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Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from 

Savagery through Barbarism to 



Member of the National Awnlcnty of tftir -era, Author of "The 
of the troquots", "The American Heaver and his Work*", 
"Systems of Consanguinity on* Affinity of the 





Cum prorepserunt primis anlmalia terrls, 
Mutum et turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilla propter 
Unguibus et pugnls, deln fustibus, atque ita porro 
Pugnabant arm is, quee post fabricaverat usus: 
Donee verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent, 
Nominaque invenere: dehinc absistere bello, 
Oppida coeperunt munire, et ponere leges, 
Ne quis fur esset, neu latro, neu quis adulter. 

(As soon as animals crept forth on the first lands, a speech- 
less and degraded crowd, they battled for the acorn and for 
their lairs with claws and flats, then with clubs and at length 
with arms, which afterwards practice had made; until they 
learned to use words by which to indicate vocal sounds and 
thoughts and to use names. After that they began to refrain 
from war. and fortify walled towns, and to lay down laws that 
no one should be a thief, nor a robber nor an adulterer.) 

Horace, Sat., I, iii. 99. 

"Modern science claims to be proving, by the most careful and 
exhaustive study of man and his works, that our race began 
its existence on earth at the bottom of the scale, instead of at 
the top, and has been gradually working upward; that human 
powers have had a history of development; that all the ele- 
ments of culture as the arts of life, art, science, language, re- 
ligion, philosophy have been wrought out by slow and. painful 
efforts, In the conflict between the soul and the mind of man 
on the one hand, and external n ,ture on the other.*' Whitney's 
"Oriental and Linguistic Studies," p. 341. 

"These communities reflect the spiritual conduct of our an- 
cestors thousands of times removed. We have passed through 
the same stages of development, physical and moral, and are 
what we are to-day because they lived, toiled, and endeavored. 
Our wondrous civilization is the result of the silent efforts of 
millions of unknown men, as the chalk cliffs of England are 
formed of the contributions of myriads of foraminlfera." Dr. J. 
Kalnes, "Anthropologla," vol. 1, No. 2, p. 233. 


THE great antiquity of mankind upon the earth has 
been conclusively established. It seems singular that the 
proofs should have been discovered as recently as within 
the last thirty years, and that the present generation 
should be the first called upon to recognize so important 
a fact. 

Mankind are now known to have existed in Europe 
in the glacial period, and even back of its commence- 
ment, with every probability of their origination in a 
prior geological age. They have survived many races 
of animals with whom they were contemporaneous, and 
passed through a process of development, in the several 
branches of the human family, as remarkable in its 
courses as in its progress. 

Since the probable length of their career is connected 
with geological periods, a limited measure of time is ex- 
cluded. One hundred or two hundred thousand years 
would be an unextravagant estimate of the period from 
the disappearance of the glaciers in the northern hemi- 
sphere to the present time. Whatever doubts may attend 
any estimate of a period, the actual duration of which 
is unknown, the existence of mankind extends backward 
immeasurably, and loses itself in a vast and profound 

This knowledge changes materially the views which 
have prevailed respecting the relations of savages to bar- 
barians, and of barbarians to civilized men. It can now 
be asserted up6n convincing evidence that savagery pre- 
ceded barbarism in all the, tribes of mankind, as barbar- 






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, tury, and are but feebly prosecuted among us at the pres* 
ent time, the workmen have been unequal to the work, 
Moreover, while fossil remains buried in the earth will 
keep for the future student, the remains of Indian arts, 
languages and institutions will not. They are perishing 
daily, and have been perishing for upwards of three cen- 
turies. The ethnic life of the Indian tribes is declining 
under the influence of American civilization, their arts 
and languages are disappearing, and their institutions 
are dissolving. After a few more years, facts that may 
now be gathered with ease will become impossible of dis- 
covery. These circumstances appeal strongly to Amer- 
icans to enter this great field and gather its abundant 





Ethnical Periods. 

Progress of Mankind from the Bottom of the Scale. Illustrated 
by Inventions, Discoveries and Institutions. Two Plans of 
Government one Gentile and Social, giving a Society (So- 
cletas); the other Political, giving a State (Civltas).- The 
former founded upon Persons and Gentilism; the Latter upon 
Territory and Property. The First, tne Plan of Government 
of Ancient Society. The Second, that of Modern or Civilized 
Society. Uniformity of Human Experience. Proposed Eth- 
nical Periods I. Lower Status of Savagery; II. Middle Status 
of Savagery; III. Upper Status of Savagery; FV. Lower Status 
of Barbarism; V. Middle Status of Barbarism; VI. Upper 
Status of Barbarism; VII. Status of Civilization 3 

Arts of Subsistence. 

Supremacy of Mankind over the Earth. Control over Subsist- 
ence the Condition. Mankind alone gained that Control. 
Successive Arts of Subsistence I. Natural Subsistence; II. 
Fish Subsistence; III. Farinaceous Subsistence; IV. Meat and 
Milk Subsistence; V. Unlimited Subsistence through Field 
Agriculture. Long Intervals of Time between them 10 


Ratio of Human Progress. 

Retrospect on the Lines of Human Progress. Principal Contri- 
butions of Modern Civilization. Of Ancient Civilization. Of 
Later Period of Barbarism. Of Middle Period. Of Older 
Period. Of Period of Savagery. Humble Condition of Primi- 
tive Man. Human Progress in a Geometrical Ratio. Rela- 
tive Length of Ethnical Periods. Appearance of Semitic and 
Aryan Families 29 



Organization of Society upon the Basis of Sex. 

Australian Classes. Organized upon Sex. Archaic Character ot 
the Organization. Australian Qentes. The Eight Classes. 
Rule of Marriage. Descent in the Female Line. Stupendous 
Conjugal System. Two Male and Two Female Classes in 
each Gens. Innovations upon the Classes. Gens still Rudi- 
mentary 47 

The Iroquols Gens. 

The Gentile Organization. Its Wida Prevalence. Definition of 
a Gens. Descent in the Female Line the Archaic Rule. 
Rights, Privileges and Obligations of Members of a Gens. 
Right of Electing and Deposing its Sachem and Chiefs. 
Obligation not to marry in the Gens. Mutual Rights of In* 
heritance of the Property of deceased Members. Reciprocal 
Obligations of Help, Defense and Redress of Injuries. Right 
of Naming its Members. Right of Adopting Stranger* into 
the Gens. Common Religious Rites, Query. A Common 
Burial Place. Council of the Gens. Gente* named after Ani- 
mals. Number ot Persons in a Gen* fl 


Irpquois Phratry. 

Definition of a Phratry. Kindred Gentea Reunited in a Higher 
Organisation- Phratry of the Iroquois Tribea. Its Composi- 
tion. Its Use* and Functions. Social and Religious, Illus- 
trations. The Analogue of the Grecian Phratry; but in its 
Archaic Form. Phratries of the Choctas. Of the Chtckasas. 
Of the Mohegans. Of the Thlinkeets. Their Probable Uni- 
versality in the Tribes of the American Aborigine* 88 

The Iroquois Tribe. 

The Tribe as an Organization. Composed of Gentes Speaking 
the same Dialect. Separation in Area led to Divergence of 
Speech, and Segmentation. The Tribe a Natural Growth. 
Illustrations. Attributes of a Tribe. A Territory and Name. 
An Exclusive Dialect. The Right to Invest and Depose its 
Sachems and Chiefs. A Religious Faith and Worship. A 
Council of Chiefs. A Head-Chief of Tribe in some Instances. 
Three successive Forms of Gentile Government; First, a 
Government of One Power; Second, of Two Powers; Third, of 
Three Powers 103 

The Iroquois Confederacy. 

Confederacies Natural Growths. Founded upon Common Gen- 
tes. and a Common Language. The Iroquois Tribes. Their 
Settlement In New York. Formation of the Confederacy. 
Its Structure and Principles. Fifty Sachem ships Created. 
Made Hereditary in certain Gentes. Number assigned to 
each Tribe. Tneso Sachems formed the Council of the Con- 
federacy. The Civil Council. Its Mode of Transacting Busi- 
ness. Unanimity Necessary to its Action. The Mournlnp 
Council. Mode of Raising up Sachems. General Military 
Commander*. This Office the Germ of that of a Chief Exec- 
utive Magistrate. Intellectual Capacity of the Iroquois. 124 

Gentes in Other Tribes of the Ganowanian Family. 

Divisions of American Aborigines. Gentes in Indian Tribes; 
with their Rules of Descent and Inheritance. I. Hodeno- 
saunian Tribes. II. Dakotlan.-in. Oulf. IV. Pawnee.-V. 
AlffpnKin. VI. At hapasco- Apache. VII. Tribes of Northwest 
Coa**. Eskimos, a Distinct Family. VTIT. Palish, Sahara In. 
and KocrtenayTribes.-rx. Shoshonee.-X. Village Indians of 
New Iffexlco, Mexico and Central America. XI. South Ameri- 
can Indian Tribe*. Probable Universality of tie Organiza- 
tion In Gentes in the Ganowanian Family .:.... 155 


The Aztec Confederacy. 

Misconception of Aztec Society. Condition of Advancement. 
Nahuatlac Tribes. Their Settlement in Mexico. Puebla of 
Mexico founded, A.D. 1326. Aztec Confederacy established. 
A.D. 1426. Extent of Territorial Domination. Probable 
Number of the People. Whether or not the Aztecs were 
organized in Oentes and Phratries. The Council of Chiefs 
Its probable Functions. Office held by Montezuma. Elective 
in Tenure. Deposition of Montezuma. ProbabU Functions 
of the Office. Aztec Institutions essentially Democratical. 
The Government a Military Democracy *,,,,,. 191 

The Grecian Gens. 

Early Condition of Grecian Tribes. Organized into Gentes. 
Changes in the Character of the Gens. Necessity for a Po- 
litical System. Problem to be Solved. The Formation of a 
State. Grote's Description of the Grecian Gentes. Of their 
Phratries and Tribes. Rights, Privileges and Obligations of 
the Members of the Gens. Similar to those of the Iroquols 
Gens. The Office of Chief of the Gens. Whether Elective or 
Hereditary. The Gens the Basis of the Social System. An- 
tiquity of the Gentile Lineage. Inheritance of Property. 
Archaic and Final Rule. Relationships between the Mem- 
bers of a Gens. The Gens the Center of Social and Relig- 
ious Influence 221 

The Grecian Phratry, Tribe and Nation. 

The Athenian Phratry. How Formed. Definition of Dlkcar- 
chus. Objects chiefly Religious. The Phratrlarch. The Tribe. 
Composed of Three Phratries. The Phylo-Basileus. The 
Nation. Composed of Four Tribes. BoulC, or Council of 
Chiefs. Agora, or Assembly of the People. The Basileus. 
Tenure of the Office. Military and Priestly Functions. Civil 
Functions not shown. Governments of the Heroic Age, Mil- 
itary Democracies. Aristotle's Definition of a Basileus. La- 
ter Athenian Democracy. Inherited from the Gentes. Its 
Powerful Influence upon Athenian Development 242 

The Institution of Grecian Political Society. 

Failure of the Gentes at a Basis of Government. Legislation 
of Theseus. Attempted Substitution of Classes. Its Failure. 
Abolition of the Office of Bastleus. The Archonshlp. Nau- 
craries and Trittyes. Legislation of Solon. The Property 
Classes. Partial Transfer of Civil Power from the Gentes to 


the Classes. Persons unattached to any Gens. Made Citizens. 
The Senate. The Ecclesia. Political Society partially at- 
tained. Legislation of Cleisthenes. Institution of Political 
Society. The Attic Deme or Township. Its Organization and 
Powers. Its Local Self-government. The Local Tribe or 
District. The Attic Commonwealth. Athenian Democ- 
racy 263 

The Roman Gens. 

Italian Tribes Organized in Gentes. Founding 1 of Rome. Tribe* 
Organized into a Military Democracy. The Roman Gens. 
Definition of a Gentilis by Cicero. By Festus. By Varro. 
Descent in Male Line. Marrying out of the Gens. Rights, 
Privileges and Obligations of the Members of a Gens. Dem- 
ocratic Constitution of Ancient Latin Society. Number of 
Persons in a Gens ................ 285 

The Roman Curia, Tribe and Populus. 

Roman Gentile Society. Four Stages of Organization. 1. The 
Gens; 2. The Curia, consisting of Ten Gentes; 3. The Tribe, 
composed of Ten Curisr; 4. The Populus Romanus, composed 
of Three Tribes. Numerical Proportions. How Produced. 
Concentration of Gentes at Rome. The Roman Senate. Its 
Functions. The Assembly of the People. Its Powers. The 
People Sovereign. Office of Military Commander (Rex). Its 
Powers and Functions. Roman Gentile Institutions essen- 
tially Democratical 309 

The Institution of Roman Political Society. 

The Populus. The Plebeians. The Clients. The Patricians. 
Limits of the Order. Legislation of Servius Tulliue. Insti- 
tution of Property Classes. Of the Centuries. Unequal Suf- 
frage. Comitia Centuriata. Supersedes Comitia Curiata 
Classes supersede the Gentes. The Census. Plebeians made 
Citizens. Institution of City Wards. Ot Country Townships. 
Tribes increased to Four. Made Local instead of Consan- 
guine. Character of New Political System. Decline and Dis- 
appearance of Gentile Organization. The Work ft Accom- 
plished 352 

\ Change of Descent from the Female to the Male Line. 

How the Change might have been made. Inheritance of prop- 
erty the Motive. Descent in the Female Line among the 
Lycjanp. The Cretans,- The Etruscans. Probably among the 



Albanian* In the time of C*cros.-The Hundred Famtlie* of 
the Locriana. Evidence from Marx-lag**. Turanian System 
of Consanguinity among Grecian Tribes. Legend of the 
Danaidft 353 

entes in Other Tribes of the Human Family. 

The Scottish Clan. The Irish Sept. Germanic Tribes. Traces 
of a prior Gentile System. Gentes in Southern Asiatic 
Tribes. In Northern. In Uralian Tribes. Hundred Families 
of Chmese. Hebrew Tribes. Composed of Gentes and Phra- 
tries Apparently. Gentes in African Tribes. In Australian 
Tribes. Subdivisions of Fejees and Re was. Wide Distribu- 
tion of Gentile Organization 368 



The Ancient Family. 

Five successive Forms of the Family. First, the Consanguine 
Family. It created the Malayan System of Consanguinity 
and Affinity. Second, the Punaluan. It created the Turanian 
and Ganowanian System. Third, the Monogamian. It cre- 
ated the Aryan, Semitic, and Uralian system. The Syndyas- 
mian and Patriarchal Families Intermediate. Both failed to 
create a System of Consanguinity. These Systems Natural 
Growth*. Two Ultimate Forms. One Classiflcatory, the 
other Descriptive. General Principles of these Systems. 
Their Persistent Maintenance , ,,,,. 393 

The Consanguine Family. 

Former Existence of this Family. Proved by Malayan System 
of Consanguinity. Hawaiian System used as Typical. Five 
Grades of Relations. Details of System. Explained in its 
origin by the Intermarriage of Brothers and Sisters in a 
Gfbup. Early State of Society in the Sandwich Islands.- 
Nine Grades of Relations of the Chinese. Identical in Frln- 
etolft wit* thj Hawattan.-Fiv Grade* of Relation* in ideal 
Republic of Plato.-Tabl* of Malayan System of Consanguin- 
ity ana Affinity ,, M 419 



The Punaluan Family. 

The Punaluan Family supervened upon the Consanguine. Tran- 
sition, how Produced. Hawaiian Custom of Punalua. Its 
probable ancient Prevalence over wide Areas. The Gentes 
originated probably in Punaluan Groups. The Turanian Sys- 
tem of Consanguinity. Created by the Punaluan Family. 
It proves the Existence of this Family when the System 
was formed. Details of System. Explanation of its Rela- 
tionships in their Origin. Table of Turanian and Ganowan- 
ian Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity 433 

The Syndyasmian and the Patriarchal Families. 

The Syndyasmian Family. How Constituted. Its Characteris- 
tics. Influence upon it of the Gentile Organization. Propens- 
ity to Pair a late Development. Ancient Society should be 
Studied where the highest Exemplifications are found. The 
Patriarchal Family. Paternal Power its Essential Charac- 
teristic. Polygamy subordinate. The Roman Family sim- 
ilar. Paternal Power unknown in previous Families. .. 462 


The Monogamian Family. 

This Family comparatively Modern, The Term Fam ilia. Fam- 
ily of Ancient Germans. Of Homeric Greeks. Of Civilized 
Greeks. Seclusion of Wives. Obligations of Monogamy not 
respected by the Males. The Roman Family. Wives un- 
der Power. Aryan System of Consanguinity. It came in un- 
der Monogamy. Previous System probably Turanian. Tran- 
sition from Turanian into Aryan. Roman and Arabic Sys- 
tems of Consanguinity. Details of the Former. Present Mo- 
nogamlan Family. Table of Roman and Arabic Systems f 76 

Sequence of Institutions Connected with the Family. 

iunce in part Hypothetical. Relation of these Institutions 
in the Order of their Origination. Evidence of their Origi- 
nation in the Order named. Hypothesis of Degradation Con- 
sidered.-The Antiquity of Mankind 505 




The Three Rules of Inheritance. 

Property in the Status of Savagery. Slow Rate of Progress. 
First Rule of Inheritance. Property Distributed among the 
Gentiles. Property in the Lower Status of Barbarism. -Germ 
of Second Rule of Inheritance. Distributed among Agnatlc 
Kindred. Improved Character of Man. Property In Middle 
Status. Rule of Inheritance imperfectly Known. Agnatic 
Inheritance Probable 535 

The Three Rules of Inheritance Continued. 

Property in the Upper Status of Barbarism. Slavery. Tenure 
of Lands in Grecian Tribes. Culture of the Period. Its Bril- 
liancy. Third Rule of Inheritance. Exclusively in Children. 
Hebrew Tribes. Rule of Inheritance. Daughters of Ze- 
lophehad. Property remained in the Phratry, and probably 
in the Gens. The Reversion. Athenian Inheritance. Exclu- 
sively lit Children. The Reversion. Inheritance remained in 
* the Gens. Heiresses. Wills. Roman Inheritance. The Re- 
version. Property remained in the Gens. Appearance of 
Aristocracy. Property Career of the Human Race. Unity of 
Origin of Mankind i4* 






The latest investigations respecting the early condition 
of the human race are tending to the conclusion that 
mankind commenced their career at the bottom of the 
scale and worked their way up from savagery to civili- 
zation through the slow accumulations of experimental 

As it is undeniable that portions of the human family 
have existed in a state of savagery, other portions in a 
state of barbarism, and still other portions in a state of 
civilization, it seems equally so that these three distinct 
conditions are connected with each other in a natural as 
well as necessary sequence of progress. Moreover, that 
this sequence has been historically true of the entire 
human family, up to the status attained by each branch 
respectively, is rendered probable by the conditions un- 
der which all progress occurs, and by the known ad- 
vancement of several branches of the family through 
two or more of these conditions. 

An attempt will be made in the following pages to 
bring forward additional evidence of the rudeness of the 
early condition of mankind, of the gradual evolution of 
their mental and moral powers through experience, and 
of their protracted struggle with opposing obstacles while 
winning their way to civilization. It will be drawn, in 


part, from the great sequence of inventions and dis- 
coveries which stretches along the entire pathway of 
human progress; but chiefly from domestic institutions, 
which express the growth of certain ideas and passions. 

As we re-ascend along the several lines of progress 
toward the primitive ages of mankind, and eliminate one 
after the other, in the order in which they appeared, in- 
ventions and discoveries on the one hand, and institu- 
tions on the other, we are enabled to perceive that the 
former stand to each other in progressive, and the latter 
in unfolding relations. While the former class have 
had a connection, more or less direct, the latter have 
been developed from a few primary germs of thought. 
Modern institutions plant their roots in the period of 
barbarism, into which their germs were transmitted from 
the previous period of savagery. They have had a lineal 
descent through the ages, with the streams of the blood, 
as well as a logical development. 

Two independent lines of investigations thus invite 
our attention. The one leads through inventions and 
discoveries, and the other through primary institutions. 
With the knowledge gained therefrom, we may hope to 
indicate the principal stages of human development. The 
proofs to be adduced will be drawn chiefly from do- 
mestic institutions; the references to achievements more 
strictly intellectual being general as well as subordinate. 

The facts indicate the gradual formation and subse- 
quent development of certain ideas, passions, and aspira- 
tions. Those which hold the most prominent positions 
may be generalized as growths of the particular ideas 
with which they severally stand connected. Apart from 
inventions and discoveries they are the following: 
I. Subsistence, V. Religion, 

II. Government, VI. House Life and Archi- 

III. Language, lecture, 

IV. The Family, VII. Property. 

First. Subsistence has been increased and perfected 
by a series of successive arts, introduced at long intervals 
of time, and connected more or less directly with inven- 
tions and discoveries. 


Second. The germ of government must be sought in 
the organization into gentes in the Status of savagery; 
and followed down, through the advancing forms of this 
institution, to the establishment of political society. 

Third. Human speech seems to have been developed 
from the rudest and simplest forms of expression. Ges- 
ture or sign language, as intimated by Lucretius, must 
have preceded articulate language, as thought preceded 
speech. The monosyllabical preceded the syllabical, as 
the latter did that of concrete words. Human intelli- 
gence, unconscious of design, evolved articulate language 
by utilizing the vocal sounds. This great subject, a de- 
partment of knowledge by itself, does not fall within the 
scope of the present investigation. 

Fourth. With respect to the family, the stages of its 
growth are embodied in systems of consanguinity and 
affinity, and in usages relating to marriage, by means of 
which, collectively, the family can be definitely traced 
through several successive forms. 

Fifth. The growth of religious ideas is environed 
with such intrinsic difficulties that it may never receive 
a perfectly satisfactory exposition. Religion deals so 
largely with the imaginative and emotional nature, and 
consequently with such uncertain elements of knowl- 
edge, that all primitive religions a*e grotesque and to 
some extent unintelligible. This subject also falls with- 
out the plan of this work excepting as it may prompt 
incidental suggestions. 

Sixth. House architecture, which connects itself with 
the form of the family and the plan of domestic life, 
affords a tolerably complete illustration of progress from 
savagery to civilization. Its growth can be traced from 
the hut of the savage, through the communal houses of 
the barbarians, to the house of the single family of civil- 
ized nations, with all the successive links by which 
one extreme is connected with the other. This subject 
will be noticed incidentally. 

Lastly. The idea of property was slowly formed in 
the human mind, remaining nascent and feeble through 
immense periods of time. Springing into life in sav- 


agery, it required all the experience of this period and 
of the subsequent period of barbarism to develop the 
germ, and to prepare the human brain for the accept- 
ance of its controlling influence. Its dominance as a 
passion over all other passions marks the commencement 
of civilization. It not only led mankind to overcome 
the obstacles which delayed civilization, but to establish 
political society on the basis of territory and of property. 
A critical knowledge of the evolution of the idea of prop- 
erty would embody, in some respects, the most remark- 
able portion of the mental history of mankind. 

It wifl -be my object to present some evidence of human 
progress along these several lines, and through succes- 
sive ethnical periods, as it is revealed by inventions and 
discoveries, and 'by the growth of the ideas of govern- 
ment, of the family, and of property. 

It may be here premised that all forms of government 
are reducible to two general plans, using the word plan 
in its scientific sense. In their bases the two are funda- 
mentally distinct. The first, in the order of time, is 
founded upon persons, and upon relations purely per- 
sonal, and may be distinguished as a society (societas). 
The gens is the unit of this organization ; giving as the 
successive stages of integration, in the archaic period, 
the gens, the phratry, the tribe, and the confederacy of 
tribes, which constituted a people or nation (populus). 
At a later period a coalescence of tribes in the same area 
into a nation took the place of a confederacy of tribes 
occupying independent areas. Such, through prolonged 
ages, after the gens appeared, was the substantially uni- 
versal organization of ancient society; and it remained 
among the Greeks and Romans after civilization super- 
vened. The second is founded upon territory and upon 
property, and may be distinguished as a state (civitas). 
The township or ward, circumscribed by metes and 
bounds, with the property it contains, is the basis or unit 
of the latter, and political society is the result. Political 
society is organized upon territorial areas, and deals 
with property as well as with persons through territorial 
relations. The successive stages of integration are the 


township or ward, which is the unit of organization ; the 
county or province, which is an aggregation of town- 
ships or wards; and the national domain or territory, 
which is an aggregation of counties or provinces; the 
people of each of which are organized into a body politic. 
It taxed the Greeks and Romans to the extent of their 
capacities, after they had gained civilization, to invent 
the deme or township and the city ward; and thus in- 
augurate the second great plan of government, which 
remains among civilized nations to the present hour. In 
ancient society this territorial plan was unknown. When 
it came in it fixed the boundary line between ancient and 
modern society, as the distinction will be recognized in 
these pages. 

It may be further observed that the domestic institu- 
tions of the barbarous, and even of the savage ancestors 
of mankind, are still exemplified in portions of the 
human family with such completeness that, with the ex- 
ception of the strictly primitive period, the several 
stages of this progress are tolerably well preserved. 
They are seen in the organization of society upon the 
basis of sex, then upon the basis of kin, and finally upon 
the basis of territory; through the successive forms of 
marriage and of the family, with the systems of con- 
sanguinity thereby created; through house life and ar- 
chitecture; and through progress in usages with respect 
to the ownership and inheritance of property. 

The theory of human degradation to expain the ex- 
istence of savages and of barbarians is no longer ten- 
able. It came in as a corollary from the Mosaic cosmog- 
ony, and was acquiesced in from a supposed necessity 
which no longer exists. As a theory, it is not only in- 
capable of explaining the existence of savages, but it is 
without support in the facts of human experience. 

The remote ancestors of the Aryan nations presumpt- 
ively passed through an experience similar to that of ex- 
isting barbarous and savage tribes. Though the experi- 
ence of these nations embodies all the information neces- 
sary to illustrate the periods of civilization, both ancient 
and modern, together with a part of that in the Later 


of fire. Mankind were then living in their original 
restricted habitat, and subsisting upon fruits and nuts. 
The commencement of articulate speech belongs to this 
period. No exemplification of tribes of mankind in this 
condition remained to the historical period. 

II. Middle Status of Savagery. 

It commenced with the acquisition of a fish subsist- 
ence and a knowledge of the use of fire, and ended with 
the invention of the bow and arrow. Mankind, while 
in this condition, spread from their original habitat over 
the greater portion of the earth's surface. Among 
tribes still existing it will leave in the Middle Status of 
savagery, for example, the Australians and the greater 
part of the Polynesians when discovered. It will be suf- 
ficient to give one or more exemplifications of each 

III. Upper Status of Savagery. 

It commenced with the invention of the bow and ar- 
row, and ended with the invention of the art of pottery. 
It leaves in the Upper Status of Savagery the Athapascan 
tribes of the Hudson's Bay Territory, the tribes of the 
valley of the Columbia, and certain coast tribes of North 
and South America; but with relation to the time of 
their discovery. This closes the period of Savagery. 

IV. Lower Status of Barbarism. 

The invention or practice of the art of pottery, all 
things considered, is probably the most effective and con- 
clusive test that can be selected to fix a boundary line, 
necessarily arbitrary, between savagery and barbarism. 
The distinctness of the two conditions has long been re- 
cognized, but no criterion of progress out of the former 
into the latter has hitherto been brought forward. All 
such tribes, then, as never attained to the art of pottery 
will be classed as savages, and those possessing this art 
but who never attained a phonetic alphabet and the use 
of writing will be classed as barbarians. 

The first sub-period of barbarism commenced with the 
manufacture of pottery, whether by original invention 
or adoption. In finding its termination, and the com- 
mencement of the Middle Status, a difficulty is cncoun- 


tered in the unequal endowments of the two hemispheres, 
which began to be influential upon human affairs after 
the period of savagery had passed. It may be met, how- 
ever, by the adoption of equivalents. In the Eastern 
hemisphere, the domestication of animals, and the West- 
ern, the cultivation of maize and plants by irrigation, to- 
gether with the use of adobe-brick and stone in house 
building have been selected as sufficient evidence of 
progress to work a transition out of the Lower and into 
the Middle Status of barbarism. It leaves, for example, 
in the Lower Status, the Indian tribes of the United 
States east of the Missouri River, and such tribes of 
Europe and Asia as practiced the art of pottery, but 
were without domestic animals. 

V. Middle Stattts of Barbarism. 

It commenced with the domestication of animals in the 
Eastern hemisphere, and in th^Western with cultivation 
by irrigation and with the use of adobe-brick and stone 
in architecture, as shown. Its termination may be fixed 
with the invention of the process of smelting iron ore. 
This places in the Middle Status, for example, the Vil- 
lage Indians of New Mexico, Mexico, Central America 
and Peru, and such tribes in the Eastern hemisphere as 
possessed domestic animals, but were without a knowl- 
edge of iron. The ancient Britons, although familiar 
with the use of iron, fairly belong in this connection. 
The vicinity of more advanced continental tribes had 
advanced the arts of life among thern far beyond the 
state of development of their domestic institutions. 

VI. Upper Status of Barbarism. 

It commenced with the manufacture of iron, and ended 
with the invention of a phonetic alphabet, and the use of 
writing in literary composition. Here civilization begins. 
This leaves in the Upper Status, for example, the Gre- 
cian tribes of the Homeric age, the Italian tribes shortly 
before the founding of Rome, and the Germanic tribes 
,of the time of Caesar. 

VII. Status of Civilisation. 

It commenced, as stated, with the use of a phonetic 
alphabet and the production of literary records, and 


divides into Ancient and Modern. As an equivalent, 
hieroglyphical writing upon stone may be admitted. 


Periods. Conditions. 

I. Older Period of Savagery, I. Lower Status of Savagery, 

II. Middle Period of Savagery, II. Middle Status of Savagery, 

III. Later Period of Savagery, HI. Upper Status of Savagery, 

IV. Older Period of Barbarism, IV. Lower Status of Barbarism, 
V. Middle Period of Barbar- V. Middle Status of Barbar- 
ism, ism, 

VI. Later Period of Barbarism, VI. Upper Status of Barbarism, 
VII. Status of Civilization. 

I. Lower Status of Savagery, From the Infancy of the Hu- 
& man Race to the commence- 
ment of the next Period. 

II. Middle Status of Savagery, From the acquisition of a fish 

subsistence and a knowledge 
of the use of fire, to etc. 

III. Upper Status of Savagery, From the Invention of the Bow 

and Arrow, to etc. 

IV. Lower Status of Barbarism, From the Invention of the Art 

of Pottery, to etc. 

V. Middle Status of Barbar- From the Domestication of an- 

ism, imals on the Eastern hemi- 

sphere, and in the Western 
from the cultivation of maize 
and plants by Irrigation, with 
the use of adobe-brick and 
stone, to etc. 

VI. Upper Status of Barbarism, From the Invention of the 

process of Smelting Iron Ore, 
with the use of iron tools, to 

VII. Status of Civilization, From the Invention of a Phonetic 

Alphabet, with the use of writ- 
ing, to the present time. 

Each of these periods has a distinct culture and exhib- 
its a mode of life more or less special and peculiar to 


Itself. This specialization of ethnical periods renders it 
possible to treat a particular society according to its con- 
dition of relative advancement, and to make it a subject 
of independent study and discussion. It does not affect 
the main result that different tribes and nations on the 
same continent, and even of the same linguistic family, 
are in different conditions at the same time, since. for 
our purpose the condition of each is the material fact, 
the time being immaterial. 

Since the use of pottery is less significant than that of 
domestic animals, of iron, or of a phonetic alphabet, 
employed to mark the commencement of subsequent eth- 
nical periods, the reasons for its adoption should be 
stated. The manufacture of pottery presupposes village 
life, and considerable progress in the simple arts. l Flint 
and stone implements are older than pottery, remains of 
the former having been found in ancient repositories in 
numerous instances unaccompanied by the latter. A suc- 
cession of inventions of greater need and adapted to a 
lower condition must have occurred before the want of 
pottery would be felt. The commencement of village 
life, with some degree of control over subsistence, wooden 
vessels and utensils, finger weaving with filaments of 
bark, basket making, and the bow and arrow make their 
appearance before the art of pottery. The Village In- 
dians who were in the Middle Status of barbarism, such 
as the Zunians the Aztecs and the Cholulans, manufac- 
tured pottery in large quantities and in many forms of 
considerable excellence; the partially Village Indians of 
the United States, who were in the Lower Status of bar- 
barism, such as the Iroquois, the Choctas, and the Cher- 
okees, made it in smaller quantities and in a limited num- 

i Mr. Edwin B. Tylor observes that Goquet "first propounded* 
in the last century, the notion that the way in which pottery 
came to be made, was that people daubed such combusible ves- 
sels as these with clay to protect them from fire, till they found 

hold utensils of wood, even their boillnjr pots, but postered 
with a kind of clay, a good finger thick, which prevented the 
fire from burning them. Ib. 273. 


Ker of forms; but the Non-horticultural Indians, who 
were in the Status of savagery, such as the Athapascans, 
the tribes of California and of the valley of the Colum- 
bia, were ignorant of its use. 1 In Lubbock's Pre-His- 
toric Times, in Tylor's Early History of Mankind, and 
in Peschel's Races of Man, the particulars respecting this 
art, and the extent of its distribution, have been collected 
with remarkable breadth of research. It was unknown 
in Polynesia (with the exception of the Islands of the 
Tongans and Fijians), in Australia, in California, and 
in the Hudson's Bay Territory. Mr. Tylor remarks that 
"the art of weaving was unknown in most of the Islands 
away from Asia," and that "in most of the South Sea 
Islands there was no knowledge of pottery.": 2 The Rev. 
Lorimer Fison, an English missionary residing in Au- 
stralia, informed the author in answer to inquiries, that 
"the Australians had no woven fabrics, no pottery, and 
were ignorant of the bow and arrow." This last fact 
was also true in general of the Polynesians. The intro- 
duction of the ceramic art produced a new epoch in 
human progress in the direction of an improved living 
and increased domestic conveniences. While flint and 
stone implements which came in earlier and required 
long periods of time to develop all their uses gave the 
canoe, wooden vessels and utensils, and ultimately tim- 
ber and plank in house architecture, 8 pottery gave a dur- 
able vessel for boiling food, which before that had been 
rudely accomplished in baskets coated with clay, and in 

1 Pottery has been found in aboriginal mounds in Oregon 
within a few years past. Foster's "Pre-Historic Races of the 
United States," I. 162. The first vessels of pottery among the 
Aborigines of the United States seem to have been made in 
baskets of rushes or willows used as moulds which were burned 
off after the vessel hardened. Jones's "Antiquities of the 
Southern Indians," p. 461. Prof. Rau's article on "Pottery." 
"Smithsonian Report/' 1866, p. 362. 

"Early History of Mankind," p. 181; "Pre-Hlstoric Times," 
pp. 437, 441, 462, 477, 633, 642. 

* Lewis and Clarke (1806) found plank in use in houses among 
the tribes of the Columbia River. "Travels," Longman's Ed., 
1814, p. 503. Mr. John Keast Lord found "cedar plank chipped 

from the solid tree with chisels and hatchets made of stone/* 
!n Indian houses on Vancouver's Island. "Naturalist $n British, 
Columbia/' I, 169. 


ground cavities lined with skin, the boiling being effected 
with heated stones. 1 

Whether the pottery of the aborigines was hardened 
by fire or cured by the simple process of drying, has been 
made a question. Prof E. T. Cox, of Indianapolis, has 
shown by comparing the analyses of ancient pottery and 
hydraulic cements, "that so far as chemical constituents 
are concerned it (the pottery) agrees very well with the 
composition of hydraulic stones." He remarks further, 
that "all the pottery belonging to the mound-builders' 
age, which I have seen, is composed of alluvial clay and 
sand, or a mixture of the former with pulverized fresh- 
water shells. A paste made of such a mixture possesses 
in a high degree the properties of hydraulic Puzzuolani 
and Portland cement, so that vessels formed of it hard- 
ened without being burned, as is customary with modern 
pottery. The fragments of shells served the purpose of 
gravel or fragments of stone as at present used in con- 
nection with hydraulic lime for the manufacture of arti- 
ficial stone." The composition of Indian pottery in an- 
alogy with that of hydraulic cement suggests the difficul- 
ties in the way of inventing the art, and tends also to 
explain the lateness of its introduction in the course of 
human experience. Notwithstanding the ingenious sug- 
gestion of Prof. Cox, it is probable that pottery was hard- 
ened by artificial heat. In some cases the fact is directly 
attested. Thus Adair, speaking of the Gulf Tribes, re- 
marks that "they make earthen pots of very different 
sizes, so as to contain from two to ten gallons, large 
pitchers to carry water, bowls, dishes, platters, basins, 
and a prodigious number of other vessels of such anti- 
quated forms as would be tedious to describe, and im- 
possible to name. Their method of glazing them is, they 

1 Tylor's "Early History of Mankind," p. 265, "et seq." 
* "Geological Survey of Indiana," 1873, p. 119. He gives the 
following analysis: Ancient Pottery, "Bone Bank," Posey Co., 

Moisture at 21 2o F., 1.00 Peroxide of Iron, 5.60 

Silica, 36.00 Sulphuric Acid, .20 

Carbonate of Lime, 26.50 Organic Matter (alka- 
Carbonate of Magnesia, 8.02 lies and loss), 23.60 

Alumina, 5.00 



place them over a large fi*e of smoky pitch-pine, which 
makes them smooth, black and firm." 1 

Another advantage of fixing definite ethnical periods 
is the direction of special investigation to those tribes 
and nations which afford the best exemplification of each 
status, with the view of making each both standard and 
illustrative. Some tribes and families have been left in 
geographical isolation to work out the problems of prog- 
ress by original mental effort; and have, consequently, 
retained their arts and institutions pure and homogene" 
ous; while those of other tribes and nations have been 
adulterated through external influence. Thus, while 
Africa was and is an ethnical chaos of savagery and bar- 
barism, Australia and Polynesia were in savagery, pure 
and simple, with the arts and institutions belonging to 
that condition. In like manner, the Indian family of 
America, unlike anv other existing family, exemplified 
the condition of mankind in three successive ethnical 
periods. In the undisturbed possession of a great con- 
tinent, of common descent, and with homogeneous insti- 
tutions, they illustrated, when discovered, each of these 
conditions, and especially those of the Lower and of the 
Middle Status of barbarism, more elaborately and com- 
pletely than any other portion of mankind. The far 
northern Indians and some of the coast tribes of North 
and South America were in the Upper Status of savag- 
ery; the partially Village Indians east of* the Mississippi 
were in the Lower Status of barbarism, and the Village 
Indians of North and South America were in the Mid- 
dle Status. Such an opportunity to recover full and min- 
ute information of the course of human experience and 
progress in developing their arts and institutions through 
these successive conditions has not been offered within 
the historical period. It must be added that it has been 
indifferently improved. Our greatest deficiencies relate 
to the last period named. 

Differences in the culture of the same period in the 

* "History of the American Indians," Lond. ed., 1775, p. 424. 
The Iroquois affirm that In ancient times their foreiatherf 
their pottery before a lire. 


Eastern and Western hemispheres undoubtedly existed 
in consequence of the unequal endowments of the conti- 
nents; but the condition of society in the corresponding 
status must have been, in the main, substantially similar. 

The ancestors of the Grecian, Roman, and German 
tribes passed through the stages we have indicated, in 
the midst of the last of which the light of history fell 
upon them. Their differentiation from the undistin- 
guishable mass of barbarians did not occur, probably, 
earlier than the commencement of the Middle Period ot 
barbarism. The experience o these tribes has been lost, 
with the exception of so much as is represented by the 
institutions, inventions and discoveries which they had 
brought with them, and possessed when they first came 
under historical observation. The Grecian and Latin 
tribes of the Homeric and Romulian periods afford the 
highest exemplification of the Upper Status of barbar- 
ism. Their institutions were likewise pure and homo- 
geneous, and their experience stands directly connected 
with the final achievement of civilization. 

Commencing, then, with the Australians and Polyne- 
sians, following with the American Indian tribes, and 
concluding with the Roman and Grecian, who afford the 
highest exemplifications respectively of the six great 
stages of human progress, the sum of their united expe- 
riences may be supposed fairly to represent that of the 
human family from the Middle Status of savagery to the 
end of ancient civilization. Consequently, the Aryan na- 
tions will find the type of the condition of their remote 
ancestors, when in savagery, in that of the Australians 
and Polynesians ; when in the Lower Status of barbarism 
in that of the partially Village Indians of America ; and 
when in the Middle Status in that of the Village Indians, 
with which their own experience in the Upper Status 
directly connects. So essentially identical are the arts, 
institutions and mode of life in the same status upon all 
the continents, that the archaic form of the principal 
domestic institutions of the Greeks and Romans must 
even now be sought in the corresponding institutions of 
the American aborigines, as will be shown in the course 


of this volume. This fact forms a part of the accumu- 
lating evidence tending to show that the principal insti- 
tutions of mankind have been developed from a few pri- 
mary germs of thought; and that the course and man- 
ner of their development was predetermined, as well as 
restricted within narrow limits of divergence, by the nat- 
ural logic of the human mind and the necessary limita- 
tions of its powers. Progress has been found to be sub- 
stantially the same in kind in tribes and nations inhabit- 
ing different and even disconnected continents, while in 
the same status, with deviations from uniformity in par- 
ticular instances produced by special causes. The argu- 
ment when extended tends to establish the unity of origin 
of mankind. 

In studying the condition of tribes and nations in these 
several ethnical periods we are dealing, substantially, 
with the ancient history and condition of our own remote 



The important fact that mankind commenced at the 
bottom of the scale and worked up, is revealed in an 
expressive manner by their successive arts of subsist- 
ence. Upon their skill in this direction, the whole ques- 
tion of human supremacy on the earth depended. Man- 
kind are the only beings who may be said to have gained 
an absolute control over the production of food; which 
at the outset they did not possess above other animals. 
Without enlarging the basis of subsistence, mankind 
could not have propagated themselves into other areas 
not possessing the same kinds of food, and ultimately 
over the whole surface of the earth ; and lastly, without 
obtaining an absolute control over both its variety and 
amount, they could not have multiplied into populous 
nations. It is accordingly probable that the great epochs 
of human progress have been identified, more or less di- 
rectly, with the enlargement of the sources of subsist- 

We are able to distinguish five of these sources of hu- 
man food, created by what may be called as many suc- 
cessive arts, one superadded to the other, and brought 
out at long separated intervals of time. The first two 
originated in the period of savagery, and the last three, 
in the period of barbarism. They are the following, 
stated in the order of their appearance: 

I. Natural Subsistence upon Fruits and Roots on a 
Restricted Habitat. 


This proposition carries us back to the strictly primi- 
tive period of mankind, when few in numbers, simple in 
subsistence, and occupying limited areas, they were just 
entering upon their new career. There is neither an art, 
nor an institution, that can be referred to this period; 
and but one invention, that of language, which can be 
connected with an epoch so remote. The kind of sub- 
sistence indicated assumes a tropical or subtropical cli- 
mate. In such a climate, by common consent, the habitat 
of primitive man has been placed. In fruit and nutbear- 
ing forests under a tropical sun, we are accustomed, and 
with reason, to regard our progenitors as having com- 
menced their existence. 

