During the Gilded Age, which saw the dawn of Americaâ€™s enduring culture wars,Â Robert Green Ingersoll was known as â€śthe Great Agnostic.â€ť The nationâ€™s most famous orator,Â he raised his voice on behalf ofÂ Enlightenment reason, secularism, and the separation of church and state with a vigor unmatched since Americaâ€™s revolutionary generation. When he died in 1899,Â even his religious enemies acknowledged that he might have aspired to the U.S. presidency had he been willing to mask his opposition to religion. To the question that retains its controversial power todayâ€”was the United States founded as a Christian nation?â€”Ingersoll answered an emphatic no.In this provocative biography, Susan Jacoby, the author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, restores Ingersoll to his rightful place in an American intellectual tradition extending from Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine to the current generation ofÂ â€śnew atheists.â€ť Jacoby illuminates the ways in which Americaâ€™s often-denigrated and forgotten secular history encompasses issues, ranging from womenâ€™s rights to evolution, as potent and divisive today as they were in Ingersollâ€™s time. Ingersoll emerges in this portraitÂ as one of the indispensable public figures who keep an alternative version of history alive. He devoted his life to that greatest secular idea of allâ€”liberty of conscience belongingÂ to the religious and nonreligious alike.