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on discovery, might have been made to her soil, rests mainly in conjecture; yet authors assert, with confidence, that five hundred years before Columbus entered the western ocean, it was visited by Danes and Normans, who pushed their way from Iceland to Greenland, and thence south westerly."to a climate that was temperate, to a soil that was fruitful, and to a majestic river flowing south through magnificent highlands.” So well has this been established, that it has come to be regarded as a well authenticated historical fact; and moreover, that even those early visitors were preceded by another race who were in possession of the country, and claiming the same as native proprietors.
This induces an inquiry concerning the claimants, which reaches back into an age whose records are forever lost to history
of those who have reconnoitered it, but few have returned laden with facts, others only with food for crazy conjecture. Some report the aborigines as descendants of the lost tribes of Israel; some that they are of Tartar origin; and others that they are indigenous to the continent. But until more evidence is adduced in support of the former position, and until the theory of multiform creations can be maintained in opposition to the record of Moses, both the former and latter opinions must be rejected. Such theories, it is true, are largely imposed on the credulity of the age; but as against the evidence that supports the second proposition, they cannot prevail.
It is admitted that orthographical inquirers have found words in the dialects of the tribes resembling those in the Hebrew, and which are uttered with similarity of intonation; and in the absence of better evidence, such facts excite a suspicion that the aborigines descended from Hebrew stock.
No well grounded conclusion, however, can be arrived at from such premises.
It is axiomatic that “that which is certain and unchangeable prevails against that which is uncertain and changeable ;" and it is believed that no language, dialect or tongue, spoken since the confusion at Babel, can be found, wherein there is not some remote resemblance in etymology, accent, or intonation, to some other language, dialect or tongue also spoken. Resemblances to the Greek or Celtic exist in the dialects of the tribes as striking as any which have been found to the Hebrew. Etymology is not reliable data. Neither is similarity of pronunciation safe criteria.
Never, since the great catastrophe upon the plains of Shinar, has there existed a spoken language which was uttered with sounds that could, in every vibration, be gathered by ears wholly unaided by custom or experience; and where no legible hyeroglyphics can be found, and no key obtained, except from intonations varying with every speaker, such a test is of doubtful accuracy. “Of all sources of information," says McKenney in his lectures, " by which the descent of nations can be traced, I consider the deductions of etymology the most uncertain. It is difficult, in such cases, to fix with accuracy the true sound of words; and it is well known that coincidences exist in many languages radically different from one another, and spoken by communities whose separation from any common stock precedes all historic monuments." To the high authority of that bureau officer, may be superadded the opinion of the celebrated John Ledyard, "that a foreigner's ear is too slow to catch, with accuracy, the guttural tones and inflections of an Indian's voice.”
But " the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spot.” They are enduring monuments of ancestral identity---unfading testimonials of their race. They are facts-facts resting in the immutable laws of animal being ; and consequently are of themselves a data far more reliable than any to be found in etymology or sounds.
The Caucasians were white, as have been all descendants of the parent stock. The Ethiopians were black, as have been their descendants. And the Asiatic Tartars were red, as, according to the course of nature their descendants must have been. And as it is both credible and credited, that the whites of the present day were of Caucasian origin, and that the blacks were of Ethiopian, it is no less credible or probable that the red inhabitants of Tartary were the ancestors of the red men of America.
Other facts corroborate this opinion. Whilst the races of men have been unable to change their skin, they have also found it difficult to alter the contour of their skulls. The skulls of the several races are widely dissimilar, and yet those of the Tartar and Indian correspond.
And if manners and customs have any influence in determining the question, sufficient points of similitude between those of the Tartar and North American Indian have been discovered to exhaust the power of common arithmetic. An enumeration cannot be here attempted. But there is a similarity in their modes of obtaining subsistence, in their warfare, and domestic arrangements. Both are archers, both lead a wandering life, both domicil in huts, both have the same token of recognition, both have plaintive music, both are energetic and hardy, and both raise pyramids over the sepulchres of their dead. We assume, therefore, that Tartars preceded the Danes and Normans in the discovery and occupancy of America.