The races of animals preceded the race of mankind, in 
the order of time. We are warranted in supposing that 
they were in the plenitude of their strength and num- 
bers when the human race first appeared. The classical 
poets pictured the tribes of mankind dwelling in groves, 
in caves and in forests, for the possession of which they 
disputed with wild beasts 1 while they sustained them- 
selves with the spontaneous fruits of the earth. If man- 
kind commenced their career without experience, with- 
out weapons, and surrounded with ferocious animals, it 
is not improbable that they were at least partially, tree- 
livers, as a means of protection and security. 

The maintenance of life, through the constant acqui- 
sition of food, is the great burden imposed upon exist- 
ence in all species of animals. As we descend in the 
scale of structural organization, subsistence becomes 
more and more simple at each stage, until the mystery 
finally vanishes. But, in the ascending scale, it becomes 
increasingly difficult until the highest structural form, 
that of man, is reached, when it attains the maximum. 
Intelligence from henceforth becomes a more prominent 
factor. Animal food, in all probability, entered from a 
very early period into human consumption ; but whether 
it was actively sought when mankind were essentially 
frugivorous in practice, though omnivorous in structural 

* "Lucr. D* Re. Nat./' lib. v, 951. 


organization, must remain a matter of conjecture. This 
mode of sustenance belongs to the - strictly primitive 

II. Fish Subsistence. 

In fish must be recognized the first kind of artificial 
food, because it was not fully available without cooking. 
Fire was first utilized, not unlikely, for this purpose. 
Fish were universal in distribution, unlimited in supply, 
and the only kind of food at all times attainable. The 
cereals in the primitive period were still unknown, if in 
fact they existed, and the hunt for game was too pre- 
carious ever to have formed an exclusive means of hu*- 
man support. Upon this species of food mankind became 
independent of climate and of locality ; and by following 
the shores of the seas and lakes, and the courses of the 
rivers could, while in the savage state, spread themselves 
over the greater portion of the earth's surface. Of the 
fact of these migrations there is abundant evidence in 
the remains of flint and stone implements of the Status 
of Savagery found upon all the continents. In reliance 
upon fruits and spontaneous subsistence a removal from 
the original habitat would have been impossible. 

Between the introduction of fish, followed by the wide 
migrations named, and the cultivation of farinaceous 
food, the interval of time was immense. It covers a large 
part of the period of savagery. But during this interval 
there was an important increase in the variety and 
amount of food. Such, for example, as the bread roots 
cooked in ground ovens, and in the permanent addition 
of game through improved weapons, and especially 
through the bow and arrow. This remarkable invention, 
which came in after the spear war club, and gave the 
first deadly weapon for the hunt, appeared late in savag- 
ery. It has been used to mark the commencement of 

1 As a combination of forces it is so abstruse that It not 
unlikely owed its origin to accident. The elasticity and tough- 
ness of certain kinds of w^ood. the tension of a cord of sinew 
or vegetable fibre by means of a btrit bow, and Anally their 
combination to propel an arrow by human muscle, are not very 


its Upper Status. It must have given a powerful upward 
influence to ancient society, standing in the same relation 
to the period of savagery, as the iron sword to the period 
of barbarism, and fire-arms to the period of civilization. 

From the precarious nature of all these sources of 
food, outside of the great fish areas, cannibalism became 
the dire resort of mankind. The ancient universality of 
this practice is being gradually demonstrated. 

III. Farinaceous Subsistence through Cultivation. 

We now leave Savagery and enter the lower Status 
of barbarism. The cultivation of cereals and plants was 
unknown in the Western hemisphere except among the 
tribes who had emerged from savagery; and it seems to 
have been unknown in the Eastern hemisphere until after 
the tribes of Asia and Europe had passed through the 
Lower, and had drawn near to the close of the Middle 
Status of barbarism. It gives us the singular fact that 
the American aborigines in the Lower Status of barbar- 
ism were in possession of horticulture one entire ethnical 
period earlier than the inhabitants of the Eastern hemi- 
sphere. It was a consequence of the unequal endow- 
ments of the two hemispheres; the Eastern possessing 
all the animals adapted to domestication, save one, and 
a majority of the cereals ; while the Western had only one 
cereal fit for cultivation, but that the best. It tended to 
prolong the older period of barbarism in the former, to 
shorten it in the latter; and with the advantage of con- 
dition in this period in favor of the American aborigines. 
But when the most advanced tribes in the Eastern hemi- 
sphere, at the commencement of the Middle Period of 
barbarism, had domesticated animals which gave them 
meat and milk, their condition, without a knowledge of 
the cereals, was much superior to that of the American 
aborigines in the corresponding period, with maize and 
plants, but without domestic animals. The differentia- 

obvious suggestions to the mind of a savage. As elsewhere 
noticed, the bow and arrow are unknown to the Polynesians in 

Sneral, and to the Australians. From this fact alone it is 
own that mankind were well advanced in the savage state 
Whn the bow and arrow made their first appearance. 


tion of the Semitic and Aryan families from the mass of 
barbarians seems to have commenced with the domesti- 
cation of animals. 

That the discovery and cultivation of the cereals by 
the Aryan family was subsequent to the domestication 
of animals is shown by the fact, that there are common 
terms for these animals in the several dialects of the 
Aryan language, and no common terms for the cereals 
or cultivated plants. Mommsen, after showing that the 
domestic animals have the same names in the Sanskrit, 
Greek, and Latin (which Max Miiller afterwards ex- 
tended to the remaining Aryan dialects *) thus proving 
that they were known and presumptively domesticated 
before the separation of these nations from each other, 
proceeds as follows: "On the other hand, we have as 
yet no certain proofs of the existence of agriculture at 
this period. Language rather favors the negative view. 
Of the Latin-Greek names of grain none occur in the 
Sanskrit with the single exception of zea, which philo- 
logically represents the Sanskrit yavas, but denotes in 
Indian, barley; in Greek, spelt. It must indeed be 
granted that this diversity in the names of cultivated 
plants, which so strongly contrasts with the essential 
agreement in the appellations of domestic animals, does 
not absolutely preclude the supposition of a common 
original agriculture. The cultivation of rice among the 
Indians, that of wheat and spelt among the Greeks, and 
that of rye and oats among the Germans and Celts, may 
all be traceable to a common system of original tillage/' 2 
This last conclusion is forced. Horticulture preceded 
field culture, as the garden (hortos) preceded the field 
(ager) ; and although the latter implies boundaries, the 
former signifies directly an "inclosed space." Tillage, 
however, must have been older than the inclosed garden ; 
the natural order being first, tillage of patches of open 
alluvial land, second of inclosed spaces or gardens, and 
third, of the field by means of the plow drawn by animal 

* "Chip* from a German Workshop," Comp. Table, 11, p. 

"Hlatory of Rome," Scrlbner'a ed., 1871, I, p. 38. 



power. Whether the cultivation of such plants as the 
pea, bean, turnip, parsnip, beet, squash and melon, one 
or more of them, preceded the cultivation of the cereals, 
we have at present no means of knowing. Some of these 
have common terms in Greek and Latin; but I am as- 
sured by our eminent philologist, Prof. W. D. Whitney, 
that neither of them has a common term in Greek or 
Latin and Sanskrit. 

Horticulture seems to have originated more in the 
necessities of the domestic animals than in those of man- 
kind. In the Western hemisphere it commenced with 
maize. This new era, although not synchronous in the 
two hemispheres, had immense influence upon the des- 
tiny of mankind. There are reasons for believing that it 
requires ages to establish the art of cultivation, and 
render farinaceous food a principal reliance. Since in 
America it led to localization and to village life, it tended, 
especially among the Village Indians, to take the place 
of fish and game. From the cereals and cultivated plants, 
moreover, mankind obtained their first impression of the 
possibility of an abundance of food. 

The acquisition of farinaceous food in America and 
of domestic animals in Asia and Europe, were the means 
of delivering the advanced tribes, thus provided, from 
the scourge of cannibalism, which as elsewhere stated, 
there are reasons for believing was practiced universally 
throughout the period of savagery upon captured ene- 
mies, and, in time of famine, upon friends and kindred. 
Cannibalism in war, practiced by war parties in the field, 
survived among the American aborigines, not only in the 
Lower, but also in the Middle Status of barbarism, as, 
for example, among the Iroquois and the Aztecs ; but the 
general practice had disappeared. This forcibly illus- 
trates the great importance which is exercised by a per- 
manent increase of food in ameliorating the condition of 

IV. Meat and Milk Subsistence. 

The absence of animals adapted to domestication in 


the Western hemisphere, excepting the llama, 1 and the 
specific differences in the cereals of the two hemispheres 
exercised an important influence upon the relative ad- 
vancement of their inhabitants. While this inequality of 
endowments was immaterial to mankind in the period of 
savagery, and not marked in its effects in the Lower 
Status of barbarism, it made an essential difference with 
that portion who had attained to the Middle Status. The 
domestication of animals provided a permanent meat and 
milk subsistence which tended to differentiate the tribes 
which possessed them from the mass of other barbarians. 
In the Western hemisphere, meat was restricted to the 
precarious supplies of game. This limitation upon an 
essential species of food was unfavorable to the Village 
Indians; and doubtless sufficiently explains the inferior 
size of the brain among them in comparison with that of 
Indians in the Lower Status of barbarism. In the East- 
ern hemisphere, the domestication of animals enabled the 
thrifty and industrious to secure for themselves a per- 
manent supply of animal food, including milk ; the health- 
ful and invigorating influence of which upon the race, 
and especially upon children, was undoubtedly remark- 
able. It is at least supposable that the Aryan and Sem- 
itic families owe their pre-eminent endowments to the 
great scale upon which, as far back as our knowledge 
extends, they have identified themselves with the main- 
tenance in numbers of the domestic animals. In fact, 
they incorporated them, flesh, milk, and muscle into their 
plan of life. No other family of mankind have done this 
to an equal extent, and the Aryan have done it to a 
greater extent than the Semitic. 

The domestication of animals gradually introduced a 
new mode of life, the pastoral, upon the plains of the 

1 The early Spanish writers speak of a "dumb dogr" found 
, domesticated In the "West India Islands, and also in Mexico and 
Central America. (See figures of the Aztec dogr in pi. Hi, vol. 
I, of Clavigero's "History of Mexico"). I have seen no identi- 
fication of the animal. They also speak of poultry as well as 
turkeys on the continent. The aborigines had domesticated the 
turkey, and the Nahuatlac tribes some species of wild fowl. 

t We learn from the Iliad that the Greeks milked their sheep, 
M well as their cows and groats. See "Iliad/' iv, 433. 

Euphrates and of India, and upon the steppes of Asia; 
on the confines of one or the other of which the domesti- 
cation of animals was probably first accomplished. To 
these areas, their oldest traditions and their histories 
alike refer them. They were thus drawn to regions 
which, so far from being the cradle lands of the human 
race, were areas they would not have occupied as savages, 
or as barbarians in the Lower Status of barbarism, to 
whom forest areas were natural homes. After becoming 
habituated* to pastoral life, it must have been impossible 
for either of these families to re-enter the forest areas 
of Western Asia and of Europe with their flocks and 
herds, without first learning to cultivate some of the 
cereals with which to subsist the latter at a distance from 
the grass plains. It seems extremely probable, therefore, 
as before stated, that the cultivation of the cereals origi- 
nated in the necessities of the domestic animals, and in 
connection with these western migrations; and that the 
use of farinaceous food by these tribes was a consequence 
of the knowledge thus acquired. 

In the Western hemisphere, the aborigines were ena- 
bled to advance generally into the Lower Status of bar- 
barism, and a portion of them into the Middle Status, 
without domestic animals, excepting the llama in Peru, 
and upon a single cereal, maize, with the adjuncts of the 
bean, squash, and tobacco, and in some areas, cacao, cot- 
ton and pepper. But maize, from its growth in the hill 
which favored direct cultivation from its useable- 
ness both green and ripe, and from its abundant yield 
and nutritive properties, was a richer endowment in aid 
of early human progress than all other cereals put to- 
gether. It serves to explain the remarkable progress the 
American aborigines had made without the domestic 
animals; 'the Peruvians having produced bronze, which 
stands next, and quite near, in the order of time, to the 
process of smelting iron ore. 

V. Unlimited Subsistence through Field Agriculture. 

The domestic animals supplementing human muscle 
with animal power, contributed a new factor of the high- 
est value. In course of time, the production of iron gave 

ARffl 6# 8U6S1STENCE jft 

the plow with an iron point, and a better spade and axe. 
Out of these, and the previous horticulture, came field 
agriculture; and with it, for the first time, unlimited 
subsistence. The plow drawn by animal power may be 
regarded as inaugurating a new art. Now, for the first 
time, came the thought of reducing the forest, and bring- 
ing wide fields under cultivation. l Moreover, dense pop- 
ulations in limited areas now became possible. Prior to 
field agriculture it is not probable that half a million peo- 
ple were developed and held together under one govern- 
ment in any part of the earth. If exceptions occurred, 
they must have resulted from pastoral life on the plains, 
or from horticulture improved by irrigation, under pecu- 
liar and exceptional conditions. 

In the course of these pages it will become necessary 
to speak of the family as it existed in different ethnical 
periods ; its form in one period being sometimes entirely 
different from its form in another. In Part III these 
several forms of the family will be treated specially. But 
as they will be frequently mentioned in the next ensuing 
Part, they should at least be defined in advance for the 
information of the reader. They are the following: 

I. The Consanguine Family. 

It was founded upon the intermarriage of brothers and 
sisters in a group. Evidence still remains in the oldest 
of existing systems of Consanguinity, the Malayan, tend- 
ing to show that this, the first form of the family, was 
anciently as universal as this system of consanguinity 
which it created. 

II. The Punaluan Family. 

Its name is derived from the Hawaiian relationship of 
Punalua. It was founded upon the intermarriage of 
several brothers to each other's wives in a group ; and of 
several sisters to each other's husbands in a group. But 
the term brother, as here used, included the first, second, 
third, and even more remote male cousins, all of whom 
were considered brothers to each other, as we consider 
own brothers ; and the term sister included the first, sec- 

"Lucr. De Re. Nat./' v, 1369. 


ond, third, and even more remote female cousins, all of 
whom were sisters to each other, the same as own sis- 
ters. This form of the family supervened upon the con- 
sanguine. It created the Turanian and Ganowanian sys- 
tems of consanguinity. Both this and the previous form 
belong to the period of savagery. 

III. The Syndyasmian Family. 

The term is from syndyaso, to pair, syndyasmos, a 
joining two together. It was founded upon the pairing 
of a male with a female under the form of marriage, but 
without an exclusive cohabitation. It was the germ ol 
the Monogamian Family. Divorce or separation was at 
the option of both husband and wife. This form of the 
family failed to create a system of consanguinity. 

IV. The Patriarchal Family. 

It was founded upon the marriage of one man to sev- 
eral wives. The term is here used in a restricted sense 
to define the special family of the Hebrew pastoral tribes, 
the chiefs and principal men of which practiced polyg- 
amy. It exercised but little influence upon human affairs 
for want of universality. 

V. The Monogamian Family. 

It was founded upon the marriage of one man with 
one woman, with an exclusive cohabitation; the latter 
constituting the essential element of the institution. It 
is pre-eminently the family of civilized society, and was 
therefore essentially modern. This form of the family 
also created an independent system of consanguinity. 

Evidence will elsewhere be produced tending to show 
both the existence and the general prevalence of these 
several forms of the family at different stages of human 



It is well to obtain an impression of the relative amount 
and of the ratio of human progress in the several ethnical 
periods named, by grouping together the achievements 
of each, and comparing them with each other as distinct 
classes of facts. This will also enable us to form some 
conception of the relative duration of these periods. To 
render it forcible, such a survey must be general, and in 
the nature of a recapitulation. It should, likewise, be 
limited to the principal works of each period. 

Before man could have attained to the civilized state it 
was necessary that he should gain all the elements of 
civilization. This implies an amazing change of condi- 
tion, first from a primitive savage to a barbarian of the 
lowest type, and then from the latter to a Greek of the 
Homeric period, or to a Hebrew of the time of Abraham. 
The progressive development which history records in 
the period of civilization was not less true of man in each 
of the previous periods. 

By re-ascending along the several lines of human 
progress toward the primitive ages of man's existence, 
and removing one by one his principal institutions, inven- 
tions, and discoveries, in the order in which they have 
appeared, the advance made in each period will be real- 

The principal contributions of modern civilization are 
the electric telegraph; coal gas; the spinning- j enny ; and 
the power loom; the steam-engine with its numerous 
dependent machines, including the locomotive, the rail- 


way, and the steam-ship; the telescope; the discover/ oi 
the ponderability of the atmosphere and of the LO&r sys- 
tem; the art of printing; the canal lock; the mariner's 
compass; and gunpowder. The mass of other inven- 
tions, such, for example, as the Ericsson propeller, will 
be found to hinge upon one or another of those named 
as antecedents : but there are exceptions, as photography, 
and numerous machines not necessary to be noticed. 
With these also should be remove^ the modern sciences ; 
religious freedom and the common schools; representa- 
tive democracy; constitutional monarchy with parlia- 
ments; the feudal kingdom; modern privileged classes; 
international, statute and common law. 

Modern civilization recovered and absorbed whatever 
was valuable in the ancient civilizations and although its 
contributions to the sum of human knowledge have been 
vast, brilliant and rapid, they are far from being so dis- 
proportionately large as to overshadow th* ancient civili- 
zations and sink them into comparative insignificance. 

Passing over the mediaeval period, which gave Gothic 
architecture, feudal aristocracy with hereditary titles of 
rank, and a hierarchy under the headship of a pope, we 
enter the Roman and Grecian civilizations. They will be 
found deficient in great inventions and discoveries, but 
distinguished in art, in philosophy, and in organic insti- 
tutions. The principal contributions of these civiliza- 
tions were imperial and kingly government; the civil 
law; Christianity; mixed aristocratical and democratical 
government, with a senate and consuls ; democratical gov- 
ernment with a council and popular assembly ; the organ- 
ization of armies into cavalry and infantry, with military 
discipline ; the establishment of navies, with the practice 
of naval warfare; the formation of great cities, with 
municipal law; commerce on the seas; the coinage of 
money; and the state, founded upon territory and upon 
property; and among inventions, fire-baked brick, the 
crane, 1 the water-wheel for driving mills, the bridge, 

* The Egyptian* may have Invented the erane (See Jlerodotaa, 
11, 126). They also had the balance scale. 


acqueduct and sewer; lead pipe used as a conduit with 
the faucet; the arch, the balance scale; the arts and sci- 
ences of the classical period, with their results, includ- 
ing the orders of architecture ; the Arabic numerals, and 
alphabetic writing. 

These civilizations drew largely from, as well as rested 
upon, the inventions and discoveries and the institutions 
of the previous period of barbarism. The achievements 
of civilized man, although very great and remarkable, 
are nevertheless very far from sufficient to eclipse the 
works of man as a barbarian. As such he had wrought 
out and possessed all the elements 1 of civilization, except- 
ing alphabetic writing. His achievements as a barbarian 
should be considered in their relation to the sum of hu- 
man progress ; and we may be forced to admit that they 
transcend, in relative importance, all his subsequent 

The use of writing, or its equivalent in hieroglyphics 
upon stone, affords a fair test of the commencement of 
civilization. 1 Without literary records neither history 
nor civilization can properly be said to exist. The pro- 
duction of the Homeric poems, whether transmitted 
orally or committed to writing at the time, fixes with 
sufficient nearness the introduction of civilization among 
the Greeks. These poems, ever fresh and ever marvel- 
ous, possess an ethnological value which enhances im- 
mensely their other excellences. This is especially true 
of the Iliad, which contains the oldest as well as the most 
circumstantial account now existing of the progress of 
mainland up to the time of its composition. Strabo com- 
pliments Homer as the father of geographical science ; * 

1 The phonetic alphabet came, like other great inventions, at 
the end of successive efforts. The slow Egyptian, advancing; 
the hieroglyph through its several forms, had reached a sylla- 
bus composed of phonetic characters, and at this stage was 
resting upon hte labors. He could write in permanent charac- 
ters upon stone. Then came in the inquisitive Phoenician, the 

first navigator and trader on the sea, who, whether previously 
versed in hieroglyphs or otherwise, seems to have entered at a 
bond upon the labors of the Egyptian, and by an inspiration 
of genius to have mastered the problem over --- ^ .- 
was dreaming. He produced that wondrous al 
letters Which in time gave to mankind a writ 
the means for literary and historical records. 
"Btrato," Z, * 


but the great poet has given, perhaps without design, 
what was infinitely more important to succeeding genera- 
tions : namely, a remarkably full exposition of the arts, 
usages, inventions and discoveries, and mode of life of 
the ancient Greeks. It presents our first comprehensive 
picture of Aryan society while still in barbarism, show- 
ing the progress then made, and of what particulars it 
consisted. Through these poems we are enabled confi- 
dently to state that certain things were known among 
the Greeks before they entered civilization. They also 
cast an illuminating light far backward into the period of 

Using the Homeric poems as a guide and continuing 
the retrospect into the Later Period of barbarism, let us 
strike off from the knowledge and experience of man- 
kind the invention of poetry ; the ancient mythology in 
its elaborate form, with the Olympian divinities; temple 
architecture; the knowledge of the cereals, excepting 
maize and cultivated plants, with field agriculture; cities 
encompassed with walls of stone, with battlements, tow- 
ers and gates; the use of marble in architecture; ship- 
building with plank and probably with the use of nails; 
the wagon and the chariot; metallic plate armor; the 
copper-pointed spear and embossed shield; the iron 
sword ; the manufacture of wine, probably ; the mechan- 
ical powers excepting the screw ; the potter's wheel and 
the hand-mill for grinding grain ; woven fabrics of linen 
and woolen from the loom ; the iron axe and spade ; the 
iron hatchet and adz ; the hammer and the anvil ; the bel- 
lows and the forge ; and the side-hill furnace for smelt- 
ing iron ore, together with a knowledge of iron. Along 
with the above-named acquisitions must be removed the 
monogamian family; military democracies of the heroic 
age ; the later phase of the organization into gentes, phrat- 
ries and tribes ; the agora or popular assembly, probably ; 
a knowledge of individual property in houses and lands : 
and the advanced form of municipal life in fortified cities. 
When this has been done, the highest class of barbarians 
will have surrendered the principal portion of their mar- 


vclous works, together with the mental and moral growth 
thereby acquired. 

From this point backward through the Middle Period 
of barbarism the indications become less distinct, and the 
relative order in which institutions, inventions and dis- 
coveries appeared is less clear; but we are not without 
some knowledge to guide our steps even in these distant 
ages of the Aryan family. For reasons previously stated, 
other families, besides the Aryan, may now be resorted 
- to for the desired information. 

Entering next the Middle Period, let us, in like man- 
ner, strike out of human experience the process of mak- 
ing bronze ; flocks and herds of domestic animals ; com- 
munal houses with walls of adobe, and of dressed stone 
laid in courses with mortar of lime and sand ; cyclopean 
walls ; lake dwellings constructed on piles ; the knowledge 
of native metals, l with the use of charcoal and the cruci- 
ble for melting them; the copper axe and chisel; the 
shuttle and embryo loom ; cultivation by irrigation, cause- 
ways, reservoirs and irrigating canals ; paved roads ; osier 
suspension bridges ; personal gods, with a priesthood dis- 
tinguished by a costume, and organized in a hierarchy; 
human sacrifices ; military democracies of the Aztec type ; 
woven fabrics of cotton and other vegetable fibre in the 
Western hemisphere, and of wool and flax in the East- 
ern; ornamental pottery; the sword of wood, with the 
edges pointed with flints ; polished flint and stone imple- 
ments ; a knowledge of cotton and flax ; and the domestic 

The aggregate of achievements in this period was less 
than in that which followed; but in its relations to the 
sum of human progress it was very great. It includes 
the domestication of animals in the Eastern hemisphere, 
which introduced in time a permanent meat and milk 
subsistence, and ultimately field agriculture ; and also in- 
hugurated those experiments with the native metals which 

1 Homer mention! the native metal*; but they were known 
Ion* before hie time, and before iron. The use of charcoal and 
tae emdble in meitin* them prepared the way for wnettla* 
FOB ore* 


resulted in producing bronze, 1 as well as prepared the 
way for the higher process of smelting iron ore. In the 
Western hemisphere it was signalized by the discovery 
and treatment of the native metals, which resulted in the 
production independently of bronze ; by the introduction 
of irrigation in the cultivation of maize and plants, and 
by the use of adobe-brick and stone in the construction 
of great joint tenement houses in the nature of fort- 

Resuming the retrospect and entering the Older Period 
of barbarism, let us next remove from human acquisi- 
tions the confederacy, based upon gentes, phratnes and 
tribes under the government of a council of chiefs which 
gave a more highly organized state of society than be- 
fore that had been known. Also the discovery and culti- 
vation of maize and the bean, squash and tobacco, in the 
Western hemisphere, together with a knowledge of fari- 
naceous food ; finger weaving with warp and woof ; the 
kilt, moccasin and leggin of tanned deer-skin ; the blow- 
gun for bird shooting; the village stockade for defense; 
tribal games ; element worship, with a vague recognition 
of the Great Spirit ; cannibalism in time of war; and last- 
ly, the art of pottery. 

As we ascend ih the order of time and of development, 
but descend in the scale of human advancement, inven- 
tions become more simple, and more direct in their rela- 

1 The researches of Beckmann have loft a doubt upon the 
existence of a true bronze earlier than a knowledge of iron 
among 1 the Greeks and Latins.% He thinks "electrum," men- 
tioned in the "Iliad," was a mixture of gold and silver ("His- 
tory of Inventions/' Bohn's ed., ii, 212); and that the "stannum" 
of the Romans, which consisted of silver and lead, was the 
same as the "kassiteron" of Homer (Ib., ii, 217). This word 
has usually been interpreted as tin. In commenting upon the 
composition called bronze, he remarks: "In my opinion the 
greater part of these things were made of "stannum," properly 
so called, which by the admixture of the noble metals, and 
some difficulty of fusion, was rendered fitter for use than pure 
copper." (Ib., ii, 213). These observations were limited to the 
nations of the Mediterranean, within whose areas tin was not 
produced. Axes, knives, razors, swords, daggers, and personal 
ornaments discovered in Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, and 
other parts of Northern Europe, have been found, on analysis, 
composed of copper and tin, ana therefore fall under the strict 
definition of bronze. They were also found in relations indicat- 
ing priority to iron. 


tions to primary wants ; and institutions approach nearer 
and nearer to the elementary form of a gens composed 
of consanguinei, under a chief of their own election, and 
to the tribe composed of kindred gentes, under the gov- 
ernment of a council of chiefs. The condition of Asiatic 
and European tribes in this period, (for the Aryan and 
Semitic families did not probably then exist), is substan- 
tially lost. It is represented by the remains of ancient 
art between the invention of pottery and the domestica- 
tion of animals' and includes the people who formed the 
shell-heaps on the coast of the Baltic, who seem to have 
domesticated the dog, but no other animals. 

In any just estimate of the magnitude of the achieve- 
ments of mankind in the three sub-periods of barbarism, 
they must be regarded as immense, not only in number 
and in intrinsic value, but also in the mental and moral 
development by which they were necessarily accom- 

Ascending next through the prolonged period of sav- 
agery, let us strike out of human knowledge the organi- 
zation into gentes, phratries and tribes ; the syndyasmian 
family; the worship of the elements in its lowest form; 
syllabical language ; the bow and arrow ; stone and bone 
implements ; cane and splint baskets ; skin garments ; the 
punaluan family ; the organization upon the basis of sex ; 
the village, consisting of clustered houses ; boat craft, in- 
cluding the bark and dug-out canoe ; the spear pointed 
with flint, and the war club; flint implements of the 
ruder kinds; the consanguine family; monosyllabical 
language ; fetichism ; cannibalism ; a knowledge of the 
use of fire; and lastly, gesture language. 1 When this 

i The origin of language has been investigated far enough to 
find the grave difficulties In the way of any solution of the 
problem. It seems to have been abandoned, by common consent, 
as an unprofitable subject. It is more a question of the laws 
of human development and of the necessary operations of the 
mental principle, than of the materials of language. Lucretius 
remarks that with sounds and with gesture, mankind In th 
primitive period intimated their thoughts stamuveringty to *ao\ 
other ( v. 1021). He assumes that thought preceded speech, ajnC 
that gesture language preceded articulate language. Oestuf* 
or siirn language seems to hare been primitive, the elder stst^ 
of articulate speech. It is still the universal language ef bar- 


work of elimination has been done in the order in which 
these several acquisitions were made, we shall have ap- 
proached quite near the infantile period of man's exist- 
ence, when mankind were learning the use of fire, which 
rendered possible a fish subsistence and a change of hab- 
itat, and when they were attempting the formation of 
articulate language. In a condition so absolutely primi- 
tive, man is seen to be not only a child in the scale of 
humanity, but possessed of a brain into which not a 
thought or conception expressed by these institutions, in- 
ventions and discoveries had penetrated; in a word, 
he stands at the bottom of the scale, but potentially all 
he has since become. 

With the production of inventions and discoveries, and 
with the growth of institutions, the human mind neces- 
sarily grew and expanded; and we are led to recognize 
a gradual enlargement of the brain itself, particularly 
of the cerebral portion. The slowness of this mental 
growth was inevitable, in the period of savagery, from 
the extreme difficulty of compassing the simplest inven- 
tion out of nothing, or with next to nothing to assist 
mental effort; and of discovering any substance or force 

barians, if not of savages, in their mutual Intercourse when 
their dialects are not the same. The American aborigines have 
developed such a language, thus showing that one may be 
formed adequate for general intercourse. As used by them it 
is both graceful and expressive, and affords pleasure in its use. 
It is a language of natural symbols, and therefore possesses 
the elements of a universal language. A sign language is 
easier to invent than one of sounds; and, since it is mastered 
with greater facility, a presumption arises that it preceded 
articulate speech. The sounds of the voice would first come in, 
on this hypothesis, in aid of gesture; and as they gradually 
assumed a conventional signification, they would supersede, to 
that extent, the language of signs, or become incorporated m 
It. It would also tend to develop the capacity of the vocal 
organs. No proposition can be plainer than that gesture has 
attended articulate language from its birth. It is still insepar- 
able from it; and may embody the remains, by survival, of an 
ancient mental habit. If language were perfect, a gesture to 
lengthen out or emphasize its meaning would be a fault. As 
we descend through the gradations of language into its ruder 
forma* the gesture element increases in the quantity and 
variety of its forms until we find languages BO dependent upon 
gestures that without them they would be substantially un- 
intelligible. Growing up and flourishing aide by aide through 
savagery, and far into the period of barbarism, they remain, 
In modified forma, indiaaolubly united. Those who are curious 
to solve the problem of the origin of language would do well 
t look to the possible suggestions from gesture langua**, 


in nature available in such a rude condition of life. It 
was not less difficult to organize the simplest form of 
society out of such savage and intractable materials. The 
first inventions and the first social organizations were 
doubtless the hardest to achieve, and were consequently 
separated from each other by the longest intervals of 
time. A striking illustration is found in the successive 
forms of the family. In this law of progress, which 
works in a geometrical ratio, a sufficient explanation is 
found of the prolonged duration of the period of sav- 

That the early condition of mankind was substantially 
as above indicated is not exclusively a recent, nor even 
a modern opinion. Some of the ancient poets and phi- 
losophers recognized the fact, that mankind commenced 
in a state of extreme rudeness from which they had risen 
by slow and successive steps. They also perceived that 
the course of their development was registered by a pro- 
gressive series of inventions and discoveries, but without 
noticing as fully the more conclusive argument from 
social institutions. 

The important question of the ratio of this progress, 
which has a direct bearing upon the relative length of 
the several ethnical periods, now presents itself. Human 
progress, from first to last, has been in a ratio not rig- 
orously but essentially geometrical. This is plain on the 
face of the facts; and it could not, theoretically, have 
occurred in any other way. Every item of absolute 
knowledge gained became a factor in further acquisi- 
tions, until the present complexity of knowledge was 
attained. Consequently, while progress was slowest in 
time in the first period, and most rapid in the last, the 
relative amount may have been greatest in the first, when 
the achievements of either period are considered in their 
relations to the sum. It may be suggested, as not im- 
probable of ultimate recognition, that the progress of 
mankind in the period of savagery, in its relations to the 
sum of human progress, was greater in degree than it 
was afterwards in the three sub-periods of barbarism; 
and that the progress made in the whole period of bar- 


barism was, in like manner, greater in degree than it has 
been since in the entire period of civilization. 

What may have been the relative length of these eth- 
nical periods is also a fair subject of speculation. An 
exact measure is not attainable, but an approximation 
may be attempted. On the theory of geometrical pro- 
gression, the period of savagery was necessarily longer 
in duration than the period of barbarism, as the latter was 
longer than the period of civilization. If we assume a 
hundred thousand years as the measure of man's exist- 
ence upon the earth in order to find the relative length of 
each period, and for this purpose, it may have been 
longer or shorter, it will be seen at once that at least 
sixty thousand years must be assigned to the period of 
savagery. Three-fifths of the life of the most advanced 
portion of the human race, on this apportionment, were 
spent in savagery. Of the remaining years, twenty thou- 
sand, or one-fifth, should be assigned to the Older Pe- 
riod of barbarism. For the Middle and Later Periods 
there remain fifteen thousand years, leaving five thou- 
sand, more or less, for the period of civilization. 

The relative length of the period of savagery is more 
likely under than over stated. Without discussing the 
principles on which this apportionment is made, it may 
be remarked that in addition to the argument from the 
geometrical progression under which human develop- 
ment of necessity has occurred, a graduated scale of 
progress has been universally observed in remains of an- 
cient art, and this will be found equally true of institu- 
tions. It is a conclusion of deep importance in ethnology 
that the experience of mankind in savagery was longer 
in duration than all their subsequent experience, and 
that the period of civilization covers but a fragment of 
the life of the race. 

Two families of mankind, the Aryan and Semitic, by 
the commingling of diverse stocks, superiority of sub- 
sistence or advantage of position, and possibly from all 
together, were the first to emerge from barbarism. They 
were substantially the founders of civilization. l But 

The Egyptians art uppoid to affllUU remotely with th* 
Stmitic family. 


their existence as distinct families was undoubtedly, in a 
comparative sense, a late event. Their progenitors are 
lost in the undistinguishable mass of earlier barbarians. 
The first ascertained appearance of the Aryan family was 
in connection with the domestic animals, at which time 
they were one people in language and nationality. It is 
not probable that the Aryan or Semitic families were 
developed into individuality earlier than the commence- 
ment of the Middle Period of barbarism, and that their 
differentiation from the mass of barbarians occurred 
through their acquisition of the domestic animals. 

The most advanced portion of the human race were 
halted, so to express it, at certain stages of progress, 
until some great invention or discovery, such as the 
domestication of animals or the smelting of iron ore, 
gave a new and powerful impulse forward. While thus 
restrained, the ruder tribes, continually advancing, ap- 
proached in different degrees of nearness to the same 
status ; for wherever a continental connection existed, all 
the tribes must have shared in some measure in each 
other's progress. All great inventions and discoveries 
propagate themselves; but the inferior tribes must have 
appreciated their value before they could appropriate 
them. In the continental areas certain tribes would 
lead ; but the leadership would be apt to shift a number 
of times in the course of an ethnical period. The de- 
struction of the ethnic bond and life of particular tribes, 
followed by their decadence, must have arrested for a 
time, in many instances and in all periods, the upward 
flow of human progress. From the Middle Period of 
barbarism, however, the Aryan and Semitic families seem 
fairly to represent the central threads of this progress, 
which in the period of civilization has been gradually 
assumed by the Aryan family alone. 

The truth of this general position may be illustrated by 
the condition of the American aborigines at the epoch 
of their discovery. They commenced their career on the 
American continent in savagery; and, although pos- 
sessed of inferior mental endowments, the body of them 
had emerged from savagery and attained to the Lower 


Status of barbarism; whilst a portion of them, the Vil- 
lage Indians of North and South America, had risen to 
the Middle Status. They had domesticated the llama, 
the only quadruped native to the continent which prom- 
ised usefulness in the domesticated state, and had pro- 
duced bronze by alloying copper with tin. They, needed 
but one invention, and that the greatest, the art of 
smelting iron ore, to advance themselves into the Upper 
Status. Considering the absence of all connection with 
the most advanced portion of the human family in the 
Eastern hemisphere, their progress in unaided self-devel- 
opment from the savage state must be accounted remark- 
able. While the Asiatic and European were waiting 
patiently for the boon of iron tools, the American Indian 
was drawing near to the possession of bronze, which 
stands next to iron in the order of time. During this 
period of arrested progress in the Eastern hemisphere, 
the American aborigines advanced themselves, not to the 
status in which they were found, but sufficiently near 
to reach it while the former were passing through the 
last period of barbarism, and the first four thousand 
years of civilization. It gives us a measure of the length 
of time they had fallen behind the Aryan family in the 
race of progress : namely the duration of the Later Pe- 
riod of barbarism, to which the years of civilization 
must be added. The Aryan and Ganowanian families 
together exemplify the entire experience of man in five 
ethnical periods, with the exception of the first portion 
of the Later Period of savagery. 

Savagery was the formative period of the human race. 
Commencing at zero in knowledge and experience, with- 
out fire, without articulate speech and without arts, our 
savage progenitors fought the great battle, first for ex- 
istence, and then for progress, until they secured safety 
from the ferocious animals, and permanent subsistence. 
Out of these efforts there came gradually a developed 
speech, and the occupation of the entire surface of the 
earth. But society from its rudeness was still incapable 
of organization in numbers. When the most advanced 
portion of mankind had emerged from savagery, and 


entered the Lower Status of barbarism, the entire popu- 
lation of the earth must have been small in numbers. 
The earliest inventions' were the most difficult to accom- 
plish because of the feebleness of the power of abstract 
reasoning. Each substantial item of knowledge gained 
would form a basis for further advancement; but this 
must have been nearly imperceptible for ages upon ages, 
the obstacles to progress nearly balancing the energies 
arrayed against them. The achievements of savagery 
are not particularly remarkable in character, but they 
represent an amazing amount of persistent labor with 
feeble means continued through long periods of time be- 
fore reaching a fair degree of completeness. The bow 
and arrow afford an illustration. 

The inferiority of savage man in the mental and moral 
scale, undeveloped, inexperienced, and held down by his 
low animal appetites and passions, though reluctantly 
recognized, is, nevertheless, substantially demonstrated 
by the remains of ancient art in flint stone and bone im- 
plements, by his cave life in certain areas, and by his 
osteological remains. It is still further illustrated by 
the present condition of tribes of savages in a low state 
of development, left in isolated sections of the earth as 
monuments of the past. And yet to this great period of 
savagery belongs the formation of articulate language 
and its advancement to the syllabical stage, the establish- 
ment of two forms of the family, and possibly a third, 
and the organization into gentes which gave the first 
form of society worthy of the name. All these conclu- 
sions are involved in the proposition, stated at the out- 
set, that mankind commenced their career at the bottom 
of the scale ; which "modern science claims to be prov- 
ing by the most careful and exhaustive study of man 
and his works." l 

In like manner, the great period of barbarism was 
signalized by four events of pre-eminent importance: 
namely, the domestication of animals, the discovery of 
the cereals, the use of stone in architecture, and the in- 

I Whlt*y "Oriental and Llncuiitlc studies," p. 341. 


vention of the process of smelting iron ore. Commen- 
cing probably with the dog as a companion in the hunt, 
followed at a later period by the capture of the young 
of other animals and rearing them, not unlikely, from 
the merest freak of fancy, it required time and experi- 
ence to discover the utility of each, to find means of rais- 
ing them in numbers and to learn the forbearance ne- 
cessary to spare them in the face of hunger. Could the 
special history of the domestication of each animal be 
known, it would exhibit a series of marvelous facts. The 
experiment carried, locked up in its doubtful chances, 
much of the subsequent destiny of mankind. Secondly, 
the acquisition of farinaceous food by cultivation must 
be regarded as one of the greatest events in human 
experience. It was less essential in the Eastern hemi- 
sphere, after the domestication of animals, than in the 
Western, where it became the instrument of advancing 
a large portion of the American aborigines into the 
Lower, and another portion into the Middle Status of 
barbarism. If mankind had never advanced beyond this 
last condition, they had the means of a comparatively 
easy and enjoyable life. Thirdly, with the use of adobe- 
brick and of stone in house building, an improved mode 
of life was introduced, eminently calculated to stimulate 
the mental capacities, and to create the habit of industry, 
the fertile source of improvements. But, in its rela- 
tions to the high career of mankind, the fourth inven- 
tion must be held the greatest event in human experi- 
ence, preparatory to civilization. When the barbarian, 
advancing step by step, had discovered the native metals, 
and learned to melt them in the crucible and to cast them 
in moulds; when he had alloyed native copper with tin 
and produced bronze ; and, finally, when by a still greater 
effort of thought he had invented the furnace, and pro- 
duced iron from the ore, nine-tenths of the battle for 
civilization was gained. l Furnished with iron tools, 

i M. Quiquerez, a Swiss engineer, discovered in the canton of 
Berne the remains of a number of side-hill furnaces for smelt- 
in* iron ore; together with tools, fragments of iron and 
charcoal. To construct one, an excavation was made in the 
tide of , hill in which * fcosh was formed of clay, wUJi a 


capable of holding both an edge and a point, mankind 
were certain of attaining to civilization. The produc- 
tion of iron was the event of events in human experi- 
ence, without a parallel, and without an equal, beside 
which all other inventions and discoveries were incon- 
siderable, or at least subordinate. Out of it came the 
metallic hammer and anvil, the axe and the chisel, the 
plow with an iron point, the iron sword; in fine, the 
basis of civilization, which may be said to rest upon this 
metal. The want of iron tools arrested the progress of 
mankind w in barbarism. There they would have remained 
to the present hour, had they failed to. bridge the chasm. 
It seems probable that the conception and the process of 
smelting iron ore came but once to man. It would be a 
singular satisfaction could it be known to what tribe and 
family we are indebted for this knowledge, and with it 
for civilization. The Semitic family were then in ad- 
vance of the Aryan, and in the lead of the human race. 
They gave the phonetic alphabet to mankind and it seems 
not unlikely the knowledge of iron as well. 

At the epoch of the Homeric poems, the Grecian tribes 
had made immense material progress. All the common 
metals were known, including the process of smelting 
ores, and possibly of changing iron into steel ; the prin- 
cipal cereals had been discovered, together with the art 
of cultivation, and the use of the plow in field agricul- 
ture; the dog, the horse, the ass, the cow, the sow, the 
sheep and the goat had been domesticated and reared in 
flocks and herds, as has been shown. Architecture had 
produced a house constructed of durable materials, con- 
taining separate apartments, 1 and consisting of more 
than a single story; 8 ship building, weapons, textile 

chimney in the form of a dome above it to create a draft. No 
evidence was found of tl\e use of the bellows. The boshes seem 
to have been charged with alternate layers of pulverized ore 
and charcoal, combustion being: sustained by fanning the 
flames. The result was a spongy mass of partly fused ore 
' which was afterwards welded into a compact mass by ham- 
mering 1 . A deposit of charcoal was found beneath a bed of peat 
twenty feet in thickness. It is not probable that these furnaces 
ware coeval with the knowledge of smelting: iron ore; but they 
were, not unlikely, close copies of the original furnace. Vide 
Flguier's "Primitive Man," Putnam's ed., p. $OL 

i Palace of Priam.!!., vi, 242. 

