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made by mortal hands. . . . No piece of sculpture ever
produced the awe inspired by this blackened form. . . .
I venture to affirm that no living sculptor can be pro-
duced who will say that the figure was conceived and
executed by any human being. ' ' 3

The current of belief ran more and more strongly, and
soon embraced a large number of really thoughtful peo-
ple. A week or two after my first visit came a deputa-

1 See Letter of Hon. Galusha Parsons in the Fort Dodge Pamphlet.

2 See Mr. Stockbridge's article in the "Popular Science Monthly," June,

3 See "The American Goliath," Syracuse, 1869, p. 16.

THE CARDIFF GIANT -1869 -1870 473

tion of regents of the State University from Albany, in-
cluding especially Dr. Woolworth, the secretary, a man
of large educational experience, and no less a personage
in the scientific world than Dr. James Hall, the State
geologist, perhaps the most eminent American paleon-
tologist of that period.

On their arrival at Syracuse in the evening, I met
them at their hotel and discussed with them the subject
which so interested us all, urging them especially to be
cautious, and stating that a mistake might prove very
injurious to the reputation of the regents, and to the
proper standing of scientific men and methods in the
State; that if the matter should turn out to be a fraud,
and such eminent authorities should be found to have
committed themselves to it, there would be a guffaw
from one end of the country to the other at the expense
of the men intrusted by the State with its scientific and
educational interests. To this the gentlemen assented,
and next day they went to Cardiff. They came ; they saw ;
and they narrowly escaped being conquered. Luckily
they did not give their sanction to the idea that the statue
was a petrifaction, but Professor Hall was induced to
say: "To all appearance, the statue lay upon the gravel
when the deposition of the fine silt or soil began, upon
the surface of which the forests have grown for succeed-
ing generations. Altogether it is the most remarkable
object brought to light in this country, and, although not
dating back to the stone age, is, nevertheless, deserving
of the attention of archaeologists." 1

At no period of my life have I ever been more discour-
aged as regards the possibility of making right reason
prevail among men.

As a refrain to every argument there seemed to go
jeering and sneering through my brain Schiller's famous

" Against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain." 2

1 See Ms letter of October 23, 1869, in the Syracuse papers.

2 "Mit der Dummheit kampfen G-6'tter selbst vergebens." Jungfrau von
Orleans, Act III, scene 6.


There seemed no possibility even of suspending the
judgment of the great majority who saw the statue. As
a rule, they insisted on believing it a "petrified giant,"
and those who did not dwelt on its perfections as an
ancient statue. They saw in it a whole catalogue of fine
qualities ; and one writer went into such extreme ecstatics
that he suddenly realized the fact, and ended by saying,
"but this is rather too high-flown, so I had better con-
clude." As a matter of fact, the work was wretchedly
defective in proportion and features; in every charac-
teristic of sculpture it showed itself the work simply of
an inferior stone-carver.

Dr. Boynton, a local lecturer on scientific subjects, gave
it the highest praise as a work of art, and attributed it
to early Jesuit missionaries who had come into that re-
gion about two hundred years before. Another gentle-
man, who united the character of a deservedly beloved
pastor and an inspiring popular lecturer on various
scientific topics, developed this Boynton theory. He at-
tributed the statue to "a trained sculptor . . . who had
noble original powers; for none but such could have
formed and wrought out the conception of that stately
head, with its calm smile so full of mingled sweetness
and strength." This writer then ventured the query,
"Was it not, as Dr. Boynton suggests, some one from
that French colony, . . . some one with a righteous
soul sighing over the lost civilization of Europe, weary
of swamp and forest and fort, who, finding this block
by the side of the stream, solaced the weary days of
exile with pouring out his thought upon the stone ? " l
Although the most eminent sculptor in the State had
utterly refused to pronounce the figure anything beyond
a poor piece of carving, these strains of admiration and
adoration continued

There was evidently a "joy in believing" in the marvel,
and this was increased by the peculiarly American su-
perstition that the correctness of a belief is decided by

1 See the Syracuse daily papers as above.

THE CARDIFF GIANT -1869 -1870 475

the number of people who can be induced to adopt it
that truth is a matter of majorities. The current of cre-
dulity seemed irresistible.

