Robert G. Ingersoll Walking Tour Site Header
Robert G. Ingersoll quotation from “The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child” (1877)
Home Walking Tour Resources Acknowledgements Contact Us

Walking Tour Stop 8

Previous Stop Back to Map Next Stop
1st Law Office, Near 15th and G Streets, N.W., c. 1901 (likely black or white building on far right)
photo 19 enlarge
1st Law Office, Near 15th and G Streets, N.W., c. 1901 (likely black or white building on far right)

Ingersoll's two law offices at 1417 G Street, N.W., (not extant) and 1421 New York Avenue, N.W.

Law Office Letterhead, 1878
photo 20 enlarge
Law Office Letterhead, 1878

Robert shared this office with his brother Ebon Clark Ingersoll. His brother, who represented an Illinois district in the U.S. Congress from 1864 to 1871, (7 years) had preceded him to Washington to pursue his political career and subsequently a law practice. This site on the north side of G Street, a block east of the U.S. Treasury Building, is occupied today by an office building.

After Ebon Clark's death in 1879, Ingersoll moved his law office one block north to 1421 New York Avenue, N.W. This site on the north side of New York Avenue is occupied today by an office building, with a cafe on the ground floor.

Proximity of 2nd Law Office, New York Avenue and 15th Street, N.W., c. 1885
photo 21 enlarge
Proximity of 2nd Law Office, New York Avenue and 15th Street, N.W., c. 1885

Ingersoll’s law office on New York Avenue was described as “capacious, fairly stocked on all their walls with an ample law library, with which, as if by some accident, a stray copy of Bishop Colenso on the Pentateuch and one or two copies of Robert’s own lectures on ‘The Gods’ and the ‘Ghosts’ happens, as if to indicate that the philosophical bias of the ‘attorney-at-law’ who here received his clients is something neither to be obtruded nor concealed” (Van Buren Denslow, author of Modern Thinkers). On Ingersoll's desk was a life-sized bust of himself, near the fireplace a facsimile of the Magna Carta, and on the mantle a portrait of Ebon Clark, flanked by the “Vision of War” and Ingersoll’s funeral eulogy of his brother (Smith, 1990, pp. 155-156).

View of New York Avenue from 15th Street
photo 22 enlarge
View of New York Avenue from 15th Street

While living in Washington, Ingersoll published several books. In 1878, he published in Washington The Gods. In 1879, he brought out Some Mistakes of Moses and Ghosts; in 1880, What Must We Do To Be Saved? A Study of the Christian Reliqion, Its Creeds and Its Sacred Book; and in 1881, Some Reasons Why. In the spring of 1882, Ingersoll published his Six Interviews on Talmage. T. De Witt Talmage was a Presbyterian minister and vehement critic of Ingersoll, calling him “the champion blasphemer of America.”

Ingersoll wrote:

My creed is this:
1. Happiness is the only good.
2. The way to be happy is to make others so.
3. The time to be happy is now, and
4. The place to be happy is here.

Ingersoll published Lectures Complete in 1883, Orthodoxy and Prose Poems and Selections in 1884 and Myths and Miracles in 1885.

In an interview with the Washington Post in 1878, Ingersoll was asked, “Colonel, are your views of religion based upon the Bible?” He replied, “I regard the Bible, especially the Old Testament, the same as I do most other ancient books, in which there is some truth, a great deal of error, considerable barbarism and a most plentiful lack of good sense.”

Walking Directions (printable version)

To walk to tour stop #9:

Continue to walk west one block along G Street. At 15th Street, turn right for one half block to the intersection with New York Avenue. ( Looking right or N.E. up New York Avenue, one can see where Ingersoll’s second law office was located at 1421 New York Avenue. There is a coffee shop there today.) Cross 15th Street and go west towards the White House for one block on Pennsylvania Avenue (a plaza). Turn right (north) onto Madison Place with Lafayette Square to your left. Near the end of this block on the right is a four-story light brown brick building which occupies the site of the Ingersoll townhouse.

Previous Stop Back to Map Next Stop
home  |  walking tour  |  resources  |  acknowledgements  |  contact us
© 2011 WASH, Washington Area Secular Humanists. All rights reserved.