The Discovery of America Vol. 1 (of 2) - with some account of Ancient America and the Spanish Conquest
by John Fiske
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[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.

Unusual superscripts are shown as ^{xx}, e.g.: w^{ch} for which.

Description of the characters not found in the Unicode tables:

ā a with macron. ē e with macron. ī i with macron. ō o with macron. ū u with macron. ĭ i with breve. p p with stroke. m m with tilde. p p with tilde. q q with tilde. z ezh. [ deg.u] u with ring.]








Then I unbar the doors; my paths lead out The exodus of nations; I disperse Men to all shores that front the hoary main. I too have arts and sorceries; Illusion dwells forever with the wave. I make some coast alluring, some lone isle To distant men, who must go there or die. EMERSON


Copyright, 1892, By JOHN FISKE.

All rights reserved.


The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A. Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.





The present work is the outcome of two lines of study pursued, with more or less interruption from other studies, for about thirty years. It will be observed that the book has two themes, as different in character as the themes for voice and piano in Schubert's "Fruehlingsglaube," and yet so closely related that the one is needful for an adequate comprehension of the other. In order to view in their true perspective the series of events comprised in the Discovery of America, one needs to form a mental picture of that strange world of savagery and barbarism to which civilized Europeans were for the first time introduced in the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in their voyages along the African coast, into the Indian and Pacific oceans, and across the Atlantic. Nothing that Europeans discovered during that stirring period was so remarkable as these antique phases of human society, the mere existence of which had scarcely been suspected, and the real character of which it has been left for the present generation to begin to understand. Nowhere was this ancient society so full of instructive lessons as in aboriginal America, which had pursued its own course of development, cut off and isolated from the Old World, for probably more than fifty thousand years. The imperishable interest of those episodes in the Discovery of America known as the conquests of Mexico and Peru consists chiefly in the glimpses they afford us of this primitive world. It was not an uninhabited continent that the Spaniards found, and in order to comprehend the course of events it is necessary to know something about those social features that formed a large part of the burden of the letters of Columbus and Vespucius, and excited even more intense and general interest in Europe than the purely geographical questions suggested by the voyages of those great sailors. The descriptions of ancient America, therefore, which form a kind of background to the present work, need no apology.

It was the study of prehistoric Europe and of early Aryan institutions that led me by a natural sequence to the study of aboriginal America. In 1869, after sketching the plan of a book on our Aryan forefathers, I was turned aside for five years by writing "Cosmic Philosophy." During that interval I also wrote "Myths and Myth-Makers" as a side-work to the projected book on the Aryans, and as soon as the excursion into the field of general philosophy was ended, in 1874, the work on that book was resumed. Fortunately it was not then carried to completion, for it would have been sadly antiquated by this time. The revolution in theory concerning the Aryans has been as remarkable as the revolution in chemical theory which some years ago introduced the New Chemistry. It is becoming eminently probable that the centre of diffusion of Aryan speech was much nearer to Lithuania than to any part of Central Asia, and it has for some time been quite clear that the state of society revealed in Homer and the Vedas is not at all like primitive society, but very far from it. By 1876 I had become convinced that there was no use in going on without widening the field of study. The conclusions of the Aryan school needed to be supplemented, and often seriously modified, by the study of the barbaric world, and it soon became manifest that for the study of barbarism there is no other field that for fruitfulness can be compared with aboriginal America.

This is because the progress of society was much slower in the western hemisphere than in the eastern, and in the days of Columbus and Cortes it had nowhere "caught up" to the points reached by the Egyptians of the Old Empire or by the builders of Mycenae and Tiryns. In aboriginal America we therefore find states of society preserved in stages of development similar to those of our ancestral societies in the Old World long ages before Homer and the Vedas. Many of the social phenomena of ancient Europe are also found in aboriginal America, but always in a more primitive condition. The clan, phratry, and tribe among the Iroquois help us in many respects to get back to the original conceptions of the gens, curia, and tribe among the Romans. We can better understand the growth of kingship of the Agamemnon type when we have studied the less developed type in Montezuma. The house-communities of the southern Slavs are full of interest for the student of the early phases of social evolution, but the Mandan round-house and the Zuni pueblo carry us much deeper into the past. Aboriginal American institutions thus afford one of the richest fields in the world for the application of the comparative method, and the red Indian, viewed in this light, becomes one of the most interesting of men; for in studying him intelligently, one gets down into the stone age of human thought. No time should be lost in gathering whatever can be learned of his ideas and institutions, before their character has been wholly lost under the influence of white men. Under that influence many Indians have been quite transformed, while others have been as yet but little affected. Some extremely ancient types of society, still preserved on this continent in something like purity, are among the most instructive monuments of the past that can now be found in the world. Such a type is that of the Moquis of northeastern Arizona. I have heard a rumour, which it is to be hoped is ill-founded, that there are persons who wish the United States government to interfere with this peaceful and self-respecting people, break up their pueblo life, scatter them in farmsteads, and otherwise compel them, against their own wishes, to change their habits and customs. If such a cruel and stupid thing were ever to be done, we might justly be said to have equalled or surpassed the folly of those Spaniards who used to make bonfires of Mexican hieroglyphics. It is hoped that the present book, in which of course it is impossible to do more than sketch the outlines and indicate the bearings of so vast a subject, will serve to awaken readers to the interest and importance of American archaeology for the general study of the evolution of human society.

So much for the first and subsidiary theme. As for my principal theme, the Discovery of America, I was first drawn to it through its close relations with a subject which for some time chiefly occupied my mind, the history of the contact between the Aryan and Semitic worlds, and more particularly between Christians and Mussulmans about the shores of the Mediterranean. It is also interesting as part of the history of science, and furthermore as connected with the beginnings of one of the most momentous events in the career of mankind, the colonization of the barbaric world by Europeans. Moreover, the discovery of America has its full share of the romantic fascination that belongs to most of the work of the Renaissance period. I have sought to exhibit these different aspects of the subject.

The present book is in all its parts written from the original sources of information. The work of modern scholars has of course been freely used, but never without full acknowledgment in text or notes, and seldom without independent verification from the original sources. Acknowledgments are chiefly due to Humboldt, Morgan, Bandelier, Major, Varnhagen, Markham, Helps, and Harrisse. To the last-named scholar I owe an especial debt of gratitude, in common with all who have studied this subject since his arduous researches were begun. Some of the most valuable parts of his work have consisted in the discovery, reproduction, and collation of documents; and to some extent his pages are practically equivalent to the original sources inspected by him in the course of years of search through European archives, public and private. In the present book I must have expressed dissent from his conclusions at least as often as agreement with them, but whether one agrees with him or not, one always finds him helpful and stimulating. Though he has in some sort made himself a Frenchman in the course of his labours, it is pleasant to recall the fact that M. Harrisse is by birth our fellow-countryman; and there are surely few Americans of our time whom students of history have more reason for holding in honour.

I have not seen Mr. Winsor's "Christopher Columbus" in time to make any use of it. Within the last few days, while my final chapter is going to press, I have received the sheets of it, a few days in advance of publication. I do not find in it any references to sources of information which I have not already fully considered, so that our differences of opinion on sundry points may serve to show what diverse conclusions may be drawn from the same data. The most conspicuous difference is that which concerns the personal character of Columbus. Mr. Winsor writes in a spirit of energetic (not to say violent) reaction against the absurdities of Roselly de Lorgues and others who have tried to make a saint of Columbus; and under the influence of this reaction he offers us a picture of the great navigator that serves to raise a pertinent question. No one can deny that Las Casas was a keen judge of men, or that his standard of right and wrong was quite as lofty as any one has reached in our own time. He had a much more intimate knowledge of Columbus than any modern historian can ever hope to acquire, and he always speaks of him with warm admiration and respect. But how could Las Casas ever have respected the feeble, mean-spirited driveller whose portrait Mr. Winsor asks us to accept as that of the Discoverer of America?

If, however, instead of his biographical estimate of Columbus, we consider Mr. Winsor's contributions toward a correct statement of the difficult geographical questions connected with the subject, we recognize at once the work of an acknowledged master in his chosen field. It is work, too, of the first order of importance. It would be hard to mention a subject on which so many reams of direful nonsense have been written as on the discovery of America; and the prolific source of so much folly has generally been what Mr. Freeman fitly calls "bondage to the modern map." In order to understand what the great mariners of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were trying to do, and what people supposed them to have done, one must begin by resolutely banishing the modern map from one's mind. The ancient map must take its place, but this must not be the ridiculous "Orbis Veteribus Notus," to be found in the ordinary classical atlas, which simply copies the outlines of countries with modern accuracy from the modern map, and then scatters ancient names over them! Such maps are worse than useless. In dealing with the discovery of America one must steadily keep before one's mind the quaint notions of ancient geographers, especially Ptolemy and Mela, as portrayed upon such maps as are reproduced in the present volume. It was just these distorted and hazy notions that swayed the minds and guided the movements of the great discoverers, and went on reproducing themselves upon newly-made maps for a century or more after the time of Columbus. Without constant reference to these old maps one cannot begin to understand the circumstances of the discovery of America.

