A View of the Hebrews
by Ethan Smith
THE PRESENT STATE OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL.
[p.67]The present state of the Jews is so well understood in the Christian and literary world, that very little will here be said on this part of the subject. While a more particular attention will be paid to the present state of the ten tribes of Israel.
The whole present population of the Jews has been calculated at five millions. But the probability is, (as has been thought by good judges,) that they are far more numerous.* One noted character says, that in Poland and part of Turkey, there are at least three millions of this people; and that among them generally, there is an unusual spirit of enquiry relative to Christianity. Mr. Noah says, that in the States of Barbary, their number exceeds seven hundred thousand. Their population Persia, China, India, and Tartary, is stated (in a report of the London Society for the conversion of the Jews,) to be more than three hundred thousand. In Western Asia the Jews are numerous; and they are found in almost every land.
As in Europe this remarkable people have been singularly depressed, and in ages past, made a taunt, [p.68]reproach, and by-word, trodden down, scattered and peeled; one would hope that quarter of the world would feel themselves obligated to be singularly active in bringing about their restoration. Considerable has been undertaken to meliorate their condition, and prepare the way for their restoration.
It is fourteen years since a society was formed in London to aid the Christianization of this people. A chapel has been erected by this society for their benefit. The New Testament they have caused to be translated into the Hebrew language; also many tracts written in Hebrew. These tracts and Testaments have been liberally distributed among the Jews, and been read by multitudes of them with no small attention. Missionaries have been sent among them; schools opened, and various means used. A Seminary was opened in 1822 for the instruction of the youth of this people. Four students of the seed of Abraham entered it; one of them the celebrated Mr. Wolff, a Jewish convert and missionary. In various parts of the United Kingdoms, auxiliary societies have been formed; and the amount of monies received in 1822, was upwards of £.10,698 sterling. (between 40 and $50,000.) In the schools of the society are between seventy and eighty children of the Jews. In 1822 there were distributed, 2,459 Hebrew Testaments; 892 German Jewish do.; 2597 Polish Judea do.; 800 Hebrew Psalters; 42,410 Hebrew Tracts; 30,000 English do. for the Jews; 19,300 Hebrew cards. The prophets are about to be printed in Hebrew, on stereotype plates, for the benefit of the Jews. Places of deposit of books for the Jews are established extensively in the four quarters of the world.
Other and similar societies in favour of the Jews are becoming numerous. Only several will be given in detail. One has been formed in Berlin under the sanction of his Prussian majesty. This society in an address to the public, observes; “Pious Christians in Germany seem themselves almost excluded from the work of converting the heathen; to whom seafaring nations only have an immediate access. May [p.69]they be of good cheer in turning their eyes to the millions of the ancient people of God, who live among them, or in their vicinity. There is no nation provided with so effective means now to begin the work of their conversion, as protestant Germany. For this country the most glorious harvest seems to be in reserve. Let us then clear ourselves from the blame of leaving to perish these millions living among us, or near our gates, without having ever made any well regulated attempt to lead them to that cross upon which their fathers crucified the Messiah. This field is our own, and only requires labourers. According to our best information of its state, we have no doubt but the soil will readily receive the seed of the divine word.” The Jews there seem to be convinced that some important change in their condition is preparing; and they seem ready to co-operate in the means of such a change. Count Von der Recke, near Westphalia, has established near Dasselsdorf an asylum for converted Jews. And numerous societies have been formed in Europe and America, to aid this great object. The American Meliorating Society, with its auxiliaries, might be noted in detail; but they are well known. The history of the Palestine mission also; the noted agency of Mr. Frey, and the mission of Mr. Wolff, the Jewish missionary to Palestine; also the remarkable conversion of many of the Jews; but this would exceed my designed limits; and these things are well known to the Christian world.
My present object is rather to attend to the present state of the ten tribes of Israel. This branch of the Hebrew family have long been “outcasts” out of sight; or unknown as Hebrews. The questions arise, are they in existence, as a distinct people? If so, who, or where are they? These are queries of great moment, at this period, when the time of their restoration is drawing near. These queries may receive an answer in the following pages.
[p.70]Some preliminary remarks will be made; and then arguments adduced relative to the present state of the tribes of Israel.
1. It has been clearly ascertained in the preceding chapter, that the ten tribes, as the Israel of God, are in the last days to be recovered, and restored with the Jews. The valley of dry bones, and the two sticks becoming one in the prophet’s hand, have been seen clearly to ascertain this: See Ezek. xxxvii. as well as the many other passages noted in this chapter. But as this fact is essential to our inquiring after the ten tribes with confidence of their existence, I shall here note several additional predictions of the event, found in the prophets; and note some passages, which distinguish between the dispersed state of the Jews, and the outcast state of the ten tribes; which distinction will afford some light in our inquiries.
When the restoration of the Hebrews is predicted, in Isa. xi. that God will in the last days set up an ensign for the nations; it is to “assemble the outcasts of Israel; and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Mark the distinction; the Jews are “dispersed;” scattered over the nations as Jews, as they have long been known to be; but Israel are “outcast;” cast out from the nations; from society; from the social world; from the knowledge of men, as being Hebrews. This distinction is repeatedly found in the prophets. The dispersed state of the Jews, as Jews, is a most notable idea in the prophetic scriptures. But of Israel, the following language is used; as Isai. lvi. 8; “The Lord God who gathereth the outcasts of Israel, Faith.” &c. Accordingly, when Israel are recovered, and united with the Jews at last, the Jews express their astonishment, and inquire where they had been? They had utterly lost them, as is the fact. See Isai. xlix. 18-22. The Jews here, while “removing to and fro” through the nations, in their dispersed state, had been “left alone,” i.e. of the ten tribes. The latter being now restored to the bosom of the mother church, the Jews inquire, “Who hath brought up these? [p.71]Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?” Here we learn that the ten tribes had, during the long dispersion of the Jews, been utterly out of their sight and knowledge, as their brethren. This implies the long outcast state of the ten tribes. We find the same idea in Isai. lxiii. The chapter is introduced with the battle of the great day of God, which introduces the Millennium; See verse 1- 6. The event of the chapter then, are intimately connected with that period. They involve the restoration of God’s ancient people. And we find a special branch of that ancient people pleading with God in language clearly indicative of the antecedent outcast state—having been lost from the knowledge of the known descendants of Abraham, the Jews. Allusion is made to their ancient redemption; and to their subsequent and fatal rebellion, till God “was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them;” —or cast them out of his sight. At last (at a period nearly connected with the great battle) they are waking up, and pleading; “Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of the holiness and of thy glory; where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? Are they restrained?” Here after a long period they awake as from the dead, and plead God’s ancient love to their nation. What follows is affectingly descriptive of the outcast banished state. “Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not; thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer, thy name is from everlasting.” Here then is a branch of that ancient people, unknown to Abraham; i.e. unacknowledged by the [p.49]Israel that have always been known as such, or the Jews; clearly meaning, that they have long been unknown as being the descendants of Abraham; and yet such they are, according to the whole context. When the present outcast ten tribes shall be convinced, from their own internal traditions, and by the aid of those commissioned to bring them in, that they are the ancient Israel of God, the above language exactly fits their case; as does the [p.72]following connected with it; “O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our hearts from thy fear? Return for thy servant’s sake, the tribes of shine inheritance. The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while.” Or, our ancestors in the promised land enjoyed what thou didst engage to them for an everlasting inheritance, but a limited period. “Our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. We are thine. Thou never bearest rule over them. They were not called by thy name.” Here is a branch of the tribes, till now, and for a long time, unknown. But themselves finding who they are, they plead with God the entail of the covenant, and their covenant right to Palestine; and that the Turkish possessors of it were never called by God’s name; not were they under his laws. This must be fulfilled at a time not far from the present period.
Several additional passages will be noted, to show that both the branches of that ancient people are to be restored. In Isai. xi. after the promise that the dispersed Jews, and outcast Israel shall be restored; the prophet adds, verse 13; “The envy also of Ephraim shall depart; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.” Here the mutual jealousies between the two branches of the house of Israel, which before the expulsion of the ten tribes kept them in almost perpetual war, shall never again be revived; which passage assures us of the restoration of Israel as Israel.
In Jer. iii. those two branches are distinguished by “backsliding Israel, and her treacherous sister Judah.” Israel was already put away for her spiritual adulteries, (having then been rejected for nearly one hundred years.) But the same backsliding Israel is there again recovered in the last days. God calls after them; Return, thou backsliding Israel; for I am married unto you, saith the Lord. And I will take you, one of a city and two of a family; (or, one of a village, and two of a tribe;) and will bring you to Zion.” “In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel; and they shall come together out of [p.73]the land of the north, to the land that I have given to your fathers.” This has never yet had even a partial accomplishment. Its event is manifestly future.
The entail of the covenant must as surely recover the ten tribes of the Jews. Paul shows in Romans xi. the consistency of the rejection of the Jews, with the entail of the covenant with Abraham. And he makes their final restoration in the last days essential to this consistency. But this inspired argument as forcibly attaches itself to the ten tribes, to ensure their recovery, as to the Jews. He accordingly there says, “and so all Israel shall be saved;” or both branches of the Hebrews shall be recovered. This same point is most positively decided in Jeremiah, 30th and 31st chapters, as has appeared in the preceding chapter.
2. It inevitably follows that the ten tribes of Israel must now have, somewhere on earth, a distinct existence in an outcast state. And we justly infer, that God would in his holy providence provide some suitable place for their safe keeping, as his outcast tribes, though long unknown to men as such. There is no avoiding this conclusion. If God will restore them at last as his Israel, and as having been “outcast” from the nations of the civilized world for 2500 years; he surely must have provided a place for their safe keeping, as a distinct people, in some part of the world, during that long period. They must during that period, having been unknown to the Jews as Israelites; and consequently unknown to the world as such; or the Jews would not at last (on their being united to them) inquire, “These, where had they been?” Isai. xlix. 21. Nor would they themselves plead at that time, “though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel (the Jews) acknowledge us not.”
There is a passage in Hosea iv. 16, which confirms and illustrates this idea. There, after the ten tribes were utterly separated to spiritual whoredom, or idolatry, and were given up to total backsliding, God says; “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.” God was going to let him alone for a long period till the time of his restoration in the last days. In the preceding [p.74]verse, God hints his care of this people in this long intermediate space. The hint is given in this comprehensive sentence; “Now the Lord will feed them as a lamb in a large place.” Now being long rejected, and let alone, God would feed them as a lamb in a large place. He would provide a large capacious part of the world for them, to keep them distinct by themselves; and yet would have his special providential eye upon them as a lamb. Scott upon the passage says; (after noting their obstinate rebellion;) “The Lord therefore intended to disperse them throughout the Assyrian empire, where they would be as much exposed to injury and violence, as a singled deserted lamb in a large wilderness to the wild beasts.” Not knowing where they are, Scott supposed they must be somewhere in Assyria. The fact is they are not found there. But according to him, the text gives the fact that God was going to place them, as his “deserted lamb in a large wilderness of wild beasts.” How perfectly do we here find described the long outcast state of Israel in the vast wilderness of a sequestered part of the world, where yet God would keep them in existence, (and make provision for them eventually to come to light,) as his long rejected lamb! “Is Ephraim a dear child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still.”
3. We have an account of the ten tribes, after their captivity, which accords with the ideas just stated. We receive not the books of the Apocrypha as given by Inspiration; but much credit has been given to historical facts recorded in it; as in the wars of the Maccabees, and other places. In 2 Esdras xiii. 40, and on, we read; “Those are the ten tribes which were carried away prisoners out of their own land, in this time of Osea, the king, whom Salmanezer, the king of Assyria, led away captive; and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land.” Here is the planting of them over the Euphrates, in Media. The writer adds; “But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a [p.75]further country, where never man dwelt; that they might there keep their statutes which they never kept (i.e. uniformly as they ought,) in their own land.—There was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half.” The writer proceeds to speak of the name of the region being called Asareth, or Ararat. He must allude here to the region to which they directed their course to go this year and a half’s journey. This place where no man dwelt, must of course have been unknown by any name. But Ararat, or Armenia, lay north of the place where the ten tribes were planted when carried from Palestine. Their journey then, was to the north, or north-east. This writer says, “They entered into the Euphrates by the narrow passages of the river.” He must mean, they repassed this river in its upper regions, or small streams, away toward Georgia; and hence must have taken their course between the Black and Caspian seas. This set them off north- east of the Ararat, which he mentions. Though this chapter in Esdras be a kind of prophecy, in which we place not confidence; yet the allusion to facts learned by the author, no doubt may be correct. And this seems just such an event as might be expected, had God indeed determined to separate them from the rest of the idolatrous world, and banish them by themselves, in a land where no man dwelt since the flood. But if these tribes took counsel to go to a land where no man dwelt, as they naturally would do, they certainly could not have taken counsel to go into Hindostan [Hindustan], or any of the old and long crowded nations of Asia. Such a place they would naturally have avoided. And to such a place the God of Israel would not have led them, to keep them in an outcast state, distinct from all other nations, as his lamb in a large wilderness.
4. Let several suppositions now be made. Suppose an extensive continent had lately been discovered, away north-east from Media, and at the distance of “a year and a half’s journey;” a place probably destitute of inhabitants, since the flood, till the time of the “casting out” of Israel. Suppose a people to [p.76]have been lately discovered in that sequestered region, appearing as we should rationally expect the nation of Israel to appear at this period, that the account given by the writer in Esdras been a fact. Suppose them to be found in tribes, with heads of tribes; but destitute of letters, and in a savage state. Suppose among different tribes the following traditionary fragments are by credible witnesses picked up; some particulars among one region of them, and some among another; while all appear evidently to be of the same family. Suppose them to have escaped the polytheism of the pagan world: and to acknowledge one, and only one God, the Great Spirit, who created all things seen and unseen. Suppose the name retained by many of them for this Great Spirit, to be Ale, the old Hebrew name of God; and Yohewah, whereas the Hebrew name for Lord was Jehovah; also they call the Great First Cause, Yah; the Hebrew name being Jah. Suppose you find most of them professing great reverence for this great Yohewah; calling him “the great beneficent supreme holy spirit,” and the only object of worship. Suppose the most intelligent of them to be elated with the idea that this God has ever been the head of their community; that their fathers were once in covenant with him; and the rest of the world were “the accursed people,” as out of covenant with God. Suppose you find them, on certain occasions, singing in religious dance, “Hallelujah,” or praise to Jah; also singing Yohewah, Shilu Yohewah, and making use of many names and phrases evidently Hebrew. You find them counting their time as did ancient Israel, and in a manner different from all other nations, They keep a variety of religious feasts, which much resemble those kept in ancient Israel. You find an evening feast among them, in which a bone of the animal must not be broken; if the provision be more than one family can eat, a neighbour must be called in to help eat it, and if any of it be still left, it must be burned before the next rising sun. You find them eating bitter vegetables, to cleanse themselves from sin. You find [p.77]they never eat the hollow of the thigh of any animal. They inform that their fathers practiced circumcision. Some of them have been in the habit of keeping a jubilee. They have their places answering to the cities of refuge, in ancient Israel. In these no blood is ever shed by any avenger. You find them with their temples. (such as they be,) their holy of holies in their temple, into which it is utterly prohibited for a common person to enter. They have their high priests, who officiate in their temples, and make their yearly atonement there in a singular pontifical dress, which they fancy to be in the likeness of one worn by their predecessors in ancient times; with their breast-plate, and various holy ornaments. The high priest, when addressing to his people what they call “the old divine speech,” calls them “the beloved and holy people,” and urges them to imitate their virtuous ancestors: and tells them of their “beloved land flowing with milk and honey.” They tell you that Yohewah once chose their nation from all the rest of mankind, to be his peculiar. That a book which God gave, was once theirs; and then things went well with them. But other people got it from them, and then they fell under the displeasure of the Great Spirit; but that they shall at some time regain it. They inform you, some of their fathers once had a spirit to foretel [sic] future events, and to work miracles. Suppose they have their imitation of the ark of the covenant, where were deposited their most sacred things: into which it is the greatest crime for any common people to look. All their males must appear at the temple at three noted feasts in a year. They inform you of the ancient flood; of the preservation of one family in a vessel; of this man in the ark sending out first a great bird, and then a little one, to see if the waters were gone. That the great one returned no more; but the little one returned with a branch. They tell you of the confusion of languages once when people were building a great high place; and of the longevity of the ancients; that they “lived till their feet [p.78]were worn out with walking, and their throats with eating.”
You find them with their traditional history that their ancient fathers once lived where people were dreadfully wicked, and that nine [p.54]tenths of their fathers took counsel and left that wicked place, being led by the Great Spirit into this country; that they came through a region where it was always winter, snow and frozen. That they came to a great water, and their way hither was thus obstructed, till God dried up that water; (probably it froze between the islands in Beering’s Straits.) You find them keeping an annual feast, at the time their ears of corn become fit for use; and none of their corn is eaten, till a part of it is brought to this feast, and certain religious ceremonies performed. You find them keeping an annual feast, in which twelve men must cut twelve saplin poles, to make a booth. Here (on an altar made of twelve stones, on which no tool may pass) they must sacrifice. You find them with the custom of washing and anointing their dead. And when in deep affliction, laying their hand on their mouth, and their mouth in the dust. You find them most scrupulously practicing a religious rite of separating their women which almost precisely answers to the ancient law of Moses upon this subject. And many other things you find among this newly discovered people, which seem exclusively to have been derived from the ceremonial code of ancient Israel.
Suppose you should find things like these among such a people, without books or letters, but wholly in a savage state, in a region of the world lately discovered, away in the direction stated by the aforenoted writer in the Apocrypha; and having been ever secluded from the knowledge of the civilized world; would you hesitate to say you had found the ten tribes of Israel? and that God sent them to that sequestered region of the earth to keep them there a distinct people, during an “outcast” state of at least 2500 years? Would you not say, we have just such kind of evidence, as must at last bring that people to light among [p.79]the nations? And would you not say, here is much more evidence of this kind, of their being the people of Israel, than could rationally have been expected, after the lapse of 2500 years in a savage state? Methinks I hear every person whisper his full assent, that upon the suppositions made, we have found the most essential pile of the prophet Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones! Ezek. xxxvii.; 1-14.
5. These things are more than mere supposition. It is believed they are capable of being ascertained as facts, with substantial evidence. Good authorities from men, who have been eye and ear witnesses, assure us that these things are facts. But you enquire, where or who are the people thus described? They are the aborigines of our own continent! Their place, their language, their traditions, amount to all that has been hinted. These evidences are not all found among any one tribe of Indians. Nor may all the Indians in any tribe, where various of these evidences are found, be able to exhibit them. It is enough, if what they call their beloved aged men, in one tribe, have clearly exhibited some of them; and others exhibited others of them; and if among their various tribes, the whole have been, by various of their beloved or wise men, exhibited. This, it is stated, has been the fact. Men have been gradually perceiving this evidence for more than half a century; and a new light has been, from time to time, shed on the subject, as will appear.
The North American Reviewers, in reviewing a sermon of Doct. Jarvis, on this subject, delivered before the New York Historical Society, (in which he attempts to adduce much evidence to show that the natives of this continent are the tribes of Israel,) remark thus; “The history and character of the Indian tribes of North America, which have for some time been a subject of no inconsiderable curiosity and interest with the learned in Europe, have not till lately attracted much notice among ourselves. But as the Indian nations are now fast vanishing, and the individuals of them come less frequently under our observation, [p.80]we also, as well as our European brethren, are beginning to take a more lively interest than ever, in the study of their character and history.”
In the course of their remarks they add; “To the testimonies here adduced by Doctor Jarvis, (i.e. that the Indians are the ten tribes of Israel,) might have been added several of our New England historians, from the first settlement of the country.” Some they proceed to mention; and then add, that the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Sewall, fellow of Harvard College, and Samuel Willard, vice president of the same, were of opinion, that “the Indians are the descendants of Israel.” Doct. Jarvis notes this as an hypothesis, which has been a favorite topic with European writers; and as a subject, to which it is hoped the Americans may be said to be waking up at last.
Manasses Ben Israel, in a work entitled “The Hope of Israel,” has written to show that the American Indians are the ten tribes of Israel. But as we have access to his authors, we may consult them for ourselves. The main pillar of his evidence is James Adair, Esq. Mr. Adair was a man of established character, as appears from good authority. He lived a trader among the Indians, in the south of North America, for forty years. He left them and returned to England in 1774, and there published his “History of the American Indians;” and his reason for being persuaded that they are the ten tribes of Israel. Remarking on their descent and origin, he concludes thus; “From the most accurate observations I could make, in the long time I traded among the Indian Americans, I was forced to believe them lineally descended from the Israelites. Had the nine tribes and a half of Israel, that were carried off by Shalmanezer, and settled in Media, continued there long, it is very probable by intermarrying with the natives, and from their natural fickleness and proneness to idolatry, and also from the force of example, that they would have adopted and bowed before the gods of Media and Assyria; and would have carried them along with them. But there is not a trace of this [p.81]idolatry among the Indians.” Mr. Adair gives his opinion that the ten tribes, soon after their banishment from the land of Israel, left Media, and reached this continent from the north-west, probably before the carrying away of the Jews of Babylon.
But before I proceed to adduce the documents and evidences upon this subject, I will make one more preliminary remark, and note another prediction relative to the outcast state of Israel.
6. There is a prophecy in Amos viii. 11, 12, relative to the ten tribes of Israel while in their state of banishment from the promised land, which appears exactly to accord with the account given by Esdras; and to the Indian tradition, which meets this, as will appear; and appears well to accord with the state of fact with the American natives, as will be seen. Amos was a prophet to the ten tribes of Israel. He prophesied not long before their banishment. The chapter containing the prophecy to be adduced, commences with a basket of summer fruit, which must soon be eaten, or it becomes unfit for use. The symbol is thus explained; “Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not pass by them any more.” The prophet in this chapter announces that “they that swear by the sins of Samaria, and say, Thy God, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall.” Here is a description of the idolatry of the ten tribes, and their utter banishment then just about to take place; from which they have never been recovered to this day.
As an event to be accomplished in their outcast state, the prophet gives this striking descriptive prediction. Verse 11, 12; “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, (or upon the tribes of Israel,) not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water; but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” Here is an event, which, when the reader [p.82]shall have perused the traditions and sketches of the history of the Indians, he will perceive accurately describes their case. The prediction implies that Israel in their exilement should know that they had been blessed with the word of God, but had wickedly lost it; as a man in a famine knows he has had bread, but now has it not. They shall feel something what they have lost, and shall wander. They shall rove “from sea to sea; and from the north even unto the east.” They shall set off a north course, and thence east; or shall wander in a north-east direction as far as they can wander, from sea to sea; from the Mediterranean whence they set out, to the extremest sea in the north-east direction. Should they cross the straits found there, into another continent, they may wander still from sea to sea; from the northern frozen ocean, to the southern ocean at Cape Horn; and from the Pacific to the Atlantic. They shall run to and fro through all the vast deserts between these extreme seas; retaining some correct ideas of God, and of his ancient word; they shall seek his word and will from their priests, and from their religious traditions; but shall not find it; but shall remain in their roving wretched state, till the distant period of their recovery from their exilement shall arrive.
Their blessed restoration is given in the following chapter. Verse 13-15; “Behold the days come saith the Lord, that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper; and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine; and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel; and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord God.” Here we have predicted the rapid preparatory scenes; the melting missionary events of our day. The mountains and hills of nations and communities shall flow together in this [p.83]evangelical object. Blended with these missionary events, is the recovery of the long lost ten tribes. Here is the planting of them in their own land; and their permanent residence there to the end of the world. Never has this restoration had even a primary accomplishment; as was the return of the Jews from Babylon relative to their final restoration. The ten tribes have had no even typical restoration. They have been lost to the world to the present day. But the above passage implies, that in the midst of the sudden successful missionary events of the last days, which shall issue in the recovery and restoration of the ancient people of God, the ten tribes shall come to light, and shall be recovered.
Never has any satisfactory account been given of the fulfillment of this predicted famine of the word. It was to be inflicted on the ten tribes; not in the promised land, but during an awful exilement; “wandering from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; running to and fro,” from one extremity of a continent to another. The Spirit of Inspiration has here kindly given a clew by which to investigate the interesting and dark subject,—the place of the exilement of the tribes of Israel. q.d. Pursue them from Media, their place last known, north, then east; to the extreme sea. Find them roving to and fro in vast deserts between extreme seas; find a people of this description having retained some view of the one God; having their traditionary views of having lost the word of God; and seeking divine communications from Heaven; but seeking in vain; and you have the people sought. Listen to their traditions, borrowed from ancient revelation, which they have long lost; and you find the people perishing under the predicted famine of the word.
Having made these preliminary remarks, I shall attempt to embody the evidence obtained, to show that the natives of America are the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel.
A summary will be given of the arguments of Mr. Adair, and of a number of other writers on this subject. [p.84]As the evidence given by Mr. Adair appears in some respects the most momentous and conclusive, I shall adduce a testimonial in his behalf. In the “Star in the West,” published by the Hon. Elias Boudinot, LL. D. upon this subject, that venerable man says; “The writer of these sheets has made a free use of Mr. Adair’s history of the Indians; which renders it necessary that something further should be said of him. Sometime about the year 1774, Mr. Adair came to Elizabethtown, (where the writer lived,) with his manuscript, and applied to Mr. Livingston, (afterward governor of New Jersey—a correct scholar,) requesting him to correct his manuscript. He brought ample recommendations, and gave a good account of himself. Our political troubles with Great Britain then increasing, (it being the year before the commencement of the revolutionary war.) Mr. Adair, who was on his way to Great Britain, was advised not to risk being detained from his voyage, till the work could be critically examined; but to set off as soon as possible. He accordingly took passage in the first vessel bound to England. As soon as the war was over, (Mr. Boudinot adds of himself,) the writer sent to London to obtain a copy of this work. After reading it with care, he strictly examined a gentleman, then a member with him in congress, and of excellent character, who had acted as our agent among the Indians to the southward, during the war, relative to the points of fact stated by Mr. Adair, without letting him know the design, and from him found all the leading facts mentioned in Mr. Adair’s history, fully confirmed from his own personal knowledge.”
Here are the evidences of two great and good men most artlessly uniting in the leading facts stated by Mr. Adair. The character of Mr. Boudinot (who was for some time President of the American Bible Society,) is well known. He was satisfied with the truth of Mr. Adair’s history, and that the natives of our land are Hebrews, the ten tribes. And he hence published his “Star in the West” on this subject’ which is most worthy of the perusal of all men.
[p.85]From various authors and travellers [sic] among the Indians, the fact that the American Indians are the ten tribes of Israel, will be attempted to be proved by the following arguments:
1. The American natives have one origin.
2. Their language appears to have been Hebrew.
3. They have their imitation of the ark of the covenant in ancient Israel.
4. They have been in practice of circumcision.
5. They have acknowledged one and only one God.
6. The celebrated William Penn gives account of the natives of Pennsylvania, which go to corroborate the same point.
7. The Indians having one tribe, answering in various respects to the tribe of Levi, sheds farther light on this subject.
8. Several prophetic traits of character given to the Hebrews, do accurately apply to the aborigines of America.
9. The Indians being in tribes, with their heads and names of tribes, afford further light.
10. Their having something answering to the ancient cities of refuge, seems to evince their Israelitish extraction.
11. Their variety of traditions, historical and religious, do wonderfully accord with the idea, that they descended from the ancient ten tribes.
The reader will pardon, if the tax on his patience under this last argument that of all the rest.
1. The American natives have one origin.—Their language has a variety of dialects; but all are believed by some good judges to be the same radical language. Various noted authors agree in this. Charlevoix, a noted French writer, who came over to Canada very early, and who travelled [sic] from Canada to the Mississippi, in his history of Canada, says; “The Algonquin and the Huron languages, (which he says are as real the same, as the French and old Norman are the same,) have between them the language of all the savage nations [p.86]we are acquainted with. Whoever should well understand both of these, might travel without an interpreter more than fifteen hundred leagues of country, and make himself understood by an hundred different nations, who have each their peculiar tongue;” meaning dialect. The Algonquin was the dialect of the Wolf tribe, or the Mohegan; and most of the native tribes of New England and of Virginia.
Doctor Jonathan Edwards, son of president Edwards, lived in his youth among the Indians; as his father was a missionary among them, before he was called to Princeton College; and he became as familiar with the Mohegan dialect, as with his mother tongue. He had also a good knowledge of the Mohawk dialect. He pronounced the Mohegan the most extensive of all the Indian dialects of North America. Dr. Boudinot asserts of him as follows. “Dr. Edwards assures us that the language of the Delawares, in Pennsylvania, of the Penobscots, bordering on Nova Scotia, of the Indians of St. Francis, in Canada, of the Shawanese, on the Ohio, of the Chippewas, to the eastward of Lake Huron, of the Ottawas, Nanticokes, Munsees, Minoniones, Messinaquos, Saasskies, Ollagamies, Kellestinoes, Mipegoes, Algonquins, Winmbagoes, and of several tribes in New England, are radically the same. And the variations between them are to be accounted for from their want of letters and communications.” He adds (what all in the eastern states well know) “Much stress may be laid on Dr. Edwards’ opinion. He was a man of strict integrity and great piety. He had a liberal education.—He was greatly improved in the Indian languages; to which he habituated himself from early life, having lived among the Indians.”
Herein the doctor agrees with the testimony of Charlevoix just noted. Here we find a cogent argument in favour of the Indians of North America, at least as being of one origin. And arguments will [p.61]be furnished that the Indians of South America are probably of the same origin.
[p.87]Doctor Boudinot (who for more than forty years was of opinion that the Indians are the ten tribes, and who sought and obtained much evidence on this subject,) assures us, that the syllables which compose the word Yohewah, (Jehovah) and Yah, (Jah) are the roots of a great number of Indian words, through different tribes. They make great use of these words, and of the syllables which compose the names of God; also which form the word Hallelujah, through their nations for thousands of miles; especially in their religious songs and dances. With beating and an exact keeping of time, they begin a religious dance thus; Hal, hal, hal; then le, le, le; next lu, lu, lu; and then close yah, yah, yah. This is their traditional song of praise to the great Spirit. This, it is asserted, is sung in South, as well as North America. And this author says; “Two Indians, who belong to far distant nations, may without the knowledge of each other’s language, except from the general idiom of all their tribes, converse with each other, and make contracts without an interpreter.” This shews them to have been of one origin.
Again he says; “Every nation of Indians have certain customs, which they observe in their public transactions with other nations, and in their private affairs among themselves, which it is scandalous for any one among them not to observe. And these always draw after them either public or private resentment, whenever they are broken. Although these customs may in their detail differ in one nation when compared with another; yet it is easy to discern that they have all had one origin.”
Du Pratz says, in his history of Louisiania [sic], “The nations of North America derived their origin from the same country, since at bottom they all have the same manners and usages, and the same manner of speaking and thinking.” It is ascertained that no objection arises against this, from the different shades of complexion found among different tribes of Indians. “The colour of the Indians generally, (says Doct. Boudinot,) is red, brown, or copper, according to the [p.88]climate, and the high or low ground.” Mr. Adair expresses the same opinion; and the Indians have their tradition, that in the nation from which they originally came, all were one colour. According to all accounts given of the Indians, there are certain things in which all agree. This appears in the journals of Mr. Giddings, of his exploring tour. The most distant and barbarious Indians agree in a variety of things with all other tribes. They have their Great Spirit; their high priests; their sacrificing, when going to or returning from war; their religious dance; and their sacred little enclosure, containing their most sacred things, though it be but a sack, instead of an ark.—Messrs. Lack and Escarbotus both assert that they have often heard the Indians of South America sing “Hallelujah.” For thousands of miles the North American Indians have been abundant in this.