House of Ulysses.- Od.. xvl, 448. 


fabrics, the manufacture of wine from the gtape, the 
cultivation of the apple, the pear, the olive and the fig, 1 
together with comfortable apparel, and useful imple- 
ments and utensils, had been produced and brought into 
human use. But the early history of mankind was lost 
in the oblivion of the ages that had passed away. Tradi- 
tion ascended to an anterior barbarism through which it 
was unable to penetrate. Language had attained such 
development that poetry of the highest structural form 
was about to embody the inspirations of genius. The 
closing period of barbarism brought this portion of the 
human family to the threshold of civilization, animated 
by the great attainments of the past, grown hardy and 
intelligent in the school of experience, and with the un- 
disciplined imagination in the full splendor of its cre- 
ative powers. Barbarism ends with the production of 
grand barbarians. Whilst the condition of society in 
this period was understood by the later Greek and Ro- 
man writers, the anterior state, with its distinctive cul- 
ture and experience, was as deeply concealed from their 
apprehension as from our own; except as occupying a 
nearer stand-point in time, they saw more distinctly the 
relations of the present with the past. It was evident 
to them that a certain sequence existed in the series of 
inventions and discoveries, as well as a certain order of 
development of institutions, through which mankind had 
advanced themselves from the status of savagery to that 
of the Homeric age; but the immense interval of time 
between the two conditions does not appear to have been 
made a subject even of speculative consideration. 

i Od., vli, 115. 





In treating the subject of the growth of the idea of 
government, the organization into gentes on the basis 
of kin naturally suggests itself as the archaic frame- 
work of ancient society; but there is a still older and 
more archaic organization, that into classes on the basis 
of sex, which first demands attention. It will not be 
taken up because of its novelty in human experience, but 
for the higher reason that it seems to contain the germ- 
inal principle of the gens. If this inference is warranted 
by the facts it will give to this organization into male 
and female classes, now found in full vitality among the 
Australian aborigines, an ancient prevalence as wide 
spread, in the tribes of mankind, as the original organi- 
zation into gentes. 

It will soon be perceived that low down in savagery 
community of husbands and wives, within prescribed 
limits, was the central principle of the social system. 
The marital rights and privileges, (jura conjugialia,) l 
established in the group, grew into a stupendous scheme, 
which became the organic principle on which society was 
constituted. From the nature of the case these rights 
and privileges rooted themselves so firmly that emanci- 
pation from them was slowly accomplished through 
movements which resulted in unconscious reformations. 
Accordingly it will be found that the family has ad- 

1 The Romans made a distinction between "connublum," 
which related to marriage considered as a civil institution, 
and "oonjufflum," which was a mere physical union. 


vanced from a lower to a higher form as the range of 
this conjugal system was gradually reduced. The fam- 
ily, commencing in the consanguine, founded upon the 
intermarriage of brothers and sisters in a group, passed 
into the second form, the punaluan, under a social system 
akin to the Australian classes, which broke up the first 
species of marriage by substituting groups of brothers 
who shared their wives in common, and groups of sis- 
ters who shared their husbands in common, marriage in 
both cases being in the group. The organization into 
classes upon sex, and the subsequent higher organization 
into gentes upon kin, must be regarded as the results 
of great social movements worked out unconsciously 
through natural selection. For these reasons the Aus- 
tralian system, about to be presented, deserves attentive 
consideration, although it carries us into a low grade of 
human life. It represents a striking phase of the ancient 
social history of our race. 

The organization into classes on the basis of sex, and 
the inchoate organization into gentes on the basis of kin, 
now prevail among that portion of the Australian abo- 
rigines who speak the Kamilaroi language. They in- 
habit the Darling River district north of Sydney. Both 
organizations are also found in other Australian tribes, 
and so wide spread as to render probable their ancient 
universal prevalence among them. It is evident from 
internal considerations that the male and female classes 
are older than the gentes: firstly, because the gentile 
organization is higher than that into classes; and sec- 
ondly, because the former, among the Kamilaroi, are in 
process of overthrowing the latter. The class in its male 
and female branches is the unit of their social system, 
which place rightfully belongs to the gens when in full 
development. A remarkable combination of facts is thus 
presented; namely, a sexual and a gentile organization, 
both in existence at the same time, the former holding 
the central position, and the latter inchoate but advancing 
to completeness through encroachments upon the former. 

This organization upon sex has not been found, as yet, 
in any tribes of savages out of Australia, but the slow 


development of these islanders in their secluded habitat, 
and the more archaic character of the organization upon 
sex than that into gentes, suggests the conjecture, that 
the former may have been universal in such branches of 
the human family as afterwards possessed the gentile 
organization. Although the class system, when traced 
out fully, involves some bewildering complications, it 
will reward the attention necessary for its mastery. As 
a curious social organization among savages it possesses 
but little interest ; but as the most primitive form of so- 
ciety hitherto discovered, and more especially with the 
contingent probability that the remote progenitors of our 
own Aryan family were once similarly organized, it be- 
comes important, and may prove instructive. 

The Australians rank below the Polynesians, and far 
below the American aborigines. They stand below the 
African negro and near the bottom of the scale. Their 
social institutions, therefore, must approach the primi- 
tive type as nearly as those of any existing people. l 

Inasmuch as the gens is made the subject of the 
succeeding chapter, it will be introduced in this without 
discussion, and only for the necessary explanation of the 

The Kamilaroi are divided into six gentes, standing 
with reference to the right of marriage, in two divisions, 
as follows: 

I. i. Iguana, (Duli). 2. Kangaroo, (Murriira). 
3. Opossum, (Mute). 

II. 4. Emu, (Dinoun). 5. Bandicoot, (Bilba. 6. 
Blacksnake, (Nurai). 

Originally the first three gentes were not allowed to 

i For the detailed facts of the Australian system I am Indebt- 
ed to the Rev. Lorimer Fison, an English missionary in 
Australia, who received a portion of them from the Rev. W. 
Ridley, and another portion from T. E. Lance, Esq., both of 
whom had spent many years among the Australian aborigines, 
and enjoyed excellent opportunities for observation. The facts 
were sent by Mr. Fison with a critical analysis and discussion 
of the system, which, with observations of the writer, were 
published in the "Proceedings of the Am. Acad. of Arts and 
Sciences for 1872." See vol. viil, p. 412. A brief notice of thft 
Kamilaroi classes is given in McLennan's "Primitive MarrlagV 
* 118: and to Tylor^i "Barly History of Mankind." p, 88* 
Pady melon: * species of Kangaroo, 


intermarry with each other, because they were subdi- 
visions of an original gens; but they were permitted to 
marry into either of the other gentes, and vice versd. 
This ancient rule is now modified, among the Kamilaroi, 
in certain definite particulars but not carried to the full 
extent of permitting marriage into ahy gens but that 
of the individual. Neither males nor females can marry 
into their own gens, the prohibition being absolute. 
Descent is in the female line, which assigns the children 
to the gens of their mother. These are among the es- 
sential characteristics of the gens, wherever this insti- 
tution is found in its archaic form. In its external fea- 
tures, therefore, it is perfect and complete among the 

But there is a further and older division of the people 
into eight classes, four of which are composed exclu- 
sively of males, and four exclusively of females. It is 
accompanied with a regulation in respect to marriage 
and descent which obstructs the gens, and demonstrates 
that the latter organization is in process of development 
into its true logical form. One only of the four classes 
of males can marry into one only of the four classes ofc 
females. In the sequel it will be found that all the males 
of one class are, theoretically, the husbands of all the 
females of the class into which they are allowed to 
marry. Moreover, if the male belongs to one of the first 
three gentes the female must belong to one of the op- 
posite three. Marriage is thus restricted to a portion 
of the males of one gens, with a portion of the females 
of another gens, which is opposed to the true theory of 
the gentile institution, for all the members of each gens 
should be allowed to marry persons of the opposite sex 
in all the gentes except their own. 

The classes are the following: 

Male. Female. 

1. Ippai. i. Ippata. 

2. Kumbo. 2. Buta. 

3. Murri. 3. Mata. 

4. Kubbi. 4. Kapota. 

All the Ippais, of whatever gens, are brothers to each 


other. Theoretically, they are descended from a sup- 
posed common female ancestor. All the Kumbos are the 
same ; and so are all the Murris and Kubbis, respectively, 
and for the same reason. In like manner, all the Ippatas, 
of whatever gens, are sisters to each other, and for the 
same reason ; all the Butas are the same, and so are all 
the Matas and Kapotas, respectively. In the next place, 
all the Ippais and Ippatas are brothers and sisters to each 
other, whether children of the same mother or collateral 
consanguinei, and in whatever gens they are found. The 
Kumbos and Butas are brothers and sisters; and so are 
the Murris and Matas, and the Kubbis and Kapotas re- 
spectively. If an Ippai and Ippata meet, who have never 
seen each other before, they address each other as bro- 
ther and sister. The Kamilaroi, therefore, are organized 
into four great primary groups of brothers and sisters, 
each group being composed of a male and a female 
branch ; but intermingled over the areas of their occupa- 
tion. Founded upon sex, instead of kin, it is older than 
the gentes, and more archaic, it may be repeated, than 
any form of society hitherto known. 

The classes embody the germ of the gens, but fall short 
of its realization. In reality the Ippais and Ippatas form 
a single class in two branches, and since they cannot in- 
termarry they would form the basis of a gens but for the 
reason that they fall under two names, each of which is 
integral for certain purposes, and for the further reason 
that their children take different names from their own. 
The division into classes is upon sex instead of kin, and 
has its primary relation to a rule 1 of marriage as remark- 
able as it is original. 

Since brothers and sisters are not allowed to inter- 
marry, the classes stand to each other in a different order 
with respect to the right of marriage, or rather, of co- 
habitation, which better expresses the relation. Such 
was the original law, thus: 

Ippai can marry Kapota, and no other. 

Kumbo can marry Mata, and no other. 

Murri can marry Buta, and no other. 

K\ibbi can marry Ippata, and no other* 


This exclusive scheme has been modified in one particu- 
lar, as will hereafter be shown : namely, in giving to each 
class of males the right of intermarriage with one addi- 
tional class of females. In this fact, evidence of the 
encroachment of the gens upon the class is furnished, 
tending to the overthrow of the latter. 

It is thus seen that each male in the selection of a wife, 
is limited to one-fourth part of all the Kamilaroi females. 
This, however, is not the remarkable part of the system. 
Theoretically every Kapota is the wife of every Ippai; 
every Mata is the wife of every Kumbo; every Buta is 
the wife of every Murri; and every Ippata of every 
Kubbi. Upon this material point the information is spe- 
cific, Mr. Fison, before mentioned, after observing that 
Mr. Lance had "had much intercourse with the natives, 
having lived among them many years on frontier cattle- 
stations on the Darling River, and in the trans-Darling 
country," quotes from his letter as follows : "If a Kubbi 
meets a stranger Ippata, they address each other as 
Goleer = Spouse. ... A Kubbi thus meeting an Ippata, 
even though she were of another tribe, would treat her 
as his wife, and his right to do so would be recognized 
by her tribe." Every Ippata within the immediate circle 
of his. acquaintance would consequently be his wife as 

Here we find, in a direct and definite form, punaluan 
marriage in a group of unusual extent; but broken up 
into lesser groups, each a miniature representation of the 
whole, united for habitation and subsistence. Under the 
conjugal system thus brought to light one-quarter of all 
the males are united in marriage with one-quarter of all 
the females of the Kamilaroi tribes. This picture of 
savage life need not revolt the mind, because to them it 
was a form of the marriage relation, and therefore devoid 
of impropriety. It is but an extended form of polygyny 
and polyandry, which, within narrower limits, have pre- 
vailed universally among savage tribes. The evidence of 
the fact still exists, in unmistakable form, in their sys- 
tems of consanguinity and affinity, which have outlived 
the customs and usages in which they originated. It 


will be noticed that this scheme of intermarriage is but 
a step from promiscuity, because it is tantamount to that 
with the addition of a method. Still, as it is made a sub- 
ject of organic regulation, it is far removed from general 
promiscuity. Moreover, it reveals an existing^ state of 
marriage and of the family of which no adequate con- 
ception could have been formed apart from the* facts. It 
affords the first direct evidence of a state of society which 
had previously been deduced, as extremely probable, 
from systems of consanguinity and affinity. 1 

Whilst the children remained in the gens of their 
mother, they passed into another class, in the same gens, 
different from that of either parent. This will be made 
apparent by the following table : 

Male. Female. Male. Female. 

Ippai marries Kapota. Their children are Murri and Mata. 
Kumbo marries Mata. Their children are Kubbi and Kapota. 
Murri marries Buta. Their children are Ippai and Ippata. 
Kubbi marries Ippata. Their children are Kumbo and Buta. 

If these descents are followed out it will be found that, 
in the female line, Kapota is the mother of Mata, and 
Mata in turn is the mother of Kapota ; so Ippata is the 
mother of Buta, and the latter in turn is the mother of 
Ippata. It is the same with the male classes; but since 
descent is in the female line, the Kamilaroi tribes derive 
themselves from two supposed female ancestors, which 
laid the foundation for two original gentes. By tracing 
these- descents still further it will be found that the blood 
of each class passes through all the classes. 

Although each individual bears one of the class names 
above given, it will be understood that each has in addi- 
tion the single personal name, which is common among 
savage as well as barbarous tribes. The -more closely 
this organization upon sex is scrutinized, the more re- 
markable it seems as the work of savages. When once 
established, and after that transmitted through a few 

"System* of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human 
Family. (Smtthfconlan Contribution* to Knowledge)," voL xvii, 
p. 410, M et ieq." 


generations, it would hold society with such p6Wef as to 
become difficult of displacement. It would require a 
similar and higher system, and centuries of time, to ac- 
complish this result ; particularly if the range of the con- 
jugal system would thereby be abridged. 

The gentile organization supervened naturally upon 
the classes as a higher organization, by simply enfolding 
them unchanged. That it was subsequent in point of 
time, is shown by the relations of the two systems, by the 
inchoate condition of the gentes, by the impaired condi- 
tion of the classes through encroachments by the gens, 
and by the fact that the class is still the unit of organi- 
zation. These conclusions will be made apparent in the 

From the preceding statements the composition of the 
gentes will be understood when placed in their relations 
to the classes. The latter are in pairs of brothers and 
sisters derived from each other; and the gentes them- 
selves, through the classes, are in pairs, as follows: 

Gentes. Male. Female. Male. Female. 

1. Iguana. All are Murri & Mata, or Kubbi & Kapota. 

2. Emu. All are Kumbo & Buta, or Ippai & Ippata. 

3. Kangaroo. All are Murri & Mata, or Kubbi & Kapota. 

4. Bandicoot. All are Kumbo & Buta, or Ippai & Ippata. 

5. Opossum. All are Murri & Mata, or Kubbi & Kapota. 

6. Blacksnake. All are Kumbo & Buta, or Ippai & Ippata. 

The connection of children with a particular gens is 
proven by the law of marriage. Thus, Iguana-Mata 
must marry Kumbo ; her children are Kubbi and Kapota, 
and necessarily Iguana in gens, because descent is in the 
female line. Iguana-Kapota must marry Ippai ; her chil- 
dren are Murri and Mata, and also Iguana in gens, for 
the same reason. In like manner Emu-Buta must marry 
.Murri ; her children are Ippai and Ippata, and of the Emu 
gens. So Emu-Ippata must marry Kubbi; her children 
are Kumbo and Buta, and also of the Emu gens. In this 
manner the gens is maintained by keeping in its mem- 
bership the children of all its female members. The samt 
is true in all respects of each of the remaining gentes. 


It will be noticed that each gens is made up, theoretically, 
of the descendants of two supposed female ancestors, and 
contains four of the eight classes. It seems probable that 
originally there were but two male, and two female 
classes, which were set opposite to each other in respect 
to the Bright of marriage; and that the four afterward 
subdivided into eight. The classes as an anterior organi- 
zation were evidently arranged within the gentes, and 
not formed by the subdivision of the latter. 

Moreover, since the Iguana, Kangaroo and Opossum 
gentes are found to be counterparts of each other, in the 
classes they contain, it follows that they are subdivisions 
of an original gens. Precisely the same is true of Emu, 
Bandicoot and Blacksnake, in both particulars; thus re- 
ducing the six to two original gentes, with the right in 
each to marry into the other, but not into itself. It is 
confirmed by the fact that the members of the first three 
gentes could not originally intermarry ; neither could the 
members of the last three. The reason which prevented 
intermarriage in the gens, when the three were one, 
would follow the subdivisions because they were of the 
same descent although under different gentile names. 
Exactly the same thing is found among the Seneca-Iro- 
quois, as will hereafter be shown. 

Since marriage is restricted to particular classes, when 
there were but two gentes, one-half of all the females of 
one were, theoretically, the wives of one-half of all the 
males of the other. After their subdivision into six the 
benefit of marrying out of the, gens, which was the chief 
advantage of the institution, was arrested, if not neutral- 
ized, by the presence of the classes together with the 
restrictions mentioned. It resulted in continuous in-and- 
in marriages beyond the immediate degree of brother and 
sister. If the gens could have eradicated the classes this 
evil would, in a great measure, have been removed. 

* If a diagram of descents is mtfde, for example, of Ippat and 
Kapota, and carried to the fourth veneration, riving to each 
Intermediate pair two children, a male and a female, the fol- 
lowing results will appear. The children of Ippal and Kapota 
are Murri and Mata. As brothers and sisters the latter cannot 
marry. At the second degree, the children of Hurri, married 
to Buta, are Ippai and Ippata, and of Mata married to Kumfco, 


The organization into classes seems to have been directed 
to the single object of breaking up the intermarriage of 
brothers and sisters, which affords a probable explana- 
tion of the origin of the system. But since it did not 
look beyond this special abomination it retained a con- 
jugal system nearly as objectionable, as well as cast it in 
a permanent form. 

It remains to notice an innovation upon the original 
constitution of the classes, and in favor of the gens, 
which reveals a movement, still pending, in the direction 
of the true ideal of the gens. It is shown in two partic- 
ulars: firstly, in allowing each triad of gentes to inter- 
marry with each other, to a limited extent; secondly, 
to marry into classes not before permitted. Thus, Igu- 
ana-Murri can now marry Mata in the Kangaroo gens, 
his collateral sister, whereas originally he was restricted 
to Buta in the opposite three. So Iguana-Kubbi can now 
marry Kapota, his collateral sister. Emu-Kumbo can now 
marry Buta, and Emu-Ippai can marry Ippata in the 
Blacksnake gens, contrary to original limitations. Each 
class of males in each triad of gentes seems now to be 
allowed one additional class of females in the two re- 
maining gentes of the same triad, from which they were 
before excluded. The memoranda sent by Mr. Fison, 

are Kubbl and Kapota. Of these, Ippai marries his cousin 
Kapota, and Kubbi marries his cousin Ippata. It will be noticed 
that the eight classes are reproduced from two in the second 
and third generations, with the exception of Kumbo and Buta. 
At the next or third degree, there are two Murris, two Matas, 
two Kumbos, and two But as; of whom the Murris marry the 
Butas, their second cousins, and the Kubbis the Matas, their 
second cousins. At the fourth generation there are four each 
of Ippais Kapotas Kubbis and Ippatas, who are third cousins* 
Of these, the Ippais marry the Kapotas, and the Kubbis the 
Ippatas; and thus it runs from generation to generation. A 
similar chart of the remaining marriageable classes will pro* 
rtuce like results. These details are tedious, but they make the 
fact apparent that in this condition of ancient society they not 
only intermarry constantly, but are compelled to do so through 
this organization upon sex. Cohabitation would not follow this 
ir variable course because an entire male and female class were 
married In a group; but its occurrence must have been con- 
stant under the system. One of the primary objects secured by 
the gens, when fully matured, was thus defeated: namely, the 
aggregation of a moiety of the descendants of a supposed com* 
man ancestor under a prohibition of intermarriage, followed 
by * right of marrying into any other gens. 


however, do not show a change to the full extent here 
indicated. 1 

This innovation would plainly have been a retrograde 
movement but that it tended to break down the classes. 
The line of progress among the Kamilaroi, so far as any 
is observable, was from classes into gentes, followed by 
a tendency to make the gens instead of the class the unit 
of the social organism. In this movement the overshad- 
owing system of cohabitation was the resisting element. 
Social advancement was impossible without diminishing 
its extent, which was equally impossible so long as the 
classes, with the privileges they conferred, remained in 
full vitality. The jura conjugialia, which appertained to 
these classes, were the dead weight upon the Kamilaroi, 
without emancipation from which they would have re- 
mained for additional thousands of years in the same con- 
dition, substantially, in which they were found. 

An organization somewhat similar is indicated by the 
punalua of the Hawaiians which will be hereafter ex- 
plained. Wherever the middle or lower stratum of 
savagery is uncovered, marriages of entire groups under 
usages defining the groups, have been discovered either 
in absolute form, or such traces as to leave little doubt 
that such marriages were normal throughout this period 
of man's history. It is immaterial whether the group, the- 
oretically, was large or small, the necessities of their con- 
dition would set a practical' limit to the size of the group 
living together under this custom. If then community 
of husbands and wives is found to have been a law of 
the savage state, and, therefore, the essential condition 
of society in savagery, the inference would be conclusive 
that our own savage ancestors shared in this common 
experience of the human race. 

In such usages and customs an explanation of the low 
condition of savages is found. If men in savagery had 
not been left behind, in isolated portions of the earth, to 
testify concerning the early condition of mankind in-gen- 
eral, it would have been impossible to form any definite 

i "Proc. Am. Acad. ArU and Sciences/' vitl. 48. 


conception of what it must have been. An important in- 
ference at once arises, namely, that the institutions of 
mankind have sprung up in a progressive connected 
series, each of which represents the result of unconscious 
reformatory movements to extricate society from exist- 
ing evils. The wear of ages is upon these institutions, 
for the proper understanding of which they must be 
studied in this light. It cannot be assumed that the Au- 
stralian savages are now at the bottom of the scale, for 
their arts and institutions, humble as they are, show the 
contrary ; neither is there any ground for assuming their 
degradation from a higher condition, because the facts 
of human experience afford no sound basis for such an 
hypothesis. Cases of physical and mental deterioration 
in tribes and nations may be admitted, for reasons which 
are known, but they never interrupted the general prog- 
ress of mankind. All the facts of human knowledge 
and experience tend to show that the human race, as a 
whole, have steadily progressed from a lower to a higher 
condition. The arts by which savages maintain their 
lives are remarkably persistent. They are never lost un- 
til superseded by others higher in degree. By the prac- 
tice of these arts, and by the experience gained through 
social organizations, mankind have advanced under a 
necessary law of development, although their progress 
may have been substantially imperceptible for centuries. 
It was the same with races as with individuals, although 
tribes and nations have perished through the disruption 
of their ethnic life. 

The Australian classes afford the first, and, so far as 
the writer is aware, the only case in which we are able 
to look down into the incipient stages of the organiza- 
tion into gentes, and even through it upon an interior 
organization so archaic as that upon sex. It seems to 
afford a glimpse at society when it verged upon the prim- 
itive. Among other tribes the gens seems to have ad- 
vanced in proportion to the curtailment of the conjugal 
system. Mankind rise in the scale and the family ad- 
vances through its successive forms, as these rights sink 


down before the efforts of society to improve' its internal 

The Australians might not have effected the overthrow 
of the classes in thousands of years if they had remained 
undiscovered; while more favored continental tribes had 
long before perfected the gens, then advanced it through 
its successive phases, and at last laid it aside after enter- 
ing upon civilization. Facts illustrating the rise of suc- 
cessive social organizations, such as that upon sex, and 
that upon kin are of the highest ethnological value. A 
knowledge of what they indicate is eminently desirable, 
if the early history of mankind is to be measurably re- 

Among the Polynesian tribes the gens was unknown ; 
but traces of a system analogous to the Australian classes 
appear in the Hawaiian custom of punalua. Original 
ideas, absolutely independent of previous knowledge and 
experience, are necessarily few in number. Were it pos- 
sible to reduce the sum of human ideas to underived 
originals, the small numerical result would be startling. 
Development is the method of human progress. 

In the light of these facts some of the excrescences of 
modern civilization, such as Mormonism, are seen to be 
relics of the old savagism not yet eradicated from the 
human brain. We have the same brain, perpetuated by 
reproduction, which worked in the skulls of barbarians 
and savages in by-gone ages; and it has come down to 
us ladened and saturated with the thoughts, aspirations 
and passions, with which it was busied through the in- 
termediate periods. It is the same brain grown older and 
larger with the experience of the age$. These outcrops 
of barbarism are so many revelations of its ancient pro- 
clivities. They are explainable as a species of mental 

Out of a few germs of thought, conceived in the early 
^ages, have been evolved all the principal institutions of 
mankind. Beginning their growth in the period of sav- 
agery, fermenting through the period of barbarism, they 
have continued their advancement through the period 
of civilization. The evolution of these germs of thought 


has been guided by a natural logic which formed an e- 
sential attribute of the brain itself. So unerringly has 
this principle performed its functions in all conditions of 
experience, and in all periods of time, that its results are 
uniform, coherent and traceable in their courses. These 
results alone will in time yield convincing proofs of the 
unity of origin of mankind. The mental history of the 
human race, which is revealed in institutions, inventions 
and discoveries, is presumptively the history of a single 
species, perpetuated through individuals, and developed 
through experience. Among the original germs of 
thought, which have exercised the most powerful influ- 
ence upon the human mind, and upon human destiny, are 
these which relate to government, to the family, to langu- 
age, to religion, an to property. They had a definite be- 
ginning far back in savagery, and a logical progress, but 
can have no final consummation, because they are still 
progressing, and must ever continue to progress. 



The experience of mankind, as elsewhere remarked, 
has developed but two plans of government, using the 
word plan in its scientific sense. Both were definite and 
systematic organizations of society. The first and most 
ancient was a social organization, founded upon gentes, 
phratries and tribes. The second and latest in time was 
a political organization, founded upon territory and upon 
property. Under the first a gentile society was created, 
in which the government dealt with persons through 
their relations to a gens and tribe. These relations were 
purely personal. Under the second a political society 
was instituted, in which the government dealt with per- 
sons through their relations to territory, e. g. the town- 
ship, the county, and the state. These relations were 
purely territorial. The two plans were fundamentally 
different. One belongs to ancient society, and the other 
to modern. 

The gentile organization opens to us one of the oldest 
and most widely prevalent institutions of mankind. It 
furnished the nearly universal plan of government of an- 
cient society, Asiatic, European, African and Australian. 
It was the instrumentality by means of which society was 
organized and held together. Commencing in savagery, 
and "continuing through the three sub-periods of bar- 
bafism, it remained until the establishment of political 
society, which did not occur until after civilization had 
commenced. The Grecian gens, phratry and tribe, the 
Roman gens, curia and tribe find their analogues in the 



gens, phratry and tribe of the American aborigines. In 
like manner, the Irish sept, the Scottish clan, the phrara 
of the Albanians, and the Sanskrit ganas, without extend- 
ing the comparison further, are the same as the Amer- 
ican Indian gens, which has usually been called a clan. 
As far as our knowledge extends, this organization runs 
through the entire ancient world upon all the continents, 
and it was brought down to the historical period by such 
tribes as attained to civilization. Nor is this all. Gentile 
society wherever found is the same in structural organi- 
zation and in principles of action; but changing from 
lower to higher forms with the progressive advance- 
ment of the people. These changes give the history of 
development of the same original conceptions. 

Gens, genos, and ganas in Latin, Greek and Sanskrit 
have alike the primary signification of kin. They contain 
the same element as gigno, gignomai, and ganamai, in the 
same languages, signifying to beget] thus implying in 
each an immediate common descent of the members of a 
gens. A gens, therefore, is a body of consanguine! 
descended from the same common ancestor, distinguished 
by a gentile name, and bound together by affinities of 
blood. It includes a moiety only of such descendants. 
Where descent is in the female line, as it was universally 
in the archaic period, the gens is composed of a sup- 
posed female ancestor and her children, together with 
the children of her female descendants, through females, 
in perpetuity; and where descent is in the male line 
into which it was changed after the appearance of prop- 
erty in masses of a supposed male ancestor and his 
children, together with the children of his male descend- 
ants, through males, in perpetuity. The family name 
among ourselves is a survival of the gentile name, with 
descent in the male line, and passing in the same manner. 
The modern family, as expressed by its name, is an un- 
organized gens; with the bond of kin broken, and its 
members as widely dispersed as the family name is found. 

Among the nations named, the gens indicated a social 
organization of a remarkable character, which had pre- 
vailed from an antiquity so remote that its origin was 


lost in the obscurity of far distant ages. It was also the 
unit of organization of a social and governmental sys- 
tem, the fundamental basis of ancient society. This or- 
ganization was not confined to the Latin, Grecian and 
Sanskrit speaking tribes, with whom it became such a 
conspicuous institution. It has been found in other 
branches of the Aryan family of nations, in the Sem- 
itic, Uralian and Turanian families, among the tribes 
of Africa and Australia, and of the American aborigines. 

An exposition of the elementary constitution of the 
gens, with its functions, rights, and privileges, requires 
our first attention ; after which it will be traced, as widely 
as possible, among the tribes and nations of mankind in 
order to prove, by comparisons, its fundamental unity. 
It will then be seen that it must be regarded as one of 
the primary institutions of mankind. 

The gens has passed through successive stages of de- 
velopment in its transition from its archaic to its final 
form with the progress of mankind. These changes were 
limited, in the main, to two : firstly, changing descent 
from the female line, which was the archaic rule, as 
among the Grecian and Roman gentcs; and, secondly, 
changing the inheritance of the property of a deceased 
member of the gens from his gentiles, who took it in 
the archaic period, first to his agnatic kindred, and finally 
to his children. These changes, slight as they may seem, 
indicate very great changes of condition as well as a 
large degree of progressive development. 

The gentile organization, originating in the period of 
savagery, enduring through the three sub-periods of 
barbarism, finally gave way, among the more advanced 
tribes, when they attained civilization, the requirements 
of which it was unable to meet. Among the Greeks and 
Romans, political society supervened upon gentile soci- 
ety, but not until civilization had commenced. The town- 
ship (and its equivalent, the city ward), with its fixed 
property, and the inhabitants it contained, organized as 
a body politic, became the unit and the basis of a new 
and radically different system of government. After 
political society was instituted, this ancient and time- 


honored organization, with the phratry and tribe devel- 
opment from it, gradually yielded up their existence. 
It will be my object, in the course of this volume, to 
trace the progress of this organization from its rise in 
^savagery to its final overthrow in civilization ; for it was 
under gentile institutions that barbarism was won by 
v some of the tribes of mankind while in savagery, and that 
civilization was won by the descendants of some of the 
same tribes while in barbarism. Gentile institutions car- 
ried a portion of mankind from savagery to civilization. 

This organization may be successfully studied both in 
its living and in its historical forms in a large number 
of tribes and races. In such an investigation it is pre- 
ferable to commence with the gens in its archaic form, 
and then to follow it through its successive modifications 
among advanced nations, in order to discover both the 
changes and the causes which produced them. I shall 
commence, therefore, with the gens as it now exists 
among the American aborigines, where it is found in its 
archaic form, and among whom its theoretical constitu- 
tion and practical workings can be investigated more suc- 
cessfully than in the historical gentes of the Greeks and 
Romans. In fact to understand fully the gentes of the 
latter nations a knowledge of the functions, and of the 
rights, privileges and obligations of the members of the 
American Indian gens is imperatively necessary. 

In American Ethnography tribe and clan have been 
used in the place of gens as an equivalent term, from 
not perceiving its universality. In previous works, and 
folowing my predecessors, I have so used them. 1 A 
comparison of the Indian clan with the gens of the 
Greeks and Romans reveals at once their identity in 
structure and functions. It also extends to the phratry 
and tribe. If the identity of these several organizations 

i In "Letters on the Iroquois by Skenandoah," published in 
the "American Review" in 1847; in the "League of the Iro- 
quois," published in 1851; and in "Systems of Consanguinity 
and Affinity of the Human Family/' published in 1871. (Smith- 
sonian Contributions to Knowledge," vol. xvii.) I have used 
"tribe" as the equivalent of "yens," and in its place; but with 
an exact definition of the group. 


can be shown, of which there can be no doubt, there is 
a manifest propriety in returning to the Latin and Gre- 
cian terminologies which are full and precise as well as 
historical. I have made herein the substitutions required, 
and propose to show the parallelism of these several or- 

The plan of government of the American aborigines 
commenced with the gens and ended with the confeder- 
acy, the latter being the highest point to which their gov- 
ernmental institutions attained. It gave for the organic 
series: first, the gens, a body of consanguinei having a 
common gentile name; second, the phratry, an assem- 
blage of related gentes united in a higher association for 
certain common objects; third, the tribe, an assemblage 
of gentes, usually organized in phratries, all the mem- 
bers of which spoke the same dialect ; and fourth, a con- 
federacy of tribes, the members of which respectively 
spoke dialects of the same stock language. It resulted 
in a gentile society (societas), as distinguised from a 
political society or state (civitas). The difference be- 
tween the two is wide and fundamental. There was 
neither a political society, nor a citizen, nor a state, nor 
any civilization in America when it was discovered. One 
entire ethnical period intervened between the highest 
American Indian tribes and the beginning of civiliza- 
tion, as that term is properly understood. 

In like manner the plan of government of the Gre- 
cian tribes, anterior to civilization, involved the same 
organic series, with the exception of the last member: 
first, the gens, a body of consanguinei bearing a common 
gentile name; second, the phratry, an assemblage of 
gentes, united for social and religious objects ; third, the 
tribe, an assemblage of gentes of the same lineage or- 
ganized in phratries; and fourth, a nation, an assem- 
blage of tribes who had coalesced in a gentile society 
upon one common territory, as the four tribes of the 
Athenians in Attica, and the three Dorian tribes at 
% Sparta. Coalescence was a higher process than confeder- 
'ating. In the latter case the tribes occupied independent 


The Roman plan and series were the same : First, the 
gens, a body of consanguinei bearing a common gentile 
name ; second, the curia, an assemblage of gentes united 
in a higher association for the preformance of religious 
and governmental functions; third, the tribe, an assem- 
blage of gentes organized in curiae; and fourth, a nation, 
an assemblage of tribes who had coalesced in a gentile 
society. The early Romans styled themselves, with en- 
tire propriety, the Populus Romanus. 

Wherever gentile institutions prevailed, and prior to 
the establishment of political society, we find peoples or 
nations in gentile societies, and nothing beyond. The 
state did not exist. Their goverments were essentially 
/democratical, because the principles on which the gens, 
t phratry and tribe were organized were democratical. 
'This last proposition, though contrary to received opini- 
ons, is historically important. The truth of it can be 
tested as the gens, phratry and tribe of the American 
aborigines, and the same organizations among the Greeks 
and Romans are successively considered. As the gens, 
the unit of organization, was essentially democratical, so 
necessarily was the phratry composed of gentes, the tribe 
composed of phraties, and the gentile society formed by 
the confederating, or coalescing of tribes. 

The gens, though a very ancient social organization 
founded upon kin, does not include all the descendants 
of a common ancestor. It was for the reason that when 
the gens came in, marriage between single pairs was un- 
known, and descent through males could not be traced 
with certainty. Kindred were linked together chiefly 
through the bond of their maternity. In the ancient gens 
descent was limited to the female line. It embraced all 
such persons as traced their descent from a supposed 
common female ancestor, through females, the evidence 
of the fact being the possession of a common gentile 
name. It would include this ancestor and her children, 
the children of her daughters, and the children of her 
female descendants, through females, in perpetuity^ 
whilst the children of her sons, and the children of her' 
male descendants, through males, would belong to other 


gentes; namely, those of their respective mothers. Such 
was the gens in its archaic form, when the paternity of 
children was not certainly ascertainable, and when their 
maternity afforded the only certain criterion of descents. 

This state of descents, which can be traced back to the 
Middle Status of savagery, as among the Australians, 
remained among the American aborigines through the 
Upper Status of savagery, and into and through the 
Lower Status of barbarism, with occasional exceptions. 
In the Middle Status barbarism, the Indian tribes began 
to change descent from the female line to the male, as 
the syndyasmian family of the period began to assume 
monogamian characteristics. In the Upper Status of 
barbarism, descent had become changed to the male line 
among the Grecian tribes, with the exception of the 
Lycians, and among the Italian tribes, with the excep- 
tion of the Etruscans. The influence of property and its 
inheritance in producing the monogamian family which 
assured the paternity of children, and in causing a change 
of descent from the female line to the male, will be con- 
sidered elsewhere. Between the two extremes, repre- 
sented by the two rules of descent, three entire ethnical 
periods intervene, covering many thousands of years. 

With descent in the male line, the gens embraced all 
persons who traced their descent from a supposed com- 
mon male ancestor, through males only, the evidence of 
the fact being, as in the other case, the possession of a 
common gentile name. It would include this ancestor 
and his children, the children of his sons, and the chil- 
dren of his male descendants, through males, in perpe- 
tuity ; whilst the children of his daughters, and the chil- 
dren of his female descendants, through females, would 
belong to other gentes ; namely, those of their respective 
fathers. Those retained in the gens in one case were 
those excluded in the other, and vice versa. Such was 
the gens in its final form, after the paternity of children 
became ascertainable through the rise of monogamy. 
The transition of a gens from one form into the other 
was perfectly simple, without involving its overthrow. 
All that was needed was an adequate motive, as will else- 


where be shown. The same gens, with descent changed 
to the male line, remained the unit of the social system. 
It could not have reached the second form without pre- 
viously existing in the first. 

As intermarriage in the gens was prohibited, it with- 
drew its members from the evils of consanguine marri- 
ages, and thus tended to increase the vigor of the stock. 
The gens came into being upon three principal concep- 
tions, namely; the bond of kin, a pure lineage through 
descent in the female line, and non-intermarriage in the 
gens. When the idea of a gens was developed, it would 
naturally have taken the form of gentes in pairs, be- 
cause the children of the males were excluded, and be- 
cause it was equally necessary to organize both classes 
of descendants. With two gentes started into being 
simultaneously the whole result would have been at- 
tained; since the males and females of one gens would 
marry the females and males of the other ; and the chil- 
dren, following the gentes of their respective mothers, 
would be divided between them. Resting on the bond 
of kin as its cohesive principle the gens afforded to 
each individual member that personal protection which 
no other existing pqwer could give. 

After considering the rights, privileges and obligations 
of its members it will be necessary to follow the gens 
in its organic relations to a phratry, tribe and confeder- 
acy, in order to find the uses to which it was applied, the 
privileges which it conferred, and the principles which 
it fostered. The gentes of the Iroquois will be taken as 
the standard exemplification of this institution in the 
Ganowanian family. They had carried their scheme of 
government from the gens to the confederacy, making it 
complete in each of its parts, and art excellent illustra- 
tion of the capabilities of the gentile organization in its 
archaic form. When discovered the Iroquois were in 
the Lower Status of barbarism, and well advanced in the 
arts of life pertaining to this condition. They manu- 
factured nets, twine and rope from filaments of bark; 
wove belts and burden straps, with warp and woof, from 
the same materials; they manufactured earthen .vessels 


and pipes from clay mixed with siliceous materials and 
hardened by fire, some of which were ornamented with 
rude medallions; they cultivated maize, beans, squashes, 
and tobacco, in garden beds, and made unleavened bread 
from pounded maize which they boiled in earthern ves- 
sels; 1 they tanned skins into leather with which they 
manufactured kilts, leggins, and moccasins; they used 
the bow and arrow and warclub as their principal weap- 
ons; used flint stone and bone implements, wore skin 
garments, and were expert hunters and fishermen. They 
constructed long joint-tenement houses large enough to 
accommodate five, ten, and twenty families, and each 
household practiced communism in living ; but they were 
unacquainted with the use of stone or adobe-brick in 
house architecture, and with the use of the native metals. 
In mental capacity and in general advancement they were 
the representative branch of the Indian family north of 
New Mexico. General F. A. Walker has sketched their 
military career in two paragraphs: "The career of the 
Iroquois was simply terrific. They were the scourge of 
God upon the aborigines of the continent." 

From lapse of time the Iroquois tribes have come to 
differ slightly in the number, and in the names of their 
respective gentes. The largest number being eight, as 
follows : 

Senecas. I. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Turtle. 4. Beaver. 
5. Deer. 6. Snipe. 7. Heron. 8. Hawk. 

Cayugas. i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Turtle. 4. Beaver. 
5. Deer. 6. Snipe. 7. Eel. 8. Hawk. 

Onondagas. i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Turtle. 4. Beaver. 
5. Deer. 6. Snipe. 7. Eel. 8. Ball. 

Oneidas.- i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Turtle. 

Mohawks. i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Turtle. 

Tuscaroras. i. Gray Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Great Turtle. 
4. Beaver. 5. Yellow Wolf. 6. Snipe. 7. Eel. 8. Lit- 
tle Turtle. 

These changes show that certain gentes in some of the 

i These loaves or cakes were about six inches In diameter 
and an inch thick. 

"North American Review/' April No., 1873, p. S70 Note, 


tribes have become extinct through the vicissitudes ol 
time ; and that others have been formed by the segmen- 
tation of over-full gentes. 

With a knowledge of the rights, privileges and obliga- 
tions of the members of a gens, its capabilities as the unit 
of a social and governmental system will be more fully 
understood, as well as the manner in which it entered 
into the higher organizations of the phratry, tribe, and 

The gens is individualized by the following rights, 
privileges, and obligations conferred and imposed upon 
its members, and which made up the jus gentilicium. 
I. The right of electing its sachem and chiefs. 

II. The right of deposing its sachem and chiefs. 

III. The obligation not to* marry in the gens. 

IV. Mutual rights of inheritance of the, property of 

deceased members. 

V. Reciprocal obligations of help, defense, and re- 
dress of injuries. 

VI. The right of bestowing names upon its members. 
VII. The right of adopting strangers into the gens. 
VIII. Common religious rites, query. 

IX. A common burial place. 

X. A council of the gens. 

These functions and attributes gave vitality as well as 
individuality to the organization, and protected the per- 
sonal rights of its members. 

I. The right of electing its sachem and chiefs. 

Nearly all the American Indian tribes had two grades 
of chiefs, who may be distinguished as sachems and com- 
mon chiefs. Of these two primary grades all other grades 
were varieties. They were elected in each gens from 
among its members. A son could not be chosen to suc- 
ceed his father, where descent was in the female line, be- 
cause he belonged to a different gens, and no gens would 
have a chief or sachem from any gens but its own. The 
office of sachem was hereditary in the gens, in the sense 
that it was filled as often as a vacancy occurred; while 
the office of chief was. non-hereditary, because it was be- 
stowed in reward of personal merit, and died with the 

individual. Moreover, the duties of a sachem were con- 
fined to the affairs of peace. He could not go out to war 
as a sachem. On the other hand, the chiefs who were 
raised to office for personal bravery, for wisdom in af- 
fairs, or for eloquence in council, were usually the su- 
perior class in ability, though not in authority over the 
gens. The relation of the sachem was primarily to the 
gens, of which he was the official head; while that of 
the chief was primarily to the tribe, of the council of 
which he, as well as the sachem, were members. 