In no way can one get at the heart of the matter more completely than by threading the labyrinth of causes and effects through which the western hemisphere came slowly and gradually to be known by the name AMERICA. The reader will not fail to observe the pains which I have taken to elucidate this subject, not from any peculiar regard for Americus Vespucius, but because the quintessence of the whole geographical problem of the discovery of the New World is in one way or another involved in the discussion. I can think of no finer instance of the queer complications that can come to surround and mystify an increase of knowledge too great and rapid to be comprehended by a single generation of men.

In the solution of the problem as to the first Vespucius voyage I follow the lead of Varnhagen, but always independently and with the documentary evidence fully in sight. For some years I vainly tried to pursue Humboldt's clues to some intelligible conclusion, and felt inhospitably inclined toward Varnhagen's views as altogether too plausible; he seemed to settle too many difficulties at once. But after becoming convinced of the spuriousness of the Bandini letter (see below, vol. ii. p. 94); and observing how the air at once was cleared in some directions, it seemed that further work in textual criticism would be well bestowed. I made a careful study of the diction of the letter from Vespucius to Soderini in its two principal texts:—1. the Latin version of 1507, the original of which is in the library of Harvard University, appended to Waldseemueller's "Cosmographiae Introductio"; 2. the Italian text reproduced severally by Bandini, Canovai, and Varnhagen, from the excessively rare original, of which only five copies are now known to be in existence. It is this text that Varnhagen regards as the original from which the Latin version of 1507 was made, through an intermediate French version now lost. In this opinion Varnhagen does not stand alone, as Mr. Winsor seems to think ("Christopher Columbus," p. 540, line 5 from bottom), for Harrisse and Avezac have expressed themselves plainly to the same effect (see below, vol. ii. p. 42). A minute study of this text, with all its quaint interpolations of Spanish and Portuguese idioms and seafaring phrases into the Italian ground-work of its diction, long ago convinced me that it never was a translation from anything in heaven or earth or the waters under the earth. Nobody would ever have translated a document into such an extremely peculiar and individual jargon. It is most assuredly an original text, and its author was either Vespucius or the Old Nick. It was by starting from this text as primitive that Varnhagen started correctly in his interpretation of the statements in the letter, and it was for that reason that he was able to dispose of so many difficulties at one blow. When he showed that the landfall of Vespucius on his first voyage was near Cape Honduras and had nothing whatever to do with the Pearl Coast, he began to follow the right trail, and so the facts which had puzzled everybody began at once to fall into the right places. This is all made clear in the seventh chapter of the present work, where the general argument of Varnhagen is in many points strongly reinforced. The evidence here set forth in connection with the Cantino map is especially significant.

It is interesting on many accounts to see the first voyage of Vespucius thus elucidated, though it had no connection with the application of his name by Waldseemueller to an entirely different region from any that was visited upon that voyage. The real significance of the third voyage of Vespucius, in connection with the naming of America, is now set forth, I believe, for the first time in the light thrown upon the subject by the opinions of Ptolemy and Mela. Neither Humboldt nor Major nor Harrisse nor Varnhagen seems to have had a firm grasp of what was in Waldseemueller's mind when he wrote the passage photographed below in vol. ii. p. 136 of this work. It is only when we keep the Greek and Roman theories in the foreground and unflinchingly bar out that intrusive modern atlas, that we realize what the Freiburg geographer meant and why Ferdinand Columbus was not in the least shocked or surprised.

* * * * *

I have at various times given lectures on the discovery of America and questions connected therewith, more especially at University College, London, in 1879, at the Philosophical Institution in Edinburgh, in 1880, at the Lowell Institute in Boston, in 1890, and in the course of my work as professor in the Washington University at St. Louis; but the present work is in no sense whatever a reproduction of such lectures.

Acknowledgments are due to Mr. Winsor for his cordial permission to make use of a number of reproductions of old maps and facsimiles already used by him in the "Narrative and Critical History of America;" they are mentioned in the lists of illustrations. I have also to thank Dr. Brinton for allowing me to reproduce a page of old Mexican music, and the Hakluyt Society for permission to use the Zeno and Catalan maps and the view of Kakortok church. Dr. Fewkes has very kindly favoured me with a sight of proof-sheets of some recent monographs by Bandelier. And for courteous assistance at various libraries I have most particularly to thank Mr. Kiernan of Harvard University, Mr. Appleton Griffin of the Boston Public Library, and Mr. Uhler of the Peabody Institute in Baltimore.

* * * * *

There is one thing which I feel obliged, though with extreme hesitation and reluctance, to say to my readers in this place, because the time has come when something ought to be said, and there seems to be no other place available for saying it. For many years letters—often in a high degree interesting and pleasant to receive—have been coming to me from persons with whom I am not acquainted, and I have always done my best to answer them. It is a long time since such letters came to form the larger part of a voluminous mass of correspondence. The physical fact has assumed dimensions with which it is no longer possible to cope. If I were to answer all the letters which arrive by every mail, I should never be able to do another day's work. It is becoming impossible even to read them all; and there is scarcely time for giving due attention to one in ten. Kind friends and readers will thus understand that if their queries seem to be neglected, it is by no means from any want of good will, but simply from the lamentable fact that the day contains only four-and-twenty hours.

CAMBRIDGE, October 25, 1891.




PAGE The American aborigines 1

Question as to their origin 2, 3

Antiquity of man in America 4

Shell-mounds, or middens 4, 5

The Glacial Period 6, 7

Discoveries in the Trenton gravel 8

Discoveries in Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota 9

Mr. Cresson's discovery at Claymont, Delaware 10

The Calaveras skull 11

Pleistocene men and mammals 12, 13

Elevation and subsidence 13, 14

Waves of migration 15

The Cave men of Europe in the Glacial Period 16

The Eskimos are probably a remnant of the Cave men 17-19

There was probably no connection or intercourse by water between ancient America and the Old World 20

There is one great American red race 21

Different senses in which the word "race" is used 21-23

No necessary connection between differences in culture and differences in race 23

Mr. Lewis Morgan's classification of grades of culture 24-32

Distinction between Savagery and Barbarism 25

Origin of pottery 25

Lower, middle, and upper status of savagery 26

Lower status of barbarism; it ended differently in the two hemispheres; in ancient America there was no pastoral stage of development 27

Importance of Indian corn 28

Tillage with irrigation 29

Use of adobe-brick and stone in building 29

Middle status of barbarism 29, 30

Stone and copper tools 30

Working of metals; smelting of iron 30

Upper status of barbarism 31

The alphabet and the beginnings of civilization 32

So-called "civilizations" of Mexico and Peru 33, 34

Loose use of the words "savagery" and "civilization" 35

Value and importance of the term "barbarism" 35, 36

The status of barbarism is most completely exemplified in ancient America 36, 37

Survival of bygone epochs of culture; work of the Bureau of Ethnology 37, 38

Tribal society and multiplicity of languages in aboriginal America 38, 39

Tribes in the upper status of savagery; Athabaskans, Apaches, Shoshones, etc. 39

Tribes in the lower status of barbarism; the Dakota group or family 40

The Minnitarees and Mandans 41

The Pawnee and Arickaree group 42

The Maskoki group 42

The Algonquin group 43

The Huron-Iroquois group 44

The Five Nations 45-47

Distinction between horticulture and field agriculture 48

Perpetual intertribal warfare, with torture and cannibalism 49-51

Myths and folk-lore 51

Ancient law 52, 53

The patriarchal family not primitive 53

"Mother-right" 54

Primitive marriage 55

The system of reckoning kinship through females only 56

Original reason for the system 57

The primeval human horde 58, 59

Earliest family-group; the clan 60

"Exogamy" 60

Phratry and tribe 61

Effect of pastoral life upon property and upon the family 61-63

The exogamous clan in ancient America 64

Intimate connection of aboriginal architecture with social life 65

The long houses of the Iroquois 66, 67

Summary divorce 68

Hospitality 68

Structure of the clan 69, 70

Origin and structure of the phratry 70, 71

Structure of the tribe 72

Cross-relationships between clans and tribes; the Iroquois Confederacy 72-74

Structure of the confederacy 75, 76

The "Long House" 76

Symmetrical development of institutions in ancient America 77, 78

Circular houses of the Mandans 79-81

The Indians of the pueblos, in the middle status of barbarism 82, 83

Horticulture with irrigation, and architecture with adobe 83, 84

Possible origin of adobe architecture 84, 85

Mr. Cushing's sojourn at Zuni 86

Typical structure of the pueblo 86-88

Pueblo society 89

Wonderful ancient pueblos in the Chaco valley 90-92

The Moqui pueblos 93

The cliff-dwellings 93

Pueblo of Zuni 93, 94

Pueblo of Tlascala 94-96

The ancient city of Mexico was a great composite pueblo 97

The Spanish discoverers could not be expected to understand the state of society which they found there 97, 98

