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America Peopled by a more civilized race than the present Red Indians~! Part 1

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  • America Peopled by a more civilized race than the present Red Indians~! Part 1

    America Peopled by a More Civilized Race than the Present Red Indians
    At what period the continent of America was originally peopled, is a question which has not as yet been satisfactorily proved; in fact all the sources of information which

    have been hitherto exhibited to the philosophic mind, will not be sufficient to form any probable conjecture on this head. If the geological constitution of America be attentively examined, the opinion that it is a continent more recently formed than the rest of the globe, will not stand.

    "The same succession of stony strata," says a learned author, "is found no less in the new world than in the old world. At a height superior to Mount Blanc petrified sea shells are found on the summit of the Andes. The fossil bones of elephants, are spread over the equinoctial regions of a continent where living elephants do not exist; and these bones are not found merely in low plains, but in the coldest and most elevated regions of the Cordilleras. There, as well as in the old world, generations of animals long extinct, have preceded those which now exist on the surface of the earth. There is no reason to believe, because America has been but recently discovered, that therefore, it has been but recently peopled. The comparative thinness of its population is no proof to the contrary, for the regions of Central Asia are as thinly peopled as the Savannahs of New Mexico and Paraguay. The fact is, that the problem of the first population of most countries, is nearly as difficult to solve as that of America. The reason is plain, because the first population of a country is generally far beyond the period of its history. The problem, therefore, of the population of the new world, is no more within the province of history, than questions on the origin of plants and animals are in that of natural science."

    It has been frequently proved beyond the possibility of a doubt, that the remains of a more polished and cultivated people than the present Red Indians of North America do still exist in different parts of the western continent. In the absence of these remains the vestiges of civilization which are every year discovered between Lake Ontario and Gulf of Mexico, and even towards the north-west should sufficiently prove the fact. Mr. Barton, in his Observations on some Parts of Natural History, part I., has collected the
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    scattered hints of Kalm, Carver, and others, and has added a plan of a regular work, which had been discovered on the banks of the Muskingum, near its junction with the Ohio. These remains are principally stone walls, large mounds of earth, and a combination of these mounds with the walls, suspected to have been fortifications. In some places the ditches and the fortresses are said to have been plainly seen; in others, furrows, as if the land had been ploughed. The mounds of earth are of two kinds; they are artificial tumuli, designed as repositories for the dead; or they are of a greater size for the purpose of defending the adjacent country; and with this view they are artificially constructed, or advantage is taken of the natural eminences, to raise them into a fortification.

    The remains near the banks of the Muskingum, are situated about one mile above the junction of that river with the Ohio, and a hundred and sixty miles below Fort Pitt. They consist of a number of walls and other elevations of ditches, &c., altogether occupying a space of ground about three hundred and fifty to twenty-five or twenty feet broad. The town, as it has been called, is a large level, encompassed by walls, nearly in the form of a square, the sides of which are from ninety-six to eighty-six perches in length. These walls are, in general, about ten feet in height above the level on which they stand, and about twenty feet in diameter at the base, but at the top they are much narrower; they are at present overgrown with vegetables of different kinds, and among others, with trees of several feet in diameter The chasms, or opening in the walls, were probably intended for gateways; they are three in number on each side, besides the smaller openings in the angles. Within the walls there are three elevations six feet in height, with regular ascents to them. These elevations considerably resemble some of the eminences already mentioned, which have been discovered near the river Mississippi. This author's opinion is, that the Tolticas, or some other Mexican nation, were the people to whom the mounds and fortifications, which

    has described, owe their existence. This conjecture is thought probable, from the similarity of the Mexican fortifications described by the Abbe Clavigero, and other authors, to those described by our author; and from the tradition of the Mexicans that they came from the north west; for if we can rely on the testimony of late travellers, fortifications similar to those mentioned by Mr. Barton have been discovered as far to the north as Lake Pepin; and we find them as we approach to the south, even as low as the coasts of Florida.

    To enumerate the antiquities of America and the different places where they are found, would only be a repetition of what has already appeared before the public; and these discoveries are evidently so much attended with the exaggeration of enthusiasts, that it would ill become any person, who was not an actual observer, to present to the public what, perhaps never existed. It is, however, an undeniable fact, that several vestiges of civilization have been found in different parts throughout the western continent, which will at once prove that a people more versed in the arts and sciences than the present North American Indians, inhabited the western continent at some remote period. The venerable Bishop of Meaux, who addressed a series of letters to the Queen of France during his travels in North America, mentions the remains of several well built forts in the country of Natchez, whom he supposes to be descendants of the Mexicans or the survivors of some nation which must have been somewhat acquainted with the arts, and might have been exterminated by war and, pestilence, or famine. "This fortification," he says, "which is large and square, might contain several hundred cabins. The walls which are built of stone, are seven or eight feet high. Round them runs a broad ditch, six feet deep, into which they could, in time of danger, draw the waters of a creek or small river that runs by the town, at the distance of thirty yards. Not far from thence I observed the remains of a tower, built with some taste and art; and on inquiring at the great temple of the Natchez, what it was intended

    for I was told by the priest, that it was a repository for the dead, or the tomb of their chiefs."

    Monsieur de la Sale, who first discovered the country of the Natchez, speaks of fortifications, temples, and cultivated fields, where he assured us the plough had been in use, from the fact that, on one occasion, when they were digging to make a well, they discovered the remains of a plough and the bone of an elephant along with it, which from the shape they gave it, could not have been intended for any other purpose than a ploughshare.

