Donnelly, Ignatius, 1831-1901

Alternative names
Birth 1831-11-03
Death 1901-01-01

Biographical notes:

Farmer, editor, author, and orator.

From the description of Ignatius Donnelly papers, 1887. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71009547

American politician and author.

From the description of Letter, 1863, Washington, D. C. [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647812376

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Washington, to President Lincoln, 1864 May. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270531076

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Hastings, Minn., to President Johnson, 1865 Sept. 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270520220

Ignatius Donnelly was a Minnesota politician and author. He was born in Philadelphia, came to Minnesota in 1857 and became involved in local politics. From 1860-1863, he was lieutenant governor and served as a regent of the University of Minnesota at the same time.

From the description of Ignatius Donnelly papers, 1889. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63286178

Ignatius Donnelly was an author and a prominent nineteenth century politician and reformer from Minnesota.

Donnelly was born November 3, 1831 in Philadelphia and studied law as a young man. By the 1850s, he moved to Minnesota during the land boom but suffered financial setbacks later in the decade due to a national depression. Donnelly then began a career as a Republican policitian and spent three terms in Congress in the 1860s. However, Donnelly became disenchanted with the party in the 1870s as it endorsed issues such as hard money and protective tariffs. He began to rally behind agriculutural reform policies and joined successively the Liberal Republican, Grange, Greenback, and Populist movements. Donnelly also wrote three novels and dabbled in spiritualism by the 1880s. He died on January 1, 1901.

From the description of Oral history interview of the Biography: Ignatius Donnelly Oral History Project, 1950. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 52625828

  • 1831: November 3, Ignatius Donnelly born in Moyamensing, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 1839: Donnelly's father, Philip C. Donnelly, graduated from the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.
  • 1841: Dr. Philip C. Donnelly died.
  • 1849: Donnelly graduated from Central High School and began the study of law with Benjamin H. Brewster.
  • 1850: Donnelly's book of poems, The Mourner's Vision, published.
  • 1853: Donnelly admitted to the Philadelphia bar.
  • 1855: Made his political debut in a speech before a Democratic meeting in Philadelphia. Married Katharine McCaffrey.
  • 1856: Visited Minnesota twice. With John Nininger and others, organized the Emigrant Aid Association and established the townsite of Nininger, Minnesota. Began publication of the Emigrant Aid Journal. Ignatius C. Donnelly born.
  • 1857: Donnelly and family emigrated from Philadelphia to Nininger. Defeated as Republican candidate for Minnesota legislature.
  • 1858: Again defeated for legislature. Town of Nininger incorporated. Mary Donnelly born.
  • 1859: Elected lieutenant governor of Minnesota on Republican ticket. Published The Sonnets of Shakespeare.
  • 1860: Stanislaus J. Donnelly born.
  • 1861: Re-elected lieutenant governor. Was acting governor at the outbreak of the Civil War.
  • 1862: Elizabeth Donnelly born. Donnelly elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, Republican ticket.
  • 1863: Began first term in House.
  • 1864: Elizabeth Donnelly died. Donnelly re-elected to House.
  • 1866: Re-elected for third term.
  • 1870: Lobbyist in Washington for railroad interests.
  • 1871: Began career as lecturer on lyceum circuit.
  • 1872: Campaigned for Greeley and Democratic ticket in elections. Met George B. Smith, who introduced him to idea that Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespeare plays.
  • 1873: Organized lodge and became lecturer for Patrons of Husbandry. Published Facts for the Granges. Elected to legislature on Anti-Monopoly ticket. Served until 1878.
  • 1874: Donnelly and others established the newspaper Anti-Monopolist.
  • 1876: Donnelly temporary chairman and keynote speaker, Greenback Labor Party convention, Indianapolis, Indiana. Elected to legislature, Greenback ticket. Invested in land in Stevens County, Minnesota.
  • 1878: Unsuccessful candidate, Greenback and Democratic tickets, for U. S. House of Representatives. Defeated by William D. Washburn.
  • 1879: Donnelly contested Washburn's election. Lost the suit.
  • 1881: Ignatius C. Donnelly entered Jefferson Medical College.
  • 1882: Atlantis: The Antediluvian World published. Donnelly obtained facsimile copy of the First Folio (1623) of Shakespeare plays.
  • 1883: Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel published. Mary Donnelly married George (Murray) Giltinan.
  • 1884: Donnelly narrowly defeated as Democratic candidate for U. S. House of Representatives.
  • 1885: Unsuccessful candidate for appointment as Surveyor General of Minnesota. Stanislaus Donnelly admitted to bar.
  • 1886: Elected to legislature. Spokesman for Farmers' Alliance.
  • 1887: Donnelly's mother, Catharine Gavin Donnelly, died. Stanislaus Donnelly married Jennie O'Brien.
  • 1888: The Great Cryptogram published. Donnelly visited England. Ignatius C. Donnelly continued medical studies in London and Vienna. Donnelly an unsuccessful candidate for U. S. Senate against William D. Washburn.
  • 1889: Donnelly state lecturer and organizer for the Farmers' Alliance.
  • 1890: Elected to legislature and president of Minnesota Farmers' Alliance. Caesar's Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century published.
  • 1891: Chairman of resolutions committee, National Alliance Union convention, Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Huguet published. Awarded one dollar damages and court costs in libel suit against St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • 1892: Wrote preamble and much of platform, and keynote speaker at People's Party convention, Omaha, Nebraska. Donnelliana: An Appendix to "Caesar's Column" and The Golden Bottle, or the Story of Ephraim Benezet of Kansas published. Elected to the legislature.
  • 1893: Founded the newspaper, Representative.
  • 1894: Katharine McCaffrey Donnelly died.
  • 1895: In Memoriam, Mrs. Katharine Donnelly and The American People's Money published.
  • 1896: Donnelly elected to legislature.
  • 1897: Ignatius C. Donnelly married to Marie Kimball. Donnelly awarded $1,000 and costs in libel suit against the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • 1898: Donnelly married Marion Olive Hanson. George Giltinan died.
  • 1899: The Cipher in the Plays and on the Tomb-stone published.
  • 1900: Donnelly candidate for Vice-president of the U. S. on the Populist ticket.
  • 1901: Ignatius Donnelly died January 1 of a heart attack.

From the guide to the Ignatius Donnelly and family papers., 1812-1973 (bulk 1855-1901)., (Minnesota Historical Society)


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