Contrast between feudalism and gentilism 98

Change from gentile society to political society in Greece and Rome 99, 100

First suspicions as to the erroneousness of the Spanish accounts 101

Detection and explanation of the errors, by Lewis Morgan 102

Adolf Bandelier's researches 103

The Aztec Confederacy 104, 105

Aztec clans 106

Clan officers 107

Rights and duties of the clan 108

Aztec phratries 108

The tlatocan, or tribal council 109

The cihuacoatl, or "snake-woman" 110

The tlacatecuhtli, or "chief-of-men" 111

Evolution of kingship in Greece and Rome 112

Mediaeval kingship 113

Montezuma was a "priest-commander" 114

Mode of succession to the office 114, 115

Manner of collecting tribute 116

Mexican roads 117

Aztec and Iroquois confederacies contrasted 118

Aztec priesthood; human sacrifices 119, 120

Aztec slaves 121, 122

The Aztec family 122, 123

Aztec property 124

Mr. Morgan's rules of criticism 125

He sometimes disregarded his own rules 126

Amusing illustrations from his remarks on "Montezuma's Dinner" 126-128

The reaction against uncritical and exaggerated statements was often carried too far by Mr. Morgan 128, 129

Great importance of the middle period of barbarism 130

The Mexicans compared with the Mayas 131-133

Maya hieroglyphic writing 132

Ruined cities of Central America 134-138

They are probably not older than the twelfth century 136

Recent discovery of the Chronicle of Chicxulub 138

Maya culture very closely related to Mexican 139

The "Mound-Builders" 140-146

The notion that they were like the Aztecs 142

Or, perhaps, like the Zunis 143

These notions are not well sustained 144

The mounds were probably built by different peoples in the lower status of barbarism, by Cherokees, Shawnees, and other tribes 144, 145

It is not likely that there was a "race of Mound Builders" 146

Society in America at the time of the Discovery had reached stages similar to stages reached by eastern Mediterranean peoples fifty or sixty centuries earlier 146, 147



Stories of voyages to America before Columbus; the Chinese 148

The Irish. 149

Blowing and drifting; Cousin, of Dieppe 150

These stories are of small value 150

But the case of the Northmen is quite different 151

The Viking exodus from Norway 151, 152

Founding of a colony in Iceland, A. D. 874 153

Icelandic literature 154

Discovery of Greenland, A. D. 876 155, 156

Eric the Red, and his colony in Greenland, A. D. 986 157-161

Voyage of Bjarni Herjulfsson 162

Conversion of the Northmen to Christianity 163

Leif Ericsson's voyage, A. D. 1000; Helluland and Markland 164

Leif's winter in Vinland 165, 166

Voyages of Thorvald and Thorstein 167

Thorfinn Karlsefni, and his unsuccessful attempt to found a colony in Vinland, A. D. 1007-10 167-169

Freydis, and her evil deeds in Vinland, 1011-12 170, 171

Voyage into Baffin's Bay, 1135 172

Description of a Viking ship discovered at Sandefiord, in Norway 173-175

To what extent the climate of Greenland may have changed within the last thousand years 176, 177

With the Northmen once in Greenland, the discovery of the American continent was inevitable 178

Ear-marks of truth in the Icelandic narratives 179, 180

Northern limit of the vine 181

Length of the winter day 182

Indian corn 182, 183

Winter weather in Vinland 184

Vinland was probably situated somewhere between Cape Breton and Point Judith 185

Further ear-marks of truth; savages and barbarians of the lower status were unknown to mediaeval Europeans 185, 186

The natives of Vinland as described in the Icelandic narratives 187-193

Meaning of the epithet "Skraelings" 188, 189

Personal appearance of the Skraelings 189

The Skraelings of Vinland were Indians,—very likely Algonquins 190

The "balista" or "demon's head" 191, 192

The story of the "uniped" 193

Character of the Icelandic records; misleading associations with the word "saga" 194

The comparison between Leif Ericsson and Agamemnon, made by a committee of the Massachusetts Historical Society, was peculiarly unfortunate and inappropriate 194, 197

The story of the Trojan War, in the shape in which we find it in Greek poetry, is pure folk-lore 195

The Saga of Eric the Red is not folk-lore 196

Mythical and historical sagas 197

The western or Hauks-bok version of Eric the Red's Saga 198

The northern or Flateyar-bok version 199

Presumption against sources not contemporary 200

Hauk Erlendsson and his manuscripts 201

The story is not likely to have been preserved to Hauk's time by oral tradition only 202

Allusions to Vinland in other Icelandic documents 202-207

Eyrbyggja Saga 203

The abbot Nikulas, etc. 204

Ari Frodhi and his works 204

His significant allusion to Vinland 205

Other references 206

Differences between Hauks-bok and Flateyar-bok versions 207

Adam of Bremen 208

Importance of his testimony 209

His misconception of the situation of Vinland 210

Summary of the argument 211-213

Absurd speculations of zealous antiquarians 213-215

The Dighton inscription was made by Algonquins, and has nothing to do with the Northmen 213, 214

Governor Arnold's stone windmill 215

There is no reason for supposing that the Northmen founded a colony in Vinland 216

No archaeological remains of them have been found south of Davis strait 217

If the Northmen had founded a successful colony, they would have introduced domestic cattle into the North American fauna 218

And such animals could not have vanished and left no trace of their existence 219, 220

Further fortunes of the Greenland colony 221

Bishop Eric's voyage in search of Vinland, 1121 222

The ship from Markland, 1347 223

The Greenland colony attacked by Eskimos, 1349 224

Queen Margaret's monopoly, and its baneful effects 225

Story of the Venetian brothers, Nicolo and Antonio Zeno 226

Nicolo Zeno wrecked upon one of the Faeroe islands 227

He enters the service of Henry Sinclair, Earl of the Orkneys and Caithness 228

Nicolo's voyage to Greenland, cir. 1394 229

Voyage of Earl Sinclair and Antonio Zeno 229, 230

Publication of the remains of the documents by the younger Nicolo Zeno, 1558 231

The Zeno map 232, 233

Queer transformations of names 234-236

The name Faeroislander became Frislanda 236

The narrative nowhere makes a claim to the "discovery of America" 237

The "Zichmni" of the narrative means Henry Sinclair 238

Bardsen's "Description of Greenland" 239

The monastery of St. Olaus and its hot spring 240

Volcanoes of the north Atlantic ridge 241

Fate of Gunnbjoern's Skerries, 1456 242

Volcanic phenomena in Greenland 242, 243

Estotiland 244

Drogio 245

Inhabitants of Drogio and the countries beyond 246

The Fisherman's return to Frislanda 247

Was the account of Drogio woven into the narrative by the younger Nicolo? 248

Or does it represent actual experiences in North America? 249

The case of David Ingram, 1568 250

The case of Cabeza de Vaca, 1528-36 251

There may have been unrecorded instances of visits to North America 252

The pre-Columbian voyages made no real contributions to geographical knowledge 253

And were in no true sense a discovery of America 254

Real contact between the eastern and western hemisphere was first established by Columbus 255



Why the voyages of the Northmen were not followed up 256

Ignorance of their geographical significance 257

Lack of instruments for ocean navigation 257

Condition of Europe in the year 1000 258, 259

It was not such as to favour colonial enterprise 260

The outlook of Europe was toward Asia 261

Routes of trade between Europe and Asia 262

Claudius Ptolemy and his knowledge of the earth 263

Early mention of China 264

The monk Cosmas Indicopleustes 265

Shape of the earth, according to Cosmas 266, 267

His knowledge of Asia 268

The Nestorians 268

Effects of the Saracen conquests 269

Constantinople in the twelfth century 270

The Crusades 270-274

Barbarizing character of Turkish conquest 271

General effects of the Crusades 272

The Fourth Crusade 273

Rivalry between Venice and Genoa 274

Centres and routes of mediaeval trade 275, 276

Effects of the Mongol conquests 277

Cathay, origin of the name 277

Carpini and Rubruquis 278

First knowledge of an eastern ocean beyond Cathay 278

The data were thus prepared for Columbus; but as yet nobody reasoned from these data to a practical conclusion 279

The Polo brothers 280

Kublai Khan's message to the Pope 281

Marco Polo and his travels in Asia 281, 282

First recorded voyage of Europeans around the Indo-Chinese peninsula 282

Return of the Polos to Venice 283

Marco Polo's book, written in prison at Genoa, 1299; its great contributions to geographical knowledge 284, 285

Prester John 285

Griffins and Arimaspians 286

The Catalan map, 1375 288, 289

Other visits to China 287-291

Overthrow of the Mongol dynasty, and shutting up of China 291

First rumours of the Molucca islands and Japan 292

The accustomed routes of Oriental trade were cut off in the fifteenth century by the Ottoman Turks 293

Necessity for finding an "outside route to the Indies" 294




Question as to whether Asia could be reached by sailing around Africa 295

Views of Eratosthenes 296

Opposing theory of Ptolemy 297

Story of the Phoenician voyage in the time of Necho 298-300

Voyage of Hanno 300, 301

Voyages of Sataspes and Eudoxus 302

Wild exaggerations 303

Views of Pomponius Mela 304, 305

Ancient theory of the five zones 306, 307

The Inhabited World, or Oecumene, and the Antipodes 308

Curious notions about Taprobane (Ceylon) 309

Question as to the possibility of crossing the torrid zone 309

Notions about sailing "up and down hill" 310, 311

Superstitious fancies 311, 312

Clumsiness of ships in the fifteenth century 312

Dangers from famine and scurvy 313

The mariner's compass; an interesting letter from Brunetto Latini to Guido Cavalcanti 313-315

