US politician and writer
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he qualified for the Bar in 1852, and moved to Minnesota in 1856, becoming lieutenant-governor and governor (1859-63) and later Radical Republican congressman (1863-69). He became identified with reform, editing the Anti-Monopolist and later the Representative, and was for several years president of the State Farmers' Alliance in Minnesota, a forerunner of the Populist Party, which nominated him for vice-president. As a prophet of reform his most enduring legacy is a horrific novel, Caesar's Column (1891), predicting tyranny and oppression. His Atlantis, The Antediluvian World (1882) was a highly popular development of the idea of a former continent drowned under the Atlantic Ocean. His The Great Cryptogram (1888) sought to prove Francis Bacon had written the plays usually attributed to Shakespeare and had hidden ciphered messages in the plays declaring his authorship.