Shortly afterward the statue was raised from its grave,
taken to Syracuse and to various other cities, especially
to the city of New York, and in each place exhibited as
a show.

As already stated, there was but one thing in the figure,
as I had seen it, which puzzled me, and that was the
grooving of the under side, apparently by currents of
water, which, as the statue appeared to be of our Onon-
daga gray limestone, would require very many years.
But one day one of the cool-headed skeptics of the val-
ley, an old schoolmate of mine, came to me, and with
an air of great solemnity took from his pocket an ob-
ject which he carefully unrolled from its wrappings, and
said, "There is a piece of the giant. Careful guard has
been kept from the first in order to prevent people touch-
ing it; but I have managed to get a piece of it, and here
it is." I took it in my hand, and the matter was made
clear in an instant. The stone was not our hard Onon-
daga gray limestone, but soft, easily marked with the
finger-nail, and, on testing it with an acid, I found it,
not hard carbonate of lime, but a soft, friable sulphate
of lime a form of gypsum, which must have been
brought from some other part of the country.

A healthful skepticism now began to assert its rights.
Professor Marsh of Yale appeared upon the scene. For-
tunately, he was not only one of the most eminent of
living paleontologists, but, unlike most who had given an
opinion, he really knew something of sculpture, for he
had been familiar with the best galleries of the Old
World. He examined the statue and said, * * It is of very
recent origin, and a most decided humbug. . . . Very
short exposure of the statue would suffice to obliterate
all trace of tool-marks, and also to roughen the polished
surfaces, but these are still quite perfect, and hence the
giant must have been very recently buried. ... I am


surprised that any scientific observers should not have
at once detected the unmistakable evidence against its
antiquity. ' ' *

Various suspicious circumstances presently became
known. It was found that Farmer Newell had just re-
mitted to a man named Hull, at some place in the West,
several thousand dollars, the result of admission fees to
the booth containing the figure, and that nothing had
come in return. Thinking men in the neighborhood rea-
soned that as Newell had never been in condition to owe
any human being such an amount of money, and had re-
ceived nothing in return for it, his correspondent had,
not unlikely, something to do with the statue.

These suspicions were soon confirmed. The neighbor-
ing farmers, who, in their quiet way, kept their eyes
open, noted a tall, lank individual who frequently visited
the place and seemed to exercise complete control over
Farmer Newell. Soon it was learned that this stranger
was the man Hull, Newell's brother-in-law, the same
to whom the latter had made the large remittance of ad-
mission money. One day, two or three farmers from a
distance, visiting the place for the first time and seeing
Hull, said, "Why, that is the man who brought the big
box down the valley. ' ' On being asked what they meant,
they said that, being one evening in a tavern on the valley
turnpike some miles south of Cardiff, they had noticed
under the tavern shed a wagon bearing an enormous box ;
and when they met Hull in the bar-room and asked about
it, he said that it was some tobacco-cutting machinery
which he was bringing to Syracuse. Other farmers, who
had seen the box and talked with Hull at different places
on the road between Binghamton and Cardiff, made simi-
lar statements. It was then ascertained that no such box
had passed the toll-gates between Cardiff and Syracuse,
and proofs of the swindle began to mature.

But skepticism was not well received. Vested interests

1 See Professor Marsh's letter in the " Syracuse Daily Journal,"
November 30, 1869.

THE CARDIFF GIANT 1869-1870 477

had accrued, a considerable number of people, most of
them very good people, had taken stock in the new en-
terprise, and anything which discredited it was unwel-
come to them.

It was not at all that these excellent people wished to
countenance an imposture, but it had become so entwined
with their beliefs and their interests that at last they
came to abhor any doubts regarding it. A pamphlet,
1 ' The American Goliath, ' ' was now issued in behalf of the
wonder. On its title-page it claimed to give the "His-
tory of the Discovery, and the Opinions of Scientific Men
thereon." The tone of the book was moderate, but its
tendency was evident. Only letters and newspaper ar-
ticles exciting curiosity or favoring the genuineness of
the statue were admitted; adverse testimony, like that
of Professor Marsh, was carefully excluded.

Before long the matter entered into a comical phase.
Barnum, King of Showmen, attempted to purchase the
' ' giant, ' ' but in vain. He then had a copy made so nearly
resembling the original that no one, save, possibly, an
expert, could distinguish between them. This new statue
was also exhibited as "the Cardiff Giant," and thencefor-
ward the credit of the discovery waned.