    Another learned author makes the following observations: "That North America was formerly inhabited by a nation more civilized and more versed in science, than the present, is certain from the late discoveries of M. Verandrier and his companions, who travelled westward from Montreal in order to reach the south sea. When they had traversed many nations, of which no European had any knowledge before, they met with large tracts every where covered with furrows, which had formerly been ploughed; it is to be observed that the people who now inhabit North America, never make use of oxen, horses, or ploughs. In several places they met on the plains and in the woods great pillars of stone, which, to all appearance, had been erected by human hands, and with considerable taste. They found a stone, in which was fixed a smaller one, measuring twelve inches by five, on which was an inscription in unknown characters; this they brought to Canada, from whence it was sent to France, to the Count de Maurepas, the Secretary of State."

    Count Rosetti found a helmet among the Natchez, made of tortoise-shell, on which some Asiatic hieroglyphics were engraved. On his return to Italy they were explained by some missionaries who remained several years in China, and purported the God of War and the Great Sun, or the Great Chief. The helmet is still preserved in the count's collection of antiquities.

    L'Abbe de la Ville discovered, during his mission in Ohio, a defensive armour of tortoise-shell, with inscriptions

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    Part 2

    in the Chinese language. These he sent to Paris, and are to be seen in the national museum, with the following observations: "I have often heard among the present Indians, that, before they arrived in this countary from the northwest, they met the remains of a nation whose language they could not understand, and whose external appearance, manners, customs, and religion, were not the same with theirs. They represented them as a people who had a different origin, but who, they said, had entered this continent by Kamschatka, as they did themselves. This information I have not only acquired from those Indian tribes which I found in Ohio, but also from the Great Sun of the Natchez, who assured me that he was the descendant of those who were the original proprietors of the American soil, previous to the migration of the barbarous tribes by which he found himself then surrounded. At the same time he told me, that a part of his nation survived the almost utter extermination of his tribes by that barbarous horde, and that they still lived towards the south."

    "Innumerable fortifications," says Mons. du Chateau, "are to be found throughout America; but all these vestiges of civilization, and their monuments or pillars and the tumuli of the dead are now so overgrown with trees, that it is with some difficulty, they can be discerned."

    That several monuments of antiquity are very probably concealed from us by the overgrowth of the forest cannot at all be denied, when we exhibit to the view of the public, a certain fact which recently came to light in the township of Beverly, county of Halton, Upper Canada. A tumulus was discovered containing the remains of about a thousand Indians, with arms and cooking vessels. This golgotha was, when discovered, overgrown with trees of two hundred years growth. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that several marks of civilization have, under similar circumstances, escaped our notice.

    M. Sinclair, who travelled in North America in the year 1748, has made the following observations respecting the civilization of the aboriginal inhabitants of this continent:

    "That architecture and painting," he says, "were known among the ancients of America cannot be denied, when we examine the art which they displayed in building fortifications and towers; and the taste which their paintings in relievo exhibit. It would be equally absurd to deny that iron tools were in use; for how could they break and shape into different forms large stones almost as hard as the flint which the present Red Men use as hatchets. But, without any conjecture, we may easily arrive at a conclusion by considering the fact, that the French missionaries found several iron tools and warlike weapons; and these tools, are said to resemble, in a striking manner, those of the Coreans, formerly a Chinese colony."

    Count Rosetti says that they are not unlike those in use among the Chinese, according to the observations of the Jesuit, who lived for several years in China. How these tools and weapons have disappeared can easily be accounted for, by supposing that this Asiatic colony, which was undoubtedly more polished than the present Indians, buried along with the dead, as is well known to have been the custom, those tools and weapons which were dear to them when living. This ridiculous and superstitious custom would certainly contribute, through time, to the utter annihilation of those instruments, which, though evidently in use among them, were not made by them since they arrived in America, but brought along with them from whatever part of Asia they migrated, and consequently the supply could not be otherwise than scanty. The Mexicans, who are supposed, and on very good grounds, to be the descendants of this more civilized race of Indians, were acquainted with the arts when first visited by the Europeans; and this we shall endeavour to prove hereafter.

    The following article appeared some time ago, in the United Service Journal, in reference to the Greek antiquities which have been recently discovered in South America: "A recent discovery seems to afford strong evidence that the soil of America was once trodden by one of Alexander's subjects. A few years since there was found, near Monte

    Video, in South America, a stone with the following words in Greek upon it: 'During the reign of Alexander, the son of Philip, king of Macedon, in the 63rd Olympiad, Ptolemy' -- the remainder of the inscription could not be deciphered. This stone covered an excavation, which contained two very ancient swords, a helmet, a shield, and several earthen amphorae of large capacity. On the handle of one of the swords was a portrait of a man, and on the helmet there was sculptured work representing Achilles dragging the corpse of Hector round the walls of Troy. This was a favourite picture among the Greeks. Probably this Ptolemy was overtaken by a storm in the great ocean, as the ancients termed the Atlantic, and driven on the coast of South America. The silence of Greek writers in relation to this event may easily be accounted for, by supposing that on attempting to return to Greece he was lost, together with his crew, and thus no account of his discovery ever reached them."

    How these Greek antiquities came to America, we cannot at all conjecture; and it is equally dubious, whether such things have been discovered or not. It would, however, appear presumptuous on our part to contradict it, when we can prove nothing to the contrary.


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