Doctor Williams, in his history of Vermont says; “In whatever manner this part of the earth was peopled, the Indians appear to have been the most ancient, or the original men of America. They had spread over the whole continent, from the fiftieth degree of north latitude, to the southern extremity of Cape Horn. And these men every where appeared to be the same race or kind of people. In every part of the continent, the Indians marked with a similarity of colour, features, and every circumstance of external appearance. Pedro de Cicca de Leon, one of the conquerors of Peru, and who had travelled [sic] through many provinces of America, says of the Indians; “The people, men and women, although there are such a multitude of tribes or nations, in such diversities of climates, appear nevertheless like the children of one father and mother.”
Ulloa (quoted by Doct. Williams,) had a great acquaintance with the Indians of South America, and some parts of North America. Speaking of the Indians of Cape Breton in the latter, he declared them to be “the same people with the Indians in Peru. “If we have seen one American, (said he) we may be said to have seen them all.” These remarks do not [p.89]apply to all the people in the northern extremities of America. The Esquimaux [Eskimo] natives appear to be a different race of men. This race are found in Labrador, in Greenland, and round Hudson’s Bay. All these appear evidently the same with the Laplanders, Zemblans, Samoyeds and Tartars in the east. They probably migrated to this western hemisphere at periods subsequent to the migration of the Indians. They, or some of them, might have come from the north of Europe; from Norway to Iceland, then to Greenland, and thence to the coasts of Labrador, and farther west. But the consideration of those different people, does not affect our subject.
2. Their language appears clearly to be Hebrew. In this, Doctor Edwards, Mr. Adair, and others were agreed. Doctor Edwards, after having a good acquaintance with their language, gave his reasons for believing it to have been originally Hebrew. Both, he remarks, are found without prepositions, and are formed with prefixes and suffixes; a thing probably known to no other language. And he shows that not only the words, but the construction of phrases, in both, have been the same. Their pronouns, as well as their nouns, Doctor Edwards remarks, are manifestly from the Hebrew. Mr. Adair is confident of the fact, that their language is Hebrew. And their laconic, bold and commanding figures of speech, he notes as exactly agreeing with the genius of the Hebrew language. He says, that after living forty years among them, he obtained such knowledge of the Hebrew idiom of their language, that he viewed the event of their having for more than two millenaries, and without the aid of literature, preserved their Hebrew language so pure, to be but little short of a miracle.
Relative to the Hebraism of their figures, Mr. Adair gives the following instance, from an address of a captain to his warriors, going to battle. “I know that your guns are burning in your hands; your tomahawks are thirsting to drink the blood of your enemies; your trusty arrows are impatient to be upon the wing; and lest delay should burn your hearts any longer, I give [p.90]you the cool refreshing word; join the holy ark; and away to cut off the devoted enemy!”
A table of words and phrases is furnished by Doct. Boudinot, Adair, and others, with several added from good authority, to show how clearly the Indian language is from the Hebrew. Some of these Indian words are taken from one tribe, and some from another. In a long savage state, destitute of all aid from letters, a language must roll and change. It is strange that after a lapse of 2500 years, a single word should, among such a people, be preserved the same. But the hand of Providence is strikingly seen in this, perhaps to bring that people to light.
The following may afford a specimen of the evidence on this part of the subject.
|English.||Indian.||Hebrew or Chaldaic.|
|Jah||Yah or Wah||Jah|
|Roof of a house||Taubana-ora||Debonaour|
|Ararat, or high mount||Ararat||Ararat|
|Man of||Ishto allo||Ishda alloah|
|Waiter of the high priest||Sagan||Sagan|
PARTS OF SENTENCES.
|Very hot||Heru hara or hala||Hara hara|
|Praise to the First Cause||Halleluwah||Hallelujah|
|[p.91]Give me food||Natoni boman||Natoui bamen|
|Go thy way||Bayou boorkaa||Boua bouak|
|Good be to you||Halea tibou||Ye hali ettouboa|
|My necklace||Yene kali||Vongali|
|I am sick||Nane guaete||Nance heti|
Can a rational doubt be entertained whether the above Indian words, and parts of sentences, were derived from corresponding words and parts of sentences in Hebrew? If so, their adoption by savages at this time and place, would appear miraculous. Some one or two words might happen to be the same, among distant different nations. But that so many words, and parts of sentences too, in a language with a construction peculiar to itself, should so nearly, [p.65]and some of them exactly correspond, is never to be admitted as resulting from accident.
And if these words and parts of sentences are from their corresponding Hebrew, the Indians must have descended from the ten tribes of Israel.
Some of the Creek Indians called a murderer Abe; probably from Abel, the first man murdered, whose name in Hebrew imports, mourning. And they called one who kills a rambling enemy, Noabe; probably from Noah, importing rest, and Abel—He thus puts his rambling enemy to rest. The Caribbee Indians and the Creeks had more than their due proportion of the words and parts of sentences in the above table.
Rev. Dr. Morse, in his late tour among the western Indians, says of the language; “It is highly metaphorical; and in this and other respects, they resemble the Hebrew. This resemblance in their language (he adds) and the similarity of many of their religious customs to those of the Hebrews, certainly give plausibility to the ingenious theory of Dr. Boudinot, exhibited in his interesting work, the Star in the West.”
Dr. Boudinot informs that a gentleman, then living in the city of New-York, who had long been much conversant with the Indians, assured him, that being once with the Indians at the place called Cohocks, they shewed him a very high mountain at the west, the Indian name of which, they informed him, was Ararat. [p.92]And the Penobscot Indians, the Dr. informs, call a high mountain by the same name.
Doctor Boudinot assures us that he himself attended an Indian religious dance. He says; “They danced one round; and then a second, singing hal-hal-hal, till they finished the round. They then gave us a third round, striking up the words, le-le-le. On the next round, it was the words, lu-lu-lu, dancing with all their might. During the fifth round was sung, yah-yah-yah. —Then all joined in a lively and joyful chorus, and sung halleluyah; dwelling on each syllable with a very long breath, in a most pleasing manner.” The Doctor adds; “There could be no deception in all this. The writer was near them—paid great attention—and every thing was obvious to the senses. Their pronunciation was very guttural and sonorous; but distinct and clear.” How could it be possible that the wild native Americans, in different parts of the continent, should be found singing this phrase of praise to the Great First Cause, or to Jah,—exclusively Hebrew, without having [p.66]brought it down by tradition from ancient Israel? The positive testimonies of such men as Boudinot and Adair, are not to be dispensed with, nor doubted. They testify what they have seen and heard. And I can conceive of no rational way to account for this Indian song, but that they brought it down from ancient Israel, their ancestors.
Mr. Faber remarks; “They (the Indians) call the lightning and thunder, Eloha; and its rumbling, Rowah, which may not improperly be deduced from the Hebrew word Ruach, a name of the third person of the Holy Trinity, originally signifying, the air in motion, or a rushing wind.” Who can doubt but their name of thunder, Eloha, is derived from a Hebrew name of God, Elohim? Souard, (quoted in Boudinot,) in his Literary Miscellanies, says of the Indians in Surinam, on the authority of Isaac Nasci, a learned Jew residing there, that the dialect of those Indians, common to all the tribes of Guiana, is soft, agreeable, and regular. And this learned Jew asserts that their substantives are Hebrew. The word expressive [p.93]of the soul (he says) is the same in each language, and is the same with breath. “God breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” This testimony from Nasci, a learned Jew, dwelling with the Indians must be of signal weight.
Dr. Boudinot from many good authorities says of the Indians; “Their language in their roots, idiom, and particular construction, appears to have the whole genius of the Hebrew; and what is very remarkable, it is most of the peculiarities of that language; especially those in which it differs from most other languages.”
Governor Hutchinson observed, that “many people (at the time of the first settlement of New England,) pleased themselves with the conjecture that the Indians in America are the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel.” Something was discovered so early, which excited this pleasing sentiment. This has been noted as having been the sentiment of Rev. Samuel Sewall, of vice president Willard, and others. Governor Hutchinson expresses his doubt upon the subject, on account of the dissimilarity of the language of the natives of Massachusetts, to the Hebrew. Any language in a savage state, must, in the course of 2500 years, have rolled and varied exceedingly. This is shown to be the case in the different dialects, and many new words introduced among those tribes, which are acknowledged to have their language radically the same.
The following facts are enough to answer every objection on this ground. The Indians had no written language. Hence the English scholar could not see the spelling or the root of any Indian word. And the guttural pronunciation of the natives was such as to make even the Hebrew word, that still might be retained, appear a different word; especially to those who were looking for no Hebrew language among them. And the following noted idiom of the Indian language was calculated to hide the fact in perfect obscurity, even had it been originally Hebrew, viz.; the Indian language consists of a multitude of monosyllables added together.—Every property or circumstance of a [p.94]thing to be mentioned by an Indian, must be noted by a new monosyllable added to its name. Hence it was that the simple word our loves, must be expressed by the following long Indian word, Noowomantammoonkanunonnash. Mr. Colden, in his history of the five nations, observes, “They have a few radical words. But they compound their words without end. The words expressive of things lately come to their knowledge (he says) are all compounds. And sometimes one word among them includes an entire definition of the thing.”** These things, considered of a language among savages, 2500 years after their expulsion from Canaan, must answer every objection arising from the fact, that the Indian language appears in some things very different from the Hebrew. And they must render it little less than miraculous (as Mr. Adair says it is) that after a lapse of so long a period among savages, without a book or letters, a word or phrase properly Hebrew should still be found among them. Yet such words and phrases are found. And many more may yet be found in the compounds of Indian words. I have just now observed, in dropping my eye on a Connecticut Magazine for 1803, a writer on the Indians in Massachusetts, in its earliest days, informs, that the name of a being they worshipped [sic] was Abamocko. Here, without any perception of the fact, he furnishes a Hebrew word in compound. Abba-mocko; father-mocho. As a tribe of Indians in the south call God, Abba-min-go-ishto; Father chief man. In the latter, we have two Hebrew words; Abba, father, and Ish, man. Could we make proper allowance for Pagan pronunciation, and find how the syllables in their words ought to be spelled, we might probably find many more of the Hebrew roots in their language.
It is ascertained that the Indians make great use of the syllables of the names of God, as roots of compound words. Dr. Boudinot says; “Y-O-he-wah-yah and Ale, are roots of a prodigious number of words [p.68]through their various dialects.” Wah being a noted name of God with the Indians, it seems often to occur in their proper names. Major Long informs us, in his expedition to the Rocky Mountains, that the name of God with the Omawhaw tribe is Wahconda. The Indians have their Wabash river, their Wa-sasheh tribe, (of which the word Osage is but a French corruption) their Wa-bingie, Wa-ping, Wa-masqueak, Wa-shpe-long, and Wa-shpeaute tribes; also their Wa-bunk, a name of the sun. A friend of mine informs me, that while surveying, in his younger life, in the state of Ohio, he obtained considerable acquaintance with the Indians there. That they appeared to have a great veneration for the sun, which they called Wahbunk. If bunk is an Indian name for a bed, as some suppose, it would seem that with those Indians, the sun was Jehovah’s bed, or place of residence. The Indians have had much of an idea of embodying the Great Spirit in fire. It is an idea which resulted from the scene on the fiery top of Sinai, and from ancient Hebrew figures, (as Paul informed in his epistle to the Hebrews) that “Our God is a consuming fire.” No wonder then those Indians in Ohio, as did the ancient Peruvians, embodied their Great Spirit in the sun. And no wonder their veneration for that visible supposed residence of the Great Spirit should be mistaken by strangers for the worship paid to the sun.
3. The Indians have had their imitation of the ark of the covenant in ancient Israel. Different travellers [sic], and from different regions unite in this. Mr. Adair is full in his account of it. It is a small square box, made convenient to carry on the back. They never set it on the ground, but on logs in low ground where stones are not to be had; and on stones where they are to be found. This author gives the following account of it. “It is worthy of notice, (he says) that they never place the ark on the ground, nor sit it on the bare earth when they are carrying it against an enemy. On hilly ground, where stones are plenty, they place it on them. But in level land, upon short logs, always resting themselves (i.e. the carriers of the ark) on the same materials. They have also as strong a faith of the power and holiness of their ark, as ever [p.96]the Israelites retained of theirs. The Indian ark is deemed so sacred and dangerous to touch, either by their own sanctified warriors, or the spoiling enemy, that neither of them dare meddle with it on any account. It is not to be handled by any except the chieftian [sic] and his waiter, under penalty of incurring great evil; nor would the most inveterate enemy dare to touch it. The leader virtually acts the part of a priest of war, pro tempore, in imitation of the Israelites fighting under the divine military banner.”
Doct. Boudinot says of this ark, “It may be called the ark of covenant imitated.” In time of peace it is the charge of their high priests. In their wars they make great account of it. The reader, (acting as high priest on that occasion,) and his darling waiter, carry it in turns. They deposit in the ark some of their most consecrated articles. The two carriers of this sacred symbol, before setting off with it for the war, purify themselves longer than do the rest of the warriors. The waiter bears their ark during a battle. It is strictly forbidden for any one, but the proper officer, to look into it. An enemy, if they capture it, treat it with the same reverence.
Doctor Boudinot says, that a gentleman, who was at Ohio, in 1756, informed him that while he was there, he saw among the Indians a stranger who appeared very desirous to look into the ark of that tribe. The ark was then standing on a block of wood, covered with a dressed deer skin. A centinel [sic] was guarding it, armed with a bow and arrow. The centinel [sic] finding the intruder pressing on, to look into the ark, drew his arrow at his head, and would have dropped him on the spot; but the stranger perceiving his danger, fled. Who can doubt the origin of this Indian custom? And who can resist the evidence it furnishes, that here are the tribes of Israel? See Num. x. 35, 36, and xiv. 44.
4. The American Indians have practiced circumcision. Doct. Beaty, in his journal of a visit to the Indians in Ohio, between fifty and sixty years ago, says that “an old Indian (in answer to his questions [p.97]relative to their ancient customs, the Indian being one of the old beloved wise men,) informed him, that an old uncle of his, who died about the year 1728, related to him several customs of former times among the Indians, and among the rest, that circumcision was long ago practised [sic] among them, but that their young men made a mock of it, and it fell into disrepute and was discontinued.” Mr. M’Kenzie informs that in his travels among the Indians, he was led to believe the same fact, of a tribe far to the north west; as stated in the “Star in the West.” His words (when speaking of the nations of the Slave and Dog rib Indians,) are these; “Whether circumcision be practised [sic] among them, I cannot pretend to say; but the appearance of it was general among those I saw.” The Indians cautiously conceal their special religious rites from strangers travailing among them. Mr. M’Kenzie then would not be likely to learn this fact from them, by any statement of the fact, or by seeing it performed. But he says, “The appearance of it was general.” Doctor Boudinot assures that the eastern Indians inform of its having been practised [sic] among them in times past; but that latterly, not being able to give any account of so strange a rite, their young men had opposed it, and it was discontinued. Immanuel de Moraez, in his history of Brazil, says it was practised [sic] among the native Brazilians. These native inhabitants of South America were of the same origin with the Indians of North America.
The Rev. Mr. Bingham of Boston informed the writer of these sheets, that Thomas Hopoo, the pious native of a Sandwich Island, informed him while in this country, before he returned with our missionaries to his native region, that he himself had been circumcised; that he perfectly remembered his brother’s holding him, while his father performed upon him this rite.
Mr. Bingham also informed that the pious Obookiah, of the same race, pleases himself that he was a natural descendant of Abraham, and thought their own language radically Hebrew. It is believed by men of the best information that the Sandwich Islanders and the [p.98]native Americans are of the same race. What savage nation could ever have conceived of such a rite, had they not descended from Israel?
5. The native Americans have acknowledged one and only one God; and they have generally views concerning the one Great Spirit, of which no account can be given, but that they derived them from ancient revelation in Israel. Other nations destitute of revelation, have had their many gods. But little short of three hundred thousand gods have existed in the bewildered imaginations of the pagan world. Every thing, almost, has been deified by the heathen. Not liking to retain God in their knowledge, and professing themselves to be wise, they became fools; and they changed the glory of the one living God, into images of beasts, birds, reptiles, and creeping things. There has been the most astonishing inclination in the world of mankind to do thus. But here is a new world of savages, chiefly, if not wholly free from such wild idolatry. Doctor Boudinot (being assured by many good witnesses,) says of the Indians who have been known in his day; “They were never known (whatever mercenary Spanish writers may have written to the contrary) to pay the least adoration to images or dead persons, to celestial luminaries, to evil spirits, or to any created beings whatever.” Mr. Adair says the same, and assures that “none of the numerous tribes and nations, from Hudson’s Bay to the Mississippi, have ever been known to attempt the formation of any image of God.” Du Pratz was very intimate with the chief of those Indians called”the Guardians of the Temple,” near the Mississippi. He inquired of them the nature of their worship.—The chief informed him that they worshipped [sic] the great and most perfect Spirit; and said, “He is so great and powerful, that in comparison with him all others are nothing. He made all things that we see, and all things that we cannot see.” The chief went on to speak of God as having made little spirits, called free servants, who always stand before the Great Spirit ready to do his will. That “the air is [p.99]filled with spirits; some good, some bad; and that the bad have a chief who is more wicked than the rest.” Here it seems is their traditional notion of good and bad angels; and of Beelzebub, the chief of the latter. This chief being asked how God made man, replied, that “God kneaded some clay, made it into a little man, and finding it was well formed, he blew on his work, and the man had life and grew up!” Being asked of the creation of the woman, he said, “their ancient speech made no mention of any difference, only that the man was made first.” Moses’ account of the formation of the woman, it seems, had been lost.
Mr. Adair is very full in this, that the Indians have but one God, the Great Yohewah, whom they call the great, beneficent, supreme, and holy Spirit, who dwells above the clouds, and who dwells with good people, and is the only object of worship.” So different are they from all the idolatrous heathen upon earth. He assures that they hold this great divine Spirit as the immediate head of their community; which opinion he conceives they must have derived from the ancient theocracy in Israel. He assures that the Indians are intoxicated with religious pride, and call all other people the accursed people; and have time out of mind been accustomed to hold them in great contempt. Their ancestors they boast to have been under the immediate government of Yohewah, who was with them, and directed them by his prophets, while the rest of the world were outlaws, and strangers to the covenant of Yohewah. The Indians thus please themselves (Mr. Adair assures us) with the idea that God has chosen them from the rest of mankind as his peculiar people. This, he says, has been the occasion of their hating other people; and of viewing themselves hated by all men. These things show that they acknowledge but one God.
The Peruvians have been spoken of as paying adoration to the sun; and as receiving their race of Incas, as children of the sun, in their succession of twelve monarchies. The Indians have had much of an [p.100]apprehension that their on Great Spirit had a great affinity to fire. And the Peruvians, it seems, went so far as to embody him in the sun. Here seems a shred of mixture of the Persian idolatry, with the theocracy of Israel. As the more ancient Israelites caught a degree of idolatrous distemper of Egypt, as appears in their golden calf; so the ten tribes of the time they resided in Media, and before they set off for America, may have blended some idea of fire with their own God. But the veneration the Peruvians had for their Incas, as children of the Most High, seems but a shred of ancient tradition from Israel, that their kings were divinely anointed; and is so far from being an argument against their being of Israel, that it operates rather in favour of the fact.
Doctor Boudinot informs of the southern Indians of North America, that they had a name for God, which signifies, “the great, the beloved, holy cause.” And one of their names of God, is Mingo—Ishto—Abba;—Great Chief Father. He speaks of a preacher’s being among the Indians at the south, before the American revolution, and beginning to inform them that there is a God who created all things. Upon which they indignantly replied, “Go about your business, you fool, do not we know there is a God, as well as you?”
In their sacred dances, these authors assure us the Indians sing “Halleluyah Yohewah;”—praise to Jah Jehovah. When they return victorious from their wars, they sing, Yo-he-wah; having been by tradition taught to ascribe the praise to God.
The same authors assure us, the Indians make great use of the initials of the mysterious name of God, like the tetragrammaton of the ancient Hebrews; or the four radical letters which form the name of Jehovah; as the Indians pronounce thus, Y-O-He-wah. That like the ancient Hebrews, they are cautious of mentioning these together, or at once. They sing and repeat the syllables of this name in their sacred dances thus; Yo-yo, or ho-ho-he-he-wah-wah. Mr. Adair upon the same, says; “After this they begin again; Hal-hal-le-le-lu-lu-yah-yah. And frequently the [p.101]whole train strike up, hallelu-hallelu-halleluyah-halleluyah.” They frequently sing the name of Shilu (Shilo, Christ) with the syllables of the name of God added; thus, “Shilu-yo-Shilu-yo- Shilu-he-Shilu-he-Shilu-wah-Shilu-wah.” Thus adding to the name of Shilu, the name of Jehovah by its sacred syllables. Things like these have been found among Indians of different regions of America. Syllables and letters of the name of God have been so transposed in different ways; and so strange and gutteral has been the Indian pronounciation, that it seems it took a long time to perceive that these savages were by tradition pronouncing the names of the God of Israel. Often have people been informed, and smiled at the fact, that an Indian, hurt of frightened, usually cries out wah! This is a part of his traditional religion; O Jah! or O Lord!
Doctor Williams upon tinge Indians’ belief of the being of God, observes; “They denominate the deity the Great Spirit; the Great Man above; and seem to have some general ideas of his government and providence, universal power and dominion. The immortality of the soul was every where admitted among the Indian tribes.”
The Rev. Ithamar Hebard, formerly minister of this place, related the following: That about fifty years ago a number of men were sent from New-England by the government of Britain into the region of the Mississippi, to form some treaty with the Indians. That while these commissioners were there, having tarried for some time, an Indian chief came from the distance of what he calls several moons to the westward. Having heard that white men were there, he came to enquire of them where the Great Being dwelt, who made all things. And being informed, through an interpreter, of the divine omnipresence; he raised his eyes and hands to heaven with great awe and ecstacy [sic], and looking round, and leaping, he seemed to express the greatest reverence and delight. The head man of these commissioners had been a profane man; but this incident cured him, so that he was not [p.102]heard to utter another profane word on his tour. This was related to Mr. Hebard by one Elijah Wood, who was an eye witness of the scene, and who was afterward a preacher of the gospel. The son of Mr. Hebard, a settled minister, gives this relation.
Let this fact of the Indians generally adhering to one, and only one God, be contrasted with the polytheism of the world of pagans, and heathen besides; with the idle and ridiculous notions of heathen gods and goddesses; and who can doubt of the true origin of the natives of our continent? They are fatally destitute of proper views of God and religion. But they have brought down by tradition from their remote ancestors, the notion of there being but one great and true God; which affords a most substantial argument in favour of their being the ancient Israel.
It is agreed that within about eighty years, a great change has been produced among the Indians. They have in this period much degenerated as to their traditional religion. Their connexions [connections] with the most degenerate part of the white people, trading among them; and their knowledge and use of ardent spirit, have produced the most deleterious effects. They have felt less zeal to maintain their own religion, such as it was; and to transmit their own traditions. Remarkable indeed it is, that they did so diligently propagate and transmit them, till so competent a number of good testimonies should be furnished to the civilized and religious world, relative to their origin. This must have been the great object of divine Providence in causing them so remarkably to transmit their traditions through such numbers of ages. And when the end is answered, the cause leading to it may be expected to cease.
This may account for the degeneracy of some Indians far to the west, reported in the journals of Mr. Giddings, in his exploring tour. He informs, “They differ greatly in their ideas of the Great Spirit; one supposes that he dwells in a buffalo, another in a wolf, another in a bear, another in a bird, another in a rattlesnake. On great occasions, such as when they [p.103]go to war, and when they return, (he adds) they sacrifice a dog, and have a dance. On these occasions they formerly sacrificed a prisoner taken in the war; but through the benevolent exertions of a trader among them, they have abandoned the practice of human sacrifice. There is always one who officiates as high priest. He practises [sic] the most rigid abstinence. He pretends to a kind of inspiration, or witchcraft; and his directions are obeyed.
“They all believe (he adds) in future rewards and punishments; but their heaven is sensual. They differ much in their ideas of goodness. One of their chiefs told him, he did not know what constituted a good man; that their wise men in this, did not agree.
“Their chiefs, and most of their warriors, have a war sack, which contains generally, the skin of a bird, which has green plumage; or some other object, which they imagine to have some secret virtue.”
Here we learn that those far distant savages have (as have all other tribes) their Great Spirit, “who made every thing,” though in their bewildered opinion he dwells in certain animals. On going to war, or returning, they must sacrifice; and for victory obtained, must have their religious dance. They must have their high priest, who must practice great abstinence, and pretend to inspiration; and hence must be obeyed.—They have brought down their traditional notions of these things; and of future rewards and punishments. The ark of their war like chieftains, it seems, has degenerated into a sack! but this (like the ark of the other tribes) must contain their most sacred things; “green plumage, or some other objects which they imagine to have some secret virtue.” Here these Indians furnish their quota of evidence, in these more broken traditions, of their descent from Israel.
These tribes in the west are more savage, and know less of the old Indian traditions. Mr. Giddings says, “As you ascend the Missouri and proceed to the west, the nearer to the state of nature the savages approach, and the more savage they appear.” This may [p.104]account for their ark’s degenerating into a sack; and for their verging nearer to idolatry in their views of the Great Spirit, viewing man as embodied in certain animals.
A chief of the Delaware Indians far in the west, visited by Messrs. Dodge and Blight, Jan. 1824, from the Union Mission, gave the following information to these missionaries. The chief was said by these missionaries “to be a grave and venerable character, possessing a mind which (if cultivated) would render him probably not inferior to some of the first statesman of our country.” On being inquired of by them whether he believed in the existence of a Supreme Being? he replied; “Long ago, before ever a white man stepped his foot in America, the Delaware knew there was one God; and believed there was a hell, where bad folks would go when they die; and a heaven, where good folks would go.” He went on to state (these missionaries inform) that “he believed there was a devil, and he was afraid of him. These things (he said) he knew were handed down by his ancestors long before William Penn arrived in Pennsylvania. He said, he also knew it to be wrong if a poor man came to his door hungry and naked, to turn him away empty. For he believed God loved the poorest of men better than he did proud rich men. Long time ago, (he added) it was a good custom among his people to take but one wife, and that for life. But now they had become so foolish, and so wicked, that they would take a number of wives at a time; and turn them away at pleasure!” He was asked to state what he knew of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He replied that “he knew but little about him. For his part, he knew there was one God. He did not know about two Gods.” This evidence needs no comment to show that it appears to be Israelitish tradition, in relation to the one God, to heaven, hell, the devil, and to marriage, as taught in the Old Testament, as well as God’s estimation of the proud rich, and the poor. These things he assures us came down from their [p.105]ancestors, before ever any white man appeared in America. But the great peculiarity which white men [p.76]would naturally teach them (if they taught any thing,) that Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Saviour of the world, he honestly confesses he knew not this part of the subject.
The following is an exact of a letter from Mr. Calvin Cushman, missionary among the Choctaws, to a friend in Plainfield, Mass. in 1824.
“By information received of father Hoyt respecting the former traditions, rites and ceremonies of the Indians of this region, I think there is much reason to believe they are the descendants of Abraham.—They have had cities of refuge, feasts of first fruits, sacrifices of the firstlings of the flocks, which had to be perfect without blemish or deformity, a bone of which must not be broken. They were never known to worship images, nor to offer sacrifice to any god made with hands. They all have some idea and belief of the Great Spirit. Their fasts, holy days, &c. were regulated by sevens, as to time, i.e. seven sleeps, seven moons, seven years, &c. They had a kind of box containing some kind of substance which was considered sacred, and kept an entire secret from the common people. Said box was borne by a number of men who were considered pure or holy, (if I mistake not such a box was kept by the Cherokees.) And whenever they went to war with another tribe they carried this box; and such was its purity in their view, that nothing would justify its being rested on the ground. A clean rock or scaffold of timber only, was considered sufficiently pure for a resting place for this sacred coffer. And such was the veneration of all the tribes for it, that whenever the party retaining it, was defeated, and obliged to leave it on the field of battle, the conquerors would by no means touch it.” This account well accords with accounts of various others from different regions of the Indians. But it is unaccountable upon every principle except that the Indians are the descendants of Israel.
[p.106]It is probable that while most of the natives of our land had their one Great Spirit, some of this wretched people talked of their different gods. Among the natives on Martha’s Vineyard, in the beginning of Mayhew’s mission among them, we find Mioxo, in his conversation with the converted native, Hiaccomes, speaking of his thirty-seven gods; and finally concluding to throw them all away, to serve the one true God. We know not what this insulated native could mean by his thirty-seven gods. But it seems evident from all quarters, that such were not the sentiments of the body of the natives of America.
The ancient natives on Long Island talked of their different subordinate gods. Sampson Occum, the noted Indian preacher, says; “the Indians on Long Island imagined a great number of gods.” But he says “they had (at the same time) a notion of one great and good God, who was over all the rest.” Here doubtless, was their tradition of the holy angels which they had become accustomed to call gods under the one great God. The North American Reviewers speak of the fact, that the natives of our land acknowledged one supreme God. They inquire, “If the Indians in general have not some settled opinion of a Supreme Being; how has it happened that in all the conferences or talks of the white people with them, they have constantly spoken of the Great Spirit; as they denominate the Ruler of the universe?”
Lewis and Clark inform us of the Mandans, (a tribe far toward the Pacific) thus; “The whole religion of the Mandans consists in a belief of one Great Spirit presiding over their destinies. To propitiate whom, every attention is lavished, and every personal consideration is sacrificed.” One Mandan informed that lately he had eight horses; but that he had offered them all up to the Great Spirit. His mode of doing it was this; he took them into the plains, and turned them all loose; committing them to the Great Spirit, he abandoned them forever. The horses, less devout than their master, no doubt took care of themselves.
[p.107]Heckewelder (a venerable missionary among the Indians 40 years, noted in Doct. Jarvis’ discourse, before the New York Historical Society, and who had a great acquaintance with the wide spread dialect of the Delaware language,) says; “Habitual devotion to the great First Cause, and a strong feeling of gratitude for the benefits he confers, is one of the prominent traits which characterize the mind of the untutored Indian. He believes it to be his duty to adore and worship his Creator and Benefactor.”
Gookin, a writer in New England in 1674, says of the natives; “generally they acknowledge one great Supreme doer of good.” Roger Williams, one of the first settlers of New England, says; “He that questions whether God made the world, the Indians will teach him. I must acknowledge (he adds) I have in my concourse with them, received many confirmations of these two great points;—1. that God is; 2. that He is a rewarder of all that diligently seek him. If they receive any good in hunting, fishing or harvesting, they acknowledge God in it.”
Surely then, the natives of the deserts of America must have been a people who once knew the God of Israel! They maintained for more than two millenaries, the tradition of Him in many respects correct. What possible account can be given of this, but that they were descendants of Israel, and that the God of Israel has had his merciful eye upon them, with a view in his own time to bring them to light, and effect their restoration.
