Unexpected Connection: The LIRR's E.B. Litchfield and the Author of  "Atlantis: The Antediluvian World"

In the course of his various "business enterprises", E.B. Litchfield is said to have bought many an elected official. Except for one: Populist Congressman Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota. While Donnelly worked for all the railroads in Minnesota at one time or another, he refused to continue working for E.B. Litchfield and the First Division St.P&P RR.

While lobbying Congress to expand the St.P&P RR land grant to 10 sections (square miles) per mile of track built, E.B. needed the help of members of Congress. Railroads would sometimes hire sitting members of Congress (and other elected officials) to serve as their "legal counsel".

In 1868, Donnelly wrote to E.B. regarding his $1,000 "retainer" and position as legal counsel to the First Division: "The matter has given me no little uneasiness of conscience. I have been laboring under the fear and dread I might instinctively be willing to do more for your company as attorney than I would if I did not hold that relation to it". Donnelly even offered to return the $1,000 or perform some actual legal services for the money.
After completing his term in Congress, Donnelly was inspired by Jules Verne's novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Verne's use of the "Atlantis" theme. Donnelly then went on to write Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1881.
Donnelly's other esoteric books included Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel in 1883. This book put forth the theory that a comet had collided with the Earth some time in the distant past.

This is an interesting hypothesis, in light of the currently accepted theory regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs, which is said to have been caused by an asteroid impact near Yucatan, Mexico.

Donnelly also wrote a book called the The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon's Cipher in Shakespeare's Plays in 1888. This book added fuel to the fire surrounding the controversial 19th and 20th century theory that Francis Bacon was really William Shakespeare.

Later in his life, Donnelly's Populist Party platform demanded abandonment of the gold standard (and later for free silver), abolition of national banks, a graduated income tax, direct election of senators, civil service reform, and an eight-hour day.

Source: Ignatius Donnelly Portrait of a Politician by Martin Ridge, pgs 97,98,197,204,227.

Ignatius Donnelly's Astrophysical Writings

In the course of researching E.B. Litchfield's corrupt financial activities involving the LIRR and the First Division St.P&P RR, I encountered the writings of the 19th century Minnesota Congressman Ignatius Donnelly. Donnelly was the only politician to ever rebuff the graft of E.B. Litchfield. In light of new scientific discoveries, some of  Donnelly's "astrophysical writings" dating back to the 1880's, appear to make some sense. Let's update one of  Donnelly's controversial theories with the latest scientific information:

Donnelly, a lawyer by training, was an avid reader of the scholarly scientific writings of his time. Processing scientific facts and theories through his attorney trained thinking process, he "connect the dots" in a pattern that made the most sense to him.

In his book Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel, Donnelly speaks of "carbureted hydrogen" existing within Comets. According to Donnelly, it was Dr. H. Schellen, who by means of  Spectrum Analysis detected the presence of  "carbon in combustion" on Comets, and wrote of it in his circa 1872 book (pg 396).  Furthermore, according to Donnelly: "Padre Secchi, the great Roman astronomer examined [the head] of Dr. Winnecke's comet on the 21st of June, 1868, and concluded that the self luminous part was produced by carbureted hydrogen" (Ragnarok, pg 105). The "carbureted hydrogen" Donnelly refers to, was the now antiquated term then used for home illumination gas- gas lights, as well as the natural gas found in coal mines, then called "fire damp"- all forms of Methane Gas (Ragnarok, pgs 106, 133).

If Donnelly was right, the new "Public Enemy # 1" is no longer a person- its a short or long period comet, asteroid or an off course "TNO" composed of a combination of  Methane Clathrate and stone and/or metal. When it enters the Earth's atmosphere, the trapped Methane gas within could be released and ignited by the intense heat , possibly forming a Fuel-Air-Explosive in the atmosphere.

The products generated by the collision of the Earth with an errant celestial object made of Methane Clathrate and stone/metal could be fire (a tremendous fireball burning in our atmosphere), water, gravel and sand, (and maybe some metals too) precisely as Donnelly first postulated in his book back in 1882. In addition to the monumental conflagration, the physical force of the impact on the surface of the Earth could be equivalent to thousands of H-Bombs detonating simultaneously. After all, a "Megaton" is a measurement of released energy, the energy source could be nuclear, chemical or other.

An impact by a Comet, Asteroid or TNO made of pure Methane Clathrate might not leave any crater or trace mineral deposits at all, just a very large burned out area. Could this explain the Tunguska, Siberian Impact, of 1908?

When I recently asked if Methane Clathrate is thought to exist in Comets and Asteroids, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist replied "The answer is yes...it seems fairly well agreed upon that they most likely exist". According to further information kindly provided by the USGS, Methane Clathrate has been presumed to occur on bodies of our Solar System as far back as 1952 (Delsemme A.H., and Swings P.), 1954 and 1961, when these scientific papers first predicted the existence of this substance in Comets and the gas-rich outer planets.  It should be noted that these predictions were made long before Methane Clathrate was actually found in the sediments under our oceans (that discovery was made during explorations in 1971- 1972).
A more recent paper on this subject "Thermodynamics of Clathrate Hydrate At Low and High Pressures with Application to the Outer Solar System" was written in 1985 by J.I Lunine and David J. Stevenson. It appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (58:493-531, 1985 July). Among other things, this paper asserts that the anticipated Methane on Saturn's moon Titan, was "accreted as Clathrate". In 2005, the Cassini–Huygens space probe found not only large quantities of Methane on Titan, but an entire "methane cycle" similar to the Earth's "water cycle" on Saturn's moon, Titan

Also see the current (2010) paper "Clathrate Hydrates Formation In Short Period Comets" by Ulysse Marbouef, Olivier Mousis, Jean-Marc Petit and Bernard Schmitt, which appeared in the Astrophysical Journal, Volume 701, Number 1. Also see the circa 2009 version of the same paper.

In light of the presence of Methane Clathrate both in space and on the Earth, Donnelly's astrophysical theory may in fact be highly logical. Chunks of this material (varying in size from Volkswagens to mountains- or much bigger, such as an "TNO") in the form of Comets or Asteroids, could be what killed off the dinosaurs (and other mass extinctions), brought the first greenhouse effect gases to the Earth, as well as most - or all- of our water.

Some folks at NASA take this sort of theory seriously (Planetary Defense), and some physicists believe the Great Chicago Fire back in 1871 - was caused by the flammable Clathrate remnants of a comet landing on Earth - not Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over an oil lantern.  This theory goes back to 1882, and Congressman Ignatius Donnelly's book Ragnaroc (See pg 408-423,444).  

Donnelly's book Ragnarok can be read here

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