The office of sachem had a natural foundation in the 
gens, as an organized body of consanguine! which, as 
such, needed a representative head. As an office, how- 
ever, it is older than the gentile organization, since it is 
found among tribes not thus organized, but among .whom 
it had a similar basis in the punaluan group, and even in 
the anterior horde. In the gens the constituency of the 
sachem was clearly defined, the basis of the relation was 
permanent, and its duties paternal. While the office 
was hereditary in the gens it was elective amonff its male 
members. When the Indian system of consanguinity is 
considered, it will be found that all the male members of 
a gens were either brothers to each other, own or col- 
lateral, uncles or nephews, own or collateral, or col- 
lateral grandfathers and grandsons. 1 This will explain 
the succession of the office of sachem which passed from 
brother to brother, or from uncle to nephew, and very 
rarely from grandfather to grandson. The choice, which 
was by free suffrage of both males and females of adult 
age, usually fell upon a brother of the decased sachem, 
or upon one of the sons of a sister; an own brother, or 
the son of an own sister being most likely to be prefer- 
red. As between several brothers, own and collateral, 
on the one hand, and the sons of several sisters, own and 
collateral, on the other, there was no priority of right, 

I The sons of several sisters are brothers to each other, 
instead of cousins. The latter are here distinguished as col- 
lateral brothers. So a man's brother's son is his son instead of 
fels nephew; while his collateral sister's son is his nephew, at 
well as his own sister's son. The former is distinguished as 
a collateral nephew. 


for the reason that all the male members of the gens 
were equally eligible. To make a choice between them 
was the function of the elective principle. 

Upon the death of a sachem, for example among the 
Seneca-Iroquois, a council of his gentiles 1 was convened 
to name his successor. Two candidates, according to 
their usages, must be voted upon; both of them members 
of the gens. Each person of adult age was called upon 
to express his or her preference, and the one who re- 
ceived the largest number of affirmative declarations was 
nominated. It still required the assent of the seven re- 
maining gentes before the nomination was complete. If 
these gentes, who met for the purpose by phratries, re- 
fused to confirm the nomination it was thereby set aside, 
and the gens proceeded to make another choice. When 
the person nominated by his gens was accepted by the 
remaining gentes the election was complete ; but it was 
still necessary that the new sachem should be raised up, 
to use their expression, or invested with his office by a 
council of the confederacy, before he could enter upon 
its duties. It was their method of conferring the tw- 
perium. In this- manner the rights and interests of the 
several gentes were consulted and preserved; for the 
sachem of a gens was ex officio a member of the council 
of the tribe, and of the higher council of the confeder- 
acy. The same method of election and of confirmation 
existed with respect to the office of chief, and for the 
same reasons. But a general council was never con- 
vened to raise up chiefs below the grade of a sachem. 
They awaited the time when sachems were invested. 

The principle of democracy, which was born of the 
gentes, manifested itself in the retention by the gentiles 
of the right to elect their sachem and chiefs, in the safe- 
guards thrown around the office to prevent usurpation, 
and in the check upon the election held by the remain- 
ing gentes. 

The chiefs in each gens were usually proportioned 

t Pronounced "gren'-tl-lee," it may be remarked to thoie un- 
familiar with Latin. 


to the number of its 'members. Among the Seneca-Iro- 
quois there is one chief for about every fifty persons. 
They now number in New York some three thousand, 
and have eight sachems and about sixty chiefs. There 
are reasons for supposing that the proportionate number 
is now greater than in former times. With respect to the 
number of gentes in a tribe, the more numerous the peo- 
ple the greater, usually, the number of gentes. The num- 
ber varied in the different tribes, from three among the 
Delawares and Munsees to upwards of twenty among the 
Ojibwas and Creeks; six, eight, and ten being common 

II. The right of deposing its sachem and chiefs. 
This right, which was not less important than that to 

elect, was reserved by the members of the gens. Although 
the office was nominally for life, the tenure was practi- 
cally during good behavior, in consequence of the power 
to depose. The installation of a sachem was symbolized 
as "putting on the horns," and his deposition as "taking 
off the horns." Among widely separated tribes of man- 
kind horns have been made the emblem of office and of 
authority, suggested probably, as Tylor intimates, by the 
commanding appearance of the males among ruminant 
animals bearing horns. Unworthy behavior, followed 
by a loss of confidence, furnished a sufficient ground for 
deposition. When a sachem or chief had been deposed 
in due form by a council of his gens, he ceased there- 
after to be recognized as such, and became thenceforth 
a private person. The council of the tribe also had 
power to depose both sachems and chiefs, without wait- 
ing for the action of the gens, and even against its 
wishes. Through the existence and occasional exercise 
of this power the supremacy of the gentiles over their 
sachem and chiefs was asserted and preserved. It also 
reveals the democratic constitution of the gens. 

III. The obligation not to marry in the gens. 
Although a negative proposition it was fundamental. 

It was evidently a primary object of the organization to 
isolate a moiety of the descendants of a supposed founder, 
and prevent their intermarriage for reasons of kin. When 


the gens came into existence brothers were intermarried 
to each other's wives in a group, and sisters to each 
other's husbands in a group, to which th^ gens inter- 
posed no obstacle. But it sought to exclude brothers and 
sisters from the marriage relation which was effected, 
as there are good reasons for stating, by the prohibition 
in question. Had the gens attempted to uproot the en- 
tire conjugal system of the period by its direct action, 
there is not the slightest probability that it would have 
worked its way into general establishment. The gens, 
originating probably in the ingenuity of a small band of 
savages, must soon have proved its utility in the pro- 
duction of superior men. Its nearly universal prevalence 
in the ancient world is the highest evidence of the ad- 
vantages it conferred, and of its adaptability to human 
wants in savagery and in barbarism. The Iroquois still 
adhere inflexibly to the rule which forbids persons to 
marry in their own gens. 

IV. Mutual rights of inheritance of the property of 
deceased members. 

In the Status of savagery, and in the Lower Status of 
barbarism, the amount of property was small. It con- 
sisted in the former condition of personal effects, to 
which, in the latter, were added possessory rights in 
joint-tenement houses and in gardens. The most valu- 
able personal articles were buried with the body of the 
deceased owner. Nevertheless, the question of inherit- 
ance was certain to arise, to increase in importance with 
the increase of property in variety and amount, and to 
result in some settled rule of inheritance. Accordingly 
we find the principle established low down in barbarism, 
and even back of that in savagery, that the property 
should remain in the gens, and be distributed among the 
gentiles of the deceased owner. It was customary law 
in the Grecian and Latin gentes in the Upper Status of 
barbarism, and remained as written law far into civili- 
zation, that the property of a deceased person should re- 
main in the gens. But after the time of Solon among 
the Athenians it was .limited to cases of intestacy. 

The question, who should take the property, has given 


rise to three great and successive rules of inheritance. 
First, that it should be distributed among the gentiles of 
the deceased owner. This was the rule in the Lower 
Status of barbarism, and so far as is known in the Status 
of savagery. Second, that the property should be dis- 
tributed among the agnatic kindred of the deceased 
owner, to the exclusion of the remaining gentiles. The 
germ of this rule makes its appearance in the Lower Sta- 
tus of barbarism, and it probably became completely 
established in the Middle Status. Third, that the prop- 
erty should be inherited by the children of the deceased 
owner, to the exclusion of the remaining agnates. This 
became the rule in the Upper Status of barbarism. 

Theoretically, the Iroquois were under the first rule; 
but, practically, the effects of a deceased person were ap- 
propriated by his nearest relations within the gens. In 
the case of a male his own brothers and sisters and 
maternal uncles divided his effects among themselves. 
This practical limitation of the inheritance to the nearest 
gentile kin discloses the germ of agnatic inheritance. In 
the case of a female her property was inherited by her 
children and her sisters, to the exclusion of her brothers. 
In every case the property remained in the gens. The 
children of the deceased males took nothing from their 
father because they belonged to a different gens. It was 
for the same reason that the husband took nothing from 
the wife, or the wife from her husband. These mutual 
right of inheritance strengthened the autonomy of the 

V. Reciprocal obligations? of help, defense, and redress 
of injuries. 

In civilized society the state assumes the protection of 
persons and of property. Accustomed to look to this 
source for the maintenance of personal rights, there has 
been a corresponding abatement of the strength of the 
bond of kin. But under gentile society the individual 
depended for security upon his gens. It took the place 
afterwards held by the state, and possessed the requisite 
numbers to render its guardianship effective. Within its 
membership the bond of kin was a powerful element for 


mutual support. To wrong a person was to wrong his 
gens; and to support a person was to stand behind him 
with the entire array of his gentile kindred. 

In their trials and difficulties the members of the gens 
assisted each other. Two or three illustrations may be 
given from the Indian tribes at large. Speaking of the 
Mayas of Yucatan, Herrera remarks, that "when any 
satisfaction was to be made for damages, if he who was 
adjudged to pay was like to be reduced to poverty, the 
kindred contributed." l By the term kindred, as here 
used, we are justified in understanding the gens. And 
of the Florida Indians : "When a brother or son dies the 
people of the house will rather starve than seek any- 
thing to eat during three months, but the kindred and 
relations send it aril in." 8 Persons who removed from 
one village to another could not transfer their possessory 
right to cultivated lands or to a section of a joint-tene- 
ment house to a stranger; but must leave them to his 
gentile kindred. Herrera refers to this usage among the 
Indian tribes of Nicaragua ; "He that removed from one 
town to another could not sell what he had, but must 
leave it to his nearest relation." 8 So much of their prop- 
erty was held in joint ownership that their plan of life 
would not admit of its alienation to a person of another 
gens. -Practically, the right to such property was pos- 
sessory, and when abandoned it reverted to the gens. 
Garcilasso de la Vega remarks of the tribes of the Pe- 
ruvian Andes, that "when the commonalty, or ordinary 
sort, married, the communities of the people were obliged 
to build and provide them houses." 4 For communities, 
as here used, we are justified in understanding the gens. 
Herrera speaking of the same tribes observes that "this 
variety of tongues proceed from the nations being divided 
into races, tribes, or clans." * Here the gentiles were re- 
quired to assist newly married pairs in the construction 
of their houses. 

i "History of America/' Lond. ed., 1725, Steven*' Trans., iv, 171. 
a Ib., iv. 34. 

"History of America," ill, 208. 

4 "Royal Commentaries," Lond. ed., 1688, Rycaut's Trans., 
p. 107. 1 
| Herrera, ir, 231. 


The ancient practice of blood revenge, which has pre- 
vailed so widely in the tribes of mankind, had its birth- 
place in the gens. It rested with this body to avenge 
the murder of one of its members. Tribunals for the 
trial of criminals and laws prescribing their punishment, 
came late into existence in gentile society : but they made 
their appearance before the institution of political soci- 
ety. On the other hand, the crime of murder is as old 
as human society, and its punishment by the revenge of 
kinsmen is as old as the crime itself. Among the Iro- 
quois and other Indian tribes generally, the obligation to 
avenge the murder of a kinsman was universally recog- 
nized. 1 

It was, however, the duty of the gens of the slayer, 
and of the slain, to attempt an adjustment of the crime 
before proceeding to extremities. A council of the mem- 
bers of each gens was held separately, and propositions 
were made in behalf of the murderer for a condonation 
of the act, usually in the nature of expressions of regret 
and of presents of considerable value. If there were 
justifying or extenuating* circumstances it generally re- 
sulted in a composition ; but if the gentile kindred of the 
slain person were implacable, one or more avengers were 
appointed by his gens from among its members, whose 
duty is was to pursue the criminal until discovered, and 
then to slay him wherever he might be found. If they 
accomplished the deed it was no ground of complaint by 
any member of the gens of the victim. Life having 
answered for life the demands of justice were appeased. 

The same sentiment of fraternity manifested 
other ways in relieving a fellow gentilis in 
in protecting him from injuries. 

VI. The right of bestmving names 

Among savage and barbarous tribes qfiCre^vrno name 
for the family. The personal names 
the same family do not indicate any 

i "Their hearts burn violently day and nil 
minion till they have shed blood for blot 
from father to son the memory of the loaa ^ 
or one of their own tribe, or family, though 
woman." Adair'i "Hilt. Amer. Indiana/' Lond. 

u P 


between them. The family name is no older than civili-i 
zation. 1 Indian personal names, however, usually indi- 
cate the gens of the individual to persons of other gentes 
in the same tribe. As a rule each gens had names for 
persons that were its special property, and, as such, could 
not be used by other gentes of the same tribe. A gentile 
name conferred of itself gentile rights. These names 
either proclaimed by their signification the gens to which 
they belonged, or were known as such by common repu- 
tation. * 

After the birth of a child a name was selected by its 
mother from those not in use belonging to the gens, with 
the concurrence of her nearest relatives, which was then 
bestowed upon the infant But the child was not fully 
christened until its birth and name, together with the 
name and gens of its mother and the name of its father, 
had been announced at the next ensuing council of the 
tribe. Upon the death of a person his name could not 
be used again in the life-time of the oldest surviving son 
without the consent of the latter. * 

Two classes of names were in use, one adapted to 
childhood, and the other to adult life, which were ex- 
changed at the proper period in the same formal manner ; 
one being taken away, to use their expression, and the 
other bestowed in its place. O-w?-go, a canoe floating 
down the stream, and Ah-wou'-ne-ont, hanging flower; 
are names for girls among the Seneca-Iroquois ; and 
Ga-ne-o-di'-yo, handsome lake, and Do-ne-ho-ga'-weh 
door-keeper, are names of adult males. At the age of 
sixteen or eighteen, the first name was taken away, usu- 
ally by a chief of the gens, and one of the second class 

1 Moinmsen's ''History of Rome,** Scrlbner's ed., Dlckson's 
Trans., 1* 4*. 

2 One of the twelve gentes of the Omaha* is LA'-ta-dt, the 
Pigeon-Hawk,, which has, amons; others, the following names: 

> < Boys' Names. 

Ah-hIse'-n*-<U, "Long Win*" 

Gla-dan'-noh*che, "Hawk balancing- Itself In the air." 
Nes-tase'-U, "White-Eyed Bird." 
Girls' Names. 

. Me-ta'-na, 'Bird singing at daylight." 
Lt-tt-dl'-wlB, "One of the Birds.' r 
Wi-U'-na, "Bird's Egg." 

j When particular usages are named it will be understood 
they ar* IroQuols unless the contrary is stated. 


bestowed in its place. At the next council of the tribe 
the change of names was publicly announced, after which 
the person, if a male, assumed the duties of manhood. 
In some Indian tribes the youth was required to go out 
upon the war-path and earn his second name by some 
act of personal bravery. After a severe illness it was 
not uncommon for the person, from superstitious con- 
siderations, to solicit and obtain a second change of 
name. It was sometimes done again in extreme old age. 
When a person was elected a sachem or a chief his name 
was taken away, and a new one conferred at the time of 
his installation. The individual had no control over the 
question of a change. It is the prerogative of the female 
relatives and of the chiefs; but an adult person might 
change his name provided he could induce a chief to 
announce it in council. A person having the control of 
a particular name, as the eldest son of that of his de- 
ceased father, might lend it to a friend in another gens ; 
but after the death of the person thus bearing it the name 
reverted to the gens to which it belonged. 

Among the Shavvnees and Delawares the mother has 
now the right to name her child into any gens she pleases ; 
and the name given transfers the child to the gens to 
which the name belongs. But this is a wide departure 
from archaic usages, and exceptional in practice. It 
tends to corrupt and confound the gentile lineage. The 
names now in use among the Iroquois and among other 
Indian tribes are, in the main, ancient names handed 
down in the gentes from time immemorial. 

The precautions taken with respect to the use of names 
belonging to the gens sufficiently prove the importance 
attached to them, and the gentile rights they confer. 

Although this question of personal names branches out 
in many direction it is foreign to my purpose to do more 
than illustrate such general usages as reveaf the relations 
of the members of a gens. In familiar intercourse and 
in formal salutation the American Indians address each 
other by the term of relationship the person spoken to 
sustains to the speaker. When related they salute by 
kin; when not related "my friend" is substituted. It 


would be esteemed an act of rudeness to address an In- 
dian by his personal name, or to inquire his name directly 
from himself. 

Our Saxon ancestors had single personal names down 
to the Norman conquest, with none to designate the fam- 
ily. This indicates the late appearance of the mono- 
gamian family among them ; and it raises a presumption 
of the existence in an earlier period of a Saxon gens. 

VII. The right of adopting strangers into the gens. 

Another distinctive right of the gens was that of ad- 
mitting new members by adoption. Captives taken in 
war were either put to death, or adopted into some gens. 
Women and children taken prisoners usually experienced 
clemency in this form. Adoption not only conferred 
gentile rights, but also the nationality of the tribe. The 
person adopting a captive placed him or her in the rela- 
tion of a brother or sister; if a mother adopted, in that 
of a son or daughter; and ever afterwards treated the 
person in all respects as though born in that relation. 
Slavery, which in the Upper* Status of barbarism became 
the fate of the captive, was unknown among tribes in the 
Lower Status in the aboriginal period. The gauntlet 
also had some connection with adoption, since the person 
who succeeded, through hardihood or favoritism, in run- 
ning through the lines in safety was entitled to this re- 
ward. Captives when adopted were often assigned in 
the family the places of deceased persons slain in battle, 
in order to fill up the broken ranks of relatives. A de- 
clining gens might replenish its numbers, through adop- 
tion, although such instances are rare.. At one time the 
Hawk gens of the Senecas were reduced to a small num- 
ber of persons, and its extinction became imminent To 
save the gens a number of persons from the Wolf gens 
by mutual consent were transferred in a body by adop- 
tion to that of the Hawk. The right to adopt seems to 
be left to the discretion, of each gens. 

Among the Iroquois the ceremony of adoption was 


performed at a public council of the tribe, which turned 
it practically into a religious rite. 1 

VIII. Religious rites in the gens. Query. 

Among the Grecian and Latin tribes these rites held 
a conspicuous position. The highest polytheistic form 
of religion which had then appeared seems to have sprung 
from the gentcs in which religious rites were constantly 
maintained. Some of them, from the sanctity they were 
supposed to possess, were nationalized. In some cities 
the office of high priest of certain divinities was heredit- 
ary in a particular gens. a The gens became the natural 
centre of religious growth and the birthplace of religious 

But the Indian tribes, although they had a polytheistic 
system, not much unlike that from which the Grecian and 
Roman must have sprung, had not attained that religious 
development which was so strongly impressed upon the 
gentes of the latter tribes. It can scarcely be said any 
Indian gens had special religious rites; and yet their 
religious worship had a more or less direct connection 
with the gentes. It was here that religious ideas would 
naturally germinate and that forms of worship would be 
instituted. But thev would expand from the gens over 
the tribe, rather than remain special to the gens. Ac- 
cordingly we find among the Iroquois six annual religi- 
ous festivals, (Maple, Planting. Berry, Green-Corn, Har- 
vest, and New Years Festivals) 8 which were common to 
all the gentes united in a tribe, and which were observed 
at stated seasons of the year. 

Each gens furnished a number of "Keepers of the 

i After the people had assembled at the council house one of 
the chiefs made an address giving some account of the person, 
the reason for hie adoption, the name and gens of the person 
adopting, and the name bestowed upon the novitiate. Two 
chiefs taking the person by the arms then marched with h|ai 
through the council house* and back, ohanting the sons; of 
adoption. To this the people responded In musical chorus at 
the end of each verse. The march continued until the verses 
were ended, which required three rounds. With this the cere- 
mony concluded. Americans are sometime* adopted as a com* 
pliment. It fell to my lot some years ago to be thus adopted 
Into the Hawk gens of the Senecas, when this ceremony waf 

"Hist, of Grec," t 194. 
^ "League of the Iroquois/' p. 111. 


Faith/' both male and female, who together were charged 
with the celebration of these festivals. 1 The number ad- 
vanced to this office by each was regarded as evidence 
of the fidelity of the gens to religion. They designated 
the days for holding the festivals, made the necessary 
arrangements for the celebration, and conducted the cer- 
emonies in conjunction with the sachems and chiefs of 
the tribe, who were, ex officio, "Keepers of the Faith." 
With no official head, and none of the marks of a priest- 
hood, their functions were equal. The female "Keepers 
of the Faith" were more especially charged with the 
preparation of the feast, which was provided at all coun- 
cils at the close of each day for all persons in attendance. 
It was a dinner in common. The religious rites apper- 
taining to these festivals, which have been described in 
a previous work, 1 need not be considered further than to 
remark, that their worship was one of thanksgiving, with 
invocations to the Great Spirit, and to the Lesser Spirits 
to continue to them the blessings of life. 

With the progress of mankind out of the Lower into 
the Middle, and more especially out of the latter into the 
Upper Status of barbarism, the gens became more the 
centre of religious influence and the source of religious 
development. We have only the grosser part of the 
Aztec religious system ; but in addition to national gods, 
there seem to have been other gods, belonging to smaller 
divisions of the people than the phratries. The existence 
of an Aztec ritual and priesthood would lead us to ex- 
pect among them a closer connection of religious rites 
with the gentes than is found among the Iroquois; but 

i The "Keeper* of the Faith" were about as numerous as the 
chief*, and were selected by the wise-men and matron* of each 
gens. After their selection they were raised up by a council 
of the tribe with ceremonies adapted to the occasion. Their 
names were taken away and new ones belonging to this class 
bestowed in their place. Men and women in about equal num- 
bers were chosen. They were censors of the people, with power 
to report the evil deeds of persons to the council. 7t was the 
duty of individuals selected to accept the office: hut after a 
reasonable service each mifht relinquish it, which was done 
by dropping his name as a Keeper of the Faith, twid resuming 
his former name. 

"League of the Iroquois," p. 181. 


their religious beliefs and observances are under the same 
cloud of obscurity as their social organization. 

IX. A common burial place. 

An ancient but not exclusive mode of burial was by 
scaffolding the body until the flesh had wasted, after 
which the bones were collected and preserved in bark 
barrels in a house constructed for their reception. Those 
belonging to the same gens were usually placed in the 
same house. The Rev. Dr. Cyrus Byington found these 
practices among the Choctas in 1827 ; and Adair mentions 
usages among the Cherokees substantially the same. "I 
saw three of them," he remarks, "in one of their towns 
pretty near each other; * * Each house contained the 
bones of one tribe separately, with the hieroglyphical 
figures of each family [gens] on each of the oddshaped 
arks. They reckoned it irreligious to mix the bones of 
a relative with those of a stranger, as bone of bone and 
flesh of flesh should always be jointed together." 1 The 
Iroquois in ancient times used scaffolds and preserved 
the bones of deceased relatives in bark barrels, often 
keeping them in the house they occupied. They also 
buried in the ground. In the latter case those of the 
same gens were not always buried locally together un-, 
less they had a common cemetery for the village. The 
late Rev. Ashur Wright, so long a missionary among the 
Senecas, and a noble specimen of the American mission- 
ary, wrote to the author as follows; "I find no trace of 
the influence of clanship in the burial places of the dead. 
I believe that they buried promiscuously. However, they 
say that formerly the members of the different clans 
more frequently resided together than they do at the 
present time. As one family they were more under the 
influence of family feeling, and had less of individual 
interest Hence, it might occasionally happen that a 
large proportion of the dead in some partiular burying 
place might be of the same clan." Mr. Wright is un- 
doubtedly correct that in a particular cemetery members 
of all the gentes established in a village would be buried ; 

i "HUtory of the American Indian*/' p. 181. 


but they might keep those of the same gens locally to- 
gether. An illustration in point is now found at the 
Tuscarora reservation near Lewiston, where the tribe 
has one common cemetery, and where individuals of the 
same gens are buried in a row by themselves. One row 
is composed of the graves of the deceased members of 
the Beaver gens, two rows of the members of the Bear 
gens, one row of the Gray Wolf, one of the Great Turtle, 
and so on to the number of eight rows. Husband and 
wife are separated from each other and buried in dif- 
ferent rows; fathers and their children the same; but 
mothers and their children and brothers and sisters are 
found in the same row. It shows the power of gentile 
feeling^ and the quickness with which ancient usages are 
reverted to under favorable conditions; for the Tus- 
caroras are now christianized without surrendering the 
practice. An Onondaga Indian informed the writer that 
the same mode of burial by gentes now prevailed at the 
Onondaga and Oneida cemeteries. While this usage, 
perhaps, cannot be declared general among the Indian 
tribes, there was undoubtedly in ancient times a tendency 
to, and preference for this mode of burial. 

Among the Iroquois, and what is true of them Is gen- 
erally true of other Indian tribes in the same status of 
advancement, all the members of the gens are mourners 
at the funeral of a deceased gentilis. The addresses at 
the funeral, the preparation of the grave, and the burial 
of the body were performed by members of other gentes. 

The Village Indians of Mexico and Central America 
practiced a slovenly cremation, as well as scaffolding, 
and burying in the ground. The former was confined to 
chiefs and prominent men. 

X. A council of the gens. 

The council was the great feature of ancient society, 
Asiatic, European and American, from the institution of 
the gens in savagery to civilization. It was the instru- 
ment of government as well as the supreme authority 
over the gens, the tribe, and the confederacy. Ordinary 
affairs were adjusted by the chiefs ; but those of general 
nferest were submitted to the determination of a coun- 


cil. As the council sprang from the gentile organization 
the two institutions have come down together through 
the ages. The Council of Chiefs represents the ancient 
method of evolving the wisdom of mankind and applying 
it to human affairs. Its history, gentile, tribal, and con- 
federate, would express the growth of the idea of gov- 
ernment in its whole development, until political society 
supervened into which the council, changed into a senate, 
was transmitted. 

The simplest and lowest form of the council was that 
of the gens. It was a democratic assembly because 
every adult male and female member had a voice upon 
all questions brought before it. It elected and deposed 
its sachem and chiefs, it elected Keepers of the Faith, 
it condoned or avenged the murder of a gentiles, and it 
adopted persons into the gens. It was the germ of the 
higher council of the tribe, and of that still higher of the 
confederacy, each of which was composed exclusively of 
chiefs as representatives of the gentes. 

Such were the rights, privileges and obligations of the 
members of an Iroquois gens; and such were those of 
the members of the gentes of the Indian tribes generally, 
as far as the investigation has been carried. When the 
gentes of the Grecian and Latin tribes are considered, 
the same rights, privileges and obligations will be found 
to exist, with the exception of the I, II, and VI; and 
with respect to these their ancient existence is probable 
though the proof is not perhaps attainable. 

All the members of an Iroquois gens were personally 
free, and they were bound to defend each other's free- 
dom ; they were equal in privileges and in personal 
rights, the sachem and chiefs claiming no superiority; 
and they were a brotherhood bound together by the ties 
of kin. Liberty, equality, and fraternity, though never 
formulated, were cardinal principles of the gens. These 
facts are material, because the gens was the unit of a 
social and governmental system, the foundation upon 
which Indian society was organized. A structure com- 
posed of such units would of necessity bear the impress 
of their character, for as the unit so the compound It 


serves to explain that sense of independence and per* 
sonal dignity universally an attribute of Indian character. 

Thus substantial and important in the social system 
was the gens as it anciently existed among the American 
aborigines, and as it still exists in full vitality in many 
Indian tribes. It was the basis of the phratry, of the 
tribe, and the confederacy of tribes. Its functions might 
have been presented more elaborately in several particu- 
lars ; but sufficient has been given to show its permanent 
and durable character. 

At the epoch of European discovery the American 
Indian tribes generally were organized in gentes, with 
descent in the female line. In some tribes, as among the 
Dakotas, the gentes had fallen out ; in others, as among 
the Ojibwas, the Omahas, and the Mayas of Yucatan, 
descent had been changed from the female to the male 
line. Throughout aboriginal America the gens took its 
name from some animal, or inanimate object, and never 
from a person. In this early condition of society, the 
individuality of persons was lost in the gens. It is at 
least presumable that the gentes of the Grecian and Latin 
tribes were so named at some anterior period ; but when 
they first came under historical notice, they were named 
after persons. In some of the tribes, as the Moqui Vil- 
lage Indians of New Mexico, the members of the gem 
claimed their descent from the animal whose name they 
bore their remote ancestors having been transformed 
by the Great Spirit from the animal into the human 
form. The Crane gens of the Ojibwas have a similar 
legend. In some tribes the members of a gens will not 
eat the animal whose name they bear, in which they are 
doubtless influenced by this consideration. 

With respect to the number of persons in a gens it 
varied with the number of the gentes, and with the pros- 
perity or decadence of the tribe. Three thousand Sene- 
cas divided equally among eight gentes would give* an 
average of three hundred and seventy-five persons to a 
gens. Fifteen thousand Ojibwas divided equally among 
twenty-three gentes would give six hundred and fifty 
persons to * gens. The Cherokees would average more 


than a thousand to a gens. In the present condition of 
the principal Indian tribes the number of persons in each 
gens would range from one 1 hundred to a thousand. 

One of the oldest and most widely prevalent institu- 
tions of mankind, the gentes have been closely identi- 
fied with human progress upon which they have exer- 
cised a powerful influence. They have been found in 
tribes in the Status of savagery, in the Lower, in the 
Middle, and in the Upper Status of barbarism on differ- 
ent continents, and in full vitality in the Grecian and 
Latin tribes after civilization had commenced. Every 
family of mankind, except the Polynesian, seems to have 
come under the gentile organization, and to have been 
indebted to it for preservation, and for the means of 
progress. It finds its only parallel in length of duration 
in systems of consanguinity, which, springing up at a still 
earlier period, have remained to the present time, al- 
though the marriage usages in which they originated 
have long since disappeared. 

From its early institution, and from its maintenance 
through such immense stretches of time, the peculiar 
adaption of the gentile organization to mankind, while in 
a savage and in a barbarous state, must be regarded as 
abundantly demonstrated. 



The phratry is a brotherhood, as the term imports, and 
a natural growth from the organization into gentes. It 
is an organic union or association of two or more gentes 
of the same tribe for certain common objects. These 
gentes were usually such as had been formed by the 
segmentation of an original gens. 

Among the Grecian tribes, where the phratric organi- 
zation was nearly as constant as the gens, it became a 
very conspicuous institution. Each of the four tribes 
of the Athenians was organized in three phratries, each 
composed of thirty gentes, making a total of twelve 
phratries and three hundred and sixty gentes. Such 
precise numerical uniformity in the composition of each 
phratry and tribe could not have resulted from the sub- 
division of gentes through natural processes. It must 
have been produced, as Mr. Grote suggests, by legis- 
lative procurement in the interests of a symmetrical or- 
ganization. All the gentes of a tribe, as a rule, were of 
common descent and bore a common tribal name, conse- 
quently it would not require severe constraint to unite 
the specified number in each phratry, and to form the 
specified number of phratries in each tribe. But the 
phratric organization had a natural foundation in the 
immediate kinship of certain gentes as subdivisions of an 
original gens, which undoubtedly was the basis on which 
the Grecian phratry was originally formed. The incor- 
poration of alien gentes, and transfers by consent or 
constraint, would explain the numerical adjustment of 
the gentes and phratries in the Athenian tribes. 


The Roman curia was the analogue of the Grecian 
phratry. It is constantly mentioned by Dionysius as a 
phratry. l There were ten gentes in each curia, and ten 
curiae in each of the three Roman tribes, making thirty 
curiae and three hundred gentes of the Romans. The 
functions of the Roman curia are much better known 
than those of the Grecian phratry, and were higher in 
degree because the curia entered directly into the func- 
tions of government. The assembly of the gentes (com- 
itia curiata) voted by curiae, each having one collective 
vote. This assembly was the sovereign power of the 
Roman People down to the time of Servius Tullius. 

Among the functions of the Grecian phratry was the 
observance of special religious rites, the condonation or 
revenge of the murder of a phrator, and the purifica- 
tion of a murderer after he had escaped the penalty of 
his crime preparatory to his restoration to society. 2 At v 
a later period among the Athenians for the phratry at 
Athens survived the institution of political society under 
Cleisthenes it looked after the registration of citizens, 
thus becoming the guardian of descents and of the evi- 
dence of citizenship. The wife upon her marriage was 
enrolled in the phratry of her husband, and the children 
of the mariage were enrolled in the gens and phratry of 
their father. It was also the duty of this organization 
to prosecute the murderer of a phrator in the courts of 
justice. These are among its known objects and func- 
tions in the earlier and later periods. Were all the partic- 
ulars fully ascertained, the phratry would probably 
manifest itself in connection with the common tables, 
the public games, the funerals of distinguished men, the 
earliest army organization, and the proceedings of coun- 
cils, as well as in the observance of religious rites and 
in the guardianship of social privileges. 

The phratry existed in a large number of the Iribes 
of the American aborigines, where it is seen to arise by 
natural growth, and to stand as the second member of 

i -"Dionyilut." lib. II. cap. vli; and vid. lib. II, c. zili. 
* That purification was performed by the phratry if intimated 
toy JEcchylus: "Eumenides," 656. 


the organic series, as among the Grecian and Latin tribes. 
It did not possess original governmental functions, as 
the gens, tribe and confederacy possessed them; but it 
was endowed with certain useful powers in the social 
system, from the necessity for some organization larger 
than a gens and smaller than a tribe, and especially when 
the tribe was large. The same institution in essential 
features and in character, it presents the organization 
in its archaic form and with its archaic functions. A 
knowledge of the Indian phratry is necessary to an in- 
telligent understanding of the Grecian and the Roman. 

The eight gentes of the Seneca-Iroquois tribe were 
reintegrated in two phratries as follows : 

First Phratry. 

Gentes x m Bear. 2. Wolf. 3. Beaver. 4. Turtle. 
Second Phratry. 

Gentes 5. Deer. 6. Snipe. 7. Heron. 8. Hawk. 

Each phratry (De-a-non-da'-yoh) is a brotherhood 
as this term also imports. The gentes in the same phra- 
try are brother gentes to each other, and cousin gentes 
to -those of the other phratry. They are equal in grade, 
character and privileges. It is a common practice of the 
Senecas to call the gentes of their own phratry brother 
gentes, and those of the other phratry their cousin gen- 
tes, when they mention them in their relation to the phra- 
tries. Originally marriage was not allowed between the 
members of the same phratry ; but the members of either 
could marry into any gens of the other. This prohibi- 
tion tends to show that gentes of each phratry were sub- 
divisions of an original gens, and therefore the prohibi- 
tion against marrying into a person's own gens had fol- 
lowed to its subdivisions. This restriction, however, 
was long since removed, except with respect to the gens 
of the individual. A tradition of the Senecas affirms 
that the Bear and the Deer were the original gentes, of 
which the others were subdivisions. It is thus seen that 
the phratry had a natural foundation in the kinship of 
the gentes of which it was composed. After their sub- 
division from increase of numbers .there was a natural 


tendency to their reunion in a higher organization for 
objects common to them all. The same gentes are not 
constant in a phratry indefinitely, as will appear when the 
composition of the phratries in the remaining Iroquois 
tribes is considered. Transfers of particular gentes from 
one phratry to the other must have occurred when the 
equilibrium in their respective numbers was disturbed. 
It is important to know the simple manner in which this 
organization springs up, and the facility with which it is 
managed, as a part of the social system of ancient so- 
ciety. With the increase of numbers in a gens, followed 
by local separation of its members, segmentation occur- 
red, and the seceding portion adopted a new gentile 
name. But a tradition of their former unity would re- 
main, and become the basis of their reorganization in a 

In like manner the Cayuga-Iroquois have eight gentes 
in two phratries ; but these gentes are not divided equally 
between them. They are the following : 

First Phratry. 
Gentes. I. Bear. 2. Wolf. 3. Turtle. 4. Snipe. 5. Eel. 

Second Phratry. 
Gentes. 6. Deer. 7. Beaver. 8. Hawk. 

Seven of these gentes are the same as those of the 
Senecas; but the Heron gens has disappeared, and the 
Eel takes its place, but transferred to the opposite phra- 
try. The Beaver and the Turtle gentes also have ex- 
changed phratries. The Cayugas style the gentes of the 
same phratry brother gentes to each other, and those of 
the opposite phratry their cousin gentes. 

The Onondaga-iroquois have the same number of 
gentes, but two of them differ in name from those of the 
Senecas. They are organized in two phratries as follows : 
First Phratry. 

Gentes. I. Wolf. 2. Turtle. 3. Snipe. 4. Beaver. 

5. Ball. 

Second Phratry. 
Gentes. 6. Deer. 7. Eel. 8. Bear. 

Here again the composition of the phratries is differ- 
ent from that of the Senecas. Three of the gentes in the 


first phratry are the same in each; but the Bear gens 
has been transferred to the opposite phratry and is now 
found with the Deer. The division of gentes is also 
unequal, as among the Cayugas. The gentes in the same 
phratry are called brother gentes to each other, and those 
in the other their cousin gentes. While the Onondagas 
have no Hawk, the Senecas have no Eel gens; but the 
members of the two fraternize when they meet, claiming 
that there is a connection between them. 

The Mohawks and Oneidas have but three gentes, the 
Bear, the Wolf, and the Turtle, and no phratries. When 
the confederacy was formed, seven of the eight Seneca 
gentes existed in the several tribes as is shown by the 
establishment of sachemships in them; but the Mohawks 
and Oneidas then had only the three named. It shows 
that they had then lost an entire phratry, and one gens 
of that remaining, if it is assumed that the original 
tribes were once composed of the same gentes. When 
a tribe organized in gentes and phratries subdivides, it 
might occur on the line of the phratric organization. 
Although the members of a tribe are intermingled 
throughout by marriage, each gens in a phratry is com- 
posed of females with their children and descendants, 
through females, who formed the body of the phratry. 
They would incline at least to remain locally together, 
and thus might become detached in a body. The male 
members of the gens married to women of other gentes 
and remaining with their wives would not affect the gens 
since the children of the males do not belong to its con- 
nection. If the minute history of the Indian tribes is 
ever recovered it must be sought through the gentes and 
phratries, which can be followed from tribe to tribe. In 
such an investigation it will deserve attention whether 
tribes ever disintegrated by phratries. It is at least im- 

The Tuscarora-Iroquois became detached from the 
main stock at some unknown period in the past, and in- 
habited the Neuse river region in North Carolina at the 
time of their discovery. About A. D, 1712 they were 
forced out of this area, whereupon they removed to the 


country of the Iroquois and were admitted into the con- 
federacy as a sixth member. They have eight gentes 
organized in two phratries, as follows : 

First Phratry. 
Gentes. i. Bear. 2. Beaver. 3. Great Turtle. 4. Eel. 

Second Phratry. 

Gentes. 5. Gray Wolf. 6. Yellow Wolf. 7. Little 
Turtle. 8. Snipe. 

They have six gentes in common with the Cayugas 
and Onondagas, five in common with the Senecas, and 
three in common with the Mohawks and Oneidas. The 
Deer gens, which they once possessed, became extinct 
in modern times. It will be noticed, also, that the Wolf 
gens is now divided into two, the Gray and the Yellow, 
and the Turtle into two, the Great and Little. Three of 
the gentes in the first phratry are the same with three 
in the first phratry of the Senecas and Cayugas, with the 
exception that the Wolf gens is double. As several hun- 
dred years elapsed between the separation of the Tus- 
caroras from their congeners and their return, it affords 
some evidence of permanence in the existence of a gens. 
The gentes in the same phratry are called brother gen- 
tes to each other, and those in the other phratry their 
cousin gentes, as among the other tribes. 

From the differences in the composition of the phra- 
tiies in the several tribes it seems probable that the phra- 
tries arc modified in their gentes at intervals of time to 
meet changes of condition. Some gentes prosper and 
increase in numbers, while others through calamities de- 
cline, and others become extinct ; so that transfers of gen- 
tes from one phratry to another were found necessary 
to preserve some degree of equality in the number of 
phrators in each. The phratric organization has existed 
among the Iroquois from time immemorial. It is proba- 
bly older than the confederacy which was established 
more than four centuries ago. The amount of differ- 
ence in their composition, as to the gentes they contain, 
represents the vicissitudes through which each tribe has 
passed in the interval. In any view of the matter it is 


small, tending to illustrate the permanence of the phra- 
try as well as the gens. 

'The Iroquois tribes had a total of thirty-eight gentes, 
and in four of the tribes a total of eight phratries. 

In its objects and uses the Iroquois phratry falls be- 
low the Grecian, as would be supposed, although our 
knowledge of the functions of the latter is limited ; and 
below what is known of the uses of the phratry among 
the Roman tribes. In comparing the latter with the 
former we pass backward through two ethnical periods, 
and into a very different condition of society. The dif- 
ference is in the degree of progress, and not in kind ; for 
we have the same institution in each race, derived from 
the same or a similar germ, and preserved by each 
through immense periods of time as a part of a social 
system. Gentile society remained of necessity among the 
Grecian and Roman tribes until political society super- 
vened ; and it remained among the Iroquois tribes be- 
cause they were still two ethnical periods below civili- 
zation. Every fact, therefore, in relation to the func- 
tions and uses of the Indian phratry is important, be- 
cause it tends to illustrate the archaic character of an 
institution which became so influential in a more devel- 
oped condition of society. 

The phratry, among the Iroquois, was partly for so- 
cial and partly for religious objects. Its functions and 
uses can be best shown by practical illustrations. We 
begin with the lowest, with games, which were of com- 
mon occurrence at tribal and confederate councils. In 
the ball game, for example, among the Senecas, they 
play by phratries, one against the other; and they, bet 
against each other upon the result of the game. Each 
phratry puts forward its best players, usually from six 
to ten on a side, and the members of each phratry as- 
semble together but upon opposite sides of the field in 
which the game is played. Before it commences, articles 
of personal property are hazarded upon the result by 
members of the opposite phratries. These are deposited 
with keepers to abide the event. The game is played 
with spirit and enthusiasm, and is an exciting spectacle* 


The members of each phratry, from their opposite sta- 
tions, watcli the game with eagerness, and cheer their 
respective players at every successful turn of the game. l 

In many ways the phratric organization manifested it- 
self. At a council of the tribe the sachems and chiefs 
in each phratry usually seated themselves on opposite 
sides of an imaginary council-fire, and the speakers ad- 
dressed the two opposite bodies as the representatives of 
the phratries. Formalities, such as these, have a pecu- 
liar charm for the Red Man in the transaction of busi- 

Again ; when a murder had been committed it was 
usual for the gens of the murdered person to meet in 
council; and, after ascertaining the facts, to take meas- 
ures for avenging the deed. The gens of the criminal 
also held a council, and endeavored to effect an adjust- 
ment or condonation of the crime with the gens of the 
murdered person. r>ut it often happened that the gens 
of the criminal called upon the other gcntes of their 
phratry, when the slayer and the slain belonged to op- 
posite phratries, to unite with them to obtain a condo- 
nation of the crime. In such a case the phratry held a 
council, and then addressed itself to the other phratry 
to which it sent a delegation with a belt of white wam- 
pum asking for a council of the phratry, and for an ad- 
justment of the crime. They offered reparation to the 
family and gens of the murdered person in expressions 
\of regret and in presents of value. Negotiations were 
continued between the two councils until an affirmative 
or a negative conclusion was reached. The influence of 
a phratry composed of several gentes would be greater 
than that of a single gens ; and by calling into action the 
opposite phratry the probability of a condonation would 
be increased, especially if there were extenuating cir- 
cumstances. We may thus see how naturally the Gre- 
cian phratry, prior to civilization, assumed the principal 
though not exclusive management of cases of murder, 
and also of the purification of the murderer if he escaped 

"League of the Iroquois," p. 294. 


punishment; and, after the institution of political society, 
with what proprietry the phratry assumed the duty of 
prosecuting the murderer in the courts of justice. 