6. The celebrated William Penn gives accounts of the natives of Pennsylvania, which go to corroborate the same point. Mr. Penn saw the Indians of Pennsylvania, before they had been affected with the rude treatment of the white people. And in a letter to a friend in England he thus writes of those natives; “I found them with like countenances with the Hebrew race; and their children of so lively a resemblance to them, that a man would think himself in Duke’s place, or Barry street in London, when he sees them.” Here, without the least previous idea of these natives [p.108]being Israelites, that shrewd man was struck with their being Israelites, that shrewd man was struck with their perfect resemblance of them; and with other things which will be noted. He speaks of their dress and trinkets, as notable, like those of ancient Israel; their ear rings, nose jewels, bracelets on their arms and legs, rings (such as they were) on their fingers, necklaces, made of polished shells found in their rivers, and on their coast; bands, shells and feathers ornamenting the heads of females, and various strings of beads adorning several parts of the body.
Mr. Penn adds to his friend, “that he considered this people as under a dark night; yet they believed in God and immortality, without the help of metaphysics. For he says they informed him that there was a great king, who made them—that the souls of the good shall go to him.” He adds; “Their worship consists in two parts, sacrifice and cantieo, (songs.) The first is with their first fruits; and the first buck they kill goes to the fire.” Mr. Penn proceeds to describe their splendid feast of the first fruits, one of which he attended. He informs; “all that go to this feast must take a piece of money, which is made of bone and a fish.” “None shall appear before me empty.” He speaks of the agreement of their rites with those of the Hebrews. He adds;—”They reckon by moons; they offer their first ripe fruits; they have a kind of feast of tabernacles; they are said to lay their altars with twelve stones; they mourn a year; they have their separations of women; with many other things that do not now occur.” Here is a most artless testimony, given by that notable man, drawn from his own observations, and accounts given by him; while the thought of this people’s being actually Hebrew, probably was most distant from his mind.
7. Their having a tribe, answering in various respects to the tribe of Levi, sheds further light on this subject.*** The thought naturally occurs, that if these are the ten tribes, and they have preserved so many of their religious traditions; should we not be likely to find among them some tradition of a tribe answering to [p.109]the tribe of Levi? If we should find something of this, the evidence of their being the tribes of Israel would indeed be more striking. Possibly this is furnished. The Mohawk tribe were held by the other tribes in great reverence; and the other tribes round about them had been accustomed to pay them an annual tribute. Mr. Boudinot gives the following account of them. “Mr. Colden says, he had been told by old men (Indians) in New England, that when their Indians were at war formerly with the Mohawks, as soon as one (a Mohawk) appeared, the Indians would raise a cry, from hill to hill, a Mohawk! a Mohawk! upon which all would flee as sheep before a wolf, without attempting to make the least resistance. And that all the nations around them have for many years entirely submitted to their advice, and paid them a yearly tribute. And the tributary nations dared not to make war or peace, without the consent of the Mohawks,” Mr. Colden goes on to state an instance of their speech to the governor of Virginia, in which it appears the Mohawks were the correctors of the misdoings of the other tribes.
Now, could any thing be found in their name, which might have an allusion to the superiority of the tribe of Levi, we should think the evidence very considerable, that here are indeed the descendants of the part of that tribe which clave to the house of Israel. And here too evidence seems not wholly wanting. The Hebrew word Mhhokek, signifies an interpreter of the law superior. We have, then, a new view of the possible origin of the Mohawks!
8. Several prophetic traits of character given of the Hebrews, do accurately apply to the aborigines of America. Intemperance may be first noted. Isaiah, writing about the time of the expulsion of Israel from Canaan, and about to predict their restoration, says; Isai. xxviii. 1—”Wo to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim; (Ephraim was a noted name of the ten tribes of Israel.) The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet. For all tables shall [p.80]be full of vomit and filthiness; so that there is no place clean.”
[p.110]In the course of the descriptions of their drunkenness, that of their rejection and restoration is blended; that the Lord by a mighty one would cast them down to the earth; and their glorious beauty should be like that of a rich flower in a fertile valley, which droops, withers and dies. But in time God would revive it. “In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of this people.” None who know the character of the Indians in relation to intemperance, need to be informed that this picture does most singularly apply to them.
Doctor Williams in his history of Vermont, on this trait of Indian character, says; “no sooner had the Indians tasted of the spirituous liquors brought by Europeans, than they contracted a new appetite, which they were wholly unable to govern. The old and the young, the sachem, the warrior, and the women, whenever they can obtain liquors, indulge themselves without moderation and without decency, till universal drunkenness takes place. All the tribes appear to be under the dominion of this appetite, and unable to govern it.”
A writer in the Connecticut Magazine assures us of the Indians in Massachusetts, when our fathers first arrived there; “As soon as they had a taste of ardent spirits, they discovered a strong appetite for them; and their thirst soon became insatiable.”
Another trait of Hebrew character which singularly applies to the Indians, is found in Isai. iii. “The bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet; their cauls, and round tires like the moon; their chains, bracelets, mufflers, bonnets, ornaments of the legs; head bands, tablets, ear rings, rings, and nose-jewels; the mantles, the wimples; and the crisping pins.” One would imagine the prophet was here indeed describing the natives of America in their full dress! No other people on earth probably bear a resemblance to such a degree.
This description was given just before the expulsion of Israel. And nothing would be more likely than that their taste for these flashy ornaments should descend to posterity. For these make the earliest and deepest impressions on the rising generation. And many of the Indians exhibit the horrid contrast which there follows.
Mr. Pixley of the Union Mission, being out among the Indians over Sabbath, thus wrote in his journal.—”I have endeavoured to pay a little attention to the day, (the Sabbath) by building a fire in the woods, and there reading my bible. In reading the third chapter of the prophet Isaiah, I found in the latter part of the chapter a striking analogy between the situation of this people, and the conditions of the people about whom the prophet was speaking, which I never before discovered. They are represented by the prophet as sitting on the ground; having their secret parts discovered; having given to them instead of a sweet smell, a stench; instead of a girdle, a rent; instead of well set hair, baldness; instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; and burning, instead of beauty. In all these particulars, except that of baldness, the prediction of the prophet is amply fulfilled in this people. And even this exception would be removed, if we might suppose that their shaving their heads with a razor, leaving one small lock on the crown, could constitute the baldness hinted. And certainly if any women in the world labour to secure their own bread and water, and yet a number of them be attached to one man to take away their reproach, you will find it among this people, whether the prediction may or may not be applied to them.”
9. The Indians being in tribes, with their heads and names of tribes, affords further light upon this subject. The Hebrews not only had their tribes, and heads of tribes, as have the Indians’ but they had their annual emblems of their tribes. Dan’s emblem was a serpent; Issachar’s an ass; Benjamin’s a wolf; and Judah’s a lion. And this trait of character is not wanting among the natives of this land. They have their wolf tribe; their tiger tribe; panther tribe; buffalo tribe; bear tribe; deer tribe; raccoon tribe; eagle [p.112]tribe; and many others. What other nation on earth bears any resemblance to this? Here, no doubt, is Hebrew tradition.
Various of the emblems given in Jacob’s last blessing, have been strikingly fulfilled in the American Indian. “Dan shall be a serpent by the way; an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that the rider shall fall backwards. Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey; and at night he shall divide the spoil.” Had the prophetic eye rested on the American aborigines, it seems as though no picture could have been more accurate.
10. Their having an imitation of the ancient city of refuge, evinces the truth of our subject. Their city of refuge has been hinted from Mr. Adair. But as this is so convincing an argument, (no nation on earth having any thing of the kind, but the ancient Hebrews and [p.82]the Indians.) the reader shall be more particularly instructed on this article. Of one of these places of refuge, Mr. Boudinot says; “The town of refuge called Choate is on a large stream of the Mississippi, five miles above where Fort London formerly stood. Here, some years ago, a brave Englishman was protected, after killing an Indian warrior in defence [sic] of his property. He told Mr. Adair that after some months stay in this place of refuge, he intended to return to his house in the neighborhood; but the chiefs told him it would prove fatal to him. So that he was obliged to continue there till he pacified the friends of the deceased by presents to their satisfaction. “In the upper country of Muskagee, (says Doctor Boudinot) was an old beloved town, called Koosah—which is a place of safety for those who kill undesignedly.”
“In almost every Indian nation (he adds) there are several peaceable towns, which are called old beloved, holy, or white towns. It is not within the memory of the oldest people that blood was ever shed in them; although they often force persons from them, and put them elsewhere to death.” Who can read this, and not be satisfied of the origin of this Indian tradition.
[p.113]Bartram informs; “We arrived at the Apalachnela town, in the Creek nation. This is esteemed the mother town sacred to peace. No captives are put to death, nor human blood spilt here.”
Adair assures us, that the Cherokees, though then exceedingly corrupt, yet so inviolably observed the law of refuge, at that time, that even the wilful murderer was secure while in it. But if he left it, he had no protection, but must expect death.
In a communication from Rev. Mr. Pixley, missionary in the Great Osage mission, to the Foreign Secretary, dated June 25, 1824—among other things he says; “There is a class among the Indians called the Cheshoes, whose lodges are sacred as respects the stranger and the enemy who can find their way into them,—not very dissimilar to the ancient city of refuge.
The well known trait of Indian character, that they will pursue one who has killed any of their friends, ever so far, and ever so long, as an avenger of the blood shed, thus lies clearly open to view. It originated in the permission given to the avenger of blood in the commonwealth of Israel; and is found in such a degree probably in no other nation.
11. Their variety of traditions, historical and religious, go to evince that they are the ten tribes of Israel. Being destitute of books and letters, the Indians have transmitted their traditions in the follow-[p.83]ing manner. Their most sedate and promising young men are some of them selected by what they call their beloved men, or wise men, who in their turn had been thus selected. To these they deliver their traditions, which are carefully retained. These are instead of historic pages and religious books.
Some of these Indian traditions, as furnished from good authorities, shall be given. Different writers agree that the natives have their historic traditions of the reason and manner of their fathers coming into this country, which agree with the account given in Esdras, of their leaving the land of Media, and going to a land to the northeast, to the distance of a year [p.114]and a half’s journey. M’Kenzie gives the following account of the Chepewyan Indians, far to the southwest. He says; “They have also a tradition among them, that they originally came from another country, inhabited by very wicked people, and had traversed a great lake, which was in one place narrow, shallow, and full of islands, where they had suffered great misery; it being always winter, with ice, and deep snows. At the Copper Mine River, where they made the first land, the ground was covered with copper, over which a body of earth has since been collected to the depth of a man’s height.” Doctor Boudinot speaks of this tradition among the Indians. Some of them call that obstructing water a river, and some a lake. And he assures us the Indian tradition is, “that nine parts of their nation, out of ten, passed over the river; but the remainder refused and staid behind.” Some give account of their getting over it; others not. What a striking description is here found of the passing of the natives of this continent, over from the north-east of Asia, to the north-west of America, at Beering’s Straits. These straits all agree, are less than forty miles wide, at this period; and no doubt they have been continually widening. Doctor Williams, in his history of Vermont, says they are but eighteen miles wide. Probably they were not half that width 2500 years ago. And they were full of islands, the Indian tradition assures us. Many of those islands may have been washed away; as the Indian tradition says, “the sea is eating them up;” as in Dr. Boudinot.
Other tribes assures us that their remote fathers, on their way to this country, “came to a great river which they could not pass; when God dried up the river that they might pass over.” Here is a traditionary notion among the Indians of God’s anciently drying up rivers before their ancestors. Their fathers in some way got over Beering’s Straits. And having a tradition of rivers being dried up before the fathers, they applied it to this event. Those straits, after Israel had been detained for a time there, might have been frozen over in the narrows between the islands; or they might have [p.115]been passed by canoes, or other craft. The natives of this land, be they who they may, did in fact arrive in this continent; and they probably must have come over those straits. And this might have been done by Israel, as well as by any other people.
Relative to their tradition of coming where was abundance of copper; it is a fact, that at, or near Beering’s Straits, there is a place called Copper Island, from the vast quantities of this metal there found. In Grieve’s history we are informed that copper there covers the shore in abundance; so that ships might easily be loaded with it. The Gazetteer speaks of this, and that an attempt was made in 1770 to obtain this copper, but that the ice even in July, was so abundant, and other difficulties such, that the object was relinquished. Here, then, those natives made their way to this land; and brought down the knowledge of this event in their tradition.
Doctor Boudinot gives it as from good authority, that the Indians have a tradition “that the book which the white people have was once theirs. That while they had this book things went well with them; they prospered exceedingly; but that other people got it from them; that the Indians lost their credit; offended the Great Spirit, and suffered exceedingly from the neighboring nations; and that the Great Spirit then took pity on them, and directed them to this country.” There can be no doubt that God did, by his special providence, direct them to some sequestered region of the world, for the reasons which have been already given.
M’Kenzie adds the following accounts of the Chepewyan nation; “They believe also that in ancient times, their ancestors lived till their feet were worn out with walking, and their throats with eating. They describe a deluge, when the waters spread over the whole earth, except the highest mountains; on the tops of which they preserved themselves.” This tradition of longevity of the ancients, and of the flood, must have been from the word of God in ancient Israel.
[p.116]Abbe Clavigero assures us, that the natives of Mexico had the tradition, that “there once was a great deluge; and Tepzi, in order to save himself from being drowned, embarked in a ship, with his wife and children, and many animals.—That as the waters abated, he sent out a bird, which remained eating dead bodies. He then sent out a little bird, which returned with a small branch.”
Doctor Beatty says that an Indian in Ohio informed, that one of their traditions was; “Once the waters had overflowed all the land, and drowned all the people then living, except a few, who made a great canoe and were saved.”
The Indian added, to Dr. Beatty, that “a long time ago the people went to build a high place; that while they were building, they lost their language, and could not understand each other.”
Doctor Boudinot assures us that two ministers of his acquaintance informed him, that they being among the Indians away toward the Mississippi, the Indians there (who never before saw a white man.) informed him that one of their traditions was,—a great while ago they had a common father, who had the other people under him; that he had twelve sons by whom he administered his government; but the sons behaving illy, lost this government over the other people. This the two ministers conceived to be a pretty evident traditionary notion concerning Jacob and his twelve sons.
Mr. Adair informs that the southern Indians have a tradition that their ancestors once had a “sanctified rod, which budded in one night’s time;” which seems a tradition of Aaron’s rod.
Various traditions of the Indians strikingly denote their Hebrew extraction. Dr. Beatty informs of their feast, called the hunter’s feast; answering, he thinks, to the Pentecost in ancient Israel. He describes it as follows;–
They choose twelve men, who provide twelve deer. Each of the twelve men cuts a saplin; with these they form a tent, covered with blankets. They then [p.117]choose twelve stones for an altar of sacrifice. Some tribes, he observes, choose but ten men, ten poles, and ten stones. Here seems an evident allusion to the twelve tribes; and also to some idea of the ten separate tribes of Israel. Upon the stones of their altar they suffered no tool to pass. No tool might pass upon a certain altar in Israel.
The middle point of the thigh of their game, Dr. Beatty informs, the Indians refuse to eat. Thus did ancient Israel, after the angel had touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank: Gen. xxxii 25, 31, 32. “In short, (says Dr. Beatty,) I was astonished to find so many of the Jewish customs prevailing among them; and began to conclude there was some affinity between them and the Jews.”
Col. Smith, in his history of New Jersey, says of another region of Indians, “They never eat of the hollow of the thigh of any thing they kill.” Charlevoix, speaking of the Indians still further to the north, says, he met with people who could not help thinking that the Indians were descended from the Hebrews, and found in every thing some affinity between them. Some things he states; as on certain meals, neglecting the use of knives; not breaking a bone of the animal they eat; never eating the part under the lower joint of the thigh; but throwing it away. Such are their traditions from their ancient fathers. Other travellers [sic] among them speak of their peculiar evening feast, in which no bone or their sacrifice may be broken, No bone might be broken of the ancient paschal lamb of Israel, which was eaten in the evening.
Different men who had been eye witnesses, speak of this, and other feasts, resembling the feasts in Israel; and tell us relative to this peculiar evening feast, that if one family cannot eat all they have prepared, a neighbouring family is invited to partake with them; and if any of it be still left, it must be burned before the next rising sun. None who read the law of the Passover can doubt the origin of this.
A Christian friend of mine informs me, that he some time since read in a book which he now cannot [p.118]name, the account of a man taken at Quebec, in Montgomery’s defeat; as he being carried far to the north west by Indians; and of a feast which they kept, in which each had his portion in a bowl; that he was charged to be very careful not to injure a bone of it; that each must eat all his bowl full, or must burn what was left on a fire, burning in the midst for this purpose. The object of the feast he knew not.
The Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, in a letter to the writer of this View, says; “An officer of the British army, stationed at Halifax, has been at Boston this season; (1823;) and I am informed he has expressed a strong opinion that the Indians are of Israelitish descent. He derives this opinion from what he has seen and known of the Indians themselves.”
The Rev. Mr. Frey, the celebrated Jewish preacher, and Agent for the American Meliorating Society, upon reading the Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, and warmly approving of this sentiment in it, with the others, that the American Indians are the ten tribes, informed the writer of these sheets, that he owned a pamphlet, written by the earl of Crawford and Linsey, (England,) entitled “The Ten Tribes.” [p.87]In this the author gives a variety of reasons why he is convinced that the American Indians are descendants of the ten tribes. The earl was a British office in America during the Revolutionary war; and was much conversant with the Indians. And his arguments in favor of their being the very Israel, are from what he himself observed and learned while among them. The pamphlet was where Mr. Frey could not at present obtain it. The writer regrets that he could not have access to this document before this edition went to press.
The Indians have their feasts of first ripe fruits, or of green corn; and will eat none of their corn till a part is thus given to God. The celebrated Penn, Mr. Adair, and Col. Smith, with others, unite in these testimonies. In these Indian feasts they have their sacred songs and dances; singing Halleluyah, Yohewah, in the syllables which compose the words. [p.119]What other nation, besides the Hebrew and Indians ever in this manner attempted the worship of Jehovah? The author of the “Star in the West” says; “May we not suppose that these Indians formerly understood the psalms and divine hymns? Otherwise, how came it to pass that some of all the inhabitants of the extensive regions of North and South America have, and retain, these very expressive Hebrew words, and repeat them so distinctly; using them after the manner of the Hebrews, in their religious acclamations?”
The Indian feast of harvest, and annual expiation of sin, is described by these writers; and in a way which enforces the conviction that they derived them from ancient Israel. Details are given in the Star in the West. My limits will permit only to hint at them. The detailed accounts are worth perusing.
An Indian daily sacrifice is described. They throw a small piece of the fattest of their meat into the fire, before they eat. They draw their newly killed venison through the fire. The blood they often burn. It is with them a horrid abomination to eat the blood of their game. This was a Hebrew law.
A particular or two of their feasts shall be noted. Doctor Beatty gives an account of what he saw among the Indians north west of the Ohio. He says; “Before they make use of any of the first fruits of the ground, twelve of their old men meet; when a deer and some of the first fruits are provided. The deer is divided into twelve parts; and the corn beaten in a mortar, and prepared for use by boiling or baking under the ashes, and of course unleavened. This also is divided into twelve parts. Then these (twelve) men hold up the venison and fruits, [p.88]and pray, with their faces to the east, acknowledging (as is supposed) the bounty of God to them. It is then eaten. After this they freely enjoy the fruits of the earth. On the evening of the same day, (the Doctor adds) they have another public feast which looks like the Passover. A great quantity of venison is provided, with other things dressed in their usual [p.120]way, and distributed to all the guests; of which they eat freely that evening. But that which is left is thrown into the fire and burned; as none of it must remain till sun rise the next day; nor must a bone of the venison be broken.”
Mr. Boudinot says, “It is fresh in the memory of the old traders, (among the Indians) as we are assured by those who have long lived among them, that formerly none of the numerous nations of Indians would eat, or even handle any part of the new harvest, till some of it had been offered up at the yearly festival by the beloved man (high priest) or those of his appointment at the plantation; even though the light harvest of the past year should almost have forced them to give their women and children of the ripening fruits to sustain life.” Who that reads the laws of Moses, can doubt the origin of these Indian traditions?
The Hebrews were commanded to eat their Passover with bitter herbs; Exod. xii. 8. The Indians have a notable custom of purifying themselves with bitter herbs and roots. Describing one of their feasts, the writer says, “At the end of the notable dance, the old beloved women return home to hasten the feast. In the mean time every one at the temple drinks plentifully of the Cussena, and other bitter liquids, to cleanse their sinful bodies, as they suppose.”
The Indians have their traditionary notion clearly alluding to the death of Abel, by the murderous hand of Cain; as well as one alluding to the longevity of the ancients.
More full accounts are given by some of these authors, of the Archi-magus of the Indians—their high priest. As the high priest in Israel was inducted into office by various ceremonies, and by anointing; so is the Indian high priest by purification, and by anointing. Which the holy garments are put upon him, bear’s oil is poured on his head. And it is stated that the high priest have their resemblances of the various ornaments worn by the ancient high priests; and even a resemblance of the breast plate. These men [p.121]have been called by the white people, ignorant of Indian customs, jugglers. But they are now ascertained by good witnesses, as a manifest though corrupt succession of the high priesthood in ancient Israel. Bartram says, those, with inferior priests and prophets, have been maintained in most if not all the tribes.
The Indian high priest makes his yearly atonement for sin. He appears at their temple, (such as it is) arrayed in his white deer skin garments, seeming to answer to the ancient ephod. Entering on his duty, the waiter spreads a white seat with a white dressed buckskin, close by the holiest apartment of their temple; and puts on his white beads offered by the people. A variety of curious things are described in this dress, by Mr. Adair, as pretty evidently designed imitations of the parts of ancient pontifical dress. The dress is left in the holy place of their temple, till the high priest comes to officiate again. His breast plate is made of a white conch shell, through which two straps of otter skin pass in two perforations; whole white buttons of buck’s horn are superadded [sic], as though in imitation of the precious stones on the ancient breast plate. A swan skin wreath adorns his head, instead of the ancient plate of gold, and for the ancient tiara, the Archi-magus has his tuft of white feathers. His holy fire he obtains by rubbing two sticks together; and his golden bells and pomegranates are formed of the dried spurs of wild turkies [sic], strung so as to rattle on his fine mocasins [sic].
Mr. Adair assures us, when the Indian Archi-magus (high priest) is addressing his people, and enforcing “the divine speech,” that he calls them “the beloved and holy people,” according to the language concerning ancient Israel, He urges them “to imitate their virtuous ancestors,” and “flourishes upon their beloved land, flowing with milk and honey.”
Mr. Adair describes the Indian feasts, and speaks of them as bearing a very near resemblance of the stated feasts in ancient Israel. He gives account that when the Indians are about to engage in war, they have their preparatory sacrifices, purifications, and fastings. He [p.122]speaks of their daily sacrifice, their ablutions, marriages, divorces, burials, mournings for the dead, separations of women, and punishment for various crimes, as being in his opinion manifestly of Hebrew origin.
The purifications, fastings, abstinences, and prayers, to prepare for war, appear to be Hebrew. Adair says: “Before the Indians go to war, they have many preparatory ceremonies of purification and fasting, like what is recorded of the Israelites. When the leader begins to beat up for volunteers, he goes three times round his dark winter house, contrary to the course of the sun, sounding the war-whoop, singing the war song, and beating a drum.**** He addresses the crowd, who come about him, and after much ceremony, he proceeds to whoop again for the warriors to come and join him, and sanctify themselves for success against the common enemy, according to their ancient religious law. A number soon join him in his winter house, where they live separate from all others, and purify themselves for the space of three days and three nights, exclusive of the first broken day. On each day they observe a strict fast till sunset, watching the young men very narrowly (who have not been initiated in war titles) lest unusual hunger should tempt them to violate it, to the supposed danger of all their lives in the war, by destroying the power of their purifying, beloved physic, which they drink plentifully that time. They are such strict observers of their law of purification, and think it so essential in obtaining health and success in war, as not to allow the best beloved trader that ever lived among them, knowingly, to enter the beloved ground appropriated to the duty of being sanctified for war, much less to associate with the camp in the woods, at such a time, though he is united with them in the same war design. They oblige him to walk and encamp separately by himself, as an impure, dangerous animal, till the leader hath purified him, according to the usual time and method, with the consecrated things of the ark.”
[p.123]Rev. Mr. Chapman, missionary in the west, informs us that when the Osages (with whom he was going in company to Fort Smith) had just before they arrived purified themselves, to be able to form their treaty with the Cherokees aright and had moved on, he was about to proceed with them; but the chief forbid him on pain of death. He must for a season be separate from them, as impure. How exactly like the treatment of the stranger in the economy of Israel!
Boudinot assures us that the Indians abstain from all matrimonial intercourse three days before going to war, while purifying themselves;–also during their being out at war; and for three days after they return. The Israelites were commanded before they marched against an enemy to wash their clothes, to avoid all impurities, and to abstain from matrimonial intercourse. These Indian customs fully appear to have originated in those ancient divine orders; as do many of their rites and customs.
[p.91]Their reckonings of time, Mr. Adair viewed as evidently Hebrew. They begin their year, as did Israel, at the first appearance of new moon after the vernal equinox. They reckon by the four seasons, and by the sub-divisions of the moons.
Bartram says, the Indians believe their high priests have intimate communion with the world of spirits; and that no great design is formed by the Indians without his counsel.
The Assinipoils, far to the west, we learn in Capt. Carver’s travels among the western Indians, have their high priest, who pretends to great intimacy with the Great Spirit, and to be able to foretel [sic] future events; as is the case with the Killistinoes, at the Grand Portage. Certain things he thus found among different Indians, which show them to have been of the same Origin .
Within about eighty years, men inform, that these rites of the high priests have been more neglected. The Indians inform that in 1747, the high priest in the Hatches was struck dead by lightning, while using his invocation for rain. They suppose the Great Spirit to [p.124]have been angry with him for some impurity; and with the “darting fire and threatening voice,” took him away; and forbid them to renew the like attempt.
Bartram gives a description of a Southern Indian temple. It is a square of small buildings in the centre of their Indian town. The small buildings of one story covers perhaps half acre, more or less, according to the strength of the tribe. In one of these buildings they hold their councils. A part of this building is shut up as a holy of holies; and it is inadmissable for any but the high priest to enter it. Here they deposit their most sacred things; as the physic-pot, rattles, chaplets, eagle’s tail, and pipe of peace.
To this temple “the males (is ancient Israel) are obliged to assemble three times a year: viz. at the feast of the first ripe fruits; at the feast for the success of hunting, about the time of the ancient Pentecost; and the great feast for the expiation of sins, about the tune of ripe corn.” No account could be given of these things, without a complicated miracle, unless the Indians have descended from the tribes of Israel.
Mr. Boudinot informs, that “when any of their beloved people die, they soften the thought of death by saying, “he is gone to sleep with his beloved fathers.” The ancient pious Hebrews dying, “fell asleep, and was gathered to his people.”
The Indians when one dies, wash and anoint the body. The Hebrews did the same.
Some of the southern Indians hire mourners to bewail and magnify the merits of the dead. Thus did the Hebrews: Jer. ix. 17. And the Indians, as did the Hebrews, have their solemn songs on such occasions. A religious procession moves round the corpse, singing, Yah, (Jah.) Ho, is then sung by the procession. The leader then says, Hej—all follow. Then Wah is sung by all. Thus they sing the syllables which compose Jah, Jehovah. The corpse is then buried with the face to the east.
Lewis and Clark, in their tour to the Pacific, inform that they found among the natives, in those remote [p.125]regions, receptacles for the dead, always lying east and west; the door of the tomb to the east, and the bodies in the tombs lying with the face to the east.
The Indians often bury with the corpse a variety of furniture; and their best things, if the dead be a first character. The Hebrews did the same. Josephus informs that Hyrcanus, a Maccabee, when Jerusalem was besieged by the Syrain [sic] tyrant, and money was wanted, took from king David’s sepulchre 3000 talents, which had 1300 years before been buried with him.
Another noted Hebrew custom the Indians have. Doctor Boudinot informs, that a worthy minister informed him, that as he was preaching with some Indians, between the exercises, tidings were brought to an Indian woman present, that her son was suddenly drowned. In deep distress she retired to a little distance, and sat on the ground. Female friends followed, and sat around her. After sitting a season in solemn silence, the mourning mother put her hand upon her mouth, and then fell forward with her face in the dust. The rest all followed the example. The men went by themselves, and did the same. It is well known that laying the hand on the mouth, and the mouth in the dust, is a distinguished Hebraism. See Micah vii. 16; Lam. iii. 29; Prov. xxx. 32.
In the Mosaic law it was provided that the surviving brother of one deceased and childless, should marry his widow, to raise up seed to his brother. Mr. Adair informs that the Indians have a custom which appears to have originated in this law. A widow among them is bound by a strict Indian custom, to mourn the death of her husband for three years or more, unless the brother of her deceased husband wishes to take her. In that case, she is released from this law, as soon as it is known that the brother makes love to her. She may then throw off her [p.93]mourning habits, and dress and paint like others. Certainly this appears to have originated in that Mosaic law.
The ceremonial law for the separation of women, the Indians appear to keep with great care. Dr. Boudinot says; “The southern Indians oblige their [p.126]women in their lunar retreats to build small huts at a considerable distance from their dwelling houses—where they are obliged to stay at the risk of their lives. Should they be known to violate this ancient law, they must answer for every misfortune that the people should meet with.”
“Among the Indians on the north west of the Ohio, the conduct of the women (continues the Doctor) seems perfectly agreeable (as far as circumstances will permit) to the law of Moses. A young woman, at the first change in her circumstances, immediately separates herself from the rest in a hut made at some distance from the dwelling houses, and remains there seven days. The female that brings her food, is careful not to touch her; and so cautious is she herself of touching her own food, that she makes use of a sharpened stick to take up her meat, and of a spoon for her other food. When the seven days are ended, she bathes herself in water, washes all her clothes, and changes the vessel she has made use of. She then returns to her father’s house.”
Dr. Boudinot further says; “A Muskagee woman delivered of a child is separated in like manner for three moons, or eighty four days.” In the ceremonial law the mother of a female child was to be separated eighty days; of a male forty days. Some of the Indian nations, Dr. Boudinot assures us, maintain a similar distinction between male and female children. Can a serious doubt remain of the origin of these Indian customs? What nation on earth beside the Jews and Israel ever maintained customs of separations and purifications like these?
Rev. Dr. Morse and Captain Carver speak of this custom among Indian women, among distant tribes where they have travelled [sic], as will appear. And many other testimonies have been borne to the same Indian rite.
Col. Smith informs that “the young women, when our people first came among them were very modest and shame faced; and both young and old women would be highly offended at indecent expressions.”
[p.127]Major Vose, at Fort Armstrong, in a letter to the secretary of the A. B. C. F. M. says; “I have been informed that in places where [p.94]the Indians have had the least intercourse with the whites, there the men are the most temperate, and the women most chaste.”
The traditional religion, the kind and degree of piety maintained among the Indians, are unaccountable on any other principle than that they came down by tradition from ancient Israel. Some things shall be stated from good authority, which illustrate this particular.
