Donnelly, Ignatius(dŏn`əlē), 1831–1901, American author and agrarian reformer, b. Philadelphia. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and in 1856 moved to Minnesota. There he gained political prominence, was lieutenant governor (1859–63), Congressman (1863–69), and a state legislator. Strongly expounding agrarian reform, he was a founder and leader of the Populist partyPopulist party,
in U.S. history, political party formed primarily to express the agrarian protest of the late 19th cent. In some states the party was known as the People's party.
..... Click the link for more information. and the author of the ringing preamble to the party platform of 1892. He edited the weekly Anti-Monopolist (1874–79) and the Populist Representative (1894–1901). His many popular works included Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882), an erudite but fanciful work on AtlantisAtlantis
, in Greek legend, large island in the western sea (the Atlantic Ocean). Plato, in his dialogues the Timaeus and the Critias, tells of the high civilization that flourished there before the island was destroyed by an earthquake.
..... Click the link for more information. ; Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel (1883); two books arguing that Bacon wrote the Shakespearean plays; and a gloomy Utopian novel, Caesar's Column (1891).
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Donnelly, Ignatius(1831–1901) social reformer, politician, author; born in Philadelphia. A lawyer with utopian aspirations, he moved to Minnesota (1856) to promote a land development scheme known as Nininger City; when that failed, he switched to farming and also to politics. Said to have been a spellbinding speaker, he joined the Republican Party because of its stand against slavery and got himself elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (Minn., 1863–69). He supported the Radical Republicans in their harsh policy to the defeated Confederate states and was instrumental in establishing the National Bureau of Education to help people of all color obtain an education. In the years that followed, he became ever more radical and erratic as he jumped between causes and parties, attacking capitalists for exploiting the masses, joining the Grange, forming the Independent Anti-Monopoly Party (1877), forming the Populist Party (1891), running unsuccessfully for Congress, attacking the South for preserving "the color line," calling for a graduated income tax, denouncing anti-Semitism, and predicting class warfare. He was ahead of the times on many of these issues but he lacked the ability to get things done. Through it all, he published several remarkable books, including a futuristic novel, Caesar's Column (1891), predicting a 20th-century U.S.A. dominated by the rich and corrupt. He also wrote the highly popular Atlantis: the Antediluvian World (1882), a mishmash of pseudoscholarly "evidence" for the lost Atlantis, and The Great Cryptogram (1888), in which he "proved" that Francis Bacon wrote the plays of Shakespeare.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.