Calculating latitudes and longitudes 315

Prince Henry the Navigator 316-326

His idea of an ocean route to the Indies, and what it might bring 318

The Sacred Promontory 319

The Madeira and Canary islands 320-322

Gil Eannes passes Cape Bojador 323

Beginning of the modern slave-trade, 1442 323

Papal grant of heathen countries to the Portuguese crown 324, 325

Advance to Sierra Leone 326

Advance to the Hottentot coast 326, 327

Note upon the extent of European acquaintance with savagery and the lower forms of barbarism previous to the fifteenth century 327-329

Effect of the Portuguese discoveries upon the theories of Ptolemy and Mela 329, 330

News of Prester John; Covilham's journey 331

Bartholomew Dias passes the Cape of Good Hope and enters the Indian ocean 332

Some effects of this discovery 333

Bartholomew Columbus took part in it 333

Connection between these voyages and the work of Christopher Columbus 334




Sources of information concerning the life of Columbus; Las Casas and Ferdinand Columbus 335

The Biblioteca Colombina at Seville 336, 337

Bernaldez and Peter Martyr 338

Letters of Columbus 338

Defects in Ferdinand's information 339, 340

Researches of Henry Harrisse 341

Date of the birth of Columbus; archives of Savona 342

Statement of Bernaldez 343

Columbus's letter of September, 1501 344

The balance of probability is in favour of 1436 345

The family of Domenico Colombo, and its changes of residence 346, 347

Columbus tells us that he was born in the city of Genoa 348

His early years 349-351

Christopher and his brother Bartholomew at Lisbon 351, 352

Philippa Moniz de Perestrelo 352

Personal appearance of Columbus 353

His marriage, and life upon the island of Porto Santo 353, 354

The king of Portugal asks advice of the great astronomer Toscanelli 355

Toscanelli's first letter to Columbus 356-361

His second letter to Columbus 361, 362

Who first suggested the feasibleness of a westward route to the Indies? Was it Columbus? 363

Perhaps it was Toscanelli 363, 364

Note on the date of Toscanelli's first letter to Columbus 365-367

The idea, being naturally suggested by the globular form of the earth, was as old as Aristotle 368, 369

Opinions of ancient writers 370

Opinions of Christian writers 371

The "Imago Mundi" of Petrus Alliacus 372, 373

Ancient estimates of the size of the globe and the length of the Oecumene 374

Toscanelli's calculation of the size of the earth, and of the position of Japan (Cipango) 375, 376

Columbus's opinions of the size of the globe, the length of the Oecumene, and the width of the Atlantic ocean from Portugal to Japan 377-380

There was a fortunate mixture of truth and error in these opinions of Columbus 381

The whole point and purport of Columbus's scheme lay in its promise of a route to the Indies shorter than that which the Portuguese were seeking by way of Guinea 381

Columbus's speculations on climate; his voyages to Guinea and into the Arctic ocean 382

He may have reached Jan Mayen island, and stopped at Iceland 383, 384

The Scandinavian hypothesis that Columbus "must have" heard and understood the story of the Vinland voyages 384, 385

It has not a particle of evidence in its favour 385

It is not probable that Columbus knew of Adam of Bremen's allusion to Vinland, or that he would have understood it if he had read it 386

It is doubtful if he would have stumbled upon the story in Iceland 387

If he had heard it, he would probably have classed it with such tales as that of St. Brandan's isle 388

He could not possibly have obtained from such a source his opinion of the width of the ocean 388, 389

If he had known and understood the Vinland story, he had the strongest motives for proclaiming it and no motive whatever for concealing it 390-392

No trace of a thought of Vinland appears in any of his voyages 393

Why did not Norway or Iceland utter a protest in 1493? 393

The idea of Vinland was not associated with the idea of America until the seventeenth century 394

Recapitulation of the genesis of Columbus's scheme 395

Martin Behaim's improved astrolabe 395, 396

Negotiations of Columbus with John II. of Portugal 396, 397

The king is persuaded into a shabby trick 398

Columbus leaves Portugal and enters into the service of Ferdinand and Isabella, 1486 398-400

The junto at Salamanca, 1486 401

Birth of Ferdinand Columbus, August 15, 1488 401

Bartholomew Columbus returns from the Cape of Good Hope, December, 1487 402, 403

Christopher visits Bartholomew at Lisbon, cir. September, 1488, and sends him to England 404

Bartholomew, after mishaps, reaches England cir. February, 1490, and goes thence to France before 1492 405-407

The duke of Medina-Celi proposes to furnish the ships for Columbus, but the queen withholds her consent 408, 409

Columbus makes up his mind to get his family together and go to France, October, 1491 409, 410

A change of fortune; he stops at La Rabida, and meets the prior Juan Perez, who writes to the queen 411

Columbus is summoned back to court 411

The junto before Granada, December, 1491 412, 413

Surrender of Granada, January 2, 1492 414

Columbus negotiates with the queen, who considers his terms exorbitant 414-416

Interposition of Luis de Santangel 416

Agreement between Columbus and the sovereigns 417

Cost of the voyage 418

Dismay at Palos 419

The three famous caravels 420

Delay at the Canary islands 421

Martin Behaim and his globe 422, 423

Columbus starts for Japan, September 6, 1492 424

Terrors of the voyage:—1. Deflection of the needle 425

2. The Sargasso sea 426, 427

3. The trade wind 428

Impatience of the crews 428

Change of course from W. to W. S. W 429, 430

Discovery of land, October 12, 1492 431

Guanahani: which of the Bahama islands was it? 432

Groping for Cipango and the route to Quinsay 433, 434

Columbus reaches Cuba, and sends envoys to find a certain Asiatic prince 434, 435

He turns eastward and Pinzon deserts him 435

Columbus arrives at Hayti and thinks it must be Japan 436

His flag-ship is wrecked, and he decides to go back to Spain 437

Building of the blockhouse, La Navidad 438

Terrible storm in mid-ocean on the return voyage 439

Cold reception at the Azores 440

Columbus is driven ashore in Portugal, where the king is advised to have him assassinated 440

But to offend Spain so grossly would be imprudent 441

Arrival of Columbus and Pinzon at Palos; death of Pinzon 442

Columbus is received by the sovereigns at Barcelona 443, 444

General excitement at the news that a way to the Indies had been found 445

This voyage was an event without any parallel in history 446



The Discovery of America was a gradual process 447, 448

The letters of Columbus to Santangel and to Sanchez 449

Versification of the story by Giuliano Dati 450

Earliest references to the discovery 451

The earliest reference in English 452

The Portuguese claim to the Indies 453

Bulls of Pope Alexander VI. 454-458

The treaty of Tordesillas 459

Juan Rodriguez Fonseca, and his relations with Columbus 460-462

Friar Boyle 462

Notable persons who embarked on the second voyage 463

Departure from Cadiz 464

Cruise among the Cannibal (Caribbee) islands 465

Fate of the colony at La Navidad 466

Building the town of Isabella 467

Exploration of Cibao 467, 468

Westward cruise; Cape Alpha and Omega 468-470

Discovery of Jamaica 471

Coasting the south side of Cuba 472

The "people of Mangon" 473

Speculations concerning the Golden Chersonese 474-476

A solemn expression of opinion 477

Vicissitudes of theory 477, 478

Arrival of Bartholomew Columbus in Hispaniola 478, 479

Mutiny in Hispaniola; desertion of Boyle and Margarite 479, 480

The government of Columbus was not tyrannical 481

Troubles with the Indians 481, 482

Mission of Juan Aguado 482

Discovery of gold mines, and speculations about Ophir 483

Founding of San Domingo, 1496 484

The return voyage to Spain 485

Edicts of 1495 and 1497 486, 487

Vexatious conduct of Fonseca; Columbus loses his temper 487

Departure from San Lucar on the third voyage 488

The belt of calms 489-491

Trinidad and the Orinoco 491, 492

Speculations as to the earth's shape; the mountain of Paradise 494

Relation of the "Eden continent" to "Cochin China" 495

Discovery of the Pearl Coast 495

Columbus arrives at San Domingo 496

Roldan's rebellion and Fonseca's machinations 496, 497

Gama's voyage to Hindustan, 1497 498

Fonseca's creature, Bobadilla, sent to investigate the troubles in Hispaniola 499

He imprisons Columbus 500

And sends him in chains to Spain 501

Release of Columbus; his interview with the sovereigns 502

How far were the sovereigns responsible for Bobadilla? 503

Ovando, another creature of Fonseca, appointed governor of Hispaniola 503, 504

Purpose of Columbus's fourth voyage, to find a passage from the Caribbee waters into the Indian ocean 504, 506

