Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/129

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119
SKETCH OF LEWIS H. MORGAN.
as the head chief of the Aztecs, one of the three confederated peoples, the reader will be certain to start with a tolerably clear impression. No harm will be done to truth, if the great lords, with many vassals and large landed estates, and the little lords, with few vassals and small landed estates, are introduced as plain Indian chiefs, innocent of all knowledge both of estates and vassals. Besides this, it is not improbable that the palaces and most of the temples will ultimately resolve themselves iuto plain communal houses, like those now standing in the picturesque and beautiful valley of the Chaco, roofless and deserted. With these, and a number of similar changes, the future student of aboriginal history will not be led to deceptive conclusions by the glitter of inappropriate terms. Such a history is due to the memory of the Aztecs, and to a right estimate of the Indian family.

This article inaugurated the reconstruction of the history of Mexican and Central American culture, which is now rapidly in progress. All the previous history had a been a vain but brilliant exaggeration of Indian society, with its languages, arts, religion, and social and governmental institutions—a picture derived from boastful and mendacious travelers.

In the latter part of 1869 a second article appeared in the same journal on Indian migrations, followed by a third on the same subject in 1870. The purpose of these articles was to indicate an original general dispersion of the Indian tribes from the region of the Columbia River.

In 1876 a fourth article appeared, entitled "Montezuma's Dinner," which was in part a review of Bancroft's "Native Races of the Pacific States," but in fact was a general characterization of the culture discovered in Mexico and Central America, with a review of the historic evidence, and was an exquisite satire on the exaggerated accounts of Spanish travelers and priests, expanded and glorified by modern writers.

In the same year a fifth article appeared, on the "Houses of the Mound-Builders."

The great work of Mr. Morgan was yet unpublished. It remained for him to gather the materials he had collected on tribal society into one philosophic treatise. This was accomplished in the publication of his volume entitled "Ancient Society" in 1877. This was divided into four parts, as follows: Part I. Growth of Intelligence through Inventions and Discoveries; Part II. Growth of the Idea of Government; Part III. Growth of the Idea of the Family; Part IV. Growth of the Idea of Property.

In the first part technologic evolution was discussed, and culture periods, or what Mr. Morgan denotes "ethnical periods," were defined. These grand periods, through which the most highly developed races of mankind have passed, and into which the various peoples on the globe may be distributed, were set forth as the savage, the barbaric, and the civilized. These were defined in terms relating: to the evolution of arts. Savagery and barbarism were divided into three periods