Hello, all! Sorry for the long Christmas hiatus. I found the following story on Jeff Kacirk's "Forgotten English" calendar from September 3, 2013.
Today let's talk about American army captain John Cleves Symmes (1780-1829). Symmes spent most of his adult life promoting the of "Symmes's Hole" (not a sex thing) (well, maybe also a sex thing, I don't know because I'm too scared to see what I'll find on Google).
"In 1824, the Cincinnati Gazette ran a story about his ridiculous claim that a huge tunnel passed through the earth from pole to pole. Richard Thornton's American Glossary (1912) elaborated: 'In 1826, Symme's Theory of Concentric Spheres, demonstrating that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and wholly open about the poles, was published by one of his followers, the preface reading the date August, 1824, and being succeeded by An Apology to Captain Symmes'."
This theory was so widely ridiculed that by the end of the 1820s, the term "Symmes's hole" was used derogatorily to indicate that something was fraudulent or erroneous. However, as history and the Daily Mail have taught us, no matter what crap you're saying, someone out there will believe it. In the case of Symmes, he had a small but devoted band of followers included President John Quincy Adadms.
Another of his follwers, Jeremiah Reynolds, believed in this theory so strongly that he petitioned Congress to fund an exploratory Antarctic exploration to locate the southern end of Symmes's hole (heh heh).
And Congress granted the funding.
Jeremiah Reynolds geared up to become the world's greatest spelunker, but then John Quincy Adams left office and the project was cancelled. This was largely because Adams's successor, Andrew Jackson, believed the earth was flat, which has got to be the best situational punchline to anything I've ever reported on here.