The voyage across the Atlantic 506

Columbus not allowed to stop at San Domingo 507

His arrival at Cape Honduras 508

Cape Gracias a Dios, and the coast of Veragua 509

Fruitless search for the strait of Malacca 510

Futile attempt to make a settlement in Veragua 511

Columbus is shipwrecked on the coast of Jamaica; shameful conduct of Ovando 512

Columbus's last return to Spain 513

His death at Valladolid, May 20, 1506 513

"Nuevo Mundo;" arms of Ferdinand Columbus 514, 515

When Columbus died, the fact that a New World had been discovered by him had not yet begun to dawn upon his mind, or upon the mind of any voyager or any writer 515, 516



Portrait of the author Frontispiece

View and ground-plan of Seneca-Iroquois long house reduced from Morgan's Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines 66

View, cross-section, and ground-plan of Mandan round house, ditto 80

Ground-plan of Pueblo Hungo Pavie, ditto 86

Restoration of Pueblo Hungo Pavie, ditto 88

Restoration of Pueblo Bonito, ditto 90

Ground-plan of Pueblo Penasca Blanca, ditto 92

Ground-plan of so-called "House of the Nuns" at Uxmal, ditto 133

Map of the East Bygd, or eastern settlement of the Northmen in Greenland, reduced from Rafn's Antiquitates Americanae 160, 161

Ruins of the church at Kakortok, from Major's Voyages of the Zeni, published by the Hakluyt Society 222

Zeno Map, cir. 1400, ditto 232, 233

Map of the World according to Claudius Ptolemy, cir. A. D. 150, an abridged sketch after a map in Bunbury's History of Ancient Geography Facing 265

Two sheets of the Catalan Map, 1375, from Yule's Cathay, published by the Hakluyt Society 288, 289

Map of the World according to Pomponius Mela, cir. A. D. 50, from Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America 304

Map illustrating Portuguese voyages on the coast of Africa, from a sketch by the author 324

Toscanelli's Map, 1474, redrawn and improved from a sketch in Winsor's America Facing 357

Annotations by Columbus, reduced from a photograph in Harrisse's Notes on Columbus 373

Sketch of Martin Behaim's Globe, 1492, preserved in the city hall at Nuremberg, reduced to Mercator's projection and sketched by the author 422, 423

Sketch of Martin Behaim's Atlantic Ocean, with outline of the American continent superimposed, from Winsor's America 429

Map of the discoveries made by Columbus in his first and second voyages, sketched by the author 469

Map of the discoveries made by Columbus in his third and fourth voyages, ditto 493

Arms of Ferdinand Columbus, from the title-page of Harrisse's Fernand Colomb 515




[Sidenote: The American aborigines.]

When the civilized people of Europe first became acquainted with the continents of North and South America, they found them inhabited by a race of men quite unlike any of the races with which they were familiar in the Old World. Between the various tribes of this aboriginal American race, except in the sub-arctic region, there is now seen to be a general physical likeness, such as to constitute an American type of mankind as clearly recognizable as those types which we call Mongolian and Malay, though far less pronounced than such types as the Australian or the negro. The most obvious characteristics possessed in common by the American aborigines are the copper-coloured or rather the cinnamon-coloured complexion, along with the high cheek-bones and small deep-set eyes, the straight black hair and absence or scantiness of beard. With regard to stature, length of limbs, massiveness of frame, and shape of skull, considerable divergencies may be noticed among the various American tribes, as indeed is also the case among the members of the white race in Europe, and of other races. With regard to culture the differences have been considerable, although, with two or three apparent but not real exceptions, there was nothing in pre-Columbian America that could properly be called civilization; the general condition of the people ranged all the way from savagery to barbarism of a high type.

[Sidenote: Question as to their origin.]

[Sidenote: Antiquity of man in America.]

Soon after America was proved not to be part of Asia, a puzzling question arose. Whence came these "Indians," and in what manner did they find their way to the western hemisphere. Since the beginning of the present century discoveries in geology have entirely altered our mental attitude toward this question. It was formerly argued upon the two assumptions that the geographical relations of land and water had been always pretty much the same as we now find them, and that all the racial differences among men have arisen since the date of the "Noachian Deluge," which was generally placed somewhere between two and three thousand years before the Christian era. Hence inasmuch as European tradition knows nothing of any such race as the Indians, it was supposed that at some time within the historic period they must have moved eastward from Asia into America; and thus "there was felt to be a sort of speculative necessity for discovering points of resemblance between American languages, myths, and social observances and those of the Oriental world. Now the aborigines of this Continent were made out to be Kamtchatkans, and now Chinamen, and again they were shown, with quaint erudition, to be remnants of the ten tribes of Israel. Perhaps none of these theories have been exactly disproved, but they have all been superseded and laid on the shelf."[1] The tendency of modern discovery is indeed toward agreement with the time-honoured tradition which makes the Old World, and perhaps Asia, the earliest dwelling-place of mankind. Competition has been far more active in the fauna of the eastern hemisphere than in that of the western, natural selection has accordingly resulted in the evolution of higher forms, and it is there that we find both extinct and surviving species of man's nearest collateral relatives, those tailless half-human apes, the gorilla, chimpanzee, orang, and gibbon. It is altogether probable that the people whom the Spaniards found in America came by migration from the Old World. But it is by no means probable that their migration occurred within so short a period as five or six thousand years. A series of observations and discoveries kept up for the last half-century seem to show that North America has been continuously inhabited by human beings since the earliest Pleistocene times, if not earlier.

[Footnote 1: See my Excursions of an Evolutionist, p. 148. A good succinct account of these various theories, monuments of wasted ingenuity, is given in Short's North Americans of Antiquity, chap. iii. The most elaborate statement of the theory of an Israelite colonization of America is to be found in the ponderous tomes of Lord Kingsborough, Mexican Antiquities, London, 1831-48, 9 vols. elephant-folio. Such a theory was entertained by the author of that curious piece of literary imposture, The Book of Mormon. In this book we are told that, when the tongues were confounded at Babel, the Lord selected a certain Jared, with his family and friends, and instructed them to build eight ships, in which, after a voyage of 344 days, they were brought to America, where they "did build many mighty cities," and "prosper exceedingly." But after some centuries they perished because of their iniquities. In the reign of Zedekiah, when calamity was impending over Judah, two brothers, Nephi and Laman, under divine guidance led a colony to America. There, says the veracious chronicler, their descendants became great nations, and worked in iron, and had stuffs of silk, besides keeping plenty of oxen and sheep. (Ether, ix. 18, 19; x. 23, 24.) Christ appeared and wrought many wonderful works; people spake with tongues, and the dead were raised. (3 Nephi, xxvi. 14, 15.) But about the close of the fourth century of our era, a terrible war between Lamanites and Nephites ended in the destruction of the latter. Some two million warriors, with their wives and children, having been slaughtered, the prophet Mormon escaped, with his son Moroni, to the "hill Cumorah," hard by the "waters of Ripliancum," or Lake Ontario. (Ether, xv. 2, 8, 11.) There they hid the sacred tablets, which remained concealed until they were miraculously discovered and translated by Joseph Smith in 1827. There is, of course, no element of tradition in this story. It is all pure fiction, and of a very clumsy sort, such as might easily be devised by an ignorant man accustomed to the language of the Bible; and of course it was suggested by the old notion of the Israelitish origin of the red men. The references are to The Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co., 1885.]

[Sidenote: Shell-mounds.]

The first group of these observations and discoveries relate to "middens" or shell-heaps. On the banks of the Damariscotta river in Maine are some of the most remarkable shell-heaps in the world. With an average thickness of six or seven feet, they rise in places to a height of twenty-five feet. They consist almost entirely of huge oyster-shells often ten inches in length and sometimes much longer. The shells belong to a salt-water species. In some places "there is an appearance of stratification covered by an alternation of shells and earth, as if the deposition of shells had been from time to time interrupted, and a vegetable mould had covered the surface." In these heaps have been found fragments of pottery and of the bones of such edible animals as the moose and deer. "At the very foundation of one of the highest heaps," in a situation which must for long ages have been undisturbed, Mr. Edward Morse "found the remains of an ancient fire-place, where he exhumed charcoal, bones, and pottery."[2] The significant circumstance is that "at the present time oysters are only found in very small numbers, too small to make it an object to gather them," and so far as memory and tradition can reach, such seems to have been the case. The great size of the heap, coupled with the notable change in the distribution of this mollusk since the heap was abandoned, implies a very considerable lapse of time since the vestiges of human occupation were first left here. Similar conclusions have been drawn from the banks or mounds of shells on the St. John's river in Florida,[3] on the Alabama river, at Grand Lake on the lower Mississippi, and at San Pablo in the bay of San Francisco. Thus at various points from Maine to California, and in connection with one particular kind of memorial, we find records of the presence of man at a period undoubtedly prehistoric, but not necessarily many thousands of years old.

[Footnote 2: Second Annual Report of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology, etc., p. 18.]

[Footnote 3: Visited in 1866-74 by Professor Jeffries Wyman, and described in his Fresh-Water Shell Mounds of the St. John's River, Cambridge, 1875.]

[Sidenote: The Glacial Period.]