Rev. Dr. Mather and Rev. E. Mayhew both testify to the following fact. Japhet Hannet was an Indian preacher on Martha’s Vineyard. He was born A. D. 1638. His parents had lost before he was born, five infant children. Japhet was the sixth. The writer says; “The mother of this child being greatly distressed with fear lest she should lose it, as she had the former, and utterly despairing of any help from such means as had been formerly tried without success; as soon as she was able, she took him up with a sorrowful heart, and went into a retired place, that she might there give full vent to her grief. While she was there reflecting on the insufficiency of human help, she found it powerfully suggested to her mind, that there is one Almighty God, who is to be prayed to; that this God has created all things; and that the God who had created all things, who had given being to herself and all other people, and had given her child to her, was able to preserve and continue his life. On this, she resolved that she would seek to God for that mercy; and did accordingly. The issue was, that her child lived. And her faith in him, who had thus answered her prayer, was wonderfully strengthened. And the consideration of the divine goodness herein manifested to her, caused her to dedicate this son to the service of that God who had thus preserved his life.
She early informed her son of this her religious act; and did as far as she could educate him accordingly,” [p.128]Both Dr. Mather and Mr. Mayhew inform that this took place before ever the parents of Japhet were taught to know any thing of the Christian religion;—and that this mother was thus prepared to embrace the Christian religion, as soon as she heard of it from the missionary that went to the island. And when she joined the church, she gave this relation. This youth became converted; joined the church of converted Indians on the island; became a very pious and useful man; was a captain of the island, and a great friend to the English in the war with Philip; finally became a pastor of the Indian church there; and died in old age in the triumphs of faith.
How different was the religion of this native of Martha’s Vineyard from that of the eastern heathen world! The knowledge she had, it seems, must have been from Hebrew tradition, and the entail of the covenant with Abraham.
In the third report of the United Foreign Missionary Society, in a letter detailing the happy things which the writer saw at Brainerd mission, he states the effects which the knowledge and conversion of the Indian children in that school visited the parents at home. The aged Indians on hearing the children repeat the instructions given them, were pleased and said; “Now this is good talk. It resembles the talk which the old people used to make to us when we were small children. But alas, the wicked white people (meaning the unprincipled traders among the Indians) who have come among us have rooted it out of our nation. We are glad the Great Spirit has sent these good missionaries to bring it back to us again.”
It is stated on all hands that within about eighty years, the connexion [connection] of the Indians near the English with the white people has much corrupted the Indians, and extinguished much of their traditional religion. Here we find a new testimony to the fact, from the confession of those aged Cherokees. And they discover what seems to them a resemblance between our religious instructions and the traditional instructions [p.129]given by their old people, meaning probably their old beloved wise men (the keepers of their ancient traditions) or high priests, or both, before they knew anything of the white people. This agrees with the other information we receive relative to the religion of the best informed natives.
In the same report of the United Foreign Missionary Society from their missionaries among the Indians at the west, they inform as follows; “It was very interesting to hear them (the natives) at the garrison joining in a kind of sacred singing. Every morning on the first appearance of light, we heard them on all sides around us, for a great distance from the camp, engaged in very earnest prayer to God, their Creator. Thus they did likewise on all extraordinary occasions, as when they received any distinguishing favour.” This was before any mission was established among them; but while the missionaries were exploring the country to select a suitable place for a mission. They were Indians untaught by any thing but their own traditions. The missionaries add; “They are very sincere, temperate, and considerate; and appear to regard the particular providence of God with as much attention and reverence as any Christian people.”
Such evidence as this hardly needs a comment.—What possible account can be given for such traditional religion among a people destitute of the word of God, and of letters, who for thousands of years have been secluded from the knowledge of the civilized world;—only, that they derived it from ancient Hebrew revelation; and that they are of the tribes of Israel?
In other accounts the missionaries at the west inform as follows; “The men are generally of a lofty stature, a tine form, and a frank and open countenances. In council they are dignified; and in their speeches eloquent. Their children are numerous, and remarkably submissive to parental authority. As a people they are punctual, and apparently fervent in their morning and evening devotions. But like the ancient Athenians they address their worship to the unknown God.”
[p.130]Rev. Mr. Pixley, at the great Osage mission, in a tour among the wild natives says: “I asked White Hair (a chief) why he blacked his face this morning? He informed that he might call upon God as we do when we sit down to eat. And I must confess (adds Mr. Pixley) their early rising, and their consistency in attending to their devotions, made me sometimes inquire, What is the power of my religion? and whether it ought not to make me, and all Christians, rise to pray, at least as early as these Indians?”
Mr. Pixley in a subsequent journal says; “The Indians, although extremely singular in their way of worship, might certainly in some respects be imitated with profit by Christians. I allude particularly to the early and persevering attention to it before day, or as soon as the day dawns. Under the force of this habit, if their hearts were ever led to feel and pray aright, they will undoubtedly make most eminent Christians; especially as the heaping up of treasures, and in this sense, the love of the world, seems not to have taken possession of their minds. Let objectors inform, where these Indians learned from the heathen world such religion as they possess?
It has been stated that the Indians have a tradition that as they once, away in another country, had the old divine speech, the book of God; they shall at some time have it again, and shall then be happy. Did not the Indian reputation (noted in the sixth report of the United Foreign Missionary Society, as having come from a wild region beyond the Council Bluffs of the west) in their talk with the Board of [p.97]Managers in New York, probably allude to such traditions? One of them says; “Brothers, we have long since been told, that the red men would, one day, live like white men, and have houses and food like them. These things are long coming to pass. I wish it was so. I have now grown old, and have not seen it.”
In the journals of Rev. Mr. Butrick among the Cherokees, making an excursion among the Indians, he says of a certain chief; “Few men in any nation understand the art of pleasing and of rendering their [p.131]conversion agreeable, better than he. We made known to him the object of our journey. He appeared very thankful, and told us he would lay the subject before the other chiefs, and let us know the result of their consultation. After some conversation, his wife, and old woman, told us, that when she was a small child, the old people used to say that good people would come to instruct the Cherokees at some future period; and that perhaps she and others of her age would live to see the day. And now she thought that, perhaps, we and the other missionaries had come to give them that instruction.”
This traditionary opinion, among the different tribes, (noted also by Mr. Adair, Dr. Boudinot, and others,) it seems, must have been handed down from ancient prophecy of their restoration. They had indeed been seeking the word of God, (according to a prophecy in Amos, of their famine of the word,) but had not found it. God in mercy grant they may now speedily find it.
Dr. Boudinot gives an account of a speech of Cornplant, a chief in the six nations of Indians, expostulating with the head department of our states, on account of lands taken from his people.
This chief had told his people we should not treat them thus; and they were now ready to tear him in pieces, because we had done it. After various affecting remarks, he proceeds; “Father, we will not conceal from you that the Great Spirit, and not man, has preserved Cornplant (his own name) from the hands of his own nation. For they ask continually, where is the land on which our children are to lie down?–You told us (say they) that a line drawn from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, would mark forever our bounds on the east; and a line from Beaver Creek to Pennsylvania would mark it on the west. But we see that it is not so. For first one, and then another comes, and takes it away by order of that people, who you told us promised to secure it to us forever. Cornplant is silent; for he has nothing to answer. When the sun goes down, Cornplant opens his heart before the [p.132]Great Spirit. And earlier than the sun appears again upon the hills, he gives thanks for his protection during the night. For he feels that among men become desperate by the injuries they sustain, it is God only that can preserve him. Cornplant loves peace. All that he had in store, he has given to those who have been robbed by your people, lest they should plunder the innocent to repay themselves.”
The original peaceable and hospitable character of the Indians testifies much relative to their traditional religion as having come down from a divine origin. I might here multiply quotations; but shall content myself with two. These I shall preface with a remark, that the Indian cruelties to our people have been manifestly occasioned by the injuries they have received from various of our people, and by their own traditionary notions, which they think accord with these injuries, that the white people are out of the covenant of the Great Spirit once made with their fathers, are the accursed people, and may well be exterminated.
But let us hear the testimony of Christopher Columbus, as given in Edwards’ West Indies, relative to the peaceable and hospitable temper of the natives of our land, when he first discovered this continent. Writing to his royal Master and Mistress in Spain, he says; “I swear to your majesties, that there is not a better people in the world than these (natives of America;) more affectionate, affable, or mild. They love their neighbors as themselves. Their language is the sweetest, the softest, and most cheerful; for they always speak smiling.” An old native approaching him with a basket of summer fruit, said, (as he seemed to have some fear of the designs of those strangers,) “If you are men subject to mortality like ourselves, you cannot be unapprized that after this life, there is another, in which a very different portion is allotted to good and bad men. If therefore you expect to die, and believe with us that every one is to be rewarded in a future state according to his conduct in the present, you will do no hurt to those who do none to you.”
[p.133]My other quotation is from Dr. Boudinot. He assures us he was present when Gen. Knox gave a dinner in the city of New York, to a deputation of Indians, sachems and a chief, from Indian nations at the west, who came with a message to our President. He says; “A little before dinner, two or three of the sachems, with their chief, went into a balcony at the front of the house; the drawing room being up stairs. From this they had a view of the city, the harbour, Long Island, &c. &c. After remaining there a short time, they returned into the room apparently dejected;—the chief more than the rest. Gen. Knox took notice of it, and said to him; Brother; what has happened to you? You look sorry! Is there any thing to distress you? He answered; I’ll tell you brother. I have been looking at your beautiful city—the great water—your fine country—and see how happy you all are. But then I could not help thinking that this fine country, and this great water were once ours.—Our ancestors lived here. They enjoyed it as their own in peace. It was a gift of the Great Spirit to them and their children. At last the white people came here in a great canoe. They asked only to let them tie it to a tree, lest the water carry it away. We consented. They then said some of their people were sick; and they asked permission to land them and put them under the shade of the trees. The ice then came, and they could not go away. They then begged a piece of land to build wigwams for the winter. We granted it to them. They then asked for some corn to keep them from starving. We kindly furnished it to them. They promised to go away when the ice was gone. When this happened, we told them they must now go away with their big canoe. But they pointed to their big guns, round their wigwams, and said they would stay there, and we could not make them go away. Afterwards more came.—They brought spirituous and intoxicating liquors with them, of which the Indians became very fond. They persuaded us to sell them our land. Finally, they drove us back, from time to time, into the wilderness, [p.134]far from the water, the fish and oysters. They have destroyed our game. Our people are wasted away. And we live miserable and wretched; while you enjoy our fine and beautiful country. This makes me sorry, brother; and I cannot help it.”
Dr. Boudinot informs of the Indians at Yazous and Washtulu, at the south;–of their destructions by the governor of New Orleans, early the last century. The unprovoked cruelties against them are enough to break a heart of stone. They were pursued, burned, and destroyed, and their men sold at St. Domingo for slaves. Of these natives he says; “Of all the Indians they were the most polished and civilized. They had an established religion among them in many particulars rational and consistent; as likewise regular orders of priesthood. They had a temple dedicated to the Great Spirit, in which they preserved the eternal fire. Their civil polity partook of the refinement of a people apparently in some degree learned and scientific. They had kings, or chiefs,—a kind of subordinate nobility,—and the usual distinctions created by rank were well understood and [p.100]preserved among them. They were just, generous, humane, and never failed to extend relief to the objects of distress and misery. They were remarkable for not deeming it glorious to destroy the human species; and therefore seldom waged any other than defensive war.”
Col. Smith, in his history of New Jersey, gives information of the original inhabitants, which have a striking bearing on our subject. He gives an extract from the noted Indian interpreter, Conrad Wiser.—He says; “I write this to give an account of what I have observed among the Indians, in relation to their belief and confidence in a divine Being, according to the observations I made from the year 1714. the time of my youth, to this day. If by religion we mean an attraction of the soul to God, whence proceed a confidence in, and a hunger after the knowledge of him; then this people must be allowed to have some religion among them. We find among them some traits of a confidence in God alone—notwithstanding their savage deportment.”
[p.135]This interpreter gives an account of his being sent, in 1737, by the governor of Virginia on a message to Indians five hundred miles distant, through a pathless dreary desert. Three Indians and a Dutchman accompanied him. Climbing a steep and high mountain on the crust, one of the Indians slipped, and slid off with rapid flight down the mountain. He came to within several paces of a perpendicular precipice over the rocks of a hundred feet; and the strings of his sack caught upon something that held him. He crawled away, and saved his life. Upon this, the writer says; that “with outstretched arms, and great earnestness, he said; I thank the Great Lord and Governor of this world, that he has had mercy upon me, and has been willing that I should live a little longer.”
Mr. Wiser gives an account that he himself was so fatigued and discouraged, before he got through this tour, that he sat down, unobserved by the Indians, under a tree, with the determination to die. They soon missed him, and returned. He told them his determination. After remaining silent awhile, and old Indian said; “My dear companion; thou hast hitherto encouraged us. Wilt thou now quite give up? Remember that evil days are better than good days. For when we suffer much, we do not sin; and sin will be driven out of us by suffering. But good days cause men to sin; and God cannot extend his mercy to such. But when it goes evil with us, God has compassion on us.” These words, Mr. Wiser assures us, made him ashamed; and he got up and went as well as he could.
The Indians murdered a Mr. Armstrong. This Mr. Wiser was sent by Gov. Shamoken to make peace by the punishment of the murderer. After the peace was established, he informs that the chief addressed his people, and “exhorted them to thankfulness to God.” Again he said; “Thanks, thanks be to thee, thou Great Lord of the world, in that thou hast caused the sun to shine, and hast dispersed the dark cloud. The Indians are shine.”
[p.136]Col. Smith gives an account of an old Indian king, Ockanickon, who died 1681. To a proprietor of New Jersey, then with him, he said, as he was about to die; “There are two ways; a broad, and a straight way. The worst and the greatest number go in the broad way; the best and the fewest in the straight way.”
It is fully evident from many sources of information that the Indians’ views of the Great Spirit, and their religion, were from their own ancient tradition; and not from any thing they ever learned from the white people after the latter came to this continent. Rev. Mr. Brainerd, the noted missionary to the Indians, informs of his meeting an Indian one hundred and thirty miles from our settlements, who had a house consecrated to religious purposes. Mr. Brainerd laboured to teach him Christianity; but some of it he utterly rejected, saying, “God had taught him his religion, and he would never turn from it.” He lamented that the Indians had grown so corrupt. He related that about five years before he (having before lived at ease as the Indians did) became greatly distressed, and thought he could not live among the Indians; and for some months he lived retired from them in the woods. At length, he said, the Great Spirit had comforted him. That since that time he had known the Great Spirit, and tried to serve him. That he loved all men, be they who they may, as he never did before. He treated Mr. Brainerd with great courtesy, and seemed hearty and affectionate in his religion; but so tenacious of his own tradition! views, that he would not receive the peculiarities of Christianity.
Col. Smith, on a hunting tour among the Indians, informs of an aged Indian who seemed very devout, who praying to the Great Spirit would preface every petition with, Oh. oh, oh—” He would prepare himself for prayer by entering a sweat-house, and for fifteen minutes putting himself into a violent perspiration. He would then burn tobacco, and pray to the Great Spirit. Col. Smith undertook to teach him something of the way of access to God revealed in [p.137]the gospel. He said “he thought he was now too old to begin to learn a new religion. He should therefore continue to worship God in the way he had been taught;” evidently meaning taught from Indian tradition. This old Indian had been informed something of the religion of the Roman Catholics; but he said he did not believe the great and good Spirit ever taught any such nonsense. He therefore concluded that the Indians’ old way of worshipping [sic] God was better.
The exploring commissioners of the United Foreign Missionary Society reported in favour of a mission being founded among the Pawnees, high up the Missouri. They gave the following account of this tribe. “The Pawnees feel and acknowledge their dependence on God. A man who has often witnessed it informed us that in their public feasts, before they eat, a man venerable for age asks a blessing, and thanks God for success in hunting, for the meat they are about to eat, for the drink, and for the wood which makes a fire to cook their provisions.” These Pawnees had never learned their religion from the whites. They were effectually out of their reach. And no straggling white traders among the western Indians were disposed to teach the Indian religion; nor would the Indians receive any instruction from them, as appears from the following. These exploring commissioners state, as one reason why a mission should be soon established among them, thus; “They are much better prepared to receive a mission than those nations who have more intercourse with the white people. Their circumstances call on you to send the gospel among them, before the wretched hordes who are ever flying from the abodes of civilization reach their vicinity, and prejudice them against our holy religion.” Their worshipping [sic] the one Great Spirit then was never learned from us. The past contiguities of the Indians to our frontiers have ever tended to subvert the religion of these natives, such as it was, and to give them a deadly prejudice against ours. No! Their religious notions [p.138](in so many respects different from all the religions of the eastern heathen world, and apparently nearly allied to the old Hebrew system) must have descended, as we have reason to apprehend, from Israel.
Listen to the religious views of the chiefs, who came to New York from beyond the Council Bluffs, in their reply to a talk with the secretary of the society, as given in the same report of the United Foreign Missionary Society which contained the reports just given. “We thank you for praying that the Great Spirit may preserve us in our long journey home.” They repeat it. “Brothers; we thank you once more for praying to the Great Spirit that we may be preserved and carried home in safety to our wives and children.” Such numerous instances of Indian traditions form a whole, which most powerfully [p.103]evinces that the religion of our American natives is altogether of a brighter and different cast from the religion of the rest of the heathen world. What account can be given of this?
Those commissioners to the Pawnees further inform, that they invited the Pawnees to a Sabbath meeting, The commissioners prayed for those Pawnees (about to take a tour, either hunting, or for some other object) that they might go and return in safety. Two of their men were now at home sick. After the Pawnees retired, “they expressed their apprehensions (say the commissioners) that the sick men would never return (from their proposed tour,) because they were not present to have these ministers pray for them.”
Dr. Boudinot informs that a chief of the Creek nation was some since at Philadelphia on his way to New York, with his retinue, and in company with Col. Butler, on a commission of peace with the United States. He was a chief of great note and dignity in his nation, and “of much better demeanour in his whole conduct (the Doctor remarks) than any Indian he had ever seen.” A female limner had, unobserved by the chief, taken his likeness, which she presented to him. He was astonished, and much [p.139]pleased; and assured her, by his interpreter, “that he often spake to the Great Spirit; and the next time he did so, he would remember her.” This chief and Col. Butler passing on, they were overset in the stage, and both wounded. After the surgeons had dressed their wounds, the chief addressed the colonel, through his interpreter, as follows. “Never mind this, brother. It will soon be well. This is the work of the evil spirit. He knows we are going to effect a work of peace. He hates peace; and loves war. Never mind it. Let us go on, and accomplish our business; we will disappoint him.” He had some reason to say it was the work of the evil spirit; for the stupid stage-driver just stopped at a tavern to run in and get a glass of rum, leaving his horses loose at the door; upon which they started, ran, and upset the stage.
In the younger days of Dr. Boudinot, the following incident occurred. Two fine young missionaries were sent by the Society of Scotland (some members of which society were in our land, and the Doctor was one of them) to the natives west of Ohio. The chiefs were called to consult whether they would receive them. After some days in council, they dismissed them, most courteously, with the following answer;—that “They exceedingly rejoiced at the happiness of the whites, in being thus favoured by the Great Spirit; and felt very grateful that they had condescended to remember their red brethren in the wilderness. But they could not help recollecting that the whites here had a people among them, who because they differed in colour, the whites had made them slaves, made them suffer great hardships, and lead miserable lives; (alluding to the black slaves then in our colonies.) Now we cannot see any reason, (said they) if a people being black will entitle the whites to deal thus with them, why a red colour would not equally justify the same treatment. We therefore determine to wait to see whether all the black people among you are made thus joyful and happy, (as you tell us your religion will make us,) before we can put confidence in your promises. We [p.140]think a people who have suffered so much, and so long, by your means, would be entitled to your first attention. We therefore send back the two missionaries, with many thanks; promising that when we see the black people among you restored to freedom and happiness, we will gladly receive your missionaries.” Here was reasoning well worthy of the descendants of Abraham, and even of Solomon!
Mr. Herman, in his residence in the western regions of our continent, giving an account of the Chippeways, informs that in point of numbers, strength, and also attention to religious rites, they have greatly degenerated since their acquaintance with the white people. He speaks of them as having many tutelary gods. But they at the same time believe in one supreme God who governs all others, allowing the inferior gods considerable power and influence over mortals.
From various authors the following facts appear, that the better informed Indians hold to one God; and to spirits that he has made good and bad. The bad have a leader over them worse than all the rest. Some of the tribes, it appears, have come to call these subordinate spirits (which seem but a traditionary notion of angels) gods; while yet the Great Spirit is the Creator, and is over all. This degeneracy is a most natural event among savages. Even among the ancient Hebrews, both angels and civil rulers were called gods.
Mr. Herman relates several customs, which appear like having a Hebrew origin. Among the Chippeways, each lad at the age of twelve or fifteen years, must keep a penitential fast alone in the woods for thirty or forty days; his friends carrying him, from time to time, a kind of unpalatable food, just enough to sustain life. We recollect no such rite as this in heathen mythology; but the scriptures of Israel inform of Elijah’s fast of forty days.
These Indians, Mr. Herman informs observe their solemn fasts when going to war. And each warrior has his religious symbol, which in some respects [p.141]answers well to Israel’s ancient ark of the covenant; and essentially the same use is made of it, as of the ark in other tribes of Indians described. It is a sack containing a few aromatic plants, or roots, and the feathers or skins of some rare bird, or animal. These contents the owner imagines possess some kind of hidden virtue, which renders the owner invulnerable.
Major Long, speaking of the Omawhaws, far up the Missouri, says, they believe in one God, “the Creator and preserver of all things, the fountain of mystic medicine;”—meaning, the healer of their evils. This tribe of Chippeways, (Mr. Herman informs,) call their sacred sack, their “medicine bag.” The contents appear to be essentially the same, and for the same end, with the contents of the sacred ark in other tribes;—the symbol of the presence of the Great Spirit. Hence Mr. Herman informs that the chief captain, when going to war, harrangues [sic] his warriors, and exhorts them to reflect on the long fast performed in their youth; and adds; “Moreover, young men, it behaves you all to take special care of your medicine bags; for their contents ought of all things to be most precious to you, especially during such an expedition as the one on which you now embark. Should the medicine bag of any one be placed on the ground, and any one inadvertently seat himself upon it, the first person who perceives him in that situation, ought instantly to spring up, and push the other flat on his back. This violent act will prevent any ill consequences from the unintended offence.” Here it is evident their medicine bag, so called, is a religious symbol, as is the holy ark of the other tribes. And essentially the same care must be taken not to offend the Great Spirit by any improper use of it. The lapse of ages among illiterate savages scattered in unknown distant tribes, would naturally produce as great a variation among different tribes, in relation to this ancient venerable symbol—the ark of the covenant—as is this difference between these western more savage tribes, and tribes less savage farther to the south. But they unite in the essential points. Both are sacred symbols borne to their wars. Both [p.142]contain their most consecrated things; and each must be treated with the most sacred caution. No other account can be so rationally given of the origin of these Indian symbols, as the law of the holy ark in Israel.
The Rev. Dr. Morse, in his report of his tour among the Indians at the west, made under commission from our government, in 1820, to ascertain the actual state of the Indians in our country, says; “It is matter of surprise, that the Indians, situated as they have been for so many successive ages and generations, without books or knowledge of letters, or of the art of reading or writing, should have preserved their various languages in the manner they have done. Many of them are copious, capable of regular grammatical analysis, possess great strength, gracefulness, and beauty of expression. They are highly metaphorical in their character; and in this and other respects resemble the Hebrew. This resemblance in the language, and the similarity of many of their religious customs, &c. to those of the Jews, certainly give plausibility to the ingenious theory of Dr. Boudinot, exhibited in his interesting work, entitled “Star in the West.” A faithful and thorough examination of the various languages of the Indian tribes, would probably show that there are very few of them that are throughout radically different.—The differences of these languages are mostly differences of dialects.”
The various Indian tribes, visited by Dr. Morse, had their Great Spirit. Speaking of the manners and customs of the Sauks, Fox tribe, Pattowattamies, and others, he says; “Other feasts to the Great Spirit are frequently made by these Indians.” Of one of these feasts, he says; “They seat themselves in a circle on the ground; when one of the guests places before each person a wooden bowl with his portion of the feast, and they commence eating. When each man’s portion is eaten, the bones are collected, and put into a wooden bowl, and thrown into the river, or burnt. The whole of the feast must be eaten. If any one cannot eat his part of it, he passes his dish, with a piece of [p.143]tobacco to his neighbor, and he eats it; and the guests then retire. Those who make the feast never eat any part of it themselves. They say they give their part of it to the Great Spirit.” Here seems manifestly the same feast noted by other authors among other and different tribes in the different parts of the continent, and probably answering to the Passover in ancient Israel. The different and distant tribes have their circumstantial differences; while yet certain things indicate that the feast is a broken tradition of the Passover. In Exodus xii. 8, speaking of the Passover, it is commanded;—”With bitter herbs shall ye eat it.” Why does the Indians, (in this account of Dr. Morse,) accompany his portion of this singular Indian feast to his neighbor with a piece of tobacco? It is not, probably, for the same reason that other distant tribes partake of their similar feast answering to this with bitter vegetables, as has been stated? And what heathen religion could ever have originated such a practice? This seems necessarily to have originated in the ancient law of the passover.
Another tradition from a Hebrew rite the Doctor states. He says; “The women of these nations are very particular to remove from their lodges to one erected for that particular purpose, at such a seasons as were customarily observed by Jewish women, according to the law of Moses. No article of furniture ever used in this lodge, is ever used in any other; not even the steel and flint with which they strike fire. No man approaches this lodge, while a woman occupies it.” The existence of this extensive Indian rite is fully ascertained. And of its origin there appears but very little room to doubt.
This writer says; “The belief of these Indians relative to their creation is not very unlike our own. Masco, one of the chiefs of the Sauks, informed me that they believed that the Great Spirit in the first place created from the dust of the earth two men; but finding that these alone would not answer his purpose, he took from each man a rib, and made two women.” Of the descendants of these two pair, they say, “that [p.144]they were all one nation, until they behaved so badly, that the Great Spirit came among them, and talked different languages to them; which caused them to separate and form different nations.” Here are manifest broken fragments of Moses’ history of creation, and of the confusion of language at Babel. “I asked (says Dr. M.) how they supposed white men were made? He replied that Indians supposed the Great Spirit made them of the fine dust of the earth, as they know more than Indians.” Dr. M. gives an account of their holding to a future state; and to some kinds of reward for the good, and of punishments for the wicked.
He informs from a Major Cummings, that the Indians are very suspicious of some evil intent, when questioned by the Americans; and that there is no way to obtain a full knowledge of their traditions and ways, but by a long residence in their country. This may account for the fact that their traditions (which seem manifestly Hebrew) were kept so long and to so great a degree from the knowledge of our people.
Relative to their manner of transacting public business. they informed Dr. M.; “We open our council by smoking a pipe selected for the occasion; and we address the audience through a speaker chosen for the purpose; first invoking the Great Spirit to inspire us with wisdom. We open our council in the name of the Great Spirit, and close with the same.”
He informs that the Indians “before attending on treaties, great councils, or any other important national business, always sacrifice [p.108]in order to obtain the good will of the Great Spirit. And adds; “There are no people more frequent or fervent in their acknowledgments of gratitude to God. Their belief in him is universal; and their confidence astonishingly strong.
Speaking of their feasts he says; “The principal festival is celebrated in the month of August; sooner or later, as the forwardness of the corn will admit. It is called the Green Corn Dance; or more properly speaking, the ceremony of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the earth.
[p.145]The question continually recurs, whence came things like these among the natives of our continent, or the American savages, unless these savages are the very tribes of Israel? No evidence is furnished that such a variety of Hebrew rites is found among any other people on earth, except the Jews. And it seems morally impossible they should have derived them from any other source than the ancient Hebrew religion.
Mr. Schoolcraft, a member of the New York Historical Society, (in his journals of travels among the western Indians, round and beyond the western lakes, and to the mouth of the Mississippi, in 1820.) gives some accounts, which confirm some of the Indian traditions already exhibited. He speaks of attending a feast among the Sioux Indians; a feast of the first green corn. He says; “Our attention was now drawn off by sound of Indian music which proceeded from another large cabin at no great distance; but we found the doors closed, and were informed that they were celebrating an annual feast, at which only certain persons in the village were allowed to be present; and that it was not customary to admit strangers. Our curiosity being excited, we applied to the governor, Cass, to intercede for us; and were by that means admitted. The first striking object presented was, two large kettles full of green corn, cut from the cob and boiled. They hung over a moderate fire in the midst of the cabin; and the Indians, both men and women, were seated in a large circle around them. They were singing a doleful song in a savage manner. The utmost solemnity was depicted upon every countenance. When the music ceased, as it frequently did for a few seconds, there was a full and mysterious pause, during which certain pantomimic signs were made; and it appeared as if they pretended to hold communion with invisible spirits. Suddenly the music struck up—but as we did not understand their language, it is impossible to say what they uttered, or to whom their supplications or responses were addressed. When the ceremony [p.109]ceased, one of the older Indians divided out all the boiled corn into separated dishes for as many [p.146]heads of families as there were present, putting an equal number of ladles full into each dish. Then while the music continued, they one by one took up their dishes, and retiring from the cabin by a backward step, so that they still faced the kettles, they separated to their respective lodges; and thus the ceremony ceased.”
This writer says, “The Indians believed in the existence of a great invisible Spirit, who resides in the regions of the clouds, and by means of inferior spirits throughout every part of the earth.”
Their word for spirit, is manito, which he observes, “from the Arkansaw [sic] to the sources of the Mississippi; and according to M’Kenzie, throughout the arctic regions.” This word, Mr. S. remarks, with many others, strengthens the opinion “of which (he says) there appears ample grounds, that the erratic tribes of the north-western region, and of the vallies [sic] of the Mississippi are all descended from one stock, which is presumed to have progressed from the north toward the south, scattering into different tribes, and falling from the purity of a language, which may originally have been rich and copious.” Here is good testimony to some of the points, adduced in this work, viz. that all the Indians are from one origin; all originally of one language; all from the north-west, the straits of Beering, leading from the north-east of Asia to the north-west of America; all have one God,—the Great Spirit above; and the feast of the first fruits is among them extensively kept.
These Indians, Mr. S. informs, “have their good and bad manitoes,” or spirits. The Old Testament informs of holy and of fallen angels.
Mr. S. speaks of the best authors allowing that great corruptions have crept into the Indian language; and that the remarks of some upon the supposed poverty of the language of these Americans, are very incorrect.
He speaks of some of the Indians as looking to the people of our state for aid, and says, a council which [p.147]he attended with the Sandy Lake Indians, thus closed; “The Americans (meaning the United States) are a great people. Can I be possible they will allow us to suffer?”
The Rev. Lemuel Haynes informs that about 60 years ago, he was living in Granville, Mass. A minister by the name of Ashley, called on an old deacon, with whom he was living, being on his way from a mission among the Indians in the west, where he had been a considerable time. Mr. Ashley stated his confident belief that the Indians were the Israelites; for he said there were many things in their manners and customs, which were like those of ancient Israel. Various of these he stated. Mr. Haynes being then a boy, does not now recollect them. But the people he mentions as being impressed with the accounts; and the good old deacon long spake of them with much interest.
A brother minister informs me that his father was a lieutenant in the revolutionary war, and was long among the Indians; and that he became a firm believer that the Indians were the ten tribes of Israel from their traditions and rites; various of which he used to state; but which the minister does not now remember.
