The Daily Beast

When a Flat Earther Refused to Concede and All Hell Broke Loose

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Public Domain

Nearly two months after the election, President Donald Trump still has not conceded his loss, even as members of his own party dismiss his voter fraud conspiracy theories. “You’re headed into the cliffs that guard the flat Earth at that time, brother,” Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman recently told Yahoo News, likening Trump’s claims to those of the flat-Earth movement.

That is exactly where Trump is headed. While no modern president has refused to concede an election, his tactics are not without precedent in American politics. Along with an 1873 Texas governor who barricaded himself in office after losing re-election, Trump enjoys some remarkably fringe company—specifically, people who believe Earth is not an oblate spheroid, but a flat disc.

In 1909, a notorious flat Earth preacher led a ballot-box putsch to maintain his stranglehold over an Illinois town. With declarations of “war,” two competing governments that claimed to be legitimate, and an armed siege between the two factions’ police chiefs at the county jail, the forgotten saga of Zion, Illinois, is evidence that America’s political situation could still be a whole lot stupider.

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