Lot 23: 1836 Ohio 'lunatic' eccentric and mathematical genius, petition to Andrew Jackson
15th December 2016
Author: Page, Edward Postlethwayt ; Title: Printed Letter/Broadside sent as a letter by an Ohio 'lunatic' eccentric and mathematical genius; Place Published: Marietta, Ohio; Publisher: N/A; Date Published: January 1, 1836; Description: Printed Letter/Broadside, "Manifesto" and "Magna Charta", as an issue of Page's periodical, "Elements of Astrology", No. 13, Pg. 177. 1pg.+ stampless address leaf. To Ohio Congressman, Daniel Kilgore, Washington, D.C.Both 'lunatic' eccentric and mathematical genius, Page sends a "Memorial to his Excellency Andrew Jackson" and the 'Illustrious" member of Congress in Washington, asking a "reward of 6000 acres of Wild Congress Land" for his 13 years of scientific services in having "squared the circle, reformed the calendar and most accurately measured our Earth", followed by a "Magna Charta for the Church of Nature and Immanuel's Commonwealth", a mishmash of astrology, political utopian ideas and pseudo-mathematical jargon.Very rare. No other copy of this circular letter - or other of Page's prolific imprints over a fifty year period - seem to have survived.A stout, white-haired Protestant Irishman who claimed to have been a British Naval Lieutenant in the West Indies before immigrating to America in 1807, Page (1782-1857) appeared in Philadelphia wearing "a crimson toga and mitered head dress", saying he was a second Christ. Apparently a true mathematical genius, in serious conversation with the Pennsylvania science professor who directed the US Mint, Page explained his complex formula for "squaring the circle" so rapidly that the scientist himself "under a spell" and was almost tricked into formally endorsing Page's work.Among Page's plans for his proposed Commonwealth: every member would give one-tenth of his income to the High Priest (who must be a Jew or a Turk, though Page was neither); every child over 7 would be taken from their parents and "bound an apprentice" with both manual and mental labor before being sent to college at 21; every "sacerdotal officer" must teach that the Bible is a book of Astrology; and a new king and queen would be crowned each day at the "rising of the sun", supported by both a House of Lords and a House of Ladies.As for the rarity of Page's prolific publications, a 1900 antiquarian noted that "the editions were small and hence very few are preserved." The Library of Congress has a much earlier version of his petition to Congress, asking for land "in east Florida" to establish a "scientific commonwealth", and Louisiana State University has a pamphlet extract from his "Element of Astrology" dated a month after this letter. A book-size version of his Magna Charta appeared 16 years later.
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