The second group of discoveries carries us back much farther, even into the earlier stages of that widespread glaciation which was the most remarkable feature of the Pleistocene period. At the periods of greatest cold "the continent of North America was deeply swathed in ice as far south as the latitude of Philadelphia, while glaciers descended into North Carolina."[4] The valleys of the Rocky Mountains also supported enormous glaciers, and a similar state of things existed at the same time in Europe. These periods of intense cold were alternated with long interglacial periods during which the climate was warmer than it is to-day. Concerning the antiquity of the Pleistocene age, which was characterized by such extraordinary vicissitudes of heat and cold, there has been, as in all questions relating to geological time, much conflict of opinion. Twenty years ago geologists often argued as if there were an unlimited fund of past time upon which to draw; but since Sir William Thomson and other physicists emphasized the point that in an antiquity very far from infinite this earth must have been a molten mass, there has been a reaction. In many instances further study has shown that less time was needed in order to effect a given change than had formerly been supposed; and so there has grown up a tendency to shorten the time assigned to geological periods. Here, as in so many other cases, the truth is doubtless to be sought within the extremes. If we adopt the magnificent argument of Dr. Croll, which seems to me still to hold its ground against all adverse criticism,[5] and regard the Glacial epoch as coincident with the last period of high eccentricity of the earth's orbit, we obtain a result that is moderate and probable. That astronomical period began about 240,000 years ago and came to an end about 80,000 years ago. During this period the eccentricity was seldom less than .04, and at one time rose to .0569. At the present time the eccentricity is .0168, and nearly 800,000 years will pass before it attains such a point as it reached during the Glacial epoch. For the last 50,000 years the departure of the earth's orbit from a circular form has been exceptionally small.

[Footnote 4: Excursions of an Evolutionist, p. 39.]

[Footnote 5: Croll, Climate and Time in their Geological Relations, New York, 1875; Discussions on Climate and Cosmology, New York, 1886; Archibald Geikie, Text Book of Geology, pp. 23-29, 883-909, London, 1882; James Geikie, The Great Ice Age, pp. 94-136, New York, 1874; Prehistoric Europe, pp. 558-562, London, 1881; Wallace, Island Life, pp. 101-225, New York, 1881. Some objections to Croll's theory may be found in Wright's Ice Age in North America, pp. 405-505, 585-595, New York, 1889. I have given a brief account of the theory in my Excursions of an Evolutionist, pp. 57-76.]

Now the traces of the existence of men in North America during the Glacial epoch have in recent years been discovered in abundance, as for example, the palaeolithic quartzite implements found in the drift near the city of St. Paul, which date from toward the close of the Glacial epoch[6]; the fragment of a human jaw found in the red clay deposited in Minnesota during an earlier part of that epoch;[7] the noble collection of palaeoliths found by Dr. C. C. Abbott in the Trenton gravels in New Jersey; and the more recent discoveries of Dr. Metz and Mr. H. T. Cresson.

[Footnote 6: See Miss F. E. Babbitt, "Vestiges of Glacial Man in Minnesota," in Proceedings of the American Association, vol. xxxii., 1883.]

[Footnote 7: See N. H. Winchell, Annual Report of the State Geologist of Minnesota, 1877, p. 60.]

[Sidenote: Discoveries in the Trenton gravel.]

[Sidenote: Discoveries in Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota;]

The year 1873 marks an era in American archaeology as memorable as the year 1841 in the investigation of the antiquity of man in Europe. With reference to these problems Dr. Abbott occupies a position similar to that of Boucher de Perthes in the Old World, and the Trenton valley is coming to be classic ground, like the valley of the Somme. In April, 1873, Dr. Abbott published his description of three rude implements which he had found some sixteen feet below the surface of the ground "in the gravels of a bluff overlooking the Delaware river." The implements were in place in an undisturbed deposit, and could not have found their way thither in any recent time; Dr. Abbott assigned them to the age of the Glacial drift. This was the beginning of a long series of investigations, in which Dr. Abbott's work was assisted and supplemented by Messrs. Whitney, Carr, Putnam, Shaler, Lewis, Wright, Haynes, Dawkins, and other eminent geologists and archaeologists. By 1888 Dr. Abbott had obtained not less than 60 implements from various recorded depths in the gravel, while many others were found at depths not recorded or in the talus of the banks.[8] Three human skulls and other bones, along with the tusk of a mastodon, have been discovered in the same gravel. Careful studies have been made of the conditions under which the gravel-banks were deposited and their probable age; and it is generally agreed that they date from the later portion of the Glacial period, or about the time of the final recession of the ice-sheet from this region. At that time, in its climate and general aspect, New York harbour must have been much like a Greenland fiord of the present day. In 1883 Professor Wright of Oberlin, after a careful study of the Trenton deposits and their relations to the terrace and gravel deposits to the westward, predicted that similar palaeolithic implements would be found in Ohio. Two years afterward, the prediction was verified by Dr. Metz, who found a true palaeolith of black flint at Madisonville, in the Little Miami valley, eight feet below the surface. Since then further discoveries have been made in the same neighbourhood by Dr. Metz, and in Jackson county, Indiana, by Mr. H. T. Cresson; and the existence of man in that part of America toward the close of the Glacial period may be regarded as definitely established. The discoveries of Miss Babbitt and Professor Winchell, in Minnesota, carry the conclusion still farther, and add to the probability of the existence of a human population all the way from the Atlantic coast to the upper Mississippi valley at that remote antiquity.

[Footnote 8: Wright's Ice Age in North America, p. 516.]

[Sidenote: and in Delaware.]

A still more remarkable discovery was made by Mr. Cresson in July, 1887, at Claymont, in the north of Delaware. In a deep cut of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, in a stratum of Philadelphia red gravel and brick clay, Mr. Cresson obtained an unquestionable palaeolith, and a few months afterward his diligent search was rewarded with another.[9] This formation dates from far back in the Glacial period. If we accept Dr. Croll's method of reckoning, we can hardly assign to it an antiquity less than 150,000 years.

[Footnote 9: The chipped implements discovered by Messrs. Abbott, Metz, and Cresson, and by Miss Babbitt, are all on exhibition at the Peabody Museum in Cambridge, whither it is necessary to go if one would get a comprehensive view of the relics of interglacial man in North America. The collection of implements made by Dr. Abbott includes much more than the palaeoliths already referred to. It is one of the most important collections in the world, and is worth a long journey to see. Containing more than 20,000 implements, all found within a very limited area in New Jersey, "as now arranged, the collection exhibits at one and the same time the sequence of peoples and phases of development in the valley of the Delaware, from palaeolithic man, through the intermediate period, to the recent Indians, and the relative numerical proportion of the many forms of their implements, each in its time.... It is doubtful whether any similar collection exists from which a student can gather so much information at sight as in this, where the natural pebbles from the gravel begin the series, and the beautifully chipped points of chert, jasper, and quartz terminate it in one direction, and the polished celts and grooved stone axes in the other." There are three principal groups,—first, the interglacial palaeoliths, secondly, the argillite points and flakes, and thirdly, the arrow-heads, knives, mortars and pestles, axes and hoes, ornamental stones, etc., of Indians of the recent period. Dr. Abbott's Primitive Industry, published in 1881, is a useful manual for studying this collection; and an account of his discoveries in the glacial gravels is given in Reports of the Peabody Museum, vol. ii. pp. 30-48, 225-258; see also vol. iii. p. 492. A succinct and judicious account of the whole subject is given by H. W. Haynes, "The Prehistoric Archaeology of North America," in Winsor's Narrative and Critical History, vol. i. pp. 329-368.]

[Sidenote: The Calaveras skull.]

But according to Professor Josiah Whitney there is reason for supposing that man existed in California at a still more remote period. He holds that the famous skull discovered in 1866, in the gold-bearing gravels of Calaveras county, belongs to the Pliocene age.[10] If this be so, it seems to suggest an antiquity not less than twice as great as that just mentioned. The question as to the antiquity of the Calaveras skull is still hotly disputed among the foremost palaeontologists, but as one reads the arguments one cannot help feeling that theoretical difficulties have put the objectors into a somewhat inhospitable attitude toward the evidence so ably presented by Professor Whitney. It has been too hastily assumed that, from the point of view of evolution, the existence of Pliocene man is improbable. Upon general considerations, however, we have strong reason for believing that human beings must have inhabited some portions of the earth throughout the whole duration of the Pliocene period, and it need not surprise us if their remains are presently discovered in more places than one.[11]

[Footnote 10: J. D. Whitney, "The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada", Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zooelogy at Harvard College, Cambridge, 1880, vol. vi.]