Various quotations have been given from Mr. Adair. It was thought when they were selected and inserted, they were amply sufficient. But it has occurred to the writer of these sheets that as he is a most material testimony, and his evidence fully substantiated, as has appeared, it must be desirable the reader should see more fully his arguments, and more of the facts by him stated under them.
His arguments that the natives of this continent are of the ten tribes are as follows. 1. Their division into tribes. 2. Their worship of Jehovah. 3. Their notion of a theocracy. 4. Their belief in the ministration of angels. 5. Their language and dialects. 6. Their manner of counting time. 7. Their prophets and high priests. 8. Their festivals, fasts, and religious rites. 9. Their daily sacrifice. 10. Their ablutions and anointings. 11. Their laws of uncleanness. 12. Their [p.148]abstinence from unclean things. 13. Their marriages, divorces and punishments of adultery. 14. Their several punishments. 15. Their cities of refuge. 16. Their purifications and preparatory cermonies [sic]. 17. Their ornaments. 18. Their manner of curing the sick. 19. Their burial of their dead. 20. Their mourning for their dead. 21. Their raising seed to a deceased brother. 22. Their change of names adapted to their circumstances and times. 23. Their own traditions; the accounts of English writers; and the testimonies given by Spanish and other writers of the primitive inhabitants of Mexico and Peru.
Some of his illustrations of these arguments will be subjoined in his own words. Under the 1st argument. “As the nation hath its particular symbol, so each tribe, the badge from which it is denominated. The sachem of each tribe is a necessary party in conveyances, and treaties, to which he affixes the mark of his tribe. If we go from nation to nation among them, we shall not find one, who doth not lineally distinguish himself by his respective family. The genealogical names, which they assume, are derived either from the name of those animals, whereof the cherubims are said in revelation to be compounded, or from such creatures as are most familiar to them. The Indians, however, bear no religious respect to the animals from whence they derive their names. On the contrary, they kill them when opportunity serves. When we consider that these savages have been above twenty centuries without the use of letters to carry down their traditions, it cannot reasonably be expected that they should still retain the identical names of their primogenial [sic] tribes. Their main customs corresponding with those of the Israelites, sufficiently clears the subject. Besides, as hath been hinted, they call some of their tribes by the names of cherubinical figures that were carried on the four principal standards of Israel.
His illustration of the second argument, blended with those of many others, have been sufficiently given.
Under the third argument, he says: “Agreeably to the theocracy or divine government of Israel, the Indians think the Deity to be the immediate head of their state. All the nations of Indians are exceedingly intoxicated with religious pride, and have an inexpressible contempt of the white people.***** They used to call us in their war orations, the accursed people.—But they flatter themselves with the name of the beloved people; because their supposed ancestors, as they affirm, were under the immediate government of the Deity, who was present with them in a very peculiar manner, and directed them by prophets, while the rest of the world were aliens and outlaws to the covenant.—When the old Archimagus, or any one of their magi, is persuading the people at any one of their religious solemnities to a strict observance of the old beloved or divine speech, he always calls them the beloved or holy people, agreeably to the Hebrew epithet, Ammi (my people) during the theocracy of Israel,—It is their opinion of the theocracy, that God chose them out of all the rest of mankind as his peculiar and beloved people; which alike animates both the white Jew and the red American with that steady hatred against all the world except themselves; and renders them (in their opinion) hated and despised by all.”
[p.112]His illustrations of the 4th and 5th arguments have been given with those of other authors.
Under the 6th argument he says: “They count time after the manner of the Hebrews. They divide the year into spring, summer, autumn, and winter. They number their year from any of those four periods, for they have no name for a year, and they subdivide these, and count the year by lunar months, like the Israelites, who counted by moons. They begin a year at the first appearance of the first new moon of the vernal equinox, according to the ecclesiastical year of Moses. Till the 70 years captivity, the Israelites had only numeral names for the solar and lunar months, [p.150]except Abib and Ethamin; the former signifying a green ear of corn; and the latter robust or valiant. And by the first of these, the Indians (as an explicative) term their Passover, which the trading people call the green corn dance.” Mr. Adair then proceeds to show more fully the similarity between the ancient Israelites and the Indians in their counting time, as has been noted.
Under the 7th agreement he says: “In conformity to, or after the manner of the Jews, the Indian Americans have their prophets, high priests, and others of a religious order. As the Jews had a sanctum sanctorum, (holy of holies) so have all the Indian nations. There they deposit their consecrated vessels;—none of the laity daring to approach that sacred place. The Indian tradition says, that their fathers were possessed of an extraordinary divine spirit, by which they foretold things future, and controlled the common course of nature: and this they transmitted to their offspring, provided they obeyed the sacred laws annexed to it. Ishtoallo, (Mr. Adair says of those Indians) is the name of all their priestly order: and their pontifical office descends by inheritance to the eldest. There are some traces of agreement, though chiefly lost, in their pontifical dress. Before the Indian Archimagus officiates in making the supposed holy fire for the yearly atonement for sin, the Sagan (waiter of the high priest) clothes him with a white ephod, which is a waistcoat without sleeves. In resemblance of the Urim and Thummim, the American Archimagus wears a breast plate made of a white conch-shell with two holes bored in the middle of it, through which he puts the ends of an otter skin strap, and fastens a buck horn white button to the outside of each, as if in imitation of the precious stones of the Urim.”
In this statement Mr. Adair exhibits evidence of which himself seems unconscious. He says the general name of all their priestly order is Ishtoallo. And the name of the high priest’s waiter is Sagan. Mr. Faber (remarking upon this) thinks the former word is a corruption of Ish-da-eloah, a man of God; see [p.151]original of 2 Kings, iv. 21, 22, 25, 27, 40, and other places. And of the latter word he says, “Sagan is the very name by which the Hebrews called the deputy of the high priest, who supplied his office, and who performed the functions of it in the absence of the high priest. See Calmet’s Dict. vox Sagan.”
Here then is evidence to our purpose, that those Indians should call their order of priests, and the high priest’s waiter, by those ancient Hebrew names of a man of God, and a deputy of the high priest. How could these events have occurred, had not those natives been Hebrew, and brought down these names by Hebrew tradition?
Under the 8th argument Mr. Adair says; “The ceremonies of the Indians in their religious worship are more after the Mosaic institutions, than of pagan imitation; which could not be, if the majority of the old nation were of heathenish descent. They are utter strangers to all the gestures practiced by the pagans in their religious rites. They have another appellative which with them is the mysterious essential name of God; the tetragrammaton, or great four lettered name, which they never name in common speech. Of the time and place when and where they mention it, they are very particular, and always with a solemn air. It is well known what sacred regard the Jews had to the four lettered divine name, so as scarcely ever to mention it, but once a year, when the high priest went into the sanctuary at the expiation of sins. Might not the Indians copy from them this sacred invocation, Yo-he-wah? Their method of invoking God in a solemn hymn with that reverend deportment, and spending a full breath on each of the two first syllables of the awful divine name, hath a surprising analogy to the Jewish custom, and such as no other nation or people, even with the advantage of written records, have retained. It may be worthy of notice that they never prostrate themselves, nor bow their bodies to each other by way of salute or homage, though usual with the eastern nations; except when they are making or renewing peace with strangers, who come in the name of Yah.”
[p.152]Mr. Adair proceeds to speak of the sacred adjuration of the Indians by the great and awful name of God; the question being asked, and the answer given, Yah, with a profound reverence in a bowing posture of body immediately before the invocation of Yo-he-wah; this he considers to be Hebrew, adjuring their witnesses to give true evidence. He says, “It seems exactly to coincide with the conduct of the Hebrew witnesses even now on like occasions.”
Mr. Adair’s other illustration under this agreement, in various feasts, fastings, their ark, and their ever refusing to eat the hollow of the thigh of their game, have been sufficiently given, in connexion [connection] with the testimonies of others to the same points.
Enough has also been exhibited under the 9th, 10th and 11th arguments.
Under the 12th he says; “Eagles of every kind they esteem unclean food; likewise ravens, crows, bats, buzzards, swallows, and every species of owl.” This he considers as precisely Hebrew; as also their purifications of their priests; and purification for having touched a dead body, or any other unclean thing.
Under most of his subsequent arguments the quotations before given have been sufficient. Under the 16th he says; “Before the Indians go to war, they have many preparatory ceremonies of purification and fasting like what is recorded of the Israelites.”
Under the last argument he says; “The Indian tradition says that their forefathers in very remote ages came from a far distant country, where all the people were of one colour; and that in process of time they removed eastward to their present settlements.” He notes and confutes some idle fabulous stories which he says “sprung from the innovating superstitious ignorance of the popish priests to the southwest;” and speaks of the Indian tradition as being altogether more to be depended on. He says, “They, (the rambling tribes of northern Indians excepted,) aver that they came over the Mississippi from the westward, before they arrived at their present settlements. This we see verified in the western old towns they have left behind them, and by the situation if their old beloved [p.153]towns or places of refuge lying about a west course from each different nation.
“Ancient history (he adds) is quite silent concerning America, which indicates that it has been time immemorial rent asunder from the eastern continent. The north-east parts of Asia were also undiscovered till of late. Many geographers have stretched Asia and America so far as to join them together; and others have divided them into two quarters of the globe. But the Russians, after several dangerous attempts, have clearly convinced the world that they are now divided, and yet have a near communication together by a narrow strait in which several islands are situated, and through which there is an easy passage from the north-east of Asia to the north-west of [p.115]America. By this passage, it was very practicable to go to this new world, and afterward to have proceeded in quest of suitable climates.
Those who dissent from my opinion of the Indian American origin, (he adds) ought to inform us how the natives came here, and by what means they found the long chain of rites and customs so similar to the usage of the Hebrew nation, and in general dissimilar to the modes of the pagan world. Their religious rites, marital customs, dress, music, dances and domestic forms of life, seem clearly to evince also, that they came to America in early times before sects had sprung up among the Jews; which was soon after their prophets ceased; also before arts and sciences had arrived at any perfection. Otherwise it is likely they would have retained some knowledge of them.”
We learn in Dr. Robertson’s history of America, that the Mexicans had their tradition that “Their ancestors came from a remote country situated to the north-west of Mexico. The Mexicans (he says) point out their various stations as they advanced from this into the interior provinces; and it is precisely the same rout which they must have held, if they had been emigrants from Asia.”******
[p.154]Mr. Adair says that though some have supposed the Americans to be descendants from the Chinese; yet neither their religion, laws, or customs agree in the least with those of the Chinese, which sufficiently proves that they are not of this line. And he says the remaining traces of their religious ceremonies, and civil and martial customs, are different from those of the old Scythians. He thinks, therefore, that the old opinion that the Indians are descended from the Tartars of ancient Scythians, should be exploded as weak and without foundation. Those who have advocated the affirmative have not been able to produce much, if any evidence, that any of the religious rites found among the Indians, and resembling those of ancient Israel, have ever been found among any people in the east of Asia. Such a thing cannot be expected. Those rites were arbitrary, established only in Israel; and designed to distinguish them from all other nations. It is utterly inadmissable then, to suppose these Indian rites may be accounted for, from an idea that the Indians may have learned them from other heathen nations. With very similar propriety might the unbeliever in divine revelation say that the Jews and ancient Israel derived their religion, not from God, as the bible purports, but from the [p.116]heathen nations, who at the time might, for aught we know, have had just such religious customs.
If the aborigines derived these rites and customs from ancient Asiatic heathen; why have not some of them, and disseminated them through some other parts of the world, besides the vast wilds of North and South America?
Capt. Carver is able to find that some of the people north east of Asia once presented to some of the Russians their pipe of peace. The people of Israel, as they passed by that people in ancient days may have caught this custom from them; as none pretend this was a Hebrew rite. Or those few people thus noted in Asia may have caught this custom from the Indians over the Beering’s Straits. But this is nothing, compared [p.155]with the many Hebrew rites found among the natives of America.
Capt. Carver, who travelled [sic] five thousand miles among the Indians of North America, states some customs observed by some of them in relation to marriage and divorce, which seems much like those of ancient Israel. He says; “When one of their young men has fixed on a young woman he approves of, he discovers his passion to her parents, who give him an invitation to come and live with them in their tent. He accepts the offer, and engages to reside in it for a whole year in the character of a menial servant. This however is done only while they are young men, and for their first wife; and not repeated like Jacob’s servitude. When this period is expired, the marriage is solemnized.”
“When any dislike (he adds) a separation takes place, for they are seldom know to quarrel, they generally give their friends a few days notice of their intention, and some times offer reasons to justify their conduct.” Some little ceremonies follow; and he says, “The separation is carried on without any murmurings, or ill will between the couple or their relations.” Probably no other nations has such a resemblance in this respect to ancient Israel.
Capt. Carver says of the Indians “wholly unadulterated with the superstitions of the church of Rome;” “It is certain they acknowledge one Supreme Being, or giver of life, who presides over all things—the Great Spirit; and they look up to him as the source of good—who is infinitely good. They also believe in a bad spirit, to whom they ascribe great power. They hold also, that there are good spirits of a less degree, who have their particular departments, in which they are constantly contributing to the happiness of mortals.” “The priests of the Indians (he adds) who are at the same time their physicians—while they heal their wounds, or cure their diseases, they interpret their dreams, and satisfy their desires of searching into futurity.” But Capt. Carver unites with other authors on the subject, in speaking of the difficulty of strangers [p.156]among them obtaining much knowledge of their religious rites. He says; “It is very difficult to attain a perfect knowledge of the religious principles of the Indians. They endeavor to conceal them.” It is no wonder then, that Capt. Carver, passing by them on a tour upwards of five thousand miles, discovered but few of these many rites resembling the religion of ancient Israel, stated by Mr. Adair. He says there was “one particular female custom” bearing resemblance to the rites in the Mosaic law; alluding to the well known Indian separation of women. Speaking of their “religious principles,” which he says are “few and simple,” he adds, “they (the Indians) have not deviated, as many other uncivilized nations, and too many civilized ones have done, into idolatrous modes of worship.” “On the appearance of the new moon they dance and sing; but it is not evident that they pay that planet any adoration.”
Here then, according to this author, is their one God, infinitely good, the giver of life, and of all good, presiding over all, who is the only object of worship; though they sometimes beg of the evil spirit to avert their calamities, which in their opinion, he brings.—Here are their good angels, ministering to the good; here their priests; and a “particular female custom” inexplicable unless by the Mosaic law. Here is their firm adherence to their “few simple doctrines,” or rites, less deviating to idolatry than other uncivilized, and even many civilized nations. These facts are far from being destitute of then favourable bearing on our subject. How should such things be true of these savages, were they not the descendants of ancient Israel?
It was observed in this book, that the Esquimaux [Eskimo] natives and people round Hudson’s Bay appear a different race from the American Indians, and may have come from the north of Europe. Capt. Carver notes an ascertain from Grotius, that “some of the Norwegians passed into America by way of Greenland.” Here may be the origin of the people of Greenland, Iceland, and round Hudson’s Bay. But it gives no satisfactory [p.157]account of the origin of the numerous Indian tribes of America.
Rev. Mr. Chapman, missionary of the United Foreign Missionary Society, at the Union Mission, in a letter of March 24, 1823, gives an account of some of the manners and customs of the Osage Indians. He went with a large company of them to Fort Smith, who went to form a treaty of peace with the Cherokees. The evening before they arrived, on a hill, the chiefs informed that in the morning they must make their customary peace medicine, (a religious ceremony previous to a treaty) for the purpose of cleansing their hearts, and securing their sincerity of thinking and acting.—”Ten of the principal warriors, including the priest of the Atmosphere, (a name of one of their clans) were selected and sent beneath a ledge, to dream or learn whether any error had been committed thus far—or (as they expressed it) to watch the back track.” Mr. Chapman proceeds to state their ceremonies—prayers, sacred paintings, anointings, &c.—Among these he says; “about two feet in advance, and in a line with our path, were three branches of grass, which had been cut and piled about three feet apart, as an emblem of him whom they worshipped [sic].
Here the priest stood with his attendants, and prayed at great length. Having finished his prayer, he again ordered the march on foot. The Indians from the right and left entered the path with great regularity; and on wheeling forward every individual was compelled to step upon each bunch of the grass.” The company proceeded about forty rods; then halted and formed as before. The priest now “ordered his senior attendant to form a circle of grass about four feet in diameter, and to fix a handsome pile in the centre.” By this he made another long prayer. Then stepping on the circle, and followed in this by his attendants, they passed on. The chief informed Mr. Chapman that this circle of grass too was a representation of their God. Mr. Chapman says; “It is the universal practice of these Indians to salute the dawn of every morning with their devotion.” And upon the [p.158]ceremonies he had described he adds; “Perhaps the curious may imagine that some faint allusion to the lost ten tribes of Israel may be discovered in the select number of dreamers (they being ten);—to the Trinity in unity, in the bunches (and the circle) of grass;—to the Jewish anointings and purifications, in their repeated paintings;—to the sacred rite of the sanctuary, in their secret consolations;—and to the prophetic office, in the office of their dreamers.”
Let us look at the natives in an extreme part of South America, and see if they exhibit any evidence similar to what has been adduced of the natives of North America.
Don Alonzo de Ericilla, in his history of Chili, says of the natives there; “The religious system of the Araucanians is simple. They acknowledge a Supreme Being, the author of all things, whom [p.119]they call Pillan, a word derived from Pulli, or Pilli, the soul; and signifies the Supreme Essence. They call him also, Guenupillan; the Spirit of Heaven; Bulagen, the Great Being; Thalcove, the Thunderer; Vilvemvoe, the Omnipotent; Mollgelu, the Eternal; and Avnolu, the Infinite.” He adds; “The universal government of Pillan, (his Supreme Essence,) is a prototype of the Araucanian polity. He is the great Toqui of the invisible world.” He goes on to speak of his having subordinate invisible beings under him, to whom he commits the administration of affairs of less importance. These, this author sees fit to call “subaltern divinities.” We may believe they are a traditional notion of angels, good and bad; such as is held by the Indians of North America.
This author says of this people; “They all agreed in the belief of the immortality of the soul. This consolatory truth is deeply rooted, and in a manner innate with them.—They hold that man is composed of two substances essentially different; the corruptible body and the soul, incorporeal and eternal.”
Of their funerals, he says; “Their bier is carried by the principal relations, and is surrounded by women who bewail the deceased in the manner of the hired mourners among the Romans.”
[p.159]He also says; “They have among them a tradition of a great deluge, in which only a few persons were saved, who took refuge on a high mountain called Thegtheg, which possessed the property of moving on the water.”
Here then it seems the remote natives of Chili (a region 1260 miles south of Peru, in South America,) furnish their quota of evidence that they originated in the same family with the North American Indians, and hold some of their essential traditions.
Whence could arise the tradition of those natives, of one “Supreme Being, author of all things?” That he is the “Supreme Being; the Spirit of Heaven; The Thunderer; the Omnipotent; the Eternal; the Infinite?” Whence their tradition of the flood, and of several persons being saved on a floating mountain, meaning no doubt the ark? Whence their ideas so correct of man’s immortal soul?
This author says of those native Chilians, “Many suppose that they are indigenous to the country; while others suppose they derive their origin from a foreign stock, and at one time say, that their ancestors came from the north, and at another time from the west.”
Their better informed or wise men, it seems retain some impressions of their original emigration from a foreign land, and from [p.120]the north-west, of Beering’s Straits. It is possible to give a satisfactory account of such traditions among those native Indians of Chili, short of their having received from them from the Hebrew sacred Scriptures? And if from thence, surely they must be Hebrew.
The Southern Intelligencer, in extracts from the missionaries among the Chickasaws, informs us that an old Indian, stating to them some of the traditions of the Chickasaws, (most of which were sufficiently wild and pagan) gave the following. “The Great Spirit first made the ground, and animals; afterward he made man;—”A woman was made in like manner.”— “The Great Spirit drew lines on the surface of the earth with his rod; these afterward became rivers.” There is an old tradition (he adds) concerning a great flood of [p.160]water.” He goes on to speak of its rising to the skies. “The Chickasaws came from the west,” he says.—”The world is to be burned, or turned upside down; it is generally thought it will be burned.” (See Isa. xxiv. 1-6) “A certain description of persons infamously wicked, will be burned with it. They will roll in fire; yet cannot die.” “There are to be other signs before the end of the world; such as great shakings of the earth, &c.” This old Indian adds; “It has been said by old Indians that before that event should take place, (the burning of the world) the Indians and whites would mix so that the tribes would be confused and lost, and not know to what nation they formerly belonged.”
It appears that among abundance of trash, in Indian traditions, there are running through them some things which must have been transmitted from the Hebrew Scriptures.
This old Indian has promised the missionaries to visit them again, and relate to them more of their traditions.
In Long’s expedition to the Rocky Mountains, we learn that the Omawhaw tribe of Indians (who inhabit the west side of the Missouri River, fifty miles above Engineer Cantonment.) believe in one God. They call him Wahconda; and believe him to be the greatest and best of beings; the Creator and Preserver of all things; the Fountain of mystic medicine.******* Omniscience, omnipresence, and vast power are attributed to him.—And he is supposed to afflict them with sickness, poverty, or misfortune, for their evil deeds. In conversation he is frequently appealed to as an evidence of the truth of their asservations—”Wahconda hears what I say.”
[p.121]These Indians have many wild pagan notions of this one God. But they have brought down by tradition, it seems, the above essentially correct view of him, in opposition to the polytheistical world.
Ther name of God is remarkable—Wahconda. It has been shown that various of the Indians call God [p.161]Yohewah, Ale, Yah, and Wah, doubtless from the Hebrew names Jehovah. Ale Jah. And it has been shown that these syllables which compose the name of God, are compounded in many Indian words, or form the roots from which they are formed. Here we find the fact; while the author from whom the account is taken, it is presumed, had no perception of any such thing. Wah-conda; the last syllable of the Indian Yohewah, compounded with conda. Or Jah, Wah, their monosyllable name of God thus compounded.—Here is evidence among those children of the desert, both as to the nature and the name of their one God, corresponding with what has been exhibited of other tribes.
A religious custom, related by Mr. Long goes to corroborate the opinion that these people are of Israel. He relates that from the age of between five and ten years, their little sons are obliged to ascend a hill fasting, once or twice a week during the months of March and April, to pray aloud to Wahconda. When the season of the year arrives, the mother informs the little son, that the “ice is breaking up in the river; the ducks and geese are migrating, and it is time for you to prepare to go in clay.” The little worshipper [sic] then rubs himself over with whitish clay, and at sun rise sets off for the top of a hill, instructed by the mother what to say to the Master of Life. From this elevated position he cries aloud to Wahconda, humming a melancholy tune, and calling on him to have pity on him, and make him a great hunter, warrior, &c.
This has more the appearance of descending from Hebrew tradition, than from any other nation on earth; teaching their children to fast in clay, as “in dust and ashes;” and to cry to Jah for pity and protection.—Such are the shreds of evidence furnished, one here and another there, through the wilds of America, suggesting what is the most profitable, if not evident origin, of the natives of this continent.
In the Percy Anecdotes, we have an account that the Shawano Indians in an excursion captured the Indian [p.162]warrior called Old Scranny, of the Muskhoge tribe, and condemned him to a fiery torture. He told them the occasion of his falling into their hands was, he had “forfeited the protection of the Divine Power by some impurity or other, when carrying the holy ark of war against his devoted enemy. [p.122]Here he recognized the one God, his providence speaks of his holy ark borne against enemies, alludes to the purity of those who bear it, and if they become impure, the Divine Being will forsake them. The bearing which ideas like these have on our subject, needs no explanation.
Melvenda and Acasta (authors noted in the Star in the West) both affirm that some of the natives had a tradition of a Jubilee, according to the Jubilee in Israel. Edwards, in his West Indies, assures us, that the striking uniformity of the prejudices and customs of the Caribbean Indians to the practice of the Jews, had not escaped the notice of historians, as Gomella, Du Testre, and others.
In Hunter’s narrative of the manners and customs of the Indians, printed in Philadelphia in 1823, things are exhibited strikingly to our purpose. This writer spent the younger part of his life among the Indians in the Arkansas territories, and up in Missouri. He was taken by the Indians when a child. He grew up among them, and lived among them many years. He seems (if I mistake not) not to be aware of any question relative to their origin. And he seems not to have undertaken to make any comparison between them and ancient Israel, as though they might be of that people. But he states many facts, which may answer for themselves. Among the many opinions and traditions of those wild natives, he gives the following. I shall give them in his own words, that all may judge for themselves. “It is certain that they acknowledge, at least as far as my acquaintance extends, one Supreme all powerful, and intelligent Being, viz. the Great Spirit, or Giver of life, who created, and governs all things.”—That he (the Great Spirit) often held councils and smoked with the red men (i.e. in ancient times;) gave them laws to be observed—but that in [p.163]consequence of their disobedience, he withdrew from them and abandoned them to the vexations of the bad spirit, who had since been instrumental of all their degeneracy and sufferings.”
“They believe that notwithstanding the offences of his red children, he continues to shower down on them all the blessings they enjoy. In consequence of this his parental regard for them they are truly filial and sincere in their devotions, and pray to him for such things as they need; and return thanks for such good things as they receive.” Mr. Hunter goes on to speak of these Indians believing the Great Spirit to be present, and invisible, and being eternally unchangeable. And he adds; “They believe in a future state of existence.” As to their devotions, he says: “At the breaking of winter, having [p.123]supplied themselves with such things as necessary, we offered up our orisons (devotions) to the Great Spirit for having preserved us, and supplied all our wants. This (he adds) is the constant practice of the Osages, Kansas, and many other nations of Indians west of the Mississippi.—You then witness (he says) the silent but deep impressive communication the native of the forest holds with his Creator.”
Mr. H. goes on to assure us that the natives have their particular times “set apart for the devotional purposes,—such as the declaration of war; the restoration of peace; and extraordinary visitations.” He adds; They have also rejoicings which assume something of the pious form; such as their harvests; and the return of the new moon. In general, however, a day seldom passes with an elderly Indian, or others who are esteemed wise and good, in which a blessing is not asked, or thanks returned, to the Giver of life.”
“Shortly after a council have determined on war, all who are able to walk, and the old men sometime borne by others, assemble in a grove, or some place rendered sacred, and offer up their prayers to the Great Spirit for success against their enemies. Some one of the old men, or prophets, addresses the assembly; states the cause of their grievances; and enjoins on [p.164]the warriors to merit success by being brave, and placing their confidences in the great Giver of life.” “Similar meetings (he adds) are generally held on the conclusion of peace; or the attainment of victory. When triumphant, they dance and sing songs of victory, in which the name of the Great Spirit is frequently introduced with great reverence.” How exactly do these accounts accord with those of Messrs. Boudinot, Adair, and others, of the natives in other regions! Who can doubt but these Indians have all one origin? and who can doubt the origin of their religion?
On the occurrence of an epidemic, such meetings are holder; and some old men, or a prophet (if one be present) addresses the Indians, and assures them that the calamity is a visitation from the Great Spirit, to chastise them for their ill spent lives, and wilful offences against him. He then commands them to be penitent for what has passed, and to reform. Silent prayers are then offered, with promises to become more obedient to their Great Father.—All amusements and recreations cease; and individual prayers and fastings are frequently observed for many successive days.—All various devotions are performed in a standing posture.”
“At the ingathering of corn, (he adds) they observed general rejoicings; at which all who are able join in appropriate dances, songs, [p.124]and feasts, and in thanks to the Great Spirit for his munificence toward them.”—He goes on to state that on those occasions, and at new moons, they keep lamps burning all night before and after the occasion: but for what purpose neither he nor they can tell; “as the Indians themselves conform to it only in obedience to usage.” Possibly the nightly lamps burning in the temple of ancient Israel, may best explain the origin of this custom. The writer says; “They in general on discovering the new moon utter a short prayer to the Great Spirit.” In all the tribes I have visited, (he adds) a belief of a future state of existence, and of future rewards and punishments, is maintained; though this in many respects is various, and generally confused and indistinct.” “This belief of their accountability to the Great Spirit, (he [p.165]adds) makes the Indians generally scrupulous and enthusiastic observers of all their traditionary dogmas.—This conduct with most of the Indians is founded on a perfect conviction that the cultivation and observance of good and virtuous actions in this life, will in the next entitle them to the perpetual enjoyment of ease and happiness—where they will again be restored to the favour and enjoy the immediate presence, counsel and protection of the Great Spirit; while dereliction from it—will as assuredly entail on them endless afflictions.” The writer continues—”Every Indian of any standing has his sacred place, such as a tree, rock, fountain, &c. to which he resorts for devotional exercise. Sometime many resort to the same place. Preceding any public meeting held either for religious or festive purposes, or the assembling of a counsel, they uniformly retire to their respective places of worship, and solicit the counsel and protection of the Great Spirit. Those who omit (these meetings) are thought less of, and their conduct is ascribed to an indifference to holy things, and want of solicitude for the national welfare.”
“The religious opinions entertained, and modes of worship observed by the several Indian tribes, with which I have any acquaintance, (says Mr. Hunter) vary in their general character but little.” “I have several times heard the chief of the Great Osages observe, both in public and private meetings, that all good actions would be rewarded, and all bad actions punished by the Great Spirit.”
“At first (says Mr. Hunter) one might be led to suppose that this belief was a modification of doctrines taught by some of the missionaries; but such is not the case.” He goes on to state reasons to show that “these things are from Indian tradition previous to their having any knowledge of white people.”
In stating his attendance at a sacrifice at the Rickara villages, where the ceremony was performed on an altar and in a holy place, where none might tread but the priest, Mr. Hunter says; “The only thing farther connected with this circumstance, and worthy of [p.166]remark, was the dress or habiliment of the priest. His cap was very high, and made of beaver’s skin, the tail of which was curiously ornamented with stained porcupine quills, and hung down on his back. His robe was a buffalo skin singularly decorated with various coloured feathers, and dyed porcupine quills. And he wore on his breast, suspended from his neck, a dressed beaver skin stretched on sticks, on which were painted various hieroglyphic figures, in different colours.”
“The Indians speak of similar characters being among some other tribes.” Here, as in Mr. Adair’s account is their high priest’s robe and breast plate. On ordinary occasions, they retire secretly (Mr. H. adds) to their sacred places, and invoke the assistance of the Great Spirit, and make the most solemn vows to him, which they never fail to perform, should events correspond to their prayers. But at times more momentous, such as the declaration of war, conclusion of peace, or the prevalence of epidemics, &c. they impose on themselves long fastings, and severe penance, take narcotic and nauseating drugs.” Mr. Hunter gives a long description of the Indian green corn feast; also of the harvest feast; and the feast of the new moon. None of their green corn may be eaten, till permission is given by well known order and a feast is celebrated; after which “they are permitted (he says) to gather without restraint whatever their wants require. But the Indians both old and young look upon it, as upon their game, as the gift of the Great Spirit, and never wantonly destroy either.”
“Murder (he adds) is punished blood for blood, according to the Mosaic law, by the relations of the deceased.”