At the funerals of persons of recognized importance 
in the tribe, the phratric organization manifested itself in 
a conspicuous manner. The phrators of the decedent in 
a body were the mourners, and the members of the op- 
posite phratry conducted the ceremonies. In the case of 
a sachem it was usual for the opposite phratry to send, 
immediately after the funeral, the official wampum belt 
of the deceased ruler to the central council fire at On- 
ondaga, as a notification of his demise. This was re- 
tained until the installation of his successor, when it was 
bestowed upon him as the insignia* of his office. At the 
funeral of Handsome Lake (Ga-ne-o-di'-yo), one of the 
eight Seneca sachems (which occurred some years ago), 
there was an assemblage of sachems and chiefs to the 
number of twenty-seven, and a large concourse of mem- 
bers of both phratries. The customary address to the 
dead body, and the other addressess before the removal 
of the body, were made by members of the opposite 
phratry. After the addressess were concluded, the body 
was borne to the grave by persons selected from the last 
named phratry, followed, first, by the sachems and 
chiefs, then by the family and gens of the decedent, next 
by his remaining phrators, and last by the members of 
the opposite phratry. After the body had been deposited 
in the grave the sachems and chiefs formed in a circle 
around it for the purpose of filling it with earth. Each 
in turn, commencing with the senior in years, cast in 
three shovelfuls, a typical number in their religious sys- 
tem ; of which the first had relation to the Great Spirit, 
the second to the Sun, and the third to Mother Earth, 
When the grave was filled the senior sachem, by a figure 
of speech, deposited "the horns'* of the departed sachem, 
emblematical of his office, upon the top of the grave over 
his head, there to remain until his successor was installed. 
In that subsequent ceremony, "the horns" were said to 
be taken from the grave of the 1 deceased ruler, and 


placed upon the head of his successor. l The social and 
religious functions of the phratry, and its naturalness in 
the organic system of ancient society, are rendered ap- 
parent by this single usage. 

The phratry was also directly concerned in the elec- 
tion of sachems and chiefs of the several gentes, upon 
which they had a negative as well as a confirmative vote. 
After the gens of a deceased sachem had elected his suc- 
cessor, or had elected a chief of the second grade, it was 
necessary, as elsewhere stated, that their choice should 
be accepted and confirmed by each phratry. It was ex- 
pected that the gentes of the same phratry would con- 
firm the choice almost as a matter of course ; but the op- 
posite phratry also must acquiesce, and from this source 
opposition sometimes appeared. A council ofc each phra- 
try was held and pronounced upon the question of ac- 
ceptance or rejection. If the nomination made was ac- 
cepted by both it became complete ; but if either refused 
it was thereby set aside, and a new election was made by 
the gens. When the choice made by the gens had been 
accepted by the phratries, it was still necessary, as be- 
fore stated, that the new sachem, or the new chief, 
should be invested by the council of the confederacy, 
which alone had power to invest, with office. 

The Senecas have now lost their Medicine Lodges 
which fell out in modern times ; but they formerly ex- 
isted and formed a prominent part of their religious sys- 
tem. To hold a Medicine Lodge was to observe their 
highest religious rites, and to practice their highest reli- 
gious mysteries. They had two such organizations, one 
in each phratry, which shows still further the natural 
connection of the phratry with religious observances. 

Very little is now known concerning these lodges or 

t It was a journey of ten days from earth to heaven for the 
departed spirit, according: to Iroquoia belief. For ten days after 
the death of a person, the mourners met nightly to lament the 
deceased, at which they Indulged In excessive grief. The dtrge 
or wall was performed by women. It was an ancient custom 
to make a fire on the grave each night for the same period* 
On the eleventh day they held a feast; the spirit of the departed 
having reached heaven, the place of rest, there was no further 
cause for mourning. With the feast It terminated. 


tbc ; r ceremonies. Each was a brotherhood, into which 
new members were admitted by a formal initiation. 

The phratry was without governmental functions in 
the strict sense of the phrase, these being confined to the 
gens, tribe and confederacy ; but it entered into their so- 
cial affairs with large administrative powers, and would 
have concerned itself more and more with their religious 
affairs as the condition of the people advanced. Un- 
like the Grecian phratry and the Roman curia it had no 
official head. There was no chief of the phratry as such, 
and no religious functionaries belonging to it as distin- 
guished from the gens and tribe. The phratric institu- 
tion among the Iroquois was in its rudimentary archaic 
form, but it grew into life by natural and inevitable de- 
velopment, and remained permanent because it met neces- 
sary wants. Every institution of mankind which attained 
permanence will be found linked with a perpetual want. 
With the gens, tribe and confederacy in existence the 
presence of the phratry was substantially assured. It 
required time, however, and further experience to mani- 
fest all the uses to which it might be made subservient. 

Among the Village Indians of Mexico and Central 
America the phratry must have existed, reasoning upon 
general priciples; and have been a more fully developed 
and influential organization than among the Iroquois. 
Unfortunately, mere glimpses at such an institution are 
all that can be found in the teeming narratives of the 
Spanish writers within the first century after the Spanish 
conquest. The four "lineages" of the Tlascalans who 
occupied the four quarters of the pueblo of Tlascala, 
were, in all probability, so many phratries. They were 
sufficiently numerous for four tribes; but as they occu- 
pied the same pueblo and spoke the same dialect the phra- 
tric organization was apparently a necessity. Each line- 
age, or phratry so to call it, had a distinct military or- 
ganization, a peculiar costume and banner, and its head 
war-chief (Teuctli), who was its general military com- 
mander. They went forth to battle by phratries. The 
organization of a military force by phratries and by 
tribes was not unknown to the Homeric Greeks* Thus ; 


Nestor advises Agamemnon to "separate the troops by 
phratries and by tribes, so that phratry may support 
phratry and tribe tribe." l Under gentile institutions of 
the most advanced type the principle of kin became, to a 
considerable extent, the basis of the army organization. 
The Aztecs, in like manner, occupied the pueblo of Mex- 
ico in four distinct divisions, the people of each of which 
were more nearly related to each other than to the peo- 
ple of the other divisions. They were separate lineages, 
like the Tlascalan, and it seems highly probably were 
four phratries, separately organized as such. They were 
distinguished from each other by costumes and stand- 
ards, and went out to war as separate divisions. Their 
geographical areas were called the four quarters of Mex- 
ico. This subject will be referred to again. 

With respect to the prevalence of this organization, 
among the Indian tribes in the Lower Status of barbar- 
ism, the subject has been but slightly investigated. It is 
probable that it was general in the principal tribes, from 
the natural manner in which it springs up as a necessary 
member of the organic series, and from the uses, other 
than governmental, lo which it was adapted. 

In some of the tribes the phratries stand out promi- 
nently upon the face of their organization. Thus, the 
Chocta gentes are united in two phratries which must 
be mentioned first in order to show the relation of the 
gentes to each other. The first phratry is called "Di- 
vided People," and also contains four gentes. The sec- 
ond is called "Beloved People/' and also contains four 
gentes. This separation of the people into two divisions 
by gentes created two phratries. Some knowledge of the 
functions of these phratries is of course desirable; but 
without it the fact of their existence is established by the 
divisions themselves. The evolution of a confederacy 
from a pair of gentes, for less than two are never found 
in any tribe, may he deduced, theoretically, from the 
known facts of Indian experience. Thus, the gens in- 
creases in the number of its members and divides into 

"Iliad," 11, 362. 


two; these again subdivide, and in time reunite in two 
or more phratries. These phratries form a tribe, and its 
members speak the same dialect. In course of time this 
tribe falls into several by the process of segmentation, 
which in turn reunite in a confederacy. Such a con- 
federacy is a growth, through the tribe and phratry, 
from a pair of gentes. 

The Chickasas are organized in two phratries, of which 
one contains four, and the other eight gcntcs, as follows : 

I. Panther Phratry. 

Gentes. i. Wild Cat 2. Bird. 3. Fish. 4. Deer. 

II. Spanish Phratry. 

Gentes. 5. Raccoon. 6. Spanish. 7. Royal. 8. Hush- 

ko'ni. 9. Squirrel. 10. Alligator. n. Wolf. 

12. Blackbird. 

The particulars with respect to the Choeta and Chick- 
asa phratries I am unable to present. Some fourteen 
years ago these organizations were given to me by Rev. 
Doctor Cyrus Byington and Rev. Charles C. Copcland, 
but without discussing their uses and functions. 

A very complete illustration of the manner in which 
phratries are formed by natural growth, through the sub- 
division of gentes, is presented by the organization of 
the Mohegan tribe. It had three original genter, the 
Wolf, the Turtle, and the Turkey. 

Each of these subdivided, and the subdivisions became 
independent gentes; but they retained the names of the 
original gentes as their respective phratric names. In 
other words the subdivisions of each gens reorganized 
in a phratry. It proves conclusively the natural process 
by which, in course of time, a gens breaks tip into sev- 
eral, and these remain united in a phratric organization, 
which is expressed by assuming a phratric name. They 
are as follows : 

I. Wolf Phratry. 

Gentes. i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Dog. 4, Opossum. 
II. Turtle Phratry. 

Gentes. $. Little Turtle. 6. Mud Turtle. 7. Great 
Turtle. 8. Yellow Eel 


in. Turkey Phratry. 
Gentes. 9. Turkey. 10. Crane, n. Chicken. 

It is thus seen that the original Wolf gens divided into 
four gentes, the Turtle into four, and the Turkey into 
three. Each new gens took a new name, the original 
retaining its own, which became, by seniority, that of the 
phratry. It is rare among the American Indian tribes 
to find such plain evidence of the segmentation of gen- 
tes in their external organization, followed by the forma- 
tion into phratries of their respective subdivisions. It 
shows also that the phratry is founded upon the kinship 
of the gentes. As a rule the name of the original gens 
out of which others had formed is not known ; but in each 
of these cases it remains as the name of the phratry. 
Since the latter, like the Grecian, was a social and reli- 
gious rather than a governmental organization, it is ex- 
ternally less conspicuous than*a gens or tribe which were 
essential to the goverment of society. The name of but 
one of the twelve Athenian phratries has come down to 
us in history. Those of the Iroquois had no name but 
that of a brotherhood. 

Tli'^ Delaware* and Munsees have the same three gen- 
tes, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Turkey. Among the 
Delawares there are twelve embryo gentes in each tribe, 
hut they seem to be lineages within the gentes and had 
nut taken gentile names. It was a movement, however, 
in that direction. 

The phratry also appears among the Thlinkeets of the 
Xorthwest coast, upon the surface of their organization 
into gentes. They have two phratries. as follows: 

i. U'olf Phratry. 
ticntes: i. Bear. 2. Eagle. 3. Dolphin. 4. Shark. 

5. Elca. 
1 1. Karen Phrahy. 

Gentes. fi. Frog. 7. Goose. 8. Sea-lion. 9. Owl. 

10. Salmon. 

Intermarriage in the phratry is prohibited, which 
shows, of itself, that the gentes of each phratry were 


derived from an original gens. l The members of any 
gens in the Wolf phratry could marry into any gens of 
the opposite phratry, and vice versa. 

From the foregoing facts the existence of the phratry 
is established in several linguistic stocks of the American 
aborigines. Its presence in the tribes named raises a 
presumption of its general prevalence in the Ganowanian 
family. Among the Village Indians, where the numbers 
in a gens and tribe were greater, it would necessarily 
have been more important and consequently more fully 
developed. As an institution it was still in its archaic 
form, but it possessed the essential elements of the Gre- 
cian and the Roman. It can now be asserted that the full 
organic series of ancient society exists in full vitality up- 
on the American continent ; namely, the gens, the 
phratry, the tribe, and the confederacy of tribes. With 
further proofs yet to be adduced, the universality of the 
gentile organization upon all the continents will be estab- 

If future investigation is directed specially to the func- 
tions of the phratric organization among the tribes of 
the American aborigines, the knowledge gained will ex- 
plain many peculiarities of Indian life and manners not 
well understood, and throw additional light upon their 
usages and customs, and upon their plan of life and gov- 

i Bancroft's "Native Races of the Pacific States," I, 109. 



It is difficult to describe an Indian tribe by the affirma- 
tive elements of its composition. Nevertheless it is 
clearly marked, and the ultimate organization of the great 
tody of the American aborigines. The large number of 
independent tribes into which they had fallen by the nat- 
ural process of segmentation, is the striking character- 
istic of their condition. Each tribe was individualized 
by a name, by a separate dialect, by a supreme govern- 
ment, and by the possession of a territory which it occu- 
pied and defended as its own. The tribes were as num- 
erous as the dialects, for separation did not become com- 
plete until dialectical variation had commenced. Indian 
tribes, therefore, are natural growths through the sepa- 
ration of the same people in the area of their occupation, 
followed by divergence of speech, segmentation, and in- 

We have seen that the phratry was not so much a gov- 
ernmental as a social organization, while the gens, tribe, 
and confederacy, were necessary and logical stages of 
progress in the growth of the idea of government. A 
confederacy could not exist, under gentile society, with- 
out tribes as a basis; nor could tribes exist without 
gentes, though they might without phratries. In this 
chapter I will endeavor to point out the manner in which 
these numerous tribes were formed, and, presumptively 
out of one original people; the causes which produced 
their perpetual segmentation; and the principal attrib- 
utes which distinguished an Indian tribe as an organiza- 



The exclusive possession of a dialect and of a territory 
has led to the application of the term nation to many In- 
dian tribes, notwithstanding the fewness of the people in 
each. Tribe and nation, however, are not strict equiv- 
alents. A nation does not arise, under gentile institu- 
tions, until the tribes united under the same government 
have coalesced into one people, as the four Athenian 
tribes coalesced in Attica, three Dorian tribes at Sparta, 
and three Latin and Sabine tribes at Rome. Federation 
requires independent tribes in separate territorial areas; 
but coalescence unites them by a higher process in the 
same area, although the tendency to local separation by 
gentes and by tribes would continue. The confederacy 
is the nearest analogue of the nation, but not strictly 
equivalent. Where the gentile organization exists, the 
organic series gives all the terms which are needed for 
a correct description. 

An Indian tribe is composed of several gentes, devel- 
oped from two or more, all the members of which are 
intermingled by marriage, and all of whom speak the 
same dialect. \To a stranger the tribe is visible, and not 
the gens. The instances are extremely rare, among the 
American aborigines, in which the tribe embraced peo- 
ples speaking different dialects. When such cases are 
found, it resulted from the union of a weaker with a 
stronger tribe, speaking a closely related dialect, as the 
union of the Missouris with the Otoes after the over- 
throw of the former. The fact that the great body of 
the aborigines were found in independent tribes illus- 
trates the slow and difficult growth of the idea of gov- 
ernment under gentile institutions. A small portion 
only had attained to the ultimate stage known among 
them, that of a confederacy of tribes speaking dialects 
of the same stock language. A coalescence of tribes into 
a nation had not occurred in any case in any part of 

A constant tendency to disintegration, which has 
proved such a hindrance to progress among savage and 
barbarous tribes, existed in the elements of the gentile 
organization. It was aggravated by a further tendency 


to divergence of speech, which was inseparable from 
their social state and the large areas of their occupation. 
A verbal language, although remarkably persistent in its 
vocables, and still more persistent in its grammatical 
forms, is incapable of permanence. Separation of the 
people in area was followed in time by variation in 
speech; and this, in turn, led to separation in interests 
and ultimate independence. It was not the work of a 
brief period, but of centuries of time, aggregating finally 
into thousands of years. The great number of dialects 
and stock languages in North and South America, which 
presumptively were derived, the Eskimo excepted, from 
one original language, require for their formation the 
time measured by three ethnical periods. 

New tribes as well as new gentes were constantly 
forming by natural growth ; and the process was sensibly 
accelerated by the great expanse of the American con- 
tinent. The method was simple. In the first place there 
would occur a gradual outflow of people from some 
overstocked geographical centre, which possessed supe- 
rior advantages in the means of subsistence. Continued 
from year to year, a considerable population would thus 
be developed at a distance from the original seat of the 
tribe. In course of time the emigrants would become 
distinct in interests, strangers in feeling, and last of all, 
divergent in speech. Separation and independence would 
follow, although their territories were contiguous. A 
new tribe was thus created. This is a concise statement 
of the manner in which the tribes of the American abor- 
igines were formed, but the statement must be taken as 
general. Repeating itself from age to age in newly ac- 
quired as well as in old areas, it must be regarded as 
a natural as well as inevitable result of the gentile or- 
ganization, united with the necessities of their condi- 
tion. When increased numbers pressed upon the means 
of subsistence, the surplus removed to a new seat where 
they established themselves with facility, because the 
government was perfect in every gens, and in any 
number of gentes united in a band. Among the Village 
Indians the same repeated itself in a slightly different 


manner. When a village became overcrowded with num- 
bers, a colony went up or down on the same stream and 
commenced a new village. Repeated at intervals of time 
several such villages would appear, each independent of 
the other and a self-governing body ; but united in a 
league or confederacy for mutual protection. Dialectical 
variation would finally spring up, and thus complete 
their growth into tribes. 

The manner in which tribes are evolved from each oth- 
er can be shown directly by examples. The fact of sep- 
aration is derived in part from tradition, in part from the 
possession by each of a number of the same gentes, and 
deduced in part from the relations of their dialects. 
Tribes formed by the subdivisions of an original tribe 
would possess a number of gentes in common, and speak 
dialects of the same language. After several centuries 
of separation they would still have a number of the same 
gentes. Thus, the Hurons, now Wyandotes, have six 
gentes of the same name with six of the gentes of the 
Seneca-Iroquois, after at least four hundred years of 
separation. The Potawattamies have eight gentes of the 
same name with eight among the Ojibwas, while the 
former have six, and the latter fourteen, which are dif- 
ferent; showing that new gentes have been formed in 
each tribe by segmentation since their separation. A still 
older offshoot from the Ojibwas, or from the common 
parent tribe of both, the Miamis, have but three gentes 
in common with the former, namely, the Wolf, the Loon, 
and the Eagle. The minute social history of the tribes 
of the Ganowanian family is locked up in the life and 
growth of the gentes. If investigation is ever turned 
strongly in this direction, the gentes themselves would 
become reliable guides, both in respect to the order of 
separation from each other of the tribes of the same 
stock, and possibly of the great stocks of the aborigines. 

The following illustrations are drawn from tribes in 
the Lower Status of barbarism. When discovered, the 
eight Missouri tribes occupied the banks of the Missouri 
river for more than a thousand miles ; together with the 
banks of its tributaries, the Kansas and the Platte; and 


also the smaller rivers of Iowa. They also occupied the 
west bank of the Mississippi down to the Arkansas. 
Their dialects show that the people were in three tribes 
before the last subdivisions; namely, first, the Punkas 
and Omahas, second, the lowas, Otoes and Missouris, 
and third, the Kaws, Osages and Quappas. These three 
were undoubtedly subdivisions of a single original tribe, 
because their several dialects are still much nearer to 
each other than to any other dialect of the Dakotian 
stock language to which they belong. There is, there- 
fore, a linguistic necessity for their derivation from an 
original tribe. A gradual spread from a central point on 
this river along its banks, both above and below, would 
lead to a separation in interests with the increase of dis- 
tance between their settlements, followed by divergence 
of speech, and finally by independence. A people thus 
extending themselves along a river in a prairie country 
might separate, first into three tribes, and afterwards 
into eight, and the organization of each subdivision re- 
main complete. Division was neither a shock, nor an 
appreciated calamity ; but a separation into parts by nat- 
ural expansion over a larger area, followed by a com- 
plete segmentation. The uppermost tribe on the Mis- 
souri were the Punkas at the mouth of the Niobrara river, 
and the lowermost the Quappas at the moifth of the Ar- 
kansas on the Mississippi, with an interval of near fifteen 
hundred miles between them. The intermediate region, 
confined to the narrow belt of forest upon the Missouri, 
was held by the remaining six tribes. They were strictly 
River Tribes. 

Another illustration may be found in the tribes of Lake 
Superior. The Ojibwas, Otawas 1 and Potawattamies are 
subdivisions of an original tribe; the Ojibwas represent- 
ing the stem, because they remained at the original seat 
at the great fisheries upon the outlet of the lake. More- 
over, they are styled "Elder Brother" by the remaining 
two ; while the Otawas were styled "Next Older Broth- 
er/* and the Potawattamies "Younger Brother." The 


168 AfoCIEtfl 1 SOCIETY 

last tribe separated first, and the Otawas last, as is diown 
by the relative amount of dialectical variation, that of 
the former being greatest. At the time of their discov- 
ery, A. D. 1641, the Ojibwas were seated at the Rapids 
on the outlet of Lake Superior, from which point they 
had spread along the southern shore of the lake to the 
site of Ontonagon, along its northeastern shore, and 
down the St. Mary River well toward Lake Huron. Their 
position possessed remarkable advantages for a fish and 
game subsistence, which, as they did not cultivate maize 
and plants, was their main reliance. * It was second to 
none; in North America, with the single exception of the 
Valley of the Columbia. With such advantages they were 
certain to develop a large Indian population, and to send 
out successive bands of emigrants to become independent 
tribes. The Potawattamies occupied a region on the 
confines of L'pper Michigan and Wisconsin, from which 
the Dakotas in 1641, were in the act of expelling them. 
At the same time the Otawas, whose earlier residence 
is supposed to have been on the Otawa river of Canada, 
had drawn westward and were then seated upon the 
Georgian Bay, the Manitouline Islands and at Mackinaw, 
from which points they were spreading southward over 
Lower Michigan. Originally one people, and possessing 
the same gentes, they had succeeded in appropriating a 
large area. Separation in place, and distance between 
their settlements, had long before their discovery resulted 
in the formation of dialects, and in tribal independence. 
The three tribes, whose territories were contiguous, had 
formed an alliance for mutual protection, known among 1 
Americans as "the Otawa Confederacy." It was a league, 
offensive and defensive, and not, probably, a close con- 
federacy like that of the Iroquois. 

Prior to these secessions another affiliated tribe, the 
Miamis, had broken off from the Ojibwa stock, or the 
common parent tribe, and migrated to central TlHnois 

i The Objlwas manufactured earthen pipes, water jars, and 
vessels in ancient times, as they now assert. Indian pottery 
ha been dug- up at different times at the Sault St. Mary, which 
they Tecognl'/.i- as tlif work of their forefathers. 


and western Indiana. Following in the track of this 
migration were the Illinois, another and later offshoot 
from the same stem, who afterwards subdivided into the 
Teorias, Kaskaskias, Weaws, and Piankeshaws. Their 
dialects, with that of the Miamis, find their nearest af- 
finity w r ith the Ojilnva, arid next with the Cree. l The 
outflow of all these tribes from the central seat at the 
^reat fisheries of Lake Superior is a significant fact, 
because it illustrates the manner in which tribes are 
formed in connection with natural centres of subsistence. 
The New England, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and 
( 'arolina Algonkins were, in all probability, derived 
from the same source. Several centuries would be re- 
quired for the formation of the dialects first named, and 
for the production of the amount of variation they now 

The foregoing examples represent the natural process 
b\ which tribes are evolved from each other, or from 
a parent tribe established in an advantageous position. 
Each emigrating band was in the nature of a military 
colony, if it may be so strongly characterized, seeking to 
acquire and hold a new area ; preserving at first, and as 
long as possible, a connection with the mother tribe. By 
these successive movements they sought to expand their 
joint possessions, and afterward to resist the intrusion 
of alien people within their limits. It is a noticeable fact 
that Indian tribes speaking dialects of the same stock 
language have usually been found in territorial contin- 
uity, however extended their common area. The same 
has, in the main, been trut* of all the tribes of mankind 
linguistically united. It is because the people, spreading 
from some geographical centre, and maintaining an ardu- 
ous struggle for subsistence, and for the possession of 
their new territories, have preserved their connection 
with the mother land as a means of succor in times of 
danger, and as a place of refuge in calamity. 

i The Potawattamle and the Cree have diverged about 
equally. It is probable that the Ojibwas. Otawaa and Creea were 
one people in dialect after the Potawattamies became de- 


It required special advantages in the means of subsist- 
ence to render any area an initial point of migration 
through the gradual development of a surplus popula- 
tion. These natural centres were few in number in North 
America. There are but three. First among them is the 
Valley of the Columbia, the 'most extraordinary region 
on the face of the earth in the variety and amount of 
subsistence it afforded, prior to the cultivation of rtiaize 
and plants ; second, the peninsula between Lakes Supe- 
rior, Huron and Michigan, the seat of the Ojibwas, and 
the nursery land of many Indian tribes; and third, the 
lake region in Minnesota, the nursery ground of the 
present Dakota tribes. These are the only regions in 
North America that can be called natural centres of sub- 
sistence, and natural sources of surplus numbers. There 
are reasons for believing that Minnesota was a part of 
the Algonkin area before it was occupied by the Da- 
kotas. When the cultivation of maize and plants came 
in, it tended to localize the people and support them in 
smaller areas, as well as to increase their numbers ; but 
it failed to transfer the control of the continent to the 
most advanced tribes of Village Indians, who subsisted 
almost entirely by cultivation. Horticulture spread among 
the principal tribes in the Lower Status of barbarism 
and greatly improved their condition. They held, with 
the nonhorticultural tribes, the great areas of North 
America when it was discovered, and from their ranks 
the continent was being replenished with inhabitants. 2 

i As a mixture of forest and prairie it was an excellent game 
country. A species of bread-root, the kamash, grew in abund- 
ance in the prairies. In the summer there was a profusion of 
berries. But in these respects it was not superior to other 
areas. That which signalized the region was the inexhaustible 
supply of salmon in the Columbia, and other rivers of the 
coast. They crowded these streams in millions, and were taken 
in the season with facility, and in the greatest abundance. 
After being: split open and dried in the sun, they were packed 
and removed to their villages, and formed their principal food 
during the greater part of the year. Beside these were th* 
shell fisheries of the coast, which supplied a large amount of 
food during the winter months. Superadded to these concen- 
trated advantages, the climate was mild and equable through- 
out the year about that of Tennessee and Virginia. It wa 
the paradise of tribes without a knowledge of the cereals. 

It can be shown with a great degree of probability, that 
the Valley of the Columbia was the seed land of the Oanowtn- 


The multiplication of tribes and dialects nas been the 
fruitful source of the incessant warfare of the aborigines 

ian family, from which issued, in past ages, successive streams 
of migrating bands, untii both divisions of the continent were 
occupied. And further, that both divisions continued to be re- 
plenished with inhabitants from this source down to the epoch 
of European discovery. These conclusions may be deduced 
from physical causes, from the relative conditions, and from 
the linguistic relations of the Indian tribes. The great expanse 
of the central prairies, which spread continuously more than 
fifteen hundred miles from north to south, and more than a 
thousand miles from east to west, interposed a barrier to a 
free communication between the Pacific and Atlantic sides of 
the continent in North America. It seems probable, therefore, 
that an original family commencing its spread from the Valley 
of the Columbia, and migrating under the influence of physical 
causes, would reach Patagonia sooner than they would Florida. 
The known facts point so strongly to this region as the orig- 
inal home of the Indian family, that a moderate amount of 
additional evidence will render the hypothesis conclusive. 

The discovery and cultivation of maize did not change mater- 
ially the course of events, or suspend the operation of previous 
causes; though it became an important factor in the progress of 
improvement. It is not known where this American cereal was 
indigenous; but the tropical region of Central America, where 
vegetation is Intensely active, where this plant is peculiarly 
fruitful, and where the oldest seats of the Village Indians 
were found, has been assumed by common consent, as the 
probable place of its nativity. If, then, cultivation commenced 
in Central America, it would have propagated itself first over 
Mexico, and from thence to New Mexico and the valley of the 
Mississippi, and thence again eastward to the shores of the 
Atlantic; the volume of cultivation diminishing from the start- 
ing-point to the extremities. It would spread, independently 
of the Village Indians, from the. desire of more barbarous 
tribes to gain the new subsistence; but it never extended 
beyond New Mexico to the Valley of the Columbia, though 
cultivation was practiced by the Mlnnitarees and Maridans of 
the Upper Missouri, by the Shyans on the Red River of the 
North, by tho Hurons of Lake Simcoe in Canada, and by the 
Abenakies of the Kennebec, as well as generally by the tribe* 
between the Mississippi and the Atlantic. Migrating bands 
from the Valley of the Columbia, following upon the track of 
their predecessors would press upon the Village Indians of 
New Mexico and Mexico, tending to force displaced and frag- 
mentary tribes toward and through the Isthmus into South 
America. Such expelled bands would carry with them the first 
germs of, progress developed by Village Indian life. Repeated 
at intervals of time it would tend to bestow upon South 
America a class of inhabitants far superior to the wild bands 
previously supplied, and at the expense of -the northern sec- 
tion thus impoverished. In the final result, South America 
would attain the advanced position in development, even in an 
Inferior country, which seems to have been the fact. The 
Peruvian legend of Manco Capac and Mama Oello, children of 
the sun, brother and sister, husband and wife, shows, if it 
can be said to show anything, that a band of Village Indians 
migrating from a distance, though not necessarily from North 
America direct, had gathered together and taught the rude 
tribes of the Andes the higher arts of life, including the cul- 
tivation of maize and plants. By a simple and quite natural 
Kocess the legend has dropped out the band, and retained only 
leader and his wife, _ _ 


upon each other. As a rule the most persistent warfare 
has been waged between tribes speaking different stock 
languages; as, for example, between the Iroquois and 
Algonkin tribes, and between the Dakota tribes and the 
same. On the contrary the Algonkin and Dakota tribes 
severally have, in general, lived at peace among them- 
selves. Had it been otherwise they would not have been 
found in the occupation of continuous areas. The worst 
exception were the Iroquois, who pursued a war of exter- 
mination against their kindred tribes, the Eries, the Neu- 
tral Nation, the Hurons and the Susquehannocks. Tribes 
speaking dialects of the same stock language ^re able to 
communicate orally and thus compose their differences. 
They also learned, in virtue of their common descent, to 
depend upon each other as natural allies. 

Numbers within a given area were limited by the 
amount of subsistence it afforded. When fish and game 
were the main reliance for food, it required an immense 
area to maintain a small tribe. After farinaceous food 
was superadded to fish and game, the area occupied by 
a tribe was still a large one in proportion to the number 
of the people. New York, with its forty-seven thousand 
square miles, never contained at any time more than 
twenty-five thousand Indians, including with the Iro- 
quois the Algonkins on the east side of the Hudson and 
upon Long Island, and the Eries and Neutral Nation in 
the western section of the state. A personal government 
founded upon gentes was incapable of developing suf- 
ficient central power to follow and control the increasing 
numbers of the people, unless they remained within a 
reasonable distance from each other. 

Among the Village Indians of New Mexico, Mexico, 
and Central America an increase of numbers in a small 
area did not arrest the process of disintegration. Each 
pueblo was usually an independent self-governing com- 
munity. Where several pueblos were seated near each 
other on the same stream, the people were usually of 
common descent, and either under a tribal or confeder- 
ate government. There are some seven stock languages 
in New Mexico alone, each spoken in several dialects. 


At the time of Coronado's expedition, 15401542, the 
villages found were numerous but small. There were 
seven each of Cibola, Tucayan, Quivira, and Hemez, 
and twelve of Tigucx, 1 and other groups indicating a 
linguistic connection of their members. Whether or not 
each group was confederated we are not informed. The 
seven Moqui Pueblos (the Tucayan Villages of Coron- 
ado's expedition), arc said to be confederated at the 
present time, and probably \vere at the time of their 

The process of subdivision, illustrated by the forego- 
ing examples, has been operating among the American 
aborigines for thousands of \ears, until upwards of forty 
stock languages, as near as is known, have been devel- 
oped in North America alone ; each spoken in a number 
of dialects, by an equal number of independent tribes. 
Their experience, probably, was but a repetition of that 
of the tribes of Asia, F.uropc and Africa, when they were 
in corresponding conditions. 

From the preceding observations, it is apparent that 
an American Indian tribe is a very simple as well as 
humble organization. It required but a few hundreds, 
and. at most, a few thousand people to form a tribe, and 
place it in a respectable position in the Ganowanian 

It remains to present the functions and attributes of 
an Indian tribe, whicl f may be discussed under the fol- 
lowing proposition!; : 

I. The possession of ct territory mid a name. 
II. The exclusive possession of a dialect. 

III. The right to invest sachems and chiefs elected by 

the gentes. 

IV. The right to depose these sachems and chiefs. 
V. The possession of a religious faith and worship. 

VI. A supreme government consisting of a council of 

VII. A head-chief of the tribe in some instances. 

I "Coll. TernauX'OompanB," IX, pp. 181-183. 


It will be sufficient to make a brief reference to each 
of these several attributes of a tribe. 

I. The possession of a territory and a name. 

Their territory consisted of the area of their actual 
settlements, and so much of the surrounding region as 
the tribe ranged over in hunting and fishing, and were 
able to defend against the encroachments of other tribes. 
Without this area was a wide margin of neutral grounds, 
separating them from their nearest frontegers if they 
spoke a different language, and claimed by neither; but 
less wide, and less clearly marked, when th?y spoke 
dialects of the same language. The country thus im- 
perfectly defined, whether large or small, was /he domain 
of the tribe, recognized as such by other trihes, and de- 
fended as such by themselves. 

In due time the tribe became individualized by a name, 
which, from their usual character, must have been in 
many cases accidental rather than deliberate. Thus, the 
Senecas styled themselves the "Great Hill People" (Nun- 
da'-wa-o-no), the Tuscaroras, "Shirt-wearing People 1 ' 
(Dus-ga'-o-weh-o-no'), the Sissetons, " Village of the 
Marsh" (Sis-se'-to-wan), the Ogalallas, "Camp Movers" 
(Oga-lal'-la), the Omahas, "Upstream People" (Oma'- 
ha), the lowas, "Dusty Noses" (Pa-ho'-cha), the Min- 
nitarees, "People from Afar" (E-nat'-za), the Cherokees, 
"Great People" (Tsa-lo'-kee), the Shawnees, "Southern- 
ers'* (Sa-wan-wakee'), the Mohegans, "Sea-side Peo- 
ple" (Mo-he-kun-e-uk), the Slave Lake Indians, "Peo- 
ple of the Lowlands" (A-cha'o-tin-ne). Among the 
Village Indians of Mexico, the Sochimilcos styled them- 
selves "Nation of the Seeds of Flowers," the Chalcans, 
"People of Mouths," the Tepanecans, "People of the 
Bridge/* the Tezcucans or Culhuas "A Crooked People," 
and the Tlascalans "Men of Bread." When European 
colonization began in the northern part of America, the 
names of Indian tribes were obtained, not usually from 
the tribe direct, but from other tribes who had bestowed 

i AcoBta. "The Natural and Moral History of the Vast and 
W*t Indies," Ixmd. d., 1604, Qriraton'i Trant., pp. 100 -193. 


names upon them different from their own. As a conse- 
quence, a number of tribes are now known in history 
under names not recognized by themselves. 

II. The exclusive possession of a dialect. 

Tribe and dialect are substantially co-extensive, but 
there are exceptions growing out of special cicumstan- 
ces. Thus, the twelve Dakota bands are now properly 
tribes, because they are distinct in interests and in or- 
ganization ; but they were forced into premature separa- 
tion by the advance of Americans upon their original 
area which forced them upon the plains. They had re- 
mained in such intimate connection previously that but 
one new dialect had commenced forming, the Tecton, on 
the Missouri; the Isauntie on the Mississippi being the 
original speech. A few years ago the Cherokees num- 
bered twenty-six thousand, the largest number of Indi- 
ans ever found within the limits of the United States 
speaking the same dialect. But in the mountain districts 
of Georgia a slight divergence of speech had occurred, 
though not sufficient to be distinguished as a dialect. 
There are a few other similar cases, but they do not 
break the general rule during the aboriginal period which 
made tribe and dialect co-extensive. The Ojibwas, who 
are still in the main non-horticultural, now number about 
fifteen thousand, and speak the same dialect; and the 
Dakota tribes collectively about twenty-five thousand 
who speak two very closely related dialects, as stated. 
These several tribes are exceptionally large. The tribes 
within the United States and British America would 
yield, on an average, less than two thousand persons to 
a tribe. 

III. The right of investing sachems and chiefs elected 
by the gentes. 

Among the Iroquois the person elected could not be- 
come a chief until his investiture by a council of chiefs. 
As the chiefs of the gentes composed the council of the 
tribe, with power over common interests, there was a 
manifest propriety in reserving to the tribal council the 
function of investing persons with office. But after the 
confederacy was formed, the power of "raising up" 


sachems and chiefs was transferred from the council of 
the tribe to the council of the confederacy. With respect 
to the tribes generally, the accessible information is in- 
sufficient to explain their usages in relation to the mode 
of investiture. It is one of the numerous subjects re- 
quiring further investigation before the social system of 
the Indian tribes can be fully explained. The office of 
sachem and chief was universally elective among the 
tribes north of Mexico; with sufficient evidence, as to 
other parts of the continent, to leave no doubt of the 
universality of the rule. 

Among the Delawares each gens had one sachem ( Sa- 
ke'ma), whose office was hereditary in the gens, besides 
two common chiefs, and two war-chiefs making fifteen 
in three gentes who composed the council of the tribe. 
Among the Ojibwas, the members of some one gens usu- 
ally predominated at each settlement. Each gens had a 
sachem, whose office was hereditary in the gens, and 
several common chiefs. \Yhere a large number of per- 
sons of the same gens lived in one locality they would 
be found similarly organized. There was no prescribed 
limit to the number of chiefs. A body of usages, which 
have never been collected, undoubtedly existed in the 
several Indian tribes respecting the election and investi- 
ture of sachems and chiefs. A knowledge of them would 
be valuable. An explanation of the Iroquois method of 
"raising up" sachems and chiefs will be given in the 
next chapter. 

IV. The right to depose these sachems and chiefs. 

This right rested primarily with the gens to which the 
sachem and chief belonged. But the council of the tribe 
possessed the same power, and could proceed independ- 
ently of the gens, and even in opposition to its wishes. 
In the Status of savagery, and in the Lower and also in 
the Middle Status of barbarism, office was bestowed for 
life, or during good behavior. Mankind had not learned 
to limit an elective office for a term of years. The right 
to depose, therefore, became the more essential for the 
maintenance of the principle of self-government. This 
right was a perpetual assertion of the sovereignty of the 


gens and also of the tribe; a sovereignty feebly under- 
stood, but nevertheless a reality. 

V. The possession of a religious faith and worship. 

After the fashion of barbarians the American Indians 
were a religious people. The tribes generally held reli- 
gious festivals at particular seasons of the year, which 
were observed with forms of worship, dances and Barnes. 
The Medicine Lodge, in many tribes, was the centre of 
these observances. It was customary to announce the 
holding of a Medicine Lodge weeks and months in ad- 
vance to awaken a general interest in its ceremonies. The 
religious system of the aborigines is another of the sub- 
jects which has been but partially investigated. It is 
rich in materials for the future student. The experience 
of these tribes in developing their religious beliefs and 
mode of worship is a part of the experience of mankind ; 
and the facts will hold an important place in the science 
of comparative religion. 

Their system was more or less vague and indefinite, 
and loaded with crude superstitions. Element worship 
can be traced among the principal tribes, with a tendency 
to polytheism in the advanced tribes. The Iroquoi?, for 
example, recognized a Great, and an Evil Spirit, and a 
multitude of inferior spiritual beings, the immortality of 
the soul, and a future state. Their conception of the 
Great Spirit assigned to him a human form; which was 
equally true of the Evil Spirit of He'-no. the Spirit of 
Thunder, of Ga'-oh, the Spirit of the Winds, and of the 
Three Sisters, the Spirit of Maize, the Spirit of the Bean, 
and the Spirit of the Squash. The latter were styled, 
collectively, "Our Life," and also "Our Supporters." 
Beside these were the spirits of the several kinds of trees 
and plants, and of the running streams. The existence 
and attributes of these numerous spiritual beings were 
but feebly imagined. Among the tribes in the Lower 
Status of barbarism idolatry was unknown. 1 The Az- 

i Near the close of the last century the Seneca-Iroquols, at 
one of their villages on the Alleghany river, set up an idol of 
wood, and performed danoes and other religious ceremonies 
around it. My informer, the late William Parker, saw this 
Idol in the river into which it had been cast. Whom it person- 
ated he did not learn. 

118 AKCtBttfr SOCIETY 

tecs had personal gods, with idols to represent them, and 
a temple worship. If the particulars of their religious 
system were accurately known, its growth out of the 
common beliefs of the Indian tribes would probably be 
made apparent 

Dancing was a form of worship among the American 
aborigines, and formed a part of the ceremonies at all 
religious festivals. In no part of the earth, among bar- 
barians, has the dance received a more studied develop- 
ment. Every tribe has from ten to thirty set dances; 
each of which has its own name, songs, musical instru- 
ments, steps; plan and costume for persons. Some of 
them, as the war-dance, were common to all the tribes. 
Particular dances are special property, belonging either 
to a gens, or to a society organized for its maintenance, 
into which new members were from time to time initi- 
ated. The dances of the Dakotas, the Crees, the O jib- 
was, the Iroquois, and of the Pueblo Indians of New 
Mexico, are the same in general character, in step, plan, 
and music ; and the same is true of the dances of the 
Aztecs so far as they are accurately known. It is one 
system throughout the Indian tribes, and bears a direct 
relation to their system of faith and worship. 

VI. A supreme government through a council of 

The council had a natural foundation in the gentes of 
whose chiefs it was composed. It met a necessary want, 
and was certain to remain as long as gentile society en- 
dured. As the gens was represented by its chiefs, so the 
tribe was represented by a council composed of the chiefs 
of the gentes. It was a permanent feature of the social 
system, holding the ultimate authority over the tribe. 
Called together under circumstances known to all, held 
in the midst of the people, and open to their orators, it 
was certain to act under popular influence. Although 
oligarchical in form, the government was a representa- 
tive democracy ; the representative being elected for life, 
but subject to deposition. The brotherhood of the mem- 
bers of each gens, and the elective principle with respect 
to office, were the germ and the basis of the democratic 


principle. Imperfectly developed, as other great prin- 
ciples were in this early stage of advancement, democ- 
racy can boast a very ancient pedigree in the tribes of 

It devolved upon the council to guard and protect the 
common interests of the tribe. Upon the intelligence 
and courage of the people, and upon the wisdom and 
foresight of the council, the prosperity and the existence 
of the tribe depended. Questions and exigencies were 
arising, through their incessant warfare with other tribes, 
which required the exercise of all these qualities to meet 
and manage. It was unavoidable, therefore, that the 
popular element should be commanding in its influence. 
As a general rule the council was open to any private 
individual who desired to address it on a public ques- 
tion. Even the women were allowed to express their 
wishes and opinions through an orator of their own 
selection. But the decision was made by the council. 
Unanimity was a fundamental law of its action among 
the Iroquois; but whether this usage was general I am 
unable to state. 