The catastrophe now approached rapidly, and soon
.affidavits from men of high character in Iowa and Illi-
nois established the fact that the figure was made at Fort
Dodge, in Iowa, of a great block of gypsum there found ;
that this block was transported by land to the nearest
railway station, Boone, which was about forty-five miles
distant; that on the way the wagon conveying it broke
down, and that as no other could be found strong enough
to bear the whole weight, a portion of the block was cut
off ; that, thus diminished, it was taken to Chicago, where
a German stone-carver gave it final shape; that, as it
had been shortened, he was obliged to draw up the lower
limbs, thus giving it a strikingly contracted and agonized
appearance ; that the under side of the figure was grooved
and channeled in order that it should appear to be


wasted by age ; that it was then dotted or pitted over with
minute pores by means of a leaden mallet faced with
steel needles ; that it was stained with some preparation
which gave it an appearance of great age; that it was
then shipped to a place near Binghamton, New York, and
finally brought to Cardiff and there buried. It was fur-
ther stated that Hull, in order to secure his brother-in-
law, Farmer Newell, as his confederate in burying the
statue, had sworn him to secrecy ; and, in order that the
family might testify that they had never heard or seen
anything of the statue until it had been unearthed, he
had sent them away on a little excursion covering the
time when it was brought and buried. All these facts
were established by affidavits from men of high character
in Iowa and Illinois, by the sworn testimony of various
Onondaga farmers and men of business, and, finally, by
the admissions and even boasts of Hull himself.

Against this tide of truth the good people who had
pinned their faith to the statue those who had vested
interests in it, and those who had rashly given solemn
opinions in favor of it struggled for a time desperately.
A writer in the "Syracuse Journal" expressed a sort of
regretful wonder and shame that "the public are asked
to overthrow the sworn testimony of sustained witnesses
corroborated by the highest scientific authority" the
only sworn witness being Farmer Newell, whose testi-
mony was not at all conclusive, and the highest scientific
authority being an eminent local dentist who, early in
his life, had given popular chemical lectures, and who had
now invested money in the enterprise.

The same writer referred also with awe to "the men
of sense, property, and character who own the giant and
receive whatever revenue arises from its exhibition";
and the argument culminated in the oracular declaration
that "the operations of water as testified and interpreted
by science cannot create falsehood." 1

1 See letter of "X" in the "Syracuse Journal," republished in
the Fort Dodge Pamphlet, pp. 15 and 16.

THE CARDIFF GIANT -1869 -1870 479

But all this pathetic eloquence was in vain. Hull, the
inventor of the statue, having realized more money from
it than he expected, and being sharp enough to see that
its day was done, was evidently bursting with the desire
to avert scorn from himself by bringing the laugh upon
others, and especially upon certain clergymen, whom, as
we shall see hereafter, he greatly disliked. He now ac-
knowledged that the whole thing was a swindle, and gave
details of the way in which he came to embark in it.
He avowed that the idea was suggested to him by a dis-
cussion with a Methodist revivalist in Iowa; that, being
himself a skeptic in religious matters, he had flung at
his antagonist "those remarkable stories in the Bible
about giants ' ' ; that, observing how readily the revivalist
and those with him took up the cudgels for the giants,
it then and there occurred to him that, since so many
people found pleasure in believing such things, he would
have a statue carved out of stone which he had found
in Iowa and pass it off on them as a petrified giant. In
a later conversation he said that one thing which decided
him was that the stone had in it dark-colored bluish
streaks which resembled in appearance the veins of the
human body. The evolution of the whole affair thus be-
came clear, simple, and natural.

Up to this time, Hull's remarkable cunning had never
availed him much. He had made various petty inven-
tions, but had realized very little from them; he had
then made some combinations as regarded the internal-
revenue laws referring to the manufacture and sale of to-
bacco, and these had only brought him into trouble with
the courts; but now, when the boundless resources of
human credulity were suddenly revealed to him by the
revivalist, he determined to exploit them. This evolution
of his ideas strikingly resembles that through which the
mind of a worthless, shiftless, tricky creature in western
New York Joseph Smith must have passed forty years
before, when he dug up "the golden plates" of the "Book
of Mormon," and found plenty of excellent people who


rejoiced in believing that the Rev. Mr. Spalding's bibli-
cal novel was a new revelation from the Almighty.