[Footnote 11: In an essay published in 1882 on "Europe before the Arrival of Man" (Excursions of an Evolutionist, pp. 1-40), I argued that if we are to find traces of the "missing link," or primordial stock of primates from which man has been derived, we must undoubtedly look for it in the Miocene (p. 36). I am pleased at finding the same opinion lately expressed by one of the highest living authorities. The case is thus stated by Alfred Russel Wallace: "The evidence we now possess of the exact nature of the resemblance of man to the various species of anthropoid apes, shows us that he has little special affinity for any one rather than another species, while he differs from them all in several important characters in which they agree with each other. The conclusion to be drawn from these facts is, that his points of affinity connect him with the whole group, while his special peculiarities equally separate him from the whole group, and that he must, therefore, have diverged from the common ancestral form before the existing types of anthropoid apes had diverged from each other. Now this divergence almost certainly took place as early as the Miocene period, because in the Upper Miocene deposits of western Europe remains of two species of ape have been found allied to the gibbons, one of them, dryopithecus, nearly as large as a man, and believed by M. Lartet to have approached man in its dentition more than the existing apes. We seem hardly, therefore, to have reached in the Upper Miocene the epoch of the common ancestor of man and the anthropoids." (Darwinism, p. 455, London, 1889.) Mr. Wallace goes on to answer the objection of Professor Boyd Dawkins, "that man did not probably exist in Pliocene times, because almost all the known mammalia of that epoch are distinct species from those now living on the earth, and that the same changes of the environment which led to the modification of other mammalian species would also have led to a change in man." This argument, at first sight apparently formidable, quite overlooks the fact that in the evolution of man there came a point after which variations in his intelligence were seized upon more and more exclusively by natural selection, to the comparative neglect of physical variations. After that point man changed but little in physical characteristics, except in size and complexity of brain. This is the theorem first propounded by Mr. Wallace in the Anthropological Review, May, 1864; restated in his Contributions to Natural Selection, chap. ix., in 1870; and further extended and developed by me in connection with the theory of man's origin first suggested in my lectures at Harvard in 1871, and worked out in Cosmic Philosophy, part ii., chapters xvi., xxi., xxii.]

[Sidenote: Pleistocene men and mammals.]

Whatever may be the final outcome of the Calaveras controversy, there can be no doubt as to the existence of man in North America far back in early Pleistocene times. The men of the River-drift, who long dwelt in western Europe during the milder intervals of the Glacial period, but seem to have become extinct toward the end of it, are well known to palaeontologists through their bones and their rude tools. Contemporaneously with these Europeans of the River-drift there certainly lived some kind of men, of a similar low grade of culture, in the Mississippi valley and on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes of North America. Along with these ancient Americans lived some terrestrial mammals that still survive, such as the elk, reindeer, prairie wolf, bison, musk-ox, and beaver; and many that have long been extinct, such as the mylodon, megatherium, megalonyx, mastodon, Siberian elephant, mammoth, at least six or seven species of ancestral horse, a huge bear similar to the cave bear of ancient Europe, a lion similar to the European cave lion, and a tiger as large as the modern tiger of Bengal.

[Sidenote: Elevation and subsidence.]

Now while the general relative positions of those stupendous abysses that hold the oceans do not appear to have undergone any considerable change since an extremely remote geological period, their shallow marginal portions have been repeatedly raised so as to add extensive territories to the edges of continents, and in some cases to convert archipelagoes into continents, and to join continents previously separated. Such elevation is followed in turn by an era of subsidence, and almost everywhere either the one process or the other is slowly going on. If you look at a model in relief of the continents and ocean-floors, such as may be seen at the Museum of Comparative Zooelogy in Cambridge, showing the results of a vast number of soundings in all parts of the world, you cannot fail to be struck with the shallowness of Bering Sea; it looks like a part of the continent rather than of the ocean, and indeed it is just that,—an area of submerged continent. So in the northern Atlantic there is a lofty ridge running from France to Greenland. The British islands, the Orkney, Shetland, and Faeroe groups, and Iceland are the parts of this ridge high enough to remain out of water. The remainder of it is shallow sea. Again and again it has been raised, together with the floor of the German ocean, so as to become dry land. Both before and since the time when those stone tools were dropped into the red gravel from which Mr. Cresson took them the other day, the northwestern part of Europe has been solid continent for more than a hundred miles to the west of the French and Irish coasts, the Thames and Humber have been tributaries to the Rhine, which emptied into the Arctic ocean, and across the Atlantic ridge one might have walked to the New World dry-shod.[12] In similar wise the northwestern corner of America has repeatedly been joined to Siberia through the elevation of Bering Sea.

[Footnote 12: See, for example, the map of Europe in early post-glacial times, in James Geikie's Prehistoric Europe.]

There have therefore been abundant opportunities for men to get into America from the Old World without crossing salt water. Probably this was the case with the ancient inhabitants of the Delaware and Little Miami valleys; it is not at all likely that men who used their kind of tools knew much about going on the sea in boats.

[Sidenote: Waves of migration.]

Whether the Indians are descended from this ancient population or not, is a question with which we have as yet no satisfactory method of dealing. It is not unlikely that these glacial men may have perished from off the face of the earth, having been crushed and supplanted by stronger races. There may have been several successive waves of migration, of which the Indians were the latest.[13] There is time enough for a great many things to happen in a thousand centuries. It will doubtless be long before all the evidence can be brought in and ransacked, but of one thing we may feel pretty sure; the past is more full of changes than we are apt to realize. Our first theories are usually too simple, and have to be enlarged and twisted into all manner of shapes in order to cover the actual complication of facts.[14]

[Footnote 13: "There are three human crania in the Museum, which were found in the gravel at Trenton, one several feet below the surface, the others near the surface. These skulls, which are of remarkable uniformity, are of small size and of oval shape, differing from all other skulls in the Museum. In fact they are of a distinct type, and hence of the greatest importance. So far as they go they indicate that palaeolithic man was exterminated, or has become lost by admixture with others during the many thousand years which have passed since he inhabited the Delaware valley." F. W. Putnam, "The Peabody Museum," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 1889, New Series, vol. vi. p. 189.]

[Footnote 14: An excellent example of this is the expansion and modification undergone during the past twenty years by our theories of the Aryan settlement of Europe. See Benfey's preface to Fick's Woerterbuch der Indogermanischen Grundsprache, 1868; Geiger, Zur Entwickelungsgeschichte der Menschheit, 1871; Cuno, Forschungen im Gebiete der alten Voelkerkunde, 1871; Schmidt, Die Verwandtschaftsverhaeltnisse der Indogermanischen Sprachen, 1872; Poesche, Die Arier, 1878; Lindenschmit, Handbuch der deutschen Alterthumskunde, 1880; Penka, Origines Ariacae, 1883, and Die Herkunft der Arier, 1886; Spiegel, Die arische Periode und ihre Zustande, 1887; Rendal, Cradle of the Aryans, 1889; Schrader, Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte, 1883, and second edition translated into English, with the title Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples, 1890. Schrader's is an epoch-making book. An attempt to defend the older and simpler views is made by Max Mueller, Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas, 1888; see also Van den Gheyn, L'origine europeenne des Aryas, 1889. The whole case is well summed up by Isaac Taylor, Origin of the Aryans, 1889.]

[Sidenote: The Cave men of Europe in the Glacial Period.]

[Sidenote: The Eskimos are probably a remnant of the Cave men.]

In this connection the history of the Eskimos introduces us to some interesting problems. Mention has been made of the River-drift men who lived in Europe during the milder intervals of the Glacial period. At such times they made their way into Germany and Britain, along with leopards, hyaenas, and African elephants. But as the cold intervals came on and the edge of the polar ice-sheet crept southward and mountain glaciers filled up the valleys, these men and beasts retreated into Africa; and their place was taken by a sub-arctic race of men known as the Cave men, along with the reindeer and arctic fox and musk-sheep. More than once with the secular alternations of temperature did the River-drift men thus advance and retreat and advance again, and as they advanced the Cave men retreated, both races yielding to an enemy stronger than either,—to wit, the hostile climate. At length all traces of the River-drift men vanish, but what of the Cave men? They have left no representatives among the present populations of Europe, but the musk-sheep, which always went and came with the Cave men, is to-day found only in sub-arctic America among the Eskimos, and the fossilized bones of the musk-sheep lie in a regular trail across the eastern hemisphere, from the Pyrenees through Germany and Russia and all the vast length of Siberia. The stone arrow-heads, the sewing-needles, the necklaces and amulets of cut teeth, and the daggers made from antler, used by the Eskimos, resemble so minutely the implements of the Cave men, that if recent Eskimo remains were to be put into the Pleistocene caves of France and England they would be indistinguishable in appearance from the remains of the Cave men which are now found there.[15] There is another striking point of resemblance. The Eskimos have a talent for artistic sketching of men and beasts, and scenes in which men and beasts figure, which is absolutely unrivalled among rude peoples. One need but look at the sketches by common Eskimo fishermen which illustrate Dr. Henry Rink's fascinating book on Danish Greenland, to realize that this rude Eskimo art has a character as pronounced and unmistakable in its way as the much higher art of the Japanese. Now among the European remains of the Cave men are many sketches of mammoths, cave bears, and other animals now extinct, and hunting scenes so artfully and vividly portrayed as to bring distinctly before us many details of daily life in an antiquity so vast that in comparison with it the interval between the pyramids of Egypt and the Eiffel tower shrinks into a point. Such a talent is unique among savage peoples. It exists only among the living Eskimos and the ancient Cave men; and when considered in connection with so many other points of agreement, and with the indisputable fact that the Cave men were a sub-arctic race, it affords a strong presumption in favour of the opinion of that great palaeontologist, Professor Boyd Dawkins, that the Eskimos of North America are to-day the sole survivors of the race that made their homes in the Pleistocene caves of western Europe.[16]

[Footnote 15: See Dawkins, Early Man in Britain, pp. 233-245.]