“Their mode of reckoning time (says Mr. Hunter) is very simple. Their year begins about the vernal equinox; and their diurnal reckoning from sunset to sunset.” (This is perfect Mosaic.) Upon their determining on war, he says: “Then follow the ceremonials of fasts, ablutions, anointings, and prayers to the Great Spirit, to crown their undertaking with success. [p.167]They take drastic cathartics, bathe repeatedly, and finally anoint themselves with bear’s grease.” Relative to their returning from the war with prisoners, near their village they meet with their connexions [connections] and friends, who sally forth to congratulate them. Mr. Hunter says; “Every village has a post planted near the council lodge. It is the prisoner’s place of refuge. On arriving within a short distance of it, the women and children, armed with clubs, switches, and missiles, and sometimes even with firebrands, place themselves in two ranks, between which the warriors (prisoners) one by one are forced to pass. It is in general a flight for life. Those who reach it, (the place of refuge) are afterwards treated kindly, and permitted to enjoy uninterrupted repose, till a general council determines their fate.”
Had Mr. Hunter been an enthusiastic believer in the Hebrew origin of the Indians, and had he undertaken to forge accounts to favour the hypothesis; what could he have said more direct to the purpose? But in stating these facts, he seems to have had no idea of such an hypothesis; but artlessly states facts from his own knowledge. And he had brought up among them from his childhood. Instead of commenting on the accounts he gives of their one God, their views of him, their worship and devotions, God’s anciently giving them his law, then rejecting them, yet containing to preserve them; their fasts and feasts so similar to those in Israel; their reckoning of time, years and days; the official dress of their high priests and his resemblance of the breastplate; and other things; I would only ask the reader to reperuse the quotations from this author; and compare them with the accounts given by Boudinot, Adair, and others, of other distant tribes of Indians; yea, with the laws of Moses; and then say whether he can give any rational account of these things short of the American natives being the descendant of Israel.
May it not with some confidence be asked, among what other people on earth can such evidence be found of their being the ten tribes of Israel? Where are [p.168]those ancient people of God, who have long been lost from the knowledge of the world; but who must soon come to light, and be recovered? Whence came the natives of our continent? They certainly found their way hither, and no doubt over Beering’s Straits from the north east of Asia. And the tribes of Israel might have found their way hither in that direction, as well as any other people. Our natives are here, and have brought down all these Israelitish traditions, and ceremonial observances, which it seems as though could be furnished from no other quarter than from the Mosaic law, the commonwealth of Israel.
Let the inquirer then, before he concludes that some other kind of evidence must be obtained, before the proposition can be adopted, consider, that the divine manner of affording evidence is not always such as human wisdom would dictate. The Jews had their strong [p.127]objections against the evidences which God saw fit to furnish of the Divinity of Christ, of his resurrection, and ascension to glory. These were not such as they would have chosen. In the midst of such evidence as God saw fit to afford, the Jews required something besides. “What sign showest thou?”—”How long cost thou make us to doubt?” “If he be Christ, let him descend from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Naaman had formed his expectation how his cure should be effected. “I thought he would come out, and lay his hand on the sore, and call upon his God, and heal the leprosy.” For want of this, he turned and was going very unpleasantly to retire.
Many things may be fancied concerning the kind and degrees of evidence, which shall bring to light the ten tribes. But Providence may adopt a different method. The methods adopted by the Most High relative to the affairs of men, have usually been such as to baffle human wisdom, and to stain the pride of all glory.
We are to expect no new revelation from heaven. And the days of miracles are thought to be past. We probably must look for just such evidence, to exhibit [p.169]to the world that people so long lost, as in fact exhibited by the natives of America. And can we expect to find more evidence of this kind among any other people who have been more than two millenaries lost from the world, and without records or letters? Could we well have expected to find so much? Consider, our aborigines have remained essentially distinguished from all the heathen on earth, in the uniform belief of most of them at least, of one God; and their freedom from false gods and gross idolatry.
Should it even be ascertained that some customs and habits are found among the American natives similar to what is found in the north-east of Asia; this may be accounted for, without supposing these Indians to have descended from those Asiatics. For the Indians must have passed through their regions, to reach this country. They might have caught some of their manners. Some of those Asiatics might have mingled with them in their migration to this country; and though they here amalgamated with Israel, they may have perpetuated some of their own customs and manners. This is much more naturally and easily accounted for, than to account for those northern Asiatics being possessed of so much of the religious traditions of the Hebrews. If the Indians be not Hebrews, but of the wild Asiatics, their traditions are utterly unaccountable. The heathen nations, and the corrupt feelings of men, were not so found of the laws and knowledge of God, as that the ancient, far distant, and savage Scythians of the north-east should learn and retain so much of the religion of the Israel of God, and transmit it for thousands of years to the distant ramifications of their descendants over the vast continent of North and South America. Those who can believe the affirmative, (when no account can be given how the religion and traditions of the Jews could ever have been disseminated through the far distant wilds of Scythia.) ought never to complain that the believers in the Indians being descendants from Israel, are [p.170]wild and conjectural. Their solution of the difficulty is far more wild, and every way improbable!
That various heathen nations bordering on ancient Israel, should have learned something of their names of the true God, and of their theology;–and that various heathen nations should have brought down some traditionary notions of the creation, of the deluge, and Noah’s ark, and of some general accounts of early events taught in ancient tradition and revelation, (as Grotius de Veritate asserts) is nothing strange. And it furnishes an incontestible argument in favour of the divinity of our bible. But that the northern roving savages of ancient Scythia should learn and adopt so much of the special rites of Israel’s ceremonial law, as has in fact been found among the American Indians, and that they should so firmly embrace them as to transmit them to their posterity for thousands of years, peopling a continent so distant from their own, and of vast dimensions of the new world, is not only incredible, but attended with moral impossibility! It is in no sense to be placed on a par with the fact of some heathen nations retaining a tradition of the flood, the ark, &c. These were general facts anciently known to all; while the ceremonial laws of Moses were revealed and practiced only in one nation, in after days, when men had become scattered over the eastern world, and had fallen into a state of gross idolatry and paganism. It was an economy designed to distinguish the tribes of Israel from all other nations; and it did distinguish and insulate them; and other nations did not receive Israel’s ceremonial code as their religion. Hence we are not to expect to find any traditionary observances of the ancient ceremonial law among any of the nations of the earth, at this day, except among the descendants of that ancient people of God; any more than we are to expect to find the doctrines of Confucius among the coloured race of Guinea. If some of the Arabs have practiced circumcision; this makes nothing against us. Circumcision was long antecedent to the ceremonial code. And Ishmael, the father of the Arabians, being himself a son of [p.171]Abraham, was circumcised. How naturally would his descendants follow him in this rite; at least for some time. And the heathen nations being in the practice of offering sacrifices, furnishes no argument against us. For sacrifices had been offered by the progenitors of all the nations from the beginning, and were not at all peculiar to the ceremonial code. All heathen nations then, derived this their practice from their remote ancestors.
But when we now find a race of men in conscientious practice of many of the ceremonial laws in Israel; and cautiously maintain those traditions, merely because they descended from their remote ancestors; we certainly have found considerable of that very kind of evidence, which must eventually (and at a period not far from the present) bring to light the descendants of ancient Israel. And however many difficult questions may attach themselves to the subject, they are all less difficult, than to account for the origin of these traditions on any other principle, than that they are of Israel.
Some have felt a difficulty arising against the Indians being the ten tribes, from their ignorance of the mechanic arts, of writing, and of navigation. Ancient Israel knew something of these; and some imagine, that these arts being once known, could never be lost. But no objection is hence furnished against our scheme. The knowledge of mechanic arts possessed in early times has been lost by many nations. Noah and his sons must have known considerable of these arts, as appears in their building the ark. And his early posterity must have known something considerable of them, as appears in their building of Babel. But how many of the descendants of those ancient mechanics lost this knowledge. And Israel in an outcast state might as well have lost it. It seems a fact that Israel have lost it, let them be who or where they may. Otherwise they must have been known in the civilized world.
But that the people who first migrated to this western world did possess some knowledge of the [p.172]mechanic arts, (as much doubtless, as was possessed by Israel when they disappeared in the east) appears from incontestible facts, which are furnished in Baron Humbolt, and in American Archaeology, such as the finding of brick, earthen ware, sculptures, some implements of iron, as well as other metals, and other tokens of considerable improvement; which furnish an argument in favour of the Indians having descended from the ten tribes. For the ancient Scythians, and people of the north-east of Asia, [p.130]had no such degree of civilization at the time the Indians must have reached this land. Hence they could not have been from them.
The probability then is this; that the ten tribes, arriving in this continent with some knowledge of the acts of civilized life; finding themselves in a vast wilderness filled with the best game, inviting them to chase; most of them fell into a wandering idle hunting life. Different clans parted from each other, lost each other, and formed separate tribes. Most of them formed a habit of this idle mode of living, and were pleased with it. More sensible parts of this people associated together, to improve their knowledge of the arts; and probably continued thus for ages. From these the noted relics of civilization discovered in the west and south were furnished. But the savage tribes prevailed; and in process of time their savage jealousies and rage annihilated their more civilized brethren. And thus, as a holy vindictive Providence would have it, and according to ancient denunciations, all were left in an “outcast” savage state. This accounts for their loss of the knowledge of letters, of the art of navigation, and of the use of iron. And such a loss can no more operate against their being of the ten tribes, then against their being of any other origin. Yea, we cannot so well account for their evident degeneracy in any other way, as that it took place under a vindictive Providence, as has been noted, to accomplish divine judgements denounced against the idolatrous ten tribes of Israel.
It is highly probable that the more civilized part of the tribes of Israel, after they settled in America, [p.173]became wholly separated from the hunting and savage tribes of their brethren; that the latter lost the knowledge of their having descended from the same family with themselves; that the more civilized part continued for many centuries; that tremendous wars were frequent between them and their savage brethren, till the former became extinct.
This hypothesis accounts for the ancient works, forts, mounds, and vast enclosures, as well as tokens of a good degree of civil improvement, which are manifestly very ancient, and from centuries before Columbus discovered America. These magnificent works have been found, one near Newark in Licking county, Ohio; one in Perry county, Ohio; one at Marietta; one at Circleville; one at Paint Creek; one on the eastern bank of the Little Miami river, Warren county; one on Paint Creek near Chillicothe; one on the Scioto river; and other places.
These works have evinced great wars, a good degree of civilization, and great skill fortification. And articles dug from old mounds in and near those fortified places, clearly evince that their authors possessed no small degree of refinement in the knowledge of the mechanic arts.
These partially civilized people became extinct. What account can be given of this, but that the savages extirpated them, after long and dismal wars? And nothing appears more probable than that they were the better part of the Israelites who came to this continent, who for a long time retained their knowledge of the mechanic and civil arts; while the greater part of their brethren became savage and wild.—No other hypothesis occurs to mind, which appears by any means so probable. The degrees of improvement, demonstrated to have existed among the authors of those works, and relics, who have ceased to exist, far exceed all that could have been furnished from the north-east of Asia, in those ancient times.
But however vindictive the savages must have been; —however cruel and horrid in extirpating their more civilized brethren; yet it is a fact that there are many [p.174]excellent traits in their original character. There is in the minds of the native Americans a quality far superior to what is found in the minds of most other heathen on earth; and such as might have been expected from the descendants of the ancient Israel of God; as appears from numerous testimonies, such as the following.
A Rev. Mr. Cushman, in a sermon preached at Plymouth in 1620, says, upon the base slanders uttered against the Indians; “The Indians are said to be the most cruel and treacherous people—like lions; but to us they have been like lambs; so kind, and submissive, and trusty, that a man may truly say, many Christians are not so kind and sincere. When there were not six able persons among us, and the Indians came daily by hundreds to us, with their sachems or kings, and might in one hour have made dispatch of us; yet they never offered us the least injury, in word or deed.”
Governor Hutchinson says of them; “The natives showed courtesy to the English at their first arrival;—were hospitable; and made such as would eat their food and welcome to it; and readily instructed them in planting and cultivating the Indian corn. Some of the English who lost themselves in the woods, they relieved and conducted home.”
William Penn spake and wrote in the highest terms of the kindness and benevolence of this people. Col. Smith, in his history of New Jersey says; “For near a century, the Indians of that state had all along maintained an intercourse of great cordiality and friendship with the inhabitants, being interspersed among them, and frequently receiving meat at their houses, and other marks of good will and esteem.”
Charlevoix, who early travelled [sic] from Quebec to New Orleans, had a great opportunity to learn the true Indian character; and he speaks highly in their favour. He says; “They rarely deviate from certain maxims and usages founded on good sense alone, which holds the place of law. They manifest much stability in the engagements they have entered upon, [p.175]patience in affliction, as well as submission in what they apprehend to be the appointment of Providence. In all this (he adds) they manifest a nobleness of soul, and constancy of mind, at which we rarely arrive with all our philosophy and religion.
Du Pratz says; “I have studied these Indians a considerable number of years; and I never could learn that there ever were any disputing or boxing matches among either boys or men. I am convinced (he adds) that it is wrong to denominate them savages. They have a degree of prudence, faithfulness and generosity exceeding that of nations who would be offended at being compared with them. No people are more hospitable and free.
Bartram, of a part of the Creek nation says; “Joy, contentment, love, and friendship without guile or affectation, seem inherent in them, or predominant in their vital principle; for it leaves them but with the last breath of life.”
Bartram missed his way and got lost among them. He saw an Indian at the door of his habitation beckoning to him to come in. He complied. Of himself and horse were taken the best care. When he wished to go, the Indian led him to his right way. This Indian proved to be the chief of Whotoga. Would an Indian receive such treatment among us? Bartram was a considerable time among them; and says; “they are just honest, liberal, hospitable to strangers, considerate, loving and affectionate to their wives and relations, fond of their children, frugal, and persevering; charitable, and forebearing.”
Col. Smith speaks of their “living in love, peace, and friendship, without disputes; and in this respect being an example to many who profess Christianity.”
These things were said of the Indians, who were not demoralized and corrupted by a connexion [connection] with the unprincipled whites. Too many of the latter description become sufficiently hateful.
Their doleful cruelties to their prisoners of war, was a religious custom among them, which they performed with savage firmness; as was their pursuit and [p.176]slaughter of one who had killed a relative. So the ancient law in Israel directed. “The avenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer; when he meeteth him he shall slay him.” Numbers, xxxv. 18, 19.—Aside from these cruelties of principle, the Indians are faithful and kind.
When the Pequods were destroyed in the early days of the old colony, the noble wife of a Sachem who had before herself rescued from the Indians the maidens of Weathersfield, and returned them home,—made two requests; that her chastity might not be violated;—and that her children might not be torn from her. “The amiable sweetness of her countenance (says a writer,) and the modest dignity of her deportment, were worthy of the character she supported for innocence and justice.” Whether her requests were granted, the historian neglects to inform.
De Las Casas, who spent much time in New Spain, says of the natives; “Did they not receive the Spaniards, who first came among them, with gentleness and humanity? Did they not show more joy in proportion, in lavishing treasures upon them, than the Spaniards did greediness in receiving them? But our avarice was not yet satisfied. Though they gave up to us their lands, and their riches; we would take from them also their wives, their children, and their liberties. To blacken the character of these people, their enemies assert that they are scarce human. But it is we (adds the author) who ought to blush for having been less men, and more barbarous than they.” The natives are said to be free from the European vices of blasphemy, swearing, treachery in peace, and similar vices.
Columbus, enamoured with what he saw among this people, declared in a communication to the king and queen of Spain, that “there is not a better people in the world than these;—more affectionate, affable, or mild. They love their neighbour as themselves.—They always speak smiling.”
These are a few of innumerable testimonies to the same point, relative to the moral character of the natives of America. Certainly then they have [p.177]deserved better treatment then they received from the [p.134]white. And these things furnish a rich quota of evidence that they probably had as good an origin as from the ancient people of Israel.
Some testimonies furnished by Baron Humbolt, in his Political Essays on the Kingdom of New Spain, will here be added. Relative to this noted author,–his translator, John Black, in his preface says; “It is observed by a popular French writer, that by far the most valuable and entertaining part of modern literature is the department filled up by travellers [sic], to whom the public have of late been very little accustomed. We would place him beside a Nieubuhr, a Pallas, a Bruce, a Chardin, a Barrow; and his works will probably be long consulted as authorities, respecting the countries which he describes. He seems to be a stranger to few departments of learning, or science; and his fortune enabled him to provide himself with every thing which could most advance his pursuits, and lead him to make that appearance among persons of rank and authority necessary to remove obstacles in the way of the traveller [sic] in every country.”
“Mr. de Humbolt (his translator adds) has brought forward a great mass of information relative to New Spain; a country of which we before knew very little indeed.” He compares his information with that of Robertson, and gives him the decided preference.
The Baron de Humbolt was a native of Germany, and a most celebrated character. His works were published in New-York, in 1811. His travels in New Spain were in the early part of the present century. He ventures no opinion on the origin of the natives of America. He probably was a stranger to the sentiment of their having descended from Israel. Whatever evidence may be collected from him relative to this point, will hence be deemed the more precious, when he viewed it as having no such bearing.
The object, in exhibiting some things from this author will be, to show the far greater probability that our natives descended from Israel, than that they [p.178]descended from the Scythians, or Tartars.—That they all had one origin.—That many of them had made such improvements in knowledge and arts, as to indicate that they had had the advantages enjoyed in the commonwealth of Israel.—And some things may be given more directly evidential of the fact. Relative to our natives having one origin, our author says: “The Indians of New Spain bear a general resemblance to those who inhabit Canada, Florida, Peru, and Brazil. They have the same swarthy and copper colour; flat and smooth hair; small beards; long eyes, with the corner [p.135]directed upward; and prominent cheek bones.—The American race occupies the greatest space on the globe. Over a million and a half of square leagues, from the Terra del Fuego islands, to the river St. Lawrence, and Beering’s Straits, we are struck at first glance with the general resemblance in the features of the inhabitants. We think we perceive that they all descended from the same stock.” He goes on to note some who are of a different opinion. But he adds; “In the faithful portrait which an excellent observer (M. Volney) has drawn of the Canada Indians, we undoubtedly recognize the tribes scattered in the meadows of the Rio Apure, and the Corona. The same style of features exists no doubt in both Americas.”
As to the improvements of some of the natives, M. Humbolt, speaking of the Mexicans before the Spanish conquests, says; “When we consider that they had an almost exact knowledge of the duration of the year; that they intercalated at the end of their great cycle of 104 years, with more accuracy than did the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, we are tempted to believe that this progress is not the effect of the intellectual development of the Americans themselves; but that they were indebted for it to their communications with some very cultivated nations of central Asia.” But how improbable is it that these nations of Mexico could have communication with people in central Asia, on the other side of the globe from them, when vast oceans, or many thousands of leagues of pathless deserts, lay between them! How could they, in periods [p.179]subsequent to their emigration to this continent, have traversed back and forward round the world, and learned from central Asia the arts and sciences? Had this been the case, this continents and its inhabitants would have been known in the eastern world. Such an hypothesis is vastly improbable at least. But they retained and might have made progress in arts, and some degree of science brought down from ancient Israel. Our author says; “The Taultees appeared in New Spain in the seventh, and the Aztecs in the twelfth centuries, (as he learned from the hieroglyphical map of the country traversed by them;—constructed cities, highways, dikes, canals, and immense pyramids very accurately designed of a base of 1416 feet in length.” How striking the view here given of their historical hieroglyphics ancient dates, and emigrations! as well as geographical and mechanical improvements! Can such improvements be imputed to a northern Scythian origin? Striking evidence follows.
Our author proceeds to describe the pyramids of New Spain,—those signal Indian antiquities. The pyramid of Cholula is 177 feet in height. Its base is 1416 feet. It has four great stages, or stories. It lies exactly with the meridian, north and south; the width nearly equal to the length; (439 metres [sic]; a metre [sic] being nearly 3 1-4 feet.) This stupendous pile is composed, he tells us, “of alternate strata of brick and clay.” Various other similar pyramids this author notes and describes in those regions, as being of the same construction. And of their construction he says; “They suffice to prove the great analogy between these brick monuments—and the temple of Belus at Babylon, and the pyramids of Menschich Dashour, near Sackhara in Egypt.” On the pyramid of Cholula is a church surrounded with cypress. This pyramid M. Humbolt informs is “ten feet higher than the Mycerinus, or the third of the great Egyptian pyramids of the group of Ghize.” The length of the base (he informs) is greater by almost half than that of the great pyramid Cheops; and exceeds that of all the pyramids known on the old [p.180]continent. And he adds, “If it be allowed to compare with the great Egyptian monuments, it appears to have been constructed on an analogous plan.”
I ask, can such pyramids be ascribed to ancient barbarous Scythians? Israel knew the pyramids of Egypt. It is with great probability supposed, that during their servitude there, they aided in building those stupendous monuments. They thus served a long apprenticeship to the art of making brick, and pyramids. Did the ancient Scythian ever serve such an apprenticeship? If the advocates for a Scythian descent of the Indians, could present the fact, that the whole Scythian nation, had, in former times, served an apprenticeship of a number of centuries in making just such brick pyramids as are found in America; how much would they make of this solitary argument to show, that the authors of those American pyramids must surely have been of Scythian descent? And I confess there would be, in my opinion, ten times as much argument in it in favour of their position, as I have ever perceived in any other arguments adduced. Various authors unite, as will appear, in stating the great similarity between those Mexican pyramids, and those of Egypt. And our noted author M. Humbolt exclaims; “We are astonished to see, in regions the most remote, men following the same model in their edifices.” This is here claimed as a great argument in favour of the Israelitish extraction of those Indians. Other arguments this author unintentionally furnishes. He says; “We have examples of theocratic forms of government in South America. For such were those of Zac, of Bogota, and of the Incas of Peru,—two extensive empires, in which despotism was concealed under the appearance of a gentle and patriarchal government.—The empire of the Zac (he adds in a note) which comprehends the kingdom of New Grenada, was founded (i.e. in their tradition) by a mysterious personage called Idacanzas, or Bochira;—who according to the tradition of the Mozcas, lived in the temple of the sun, at Sogamozo, rising of 2000 years.” Here tradition had given this people an ancient mysterious founder. His present votaries [p.181]were the Mozcas. He lived at Sogamozo, inhabiting a temple. The government of this people, it seems, is theocratico-patriarchal. Whom does all this most resemble? Israel; or the ancient barbarous Scythians? It would seem the warmest advocates for a Scythian descent, would not be fond of answering this question. But admitting that this theocratic, patriarchal government must well accord with Israelitish tradition; and it seems not unnatural to say, their ancient mysterious lawgiver was Moses, from whom the devoted Mozcas may have derived their name; and also the name of his supposed residence, Sogamozo. It is natural to view this as a tradition (something confused by rolling millenaries) of the lawgiver Moses ministering at the tabernacle in the wilderness, 2000 years (more or less) before some noted era of this tradition. Suppose Sogamozo to have been from Sagan-Moses. Sagan, Adair assures us, was a noted Indian name of the waiter or deputy of the Indian high priest. And it was the very name of the deputy of the ancient high priest in Israel; as the noted Calmet informs. Against the word Sagan, Calmet says; “The Jews thus call the deputy of the high priest, who supplied his office, and who performed the function of it in the absence of the high priest.” Calmet adds; “The Jews think that the office of Sagan was very ancient. They hold that Moses was Sagan to Aaron. I do not find the words Sagan, he says in this sense in the scriptures; but it is frequent in the Rabbins.” Here then, the old rabbinical traditions say, that Moses was Sagan to Aaron in the wilderness. How natural then that the same tradition should descend to the American Mozcas, (if they be of Israel) that Sogamozo (Sagan Moses, mistaking the place of his residence for his name.) was their ancient legislator! We shall by and by find in another authority, a similar tradition with this, and bearing its part of a strange combination of just such evidence as must eventually present the long lost Israel of the world.
Our author proceeds; “But the Mexican small colonies, wearied of tyranny, gave themselves republican constitutions.” Now it is only after long popular [p.151]struggles that these free constitutions can be formed. The existence of republic does not indicate a very recent civilization. Here, like a wise politician, he was showing that the Mexicans from ancient date, were a civilized people, at least, in good degree.
He adds; “How is it possible to doubt that a part of the Mexican nation had arrived at a certain degree of cultivation, when we reflect on the care with which their hieroglyphical books were composed, and kept; and when we recollect that a citizen of Tlascala in the midst of the tumults of war, took advantage of the facility offered him by our Roman alphabet, to write in his own language five large volumes on the history of a country, of which he deplores the subjection?”
Our author further says; “To give an accurate idea of the indigenous (native) inhabitants of New Spain; it is not enough to paint them in their actual state of degradation and misery after the Spanish conquests. We must go back to a remote period, when governed by its own laws, the nation could display its proper energy. And we must consult the hieroglyphical paintings, buildings of hewn stone, and works of sculpture still in preservation; which though they attest the infancy of the arts, bear however a striking analogy to several monuments of the more civilized people.”
Again he says; “The cruelty of the Europeans has entirely extirpated the old inhabitants of the West Indies. The continent of America, however, has witnessed no such horrible result. The number of Indians in New Spain exceeds two millions and a half, including only those who have no mixture of European or African blood. What is still more consolatory is that the indigenous population, far from declining, has been considerably on the increase for the last fifty years; as is proved by registers of capitation, or tribute. In general the Indians appear to form two fifths of the whole population of Mexico. In Guanaxuato, Valladolid, Oaxana, and La Puebla, this populations amounts to three fifths.
“So great a number of indigenous inhabitants (he adds) undoubtedly proves the antiquity of the [p.183]cultivation of this country. Accordingly we find in Oaxana remaining monuments of Mexican architecture, which proves a singularly advanced state of civilization.—When the Spaniards conquered Mexico, they found very few inhabitants in the countries situated beyond the parallel of 20 degrees. [p.139]Those provinces (that were beyond) were the abode of the Chichimecks and Olomites, two pastoral nations, of whom thin hordes were scattered over a vast territory. Agriculture and civilization were concentrated in the plains south of the river of Santiago.—From the 7th to the 13th century, population seems in general to have continually flowed towards the south. From the regions situated south of the Rio Gila, issued forth those warlike nations, who successively inundated the country of Anahuac.—The hieroglyphical tables of the Aztecs have transmitted to us the memory of the principle epochs of the great migrations among the Americans.” This traveller [sic] goes on to speak of those Indian migrations from the north, as bearing a resemblance to the inundations of the barbarous hordes of Goths and Vandals from the north of Europe, and overwhelming the Roman empire, in the fifth century. He adds; “The people, however, who traversed Mexico, left behind them traces of cultivation and civilization. The Taultees appeared first in the year 648; the Chichimecks in 1170; the Nahualtees in 1178; the Acolhues and Aztecs, in 1196. The Taultees introduced the cultivation of maize and cotton; they built cities, made roads, and constructed those great pyramids, which are yet admired, and of which the faces are very accurately laid out. They knew the use of hieroglyphical paintings; they could found metals, and cut the hardest stones. And they had a solar year more perfect than that of the Greeks and Romans. The form of their government indicated that they were descendants of a people who had experienced great vicissitudes in their social state. But where (he adds) is the source of that cultivation? Where is the country from which the Taultees and Mexicans issued?
[p.184]No wonder these questions should arise in the highly philosophical mind of this arch investigator. Had he known the present theory of their having descended from ancient Israel; it seems as though his difficulties might at once have obtained relief. These accounts appear mostly strikingly for favour our hypothesis. Here we account for all the degrees of civilization and improvements existing in the past ages among the natives of those regions. How perfectly consentaneous are these facts stated, with the scheme presented in the preceding pages, that Israel brought into this new continent a considerate degree of civilization; and the better part of them long laboured to maintain it. But others fell into the hunting and consequent savage state; whose barbarous hordes invaded their more civilized brethren, and eventually annihilated most of them, and all in these northern regions! Their hieroglyphical records, paintings and knowledge of the solar year, (let it be repeated and remembered) agree to nothing that could have descended from the barbarous hordes of the north east of Europe, and north of Asia; but they well agree with the ancient improvements and state of Israel.
Our author proceeds; “Tradition and historical hieroglyphics name Huehuetlapallan, Tallan, and Aztlan, as the first residence of these wandering nations. There are no remains at this day of any ancient civilization of the human species to the north of Rio Gila, or in the northern regions travelled [sic] through by Hearne, Fiedler, and Mackenzie. But on the north west coast, between Nootka and Cook river, especially under the 57th degree of north latitude, in Norfolk Bay, and Cox Canal, the natives display a decided taste for hieroglyphical paintings.” (See Voyage de Marchand, p. 258, 261, 375. Dixon, p. 332.) “A harp (says Humbolt) represented in the hieroglyphical paintings of the inhabitants of the north west coasts of America, is an object at least remarkable, as the famous harp on the tombs of the kings of Thebes. I am inclined to believe that on the migrations of the Taultees and Aztecs to the south (the tribes noted as most improved) [p.185]some tribes remained on the coast of New Norfolk and Nee Cornwall, while the rest continued their course southward. “This is not the place to discuss the great problem of the Asiatic origin of the Taultees, or Aztecs. The general question of the first origin of the inhabitants of the continent, is beyond the limits presented to history; and is not perhaps even a philosophical question.” Thus our author declines giving any opinion on this subject. But he here gives it as his opinion that these more improved tribes in New Mexico came from the north-west coast, and left some of their half civilized brethren there. Among the hieroglyphical paintings of the latter, it seems, the harp is found. Was not this a noted Israelitish musical instrument? How should the American Indians be led to paint the Jewish harp? The Jews in Babylon “hung their harps upon the willows.” And it is as natural an event that their brethren, in the wilds of America, should place them in their silent hieroglyphical paintings. Whence could have been derived the knowledge of the accurate hieroglyphical paintings, which this most learned author exhibits as found among some of the Indians; unless they had learned them from people to whom the knowledge of hieroglyphics had been transmitted from Egypt, its original source? It appears incredible that such improvements in this art, and the knowledge of the Jewish harp, should be transmitted from the ancient barbarous people of Scythia. If any can believe it, it is hoped they will be cautious of ever taxing others, with credulity. Such evidence, it is believed, weighs many times more in favour of their Israelitish extraction. M. Humbolt informs us from Mozino (of whom he speaks with great respect,) relative to Indians of Nootka, on the north-west coasts. Of the writings of this author, he says; “These embrace a great number of curious subjects; vis. the union of the civil and ecclesiastical power in the same persons of the princes—the struggle between Quaulz and Matlax, the good and bad principle by which the world is governed;—the origin of the human species at the time when stags were without horns, birds without wings, &c.;—the [p.186]Eve of the Nootkians, who lived solitary in a flowery grove of Yucuatl—”Here is a traditional peculiarity of Israeli—the origin in the same person of civil and ecclesiastical government. The struggles of the good and bad principle seems very congenial to ancient revelation. The mother of all men.—Eve in paradise, is most striking in their tradition. This must have been learned from the history of Moses, and has a signal weight in favour of the Israelitish extraction of those Nootkians; as has their notion of the innocence and harmlessness of the primitive state of men and beasts. Our noted author says; “The Mexicans have preserved a particular relish for painting, and for the art of carving in wood or stone, We are astonished at what they are able to execute with a bad knife on the hardest wood. They are particularly fond of painting images, and carving statues of saints. This is derived from a religious principle of a very remote origin.” He adds; “Cortez, in his letters to the Emperor Charles V. frequently boasts of the industry which the Mexicans displayed in gardening. Their taste for flowers undoubtedly indicates a relish for the beautiful. The European cannot help being struck (our author continues) with the care and elegance the natives display in distributing the fruits which they sell in small cages of very light wood. The sapotilles, the mammea, pears, and raisins, occupy the bottom; while the top as ornamented with odoriferous flowers. This art of entwining fruits and flowers had its origin perhaps in the happy period when, long before the introduction of inhuman rites, the first inhabitants of Anahuac, like the Peruvians, offered up to the Great Spirit the first fruits of their harvests.” Here was the ancient rite, in Peru, and perhaps in Anahuac, of offering to the Great Spirit their first ripe fruits; as has appeared to have been the case among the various tribes of the natives of this continent. And our author conceives that the curious art of entwining fruits and flowers must have had an ancient origin. Possibly, indeed, it had an origin as ancient and as venerable, as the alternate knop (or fruit) and flower on the brim of Israel’s brazen sea;—on the shafts of the golden candlesticks; and on the hem of the high priest’s garment;—bells and pomegranates. These ideas were familiar in Israel; but probably in no other nation. Our author speaks of the language of some of the Indians in the south “of which the mechanism proves an ancient civilization.” Dr. Edwards (Mr. Boudinot informs) was of the same opinion of the North American Indians: and he pronounced this ancient origin of their language to have been Hebrew.
It seems the Spanish missionaries found such traces of resemblance between some of the rites of the religion of the natives of Mexico, and the religion which they wished to introduce, that our author says, “They persuaded them that the gospel had in very remote times, been already preached in America. And they investigated its traces in the Aztec ritual, with the same ardour which the learned who in our days engage in the study of Sanscrit [sic], display in discussing the analogy between the Greek mythology and that of the Ganges and the Burrampooter.” It is a noted fact that there is a far greater analogy between much of the religion of the Indians, and Christianity, than between that of any other heathen nation on earth and Christianity. The aged Indians, noted in the proceeding pages, testified to this, when the children from the missionary school came home and informed what instructions they had received. The old Indian said; Now this is good talk. This is such as we used to hear when we were children from the old people, till some of the white people came among us, and destroyed it back again!
Our author again says; “The migrations of the American tribes having been constantly carried on from north to south, at least between the sixth and twelfth centuries, it is certain that the Indian population of New Spain must be composed of very heterogeneous elements. In proportion as the population flowed toward the south, some tribes would stop on their progress and mingle with other tribes that followed them.” All seem to agree that the Indians came [p.188]from the north-west, and overspread the continent of the south. Our author, speaking of the conjecture of the Indians descending from a people in the north parts of Siberia, says; “All these conjectures will acquire more probability, when a marked analogy shall be discovered between the languages of Tartary and those of the new continent; an analogy which according to the latest researches of M. Barton Smith, extended only to a very small number of words.” I forbear to offer any further remarks upon these testimonies incidentally afforded by this most celebrated author. Let them be duly weighed by the judicious reader; and he surely cannot doubt but the natives of America came from the north over the Beering’s Strait’s; and descended from a people of as great mental cultivation, as were the ancient family of Israel. He must abandon the idea of their being of Scythian descent. He will find much evidence of their being all from one origin; and also much evidence in favour of the hypothesis, that some of the original inhabitants laboured to retain their knowledge of civilization; but that an overwhelming majority abandoned it for the idle hunting life.
In the Archaeologia Americana, containing Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society,” published at Worcester, Mass. in 1820; are found antiquities of the people who formerly inhabited the western part of the United States.” Of some of these I shall give a concise view, as additional arguments in favour of my theory, that some of the people of Israel who came into the western continent maintained some degree of civilization for a long time; but that the better part of the outcast tribes of Israel here finally became extinct, at least in North America, under the rage of their more numerous savage brethren. I shall present also from this interesting publication, some new and striking arguments in favour of the American natives as being of Israel.
Relative to the ancient forts and tumult, the writer of the Archaeology says; “These military works,—these walls and ditches cost so much labour in their [p.189]structure; those numerous and sometimes tasty mounds, which owe their origin to a people far more civilized than our Indians, but far less so than Europeans;—are interesting on many accounts to the antiquarian, to the philosopher, and the divine. Especially when we consider the immense extent of country which they cover; the great labour which they cost their authors; the acquaintance with the useful arts which that people had, when compared with our present race of Indians; the grandeur of many of the works themselves and the total absence of all historical records, or even traditionary accounts, respecting them. They were once forts, cemeteries, temples, altars, camps, towns, villages, race grounds, and other places of amusement, habitations of chieftains, videttes, watch towers, and monuments.” These certainly are precisely such remains as naturally might have been expected to be furnished by a better part of Israel placed in their “outcast” state, in a vast wilderness, with the degree of civilization which they possessed when banished from Canaan; and were situated in the midst of savage tribes from their race, who had degenerated to the hunting life, and were intent on the destruction of this better part of their brethren. Thus situated, and struggling to maintain their existence, and to maintain their religious traditions, they would naturally form many of the very things above enumerated, walled towns, forts, temples, altars, habitation of chieftains, videttes, and watch towers. These cannot be ascribed to a people of any other origin, with any thing like an equal degrees of probability. The whole process of the hypothesis stated in relation to these two branches of the descendants of Israel, when finding themselves lodged in this vast wild continent, is natural and easy.
The above publication of the American Antiquarian Society, decides that these Indian works must have been very ancient, and long before this continent was discovered by Columbus. French forts and works in the west, are also discovered; and many articles on or near the site of those old forts, evidently European [p.190]and modern. But these are clearly distinguished from those ancient forts and remains. Of the authors of those many ancient remains, this publication says; “From what we see of their works, they must have had some acquaintance with the arts and sciences. They have left us perfect specimens of circles, squares, octagon and parallel lines, on a grand and noble scale. And unless it can be proved that they had intercourse with Asia and Europe; we now see that they possessed the art of working metals.” If they had been favoured with intercourse with any civilized parts of Asia or Europe, this thing must have been ascertained; and this western continent would not have been unknown to the literary eastern world. Such intercourse then is inadmissable. They probably must have derived their art of working metals, from the commonwealth of ancient Israel. They professed something of this knowledge. But none of the barbarous hordes in the north east of Asia, in these ancient days, did possess the knowledge of such arts. Speaking of the wells of those ancient works, the writer observes; “These wells, with stones at their mouths, resemble those described to us in the patriarchal age.” Surely this is not unfavourable to the idea of the authors of those wells having been the descendants of Jacob.
To throw light on my hypothesis, I shall add a concise description of several of those ancient works in the west and south; and of a [p.145]few of the articles there found. These are largely given with their drawings or plates in the publication of the American Antiquarian Society, published at Worcester in 1820;—a book worthy of the perusal of all.
Near Newark in Licking county, Ohio, between two branches of the Licking river, at their junction, is one of the most notable remains of the ancient works. There is a fort including forty acres, whose walls are ten feet high. It has eight gateways, each of the width of about fifteen feet. Each gateway is guarded by a fragment of a wall, placed before, and about nine feet within the gate, of the bigness of the walls of [p.191]the fort, and about four feet longer than the width of the gateway. The walls are as nearly perpendicular as they could be made with earth. Near this fort is another round fort containing twenty-two acres, and connected with the first fort by two parallel walls of earth about the size of the other walls. At the remotest part of this circular fort, and just without a gateway, is an observatory so high as to command a view of the region to some distance. A secret passage was made under this observatory to an ancient watercourse. At some distance from this fort (but connected by a chain of internal works, and parallel walls) is another circular fort of about twenty-six acres, with walls from twenty-five to thirty feet in height, with a ditch just under them. Connected with these forts is another square fort of about twenty acres, whose walls are similar to those of the fort first described. These forts were not only connected with each other (though considerable distance apart) by communications made by parallel walls of five or six rods apart;—but a number of similar communications were made from them by parallel walls, down to the waters of the river. All these works stand on a large plain, the top of which is almost level, but is high land by a regular ascent from near the two branches of the river, to a height of forty or fifty feet above the branches of the river. At four different places at the ends of these internal communications between the forts and down to the river, are watch towers on elevated ground, and surrounded by circular walls. And the points selected for these watch towers were evidently chosen with great skill, to answer their design. These forts and chains of communications between them, were so situated as nearly to enclose a number of large fields, which it is presumed were cultivated, and which were thus far secured from hostile invaders. From these works are two parallel walls leading off probably to other similar places of fortifications at a distance. They have been traced a mile or two, and are yet clearly visible. The writer says; “I should not be surprised if these parallel walls (thus leading off) are found to extend from [p.192]one work of defence [sic] to another for the space of thirty miles—such walls have been discovered at different places, probably belonging to these works, for ten or twelve miles at least.” He apprehends this was a road between this settlement, and one on the Hockhocking river. And he says; “the planning of these works of defence [sic] “speaks volumes in favour of the sagacity of the authors.”
Some small tumult, probably for burying the dead, and other purposes, were found here. And the writer says of articles there discovered; “Rock crystals, some of them very beautiful, and hornstone, suitable for arrow and spear heads, and a little lead, sulphur, and iron, were all that I could ascertain.”
Four or five miles southerly from this is a stone fort enclosing forty acres or upwards. This contains two stone tumult; “Such (says the author) as were used in ancient times as altars, and as monuments.”—He adds; “I should rather suspect this to have been a sacred enclosure, or “high place,” which was resorted to on some great anniversary.” He deemed its design religious. At the mouth of the Muskingum, in Marietta, are notable instances of these ancient works. They stand on an elevated plain, on the east side of the mouth of the Muskingum, half a mile from its junction with the Ohio. Here are walls and mounds, in direct lines, in circular forms, and in squares. A square fort, called the town, encompasses forty acres by a wall of earth, from six to ten feet in thickness at the base. Each side has at equal distances three gates. From the middle and the largest gateway next the Muskingum, was a covert way, secured by two parallel walls of earth about sixteen rods apart. The highest part of these two walls is about twenty-one feet; and of forty-two feet thickness at the base. This extends about twenty-two rods, to where the river is supposed then to have run. Within, and at a corner of this fort, on an oblong elevated square, upwards of eleven rods in length, and between eight and nine rods in breadth. Its top forms a level, nine feet in height. The sides [p.193]are nearly perpendicular. At another side of the fort is another elevated square, nearly as large. And at a third place is a third, still a little smaller. Near the centre of the fort is a circular mound, thirty feet in diameter and five feet high. At the corner of the fort is a semi-circular parapet, guarding the gateway, and crowned with a mound. South-east of this fort is a smaller fort of twenty acres, having a gateway in the centre [p.147]of each side, and at each corner; each gateway being defended by a circular mound. On the outside of this smaller fort is a kind of circular pyramid, like a sugar loaf; it is a regular circle, one hundred and fifteen feet diameter at the base; and thirty feet in height. It is guarded by a ditch four feet deep, and fifteen wide; also by a parapet four feet in height. These works are attended with many minor walls, mounds, and excavations. One of these excavations is sixty feet in diameter at the surface; and was when first discovered twenty feet deep. Another within the fort is twenty five feet in diameter; and poles have been pushed down into its waters and rotten substances, thirty feet. Its sides project gradually towards its centre; and are found to be lined with a layer of very fine clay, eight or ten inches in thickness. It is supposed to contain hundreds of loads of manure. Old fragments of potter’s ware have been picked up in this fort. This ware was ornamented with lines on the outside, curious and ingenious; and had a glazing on the inside. This ware seems to have been burned, and capable of holding water. The fragments when broken are black, and present shining particles when held to the light. Pieces of copper have at various times been found among these ancient works. One piece was in the form of a cup, with low sides, and the bottom thick and strong.
Tools of iron not being found in these works, in no sign the authors did not possess them. For had they been there, they would, no doubt, long since have been dissolved by rust. Some remains of iron particles however are found, as will be seen.
[p.194]On the waters of the Scioto, at Circleville, Ohio, is a notable instance of these military works. Here are two forts adjoining; one an exact circle; the other a square. The former has two walls, with a ditch between them. These walls are twenty feet in height. The inner wall was of clay; the outer of earth taken from the ditch between the walls. The walls of the square fort are ten feet in height; with eight gateways, besides the one leading into the adjoining circular fort. Each of these gateways is defended on the inside with a mound of earth four feet high, and forty feet in diameter at the base. Each mound is two rods within the gateway, and direct in front of it, no doubt for defence [sic]. The square and the circle of these forts are said to be most exact; and are thought to indicate much mathematical skill; as not the least error can be detected in their device.
In the centre of the round fort was a mound ten feet in height, and several rods in diameter at the base. On its eastern side and extending six rods, was a pavement, a half circle composed of [p.148]pebbles. The top of the tumulus was about thirty feet in diameter, with a way like a modern turnpike leading to it from the east.
This mound has been removed and its contents explored. Some things found in it shall be noted. Two human skeletons. A great quantity of heads, either for arrows or spears. They were so large as to induce a belief they must have been the latter. The handle of the small sword, or large knife, made of an elk’s horn, was here found, and is now in a museum at Philadelphia. A silver ferrule encompassed the end containing the blade; which silver ferrule, though black, was not much injured by rolling ages. The blade was gone by rust. But in the hole of the handle, there was left the oxyde [sic] or rust of the iron, of a similar shape and size of the shank formerly inserted. Some bricks well burnt were here found. And a large mirror of the length of three feet, half a foot in breadth, and one inch and a half thick, formed of isinglass, and on it a [p.195]plate of iron “which (says the writer who has an eye witness) had become and oxyde [sic];” or plate of rust.—”The mirror (he adds) answered the purpose very well for which it was intended.”
About forty rods from this round fort, was another tumulus, “more than ninety feet in height,” says the writer in the Archeology; which was placed on an artificial hill. It appears to have been a burying place; and probably was a high place of worship. Immense numbers of human nones, of all sizes, were here found. Here were found also with those bones, stone axes and knives, and various ornaments.
Not far from this tumulus was a semi-circular ditch. The informer remarks it was six feet deep when he first discovered it. At the bottom lay “a great quantity of human bones.” These are supposed to be the remains of men slain in some great battle. They were all the size of men, and lay in confusion, as though buried in a pile, and in haste. Here might have been about the last of those more civilized people who inhabited that station; thus entombed in a ditch by a small residue of their brethren spared; or by their enemies, if all in the fortress were cut off.
The article discovered in the great tumulus were numerous; something seemed to have been buried with every corps.
On the river Scioto, mounds are frequently found, usually on hills with fair prospects to the east. Near Chilicothe are some interesting ones. In Chilicothe, Rev. Dr. Wilson of that place gives a description of one. It was fifteen feet high; sixty feet in diameter at the base; and contained human bones. Under its base in the centre lay a skeleton on a platform of twenty feet, formed of bark; and over it a mat formed of some bark. On the breast lay a piece of copper; also a curious stone five inches in length, two in breadth, with two perforations through it, containing a string of sinews of some animal. On this string were many beads of ivory or bone. The whole appeared to have been designed to wear upon the neck, as a kind of breast-plate.
[p.196]Another curious set of Indian works are found within six miles of Chilicothe, on Paint Creek, the accurate description and drawings of which are given in the Archaeology. Here the great wall encloses a hundred and ten acres; the wall twelve feet in height, with a ditch about twenty feet wide. It has an adjacent enclosure of sixteen acres, the walls like the other. In a “sacred enclosure” are six mounds. The immense labours of this place, and cemeteries filled with human bones, denote that a great people, and of some degree of civilization in ancient days dwelt here.
A stone mound was discovered in the vicinity of Licking river, near Newark, Ohio; and several others in different places. These contained human bones, and such articles as the following; “urns, ornaments of copper, heads of spears, &c. of the same metal, as well as of medals of copper.” A minister of Virginia, writing to the Antiquarian Society relative to the ancient Indian monuments at Grave Creek, near the mouth of the Monongahela, says; “In one of the tumult, which was opened about twenty years since, sixty copper beads were found. Of these I procured ten.—They were made of coarse wire—hammered out—cut at unequal lengths. They were soldered together in an awkward manner—They were incrusted with verdigrise [sic]; but the inside was pure copper. This fact shows that these ancient American inhabitants were not wholly unacquainted with the use of metals.” There are many indications that their improvements were equal to those of Israel when expelled from Canaan; as will be seen by any who will peruse the Archaeology. Several hints of them shall here be added.
Says the writer; “Along the Ohio, some of it (their pottery) is equal to any thing of the kind now manufactured.”—”It is well glazed or polished; and the vessel well shaped.” Many ornaments of silver and copper were found. Many wells were dug through the hardest rocks.
A crucible was found in a tumulus near Chilicothe, which is now in the hands of S. Williams, Esq. of that place. It will bear an equal degree of heat with those [p.197]now used in glass manufactories; and appears made of the same material.
A stone pipe is noted as found six feet in the alluvial earth; the brim of which is curiously wrought in high relief, and on the front side a handsome female face.
In removing a large mound in Marietta bones of a person were found. “Lying immediately over, or on the forehead of the body, were found three large circular bosses, or ornaments for a sword belt, or a buckler; they are composed of copper, overlaid with a thick plate of silver. The fronts of them are slightly convex, with a depression, like a cup, in the centre, and measure two inches and a quarter across the face of each. On the back side, opposite the depressed portion, is a copper rivet or nail, around which are two separate plates, by which they were fastened to the leather. Two small pieces of the leather were found lying between the plates of one of the bosses.” “near the side of the body was found a plate of silver, which appears to have been the upper part of a sword scabbard; it is six inches in length and two inches in breadth, and weighs one ounce; it has no ornaments or figures, but has three longitudinal ridges, which probably correspond with the edges or ridges of the sword; it seems to have been fastened to the scabbard by three or four rivets, the holes of which yet remain in the silver.
“Two or three broken pieces of a copper tube, were also found, filled with iron rust. These pieces, from their appearance, composed the lower end of the scabbard itself was discovered, except the appearance of rust above mentioned.
“Near the feet was found a piece of copper, weighing three ounces. From its shape it appears to have been used as a plumb, or for an ornament, as near one of the ends is a circular crease, or groove, for tying a thread; it is round; two inches and a half in length, one inch in diameter at the centre, and half an inch at each end. It is composed of small pieces of native copper, pounded together; and in the cracks between [p.198]the pieces are stuck several pieces of silver; one nearly the size of a four penny piece, or half a dime. This copper ornament was covered with a coat of green rust, and is considerable corroded. A piece of red ochre, or paint, and a piece of iron ore, which has the appearance of having been partially vitrified, or melted, were also found. The ore is about the specific gravity of pure iron.”
Surely these things indicate some good degree of improvement in some of the arts of life. Multitudes of other things are noted in this, most valuable publication, in which these things are given.
The great antiquity of these works of the native is proved beyond a doubt. Trees of the third growth are found standing on them, whose annular rings show them to have been more than four hundred years of age.
And the hugeness of those works indicates a vast population.
The clergyman writing from Virginia to the Antiquarian Society, of the works at Grave Creek, says of a vast tumulus in that neighborhood, called “the Big Grave;” “It is certainly one of the most August monuments of remorse antiquity any where to be found. Its circumference is three hundred feet at the base—Its altitude from measurement is ninety feet, and its diameter, at the summit, is forty five feet. This lofty and venerable tumulus has been so far opened as to ascertain that it contains many thousands (probably) of human skeletons, but no farther. Of the numerous Indian works of this region the writer says; “A careful survey of the above mentioned works would probably show that they were all connected, and transformed but parts of a whole, laid out with taste.”
These ancient works continued all the way down the Ohio river to the Mississippi, where they increased and were far more magnificent. They abound at the junction of rivers, in most eligible positions, and in most fertile lands. The number of tumult on that river exceeds three thousand; “the smallest not less than twenty feet in height, and one hundred in diameter at the base. The largest are of huge magnitude. The [p.199]informer former in the Archaeology says; “I have been sometimes induced to think that at the period when these were constructed, there was a population as numerous as that which once animated the borders of the Nile or the Euphrates, or of Mexico. Brackenridge calculates that there were 5000 cities at once full of people. I am perfectly satisfied that cities similar to those of ancient Mexico, of several hundred thousand souls, (says the writer) have existed in this country. Nearly opposite St. Louis there are traces of two such cities in the distance of five miles. One of the mounds is eight hundred yards in circumference at the base, (about fifty rods in diameter) the exact size of the pyramid of Asychis; and one hundred feet in height.” (See Archaeologia Americana, page 189.) The author says in speaking of many of these pyramids of the west; there is “one near Washington, Mississippi state, of one hundred and forty-six feet in height!” Articles found in and near these works show the improvement of the arts among those who erected them.” Though these tumult were used as places to bury their dead, and places for temples, altars and religious worship; they were no doubt places also for the last resort when likely to be overcome by an enemy. Solis, a writer noted in the Archaeology, when describing the destruction of the Mexicans by the Spaniards, speaks of them as fleeing to their Teocalli. (The Teocalli were high places formed for the site of their temples, for altars, and places for entombing the dead. The name Teocalli, Humbolt informs, was given these sacred places from the name of the god, to whom the place was dedicated.) Solis informs that in the time of the conflicts of the Mexicans with the Spaniards, their Teocalli appeared like living hills covered with warriors, determined to defend their sacred places, where were their temples, altars, and the tombs of their fathers. Here they fought with desperation. The high places and great tumult of the natives on the Mississippi, no doubt were for the same purposes with those of South America. The writer of the Archaeology remarks, that had temples been built on any of their high places, probably no vestige of them would now be visible.
[p.200]These ancient works of the native Americans may well remind us of what was said in the Old Testament writings of the ancient “high places” of Israel. Psalm lxxviii. 53: “For they provoked him to anger with their high places.”
How abundantly are these noted through their sacred writings. In scores of text we read them. Such a king built their high places. Such a reformer destroyed them. Such a vile king rebuilt them and so on. Here was a train of the most common events. The hearts of Israel were long and most perfectly inured to the religious use of their high places, though it was forbidden. Scott remarks that these high places were “both for idolatry; and for the regular worship of Jehovah.” Solomon had used these high places. 1 Kings iii. 3, 4; “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father; only he sacrificed and burned incense in high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for what was the great high place. A thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.” Scott upon the passage says; “Until the temple was builded, the irregularity of sacrificing to the God of Israel in high places—was in some degree connived at. But the people proceeded further in it than in the days of David; and Solomon was censurable for countenancing them.” It seems they had their great high places and their smaller high places, to which that ancient people were greatly attached. These high places in Israel are sometimes alluded to in a very bad sense, as when they were the seats [p.153]of idolatry; and sometimes in a sense which seems more favourable. But allusions are abundantly made to them through the sacred pages; “high places” of various altitudes and dimensions “on every high hill, and under every green tree.” The children of Jacob on great occasions assembled at Gilgal. The name of this place imports “a heap.” Here was a pile of stones taken from the heart of Jordan, and formed into a monument at the place of Israel’s first encampment in the promised land. This circumstance and the numerous monumental piles of stone in ancient Israel, bear a near resemblance to the many [p.201]piles of stone found in this country, and particularly on the waters of the Licking near Newark, and in the counties of Perry, Pickaway, and Ross, Ohio.
Israel were ever accustomed to hills and high places for their resort to transact important concerns as well as acts of devotion. Gibeon was a great high place, as has been noted. Shiloh, a noted place of such resort, was on a high hill. This was discontinued as the place of such resort, when the loftier hill of Zion was selected in its place. The temple was located by divine decision, on this lofty mount of Zion. Ideas like these together with their other “high places,” in ancient Israel, may account for the numerous and huge tumult found in this continent.
Alluding to the high places in ancient Israel, God denounced, Amos vii. 9; “The high places of Israel shall be desolate.” And Jer. xii. 7; “I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.” It then follows verse 12; “The spoilers have come upon all high places through the wilderness; for the sword of the Lord shall devour from one end of the land to the other end of the land; no flesh shall have peace.” When this was written the ten tribes had been gone from Canaan many years. God had indeed “given this branch of the beloved of his soul into the hands of her enemies;” as verse 7, just recited. The subsequent verse given may be far better understood in future days, should greater light dawn on the subject, and present our natives as the tribes of Israel. They and we, in that case, shall better understand the passage, “The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness; for the sword of the Lord shall devour from the one end of the land to the other end of the land.” This seems an event then future—”The sword shall come—”though the tribes had before been banished. This, as it related to Israel, seems to be an event to be accomplished during their out-cast state. For in the second [p.202]and third verses, after this, is predicted their restoration to their heritage in their own land. No supposible [sic] origin assigned to American natives could so well account for what we find of the American high places, as the supposition of their descent from ancient Israel. The events upon this supposition are most natural and characteristic.
These American high places are striking resemblances of the Egyptian pyramids. Consult those in the region of Mexico, as already stated from Mr. Humbolt; and it seems as though they must have been made by the same people with those of Egypt. But the Egyptian pyramids were seen and well known by ancient Israel; and it has long been conjectured they were built by their labours during their bondage in Egypt. How natural then, that they should carry down to succeeding generations the deep impression of them in their minds. And what other nation on earth would be so likely to form such imitations of them, in a remote outcast region, as they? and especially after all we read of Israel’s high places, piles, and monuments, their acquaintance with Gibeon, and Gilgal; their deep impression of the temple on mount Zion; and especially their high and sacred places at Bethel and Dan! No other account can more naturally be given of the American high places, then that they originated in those ancient impressions. Of the high places near Mexico, the writer of the Archaeology says; “The group of pyramids of Teotihuacan is in the valley of Mexico, eight leagues north east from the capital, in a plain named—”the Path of the Dead.” Here are two large pyramids, surrounded by hundreds of smaller ones, which form square streets with the cardinal points of the compass. The writer says one of these three great pyramids of Egypt, and the length of the base nearly equal to that of Cephron. These things are much in the style of the Egyptian pyramids. “Around the Cheops and the Mycerinus are eight smaller pyramids placed with symmetry, and parallel to the front of the greater,” says the writer, in noting the resemblance of between these[p.203] and the Egyptian pyramids. And after further noting the “four principle stories” of a great Teocalli, or pyramid, near Mexico, and noting its composition, he adds; “This construction calls to mind that one of the Egyptian pyramids of Sackhara, which was Six stories, is a mass of pebbles and yellow mortar, covered on the outside with rough stones.” The two great Mexican pyramids (this author informs) had on their summit huge statues of the sun and moon, formed of the stone and covered with plates of gold, which the soldiers of Cortez plundered. They did not now locate upon their high places their golden calves; but statues of the sun and moon, those brightest visible emblems of their Great Spirit. Of one of these pyramids demolished, the writer says; “We still discover the remains of a stair case built with large hewn stone, which formerly led to the platform of the Teocalli.”
The Archaeology informs of a pyramid toward the Gulf of Mexico discovered by Spanish hunters about thirty years ago, in a thick forest, as though concealed. “For the Indians (says the writer) carefully concealed from the whites, whatever was the object of their ancient veneration.” Various authors unite in this trait of Indian character; which accounts for the fact, that so many of their Israelitish rites should remain so long concealed from us. This newly discovered pyramid was built wholly of hewn stone of vast size and very beautiful. The writer says, this pyramid “had six, perhaps seven stories.” “Three stair cases lead to the top. The covering of its steps are decorated with hieroglyphical sculpture, and small niches, which are arranged with great symmetry.”—These niches are three hundred and eighteen.
The Teocalli or pyramid of Cholula, near Mexico, (noted before from M. Humbolt) is given on a place in the Archaeology, with its temple on its summit, and with its stair-cases of one hundred and twenty steps, leading up its lofty stories. This huge majestic pile was called, “The mountain made by the hand of man.”
In the interiors of various of these great pyramids were found considerable cavities for repositories of the [p.204]dead. A square stone house was found in one of them, containing two skeletons, some images or likenesses, and many vessels curiously painted and varnished.—This room was “covered with bricks and strata of clay.” Large bricks were laid, each upper layer jutting over the one next below, and strengthened by beams of cypress. The same manner of laying the bricks, instead of an arch, has “been found (says the writer) in several Egyptian edifices.” In a similar cavity, he informs in the tomb of a Peruvian prince, messy gold was found to the value of “more than five millions of francs.
In the time when the Spaniards invaded Mexico, the Cholula was by the natives deemed a holy city. Here existed a great number of priests. And “no spot displayed greater magnificence in the celebration of public worship, or more austerity in its penances and fasts.”
It is true that similar ancient piles have existed in some various regions of the east. But the writer of the Archaeology says; “The pagodas of Indostan have nothing in common with the Mexican temples.” Of the pyramids of Mexico, of Egypt, and of similar piles found in some parts of Asia, he says; “their destination was altogether different.” He means in relation to those of Mexico having temples, and altars, and being sacred to worship. This surely affords an argument in favour of the idea, that the occupants of those high places in Mexico, originated from Israel, where all their high places were for sacred worship.
On the pyramid of Cholula was an altar dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, or the serpent of green feathers; as the name imports. Of their tradition relative to this Quetzalcoatl, the writer says; “this is the most mysterious being of the whole Mexican mythology.” An account is then given of this person, sufficiently indeed intermixed with fables; as is usual in the pagan mythologies of events, even founded on revelation. Passing over various of the immaterial fictions, I will sketch the leading points of the picture.
The character to whom their most noted altar was dedicated, whose name imported a serpent of green [p.205]feathers, was at the same time (in their own description) “a white and bearded man.” “He was high priest of Tula, legislator, chief of a religious sect who inflicted on themselves the most cruel penance.”
“He introduced the custom of piercing the lips and ears; and lacerating the rest of the body with prickles and thorns.” “He appeased by his penance divine wrath.” A great famine prevailed in the province of Culan.”
“The saint (this legislator) had chosen his place of retirement—on the volcano Catcitepetl, or speaking mountain, where he walked barefoot on agave leaves armed with prickles.”
“The reign of Quetzalcotl was a golden age of the people of Anahuac. The earth brought forth without culture the most fruitful harvests. But this reign was not of long duration.”
“The Great Spirit offered Quetzalcotl beverage, which in rendering him immortal, inspired him with a taste of travelling [sic], and with an irresistible desire of visiting a distant country called Tlapallan.”
In passing “towards the plains of Cholula, and thence to the eastern coasts of Mexico,” thus making his way from the north-west to the south-east, “he yielded to the entreaties of the inhabitants, who offered him the reins of government.” He dwelt twenty years among them, taught them to cast metals, ordered fasts, and regulated the intercalations of the Taltic year.”
“He preached peace to men, and would permit no other offerings to the Divinity than the first fruits of the harvests.”
“He disappeared, after he had declared to the Cholulans that he would return and govern them again, and renew their happiness.”
The writer of the Archaeology of this saint whom the unhappy Montezuma (the most noted and venerable Mexican chief when the Spaniards first arrived at Mexico) thought he recognized in the soldiers of Cortez, the Spanish general. ‘We know by our books,’ (said Montezuma, in his first [p.206]interview with that Spanish general,) ‘that myself and those who inhabit this country, are not natives, but strangers, who came from a great distance. We know also, that the chief who led our ancestors hither, returned for a certain time to his primitive country. We have always believed that his descendants would one day come to take possession of this country. Since you arrive from that region where the sun rises; and as you assure me you have long known us; I cannot doubt but that the king who sent you is our natural master.” (p.263.) It has generally been the fact, that events in pagan mythology, which are founded on ancient revelation, have yet been confused, and blended with much fable. Much of the mythology of the heathen is thought to be of this character. Some of the events can easily be traced to ancient revelation; while others are so fabulous, that to reduce them to such an origin is more difficult. While considerable fable is involved in this historic tradition of the Cholulans; it appears to offer a singular facility to trace it to the inspired records of Israel.
