People during the latter part of the 1800s enjoyed having fun with one another’s heads. It was a strange transition period because it was the time when Industrial Revolution changed the world frequently with a huge desire for new and exciting things triggered by new goods and services.
Hoaxes were a popular form of entertainment. It was during the “golden age of hoaxes,” says Mark Rose for Archaeology. The giant’s body that had been turned into stone was found in Cardiff, New York, or at least it appeared. The Cardiff Giant is believed to be one of the most famous hoaxes from the 19th century in America, writes scholar Michael Pettit. The tale started on the same day, around 1869. It was a classic fake news. It appeared as if it was real but was not interpreted.
The gigantic was discovered on the same date in the year 1869. Gideon Emmons and Henry Nichols were two laborers digging in a hole on the Cardiff farm of William Newell. “They hit stone three feet down,” Rose writes. Rose. “Clearing the soil, they recognized the shape of a foot.” After a bit more digging, they found the silhouette of a 10-foot-tall man. Of course, there was no reason for them to dig in the same place they were, except that their boss had instructed them to. The vast, which many believed was an early predecessor that belonged to the Onondaga people, was considered an ancient predecessor of the Onondaga group and was established (by Newell) only the year before.
When news of this find became known, Rose writes that hundreds of young archaeologists and spectacle-seekers went to Newell’s tent above the gigantic statue to see what the fuss was about. Although the massive was a poorly-constructed monument, many were intrigued by the thought that it was there. Pettit writes:
Many people saw the giant in the context of wonder, where strange objects that appeared beyond natural laws were regarded as authentic and valued because they were unique. From farmers who paid 50 cents to see the statue in its location up to the transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who saw the figure during an exhibition in Boston-expressions expressing wonder were heard.
The viewers were asked to judge whether the gigantic was real or fake. Many believed the giant was real. This is due primarily to the presence of the giant, which was a confirmation of the true nature of Biblical claims regarding giants roaming the Earth.
However, profit wasn’t the sole motive behind the prank. Newell’s cousin and a local tobacco dealer, George Hull, created the gigantic to demonstrate that point. Hull believed in atheism, with a controversial position in American history. In addition, “though he lacked any formal education, greatly admired science.” Hull wasn’t rich either, and his idea to build the Cardiff giant was to strike it rich and to make that there was a connection between faith and science.
The gigantic was subsequently sold to business people and toured. Ultimately, its fame caught the interest of the era’s most infamous huckster P.T. Barnum. When business people refused to sell the stony cow, Barnum created a replica and presented it as authentic. The original owners of the “giant” tried to sue Barnum; however, according to Rose Moss, the judge who heard the case declared, “Bring your giant here, and if he swears to his genuineness as a bona fide petrification, you shall have the injunction you ask for.” In the words of Barnum: You cannot indeed have a fake or an authentic one. In December 1869, Moss writes that Hull had admitted to the world that the “giant” was not real, and the fake was gone.
The main issue, naturally, was the reason it took this long. It was a mystery to many. Cardiff Giant didn’t even look natural, but people were willing to believe in it.