The whole matter was thus fully laid open, and it might
have been reasonably expected that thenceforward no
human being would insist that the stone figure was any-
thing but a swindling hoax.

Not so. In the Divinity School of Yale College, about
the middle of the century, was a solemn, quiet, semi-
jocose, semi-melancholic resident graduate Alexander
McWhorter. I knew him well. He had embarked in va-
rious matters which had not turned out satisfactorily.
Hot water, ecclesiastical and social, seemed his favorite
element. 1 He was generally believed to secure most of
his sleep during the day, and to do most of his work
during the night; a favorite object of his study being
Hebrew. Various strange things had appeared from his
pen, and, most curious of all, a little book entitled, 1 1 Yah-
veh Christ," in which he had endeavored to demonstrate
that the doctrine of the Trinity was to be found entangled
in the consonants out of which former scholars made the
word "Jehovah," and more recent scholars "Yahveh";
that this word, in fact, proved the doctrine of the Trinity. 2

He now brought his intellect to bear upon ' ' the Cardiff
Giant," and soon produced an amazing theory, develop-
ing it at length in a careful article. 3

This theory was simply that the figure discovered at
Cardiff was a Phenician idol ; and Mr. McWhorter pub-
lished, as the climax to all his proofs, the facsimile and
translation of an inscription which he had discovered
upon the figure a "Phenician inscription," which he
thought could leave no doubt in the mind of any person
open to conviction.

1 The main evidence of this is to be found in "Truth Stranger Than Fic-
tion : A Narrative of Recent Transactions involving Inquiries in Regard to
the Principles of Honor, Truth, and Justice, which Obtains in a Distinguished
American University," by Catherine E. Beecher, New York, 1850.

2 See " Yahveh Christ, or the Memorial Name," by A. McWhorter, Boston,

3 See McWhorter, "Tammuz and the Mound-builders," in the "Galaxy,"
July, 1872.

THE CARDIFF GIANT- 1869 -1870 481

That the whole thing had been confessed a swindle by
all who took part in it, with full details as to its origin and
development, seemed to him not worthy of the slightest
mention. Eegardless of all the facts in the case, he
showed a pathetic devotion to his theory, and allowed
his imagination the fullest play. He found, first of all,
an inscription of thirteen letters, "introduced by a large
cross or star the Assyrian index of the Deity." Before
the last word of the inscription he found carved "a
flower which he regarded as consecrated to the particular
deity Tammuz, and at both ends of the inscription a ser-
pent monogram and symbol of Baal."

This inscription he assumed as an evident fact, though
no other human being had ever been able to see it. Even
Professor White, M.D., of the Yale Medical School, with
the best intentions in the world, was unable to find it.
Dr. White was certainly not inclined to superficiality or
skepticism. With "achromatic glasses which magnified
forty-five diameters" he examined the "pinholes" which
covered the figure, and declared that "the beautiful finish
of every pore or pinhole appeared to me strongly opposed
to the idea that the statue was of modern workmanship."
He also thought he saw the markings which Mr. McWhor-
ter conjectured might be an inscription, and said in a
letter, "though I saw no recent tool-marks, I saw evi-
dences of design in the form and arrangement of the
markings, which suggested the idea of an inscription."
And, finally, having made these concessions, he ends his
long letter with the very guarded statement that, ' ' though
not fully decided, I incline to the opinion that the Onon-
daga statue is of ancient origin. ' ' *

But this mild statement did not daunt Mr. McWhorter.
Having calmly pronounced Dr. White ' ' in error, ' ' he pro-
ceeded with sublime disregard of every other human be-
ing. He found that the statue "belongs to the winged
or 'cherubim' type"; that "down the left side of the fig-
ure are seen the outlines of folded wings even the sepa-

