response).
Named persons
Jonathan P. Dolliver; James A. Garfield; Robert G. Ingersoll; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Minot J. Savage.
The bracketed phrase in the second paragraph (below) is part of the original text.

“Read at tbe [sic] meeting of the Ingersoll Memorial Association in Chicago, Oct. 20. The resolutions were unanimously adopted” (p. 723).

In the original source, the address includes 33 misspelled words, all resulting from replicated typographical errors. This problem has been corrected below.


Dolliver’s Outrageous Speech

     A few weeks ago, and since the death of President McKinley, one Jonathan P. Dolliver, a United States senator from Iowa, before a large audience in this city, took the position that a belief in what he called “Atheism” was a necessary factor in the cause of destructive and murderous anarchy, and then made use of these words:
     “I look upon it, at least, as a passing misfortune for us that they [the doctrines of Atheism] have been translated into the language of common life by a famous American, now dead and gone, who in the days of his strength was the most captivating popular orator who ever spoke our tongue”—referring, beyond doubt, to the late Colonel Ingersoll.
     And I want to ask this audience why it was that this politician thus held up, before the people of this country, the picture of Robert G[.] Ingersoll beside that of the murderer of President McKinley.
     I want to ask, by what warrant, in justice or decency, this was done.
     Since our government was founded, three of our presidents have been assassinated. Every one concerned in the murder of Lincoln was a pronounced believer in the reigning religious dogmas. The slayer of Garfield was an intense religionist, and boasted, as he expressed it, that he would have a “grand leap to glory” from the scaffold on which he was hanged.
     The stupid young man who lately took McKinley’s life has said, according to the newspapers, that he was a disbeliever in God; but the official records in the case will show that he, but a few years ago, emerged from the parochial schools of the Roman Catholic church, where he received a good portion of his meagre education.
     Was Colonel Ingersoll in any way responsible for the great crime of this young man?
     Was the believer in dogmatic Christianity who, some years ago, shot and killed the mayor of this city, a disciple of Ingersoll?
     Did Ingersoll ever counsel violence and murder that he should be thus maligned by United States Senator Dolliver?
     I say that the senator’s reference to Ingersoll and his beliefs, on the occasion referred to, was not only entirely uncalled for, but was an unprovoked slander of one of our country’s most noble and most honored dead; and I resent it as cowardly and shameful.
     Ingersoll was one of the gentlest, as he was one of the bravest, of men. His so-called attacks on God were merely attacks on the cruel, savage gods of man’s creation.
     He loved liberty, but he was a defender of law and order.
     Indeed, he was a firm believer not only in human law, but also in the reign of natural law throughout all the worlds of space.
     What some call the law of “God,” he called the law of nature. But he was a believer in law all the same—law here and law to the utmost confines of our mighty universe.
     He was as far from being an Anarchist as is the east from the west. He frequently expressed his detestation of such foolish philosophy, and he might have shown that the political and social Utopia, believed in by theoretical Anarchists, is founded on the same unscientific and irrational basis as is the belief of many church people in a coming millennium.
     Ingersoll was not an Atheist at all in fact. At least, as the Rev. M. J. Savage would express it, he was not such in any bad sense of the word.
     Ingersoll never said, unqualifiedly, “There is no God.”
     On this question, as well as that of a life beyond the grave, he was an Agnostic.
     Referring to the popular belief in the immortality of the soul, he said, with that wonderful candor characteristic of the man, “I do not know.”

The tongueless secret locked in fate
We do not know; we hope and wait.

     His position, to quote again his own words, was “If we are immortal, it is a fact in nature. We are not indebted to priests for it, nor to bibles for it.”
     He had no fault to find with believers in a good god, and always manifested the tenderest sympathy for those who hope for future life. And his hatred for the cruel Jehovah of the Old Testament was born of his keen sense of justice and his glowing love for all his fellow-men.
     In view of these facts; in view of his boundless humanitarianism; in view of his patriotic services to his country; in view of his gentleness of character and his earnest efforts for human betterment[;] in view of his stainless life and recent death, I say that this attempt to blacken his name, by associating it with the heartless murderer of President McKinley, was not only unjust but outrageous; and, as faintly expressive of what I believe to be the feeling of this meeting on the subject, I offer and move the adoption of the following resolutions:

     Resolved, That we deplore the sad and untimely death of the late President of the United States, and tender our deepest sympathy to his bereaved widow and relatives.
     Resolved, That we condemn in measureless terms the mad act of the man who, without provocation and without a realization of the enormity of his crime, took the life of our honored chief executive.
     Resolved, That all such outbursts of violence and defiance of law are the worst of crimes, not only against the governments assailed, but against mankind and the greater liberty for which the masses are ever struggling.
     Resolved, That while some new legislation, looking to the protection of the lives of our presidents and other of our more important officials, might wisely be enacted, yet we view with concern for the future liberty of the people the disposition of many of our citizens to use this great crime as an excuse for making our laws, generally, more rigorous and repressive.
     Resolved, That we do especially condemn that sectarian and bigoted spirit lately manifested in a speech in this city by United States Senator Dolliver of Iowa, wherein he claimed that the teachings of the late Col. Robert G. Ingersoll tended to encourage anarchistic lawlessness and murder.
     We resent this charge as being an unprovoked and wicked slander of one of our country’s most noble and heroic dead, and an attempt to smirch the reputation of a man who, for love of country and his fellow-man, stood without a superior in all the world.
     We denounce and resent this charge as being doubly cowardly in that it was an attempt to take advantage of the public grief, incident to the death of one of our great and beloved countrymen, to injure the fair fame of another who had, also, but lately passed away—an attempt, by the bellows of demagogism, to fan the lustrous and ennobling passion of love into a black and malignant flame of bitterness and revenge.
     Although sadly pained by the tragic and cruel murder of our late President, we have not forgotten his comrade in the great war for union, freedom, and equality, the peerless champion of human rights and human loves, Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, and we come to his defense only because his speechless clay cannot reply, as was his wont in life, to this unjust and uncalled-for reflection on his good name.



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