Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres and Polar Voids

Main arguments used in support of the theory

Extracted from "The Symmes Memorial", by John Adams Vinton, as abridged from a book written by James McBride.

First. An argument is drawn from the laws of GRAVITATION.
If, as philosophers have supposed, the matter of which the earth is composed was first created in a fluid or semi-fluid state and set rapidly revolving on its axis and in its orbit around the sun, the power of gravitation and the centrifugal force, united, would cause the matter to arrange itself in a series of concentric spheres. [This point is discussed at length on philosophical principles which cannot here be mentioned].
Illustrations are drawn from well-established facts, e.g.: if water be poured on a rapidly-revolving grindstone, instead of settling around the axis it will form itself into a series of concentric spheres around the sides. Again, if a magnet be placed under a paper on which iron or steel filings have been poured, they will br drawn not into a solid mass but into concentric curves. Again, meteoric stones are not solid, but hollow.

Secondly. In all his works God never seems to use more material than is needful to accomplish the object in view. Straws, bones, some plants, even the hairs of our heads, are hollow. Why then suppose our earth to be a solid sphere, when a hollow globe would answer every purpose just as well and with a great saving of stuff ?

Thirdly. Celestial appearances favour the theory suggested. The author maintains that the rings of Saturn, the belts of Jupiter and the circles around the poles of Mars prove these planet to be concentric spheres with polar openings; and that similar appearances are not observed on other planets because their poles are never presented to our view. The spots on the sun and the cavities of their on the surface of the moon are holes formed by portions of their outer crusts falling inwards. All the planets seem to be hollow spheres.

Fourthly. Terrestrial facts favor this theory, such for example as the following. Arctic navigators have discovered that great multitudes of rein-deer, white bears and foxes, musk oxen, ducks and geese, and vast shoals of whales, herrings and other fish, migrate southward from the regions of the north pole in the spring, and in very fine condition. In autumn they return to the northerly regions, where they propagate their species. Is it not evident, therefore, that beyond the most northern discoveries yet made there must be a vast region, embracing both land and water, and very fertile and salubrious ? Such a region as is indicated by these facts can exist only on the supposition that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely open about the poles; and though these polar openings these animals find entrance to and egress from the interior.
The objections and difficulties which lie in the way of this theory are met with answers and solutions which are highly ingenious and sometimes apparently conclusive. The author of the theory was intensely desirous to have it subjected to the test of actual experiment. On the 10th of April 1818 he issued a circular from St. Louis asking to be furnished with an outfit of one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to set out from Siberia in autumn, with rein-deer and sleighs, to pass over the ice of the Frozen Ocean. Thus furnished, he would explore the concave regions and discover a warm, or at least temperate, country of fertile soil, well stocked with animals and vegetables if not with men, on reaching about sixty-nine miles beyond north latitude eighty-two degrees. Having made the discovery he would return the next spring.

Captain Symmes long contemplated such an expedition in order to verify his theory. Twice - in March 1822 and December 1823 - he asked Congress for an appropriation for this purpose. But Congress did not see fit to grant his request and he had not sufficient funds to carry into effect his long-cherished object. He lectured on the subject in Cincinnati and other towns in Ohio, 1820-25; in Philadelphia, New York, Boston and other eastern cities in 1826.

Wearied and worn out by his constant labor and excitement, he died 29 May 1829 aged 49 years and 6 months. He was buried the next day with military honors in the old cemetery at Hamilton, Ohio. His monument, erected by his son Americus Symmes, is surmounted with a hollow sphere of carved stone, about one foot in diameter. The pedestal bears on its side inscriptions: on the south side commemorative of his daring bravery in battle, and on the north side announcing him as a philosopher and the originator of Symmes's "Theory of Concentric Spheres and Polar Voids".
"He contended that the earth is hollow and habitable within".

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