1 The italics are as in the original.
II. 31


rate feathers being clearly distinguishable'
left side of the head is inexpressibly noble and majestic,"
and "conforms remarkably to the type of the head of
the mound-builders"; that "the left arm terminates in
what appears to be a huge extended lion's paw"; that
"the dual idea expressed in the head is carried out in
the figure"; that "in the wonderfully artistic mouth of
the divine side we find a suggestion of that of the Greek
Apollo." Mr. McWhorter also found other things that
no other human being was ever able to discern, and
among them "a crescent-shaped wound upon the left
side," "traces of ancient coloring" in all parts of the
statue, and evidences that the minute pores were made
by "borers." He lays great stress on an "ancient
medal" found in Onondaga, which he thinks belongs "to
the era of the mound-builders," and on which he finds
a "circle inclosing an equilateral cross, both cross and
circle, like the wheel of Ezekiel, being full of small circles
or eyes." ' As a matter of fact, this "ancient medal" was
an English penny, which a street gamin of Syracuse said
that he had found near the statue, and the "equilateral
cross" was simply the usual cross of St. George. Mr.
McWhorter thinks the circle inclosing the cross denotes
the "world soul," and in a dissertation of about twenty
pages he discourses upon "Baal," "Tammuz," "King
Hiram of Tyre," the "ships of Tarshish," the "Eluli,"
and "Atlas," with plentiful arguments drawn from a
multitude of authorities, and among them Sanchoniathon,
Ezekiel, Plato, Dr. Dollinger, Isaiah, Melanchthon, Le-
normant, Humboldt, Sir John Lubbock, and Don Do-
mingo Juarros, finally satisfying himself that the statue
was "brought over by a colony of Phenicians," possibly
several hundred years before Christ. 1

With the modesty of a true scholar he says, "Whether
the final battle at Onondaga . . . occurred before or
after this event we cannot tell ' ' ; but, resuming confidence,
he says, "we only know that at some distant period the

1 See the "Galaxy" article, as above, passim.

THE CARDIFF GIANT- 1869-1870 483

great statue, brought in a 'ship of Tarshish' across the
sea of Atl, was lightly covered with twigs and flowers,
and these with gravel." The deliberations of the Pick-
wick Club over "Bill Stubbs, His Mark" pale before
this; and Dickens in his most expansive moods never
conceived anything more funny than the long, solemn
discussion between the erratic Hebrew scholar and the
eminent medical professor at New Haven over the
"pores" of the statue, which one of them thought "the
work of minute animals, ' ' which the other thought * * elab-
orate Phenician workmanship," which both thought ex-
quisite, and which the maker of the statue had already
confessed that he had made by rudely striking the statue
with a mallet faced with needles.

Mr. McWhorter's new theory made no great stir in
the United States, though some, doubtless, took comfort
in it; but it found one very eminent convert across the
ocean, and in a place where we might least have expected
him. Some ten years after the events above sketched,
while residing at Berlin as minister of the United States,
I one day received from an American student at the
University of Halle a letter stating that he had been re-
quested by no less a personage than the eminent Dr.
Schlottmann, instructor in Hebrew in the theological
school of that university, the successor of Gesenius in
that branch of instruction, to write me for information
regarding the Phenician statue described by the Rev.
Alexander McWhorter.

In reply, I detailed to him the main points in the his-
tory of the case, as it has been given in this chapter,
adding, as against the Phenician theory, that nothing in
the nature of Phenician remains had ever been found
within the borders of the United States, and that if they
had been found, this remote valley, three hundred miles
from the sea, barred from the coast by mountain-ranges,
forests, and savage tribes, could never have been the
place chosen by Phenician navigators for such a deposit ;
that the figure itself was clearly not a work of early art,


but a crude development by an uncultured stone-cutter
out of his remembrance of things in modern sculpture;
and that the inscription was purely the creation of Mr.
McWhorter's imagination.

In his acknowledgment, my correspondent said that I
had left no doubt in his mind as to the fact that the giant
was a swindle; but that he had communicated my letter
to the eminent Dr. Schlottmann, that the latter avowed
that I had not convinced him, and that he still believed
the Cardiff figure to be a Phenician statue bearing a most
important inscription.

One man emerged from this chapter in the history of
human folly supremely happy: this was Hull, the in-
ventor of the " giant." He had at last made some money,
had gained a reputation for " smartness, " and, what
probably pleased him best of all, had revenged himself
upon the Eev. Mr. Turk of Ackley, Iowa, who by lung-
power had worsted him in the argument as to the giants

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