Military operations were usually left to the action of 
the voluntary principle. Theoretically, each tribe was at 
war with every other tribe with which it had not formed 
a treaty of peace. Any person was at liberty to organize 
a war-party and conduct an expedition wherever he 
pleased. He announced his project by giving a war- 
dance and inviting volunteers. This method furnished 
a practical test of the popularity of the undertaking. If 
he succeeded in forming a company, which would con- 
sist of such persons as joined him in the dance, they de- 
parted immediately, while enthusiasm was at its height. 
When a tribe was menaced with an attack, war-parties 
were formed to meet it in much the same manner. 
Where forces thus raised were united in one body, each 
was under its own war-captain, and their joint move- 
ments were determined by a council of these captains. If 
there was among them a war-chief of established repu- 
tation he would naturally become their leader. These 
statements relate to tribes in the Lower Status of barbar- 


ism. The Aztecs and Tlascalans went out by phratries, 
each subdivision under its own captain, and distinguished 
by costumes and banners. 

Indian tribes, and even confederacies, were weak or- 
ganizations for military operations. That of the Iro- 
quois, and that of the Aztecs, were the most remarkable 
for aggressive purposes. Among the tribes in the Lower 
Status of barbarism, including the Iroquois, the most 
destructive work was performed by inconsiderable war- 
parties, which were constantly forming and making ex- 
peditions into distant regions. Their supply of food 
consisted of parched corn reduced to flour, carried in a 
pouch attached to the belt of each warrior, with such 
fish and game as the route supplied. The going out of 
these war-parties, and their public reception on their 
return, were among the prominent events in Indian life. 
The sanction of the council for these expeditions was not 
sought, neither was it necessary. 

The council of the tribe had power to declare war and 
make peace, to send and receive embassies, and to make 
alliances. It exercised all the powers needful in a gov- 
ernment so simple and limited in its affairs. Intercourse 
between independent tribes was conducted by delegations 
of wise-men and chiefs. When such a delegation was 
expected by any tribe, a council was convened for its re- 
ception, and for the transaction of its business. 

VII. A head-chief of the tribe in some instances. 

In some Indian tribes one of the sachems was recog- 
nized as its head-chief; and as superior in rank to his 
associates. A need existed, tq some extent, for an official 
head of the tribe to represent it when the council was not 
in session ; but the duties and powers of the office were 
slight. Although the council was supreme in authority 
it was rarely in session, and questions might arise de- 
manding the provisional action of some one authorized 
to represent the tribe, subject to the ratification of his 
acts by the council. This was the only basis, so far as 
the writer is aware, for the office of head-chief. It ex- 
isted in a number of tribes, but in a form of authority 
so feeble as to fall below the conception of an executive 


magistrate. In the language of some of the early writers 
they have been designated as kings, which is simply a 
caricature. The Indian tribes had not advanced far 
enough in a knowledge of government to develop the 
idea of a chief executive magistrate. The Iroquois tribe 
recognized no head-chief, and the confederacy no execu- 
tive officer. The elective tenure of the office of chief, 
and the liability of the person to deposition, settled the 
character of the office. 

A council of Indian chiefs is of little importance by it- 
self ; but as the germ of the modern parliament, congress, 
and legislature, it has an important bearing in the history 
of mankind. 

The growth of the idea of government commenced 
with the organization into gcntcs in savagery. It reveals 
three great stages of progressive development between 
its commencement and the institution of political society 
after civilization had been attained. The first stage was 
the government of a tribe by a council of chiefs elected 
by the gentes. It may be called a government of one 
power ; namely, the council. It prevailed generally among 
tribes in the Lower Status of barbarism. The second 
stage was a government co-ordinated between a council 
of chiefs, and a general military commander; one rep- 
resenting the civil and the other the military functions 
This second form began to manifest itself in the Lower 
Status of barbarism, after confederacies were formed, 
and it became definite in the Middle Status. The office 
of general, or principal military commander, was the 
germ of that of a chief executive magistrate, the king, 
the emperor, and the president. It may be called a gov- 
ernment of two powers, namely, the council of chiefs, 
and the general. The third stage was the government 
of a people or nation by a council o chiefs, an assembly 
of the people, and a general military commander. It ap- 
peared among the tribes who had attained to the Upper 
Status of barbarism ; such, for example, as the Homeric 
Greeks, and the Italian tribes of the period of Romulus. 
A large increase in the number of people united in a na- 
tion, their establishment in walled cities, and the creaj 


tion of wealth in lands and in flocks and herds, brought 
fn the assembly of the people as an instrument of gov- 
ernment. The council of chiefs, which still remained, 
found it necessary, no doubt through popular constraint, 
to submit the most important public measures to an as- 
sembly of the people for acceptance or rejection ; whence 
the popular assembly. This assembly did not originate 
measures. It was its function to adopt or reject, and its 
action was final. From its first appearance it became a 
permanent power in the government. The council no 
longer 'passed important public measures, but became a 
pre-considering council, with power to originate and 
mature public acts, to which the assembly alone could 
give validity. It may be called a government of three 
powers; namely, the pre-considering council, the assembly 
of the people, and the general. This remained until the 
institution of political society, when, for example, among 
the Athenians, the council of chiefs became the senate, 
and the assembly of the people the ecclesia or popular 
assembly. The same organizations have come down to 
modern times in the two houses of parliament, of con- 
gress, and of legislatures. In like manner the office of 
general military commander, as before stated, was the 
germ of the office of the modern chief executive mag- 

Recurring to the tribe, it was limited in the numbers 
of the people, feeble in strength, and poor in resources; 
but yet a completely organized society. It illustrates the 
condition of mankind in the Lower Status of barbarism. 
In the Middle Status there was a sensible increase of 
numbers in a tribe, and an Improved condition ; but with 
a continuance of gentile society without essential change. 
Political society was still impossible from want of ad- 
vancement. The gentes organized into tribes remained 
as before; but confederacies must have been more fre- 
quent. In some areas, as in the Valley of Mexico, larger 
numbers were developed under a common government, 
with improvements in the arts of life; but no evidence 
exists of the overthrow among them of gentile society 
.and the substitution of political. It is impossible feo fotmtf 


a political society or a state upon gentes. A state must 
rest upon territory and not upon persons, upon the town- 
ship as the unit of a political system, and not upon the 
gens which is the unit of a social system. It required 
time and a vast experience, beyond that of the American 
Indian tribes, as a preparation for such a fundamental 
change of systems. It also required men of the mental 
stature of the Greeks and Romans, and with the experi- 
ence derived from a long chain of ancestors to devise 
and gradually introduce that new plan of government 
under which civilized nations are living at the present 

Following the ascending organic series, we are next 
to consider the confederacy of tribes, in which the gentes, 
phratries and tribes will be seen in new relations. The 
remarkable adaption of the gentile organization to the 
condition and wants of mankind, while in a barbarous 
state, will thereby be further illustrated. 



A tendency to confederate for mutual defense would 
very naturally exist among kindred and contiguous 
tribes. When the advantages of a union had been ap- 
preciated by actual experience the organization, at first 
a league, would gradually cement into a federal unity. 
The state of perpetual warfare in which they lived would 
quicken this natural tendency into .action among such 
tribes as were sufficiently advanced in intelligence and in 
the arts of life to perceive its benefits. It would be simply 
a growth from a lower into a higher organization by 
an extension of the principle which united the gentes in 
a tribe. 

As might have been expected, several confederacies 
existed in different pirts of North America when dis- 
covered, some of which were quite remarkable in plan 
and structure. Among the number may be mentioned 
the Iroquois Confederacy of five independent tribes, the 
Creek Confederacy of six, the Otawa Confederacy of 
three, the Dakota Leagqe of the "Seven Council-Fires," 
the Moqui Confederacy in New Mexico of Seven Pueb- 
los, and the Aztec Confederacy of three tribes in the 
Valley of Mexico. It is probable that the Village Indi- 
ans in other parts of Mexico, in Central and in South 
America, were quite generally organized in confederacies 
consisting of two or more kindred tribes. Progress nec- 
essarily took this direction from the nature of their in- 
stitutions, and from the law governing their develop- 
ment. Nevertheless the formation of a confederacy out 



of such materials, and with such unstable geographical 
relations, was a difficult undertaking. It was easiest of 
achievement by the Village Indians from the nearness 
to each other of their pueblos, and from the smallness 
of their areas ; but it was accomplished in occasional in- 
sFances by tribes in the Lower Status of barbarism, and 
notably by the Iroquois. Wherever a confederacy was 
formed it would of itself evince the superior intelligence 
of the people. 

The two highest examples of Indian confederacies in 
North America were those of the Iroquois and of the 
Aztecs. From their acknowledged superiority as military 
powers, and from their geographical positions, these con- 
federacies, in both cases, produced remarkable lesults. 
Our knowledge of the structure and principles of the 
former is definite and complete, while of the latter it is 
far from satisfactory. The Aztec confederacy has been 
handled in such a manner historically as to leave it doubt- 
ful whether it was simply a league of three kindred 
tribes, offensive and defensive, or a systematic confeder- 
acy like that of the Iroquois. That which is true of the 
latter was probably in a general sense true of the for- 
mer, so that a knowledge of one will tend to elucidate 
the other. 

The conditions under which confederacies spring into 
being and the principles on which they are formed are 
remarkably simple. They grow naturally, with time, out 
of pre-existing elements. Where one tribe had divided 
into several and these subdivisions occupied independent 
but contiguous territories, the confederacy re-integrated 
them in a higher organization, on the basis of the com- 
mon gentes they possessed, and of the affiliated dialects 
they spoke. The sentiment of kin embodied in the gens, 
the common lineage of the gentes, and their dialects 
still mutually intelligible, yielded the material elements 
for a .confederation. The confederacy, therefore, had 
the gentes for its basis and centre, and stock language 
f6r its circumference. * No one has been found that 
reached beyond the bounds of the dialects of a common 
language: If this natural barrier h&4 been crossed it 


would have forced heterogeneous elements into the or- 
ganization. Cases have occurred where the remains of 
a tribe, not cognate in speech, as the Natchez, 1 have 
been admitted into an existing confederacy; but this 
exception would not invalidate the general proposition. 
It was impossible for an Indian power to arise upon the 
American continent through a confederacy of tribes or- 
ganized in gentes, and advance to a general supremacy 
unless their numbers were developed from their own 
stock. The multitude of stock languages is a standing 
explanation of the failure. There was no possible way 
of becoming connected on equal terms with a confeder- 
acy excepting through membership in a gens and tribe, 
and a common speech. 

It may here be remarked, parenthetically, that it was 
impossible in the Lower, in the Middle, or in the Upper 
Status of barbarism for a kingdom to arise by natural 
growth in any part of the earth under gentile institu- 
tions. I venture to make this suggestion at this early 
stage of the discussion in order to call attention more 
closely to the structure and principles of ancient society, 
as organized in gentes, phratries and tribes. Monarchy 
is incompatible with gentilism. It belongs to the later 
period of civilization. Despotisms appeared in some in- 
stances among the Grecian tribes in the Upper Status of 
barbarism ; but they were founded upon usurpation, were 
considered illegitimate by the people, and were, in fact, 
alien to the ideas of gentile society. The Grecian tyran- 
nies were despotisms founded upon usurpation, and were 
the germ out of which the later kingdoms arose ; while 
the so-called kingdoms of the heroic age were military 
democracies, and nothing more. 

The Iroquois hav$ furnished an excellent illustration 
of the manner in which a confederacy is formed by nat- 
ural growth assisted by skillful legislation. Originally 
emigrants from beyond the Mississippi, and probably a 
branch of the Dakota stock, they first made their way 

i They were admitted into the Creek Confederacy after the|r 
overthrow by the French* 


to the valley of the St. Lawrence and settled themselves 
near Montreal. Forced to leave this region by the hostil- 
ity of surrounding tribes, they sought the central region 
of New York. Coasting the eastern shore of Lake On- 
tario in canoes, for their numbers were small, they made 
their first settlement at the mouth of the Oswego river, 
where, according to their traditions, they remained for 
a long period of time. They were then in at least three 
distinct tribes, the Mohawks, the (Tnondagas, and the 
Senecas. One tribe subsequently established themselves 
at the head of the Canandaigua lake and became the 
Senecas. Another tribe occupied the Onondaga Valley 
and became the Onondagas. The third passed eastward 
and settled first at Oneida near the site of Utica, from 
which place the main portion removed to the Mohawk 
Valley and became the Mohawks. Those who remained 
became the Oneidas. A portion of the Onondagas or 
Senecas settled along the eastern shore of the Cayuga 
lake and became the Cayugas. New York, before its 
occupation by the Iroquois, seems to have been a part 
of the area of the Algonkin tribes. According to Iro- 
quois traditions they displaced its anterior inhabitants 
as they gradually extended their settlements eastward to 
the Hudson, and westward to the Genesee. Their tradi- 
tions further declare that a long period of time elapsed 
after their settlement in New York before the confeder- 
acy was formed, during which they made common cause 
against their enemies and thus experienced the advan- 
tages of the federal principle both for aggression and de- 
fense. They resided in villages, which were usually 
surrounded with stockades, and subsisted upon fish and 
game, and the products of a limited horticulture. In 
numbers they did not at any time exceed 20,000 souls, 
if they ever reached that number. Precarious subsist- 
ence and incessant warfare repressed numbers in all the 
aboriginal tribes, including the Village Indians as well. 
The Iroquois were enshrouded in the great forests, 
which then overspread New York, against which they 
had no power to contend. They were first discovered 
A. D. 1608. About 1675, they attained their culminat- 


ing point when their dominion reached over an area re- 
markably large, covering the greater parts of New York, 
Pennsylvania and Ohio, 1 and portions of Canada north of 
Lake Ontario. At the time of their discovery, they were 
the highest representatives of the Red Race north of 
Xew Mexico in intelligence and advancement, though 
perhaps inferior to some of the Gulf tribes in the arts 
of life. In the extent and quality of their mental endow- 
ments they must be r rankcd among the highest Indians in 
America. Although they have declined in numbers 
there arc still four thousand Iroquois in New York, 
about a thousand in Canada, and near that number in the 
West; thus illustrating the efficiency as well as persist- 
ency of the arts of barbarous life in sustaining existence. 
It is now said that they arc slowly increasing. 

When the confederacy was formed, about A. D. 1400- 
I45O, 2 the conditions previously named were present. 
The Iroquois were in five independent tribes, occupied 
territories contiguous to each other, and spoke dialects 
of the same language which were mutually intelligible. 
Beside these facts certain gentes were common in the 
several tribes as has been shown. In their relations to 
each other, as separated parts of the same gens, these 
common gentes afforded a natural and enduring basis 
for a confederacy. With these elements existing, the 
formation of a confederacy became a question of intel- 
ligence and skill. Other tribes in large numbers were 
standing in precisely the same relations in different parts 
of the continent without confederating. The fact that 
the Iroquois tribes accomplished the work affords evi- 
dence of their superior capacity. Moreover, as the con- 
federacy was the ultimate stage of organization among 
the American aborigines its existence would be expected 
in the most intelligent tribes only. 

i About 3651-5, they expelled their kindred tribe*, the Erles, 
from the region between the Genesee river and Lak^ Erie, 
and shortly afterwards the Neutral Nations from the Niagara 
river, and thus came into possession of the remainder ot New 
York, with the exception of the lower Hudson and Long Island. 

a The Iroquois claimed that it had existed from one hundred 
and fifty to two hundred years when they first saw Europeans. 
The generations of sachems in the history by David Cuslk (a 
Tuscarora) would make it more ancient. 


It is affirmed by the Iroquois that the confederacy was 
formed by a council of wise-men and chiefs of the five 
tribes which met for that purpose on the north shore of 
Onondaga lake, near the site of Syracuse; and that be- 
fore its session was concluded the organization was per- 
fected, and set in immediate operation. At their periodi- 
cal councils for raising up sachems they still explain its 
origin as the result of one protracted effort of legisla- 
tion. It was probably a consequence of a previous alli- 
ance for mutual defense, the advantages of which they 
had perceived and which they sought to render perma- 

The origin of the plan is ascribed to a mythical, or, 
at least, traditionary person, Ha-yo-ivcnt'-ha, the Hia- 
watha of Longfellow's celebrated poem, who was pres- 
ent at this council and the central person in its manage- 
ment. In his communications with the council he used 
a wise-man of the Onondagas, Da-ga-no-wc'-da, as an 
interpreter and speaker to expound the structure and 
principles of the proposed confederacy. The same tradi- 
tion further declares that when the work was accom- 
plished Ha-yo-went'-hd miraculously disappeared in a 
white canoe, which arose with him in the air ami bore 
him out of their sight. Other prodigies, according to 
this tradition, attended and signalized the formation of 
the confederacy, which is still celebrated among them as 
a masterpiece of Indian wisdom. Such in truth it was; 
and it will remain in history as a monument of their 
genius in developing gentile institutions. It will also be 
remembered as an illustration of what tribes of mankind 
have been able to accomplish in the art of government 
while in the Lower Status of barbarism, and under the 
disadvantages this, condition implies. 

Which of the two persons was the founder of the 
confederacy it is difficult to determine. The silent Ha- 
yo-went'-ha was, not unlikely, a real person of Iroquois 

cage; 1 but tradition has enveloped his character so 

i My friend, Horatio Hale, the eminent philologist, came, at 
he informed me. to this conclusion. 


completely in the supernatural that he loses his place 
among them as one of their number. If Hiawatha were 
a real person, Do-ga-no-we'-da must hold a subordinate 
place; but, if a mythical person invoked for the occa- 
sion, then to the latter belongs the credit of planning the 

The Iroquois affirm that the confederacy as formed by 
this council, with its powers, functions and mode of ad- 
ministration, has come down to them* through many gen- 
erations to the present time with scarcely a change in its 
internal organization. When the Tuscaroras were sub- 
sequently admitted, their sachems were allowed by 
courtesy to sit as equals in the general council, but the 
original number of sachems was not increased, and in 
strictness those of the Tuscaroras formed no part of 
the ruling body. 

The general featuies of the Iroquois Confederacy may 
be summarized in the following propositions: 

I. The confederacy was a union of Five Tribes, com- 
posed of common gentes, under one government on the 
basis of equality: each Tribe remaining independent in 
all manners pertaining to local self-government. 

II. It created a General Council of Sachems, who 
were limited in number, equal in rank and authority, and 
invested with supreme powers over all matters pertain- 
ing to the Confederacy. 

III. Fifty Sachemships were created and named in 
perpetuity in certain gentes of the several Tribes; with 
power in these gentes to fill vacancies, as often as they 
occurred, by election from among their respective mem- 
bers, and with the further power to depose from office 
for cause; but the right to invest these Sachems with 
office was reserved to the General Council. 

IV. The Sachems of the Confederacy were also Sa- 
chems in their respective Tribes, and with the Chiefs of 
these Tribes formed the Council of each, which was su- 
preme over all matters pertaining to the Tribe exclu- 

V. Unanimity in the Council of the Confederacy was 
made essential to every public act. 


VI In the General Council the Sachems voted by 
Tribes, which gave to each Tribe a negative upon the 

VII. The Council of each Tribe had power to con- 
vene the General Council; but the latter had no power 
to convene itself. 

VIII. The General Council was open to the oratots 
of the people for the discussion of public questions; but 
the Council alone decided. 

IX. The Confederacy had no chief Executive Mag- 
istrate, or official head. 

X. Experiencing the necessity for a General Military 
Commander they created the office in a dual form, that 
one might neutralize the other. The two principal War- 
chiefs created were made equal in powers. 

These several propositions will be considered and il- 
lustrated, but without following the precise form or or- 
der in which they are stated. 

At the institution of the confederacy fifty permanent 
sachemships were created and named, and made per- 
petual in the gentes to which they were assigned. With 
the exception of two, which were filled but once, they 
have been held by as many different persons in succes- 
sion as generations have passed away between that time 
and the present. The name of each sachemship is also 
the personal name of each sachem while* he holds the of- 
fice, each one in succession taking the name of his prede- 
cessor. These sachems, when in session, formed the 
council of the confederacy in which the legislative, ex- 
ecutive, and judicial powers were vested, although such 
a discrimination of functions had not come to be made. 
To secure order in succession, the several gentes in which 
these offices were made hereditary were empowered to 
elect successors from among their respective members 
when vacancies occurred, as elsewhere explained. As a 
further measure of protection to their own body each 
sachem, after his election and its confirmation, was in- 
vested with his office by a council of the confederacy. 
When thus installed his name was "taken away" and 
that of the sachemship' was bestowed upon him. By this 


name he was afterwards known among them. They were 
all upon equality in rank, authority, and privileges. 

These sachemships were distributed unequally among 
the five tribes ; but without giving to either a preponder- 
ance of power; and unequally among the gentes of the 
last three tribes. The Mohawks had nine sachems, the 
Oneidas nine, the Onondagas fourteen, the Cayugas ten, 
and the Senecas eight. This was the number at first, 
and it has remained the number to the present time. A 
table of these sachemships is subjoined, with their names 
in the Seneca dialect, and their arrangement in classes 
to facilitate the attainment of unanimity in council. In 
foot-notes v/ill be found the signification of these names, 
and the gentes to which they belonged. 

Table of sachemships of the Iroquois, founded at the 
institution of the Confederacy; with the names which 
have been borne by their sachems in succession, from its 
formation to the present time : 


I. i. Da-ga-e'-o-ga. * 2. Ha-yo-went'-ha. * 3. Da- 

ga-no-we'-da. 8 
II. 4. So-a-e-wa'ah. 4 5. Da-yo'-ho-go. 6 6. O-a-a'-go- 

wa. 6 

III. 7. Da-an-no-ga'-e-neh. 7 8. Sa-da'-ga-e-wa-deh. 8 
9. Has-da-weh'-se-ont-ha. 9 


I. Ho-das'-ha-teh. * 2. Ga-no-gweh'-yo-do. 1 1 3. Da 
yo-ha-gwen-da. J 2 

II. 4. So-no-sase'. 18 . 5. To-no-a-ga'-o. 14 6. Ha-de-a- 

clun-nent'-ha. 16 
III. 7. Da-wa-dii'-o-da-yo. 16 8. Ga-ne-a-dus'-ha-yeh. 17 

1 These, names signify as follows: 1. "Neutral/* or "the 
Shield." 2. "Man who Combs." 3. "Inexhaustible." 4. "Small 
Speech." 6. "At the Forks." 6. "At the Great River." 7. 
"Dragging Ma Horns." 8. "Even-Tempered." 9. "Hanging: up 
Rattles." The sachems in class one belonged to the Turtle 
gens, in class two to the Wolf gens, and in class three to the 
Bear gens. 

10. "A Man bearing a Burden." 11. "A Man covered with 
Cat-tall Down." 12. "Opening through the Woods." 13. "A 
Long String." 14. "A Man with a Headache." 15. "Swallowing 
Himielf." 16. "Place of the Echo." 17. "War-club on th 


9. Ho-wus'-ha-da-o. 1 8 

I. I. To-do-da'-ho. 1 9 2. To-nes'-sa-ah. 3. Da-at-ga- 

dose. 20 

II. 4. Ga-neii-da'-jc-wakc 21 5. Ah-\va'-ga-yat. 22 6. Da- 


III. 7. IIo-no-tve-na'-to. 2a 

IV. 8. Ga-\va-na'-saii-do.i 9. llii-e'-ho. 2 10. Iloyo-ne- 

ii'-ne. 8 11. Sa-dii'-kwa-seh. 4 

V. 12. Sii-go-ga-ha'. 6 13. IIo-sa-ha'-ho. c " 14. Ska-no'- 
wun-de. 7 


I. i. Da-ga'-a-yo.g 2. Da-je-no'da-weh-o. 9 3. Ga-da'- 
gwa-sa. 10 4. So-yo \vase. ] 1 5. Ha-de-iis'- 
yo-no. 1 2 
II. 6. Da-yo-o-yo'-go. 1 3 7. Jotc-ho-weh'-ko. 1 4 8. De- 

a-wate'-ho. 15 
III. 9. To-da-e-ho'. 1(J TO. Des-ga'-heh. 17 

I. I. Ga-ne-o-di'-yo. 1H 2. Sa-da-gii'-o-yase. 19 
II. 3. Ga-nogi'-e.* 4. Sa-geh'-jo-wa. 21 

III. 5. Sii-de-a-no'-wus. 2 a 6. Nis-ha-ne-a'-nent. 2S 

IV. 7. Ga-no-go-e-da'-we. 24 8. Done-hoga'-weh. 26 
Two of these sachemships have been filled but once 

since their creation. Ha-yo-wcnt'-ha and Da-ga-no-we'- 

Ground." 18. "A Man Steaming: Himself." The sachems In the 
first class belong to the Wolf gens, in the second to the Turtle 
gens, and in the third to the Bear gens. 

19. "Tangled," Bear fens. 20. "On the Watch," Bear gens. 
This sachem and the one before him, were hereditary council- 
ors of the To-do-da'-ho, who held the most illustrious sachem, 
ship. 21. "Bitter Body/' Snipe grens. 22. Turtle grens. 23. Tfcia 
achem was hereditary keeper of the wampum; Wolf Kens. 

1. Deer gens. 2. Deer gens. 3. Turtle tfens. 4. Bear grens. 
6. "Having a Glimpse." Deer gens. 6. * 4 Large Mouth," Turtle 
gens. 7. "Over the Creek," Turtle gens. 

8. "Man Frightened," Deer gens. 9. Heron gens. 10. Bear 
gens. 11. Bear gens. 12. Turtle gens. 13. Not ascertained. 1-1. 
"Very Cold," Turtle gens. 15. Heron gens. 16. Snipe gens. 
17. Snipe gens. 

18. "Handsome Lake," Turtle gens. 19. "Level Heavens." 
Snipe gens. 20. Turtle gens. 21. "Great Forehead." Hawk gens. 
2S. "Assistant." Bear gens. 23. "Falling Day," Snipe gens. 24. 
"Hair Burned Off," Snipe gens. 26. "Open Door," Wolf gen*. 


da consented to take the office among the Mohawk sa- 
chems, and to leave their names in the list upon condi- 
tion that after their demise the two should remain there- 
after vacant. They were installed upon these terms, and 
the stipulation has been observed to the present day. At 
all councils for the investiture of sachems their names 
are still called with the others as a tribute of respect to 
their memory. The general council, therefore, consisted 
of but forty-eight members. 

Each sachem had an assistant sachem, who was elected 
by the gens of his principal from among its members, 
and who was installed with the same forms and cere- 
monies. He was styled an "aid." It was his duty to 
stand behind his superior on all occasions of ceremony, 
to act as his messenger, and in general to be subject 
to his directions. It gave to the aid the office of chief, 
and rendered probable his election as the successor of his 
principal after the decease of the latter. In their figur- 
ative language these aids of the sachems were styled 
"Braces in the Long House/' which symbolized the con- 

The names bestowed upon the original sachems be- 
came the names of their respective successors in per- 
petuity. For example, upon the demise of Ga-ne-o~d- 
yo, one of the eight Seneca sachems, his successor would 
be elected by the Turtle gens in which this sachemship 
was hereditary, and when raised up by the general coun- 
cil he would receive this name, in place of his own, as 
a part of the ceremony. On several different occasions 
I have attended their councils for raising up sachems 
both at the Onondaga and Seneca reservations, and wit- 
nessed the ceremonies herein referred to. Although but 
a shadow of the old confederacy now remains, it is fully 
organized with its complement of sachems and aids, with 
the exception of the Mohawk tribe which removed to 
Canada about 1775. Whenever vacancies occur their 
places are filled, and a general council is convened to in- 
stall the new sachems and their aids. The present Iro- 
quois are also perfectly familiar with the structure and 
principles of the ancient confederacy. 


For all purposes of tribal government the five tribes 
were independent of each other. Their territories were 
separated by fixed boundary lines, and their tribal inter- 
ests were distinct. The eight Seneca sachems, in con- 
junction with the other Seneca chiefs, formed the coun- 
cil of the tribe by which its affairs were administered, 
leaving to each of the other tribes the same control over 
their separate interests. As an organization the tribe 
was neither weakened nor impaired by the confederate 
compact. Each was in vigorous life within its appropri- 
ate sphere, presenting some analogy to our own states 
within an embracing republic. It is worthy of remem- 
brance that the Iroquois commended to our forefathers 
a union of the colonies similar to their own as early as 
1755. They saw in the common interests and common 
speech of the several colonies the elements for a con- 
federation, which was as far as their vision was able to 

The tribes occupied positions of entire equality in the 
confederacy, in rights, privileges and obligations. Such 
special immunities as were granted to one or another 
indicate no intention to establish an unequal compact, or 
to concede unequal privileges. There were organic pro- 
visions apparently investing particular tribes with su- 
perior power; as, for example, the Onondagas were al- 
lowed fourteen sachems and the Senecas but eight; and 
a larger body of sachems would naturally exercise a 
stronger influence in council than a smaller. But in this 
case it gave no additional power, because the sachems 
of each tribe had an equal voice in forming a decision, 
and a negative upon the others. When in council they 
agreed by tribes, and unanimity in opinion was essential 
to every public act. The Onondagas were made "Keep- 
ers of the Wampum," and "Keepers of the Council 
Brand," the Mohawks, "Receivers of Tribute" from sub- 
jugated tribes, and the Senecas "Keepers of the Door" 
of the Long House. These and some other similar provi- 
sions were made for the common advantage. 

The cohesive principle of the confederacy did not 
spring exclusively from the benefits of an alliance for 


mutual protection, but had a deeper foundation in the 
bond of kin. The confederacy rested upon the tribes 
ostensibly, but primarily upon common gentes. All the 
members of the same gens, whether Mohawks, Oneidas, 
Onondagas, Cayugas, or Senecas, were brothers and 
sisters to each other in virtue of their descent from the 
same common ancestor ; and they recognized each other 
as such with the fullest cordiality. When they met the 
first inquiry was the name of each other's gens, and next 
the immediate pedigree of their respective sachems ; after 
which they were usually able to find, under their peculiar 
system of consanguinity, * the relationship in which they 
stood to each other. Three of the gentes, namely, the 
Wolf, Bear and Turtle, were common to the five tribes ; 
these and three others were common to three tribes. In 
effect the Wolf gens, through the division of an original 
tribe into five, was now in five divisions, one of which 
was in each tribe. It was the same with the Bear and the 
Turtle gentes. The Deer, Snipe and Hawk gentes were 
common to the Senecas, Cayugas and Onondagas. Be- 
tween the separated parts of each gens, although its mem- 
bers spoke different dialects of the same language, there 
existed a fraternal connection which linked the nations 
together with indissoluble bonds. When the Mohawk 
of the Wolf gens recognized an Oneida, Onondaga, 
Cayuga or Seneca of the same gens as a brother, and 
when the members of the other divided gentes did the 
same, the relationship was not ideal, but a fact founded 
upon consanguinity, and upon faith in an assured line- 
age older than their dialects and coeval with their unity 
as one people. In the estimation of an Iroquois every 
member of his gens in whatever tribe was as certainly a 
kinsman as an own brother. This cross-relationship be- 
tween persons of the same gens in the different tribes is 

i The children of brothers are themselves brothers and sis- 
ters to each other, the children of the latter were also brothers 
and sisters, and so downwards indefinitely; the children and 
descendants of sisters are the same. The children of a brother 
and sister are cousins, the children of the latter are cousins, 
and so downwards indefinitely. A knowledge** of the relation* 
ships to each other of the members of the same gens is never 


still preserved and recognized among them in all its 
original force. It explains the tenacity with which the 
fragments of the old confederacy still cling together. 
If either of the five tribes had seceded from the confed- 
eracy it would have severed the bond of kin, although 
this would have been felt but slightly. But had they 
fallen into collision it would have turned the gens of 
the Wolf against their gentile kindred, Itear against 
Bear, in a word brother against brother. The history of 
the Iroquois demonstrates the reality as well as per- 
sistency of the bond of kin, and the fidelity with which 
it was respected. During the long period through which 
the confederacy endured, they never fell into anarchy, 
nor ruptured the organization. 

The "Long House" (Ho-dc'-no-sotc) was made the 
symbol of the confederacy ; and they styled themselves 
the "People of the Long House" (Ho-dc'-no-sau-nee). 
This was the name, and the only name, with which they 
distinguished themselves. The confederacy produced a 
gentile society more complex than that of a single tribe, 
but it was still distinctively a gentile society. It was, 
however, a stage of progress in the direction of a na- 
tion, for nationality is reached under gentile institutions. 
Coalescence is the last stage in this process. The four 
Athenian tribes coalesced in Attica into a nation by the 
intermingling of the tribes in the same area, and by the 
gradual disappearance of geographical lines between 
them. The tribal names and organizations remained in 
full vitality as before, but without the basis of an inde- 
pendent territory. \Yhen political society was instituted 
on the basis of the deme or township, and all the resi- 
dents of the deme became a body politic, irrespective of 
their gens or tribe, the coalescence became complete. 

The coalescence of the Latin and Sabine gentes into 
the Roman people and nation was a result of the same 
processes. In all alike the gens, phratry and tribe were 
the first three stages of organization. The confederacy 
followed as the fourth. But it does not appear, either 
among the Grecian or Latin tribes in the Later Period[ 
of barbarism, that it became more than a loose league 


for offensive and defensive purposes. Of the nature and 
details of organization of the Grecian and Latin confed- 
eracies our knowledge is limited and imperfect, because 
the facts are buried in the obscurity of the traditionary 
period. The process of coalescence arises later than the 
confederacy in gentile society; but it was a necessary as 
well as vital stage of progress by means of which the 
nation, the state, and political society were at last at- 
tained. Among the Iroquois tribes it had not manifested 

The valley of Onondaga, as the seat of the central 
tribe, and the place where the Council Brand was sup- 
posed to be perpetually burning, was the usual though 
not the exclusive place for holding the councils of the 
confederacy. In ancient times it was summoned to con- 
vene in the autumn of each year; but public exigencies 
often rendered its meetings more frequent. Each tribe 
had power to summon the council, and to appoint the 
time and place of meeting at the council-house of either 
tribe, when circumstances rendered a change from the 
usual place at Onondaga desirable. But the council had 
no power to convene itself. 

Originally the principal object of the council was to 
raise up sachems to fill vacancies in the ranks of the rul- 
ing body occasioned by death or deposition; but it trans- 
acted all other business which concerned the common 
welfare. In course of time, as they multiplied in num- 
bers and their intercourse with foreign tribes became 
more extended, the council fell into three distinct kinds, 
which may be distinguished as Civil, Mourning and Re- 
ligious. The first declared war and made peace, sent 
and received embassies, entered into treaties with foreign 
tribes, regulated the affairs of subjugated tribes, and took 
all needful measures to promote the general welfare. The 
second raised up sachems and invested them with office. 
It received the name of Mourning Council because the 
first of its ceremonies was the lament for the deceased 
ruler whose vacant place was to be filled. The third was 
held for the observance of a general religious festival. 
It was made an occasion for the confederated tribes to 


unite under the auspices of a general council in the ob- 
servance of common religious rites. But as the Mourn-, 
ing Council was attended with many of the same cere- 
monies it came, in time, to answer for both. It is now 
the only council they hold, as the civil powers of the 
confederacy terminated with the supremacy over them 
of the state. 

Invoking the patience of the reader, it is necessary to 
enter into some details with respect to the mode of trans- 
acting business at the Civil and Mourning Councils. In 
no other way can the archaic condition of society under 
gentile institutions be so readily illustrated. 

If an overture was made to the confederacy by a for- 
eign tribe, it might be done through either of the five 
tribes. It was the prerogative of the council of the tribe 
addressed to determine whether the affair was of suf- 
ficient importance to require a council of the confeder- 
acy. After reaching an affirmative conclusion, a herald 
was sent to the nearest tribes in position, on the east 
and on the west, with a belt of wampum, which contained 
a message to the effect that a civil council (Ho-de-os r - 
seh) would meet at such a place and time, and for such 
an object, each of which was specified. It was the duty 
of the tribe receiving the message to forward it to the 
tribe next in position, until the notification was made 
complete. l No council ever assembled unless it was 
summoned under the prescribed forms. 

i A civil council, which might be called by either nation, was 
usually ummoned and opened in the following manner: If, 
for example, the Onondagas made the call, they would send 
heralds to the Oneidaj on the east, and the Cayugas on the 
west of them, with belts containing an invitation to meet at 
the Onondaga council-grove on such a day of such a moon, 
for purposes which were also named. It would then become 
the duty of the Cayugas to send the same notification to the 
Senecas, and of the On eld as to notify the Mohawks. If the 
council was to meet for peaceful purposes, then each sachem 
was to bring with him a bundle of fagots of white cedar, 
typical of peace; if for warlike objects then the fagots were 
to 4>e of red cedar, emblematical of war. 

At the day appointed the sachems of the several nations, 
with their followers, who usually arrived a day or two before 
and remained encamped at a distance, were received in a 
formal manner by the Onondaga sachems at the rising of the 
sun. They marched in separate processions from their camps 
to the council-grove, each bearing his skin roba>*&6 bundle 


When the sachems met in council, at the time am? 
place appointed, and the usual reception ceremony had 
been performed, they arranged themselves in two divi- 
sions and seated themselves upon opposite sides of the 
council-fire. Upon one side were the Mohawk, Onon- 
daga and Seneca sachems. The tribes they represented 

of fagots, where the Onondaga sachems awaited them with a 
concourse of people. The sachems then formed themselves Into 
a circle, an Onondaga sachem, who by appointment acted as 
master of the ceremonies, occupying: the side toward the rising 
sun. At a signal they marched round the circle moving* by the 
north. It may be here observed that the rim of the circle 
toward the north Is called the "col'd side," (o-to'-wa-ga) ; that 
on the west "the side toward the setting sun," (ha-gi-kwSs'- 
gwtt): that on the south "the side of the high sun," (en-de-ih'- 
kwft); and that on the east "the side of the rising sun," (t'-ki- 
gwit-kJs'-gwa). After marching three times around on the cir- 
cle single tile, the head and foot of the columm being joined, the 
leader stopped on the rising sun side, and deposited before 
him his bundle of fagots. In this he was followed by the 
others, one at a time, following by the north, thus forming an 
Inner circle of fagots. After this each sachem spread his skin 
robe in the same order, and sat down upon it, cross-legged, 
.behind his bundle of fagots, with his assistant sachem stand- 
ing behind him. The master of the ceremonies, after a mo- 
ment's pause, arose, drew from his pouch two pieces of dry 
wood and a piece of punk with which he proceeded to strike 
flre by friction. When fire was thus obtained, he stepped with- 
in the circle and set fire to his own bundle, and then to each of 
the others In the order In which they were laid. When they 
were well Ignited, and at a signal from the master of the cer- 
emonies, the sachems arose and marched three times around 
the Burning Circle, going as before by the north. Each turned 
from time to time as he walked, so as to expose nil sides of 
his person to the warming influence of the fires. This typified 
that they warmed their affections for each other in order that 
they might transact the business of the council in friendship 
and unity. They then reseated themselves each upon nis own 
robe. After this the master of the ceremonies again rising to 
his feet, filled and lighted tne pipe of peace from his own flre. 
Drawing three whiffs, one after the other, he blew the first 
toward the zenith, the second toward the ground, and tho 
third toward the sun. By the first act he returned thanks to 
the Great Spirit for the preservation of his life during the 
past year, and for being permitted to be present at this coun- 
cil. By the second, he returned thanks to his Mother, the 
Earth, for her various productions which had ministered to 
his sustenance. And by the third, he returned thanks to the 
Sun for his never-falling light, ever shining upon all. These 
words were not repeated, but such is the purport of the acts 
themselves. He then passed the pipe to the first upon his right 
toward the north, who repeated the same ceremonies, and then 
passed it to the next, and so on around the burning circle. 
The ceremony of smoking the calumet also signified that they 
pledged to each other their faith, their friendship, and their 

These ceremonies completed the opening of the council, 
which was then declared to be ready for the business upon 
which It had been convened. 


were, when in council, brother tribes to each other and 
father tribes to the other two. In like manner their sa- 
chems were brothers to each other and fathers to those 
opposite. They constituted a phratry of tribes and of 
sachems, by an extension of the principle which united 
Rentes in a phratry. On the opposite side of the fire were 
the Oneida and Cayuga, and, at a later day, the Tus- 
carora sachems. The tribes they represented were broth- 
er tribes to each other, and son tribes to the opposite 
three. Their sachems also were brothers to each other, 
and sons of those in the opposite division. They formed 
a second tribal phratry. As the Oneidas were a subdi- 
vision of the Mohawks, and the Cayugas a subdivision of 
the Onondagas or Senecas, they were in reality junior 
tribes; whence their relation of seniors and juniors, and 
the application of the phratric principle. When the 
tribes are named in council the Mohawks by precedence 
are mentioned first Their tribal epithet was "The 
Shield" (Da-ga-e-o'-dli). The Onondagas came next 
under the epithet of ''Name-Bearer" (Ho-dc-san-no'-ge- 
fa), because they had been appointed to select and name 
the fifty original sachems. l Next in the order of pre- 
cedence were the Senecas, under the epithet of "Door- 
Keeper" (Ho-nan-ne-ho'-ontc}. They were made per- 
petual keepers of the western door of the Long House. 
The Oneidas, under the epithet of "Great Tree" (AV- 
ar'-r/f-0;i-(/ar'-0-7c r ar), and the Cayugas, under that of 
"Great Pipe" (Sonns'-ho-gzwr-to-war), were named 
fourth and fifth. The Tuscaroras, who came late into 
the confederacy, were named last, and had no distin- 
guishing epithet. Forms, such as these, were more im- 
portant in ancient society than \ve would be apt to sup- 

It was customary for the foreign tribe to be repre- 
sented at the council by a delegation of wise-men and 
chiefs, who bore their proposition and presented it in 

i Tradition declares that the Ononda^as deputed a wise-man 
to visit the territories of the tribes and select and name the 
new sachems as circumstances should prompt; which explain* 
the unequal distribution of the office among the several gente*. 


person. After the council was formally opened and the 
delegation introduced, one of the sachems made a short 
address, in the course of which he thanked the Great 
Spirit for sparing their lives and permitting them to 
meet together; after which he informed the delegation 
that the council was prepared to hear them upon the af- 
fair for which it had convened. One of the delegates 
then submitted their proposition in form, and sustained 
it by such arguments as he was able to make. Careful 
attention was given by the members of the council that 
they might clearly comprehend the matter in hand. Af- 
ter the address was concluded, the delegation withdrew 
from the council to await at a distance the result of its 
deliberations. It then became the duty of the sachems to 
agree upon an answer, which was reached through the 
ordinary routine of debate and consultation. When a 
decision had been made, a speaker was appointed to com- 
municate the answer of the council, to receive which the 
delegation were recalled. The speaker was usually 
chosen from the tribe at whose instance the council had 
been convened. It was customary for him to review the 
whole subject in a formal speech, in the course; of which 
the acceptance, in whole or in part, or the rejection of 
the proposition were announced with the reasons there- 
for. Where an agreement was entered upon, belts of 
wampum were exchanged as evidence of its terms. With 
these proceedings the council terminated. 

