IGNATIUS DONNELLY & "CAESAR'S COLUMN"
Hard-to-find books include
(1) *Seven Financial Conspiracies Which Have Enslaved the
American People* by S.E.V. Emery.
(2) *The Problem of Civilization Solved* by Mary E. Lease.
(3) *The Populist Movement* by Frank L. McVey.
(4) *Shylock: As Banker, Bondholder, Corruptionist, Conspirator*
by Gordon Clark.
My thanks to author Richard Hofstadter, author of *The Age of
Reform*, for tipping me to the above books by including them in
the source notes of his book.
Also included in source notes in Hofstadter's above-mentioned
book is mention of the book *Caesar's Column* by Ignatius
Donnelly. Donnelly's book =was= findable by me, not through the
local citizens' library, however, but through the University of
Illinois library located in the town where I live. BUT, the
above-mentioned hard-to-find books, numbered 1-4 above, are
VANISHED!! They (1-4 above) are tentatively assigned the status
of BANNED BOOKS.
-+- Ignatius Donnelly -+-
Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901), though he lived in the late 19th
century, was not a gunfighter. Since late-19th century America
is portrayed as if it were only gunfights in popular romance, you
might be surprised to know that there was this thing called
"populism" going on back then. Maybe you heard that word,
"populism," in 1996, when Pat Buchanan was scaring the bejeezus
out of the East Coast Demo-Publicans when the upstart
presidential candidate came from nowhere and scored major primary
victories. About then, those "nicey-nice boys" in their suits
and ties -- Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter "Waylon" Jennings
-- looked gravely into the cameras and "asked": "What is
Ignatius Donnelly was one of those dreaded "populists" back in
the 19th century, back when it all began. Referred to in his
time as, "The Prince of Cranks," Donnelly now is totally
forgotten. But back in the 1850s, Donnelly then made the radical
move of joining the Republican party. (Back then, the Republican
party was radical.) He served three terms as a congressman, but
by then Donnelly had become too radical even for the Republicans
and they gave him the heave-ho. Donnelly battled "the railroads,
the banks, the traditional political parties, [and] the spreading
industrial trusts." .
At the People's Party convention at Omaha, on July 4, 1892,
Donnelly gave voice to popular discontent:
We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of
moral, political and material ruin. Corruption dominates
the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches
even the ermine on the bench [the judges]... The
newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public
opinion silenced... and the land concentrating in the hands
of the capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right
of organization for self-protection; imported pauperized
labor beats down their wages; a hireling army, unrecognized
by our laws, is established to shoot them down...
...A vast conspiracy against mankind has been organized on
two continents, and it is rapidly taking possession of the
world. If not met and overthrown at once it forbodes...
the establishment of an absolute despotism.
Among Ignatius Donnelly's books are included:
-- *Atlantis: The Antedeluvian World* (1882). Attempts to prove
that Plato's Atlantis is a "veritable history."
-- *Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel* (1883). A "worthy
predecessor of Immanuel Velikovsky's... *World's in Collision*,
which it in some ways anticipates." 
-- *The Great Cryptogram* (1888). Asserts that "Sir Francis
Bacon was the author of the plays usually attributed to
Shakespeare, and... that the plays themselves contain an
elaborate cipher devised by Bacon to establish his authorship to
future generations." 
-- *The American People's Money* (1895).
-- *The Cipher in the Plays, and on the Tombstone* (1899). A
further defense of his "Bacon is Shakespeare" theory.
-+- "Caesar's Column" -+-
Donnelly's book, *Caesar's Column* (1890), is one of the former
congressman's attempts to exposit his ideas through a work of
fiction. Walter B. Rideout, in his introduction to the 1960
reprinting of Donnelly's book, compares it to Aldous Huxley's
*Brave New World* and George Orwell's *1984*. From the artistic
standpoint, Donnelly's book does not equal either Huxley's or
Orwell's later masterpieces. Yet there are times in Donnelly's
book where he shows surprising (for a former congressman)
artistic talent. The book is uneven, yet succeeds in hitting
home intermittently. For example, Donnelly, writing circa 1890:
== Our courts, judges and juries are the merest tools of
the rich. The image of justice has slipped the bandage
from one eye, and now uses her scales to weigh the bribes
she receives. An ordinary citizen has no more prospect of
fair treatment in our courts, contending with a
millionaire, than a new-born infant would have of life in
the den of a wolf.
== ...the very assertions, constantly dinned in our ears by
the hireling newspapers, that we are the freest people on
earth, serve only to make our slavery more bitter and
== ["Rudolph" enters a great hall, inside the home of an
ultra-wealthy citizen] ...this is where they meet. This is
the real center of government of the American continent;
all the rest is sham and form. The men who meet here
determine the condition of all the hundreds of millions...
Here political parties, courts, juries, governors,
legislatures, congresses, presidents are made and unmade...
The decrees formulated here are echoed by a hundred
thousand newspapers, and many thousands of orators; and
they are enforced by an uncountable army of soldiers,
servants, tools, spies, and even assassins. He who stands
in the way of the men who assemble here perishes.
Donnelly also has an interesting theory on why it became
important that American children receive a public education: so
that they will be able to read the newspapers, the propaganda
sheets of the ruling elite. (Note also how, with the advent of
radio and television, the public schools' role of ensuring that
all of us can read the newspapers became less important.) Writes
Donnelly, circa 1890:
== The rich men owned the newspapers and the newspapers
owned their readers... If [the public] had not been able
to read and write they would have talked with one another
upon public affairs, and have formed some correct ideas;
their education simply facilitated their mental
Enjoyable in Donnelly's book, *Caesar's Column*, is its intrinsic
innocence. The former congressman, writing in a less harried
age, tries to imagine the awful future, how it will be in 1988.
(Rideout, in his introduction, points out how Donnelly's
time-frame, 1988, is quite close to Orwell's: 1984.) Yet
Donnelly's horse-and-buggy world cannot come close to foreseeing
how bad things were to become during the 20th century. Even
Donnelly's villains honor such things as oral contracts. The
flavor of *Caesar's Column* is Neapolitan; even the villains have
a touch of vanilla.
---------------------------<< Notes >>---------------------------
 From the Introduction, by Wallace R. Rideout, to the 1960
re-issue of Donnelly's book, *Caesar's Column*. Cambridge, Mass:
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1960.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
For related stories, visit: