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an end to by the establishment of a better social condition for the slaves. Perhaps along with the grounds of discontent, the difficulty of supervision and the danger of a revolt will also be diminished. With mild and humane treatment, the present and future condition of the slaves can never be as dangerous to the United States as many imagine. From exorbitant demands and selfish refusals, men will fall back to a middle, practicable course. The dissolution of this great Union on the score of the slave question would certainly be the grossest folly and the bitterest of misfortunes; for both parties mutually need assistance from, and protect each other.
It is certainly true, as I have already remarked, that the European abolition of the dependent relations between men of one and the same race was an easy matter, in comparison with the task which the Americans have to perform. But if, on the one hand, this task carries with it many cares, pains and sufferings; on the other hand the necessary instruction and guardianship of the blacks, and their final reconciliation with the whites, offer an employment so noble, influential, and sublime, that the Americans should testify with awe and humility their gratitude to Providence for intrusting them with this duty also, in addition to the many others of the greatest importance to the progress of the human race.
Were its performance really impossible, it would never have been imposed by an all-wise and all-gracious Creator upon his too feeble creatures.
Nature and Origin--Property of the Indians-- Indian Characteristics—Whites and
Indians-- Indolence of the Indians-Cherokees—Future Prospects.
SEVERAL questions which we have already touched upon with regard to the negroes, recur on directing our attention to the North American Indians. Whether we assume that all mankind are descended from one or from several pairs, it is certain that the
* We do not speak here of the civilized Indians in Mexico and Peru, who mostly practise agriculture. Kennedy's Texas, i. 249. The monuments of Copan and other cities of Central America testify to the existence and industry of a race who far surpassed the savages of North America. These monuments, however, should not be over-rated: they are mostly without variety, tasteless, hideous, and superstitious.
Indians are corporeally and mentally so very different from the whites and blacks, that naturalists and historians have properly designated them as a peculiar race. For although the different tribes bear their own national appellations, and make war upon and persecute each other in the cruellest manner; and although they can be distinguished apart by those accurately acquainted with them; still on the whole the same physical and moral character runs through them all, and there are found amongst them no such complete and characteristic distinctions as are exhibited among the nations of the Caucasian stock.
Every where we observe among the Indians the copper color, the coarse, straight, black hair, the brown eyes, and the prominent cheek-bones. The white nations, it is true, have also adopted for the purpose of embellishment a great many tasteless and ugly fashions; these, however, relate mostly to dress, and there is now nothing but the use of corsets that stands on a level with the practices of savages. The means of embellishment adopted by the latter apply, almost without exception, immediately to the body. For this purpose they press their children's heads into a pointed or flat shape; paint their faces green, yellow, red, or black; tattoo the other parts of their bodies ; bore holes through their noses, lips, and ears; and draw the latter by means of weights down to their shoulders.* There is
where revealed among them such an entire want of feeling for true beauty and art, that they even transform the admirable gifts they have received from nature into the vilest caricatures.
Whether the Indians are autochthones sprung from the soil, or are immigrants from Asia; whether a more civilized people preceded them, and whether the latter retired voluntarily or through compulsion towards the south,-on these topics much may be conjectured, but very little proved. At any rate their degree of culture is so low, that it may well be indigenous; and even in the grave-mounds raised by them or by older tribes, there are found only bones, shells, and stone weapons; but nothing of iron or other metal. +
The numerous and often apparently independent languages of the Indians have been reduced by modern investigations to three essentially distinct mother-tongues. $ They all exhibit a lively perception of the sensual, but are destitute of the finer development for the spiritual. Some letters are wanting in one, and some in another, as for instance v,f, m.
• Lewis's Travels, ii. 33: The portraits in the Travels of Prince Von Neuwied recall to mind the Jews; yet no connection whatever can be proved.
† Long's Expedition, i. 64. [In some of them articles of copper and even of silver have been found. See Trans. of Amer. Antiq. Soc., i. 161, 169. Trans. of Amer. Ethnol. Soc., i. 400.-TR.)
| The Iroquois, Lenape, and Floridian-Collections of the New York Histor. Society, iii. 187.
As the Indians occupy themselves almost exclusively with the chase, and are attached to it alone, their domestic life is on that account necessarily disturbed and interrupted. Moreover polygamy is allowed and practised among them, and their treatment of their one or many wives exhibits in general nothing of the fancied mild and happy relations of mere children of nature. On the contrary, the women are forced to do the hardest work, and are treated like slaves. They see to bridling and feeding the horses, putting up and taking down the tents, packing and unpacking the effects, and cutting up the game that has been taken. They must dress the skins, make the clothes, and attend to the cooking; while the men, except hunting and fighting, do nothing at all! Most of the tribes know nothing of bread, salt, or spices ; drink no milk; and have, excepting a few most necessary articles, no property.
And yet teachers of law and philanthropists are accustomed to assert that all North America is the property of the Indians, from which they have been driven by force and fraud. It is true that the titles to possession often set up by the whites—to wit, the first seeing and discovering of a country, the erecting of a flag, publishing in newspapers, and the like—are of very slight importance, and have always lost their efficacy when opposed by a better right or a stronger power. But in fact it is difficult to perceive why the Indian title should be regarded as better founded; why an entire continent should be and become the property of a few savages, because they have perchance hunted, and perchance not, uver immeasurable tracts! In such wise, by such a distant and momentary taking of possession, a single man might have converted the whole earth into his pretended property, and thus have rendered all settling and all progress impossible. Wild men and beasts must of right retreat before civilized man; and the former have still left for their scanty numbers a limitless space, on which hundreds of millions of industrious men could dwell and support themselves. God, say some semi-theologians, has given the whole land to the Indians; to which it may be replied in like manner, God has taken it away from them. The land in truth was no man's land, a res nullius, inasmuch as it was by no ineans made a suitable use of; industry and labor are found in the long run to be the only true means of founding and retaining property.
As disgust at the defects and excesses of European civilization, or rather perversion, called forth animated eulogies on the South Sea islanders, so the interest taken in the outward fate of the North American Indians has produced a like effect. Praises have been lavished on their self-command, their hospitality, their simple energetic language; in bodily endowments they have been represented as superior to the whites, and as almost equal to them in mental capacity.* Others say more truly, that the germs of human capabilities are found equally amongst the whites and the Indians ;f but their smaller quantity among the latter is shown not only in individuals, it springs from their entire organization, and is characteristic of the whole race. More general and louder are the accusations of others, that the self-control of the Indian arises chiefly from insensibility; and that a deep and durable feeling is exhibited only in the forms of hatred, revenge, and savage ferocity. I And not only are these feelings entertained towards the whites who may have injured and defrauded them; but their devouring and destroying fury is directed still more strongly if possible against their fellow-tribes. To scalp men and steal horses, is considered among them the greatest glory of a man, or Indian brave.
It is an unjust reproach, to affirm that the whites are chiefly answerable for the degeneration of the Indians. The latter have learnt a great deal from the former; and if they have not profited more, it is owing to their constant aversion to the use of foresight and regular industry, to settling down on the land, to cultivating the earth, and to social connections. No where else is there so clearly exhibited the truth of the proverb, that Idleness is the mother of want, vice, and misery.|| One may, and with justice, censure the whites for defrauding the ignorant Indians, T and selling them in spite of severe prohibitions) ardent spirits, which moreover are often mingled with unwholesome ingredients; but their unbridled passion for drink is their own fault, and if the whites on the contrary were to suffer themselves to be seduced into vicious practices by Indian productions, they could by no means be held guiltless on that account. Unhappily the laws against the traffic in ardent spirits are often but a dead letter: since there are no means for putting them into execution and seizing the spirits; while to have recourse to the law is usually without effect, on account of the distance at which the courts of justice are situated, and the difficulty of procuring witnesses and proofs. A shirt received from the government and which costs three dollars, is often bartered away by the Indians for a bottle of brandy!
One may extol the Indians' love of independence and the cir* Reise des Prinzen von Neuwied, ii. 134. † Bancroft, iii. 302.
| Buckingham's Slave States, i. 253, 525. Murray's Account, i. 408. Schoolcraft, p. 98. Cox's Columbia River, ii. 382. Townsend's Sporting Excursions, ii. 14.
ỹ Long's Rocky Mountains.
li The Indians of Mexico, who are altogether of a higher grade, are far more industrious than those of North America. Mühlenpfordt, i. 238.
T In many states there are strict and excellent laws for protecting the Indians against frauds of every kind; yet they have not proved sufficient.
cumstance that they can never be enslaved.* But to them every regular government seems like slavery,t and their untameable disposition is but a very partial advantage; whereas the domesticated and laboring negro occupies a higher ground, and readily adapts himself to a change of circumstances. The conditions of both these races of men involuntarily remind us, if the comparison be admissible, of untameable and tameable animals; at least here also the natural consequence ensues, that the number of the Indians diminishes, and their complete annihilation is foretold, while the negroes are daily increasing, and many white men are laboring for their emancipation and regard them as capable of a higher social existence. Even if many other causes might not be assigned for these phenomena, the obstinate adherence of the Indians to the hunter-life would explain the impossibility of a numerous, thick-settled population. If again we doubt, as some do, that the number of Indians is very much diminished in comparison with former times, they have at any rate not profited by their contact with civilized nations sufficiently to improve their own condition and adopt new ways of life. Thus, for instance, while fire-arms, which were formerly unknown to them, were found useful in hunting, they also gave additional effect to savage feuds; and scarcely ever was the beneficent plough placed by the side of the destructive rifle. As time advances, however, the implement of peace becomes constantly more powerful than the partially used weapon of war; and to the exaggerated complaints on the subject of driving back the Indians, we may oppose the question, What would have been gained for mankind, had they prevailed in America ? The answer is certainly simpler and clearer, than if one had to decide between the Romans and Carthaginians, the English and the French.
If any people belonging to the white race had ever come into contact with one more highly civilized, how quickly would they have appropriated whatever was new and useful, what advantages would they not have derived from the mutual intercourse! With the Indians, however, trade has been a means of improvement only by way of exception, while as a general rule it has proved the pathway to degeneracy. They became acquainted with new wants, without becoming willing to satisfy them by increased exertion; and while corporeal enjoyments and sensual passions acquired a greater prominence, the mind remained stationary at its former low stage of development, or even sank deeper still.
* Many Indians even hold slaves themselves.—Brackenridge's History of the War, p. 91.
Schoolcraft's Oneóta, i. 14. | Bancroft, iii. 253. According to another summary, the Creeks number 24,000, the Choctaws 15,000, the Cherokees 25,000, &c. About 168,000 lived beyond the Mississippi, and 89,000 have been transplanted thither.