"This belt preserves my words" was a common remark 
of an Iroquois chief in council. He then delivered the 
belt as the evidence of what he had said. Several such 
belts would be given in the course of a negotiation to 
the opposite party. In the reply of the latter a belt would 
be returned for each proposition accepted. The Iroquois 
experienced the necessity for an exact record of some 
kind of a proposition involving their faith and honor in 
its execution, and they devised this method to place it 
beyond dispute. 

Unanimity among the sachems was required upon all 
public questions, and essential to the validity of every 
public act It was a fundamental law of the confeder- 


acy. 1 They adopted a method for ascertaining the opini- 
ons of the members of the council which dispensed with 
the necessity of casting votes. Moreover, they were 
entirely unacquainted with the principle of majorities 
and minorities in the action of councils. They voted in 
council by tribes, and the sachems of each tribe were 
required to be of one mind to form a decision, Recogniz- 
ing unanimity as a necessary principle, the founders of 
the confederacy divided the sachems of each tribe into 
classes as a means for its attainment. This will be seen 
by consulting the table, (supra p. 132.) No sachem was 
allowed to express an opinion in council in the nature 
of a vote until he had first agreed with the sachem or 
sachems of his class upon the opinion to be expressed, 
and had been appointed to act as speaker for the class. 
Thus the eight Seneca sachems being in four classes 
could have but four opinions, and the ten Cayuga sa- 
chems, being in the same number of classes, could have 
but four. In this manner the sachems in each class were 
first brought to unanimity among themselves. A cross- 
consultation was then held between the four sachems 
appointed to speak for the four classes; and when they 
had agreed, they designated one of their number to ex- 
press their resulting opinion, which was the answer of 
their tribe. When the sachems of the several tribes had, 
by this ingenious method, become of one mind separ- 
ately, it remained to compare their several opinions, and 
if they agreed the decision of the council was made. If 
they failed of agreement the measure was defeated, and 
the council was at an end. The five persons appointed 
to express the decision of the five tribes may possibly 

i At the beginning of the American revolution the Iroquois 
were unable to agree upon a declaration of war against our 
confederacy for want of unanimity In council. A number of 
the Oneida sachems resisted the proposition and finally refused 
their consent. As neutrality was impossible with the Mohawks 
and the Senecas were determined to fight, it was resolved that 
each tribe might engage in the war upon its own responsi- 
bility, or remain neutral. The war against the Eries, against 
the Neutral Nation and Susquehannocks, and the several wars 
against the French, were resolved upon in general council. 
Our colonial records are largely filled with negotiations with 
the Iroquois Confederacy, 


explain the appointment and the functions of the six 
electors, so called, in the Aztec confederacy, which will 
be noticed elsewhere. 

By this method of gaining assent the equality and in- 
dependence of the several tribes were recognized and 
* preserved. If any sachem was obdurate or unreason- 
able, influences were brought to bear upon him, through 
the preponderating sentiment, which he could not well 
resist ; so that it seldom happened that inconvenience or 
detriment resulted from their adherence to the rule. 
Whenever all efforts to procure unanimity had failed, 
the whole matter was laid aside because further action 
had become impossible. 

The induction of new sachems into office was an event 
of great interest to the people, and rifct less to the sa- 
chems who retained thereby some control over the in- 
troduction of new members into their body. To perform 
the ceremony of raising up sachems the general council 
was primarily instituted. It was named at the time, or 
came afterwards to be called, the Mourning Council 
(Hen-nun-do-nuh'-sch), because it embraced the twofold 
object of lamenting the death of the departed sachem 
and of installing his successor. Upon the death of a sa- 
chem, the tribe in which the loss had occurred had power 
to summon a general council, and to name the time and 
place of its meeting. A herald was sent out with a belt 
of wampum, usually the official belt of the deceased sa- 
chem given to him at his installation, which conveyed 
this laconic message; "the name" (mentioning that of 
the late ruler) "calls for a council." It also announced 
the day and place of convocation. In some cases the 
official belt of the sachem was sent to the central council- 
fire at Ononclaga immediately after his burial, as a noti- 
fication of his demise, and the time for holding the coun- 
cil was determined afterwards. 

The Mourning Council, with the festivities which fol- 
lowed the investiture of sachems possessed remarkable 
attractions for the Iroquois. They flocked to its attend- 
ance from the most distant localities with zeal and en- 
thusiasm. It was opened and conducted with many forms 


and ceremonies, and usually lasted five days. The first 
was devoted to the prescribed ceremony of lamentations 
for the deceased sachem, which, as a religious act, com- 
menced at the rising of the sun. At this time the sa- 
chems of the tribe, with whom the council was held, 
marched out followed by their tribesmen, to receive 
formally the sachems and people of the other tribes, 
who had arrived before and remained encamped at some 
distance waiting for the appointed day. After exchang- 
ing greetings, a procession was formed and the lament 
was chanted in verse, with responses, by the united tribes, 
as they marched from the place of reception to the place 
of council. The lament, with the responccs in chorus, 
was a tribute o* respect to the memory of the departed 
sachem, in which not only his gens, but his tribe, and 
the confederacy itself participated. It was certainly a 
more delicate testimonial of respect and affection than 
would have been expected from a barbarous people. This 
ceremonial, with the opening of the council, concluded 
the first day's proceedings. On the second day, the in- 
stallation ceremony commenced, and it usually lasted into 
the fourth. The sachems of the several tribes seated 
themselves in two divisions, as at the civil council. When 
the sachem to be raised up belonged to either of the 
three senior tribes the ceremony was performed by the 
sachems of the junior tribes, and the new sachem was 
installed as a father. In like manner, if he belonged to 
either of the three junior tribes the ceremony was per- 
formed by the sachems of the senior tribes, and the new 
sachem was installed as a son. These special circum- 
stances are mentioned to show the peculiar character of 
their social and governmental life. To the Iroquois 
these forms and figures of speech were full of signifi- 

Among other things, the ancient wampum belts, into 
which the structure and principles of the confederacy 
"had been talked," to use their expression, were pro* 
duced and read or interpreted for the instruction of the 
newly inducted sachem. A wise-man, not necessarily one 
Of the swhems, took these belts one after the other and 


walking to and fro between the two divisions of sachems, 
read from them the facts which they recorded. Accord- 
ing to the Indian conception, these belts can tell, by 
means of an interpreter, the exact rule, provision or 
transaction talked into them at the time, and of which 
they were the exclusive record. A strand of wampum 
consisting of strings of purple and white shell beads, or 
a belt woven with figures formed by beads of different 
colors, operated on the principle of associating a partic- 
ular fact with a particular string or figure ; thus giving a 
serial arrangement to the facts as well as fidelity to the 
memory. These strands and belts of wampum were the 
only visible records of the Iroquois; but they required 
those trained interpreters who could draw from their 
strings and figures the records locked up in their re- 
membrance. One of the Onondaga sachems (Ho-no- 
we-na'-to) was made "Keeper of the Wampum," and 
two aids were raised up with him who were required to 
be versed in its interpretation as well as the sachem. The 
interpretation of these several belts and strings brought 
out, in the address of the wise-man, a connected account 
of the occurrences at the formation of the confederacy. 
The tradition was repeated in full, and fortified in its 
essential parts by reference to the record contained in 
these belts. Thus the council to raise up sachems be- 
came a teaching council, which maintained in perpetual 
freshness in the minds of the Iroquois the structure and 
principles of the confederacy, as well as the history of 
its formation. These proceedings occupied the council 
until noon each day; the afternoon being devoted to 
games and amusements. At twilight each day a dinner 
in common was served to the entire body in attendance. 
It consisted of soup and boiled meat cooked near the 
council-house, and served directly from the kettle in 
wooden bowls, trays and ladles. Grace was said before 
the feast commenced. It was a prolonged exclamation 
by a single person on a high shrill note, falling down in 
cadences into stillness, followed by a response in chorus 
by the people. , The evenings were devoted to the dance. 
With these ceremonies, continued for several days, and 


with the festivities that followed, their sachems were in- 
ducted into office. 

By investing their sachems with office through a gen- 
eral council, the framers of the confederacy had ia view 
the threefold object of a perpetual succession in the gens, 
the benefits of a free election among its members, and a 
final supervision of the choice through the ceremony of 
investiture. To render the latter effective it should 
carry with it the power to reject the nominee. Whether 
the right to invest was purely functional, or carried with 
it the right to exclude, I am unable to state. No case 
of rejection is mentioned. The scheme adopted by the 
Iroqtiois to maintain a ruling body of sachems may 
claim, in several respects, the, merit of originality, as 
well as of adaptation to their condition. In form an 
oligarchy, taking tin's term in its best sense, it was yet 
a representative democracy of the archaic type. A pow- 
erful popular element pervaded the whole organism and 
influenced its action. It is seen in the right of the gen- 
tes to elect and depose their sachems and chiefs, in the 
right of the people to be heard in council through orators 
of their own selection, and in the voluntary system in 
the military service. In this and the next succeeding 
ethnical period democratic principles were the vital ele- 
ment of gentile society. 

The Iroquois name for a sachem (Ho-yar-na-go'- 
irar), which signifies "a counselor of the people/' was 
singularly appropriate to a ruler in a species of free de- 
mocracy. It not only defines the office well, but it also 
suggests the analogous designation of the members of 
the Grecian council of chiefs. The Grecian chiefs were 
styled "councilors of the people." l From the nature and 
tenure of the office among the Iroquois the sachems were 
not masters ruling by independent right, but representa- 
tives holding from the gentes by free election. It is 
worthy of notice that an office which originated in savag- 
ery, and continued through the three sub-periods cf bar- 

i JEschylus, "The Seven against Thebes," 1005. 


barism, should reveal so much of its archaic character 
among the Greeks after the gentile organization had car- 
ried this portion of the human family to the confines of 
civilization. It shows further how deeply inwrought in 
the human mind the principle of democracy had become 
under gentilism. 

The designation for a chief of the second grade, Ha- 
sa-no-wana, "an elevated name," indicates an apprecia- 
tion by barbarians of the ordinary motives for personal 
ambition. It also reveals the sameness of the nature of 
man, whether high up or low down upon the rounds of 
the ladder of progress. The celebrated orators, wise- 
men, and war-chiefs of the Iroquois were chiefs of the 
second grade almost without exception. One reason for 
this may be found in the organic provision which con- 
fined the duties of the sachem to the affairs of peace. An- 
other may have been to exclude from the ruling body 
their ablest men, lest their ambitious aims should disturb 
its action. As the office of chief was bestowed in re- 
ward of merit, it fell necessarily upon their ablest men. 
Red-Jacket, Brandt, Garangula, Complanter, Farmer's 
Brother, Frost, Johnson, and other well known Iroquois, 
were chiefs as distinguished from sachems. None of the 
long lines of sachems have become distinguished in Ame- 
rican annals, with the exception of Logan, 1 Handsome 
Lake,* and at a recent day, Ely S. Parker." The re- 
mainder have left no remembrance behind them extend- 
ing beyond the Iroquois. 

At the time the confederacy was formed To-do-da'-ho 
was the most prominent and influential of the Onondaga 
chiefs. His accession to the plan of a confederacy, in 
which he would experience a diminution of power, was 
regarded as highly meritorious. He was raised up as, 
one of the Ononadaga sachems and his name placed first 
in the list. Two assistant sachems were raised up with 
him to act as his aids and to stand behind him on public 

* One of the Cayuga aarhems. 

* One of the Betteca iaebotn, and the founder of the New Religion 
of the Iroqnols. 

* One of the Seneca sachem* 


occasions. Thus dignified, this sachemship has since been 
regarded by the Iroquois as the most illustrious of the 
forty-eight, from the services rendered by the first To- 
do-da'-ho. The circumstance was early seized upon by 
the inquisitive colonists to advance the person who held 
this office to the position of king of the Iroquois; but 
the misconception was refuted, and the institutions of the 
Iroquois were relieved of the burden of an impossible 
feature. In the general council he sat among his equals. 
The confederacy had no chief executive magistrate. 

Under a confederacy of tribes the office of general, 
(Hos-ga-a-geh'-da-go-wa) "Great War Soldier/' makes 
its first appearance. Cases would now arise when the 
several tribes in their confederate capacity would be en- 
gaged in war ; and the necessity for a general commander 
to direct the movements of the united bands would be 
felt. The introduction of this office as a permanent feat- 
ure in the government was a great event in the history 
of human progress. It was the beginning of a differen- 
tiation of the military from the civil power, which, when 
completed, changed essentially the external manifesta- 
tion of the government. But even in later stages of prog- 
ress, when the military spirit predominated, the essential 
character of the government was not changed. Gentil- 
ism arrested usurpation. With the rise of the office of 
general, the government was gradually changed from a 
government of one power, into a government of two 
powers. The functions of government became, in course 
of time, co-ordinated between the two. This new office 
was the germ of that of a chief executive magistrate; 
for out of the general came the king, the emperor, and 
the president, as elsewhere suggested. The office sprang 
from the military necessities of society, and had a logical 
development. For this reason its first appearance and 
subsequent growth have an important place in this dis- 
cussion. In the course of this volume I shall attempt to 
trace the progressive development of this office, from the 
Great War Soldier of the Iroquois through the Teuctli 
of the Aztecs, to the Basileus of the Grecian, and the Rex 
of the Roman tribes ; among all of whom, through three 


successive ethnical periods, the office was the same, name- 
ly, that of a general in a military democracy. Among 
the Iroquois, the Aztecs, and the Romans the office was 
elective, or confirmative, by a constituency. Presump- 
tively, it was the same among the Greeks of the tradi- 
tionary period. It is claimed that the office of basileus 
among the Grecian tribes in the Homeric period was 
hereditary from father to son. This is at least doubtful. 
It is such a wide and total departure from the original 
tenure of the office as to require positive evidence to 
establish the fact. An election, or confirmation by a con- 
stituency, would still be necessary under gentile institu- 
tions. If in numerous instances it were known that the 
office had passed from father to son this might have sug- 
gested the inference of hereditary succession, now 
adopted as historically true, while succession in this form 
did not exist. Unfortunately, an intimate knowledge of 
the organization and usages of society in the tradition- 
ary period is altogether wanting. Great principles of 
human action furnish the safest guide when their opera- 
tion must have been necessary. It is far more probable 
that hereditary succession, when it first came in, was 
established by force, than by 1 the free consent of the peo- 
ple; and that it did not exist among the Grecian tribes 
in the Homeric period. 

When the Iroquois confederacy was formed, or soon 
after that event, two permanent war-chietehips were cre- 
ated and named, and both were assigned to the Seneca 
tribe. One of them ( Ta-wan'-ne-ars, signifying needle- 
breaker) was made hereditary in the Wolf, and the other 
(So-no'-so-wa, signifying great oyster shell) in the Tur- 
tle gens. The reason assigned for giving them both to the 
Senecas was the greater danger of attack at the west end 
of their territories. They were elected in the same man- 
ner as the sachems, were raised up by a general council, 
and were equal in rank and power. Another account 
states that they were created later. They discovered im- 
mediately after the confederacy was formed that the 
structure of the Long House was incomplete because 
there were no officers to execute the military commands 


of the confederacy. A council was convened to remedy 
the omission, which established the two perpetual war- 
chiefs named. As general commanders they had charge 
of the military affairs of the confederacy, and the com- 
mand of its joint forces when united in a general expe- 
dition. Governor Blacksnake, recently deceased, held 
the office first named, thus showing that the succession 
has been regularly maintained. The creation of two prin- 
cipal war-chiefs instead of one, and with equal powers, 
argues a subtle and calculating policy to prevent the dom- 
ination of a single man even in their military affairs. 
They did without experience precisely as the Romans 
did in creating two consuls instead of one, after they 
had abolished the office of rc.v. Two consuls would bal- 
ance the military power between them, and prevent either 
from becoming supreme. Among the Iroquois this office 
never became influential. 

In Indian Ethnography the subjects of primary im- 
portance are the gens, phratry, tribe and confederacy. 
They exhibit the organization of society. Next to these 
are the tenure and functions of the office of sachem and 
chief, the functions of the council of chiefs, and the ten- 
ure and functions of the office of principal war-chief. 
\Yhen these are ascertained, the structure and principles 
of their governmental system will be known. A knowl- 
edge of their usages and customs, of their arts and in- 
ventions, and of their plan of life will then fill out the 
picture. In the work of American investigators too 
little attention has been given to the former. They 
still afford a rich field in which much information 
may be gathered. Our knowledge, which is now 
general, should be made minute and comparative. 
The Indian tribes in the Lower, and in the Middle Status 
of barbarism, represent two of the great stages of prog- 
ress from savagery to civilization. Our own remote 
forefathers passed through the same conditions, one after 
the other, and possessed, there can scarcely be a doubt, 
the same, or very similar institutions, with many of the 
same usages and customs. However little we may be inter- 
ested in the American Indians personally, their expe- 


rience touches us more nearly, as an exemplification of 
the experience of our own ancestors. Our primary in- 
stitutions root themselves in a prior gentile society in 
which the gens, phratry and tribe were the organic series, 
and in which the council of chiefs was ther instrument of 
government. The phenomena of their ancient society 
must have presented many points in common with that 
of the Iroquois and other Indian tribes. This view of 
the matter lends an additional interest to the comparative 
institutions of mankind. 

The Iroquois confederacy is an excellent exemplifica- 
tion of a gentile society under this form of organization. 
It seems to realize all the capabilities of gentile institu- 
tions in the Lower Status of barbarism ; leaving an oppor- 
tunity for further development, but no subsequent plan 
of government until the institutions of political society, 
founded upon territory and upon property, with the 
establishment of which the gentile organization would be 
overthrown. The intermediate stages were transitional, 
remaining military democracies to the end, except where 
tyrannies founded upon usurpation were temporarily es- 
tablished in their places. The condeferacy of the Iro- 
quois was essentially democratical ; because it was com- 
posed of gentes each of which was organized upon the 
common principles of democracy, not of the highest but 
of the primitive type, and because the tribes reserved the 
ri^ht of local self-government. They conquered other 
tribes and held them in subjection, as for example the 
Delawares; but the latter remained under the govern- 
ment of their own chiefs, and added nothing to the 
strength of the confederacy. It was impossible in this 
state of society to unite tribes under one government who 
spoke different languages, or to hold conquered tribes 
under tribute with any benefit but the tribute. 

This exposition of the Iroquois confederacy is far from 
exhaustive of the facts, but it has been carried far 
enough to answer by present object. The Iroquois were 
a vigorous and intelligent people, with a brain approach- 
ing in volume the Aryan average. Eloquent in oratory, 
vindictive in war, and indomitable in perseverance, they 


have gained a place in history. If their military achieve- 
ments are dreary with the atrocities of savage warfare, 
they have illustrated some of the highest virtues of man- 
kind in their relations with each other. The confederacy 
which they organized must be regarded as a remarkable 
production of wisdom and sagacity. One of its avowed 
objects was peace ; to remove the cause of strife by unit- 
ing their tribes tinder one government, and then extend- 
ing it by incorporating other tribes of the same name and 
lineage. They urged the Eries and the Neutral Nation 
to become members of the confederacy, and for their re- 
fusal expelled them from their borders. Such an insight 
into the highest objects of government is creditable to 
their intelligence. Their numbers were small, but they 
counted in their ranks a large number of able men. This 
proves the high grade of the stock. 

From their position and military strength they exer- 
cised a marked influence upon the course of events be- 
tween the English and the French in their competition 
for supremacy in North America. As the two were 
nearly equal in power and resources during the first cen- 
tury of colonization, the French may ascribe to the Iro- 
quois, in no small degree the overthrow of their plans 
of empire in the New World. 

With a knowledge of the gens in its archaic form and 
of its capabilities as the unit of a social system, we shall 
Be better able to understand the gentes of the Greeks and 
Romans yet to be considered. The same scheme of gov- 
ernment composed of gentes, phratries and tribes in a 
gentile society will be found among them as they stood 
at the threshold of civilization, with the superadded ex- 
perience of two entire ethnical periods. Descent among 
them was in the male line, property was inherited by the 
children of the owner instead of the agnatic kindred, and 
the family was now assuming the monogamian form. 
The growth of property, now becoming a commanding 
element, and the increa'se of numbers gathered in walled 
cities were slowly demonstrating the necessity for the 
second great plan of government the political The old 
gentile system was becoming incapable of meeting the 


requirements of society as it approached civilization. 
Glimpses of a state, founded upon territory and property, 
were breaking upon the Grecian and Roman minds be- 
fore which gentes and tribes were to disappear. To 
enter upon the second plan of government, it was neces- 
sary to supersede the gentes by townships and city wards 
the gentile by a territorial system. The going down 
of the gentes and the uprising of organized townships 
mark the dividing line, pretty nearly, between the bar- 
barian and the civilized worlds between ancient and 
modern society. 



When America was first discovered in its several reg- 
ions, the Aborogines were found in two dissimilar con- 
ditions. First were the Village Indians, who depended 
almost exclusively upon horticulture for subsistence; 
such were the tribes in this status in New Mexico, Mex- 
ico and Central America, and upon the plateau of the 
Andes. Second, were the Non-horticultural Indians, who 
depended upon fish, bread-roots and game; such were 
the Indians of the Valley of the Columbia, of the Hud- 
bon's Bay Territory, of parts of Canada, and of some 
other sections of America. Between these tribes, and 
connecting the extremes by insensible gradations, were 
the partially Village, and partially Horticultural Indians ; 
such were the Iroquois, the New England and Virginia 
Indians, the Creeks, Choctas, Cherokees, Minnitarees, Da- 
kotas and Shawnees. The weapons, arts, usages, inven- 
tions, dances, house architecture, form of government, and 
plan of life of all alike bear the impress of a common 
mind, and reveal, through their wide range, the successive 
stages of development of the same original conceptions. 
Our first mistake consisted in overrating the. comparative 
advancement of the Village Indians; and our second in 
underrating that of the Non-horticultural, and of the par- 
tially Village Indians: whence resulted a third, that of 
separating one from the other and regarding them as dif- 
ferent races. There was a marked difference in the con- 


ditions in which they were severally found ; for a num- 
ber of the Non-horticultural tribes were in the Upper 
Status of savagery; the intermediate tribes were in the 
Lower Status of barbarism, and the Village Indians were 
in the Middle Status. The evidence of their unity of or- 
igin has now accumulated to such a degree as to leave 
no reasonable doubt upon the question, although this con- 
clusion is not universally accepted. The Eskimos belong 
to a different family. 

In a previous work I presented the system of consan- 
guinity and affinity of some seventy American Indian 
tribes ; and upon the fact of their joint possession of the 
same system, with evidence of its derivation from a com- 
mon source, ventured to claim for them the distinctive 
rank of a family of mankind, under the name of the Ga- 
nowanian, the "Family of the Bow and Arrow."* 

Having considered the attributes of the gens in its 
archaic form, it remains to indicate the extent of its prev- 
alence in the tribes of the Ganowanfan family. In this 
chapter the organization will be traced among them, con- 
fining the statements to the names of the gentes in each 
tribe, with their rules of descent and inheritance as to 
property and office. Further explanations will be added 
when necessary. The main point to be established is the 
existence or non-existence of the gentile organization 
among them. Wherever the institution has been found 
in these several tribes it is the -same in all essential re- 
spects as the gens of the Iroquois, and therefore needs 
no further exposition in this connection. Unless the con- 
trary is stated, it may be understood that the existence 
of the organization was ascertained by the author from 
the Indian tribe or some of its members. The classifi- 
cation of tribes follows that adopted in "Systems of Con- 

* "Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family.'* 
("Smithsonian Contribution! to Knowledge/' rot. xrii, 1871, p. 181.) 


I. Hodenosaunian Tribes. 

1. Iroquois. The gentes of the Iroquois have been 
considered. * 

2. Wyandotes. This tribe, the remains of the ancient 
Hurons, is composed of eight gentes, as follows : 

1. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Beaver. 4. Turtle. 5. Deer. 
6. Snake. 7. Porcupine. 8. Hawk.* 

Descent is in the female line with marriage in the gens 
prohibited. The office of sachem, or civil chief, is he- 
reditary in the gens, but elective among its members. 
They have seven sachems and seven war-chiefs, the 
Hawk gens being now extinct. The office of sachem 
passes from brother to brother, or from uncle to nephew ; 
but that of war chief was bestowed in reward of merit, 
and was not hereditary. Property was hereditary in the 
gens; consequently children took nothing from their 
father ; but they inherited their mother's effects. Where 
the rule is stated hereafter it will be understood that un- 
married as well as married persons are included. Each 
gens had power to depose as well as elect its chiefs. The 
Wyandotes have been separated from the Iroquois at 
least four hundred years ; but they still have five gentes 
in common, although their names have either changed 
beyond identification, or new names have been substi- 
tuted by one or the other. 

The Eries, Neutral Nation, Nottoways, Tutelos, 1 and 
Susquehannocks * now extinct or absorbed in other 
tribes, belong to the same lineage. Presumably they 
were organized in gentes, but the evidence of the fact is 

1 1. Wolf, Tor-yoh'-no. 2. Bear, Ne-e-ar-fny'-ee. 8, Braver, Non- 
car-ne'-e-ar.-goh. 4. Turtle, Oa-ne-e-ar- ten-go -wa, 5. Deer, Na-o'-geh. 
6. Bnlp*, Doo-eeee-doo-we'. 7. Heron, Jo-fts'-eefe. 8. Hawk, Os-sweh- 

** Y^Ah-na-reae'-kwa, Bon* Gnawers. 2. Ah-nthyeh', Tree Liver. 
8. Tuo-ta'-ee, Shy Animal. 4. Oe-ah'-wlah, Fine Land. 5. Oe-ken*-o- 
fob. Roaming. 6. Stnt-galn'-sce. Creeplaff. 7. Ya-ra-Bat**-**, Tall 

* If r. ' Horatio Y?al? baa recently proved the connection of the 
Ttiteloa with the Iroquola. 

Mr. Francis Parkmtn. author of the brilliant aertet of works on 
the colonisation of America, was the first to establish the afl)Umtton 
of $e ftatQoebannocU with fhe Iroquois, 


II. Dakotian Tribes. 

A large number of tribes are included in this great 
stock of the American aborigines. At the time of their 
discovery they had fallen into a number of groups, and 
their language into a number of dialects ; but they inhab- 
ited, in the main, continuous areas. They occupied the 
head waters of the Mississippi, and both banks of the 
Missouri for more than a thousand miles in extent. In 
all probability the Iroquois, and their cognate tribes, 
were an offshoot from this stem. 

I. Dakotas or Sioux. The Dakotas, consisting at the 
present time of some twelve independent tribes, have al- 
lowed the gentile organization to fall into decadence. It 
seems substantially certain that they once possessed it 
because their nearest congeners, the Missouri tribes, arc 
now thus organized. They have societies named after 
animals analogous to gentes, but the latter are now want- 
ing. Carver, who was among them in 1767, remarks 
that "every separate body of Indians is divided into bands 
or tribes; which band or tribe forms a little community 
within the nation to which it belongs. As the nation has 
some particular symbol by which it is distinguished from 
others, so each tribe has a badge from which it is denom- 
inated; as that of the eagle, the panther, the tiger, the 
buffalo, etc. One band of the Naudowissies (Sioux) is 
represented by a Snake, another a Tortoise, a third a 
Squirrel, a fourth a Wolf, and a fifth a Buffalo. 
Throughout every nation they particularize themselves in 
the same manner, and the meanest person among them 
will remember his lineal descent, and distinguish himself 
by his respective family." l He visited the eastern Da- 
kotas on the Mississippi. From this specific statement I 
see no reason to doubt that the gentile organization was 
then in full vitality among them. When I visited the 
eastern Dakotas in 1861, and the western in 1862, I could 
find no satisfactory traces of gentes among them. A 
change in the mode of life among the Dakotas occurred 
between these dates when they were forced upon the 

i 'Travels In North America," Phil*. *d., 17*6, p. 114. 


plains, and fell into nomadic bands, which may, perhaps, 
explain the decadence of gentilism among them. 

Carver also noticed the two grades of chiefs among 
the western Indians, which have been explained as they 
exist among the Iroquois. "Every band/' he observes, 
"has a chief who is termed the Great Chief, or the Chief 
Warrior, and who is chosen in consideration of his ex- 
perience in war, and of his approved valor, to direct their 
military operations, and to regulate all concerns belong- 
ing to that department. But this chief is not considered 
the head of the state; besides the great warrior who is 
elected for his warlike qualifications, there is another who 
enjoys a pre-eminence as his hereditary right, and has 
the more immediate management of their civil affairs. 
This chief might with greater propriety be denominated 
the sachem ; whose assent is necessary to all conveyances 
and treaties, to which he affixes the mark of the tribe 
or nation." 1 

2. Missouri tribes, i. Punkas. This tribe is com- 
posed of eight gentes, as follows : 

i. GrizzV Bear. 2. Many People. 3. Elk. 

4. Skunk. 5. Buffalo. 6. Snake. 7. Medicine. 8. Ice. f 

In this tribe, contrary to the general rule, descent is 
in the male line, the children belonging to the gens of 
their father. Intermarriage in the gens is prohibited. 
The office of sachem is hereditary in the gens, the choice 
being determined by election ; but the sons of a deceased 
sachem are eligible. It is probable that the change from 
the archaic form was recent, from the fact that among 
the Otoes and Missouris, two of the eight Missouri tribes, 
and also among the Mandans, descent is still in the fe- 
male 1 line. Property is hereditary in the gens. 

2. Omahas. This tribe is composed of the following 
twelve gentes: 

i. Deer. 2. Black. 3. Bird. 4 Turtle. 5. Buf- 
falo. 6. Bear. 7. Medicine 8. Kaw. 9. Head. 
10. Red. ii. Thunder. 12. Manv Seasons. 8 

i "Travels in North America," p. 
a 1. Wa-Bfc'-be. 2. De-a-ghe'-ta. 
kuh'. 5. Wt-shi'-ba. f. Wa 
& 1* Wa'-these-ta, 2. Ink 

rica, p. i5i>. 

rhe'-ta. 3. Na-ko-poz'-na. 4. Moh- 
i-zha'-zha. 7. Noh r -ga. 8. Wah'~*a. 
-ka'-M-ba, 3. Lt'-tl-da. 4. Kl'-ltt. 


Descent, inheritance, and the law of marriage are the 
same as among the Punkas. 

3. lowas. In like manner the lowas have eight gentes, 
as follows: 

1. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Cow Buffalo. 4. Elk. 
5. Eagle 6. Pigeon. 7. Snake. 8. Owl. 1 

A gens of the Beaver Pa-kuh-tha once existed among 
the lowas and Otoes, but it is now extinct. Descent, in- 
heritance, and the prohibition of intermarriage in the 
gents are the same as among the Punkas. 

4. Otoes and Missouris. These tribes have coalesced 
into one, and have the eight following gentes: 

1. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Cow Buffalo. 4. Elk. 
5. Eagle. 6. Pigeon. 7. Snake. 8. Owl.' 

Descent among the Otoes and Missouris is in the fe- 
male line, the children belonging to the gens of their 
mother. The office of sachem, and property arc hered- 
itary in the gens, in which intermarriage is prohibited. 

5. Raws. The Kaws (Kaw-za) have the following 
fourteen gentes: 

1. Deer. 2. Bear. 3. Buffalo. 4. Eagle ( white). 

5. Eagle (black). 6. Duck. 7. Elk. 8. Raccoon. 

9. Prairie Wolf. 10. Turtle. 11. Earth. 12. Deer 
Tail. 13. Tent. 11. Thunder.' 

The Kaws are among the wildest of the American 
aborigines, but are an intelligent and interesting people. 
Descent, inheritance and marriage regulations among 
them are the same as among the Punkas. It will be ob- 
served that there are two Eaq:le gentes, and two of the 
Deer, which afford a good illustration of the scgmenta- 

5. Da-thun'-dA. 0. Wa-a*ba. 7. TTun'-ca. R. Kun*-a. 0, Ta'-pa, 

10. In gru'-zhe-da. 11. Ih-da'-Hiin-da. 12. O-non-e'-ka-ga-ha. 

* 1. M-Je'-ra-Ja. a. Too mmi'-po. ,'i. Ah' m wha. 4. Ho' -dash. 
5. C'hrh'-hP ta. . I/tf-cbfh. 7. Wa-kcrii'. 8. Ma'-kotch. 

H rppnMfnt.s a drop sonant guttural. It IH mitt<* common in th 
dlal^ftH of rbr Missouri trlhrn, and nlso In th*> Minnltarro and fro*-. 

3 1. Me -Jr'-ra-ja. i. Moon'-rha. 3. Ah* ro-wha. 4. Hoo* ma. 
5. Kha'a. . f.uto'-Ja. 7. Wa f lea. S. M-nMcotch. 

t. Ta-kp-ka-ghe'-ftfi. 2. Wn'-ta yr-jru. a. Mn-e'-fcw? ah-ha. 4. Hu- 
r'-ya. n. Hun ^o tin'-ga. rt. Mo hn hun'-gi. 7. O' pa. A. 
r 8bo'-ma-koo sn. to. Do-ha kol'-ya, 11. Mo-r'-kn nc ka'- 
i^ f id, Ic'-ba-ibe, 14, 


tion of a gens ; the Eagle gens having probably divided 
into two and distinguished themselves by the names of 
white and black. The Turtle will be found hereafter as 
a further illustration of the same fact. When I visited 
the Missouri tribes in 1859 and X 86o, I was unable to 
reach the Osages and Quappas. The eight tribes thus 
named speak closely affiliated dialects of the Dakotian 
stock language, and the presumption that the Osages and 
Quappas are organized in gentes is substantially con- 
clusive. In 1869, the Kaws, then much reduced, num- 
bered seven hundred, which would give an average of 
but fifty persons to a gens. The home country of these 
several tribes was along the Missouri and its tributaries 
from the mouth of the Big Sioux river to the Mississippi, 
and down the west bank of the latter river to the Ar- 

3. Winnebagoes. When discovered this tribe resided 
near the lake of their name in Wisconsin. An offshoot 
from the .Dakotian stem, they were apparently following 
the track of the Iroquois eastward to the valley of the 
St. Lawrence, when their further progress in that direc- 
tion was arrested by the Algonkin tribes between Lakes 
Huron and Superior. Their nearest affiliation is with 
the Missouri tribes. They have eight gentes as follows : 

i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3'. Buffalo. 4. Eagle. 5. Elk. 
6. Deer. 7. Snake. 8. Thunder. l 

Descent, inheritance, and the law of marriage are the 
same among them as among the Punkas. It is surpris- 
ing that so many tribes of this stock should have changed 
descent from the female line to the male, because when 
first known the idea of property was substantially unde- 
veloped, or but slightly beyond the germinating stage, 
and could hardly, as among the Greeks and Romans, have 
been the operative cause. It is probable that it occurred 
at a recent period under American and missionary in- 
fluences. Carver found traces of descent in the female 
line in 1787 among the Winnebapoes. "Some nations," 

i 1. Shonk-chun'-ira-dL I. Hone-ch'-di. 1. Cha'-rt. 4, Wahk- 
cha'-b-dl, S. Hoo-wun'-ai. 6. Chi'-ri. 7. Wt-kom'-iu. 
I. Wa-fcoo'-chl-ri. 


he remarks, "when the dignity is hereditary, limit the suc- 
cession to the female line. On the death of a chief his 
sisters' son succeeds him in preference to his own son; 
and if he happens to have no sister the nearest female 
relation assumes the dignity. This accounts for a woman 
being at the head of the Winnebago nation, which, be- 
fore I was acquainted with their laws, appeared strange 
to me." 1 In 1869, the Winnebagoes numbered fourteen 
hundred, which would give an average of one hundred 
and fifty persons to the gens. 

4. Upper Missouri Tribes. 

i. Mandans. In intelligence and in the arts of We the 
Mandans were in advance of all their kindred tribes, for 
which they were probably indebted to the Minnitarees. 
They are divided into seven gentes as follows: 

1. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Prairie Chicken. 4. Good 
Knife. 5. Eagle. 6. Flathead. 7. High Village. 2 

Descent is in the female line, with office and property 
hereditary in the gens. Intermarriage in the gens is not 
permitted. Descent in the female line among the Man- 
dans would be singular where so many tribes of the same 
stock have it in the male, were it not in the archaic form 
from which the other tribes had but recently departed. 
It affords a strong presumption that it was originally in 
the female line in all the Dakotian tribes. This informa- 
tion with respect to the Mandans was obtained at the old 
Mandan Village in the Upper Missouri, in 1862, from 
Joseph Kip, whose mother was a Mandan woman. He 
confirmed the fact of descent by naming his mother's 
gens, which was also his own. 

2. Minnitarees. This tribe and the Upsarokas (Up- 
sar'-o-kas) or Crows, are subdivisions of an original peo- 
ple. They are doubtful members of this branch of the 
Ganow&nian family : although from the number of words 
in their dialects and in those of the Missouri and Dakota 
tribes which are common, they have been placed with 

i Travels, loc. clt.," p. 166. 

9 I. Ho-ra-ta'-mti-make. I. Ml-to'-no-mtkt. 3. 8*poosh' 
4. Tl-na-titi'-k*. 6. Kl-tl'-ne-mlk*. I. E-iti-pa'. 7. M 


them linguistically. They have had an antecedent expe- 
rience of which but little is known. Minnitarees carried 
horticulture, the timber-framed house, and a peculiar 
religious system into this area which they taught to the 
Mandans. There is a possibility that they are descend- 
ants of the Mound-Builders. They have the sevon fol- 
lowing gentes : 

I. Knife. 2. Water. 3. Lodge. 4. Prairie Chicken. 
5. Hill People. 6. Unknown Animal. 7. Bonnet. l 

Descent is in the female line, intermarriage in the gens 
is forbidden, and the office of sachem as well as property 
is hereditary in the gens. The Minnitarees and Mandans 
now live together in the same village. In personal ap- 
pearance they are among the finest specimens of the Red 
Man now living in any part of North America. 

3. Upsarokas or Crows. This tribe has the following 
gentes : 

i. Prairie Dog. 2. Bad Leggins. 3. Skunk. 

4. Treacherous Lodges. 5. Lost Lodges. 6. Bad Hon- 
ors. 7. Butchers. 8. Moving Lodges. 9. Bear's Paw 
Mountain. 10. Blackfoot Lodges, n. Fish Catchers. 
12. Antelope. 13. Raven. 8 

Descent, inheritance and the prohibition of intermar- 
riage in the gens, are the same as among the Minnitarees. 
Several of the names of the Crow gentes are unusual, 
and more suggestive of bands than of gentes. For a 
time I was inclined to discredit them. But the existence 
of the organization into gentes was clearly established 
by their rules of descent, and marital usages, and by their 
laws of inheritance with respect to property. My inter- 
preter when among the Crows was Robert Meldrum, 
then one of the factors of the American Fur Company, 
who had lived with the Crows forty years, and was one 
of their chiefs. He had mastered the language so com- 

i 1. Mlt-che-ro'-ka. 2. Min-ne-pi'-ta. 3. Bl-ho-hl'-ta. 4. 
Seech-ka-be-ruh-pl'-ka. 5. E-tich-aho'-ka. C. Ah-nah-ha-nl'- 
mt-te. 7. B-ku'-pl-be-ka. 

i 1. A-ch-pa-be -cha. t. E-sach'-ka-buk. 3. Ho-ka-rut'-cha. 
4. Ah-bot-ch6-ah. 6. Ah-thtn'.ni*de'-ah. t. Est-kep-kt'-buk. 
7. Oo*al-bot'*e. 8. Ah-hl-chlck. 9. Ship-tet'-Bi. 10. Ash* 
kane'-na, 11. Boo-a-di'-sha. 12. 0-hot-4tt'-ha. II. Pet-chafe* 


pletely that he thought in it. The following special 
usages with respect to inheritance were mentioned by 
him. If a person to whom any article of property had 
been presented died with it in his possession, and the 
donor was dead, it reverted to the gens of the latter. 
Property made or acquired by a wife descended after her 
death to her children; while that of her husband after 
his decease belonged to his gentile kindred. If a person 
made a present to a friend and died, the latter must per- 
form some recognized act of mourning, such as cutting 
off the joint of a finger at the funeral, or surrender the 
property to the gens of his deceased friend. 1 

The Crows have a custom with respect to marriage, 
which I have found in at least forty other Indian tribes, 
which may be mentioned here, because some use will be 
made of it in a subsequent chapter. If a man marries 
the eldest daughter in a family he is entitled to all her 
sisters as additional wives when they attain maturity. 
He may waive the right, but if he insists, his superior 
claim would be recognized by her gens. Polygamy is 
allowed by usage among the American aborigines gen- 
erally ; but it was never prevalent to any considerable ex- 
tent from the inability of persons to support more than 
one family. Direct proof of the existence of the custom 
first mentioned was afforded by Meldrum's wife, then at 
the age of twenty-five. She was captured when a child 
in a foray upon the Blackfeet, and became Meldrum's 
captive. He induced his mother-in-law to adopt the child 
into her gens and family, which made the captive the 
younger sister of his then wife, and gave him the right 
to take her as another wife when she reached maturity. 
He availed himself of this usage of the tribe to make his 
claim paramount. This usage has a great antiquity in 

1 This practice at an act of mourning Is reir common among the 
Crows, and also a a religious offering when the; hold a ''Medicine 
Lodge," a great religions ceremonial. In a hasket hong np In a 
Medicine Lodge for their reception as offerings, fifty, and sometime 
a hundred finger Joints, I bare been told, are sometimes thus col- 
lected. At a Crow encampment on the Upper Missouri I noticed a 
number of women and am with their hands mutilated hj this prae- 


the human family. It is a survival of the old custom of 

III. Gulf Tribes. 

I. Muscokees or Creeks. The Creek Confederacy 
consisted of six Tribes; namely, the Creeks, Hitchetes, 
Yoochees, Alabamas, Coosatees, and Natches, all of 
whom spoke dialects of the same language, with the ex- 
ception of the Natches, who were admitted into the con- 
federacy after their overthrow by the French. 

x The Creeks are composed of twenty-two gentes as fol- 

I. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Skunk. 4. Alligator. 5. Deer. 
6. Bird. 7. Tiger. 8. Wind. 9. Toad. 10. Mole, 
ii. Fox. 12. Raccoon. 13. Fish. 14. Corn. 15. Po- 
tato. 16. Hickory Nut. 17. Salt. 18. Wild Cat. 
19. (Sig'nLost). 20. (Sig'n Lost). 1 21. (Sig'nLost). 
22. (Sig'n Lost). * 

The remaining tribes of this confederacy are said to 
have had the organization into gentes, as the author was 
informed by the Rev. S. M. Loughridge, who was for 
many years a missionary among the Creeks, and who 
furnished the names of the gentes above given. He 
further stated that descent among the Creeks was in the 
female line; that the office of sachem and the property 
of deceased persons were hereditary in the gens, and that 
intermarriage in the gens was prohibited. At the present 
time the Creeks are partially civilized with a changed 
plan of life. They have substituted a political in place 
of the old social system, so that in a few years all traces 
of their old gentile institutions will have disappeared. In 
1869 they numbered about fifteen thousand, which would 
give an average of five hundred and fifty persons to the 

i 1. Yl'-hl. 2. No-kuse'. *. Ku'-mu. 4. Kal-pftt'-lu. I. IT- 
cho. 6. Tui'-wi. 7. Kat'-cha. 8. Ho-torMe. 9. So-ptk'-tft. 
10. Tttk'-ko. 11. Cha'-ll. 12. Wo'tko. 15. Hfi'-hlo. 14. U'-che. 
U. Ah'-ah. 16. O-che'. 17. Ok-chfm'-wi. 18.. Ka-wi'-ku-ch*. 
19. Tl-mul'-kee. 20. Ak-tu-yE-chul'-ke*. 21. Ii-fl-n(U'-k. 