Though their ancient “legislator” is called by a name importing the serpent of green feathers; yet he was an ancient man, a white man and bearded; called by Montezuma, a saint, who led them to this country, and taught them many things. Who could this be but Moses, the ancient legislator in Israel? The Indians in other regions have brought down a tradition, that their former ancestors, away in a distant region from which they came, were white. And the Cholulans, it seems teach that they wore beards; which was the fact; in opposition to the Indians, who pluck them out with their tweezers. How exactly does Moses answer to this their ancient legislator, and chief of their religious community, as may appear.
As Moses inducted into office Aaron, the high priest; so this office, in their mythology, is blended in him. I will remark upon these points in their order. This religious community, under their “legislator and chief,” inflicting on themselves cruel penance, may be but a traditional notion of the strictures of the Mosaic laws and religion.
[p.207]The name of the serpent of green plumage being given to this legislator, leads the mind to Moses’ brazen serpent in the wilderness; and now in Indian tradition, adorned with their most noted amulet, and article of “medicine,” the green plumage. This has ever been the most precious article known in their holy ark, and their “medicine bag,” through various tribes. Hence it is their most natural emblem of the healing power annexed to the ancient brazen serpent made by Moses; and thus annexed to the name given to him.
This legislator and chief’s introducing the custom of “piercing the ears;”—reminds of the noted law of Moses, of boring the ear of the servant who was unwilling to leave his master.
This teaching to lacerate the body with prickles and thorns, is a striking Hebrew figure of the many self-denying services demanded in the Mosaic rituals.
His appeasing divine wrath, may have a striking allusion to the system of the Mosaic sacrifices, including also the mediation of Moses as a type of Christ, and God’s turning away his fierce wrath from Israel at his intercession, as was repeatedly the case.
The great famine in Culan naturally reminds of the great famine in Canaan and its adjacent nations; which famine brought Israel into Egypt.
This legislator’s retiring to the place of a volcano, and a speaking mountain, most naturally leads to the mind to Moses retiring, in the land of Midian, to the backside of the wilderness, to the mount of God, where God spake to him in the burning bush, and in after days made the same mountain appear like a tremendous volcano indeed, as well as like a speaking mountain;—when from the midst of the terrible fire, and sound of the trumpet, God commanded his people in the giving of the law.
This legislator’s walking barefoot, naturally alludes to Moses’ “putting his shoes from his feet,” at the divine direction, before the burning bush.
The golden age with spontaneous harvests, naturally suggests the seven years of plenty in Egypt; and may include also (and especially) the happy period [p.208]during the theocracy in Israel; and the vast fruitfulness of the land which flowed with milk and honey, while the people of Israel walked with God.
[p.159]His preaching peace to men, and “offering to the Divinity the first fruits of the harvests,” alludes to the preaching of the gospel under the Old Testament; and to the signal institution of the offerings of the first ripe fruits; a rite which various tribes if Indians have most scrupulously maintained; as has been made to appear.
His yielding to the entreaties of the people who offered him the reins of government, and his teaching them useful things, may be a general traditional view of Moses’ government of Israel, and the benefits resulting from it. They would naturally ascribe whatever knowledge of the useful arts, and of astronomy they had, to this their noted chieftain.
The close of this golden age strikingly exhibits the expulsion of Israel from that happy land.
The giving of the beverage, which rendered immortal, is an impressive representation of the immortality of the human soul, as taught in ancient revelation.
And the producing of an ardent desire for transmigration to a distant region of the world, is a most natural tradition of the fact, that Israel were disposed to emigrate (and did indeed emigrate) from the station in Media where they were first lodged when carried from Canaan, to some remote and unknown part of the world, where they were outcast and lost from the knowledge of civilized man; as has been the fact.
And their coming from the north-west to Mexico, indicates to what region, and in what direction, they came; over Beering’s Straits into America, and southward through the continent. This accords with the testimonies of Robinson, Humbolt, and all the most intelligible writers of the Indian tradition. All bring them from the north-west coasts of America.
The venerable Montezuma (over whom our hearts have so often bled) was prepared to receive the bloody plundering Cortez, and his armies, into his bosom; believing them to be sent by their ancient legislator (in [p.209]the distant part of the world from which they came) to reign again over them, and to make them happy! Abundantly are we assured of Indian tradition which well accords with this.
Israel had read in Moses, of God’s “scattering them from one end of the earth to the other;” and again recovering them. Amos, the prophet of Israel, had assured God’s scattering them in a “famine of the word, from north to east, from sea to sea,” wandering to and fro over a vast continent between those extreme seas; and had expressly predicted their being again recovered, as had some others of the prophets before their expulsion. They would then naturally carry down these ideas with them in their broken traditions. They would retain the expectation that the Being who banished them, would again, some time, and in some way, appear and meliorate their condition. And our native Americans generally, if not all the most intelligent among them, have (with the venerable Montezuma) retained something of this idea. Often had we information from Indian chiefs, and others from different regions, that they have ever understood from their traditions that the time is coming which shall make them more happy. The same tradition led the aged wife of the Indian chief (related by our missionaries) to say, after the missionaries had unfolded their object in her hearing, to the following effect. We have ever understood that at some time good people are to come and teach us the right way. How do we know but these are those good people come to teach us?
What account can be given of this expectation brought down by the natives, but that they derived it from the ancient prophets in Israel; and from the fact that God had promised them the everlasting possession of the land of Canaan; and had repeatedly recovered them in ages past from their states of bondage and captivity.
The piece of Mexican mythology, which has been explained, and which is pronounced “the most mysterious,” can receive probably no rational explanation, if applied to a Tartar origin, or to any other eastern nation [p.210]beside Israel. But if applied to Israel, its application is most striking;” and it contains such facts as might in such a case be expected. If our natives be of Israel, it is natural to expect the most enlightened of them would have some tradition of their noted lawgiver Moses. These Cholulans probably were among the most enlightened. And here is their ancient lawgiver, bearing a traditional assemblage of various of the distinguishing religious insignia of ancient Israel.
This reminds of the testimony of Baron Humbolt, before noted, who speaking of the “theocratic forms of government” of the Zac, Bogota, and Peru, notes the tradition of the former; and of their having been founded by a “mysterious personage” who, according to the tradition of the Mozcas, (possibly followers of Moses) “lived in the temple of the sun at Sogamozo rising two thousand years.” Nothing can be more natural than to view this a traditional notion of Moses’ administration in Israel in the wilderness. The place of their mysteryous founder was at Sogamozo—perhaps explained by Sagan Moses as before noted.
This their tradition relative to their ancient lawgiver, and the structure of their pyramids, so similar to those of Egypt, suggest much relative to the origin of this people. Could the advocates for their Tartar descent find so much favour of their hypothesis; could they truly exhibit the fact, that the whole Tartar race had, in ancient times, served an apprenticeship of a number of centuries to the art of making such brick and pyramids as are found in America; (as the children of Israel are supposed to have done in Egypt;) how forcibly would they adduce this argument to show that the authors of those pyramids of America must have been of Tartar descent! And indeed there would be, in my humble opinion, much more force in it, in favour of their hypothesis, than in all the arguments they have ever been able to adduce.
One more argument I will adduce from facts furnished in the Archaeology, to show that the American natives are from the tribes of Israel. The argument is a tradition of a trinity in their Great Spirit. Evidence [p.211]of different kinds, and from different regions, relative to such a sentiment, is exhibited; not that the writer of the Archaeology, makes this application of it. An Indian article called by this writer a “triune vessel,” and noted as a religious article, and an emblem of their gods, was found on the forks of the Cumberland river, in alluvial earth, four feet below the surface. It may now be seen; and its perfect drawing is given in the Archaeology. It is composed of fine clay of light amber colour, rendered hard by fire; and parts of it painted with vermilion; which paint is very brilliant. The vessel contains about a quart, and is of the following figure. The top is a hollow stem of three inches diameter, and swelling in size downward like a gourd shell. Against the bulge, there is the accurate resemblance of three human heads; joined each one to the shell by the back of the head, and each face outward in a triangular form, and all of the same dimensions. The workmanship of the faces and features is excellent; so that (says the writer) “even a modern artist might be proud of the performance.” The writer in the Archaeology conceives of it to be an emblem of three of their principal gods, and seems to think of deceiving an argument from it in favour of the natives being of East Indian extraction. He says of this triune vessel; “Does it not represent the three chief gods of India, Brahma, Vishnoo, and Siva.” This certainly seems very far fetched! Why should they be supposed to be a representative of those three East Indian gods, any more than three other heathen gods on earth? Brahma, Vishnoo, and Siva are three distinct ideal gods. But this triune vessel is one entire thing. It must rather then have been designed to represent one god with something like three facts, or characters. One of the faces denotes an old person; the other two, younger persons. The vessel stands on the three necks of these three heads, each projecting from the bottom of the middle part of the vessel one inch and a half. If the writer of the Archaeology may imagine he discerns in this an affinity with the East Indian worshipers of Brahma, Vishnoo, and Siva; I may certainly [p.212]be allowed in my turn to conjecture, that here may be discovered a striking affinity with the ancient worshipers of the one Jehovah in three persons; as in ancient Israel. The thought perfectly accords with the idea of our natives being the descendants of Israel, than this triune vessel was a designed emblem of the triune God of Israel. The doctrine of a mysterious three in the one God of Israel, runs through the Bible,—Old testament as well as New. This plurality in their one God, Israel had always read from the days of Moses. They found a plurality in God’s name, and various appellations. They found him speaking in the plural, we and us. They found who this plural were—God; the Seed of the woman; and the Spirit of God; always three, and only three. They had read, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand—.” In the first three chapters of their Bible, they found this three in God, as well as in all subsequent parts of their sacred book.
Long had Israel read, or heard read, abundance of such sacred language as the following; which ancient critics assure us relates to a mysterious trinity in the one God; “When God, they caused me to wander,” in the Hebrew. “Remember now thy Creators in the days of thy youth.” “For thy Makers is thy husbands.” “The knowledge of the Holy, (Hebrew plural, Holies, or Holy Ones) is understanding.” Nouns, adjectives, and verbs, applied to God, they had abundantly found to be plural; and yet absolute divinity ascribed to each. Their infant to be born was “the mighty God, the everlasting Father.” And their Spirit of the Lord, they had read of as the Being who garnished the heavens, who created the world. Of this mysterious three in one God, Israel had ever read, or heard. When the intelligent among them thought of God, this triune view of him must have been familiar. And when their distant descendants had lost (or were losing) the knowledge of reading, it is natural to suppose they would construct an emblem, to perpetuate the memory of their God. The Indians are known to make great use of hieroglyphics and figures of speech; and they [p.213]never form them for no purpose. As circumstances indicated that this triune vessel was a religious emblem, as the narrator of it believes; so this affords an argument of some weight that the inventors of it were of Israel.
Another argument going to the same point is this. The writer in Archaeology says; “One fact I will here mention; whenever there is a group of tumult, three are uniformly larger than the rest; and stand in the most prominent places. Three such are to be seen standing in a line on the north side of Detroit.—Three such are to be seen near Athens; and at a great many places along the Ohio river. There are three such near the town of Piketon. “Were they not altars, (he inquires) dedicated to their principal gods?” Permit me to reply; They were much more likely to have been emblems dedicated to the one triune God of Israel.
The numerous ancient inhabitants on the Mississippi were the same race with those of Mexico and Peru. And the latter have exhibited similar ideas of the triune God. The writer of the Archaeology says of those ancient people of the Mississippi; “Their religious rites were it is believed, the same with those of Mexico and Peru.” And he further notes, “Clavigero, who was well acquainted with the histories of the Mexicans and Peruvians, professes to point out the places they stopped at; and the times they continued to sojourn there. According to him they arrived at Mexico in 648, and came across the Pacific not far from the Beering’s Straits.” Thus all these people were of one stock.
And the writer of the Archaeology speaks of the native South Americans as having three principal gods. He says; “One of the three principal gods of the South Americans was called by a name, which signifies the god of the shining mirror. He was supposed to be a God who reflected his own supreme perfections, and was represented by a mirror, which was made in that country of polished obsidian, which is a volcanic production, may [p.214]well account for its absence in this country. The numerous volcanoes in South America equally account for the abundance of mirrors of obsidian there. This deity was represents as enjoying perpetual youth and beauty. Other gods had images placed on pedestals in the Mexican temples; this one had a mirror on his. The divinity was held in awful veneration as the great unknown God of the [p.164]universe. Who does not here discover (continues the writer) a strong trace of a knowledge of the true God, derived by tradition from the first patriarchs?” Truly we may exclaim with this writer; “Who does not discover here some knowledge of the true God of Israel and a manifest traditionary view of him?” But who does not discover also, that what the writer calls the three principal gods of the South Americans, is truly but one God?—the great unknown God of the universe! No evidence is here, or elsewhere exhibited, that those people held to three principal divinities, only that the images of the other two gods were placed on pedestals; and the mirror representing the other was not. But it is not evident from this, that they believed in three distinct gods; or that the builders of these temples designed any such thing. The view they had of the God of the mirror, shows they could not hold to three principal deities. And it has been universally testified of the great body of the Indians of America, that they hold to but one God, there is something in him threefold. The South Americans must have three temples, while yet they had but one temple of the mirror or Supreme God. The North Americans must have three (and only three) huge high places, or pyramids in a place. And the writer informs that only in one of these is found the mirror; as in the three temples of South America, only one has the mirror. The triune vessel explains the idea;— three heads combined in one; three faces, and but one vessel;—one of an old man; the other two younger. Here is Indian tradition relative to their one Great Spirit—God; the Shiloh; and the Spirit. And the sentiment is further corroborated [p.215]by the following fact, given also in the Archaeology. Another emblem was found in a tumulus near Nashville, Tennessee, and is now in the museum Mr. Clifford of Lexington, Kentucky. It is formed of clay, like the triune vessel aforenoted; and is made to exhibit three views of a man’s head and body to the middle with the arms cut off close to the body. It gives a side view of one of those heads, with strong and well formed features.
It gives a front view of another of them. And a view of the backside of the head and shoulders of the third. Each head has upon it a fillet and cake, with the hair plated. This too was deemed by the writer a religious emblem. The figures are given on a plate, as is the triune vessel. They are considered as three devices for the same object. As it is well ascertained the Indians hold to one Supreme Spirit; they cannot be said to hold to three principal gods. No evidence of such things exist, but in these various triune emblems. And these, it is contended, do not amount to any such thing; but to their ancient belief in the triune God of Israel.
Let the reader here recollect the account given by the Rev. Mr. Chapman, in the Union Mission, of the Osage Indians. Stating their religious customs, when about to form a treaty of peace, he says; “About two feet in advance, and in a line with the path, were three bunches of grass, which had been cut and piled about three feet apart, as an emblem of him, whom they worshipped [sic].” Here was the station for the priest to stand and pray. And all the Indians must then step on each of these piles of grass. Proceeding on about forty rods, they halted and formed with grass another emblem of the Great Spirit;—a circle of about four feet diameter. By this was offered another long prayer. Then each one stepping on the circle they passed on. The chief informed that both these were representations of their God. Mr. C. upon the incident remarks, “Perhaps the curious may imagine that some faint allusion to the lost ten tribes of Israel may be discovered in the select number of dreamers; (which he had before stated, they [p.216]being ten) and to the trinity in unity, in the bunches, and in the circle of grass!” These various Indian traditions from distant regions of the continent, and different ages, appear to form some striking evidence that the Indians had indeed brought down traditionary impressions of their one Great Spirit’s consisting of a trinity in unity! Could so great an argument be found in favour of the Indians having descended from the Tartars, the advocates for such a descent would not fail of making much of this argument. No rational account can be given of these various and distinct triune emblems of their Great Spirit, but that they were derived from ancient revelation in Israel, which did throughout present the one God of Israel as God; the Lord; and the Spirit of the Lord;—God; the seed of the woman, who was likewise the “mighty God;” and the Spirit! No rational account beside this can be given of these various Indian emblems of their God.
These emblems of their one God explain the noted triune emblems of the other ancient Indians further south, and in different regions; the triune vessel of three faces; the three chief pyramids;—and the three temples, with one of them containing the mirror. These three piles of grass in one of their emblems of God, are not represent “the three chief gods of India, Brahma, Vishnoo and Siva;” as has (without any evidence) been conjectured of southern triune emblems. But the Indians expressly inform, “they are an emblem of him, whom they worshipped [sic].” And the same one God of the Indians was in the same Indian rites denoted by three bunches of grass; and also by one grass circle, with a bunch of grass in its centre. We thus have from different Indian regions, different ages, and a variety of emblems, a complete union of evidence of an Indian tradition of trinity in unity in their God. And this is the God of whom they boast, as the head of their nation; the God exclusively in covenant with their ancient fathers. This has appeared from ample testimony; to which is added the following. The celebrated Boudinot informs, that while he was at the seat of government, at a certain[p.217] time, chiefs and leading characters were present from seven different distant tribes of Indians. He says on the Sabbath he was much pleased to see their orderly conduct. They learned that this was a day in which the white people worship the Great Spirit. An old sachem addressed his red brethren very devoutly. Mr. Boudinot asked the interpreter what he said? He replied, “The substance of it is, the great love which the Great Spirit always has manifested toward the Indians; that they were under his immediate direction; and that hence they ought gratefully to acknowledge him, obey his laws, do his will, and avoid every thing displeasing to him.”
Some readers have said; if the Indians are of the tribes of Israel, some decisive evidence of the fact will ere long be exhibited. This may be the case. But what kind of evidence shall we expect? Must some miracle be wrought? It is generally thought the days of miracles are past. Probably no evidence ought to be expected in this case, but such as naturally grows from nature of the subject, and the situation of Israel. Would evidence like the following be deemed as verging toward what would be satisfactory? Suppose a healing character in Israel—wherever they are—should be found to have had in possession some biblical fragment of ancient Hebrew writing. This man dies, and it is buried with him in such a manner as to be long preserved. Some people afterward removing that earth, discover this fragment, and ascertain what it is,—an article of ancient Israel. Would such an incident, in connexion [connection] with the traditional evidence already exhibited on this subject, be esteemed of some weight? Something like this may possibly have occurred in favour of our Indians being of Israel.
The Rev. Dr. Griffin, President of Williams College, communicated to the writer, while preparing his first edition of the Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, the following account, with liberty to insert it in his book, if he pleased. The late venerable Dr. Boudinot stated to Dr. Griffin that the Rev. S. Larned (who died in New Orleans) informed him that while he was living in Pittsfield, Mass.[p.218]—his native place—after he left college, there was dug in Pittsfield by one of his neighbors, probably from an Indian grave, some written parchments enclosed in a cover of skins. These parchments he obtained, took them to Boston, had them read, and found them to be the same parchments used in Jewish phylacteries, and well written in Hebrew. Mr. Larned added that he left them with the Rev. Dr. Elliot of Boston. Dr. Boudinot obtained leave of Mr. Larned to send and take them. He sent; but for some reason could not obtain them. Dr. Elliot soon after died; and nothing more was done upon the subject. On receiving this information from Dr. Griffin, the writer wrote to Rev. Dr. Humphrey, then minister of Pittsfield, requesting him to see what further information might be there obtained relative to this matter. He returned an answer. It was just as Mr. Humphrey was about leaving his people for the Presidency of the Amherst College Institution; and he could not pay much attention to the subject. He made considerable inquiry, however; but without much success. But he informed that he had a distant recollection, that when he came to Pittsfield, not long after the said parchments were found, he heard considerable said upon this subject. And he found an impression on his mind, that it was then said that some Jew probably lost these parchments there. The author wrote also to J. Everts, Esq. of Boston, desiring him to see if the parchments could be found. An answer was returned, that they were then in the hands of the Antiquarian Society. He stated also, the same account with that of Mr. Humphrey, that they were suppose to have been left in Pittsfield by some Jew. The writer afterward speaking of this thing to a celebrated minister in the centre of the state of New York, was by him informed that he had heard of the finding of these parchments; but that a Jew from Germany was known to have resided in Pittsfield, and probably lost them. Another supposed the Jews had a custom of burying their phylacteries; which might account for this phenomenon. The public mind had thus laid to rest relative to the parchments. The [p.219]writer concluded to pay no further attention to the subject. But being advised by one whom he lightly respected, and who apprehended there might be something about this not yet investigated, he took a journey to Pittsfield. With some of the first characters of that town he took pains to ascertain whether any Jew was ever known to have resided or been in Pittsfield? Inquiry was made of different aged [p.168]people, and who it was thought would be likely to give the most correct information—one or two had been there from within several years of the first settlement of the place. One and all answered in the negative, that no Jew was ever known in Pittsfield, as they believed, till Rev. Mr. Frey was there a few weeks before. The man was then found who first discovered the parchments under consideration. This was Joseph Merrick, Esq. a highly respectable character in the church of Pittsfield, and in the county, as the minister of the place informed. Mr. Merrick gave the following account; That in 1815, he was levelling [sic] some ground under and near an old wood-shed standing on a place of his, situated on Indian Hill, (a place in Pittsfield so called, and lying, as the writer afterward informed, at some distance from the middle of the town where Mr. Merrick is now living.) He ploughed and conveyed away old chips and earth, to some depths, as the surface of the earth appeared uneven. After the work was done, walking over the place, he discovered, near where the earth had been dug the deepest, a kind of black strap, about six inches in length, and one and a half in breadth, and something thicker than a draw leather of a harness, He perceived it had at each end a loop of some hard substance, probably for the purpose of carrying it. He conveyed it into his house, and threw it in an old tool box. He afterward found it thrown out of doors, and again conveyed it to the box. After some time he thought he would examine it. He attempted to cut it, and found it hard as a bone. He succeeded in cutting it open, and found it was formed of pieces of thick raw hide, sewed and made water tight with the sinews of some animal; and in the fold [p.220]it contained four folded layers of old parchment. These leaves were of a dark yellow, and contained some kind of writing. Some of the neighbors saw and examined them. One of these parchments they tore in pieces; the other three he saved, and delivered them to Mr. Sylvester Larned, a graduate then in town, who took them to Cambridge, and had them examined. They were written in Hebrew with a pen, in plain and intelligible writing. The following is an extract of a letter sent to Mr. Merrick by Mr. Larned, upon this subject.
“Sir; I have examined the parchment manuscripts, which you had the goodness to give me. After sometime and with much difficulty and assistance I have ascertained their meaning, which is as follows; (I have numbered the manuscripts.)
No. 1 is translated by Deut. vi. 4-9 verses inclusive.
No. 2, by Deut. xi. 13-21 verses inclusive.
No. 3, Exod. xiii. 11-16 verses inclusive.
I am, &c.
The celebrated Calmet informs that the above are the very texts of scripture which the Jews used to write on three out of four of their leaves of phylacteries; from which it is presumable that the fourth leaf, torn in pieces, contained the texts which belong to the fourth leaf. The leaves of their Phylactery, says; “This word from the Greek signifies a preservative. These phylacteries were little boxes, or rolls of parchments, wherein were written certain words of the law. These (boxes or rolls, containing their four leaves of parchment on which their text were written) they were upon their foreheads, and upon their wrist of their left arm. They founded this custom upon Exodus xiii. 9, 16.”
Various authors noted by Calmet contend that the phylacteries were used in Israel from the days of Moses.
[p.221]Mr. Merrick informed that a Dr. James was living in Pittsfield when these parchments were found, and felt much interest in the event. He soon moved into New York. He afterward informed Mr. Merrick, that he had laid this matter before an aged Jew, who also felt interested in the event; and who after considering the subject some time, concluded that he could give no account of the leaves being found in such a condition in Pittsfield from any custom of the Jews.
I asked Mr. Merrick if he had ever known of any Jew as having resided or been in Pittsfield? He said he had not; nor did he believe one had ever been there. I further inquired whether he could account for the story of some Jew having left them in Pittsfield? He said it originated as follows. At the time the parchments were found, there were British prisoners residing in Pittsfield, taken in the late war. As much wonder was excited to these leaves, some neighbours expressed his conjecture that perhaps some of these British prisoners were Jews, and they had dropped or buried this thing there. Mr. Merrick viewed it wholly unlikely. But to ascertain the point, he went to the prisoners and asked if any of them were Jews? They said they were not. He inquired of their officers, and received the same assurance. He asked if any of them had any knowledge of this thing? and was answered in the negative. Mr. Merrick assured me, he had ever believed it to have been of Indian origin; and that Col. Larned (father of the late Rev. Mr. Larned) lived and died in the same belief. It seems no evidence has appeared to the contrary; notwithstanding the above groundless conjecture, which when it got abroad was magnified into a satisfactory account.
The writer conversed with Rev. Mr. Frey (the celebrated Jewish preacher in this country) upon this subject; who could give no account of the incident from any Jewish custom. He informed that the Jews have a custom of burying their leaves of phylacteries when worn out and illegible; as they had also any old leaf of a Hebrew bible. They would roll it up in some paper, and put it under ground from respect. But [p.222]these leaves were whole and good, and were sewed up (as has been stated) in thick raw hide, and with the sinews of some animal; a thing which no Jew in Christendom would have done.
The writer left Pittsfield for Boston with a view to obtain these parchments, and to have them examined by the Hebrew professor at Cambridge, and professor Stuart of Andover. In Boston the Rev. Mr. Jenks informed him the parchments were at Worcester, in the care of the Antiquarian Society. He said he had seen them; and spoke of the story of the Jew’s having lost them at Pittsfield. He added that the Rev. Dr. Holmes of Cambridge had seen and examined them. On my way returning to Worcester, I called on Dr. Holmes. He said he had carefully read the three parchments under consideration, and found them to be three out of four leaves which compose the Jewish phylacteries, containing the very passages which have ever been selected for their phylacteries; that they were written with a pen, and in fair Hebrew. He was shown the copy of Rev. Mr. Larned’s letter to Mr. Merrick, which he said was correct. Rev. Dr. Holmes is known to be a correct Hebrew scholar. His wonder (with that of others) had been laid to rest by the rumour of a Jew having been known to leave them in Pittsfield. He was asked whether upon supposition of these leaves having been of Indian origin, any thing occurred to his mind relating to the parchments or writing, which might militate against the idea of their having been written in ancient Israel? He replied in the negative.
The writer returned to Worcester with full expectation of finding the parchments; but to his no small disappointment they could not be found. Dr. Thomas, president of the Antiquarian Society, said that such a leaf (he thought there was but one) was some years ago lodged in his care; and he presumed it was safe in some of the Antiquarian depositories. But among the many boxes of articles he knew not where to look for it. He too had received with it the rumour of its Jewish origin; and hence had not viewed it of great [p.223]consequence. We searched several hours, but in vain. It is to be hoped the leaves may still be found, and further examined.
The Rev. Chauncey Cook of Chili, New York, at my house, gave the following information, with liberty of inserting it with his name. He has lately been credibly informed by a minister, (he can recollect his name, as several within six months have called on him from New England) that Rev. Dr. West of Stockbridge gave the following information. An old Indian informed him that his fathers in this country had not long since had a book which they had for a long time preserved. But having lost the knowledge of reading it, they concluded it would be of no further use to them; and they buried it with an Indian chief. The minister spoke to Mr. Cook of this information of Dr. West, as a matter of fact.
The following remarks are submitted:
1. Mr. Merrick, who found these parchments, was in the best situation to investigate their probable origin; and he was and remains of opinion they were from the Indians. He views the conjecture of their having been brought thither by some Jew, as without foundation. Rev. Mr. Larned, who carried them to Boston for examination, being a man of letters, must have been decently qualified to investigate and judge of this matter. He it seems was fully of the opinion they were Indian. His father, Col. Larned, was a man of note, and would not be likely to be imposed upon in this thing; and he lived and died in the belief they were Indian. And the writer could find no person in Pittsfield who could state any reason for believing otherwise. The conjecture of their Jewish origin gained importance by travelling [sic] abroad; but appears to have been without foundation at home.
2. Upon supposition of the Indians being descendants of Israel, there is no essential difficulty, but something very natural in the event. Calmet informs that Origen, Chrysostom and others, deemed the use of phylacteries in Israel to have been ancient as the days of Moses. He says that Lightfoot, Sealeg and Maldon [p.224]insisted that the custom of wearing them was general in the time of our Saviour; and that Christ did not reprove the Pharisees for wearing them, but for their affection in having their phylactery cases wider than those of others. We conclude then the wearing of these phylacteries was a noted custom in Israel at the time of their final expulsion from Canaan. And it is natural to believe that Israel, being in exilement, would preserve these fragments of their better days with the utmost care. Wherever they went then, they would have these phylacteries with them. If they brought them to this country, they would keep them with diligence. They would most naturally become some of the most precious contents in their holy ark, as their nation formerly kept the holy law in the ark. Here such a phylactery would be safe through ever so many centuries. This is so far from being improbable, that it is almost a moral certainty. After their knowledge of reading had long been lost, some chief or high priest, or old beloved wise man, (keeper of their tradition) fearing these precious leaves would get lost, or parted, might naturally sew them in a fold of raw skins with the sinews of an animal, (the most noted Indian thread,) and keep this roll still in the ark; or carry it upon his belt. All this is what might most naturally be expected in such a case. This thing might have been thus safely brought down to a period near to the time when the natives last occupied Indian Hill, in Pittsfield; perhaps in the early part of last century. Its owner then might lose it there; or (what is most probable) it was buried with some chief, or high priest; and hence was providentially transmitted to us. This I venture to say (on the supposition the Indians are of Israel) is by no means so impossible, as that some modern Jew left it there in the situation in which it was found. The style of the preservation of these parchments appears to be Indian; but not Jewish. No modern Jew would be likely to hide his precious leaves of phylacteries in a roll of raw hide, sewed with the sinew of an animal. Nor would he leave them had he done it on Indian Hill under ground. Sooner would he sacrifice his life than thus [p.225]rudely to profane the most sacred symbols of religion! It is incredible.
Mr. Merrick observed that the colour of these parchments was dark yellow. Doctor Thomas, of Worcester, showed me among his Antiquarian curiosities, an Arabic parchment manuscript, which he informed was written long before the Christian era. This was dark yellow; but the parchment and writing were in good preservation. And one of these written parchments might thus long have been preserved as well as the other.
3. The view of the subject may give an intelligible view of the account of the old Indian in Stockbridge to Dr. West, that his fathers had buried, not long ago, a book which they could not read. And it may give a striking view of the vigilant care of the Watchman of Israel, who never slumbers, in relation to laying in train this singular [p.173]item of evidence among many others, which should combine to bring to light that outcast people, who were to be exhibited to the world in the last days. The government and vigilance of the God of Jacob have ever been wonderful. And great things have been found to depend on a strange combination of minute events, that the unremitting care of the Most High might appear the more conspicuous. In ancient Israel many such instances might be pointed out. And when God’s bowels shall yearn for Ephraim, earnestly remembering him still, and about finally to restore him, it will prove that he has not been unmindful of that providential train of evidence, which must eventually identify a people long outcast and lost from knowledge of the literary and civilized world, with his ancient beloved children of Abraham. Show a people on earth who have a greater claim from the most natural kind of evidence, than our natives, to be received as the descendants of Israel; and it is hoped that to such claim no objection will be offered.
* Rev. Mr. Frey says, more than nine millions.
** See the Connecticut Magazine, Vol. III. P. 367.
*** Some of this tribe probably remained with the ten tribes.
**** The Indians have something in imitation of a drum, made of a wet deer skin drawn over a large gourd or frame of wood.
***** Within 20 years this trait of Indian character is much meliorated.
****** B.4, page 41-2-3
******* Sacred rites