Seriously, has there ever been a better time than right now to collectively put our minds together and crack the most brilliant cipher ever written? It’s been nearly two whole centuries of endless attempts by the most skilled cryptographers, and yet the mystery has never been solved.
Was National Treasure loosely based on the Beale Papers?
To be honest, I’m suspicious about the claim that the gold hasn’t been located. The Beale Papers are housed on the NSA’s website. My initial reaction to the discovery of these airtight ciphers, was that of course the NSA decrypted the cipher. And of course the brainiac rented a truck in the dead of night, bee-lined it down to Montvale, VA, collected the loot and has been living large in a clandestine sort of way, ever since. I wonder what year this cipher genius might have accomplished this feat.
On the outside chance that the two ciphers really haven’t been cracked, let’s devote some serious mind power during this horrific global pandemic / stay home order and find the hidden treasure. It would be an excellent feel good following so much tragedy, and would show the power that comes from working together to solve a problem.
Seriously, let’s do this. I’ll try anyway. I hope others will, too.
Apparently, Thomas Jefferson Beale was the typical rich plantation son turned derelict —although quite the genius when it came to numbers, ciphers and devious plots — who was a “model of manly beauty, favored by ladies and envied by men.” Born in 1792 or thereabouts, named after neighbor Virginian Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence, whose Poplar Forest retreat isn’t too far from the treasure’s apparent location, Beale gave the three ciphers to his bud Robert Morriss in 1822 in a locked box and told him to hang onto everything and he’d be in touch. Beale then disappeared.
Morriss received a few letters from Beale, the last one in 1832. In 1845, Morriss finally broke the lock on the container, found the mysterious papers with nothing but numbers, and passed them off to his friend James Ward. Ward spent 40 years racking his brain trying to decrypt. It must have felt like nirvana when he cracked the second cipher using the Declaration of Independence. (With this in mind, I have an idea about cipher 1 & 3, although I’m sure the NSA & CIA have already tried these two works since they’re so obvious. But, I’ll start with these regardless.)
The second cracked cipher outlines the contents of the buried treasure as follows:
- 2,921 pounds of gold
- 5,100 pounds of silver
- $200,000 worth of jewels
The Beale Papers definitely make me more curious about the mysterious elevator hiding in plain sight at the edge of Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village at UVA. The expensive high tech lift that goes nowhere. Nothing above it, and apparently nothing below it either. Raised eyebrow.
I’ve often speculated about whether the missing treasure featured in National Treasure is buried beneath The Lawn at UVA and would hint at this whenever I walk people around the Academical Village.
So now, hmm…is all I’ll say.