[Footnote 16: According to Dr. Rink the Eskimos formerly inhabited the central portions of North America, and have retreated or been driven northward; he would make the Eskimos of Siberia an offshoot from those of America, though he freely admits that there are grounds for entertaining the opposite view. Dr. Abbott is inclined to attribute an Eskimo origin to some of the palaeoliths of the Trenton gravel. On the other hand, Mr. Clements Markham derives the American Eskimos from those of Siberia. It seems to me that these views may be comprehended and reconciled in a wider one. I would suggest that during the Glacial period the ancestral Eskimos may have gradually become adapted to arctic conditions of life; that in the mild interglacial intervals they migrated northward along with the musk-sheep; and that upon the return of the cold they migrated southward again, keeping always near the edge of the ice-sheet. Such a southward migration would naturally enough bring them in one continent down to the Pyrenees, in the other down to the Alleghanies; and naturally enough the modern inquirer has his attention first directed to the indications of their final retreat, both northward in America and northeastward from Europe through Siberia. This is like what happened with so many plants and animals. Compare Darwin's remarks on "Dispersal in the Glacial Period," Origin of Species, chap. xii.

The best books on the Eskimos are those of Dr. Rink, Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, Edinburgh, 1875; Danish Greenland, London, 1877; The Eskimo Tribes, their Distribution and Characteristics, especially in regard to Language, Copenhagen, 1887. See also Franz Boas, "The Central Eskimo," Sixth Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, Washington, 1888, pp. 399-669; W. H. Dall. Alaska and its Resources, 1870; Markham, "Origin and Migrations of the Greenland Esquimaux," Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1865; Cranz, Historie von Groenland, Leipsic, 1765; Petitot, Traditions indiennes du Canada nord-ouest, Paris, 1886; Pilling's Bibliography of the Eskimo Language, Washington, 1887; Wells and Kelly, English-Eskimo and Eskimo-English Vocabularies, with Ethnographical Memoranda concerning the Arctic Eskimos in Alaska and Siberia, Washington, 1890; Carstensen's Two Summers in Greenland, London, 1890.]

If we have always been accustomed to think of races of men only as they are placed on modern maps, it at first seems strange to think of England and France as ever having been inhabited by Eskimos. Facts equally strange may be cited in abundance from zooelogy and botany. The camel is found to-day only in Arabia and Bactria; yet in all probability the camel originated in America,[17] and is an intruder into what we are accustomed to call his native deserts, just as the people of the United States are European intruders upon the soil of America. So the giant trees of Mariposa grove are now found only in California, but there was once a time when they were as common in Europe[18] as maple-trees to-day in a New England village.

[Footnote 17: Wallace, Geographical Distribution of Animals, vol. ii. p. 155.]

[Footnote 18: Asa Gray, "Sequoia and its History," in his Darwiniana, pp. 205-235.]

[Sidenote: There was probably no connection or intercourse by water between ancient America and the Old World.]

Familiarity with innumerable facts of this sort, concerning the complicated migrations and distribution of plants and animals, has entirely altered our way of looking at the question as to the origin of the American Indians. As already observed, we can hardly be said to possess sufficient data for determining whether they are descended from the Pleistocene inhabitants of America, or have come in some later wave of migration from the Old World. Nor can we as yet determine whether they were earlier or later comers than the Eskimos. But since we have got rid of that feeling of speculative necessity above referred to, for bringing the red men from Asia within the historic period, it has become more and more clear that they have dwelt upon American soil for a very long time. The aboriginal American, as we know him, with his language and legends, his physical and mental peculiarities, his social observances and customs, is most emphatically a native and not an imported article. He belongs to the American continent as strictly as its opossums and armadillos, its maize and its golden-rod, or any members of its aboriginal fauna and flora belong to it. In all probability he came from the Old World at some ancient period, whether pre-glacial or post-glacial, when it was possible to come by land; and here in all probability, until the arrival of white men from Europe, he remained undisturbed by later comers, unless the Eskimos may have been such. There is not a particle of evidence to suggest any connection or intercourse between aboriginal America and Asia within any such period as the last twenty thousand years, except in so far as there may perhaps now and then have been slight surges of Eskimo tribes back and forth across Bering strait.

[Sidenote: There is one great American "red" race.]

The Indians must surely be regarded as an entirely different stock from the Eskimos. On the other hand, the most competent American ethnologists are now pretty thoroughly agreed that all the aborigines south of the Eskimo region, all the way from Hudson's Bay to Cape Horn, belong to one and the same race. It was formerly supposed that the higher culture of the Aztecs, Mayas, and Peruvians must indicate that they were of different race from the more barbarous Algonquins and Dakotas; and a speculative necessity was felt for proving that, whatever may have been the case with the other American peoples, this higher culture at any rate must have been introduced within the historic period from the Old World.[19] This feeling was caused partly by the fact that, owing to crude and loosely-framed conceptions of the real points of difference between civilization and barbarism, this Central American culture was absurdly exaggerated. As the further study of the uncivilized parts of the world has led to more accurate and precise conceptions, this kind of speculative necessity has ceased to be felt. There is an increasing disposition among scholars to agree that the warrior of Anahuac and the shepherd of the Andes were just simply Indians, and that their culture was no less indigenous than that of the Cherokees or Mohawks.

[Footnote 19: Illustrations may be found in plenty in the learned works of Brasseur de Bourbourg:—Histoire des nations civilisees du Mexique et de l'Amerique centrale, 4 vols., Paris, 1857-58; Popol Vuh, Paris, 1861; Quatre lettres sur le Mexique, Paris, 1868; Le manuscrit Troano, Paris, 1870, etc.]

[Sidenote: Different senses in which the word "race" is used.]

To prevent any possible misconception of my meaning, a further word of explanation may be needed at this point. The word "race" is used in such widely different senses that there is apt to be more or less vagueness about it. The difference is mainly in what logicians call extension; sometimes the word covers very little ground, sometimes a great deal. We say that the people of England, of the United States, and of New South Wales belong to one and the same race; and we say that an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Greek belong to three different races. There is a sense in which both these statements are true. But there is also a sense in which we may say that the Englishman, the Frenchman, and the Greek belong to one and the same race; and that is when we are contrasting them as white men with black men or yellow men. Now we may correctly say that a Shawnee, an Ojibwa, and a Kickapoo belong to one and the same Algonquin race; that a Mohawk and a Tuscarora belong to one and the same Iroquois race; but that an Algonquin differs from an Iroquois somewhat as an Englishman differs from a Frenchman. No doubt we may fairly say that the Mexicans encountered by Cortes differed in race from the Iroquois encountered by Champlain, as much as an Englishman differs from an Albanian or a Montenegrin. But when we are contrasting aboriginal Americans with white men or yellow men, it is right to say that Mexicans and Iroquois belong to the same great red race.

In some parts of the world two strongly contrasted races have become mingled together, or have existed side by side for centuries without intermingling. In Europe the big blonde Aryan-speaking race has mixed with the small brunette Iberian race, producing the endless varieties in stature and complexion which may be seen in any drawing-room in London or New York. In Africa south of Sahara, on the other hand, we find, interspersed among negro tribes but kept perfectly distinct, that primitive dwarfish race with yellow skin and tufted hair to which belong the Hottentots and Bushmen, the Wambatti lately discovered by Mr. Stanley, and other tribes.[20] Now in America south of Hudson's Bay the case seems to have been quite otherwise, and more as it would have been in Europe if there had been only Aryans, or in Africa if there had been only blacks.[21]

[Footnote 20: See Werner, "The African Pygmies," Popular Science Monthly, September, 1890,—a thoughtful and interesting article.]

[Footnote 21: This sort of illustration requires continual limitation and qualification. The case in ancient America was not quite as it would have been in Europe if there had been only Aryans there. The semi-civilized people of the Cordilleras were relatively brachycephalous as compared with the more barbarous Indians north and east of New Mexico. It is correct to call this a distinction of race if we mean thereby a distinction developed upon American soil, a differentiation within the limits of the red race, and not an intrusion from without. In this sense the Caribs also may be regarded as a distinct sub-race; and, in the same sense, we may call the Kafirs a distinct sub-race of African blacks. See, as to the latter, Tylor, Anthropology, p. 39.]

[Sidenote: No necessary connection between differences in culture and differences in race.]

The belief that the people of the Cordilleras must be of radically different race from other Indians was based upon the vague notion that grades of culture have some necessary connection with likenesses and differences of race. There is no such necessary connection.[22] Between the highly civilized Japanese and their barbarous Mandshu cousins the difference in culture is much greater than the difference between Mohawks and Mexicans; and the same may be said of the people of Israel and Judah in contrast with the Arabs of the desert, or of the imperial Romans in comparison with their Teutonic kinsmen as described by Tacitus.

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