The Tartars, according to Josephus, sprung from Japheth, the third son of Noah, the navigator and survivor of the flood. By a reference to the sacred history of the century which succeeded that remarkable event, in which to avert the disaster of another deluge, the progeny of Noah begun the tower, until which event one language was alone spoken, it will be seen that they were not only confounded in language, "that they might not understand one another," but they were scattered abroad “from thence, upon the face of all the earth."
Having found, upon the plains of Tartary, the parent stock of the original proprietors of our soil, the era and manner of their emigration, is the next inquiry.
The era is forever lost to chronology, but the manner may have been by land, but probably was by water, at Behring's Straits. McKenney thinks it "the more enlightened opinion,” that there was formerly an isthmus, connecting the continents. If such were the case, they may have crossed dry shod to this country; and if the contrary be true, then less than fifty miles of navigation, by accident or design, brought them to our shores, where they have multiplied, and dwelt in numberless tribes, cantons and consederacies, to the present day.
The Alleghans appear in aboriginal history as the most ancient of the tribes of North America. Like their ancestors in Tartary, they were noble, valiant, and populous. They possessed considerable knowledge of agriculture and of the arts, of the policy of government, of implements of war, and fortifications for defence.*
The latter acquirements indicate the existence of an enemy sufficiently powerful, in their estimation, to jeopard their safety. That such an enemy was found in the Iroquois confederacy is now established by the concurrent testimony of tradition, and the line of fortifications along the Ohio Valley, Lake Erie, and in Western New-York.
The Alleghans were, doubtless, the mound builders of North America. It is believed that they once occupied, a considerable portion of New-York.
According to Davies, they cultivated corn and apples in large quantities, and dwelt together in towns. Although they were more intelligent, and equally valiant, they were less hardy than the Iroquois, who succeeded them. They fortified their camp with earthen walls, as they moved from place to place, but were nevertheless besieged or driven
* N. Y. Historic So. Col., Vol. 2. t Schoolcraft's notes on the Iroquois, 1846.
from them by the Iroquois, who followed them from the Mississippi Valley to the St. Lawrence.*
Whether the Iroquois were an offshoot from the Alleghans, or were more recent descendants from the parent stock, is not known. The best opinions are, that they had long existed in the south, before they waged the exterminating war upon the Alleghans, which drove the latter up the val. ley of the Ohio, and caused the erection of the numberless earthen forts, as they receded from their pursuers.
“A series of old forts," says Schoolcraft," anterior in age to the Iroquois power, extends along the shores of Lake Erie, and even as far east as the ancient Osco, which have striking points of identity with those in the valleys below, and are believed to have been erected by the same people.”
The prevailing opinion among ethnological writers is, that the Alleghans were in existence, as a tribe or confederacy, long before the discovery of, America by Columbus ; and that they were the mound builders of whom so little has been known. In corroboration of this, much evidence may be derived from an old Fort in Highland county, Ohio, where there is reliable data of its abandonment before Columbus entered the western ocean; and of its erection, above six hundred years before ;t also, Grave Creek mound, whose trenches were abandoned in 1308.
The ramparts at Marietta bear the same evidence. Fort Osco, near the beautiful village of Auburn, is no less "eloquent of antiquity." As late as 1820, Macauley, the historian, counted the rings on a chesnut stump, standing in one of its moats, and another standing near it, and determined that one germinated prior to 1492, and the other in 1555.1
Archaeological evidence and tradition concur in the fact that the Alleghans were a confederacy; that such confederacy fell in the twelfth or thirteenth century; and that they
* Gen. Harrison's Discourse. + N. Y. Ethnological Society, 1846.
# Macauley's History of New-York, vol. 2.