21. Wft-hlftk-kfil-kee. 

8 Sir'n equals signification. 


2. Choctas. Among the Choctas the phratric organl* 
zation appears in a conspicuous manner, because each 
phratry is named, and stands out plainly as a phratry. It 
doubtless existed in a majority of the tribes previously 
named, but the subject has not been specially investi- 
gated. The tribe of the Creeks consists of eight gentes 
arranged in two phratries, composed of four gentes each, 
as among the Iroquois. 

I. Divided People. (First Phratry}. 

i. Reed. 2. Law Okla. 3. Lulak. 4. Linoklusha. 
II. Beloved People. (Second Phratry). 

i. Beloved People. 2. Small People. 3. Large Peo- 
ple. 4. Cray Fish. * 

The gentes of the same phratry could not intermarry ; 
but the members of either of the first gentes could marry 
into either gens of the second, and vice versa. It shows 
that the Choctas, like the Iroquois, commenced with two 
gentes, each of which afterwards subdivided into four, 
and that the original prohibition of intermarriage in the 
gens had followed the subdivisions. Descent among the 
Choctas was in the female line. Property and the office 
of sachem were hereditary in the gens. In 1869 they 
numbered some twelve thousand, which would give an 
average of fifteen hundred persons to a gens. The fore- 
going information was communicated to the author by 
the late Dr. Cyrus Byington, who entered the mission- 
ary service in this tribe in 1820 while they still resided 
in their ancient territory east of the Mississippi, who re- 
moved with them to the Indian Territory, and died in 
the missionary service about the year 1868, after forty- 
five years of missionary labors. A man of singular ex- 
cellence and purity of character, he has left behind him 
a name and a memory of which humanity may be proud. 
A Chocta once expressed to Dr. Byington a wish that 
he might be made a citizen of the United States, for the 
reason that his children would then inherit his property 

i First. Ku-ihap'. Ok'-ll, 

1. Kush-lk'-si. 2. Law-ok'-li. 3. Lu-lak Ik'-il. 4. Lln-ok- 

Second. Wi'tik-I-HO.UMi. 
1. Chu-fan-ik'-BL 2. Ii-ku-la-nl. 3. Chi'-to. 4. Shak-chuk'-Uu 


instead of his gentile kindred under the old law of the 
gens. Chocta usages would distribute his property after 
his death among his brothers and sisters and the children 
of his sisters. He could, however, give his property to his 
children in his life-time, in which case they could hold it 
against the members of his gens. Many Indian tribes 
now have considerable property in domestic animals and 
in houses and lands owned by individuals, among whom 
the practice of giving it to their children in their life- 
time has become common to avoid gentile inheritance. 
As property increased in quantity the disinheritance of 
children began to arouse opposition to gentile inherit- 
ance; and in some of the tribes, that of the Choctas 
among the number, the old usage was abolished a few 
years since, and the right to inherit was vested exclusive- 
ly in the children of the deceased owner. It came, how- 
ever, through the substitution of a political system in the 
place of the gentile system, an elective council and mag- 
istracy being substituted in place of the old government 
of chiefs. Under the previous usuages the wife inherited 
nothing from her husband, nor he from her; but the 
wife's effects were divided among her children, and in 
default of them, among her sisters. 

3. Chickasas. In like manner the Chickasas were or- 
ganized in two phratries. of which the first contains four, 
and the second eight gentcs, as follows: 

I. Panther Phratry. 

i. Wild Cat. 2. Hird. 3. Fish. 4. Deer. 

II. Spanish Phratry. 

i. Raccoon. 2. Spanish. 3. Royal. 4. Hush-ko- 
ni. 5. Squirrel. 6. Alligator. 7. Wolf. 8. Black- 
bird. * 

Descent was in the female line, intermarriage in the 
gens was prohibited, and property as well as the office 
of sachem were hereditary in the gens. The above par- 
ticulars were obtained from the Rev. Charles C. Cope- 

i I. Kol. 
1. Ko-ln-chuHh. 2. Ha-tiik-fu-shi. 3. Nun-ni. 4. Is !. 

II. lah-pin-ee. 

1. 8hl-u-e. 2. Ish-pln-ee. 3. Minc-ko. 4. Huih-ko-ni. 
I. Tun-nl. I. Ho-chon-chab-ba. 7. Nl-sho-li. 8. Chuh-hH. 


land, an American missionary residing with this tribe. 
In 1869 they numbered some five thousand, which would 
give an average of about four hundred persons to the 
gens. A new gens seems to have been formed after their 
intercourse with the Spaniards commenced, or this name, 
for reasons, may have been substituted in the place of 
an original name. One of the phratries is also called the 

4. Cherokees. This tribe was anciently composed of 
ten gentes, of which two, the Acorn, Ah-ne-dsu'-la f and 
the Bird, Ah-ne-dse-skwa, are now extinct. They arc 
the following: 

I. Wolf. 2. Red Paint. 3. Long Prairie. 

4. Deaf. (A bird.) 5. Holly. 6. Deer. 7. Blue. 
8. Long Hair. * 

Descent is in the female line, and intermarriage in the 
gens prohibited. In 1869 the Cherokees numbered four- 
teen thousand which would give an average of seventeen 
hundred and fifty persons to each gens. This is the larg- 
est number, so far as the fact is known, ever found in a 
single gens among the American aborigines. The Cher- 
okees and O jib was at the present time exceed all the re- 
maining Indian tribes within the United States in the 
number of persons speaking the same dialect. It may 
be remarked further, that it is not probable that there 
ever was at any time in any part of North America a hun- 
dred thousand Indians who spoke the same dialect. The 
Aztecs, Tezcucans and Tlascalans were the only tribes of 
whom so large a number could, with any propriety, be 
claimed ; and with respect to them it is difficult to per- 
ceive how the existence of so large a number in either 
tribe could be established, at the epoch of the Spanish 
Conquest, upon trustworthy evidence. The unusual num- 
bers of the Creeks and Cherokees is due to the possession 
of domestic animals and a well-developed field agricul- 
ture. They are now partially civilized, having substi- 

i 1. Ah-n-whf'*yl. 2. Ah-ne-who'-teh. 3. Ah-n*-**-tl-ra'* 
alh.. 4. Dsfi-nMl'-a-na. 5. U nl-idl'-idl. I. Ah-nee-kl'-wih. 
1. Ah-no-M-bok'-nlh. I. Ah-sift-ka-lo'-hi*h.. 

Ah*n ifnifiei th plural. 


tuted an elective constitutional government in the place 
of the ancient gentes, under the influence of which the 
latter are rapidly falling into decadence. 

5. Seminoles. This tribe is of Creek descent. They 
are said to be organized into gentes, but the particulars 
have not been obtained. 

IV. Pawnee Tribes. 

Whether or not the Pawnees are organized in gentes 
has not been ascertained. Rev. Samuel Allis, who had 
formerly been a missionary among them, expressed to 
the author his belief that they were, although he had not 
investigated the matter specially. He named the follow- 
ing gentes of which he believed they were composed : 

I. Bear. 2. Beaver. 3. Eagle. 4. Buffalo. 
5. Deer. 6. Owl. 

I once met a band of Pawnees on the Missouri, but 
was unable to obtain an interpreter. 

The Arickarees, whose village is near that of the Min- 
nitarees, are the nearest congeners of the Pawnees, and 
the same difficulty occurred with them. These tribes, 
with the Huecos and some two or three other small tribes 
residing on the Canadian river, have always lived west 
of the Missouri, and speak an independent stock lan- 
guage. If the Pawnees are organized in gentes, pre- 
sumptively the other tribes are the same. 

V. Algonkin Tribes. 

At the epoch of their discovery this great stock of the 
American aborigines occupied the area from the Rocky 
Mountains to Hudson's Bay, south of the Siskatchewun, 
and thence eastward to the Atlantic, including both 
shores of Lake Superior, except at its head, and both 
banks of the St. Lawrence below Lake Champlain. Their 
area extended southward along the Atlantic coast to 
North Carolina, and down the east bank of the Missis- 
sippi in Wisconsin and Illinois to Kentucky. Within the 
eastern section of this immense region the Iroquois and 
their affiliated tribes were an intrusive people, their only 
competitor for supremacy within its boundaries. 


Gitchigamian 1 Tribes. I. Ojibwas. The Ojibwas 
speak the same dialect, and are organized in gentes, of 
which the names of twenty-three have been obtained 
without being certain that they include the whole num- 
ber. In the Ojibwa dialect the word totem, quite as often 
pronounced dodaim, signifies the symbol or device of a 
gens; thus the figure of a wolf was the totem of the 
Wolf gens. From this Mr. Schoolcraft used the words 
"totemic system/' to express the gentile organization, 
which would be perfectly acceptable were it not that we 
have both in the Latin and the Creek a terminology for 
every quality and character of the system which is al- 
ready historical. It may be used, however, with Advan- 
tage. The Ojibwas have the following gentes : 

i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Beaver. 4. Turtle (Mud). 
5. Turtle (Snapping). 6. Turtle (Little). 7. Rein- 
deer/ 8. Snipe. 9. Crane. 10. Pigeon Hawk. 

11. Bald Eagle. 12. Loon. 13. Jhick. 14. Duck. 

15. Snake. 16. Musk-rat. 17. Marten. 18. Heron. 
IQ. Bull-head. 20. Carp. 21. Cat Fish. 22. Sturg- 
eon. 23. Pike. 2 

Descent is in the male line, the children belonging to 
their father's gens. There are several reasons for the 
inference that it was originally in the female line, and 
that the change was comparatively recent. In the first 
place, the Delawares, who are recognized by all Algon- 
kin tribes as one of the oldest of their lineage, and who 
are styled "Grandfathers" by all alike, still have <!escent 
in the female line. Several other Algonkin tribe? have 
the same. Secondly, evidence still remains that within 
two or three generations back of the present, descent was 
in the female line, with respect to the office of chief. * 

i 1. From the Ojibwa, gl-tchl'. great, and gii'-me. lake, tho 
aboriginal name of Lake Superior, and other great lakes. 

a 1. My-een'-gun. 2. Ml-kwl'. 3. Ah-mlk'. 4. Me-she'-ki. 
5. Mlk-o-noh'. 6. Me-skwi-da'-re. 7. Ah dlk'. 8. Chu-e-skwe'- 
ke-wi. 9. O-Jee-Jok'. 10. Ka-kake'. 1 1. O-im-KC-e-ze'. 

12. Mong. 13. Ah-ah'-weh. 14. She-shebe'. 16. Ke-na'-bljf. 

16. Wa-zhuih'. 17. Wa-be-zhaze'. 18. Moowh-kM-oo-ze'. 19. Ah- 

wah-sis'-sa. 20. Nl-ma'-bln. 21. 22. NI-ma'. 23. Ke- 


3 An Ojibwa sachem, Ke-we'-kons, who died about 1840, at the 
age of ninety years, when asked by my informant why he did 
not retire from office and give place to hit son, replied, that his 


Thirdly, American and missionary influences have gen- 
erally opposed it. A scheme of descent which disinher- 
ited the sons seemed to the early missionaries, trained 
under very different conceptions, without justice or rea- 
son ; and it is not improbable that in a number of tribes, 
the O jib was included, the change was made under their 
teachings. And lastly, since several Algonkin tribes now 
have descent in the female line, it leads to the conclusion 
that it was anciently universal in the Ganowanian fam- 
ily, it being also the archaic form of the institution. 

Intermarriage in the gens is prohibited, and both prop- 
erty and office are hereditary in the gens. The children, 
however, at the present time, take the most of it to the 
exclusion of their gentile kindred. The property and 
effects of the mother pass to her children, and in default 
of them, to her sisters, own and collateral. In like man- 
ner the son may succeed his father in the office of 
sachem; but where there are several sons the choice is 
determined by the elective principle. The gentiles not 
only fleet, but they also retain the power to depose. At 
the present time the Ojibwas number some sixteen thou- 
sand, which would give an average of about seven hun- 
dred to each gens. 

2. Potawattamies. This tribe has fifteen gentes, as 
follows : 

i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Beaver. 4. Elk. 5. Loon. 
6. Eagle. 7. Sturgeon. 8. Carp. 9. Bald Eagle. 
10. Thunder. n. Rabbit. 12. Crow. 13. Fox. 
14. Turkey. 15. Black Hawk. l 

Descent, inheritance, and the law of marriage are the 
same as among the Ojibwas. 

on could not succeed him; that the right of succession belonged 
to his nephew, E-kwa'-ka-mlk, who must have the office. This 
nephew was a son of one of his sisters. From this statement 
it follows that descent, anciently, and within a recent period, 
was in the female line. It does not follow from the form of 
the statement that the nephew would take by hereditary right, 
but that he was in the line of succession, and his* election was 
substantially assured. 

i 1. Mo-lh'. 2. M'-ko*. S. Muk. 4. Mls-shl'-w*. 6. Mak. 
f. K'-nou'. 7. N'-mi*. 8. N'-mi-pe-ni'. >. M > --fte'*wiL 

10. Che'-kw*. 11. Wi-bo'-zo. 12. Kv-k&g'-she. 13. Wake-lhi'. 
14. Ptn'-ni. 16. M'-ke-eash'-she-ki-kah'. 16. O-U'-wa. 


3. Otawas. l The Ojibwas, Otavvas and Potawatta- 
mies were subdivisions of an original tribe. When first 
known they were confederated. The Otawas were un- 
doubtedly organized in gentes, but their names have not 
been obtained. 

4. Crees. This tribe, when discovered, held the north- 
west shore of Lake Superior, and spread from thence to 
Hudson's Bay, and westward to the Red River of the 
North. At a later lay they occupied the region of the 
Siskatchewun, and south of it. Like the Dakotas they 
have lost the gentile organization which presumptively 
once existed among them. Linguistically their nearest 
affiliation is with the Ojibwas, whom they closely resem- 
ble in manners and customs, and in personal appearance. 

Mississippi Tribes. The western Algonkins, grouped 
under this name, occupied the eastern banks of the Mis- 
sissippi in Wisconsin and Illinois, and extended south- 
ward into Kentucky, and eastward into Indiana. 

I. Miamis. The immediate congeners of the Miami's, 
namely, the Weas, Piankeshaws, Peorias, and Kaskas- 
kias, known at an earlv day, collectively, as the Illinois, 
are now few in numbers, and have abandoned their an- 
cient usages for a settled agricultural life. Whether or 
not they were formerly organized in gentes has not been 
ascertained, but it is probable that they were. The 
Miamis have the following ten gentes : 

1. Wolf. 2. Loon. 3. Eagle. 4. Buzzard. 
5. Panther. 6. Turkey. 7. Raccoon. 8. Snow. 
9. Sun. TO. Water. 3 

Under their changed condition and declining numbers 
the gentile organization is rapidly disappearing. When 
its decline commenced descent was in the male line, in- 
termarriage in the jifens was forbidden, and the office of 
sachem together with property were hereditary in the 

2. Shawnees. This remarkable and highly advanced 
tribe, one pf the highest representatives of the Algonkin 

i Pronounced O-tl'-wa. 

a 1. Mo-wha'-wl. 2. Mon-ffWI*. 3. Ken-da-wl'. 4. Ah-pi'- 
koee-e-i. 5. Ka-no-zK'-wa. 6. Pl-la-wa'. 7. Ah-te-pon'-nt. 
8. Mon-ni' to. y. Kul-awft'. 10. (Not obtained.) 


stock, still retain their gentes, although they have sub- 
stituted in place of the old gentile system a civil organiza- 
tion with a first and second head-chief and a council, 
each elected annually by popular suffrage. They have 
thirteen gentes, which they still maintain for social and 
genealogical purposes, as follows : 

i. Wolf. 2. Loon. 3. Bear. 4. Buzzard. 

5. Panther. 6. Owl. 7. Turkey. 8. Deer. 9. Rac- 
coon. 10. Turtle. II. Snake. 12. Horse. 
13. Rabbit. 1 

Descent, inheritance, and the rule with respect to mar- 
rying out of the gens are the same as among the Miamis. 
In 1869 the Shawnees numbered but seven hundred, 
which would give an average of about fifty persons to the 
gens. They once numbered three or four thousand per- 
sons, which was above the average among the American 
Indian tribes. 

The Shawnees had a practice, common also to the 
Miamis and Sauks and Foxes, of naming children into 
the gens of the father or of the mother or any other gens, 
under certain restrictions, which deserves a moment's 
notice. It has been shown that among the Iroquois each 
gens had its own special names for persons which no 
other gens had a right to use. 2 This usage was prob- 
ably general. Among the Shawnees these names carried 
with them the rights of the gens to which they belonged, 
so that the name determined the gens of the person. As 
the sachem must, in all cases, belong to the gens over 
which he is invested with authority, it is not unlikely 
that the change of descent from the female line to the 
male commenced in this practice; in the first place to 
enable a son to succeed his father, and in the second to 
enable children to inherit property from their father. If 

i 1. M'-wa-wa'. Ma-gwa'. 8. M'-kwa'. 4. We-wl'-see. 
5. M'-ee'-pa-ae. 6. M'-ath-wa'. 7. Pa-la-wi'. 8. Psake*the. 
9. Sha-pl-ti'. 10. Na-ma-thl'. 11. Ma-na-to'. 12. Pe-sa-wa*. 
13. PI-tlke-e-no-the'. 

t In every tribe the name indicated the gena. Thus, among 
the Sauks and Foxes Long Horn is a name belonging to the 
Deer gens; Black Wolf, to the wolf. In the Eagle gens the fol- 
lowing are specimen names: Ka'-po-ni, "Eagle drawing his 
nest:" Ja-ka-kwl-p, "Eagle sitting with his head up;'* Pe-I- 
... . .. . . flying over a limb." 


a son when christened received a name belonging to the 
gens of his father it would place him in his father's gen.- 
and in the line of succession, but subject to the elective 
principle. The father, however, had no control over the 
question. It was left by the gens to certain persons, most 
of them matrons, who were to be consulted when chil- 
dren were to be named, with power to determine the 
name to be given. By some arrangement between the 
Shawnee gentes these persons had this power, and the 
name when conferred in the prescribed manner, carried 
the person into the gens to which the name belonged. 

There are traces of the archaic rule of descent among 
the Shawnees, of which the following illustration may be 
given as it was mentioned to the author. La-ho'-weh, a 
sachem of the Wolf gens, when about to die, expressed 
a desire that a son of one of his sisters might succeed 
him in the place of his own son. But his nephew (Kos- 
kwa'-the) was of the Fish and his son of the Rabbit 
gens, so that neither could succeed him without first be- 
ing transferred, by a change of name, to the Wolf gens, 
in which the office was hereditary. His wish was re- 
spected. After his death the name of his nephew was 
changed to Tep-a-ta-go the', one of the Wolf names, and 
he was elected to the office. Such laxity indicates a 
decadence of the gentile organization; but it tends to 
show that at no remote period descent among the Shaw- 
nees was in the female line. 

3. Sauks and Foxes. These tribes are consolidated 
into one, and have the following gentes : 

i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Deer. 4. Elk. 5. Hawk. 
6. Eagle. 7. Fish. 8. Buffalo. 9. Thunder. 

10. Bone. IT. Fox. 12. Sea. 13. Sturgeon. 
14. Big Tree. l 

Descent, inheritance, and the rule requiring marriage 
out of the gens, are the same as among the Miamis. In 

i 1. Mo-whI-wiB'-o-uk. 2. Ma-kwli'-so-Jlk. S. Pi-sha'-ra* 
fta-wit-o-uk. 4. Mi-shi-wi-uk'. 6. Ki~kft-kwt0'-io-uk. 6. PI -mil'- 
o-uk. 7. Ni-mi-sii'-so-uk. 8. Na-nus-sus'-so-uk. Ni-ni-ma' 
kw-uk. 10. Ah-kuh' ne-nlk. 11. Wl-ko-a-wU'-io-llk. 

11. Ki-cht-kone-a-we'-ao-uk. 13. Ni-mi-we'--o-uk. 14. Mi- 


1869 they numbered but seven hundred, which would 
give an average of fifty persons to the gens. The num- 
ber of gentes still preserved affords seme evidence that 
they were several times more numerous within the prev- 
ious two centuries. 

4. Menominees and Kikapoos. These tribes, which 
are independent of each other, are organized in gentes, 
but their names have not been procured. With respect 
to the Menominees it may be inferred that, until a recent 
period, descent was in the female line, from the follow- 
ing statement made to the author, in 1859, by Antoine 
Cookie, a member of this tribe. In answer to a question 
concerning the rule of inheritance, he replied: "If I 
should die, my brothers and maternal uncles would rob 
my wife and children of my property. We now expect 
that our children will inherit our effects, but there is no 
certainty of it. The old law gives my property to my 
nearest kindred who are not my children, but mv brothers 
and sisters, and maternal uncles." It shows that property 
was hereditary in the gens, but restricted to the agnatic 
kindred in the female line. 

Rocky Mountain Tribes. T. Blood Black feet. This 
tribe is composed of the five following gentes: 

1. Blood. 2. Fish Eaters. 3. Skunk. 4. Extinct 
Animal. 5. Elk. 1 

Descent is in the male line, but intermarriage in the 
gens is not allowed. 

2. Piegan Blackfeet. This tribe has the eight follow- 
ing gentes : 

I. Blood. 2. Skunk. 3. Web Fat. 4. Inside Fat. 
5. Conjurers. 6. Never Laugh. 7. Starving. 

8. Half Dead Meat. 

Descent is in the male line, and intermarriage in the 
gens is prohibited. Several of the names above given 
are more appropriate to bands than to gentes ; but as the 
information was obtained from the Blackfeet direct, 

i 1. Ki'-no. 2, Ml-me-o'-ya. 3. Ah-pe-kl*. 4. A-ne'*pfe 

t l."Ah-ah''-pl-tl-pe. 2. Ah-pe-kl'-e. 3. Ih-po'-ae-ml. 4. 
ka'-po-y*. 6. Mo-U'-to-sis. t. Kt-tl'-ya-ye-mlx. 7. 
ml-n. 8. E-ko'-to-pU-taxe. 


through competent interpreters, (Mr. and Mrs. Alexan- 
der Culbertson, the latter a Blackfoot woman) I believe 
it reliable. It is possible that nicknames for gentes ia 
some cases may have superseded the original names. 

Atlantic Tribes. 

i. Delawares. As elsewhere stated the Delawates are, 
in the duration of their separate existence, one of the 
oldest of the Algonkin tribes. Their home country, when 
discovered, was the region around and north of Dela- 
ware Bay. They are comprised in three gentes, as fol- 
lows : 

1. Wolf. Took'-seat. Round Paw. 

2. Turtle. Foke-koo-un'-go. Crawling. 

3. Turkey. Pul-la'-cook. Non-chewing. 

These subdivisions are in the nature of phratries, be- 
cause each is composed of twelve sub-gentes, each hav- 
ing some of the attributes of a gens. 1 The names are 
personal, and mostly, if not in every case, those of fe- 
males. As this feature was unusual I worked it out as 
minutely as possible at the Delaware reservation in Kan- 
sas, in 1860, with the aid of William Adams, an edu- 
cated Delaware. It proved impossible to find the origin 
of these subdivisions, but they seemed to be the several 
eponymous ancestors from whom the members of the 

i I. Wolf. Took'-seat. 

1. M-an'-greet, Big Feet. 2. Wee-sow-het'-ko, Yellow Tree. 
3. Pl-sa-kun-a'-mon, Pulling Corn. 4. We-yar-nlh'-ka-to. Care 
Enterer. 5. Toosh-war-ka -ma, Across the River. 6. O-lunV- 
a-ne, Vermilion. 7. Pun-ar'-you, Dog standing by Fireside. 
8. Kwin-eek'-cha, Lonj? Body. 9. Moon-har tar'-ne, Digging. 
10. Non-har'-min, Pulling up Stream. 11. Long-ush*harkar 7 - 
to, Brush Log. 12. Maw-soo-toh', Bringing Along. 
II. Turtle. Poke-koo-un'-go. 

1. O-ka-ho'-kl, Ruler. 2. Ta-ko-ong'-o-to, High Bank Shore. 
3. See-har-ong'-o-to, Drawing down Hill. 4. Ole har-kar-me'- 
kar-to, Elector. 5. Ma-har-o-luk'-tl, Brave. 6. Toosh-kl-pa- 
kwis-i, Green Leaves. 7. Tung-ul-ung'-sl, Smallest Turtle. 

8. We-lun-fing-sl. Little Turtle. 9. Lee-kwtn-ft-i', Snapping Tur- 
tle. 10. Kwis-aese-kees'-to, Deer. 

The two remaining sub-gentes are extinct. 

III. Turkey. Pul-la'-ook. 
1. Mo-har-l'-ll, Big Bird. 2. Le-le-wa'-you. Bird's Cry. 

9. Moo-kwung-wa-ho'-ki, Eye Pain. 4. Moo-har-mo-wl-kar'-nu, 

Plus Region. ~12. Oo-chuk'-ham, Ground Scratches 


gentes respectively derived their descent. It shows also 
the natural growth of the phratries from the gentes. 

Descent among the Delawares is in the female line, 
which renders probable its ancient universality in this 
form in the Algonkin tribes. The office of sachem was 
hereditary in the gens, but elective among its members, 
who had the power both to elect and depose. Property 
also was hereditary in the gens. Originally the members 
of the three original gentes could not intermarry in their 
own gens ; but in recent years the prohibition has been 
confined to the sub-gentes. Those of the same name in 
the Wolf gens, now partially become a phratry, for ex- 
ample, cannot intermarry, but those of different names 
marry. The practice of naming children into the gens 
of their father also prevails among the Delawares, arid 
has introduced the same confusion of descents found 
among the Shawnees and Miamis. American civiliza- 
tion and intercourse necessarily administered a shock to 
Indian institutions under which the ethnic life of the 
people is gradually breaking down. 

Examples of succession in office afford the most satis- 
factory illustrations of the aboriginal law of descent. A 
Delaware woman, after stating to the author that she, 
with her children, belonged to the Wolf gens, and her 
husband to the Turtle, remarked that when Captain 
Ketchum (Ta-whe'-la-na), late head chief or sachem of 
the Turtle gens, died, he was succeeded by his nephew, 
John Conner (Ta-ta-ne'-sha), a son of one of the sisters 
of the deceased sachem, who was also of the Turtle gens. 
The decedent left a son, but he was of another gens and 
consequently incapable of succeeding. With the Dela- 
wares, as with the Iroquois, the office passed from 
brother to brother, or from uncle to nephew, because de- 
scent was in the female line. 

2. Munsees. The Munsees are an offshoot from the 
De lawares, and have the same gentes, the Wolf, the Tur- 
tle and the Turkey. Descent is in the female line, inter- 
rr&rriage in the gens is not permitted, and the office of 
sachem, as well as property, are hereditary in the gens. 

3. Mohegans. All of the New England Indians, south 


of the river Kennebeck, of whom the Mohegans formed 
a part, were closely affiliated in language, and could un- 
derstand each other's dialects. Since the Mohegans are 
organized in gentes, there is a presumption that the 
Pequots, Narragansetts, and other minor bands were not 
only similarly organized, but had the same gentes. The 
Mohegans have the same three with the Delawares, the 
Wolf, the Turtle and the Turkey, each of which is com- 
posed of a number of gentes. It proves their immediate 
connection with the Delawares and Munsees by descent, 
and also reveals, as elsewhere stated, the process of sub- 
division by which an original gens breaks up into several, 
which remain united in a phratry. In this case also it 
may be seen how the phratry arises naturally under gen- 
tile institutions. It is rare among the American aborig- 
ines to find preserved the evidence of the segmentation 
of original gentes as clearly as in the present case. 

The Mohegan phratries stand out more conspicuously 
than those of any other tribe of the American aborigines, 
because they cover the gentes of each, and the phratries 
must be stated to explain the classification of the gentes ; 
but we know less about them than of those of the Iro- 
quois. They are the following: 

I. Wolf Phratry. Took-sc-tuk r . 

i. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Dog. 4. Opossum. 

II. Turtle Phratry. Tonc-ba'-o. 

i. Little Turtle. 2. Mud Turtle. 3. Great Turtle. 
4. Yellow Eel. 

III. Turkey Phratry. 

i. Turkey. 2. Crane. 3. Chicken. l 

Descent is in the female line, intermarriage in the 
gens is forbidden, and the office of sachem is hereditary 
in the gens, the office passing either from brother to 
brother, or from uncle to nephew. Among the Pequots 
and Narragansetts descent was in the female line, as I 

i I. Took-e-tuk'. 

1. N-h'-ji-o. 2. Ml'-kwl. 3. N-de-yl'-o. 4. Wl-pa-kw'. 
II. Tone-bl'-o. 

1. Gftk-po-mute'. 2. 3. Tone-bl'-o. 4. W-iaw-mi'-un. 

III. Turkey. 
1. Nl-ah-ml'-o. 2. Gi-h'-ko. I. . 


learned from a Narragansett woman whom I met in 

4. Abenakis. The name of this tribe, Wa-be-na'-kee, 
signifies "Rising Sun People." 1 They affiliate more 
closely with the Micmacs than with the New England 
Indians south of the Kennebeck. They have fourteen 
gentes, as follows : 

I. Wolf. 2. Wild Cat (Black.) 3. Bear. 4. Snake. 
5. Spotted Animal. 6. Beaver. 7. Cariboo. 

8. Sturgeon. 9. Muskrat. 10. Pigeon Hawk. 

11. Squirrel. 12. Spotted Frog. 13. Crane. 

14. Porcupine. * 

Descent is now in the male line, intermarriage in the 
gens was anciently prohibited, but the prohibition has 
now lost most of its force. The office of sache*n was 
hereditary in the gens. It will be noticed that several 
of the above gentes are the same as among the Ojibwas. 
VI. Athapasco-Apache Tribes. 

Whether or not the Athapascans of Hudson's Bay Ter- 
ritory and the Apaches .of New Mexico, who are subdi- 
visions of an original stock, are organized in gentes has 
not been definitely ascertained. When in the former ter- 
ritory, in 1 86 1, I made an effort to determine the ques- 
tion among the Hare and Red Knife Athapascans, but 
was unsuccessful for want of competent interpreters ; 
and yet it seems probable that if the system existed, 
traces of it would have beeu discovered even with im- 
perfect means of inquiry. 'Hie late Robert Kennicott 
made a similar attempt for the author among the A-chii'- 
o-ten-ne, or Slave Lake Athapascans, with no better suc- 
cess. He found special regulations with respect to mar- 
riage and the descent of the office of sachem, which 
seemed to indicate the presence of gentes, but he 
could not obtain satisfactory information. The Kutchin 
(Louchoux)' of the Yukon river region are Athapascans. 

i In "Systems of Consanguinity," the aboriginal names of th 
principal Indian tribes, with their significations, may be found. 

1. Mals,-sum. 2. Pis-sun'. 3. Ah-weh'.soos. 4. Skooke. 
*. Ah-lunk'-soo. 6. Ta-ma'-kwa. 7. Ma-g?uh-le ; loo'. 8. Ka- 
bah'-seh. 9. Moos-kwi-suh'. 10. K'-che^a-gong'.go. 11. Men- 
ko-4% 12. Che-fwlk'-U. 13. Koos-koo'. 14. M&-da'-weh*ooa* 


In a letter to the author by the late George Gibbs, he 
remarks : "In a letter which I have- from a gentleman at 
Fort Simpson, Mackenzie river, it is mentioned that 
among the Louchoux or Kutchin there are three grades 
or classes of society undoubtedly a mistake for totem, 
though the totems probably differ in rank, as he goes on 
to say that a man does not marry into his own class, 
but takes a wife from some other ; and that a chief from 
the highest may marry with a woman of the lowest with- 
out loss of caste. The children belong to the grade of 
the mother; and the members of the same grade in the 
different tribes do not war with each other." 

Among the Kolushes of the Northwest Coast, who 
affiliate linguistically though not closely with the Atha- 
pascans, the organization into gentes exists. Mr. Galla- 
tin remarks that they are "like our own Indians, divided 
into tribes or clans ; a distinction of which, according to 
Mr. Hale, there is no trace among the Indians of Oregon. 
The names of the tribes [gentes] are those of animals, 
namely : Bear, Eagle, Crow, Porpoise and Wolf. . . . The 
right of succession is in the female line, from uncle to 
nephew, the principal chief excepted, who is generally 
the most powerful of the family." * 

VIL Indian Tribes of the Northwest Coast. 

In some of these tribes, beside the Kolushes, the gen- 
tile organization prevails. "Before leaving Fuget's 
Sound," observes Mr. Gibbi^ in a letter to the author, "I 
was fortunate enough to meet representatives of three 
principal families of what we call the Northern Indians, 
the inhabitants of the Northwest Coast, extending from 
the Upper end of Vancouver's Island into the Russian 
Possessions, and the confines of the Esquimaux. From 
them I ascertained positively that the totemic system ex- 
ists at least among these three. The families I speak of 
are, beginning at the northwest, Tlinkitt, commonly 
called the Stikeens, after one of their bands; the Tlaidas; 
and Chimsyans, called by Gallatin, Weas. There are 
four totems common to these, the Whale, the Wolf, the 

i Trans. Am. Eth. Soc., 11, Intro., cxlix. 


Eagle, and the Crow. Neither of these can marry into 
the same totem, although in a different nation or family. 
What is remarkable is that these nations constitute en- 
tirely different families. I mean by this that their lan- 
guages are essentially different, having no perceptible 
analogy/' Mr. Dall> in his work on Alaska, written still 
later, remarks that "the Tlinkets are divided into four 
totems: the Raven (Yehl), the Wolf (Kanu'kh), the 

Whale, and the Eagle (Chethl) Opposite totems 

only can marry, and the child usually takes the mother's 
totem." 1 

Mr. Hubert H. Bancroft presents their organization 
still more fully, showing two phratries, and the gentes 
belonging to each. He remarks of the Thlinkeets that 
the "nation is separated into two great divisions or clans, 
one of which is called the Wolf and the other the Raven. 
The Raven trunk is again divided into sub-clans, called 
the Frog, the Goose, the Sea-Lion, the Owl, and the Sal- 
mon. The Wolf family comprises the Bear, Eagle, 
Dolphin, Shark, and Alca. . . . Tribes of the same clan 
may not war on each other, but at the same time mem- 
bers of the same clan may not marry with each other. 
Thus, the young Wolf warrior must seek his mate 
among the Ravens." * 

The Eskimos do not belong to the Ganowanian family. 
Their occupation of the American continent in compari- 
son with that of the latter family was recent or modern. 
They are also without gentes. 

VIII. Salish, Sahaftin and Kootcnay Tribes. 

The tribes of the Valley of the Columbia, of whom 
those above named represent the principal stocks, are 
without the gentile organization. Our distinguished 
philologists, Horatio Hale and the late George Gibbs, 
both of whom devoted special attention to the subject, 
failed to discover any traces of the system among them. 
There are strong reasons for believing that this remark- 
able area was the nursery land of the Ganowanian fam- 

1 "Alaska and Its Resources/' p. 414. 

"Native Races of the Pacific States/* i. 109. 


ily, from which, as the initial point of their migrations, 
they spread abroad over both divisions of the continent. 
It seems probable, therefore, that their ancestors pos- 
sessed the organization into gentes, and that it fell into 
decay and finally disappeared. 

IX. Shoshoncc Tribes. 

The Comanches of Texas, together with the Ute tribes, 
the Bonnaks, the Shoshonees, and some other tribes, be- 
long to this stock. Mathew Walker, a Wyandote half- 
blood, informed the author, in 1859, that he had lived 
among the Comanches, and that they had the following 
gentes : 

I. Wolf. 2. Bear. 3. Elk. 4. Deer. . 5. Gopher. 
6, Antelope. 

If the Comanches are organized in gentes, tin-re is a 
presumption that the other tribes of this stock are the 

This completes our review of the social system of the 
Indian tribes of North America, north of New Mexico.. 
The greater portion of the tribes named were in the 
Lower Status of barbarism at the epoch of European 
discovery, and the remainder in the Upper Status of 
savagery. From the wide and nearly universal preva- 
lence of the organization into gentes, its ancient univer- 
sality among them with descent in the female line may 
with reason be assumed. Their system was purely social, 
having the gens as its unit, and the phratry, tribe and 
confederacy as the remaining members of the organic 
series. These four successive stages of integration and 
re-integration express the whole of their experience in 
the growth of the idea of government. Since the princi- 
pal Aryan and Semitic tribes had the same organic series 
when they emerged from barbarism, the system was sub- 
stantially universal in ancient society, and inferential!)' 
had a common origin. The punaluan group, hereafter 
to be described more fully in connection with the growth 
of the idea of the family, evidently gave birth to the 
gentes, so that the Aryan, Semitic, Uralian, Turanian 
and Ganowanian families of mankind point with a dis- 
tinctiveness seemingly unmistakable to a common punal- 


uan stock, with the organization into gentes engrafted 
upon it, from which each and all were derived, and 
finally differentiated into families. This conclusion, I 
believe, will ultimately enforce its own acceptance, when 
future investigation has developed and verified the facts 
on a minuter scale. Such a great organic series, able to 
hold mankind in society through the latter part of the 
period of savagery, through the entire period of barbar- 
ism, and into the early part of the period of civilization, 
does not arise by accident, but had a natural development 
from pre-existing elements. Rationally and rigorously 
interpreted, It seems probable that it can be made de- 
monstrative of the unity of origin of all the families of 
mankind who possessed the organization into gentes. 

X. Village Indians. 

I. Moqui Pueblo Indians. The Moqui tribes are still 
in undisturbed possession of their ancient communal 
houses, seven in number, near the Little Colorado in Ari- 
zona, once a part of New Mexico. They are living un- 
der their ancient institutions, and undoubtedly at the 
present moment fairly represent the type of Village In- 
dian life which prevailed from Zufii to Cuzco at the 
epoch of Discovery. Zufii, Acoma, Taos, and several 
other New Mexican pueblos are the same structures 
which were found there by Coronado in 1540-1542. 
Notwithstanding their apparent accessibility we know in 
reality but little concerning their mode of life or their 
domestic institutions. No systematic investigation has 
ever been made. What little information has found its 
way into print is general and accidental. 

The Moquis are organized in gentes, of which they 
have nine, as follows: 

I. Deer. 2. Sand. 3. Rain. 4. Bear. 5. Hare. 
6. Prairie Wolf. 7. Rattlesnake. 8. Tobacco Plant. 
9. Reed Grass. 

Dr. Ten Broeck, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A., fur- 
nished to Mr. Schoolcraft the Moqui legend of their or- 
igin which he obtained at one of their villages. They 


said that "many years ago their Great Mother 1 brought 
from her home in the West nine races of men in the fol- 
lowing form. First, the Deer race; second, the Sand 
race; third, the Water [Rain] race; fourth, the Bear 
race; fifth, the Hare race; sixth, the Prairie Wolf race; 
seventh, the Rattlesnake race ; eighth, the Tobacco Plant 
race; and ninth, the Reed Grass race. Having planted 
them on the spot where their villages now stand, she 
transformed them into men who built up the present 
pueblos ; and the distinction of race is still kept up. One 
told me that he was of the Sand race t another, the Deer, 
etc. They are firm believers in metempsychosis, and say 
that when they die they will resolve into their original 
forms, and become bears, deer, etc., again. . . . The gov- 
ernment is hereditary, but does not necessarily descend to 
the son of the incumbent ; for if they prefer any other 
blood relative, ho is chosen." 2 Having passed, in this 
case, from the Lower into the Middle Status of barbar- 
ism, and found the organization into gentes in full devel- 
opment, its adaptation to their changed condition is dem- 
onstrated. Its existence among the Village Indians in 
general is rendered probable; but from this point for- 
ward in the remainder of North, and in the whole of 
South America, we are left without definite information 
except with respect to the I^agunas. It shows how in- 
completely the work has been done in American Eth- 
nology, that the unit of their social system has been but 
partially discovered, and its significance not understood. 
Still, there are traces of it in the early Spanish authors. 
and direct knowledge of it in a few later writers, which 
when brought together will leave but little doubt of the 
ancient universal prevalence of the gentile organization 
throughout the Indian family. 

There are current traditions in many gentes, like tha\ 
of the Moquis, of the transformation of their first pro- 
genitors from the animal, or inanimate object, xvhicn be- 
came the symbol of the gens, into men <>hd women 

t The Shawnees formerly worshiped a FemJ Deity, call** 
Go-gome-tha-mft. "Our Grand-Mother." 
* "Schoolcraft'fl Hint., etc.. of Indian Trib< " iv ?6. 


Thus, the Crane gens of the O jib was, have a legend that 
a pair of cranes flew over the wide area from the Gulf 
to the Great Lakes and from the prairies of the Missis- 
sippi to the Atlantic in quest of a place where subsist- 
ence was most abundant, and finally selected the Rapids 
on the outlet of Lake Superior, since celebrated for its 
fisheries. Having alighted on the bank of the river and 
folded their wings the Great Spirit immediately changed 
them into a man and woman, who became the progeni- 
tors of the Crane gens of the Ojibwas. There are a 
number of gentes in the different tribes who abstain from 
eating the animal whose name they bear; but this is far 
from universal. 

2. Lagunas. The Laguna Pueblo Indians are organ- 
ized in gentes, with descent in the female line, as appears 
from an address of Rev. Samuel Gorman before the His- 
torical Society of New Mexico in 1860. "Each town is 
classed into tribes or families, and each of these groups 
is named after some animal, bird, herb, timber, planet, or 
one of the four elements. In the pueblo of Laguna, 
which is one of above one thousand inhabitants, there 
are seventeen of these tribes ; some are called bear, some 
deer, some rattlesnake, some corn, some wolf, some wa- 
ter, etc., etc. The children are of the same tribe as their 
mother. And, according to ancient custom, two persons 
of the same tribe are forbidden to marry ; but, recently, 
this custom begins to be less rigorously observed than 

"Their land is held in common, as the property of the 
community, but after a person cultivates a lot he has a 
personal claim to it, which he can sell to any one of the 
same community ; or else when he dies it belongs to his 
widow or daughters ; or, if he were a single man, it re- 
mains in his father's family." l That wife or daughter 
inherit from the father is doubtful. 

3. Aztecs, Tezcucans and Tlacopans. The question of 
the organization of these, and the remaining Nahuatlac 
tribes of Mexico, in gentes will be considered in the next 
ensuing chapter. 

i "Addreai," p. 12. 

18$ ANCIENT sooner? 

4. Mayas of Yucatan. Herrera makes frequent ref- 
erence to the "kindred," and in such a manner with re- 
gard to the tribes in Mexico, Central and South America 
as to imply the existence of a body of persons organized 
on the basis of consanguinity much more numerous than 
would be found apart from gentes. Thus: **He that 
killed a free man was to make satisfaction to the children 
and kindred/' l It was spoken of the aborigines of Nic- 
aragua, and had it been of the Iroquois, among whom 
the usage was the same, the term kindred would have 
been equivalent to gens. And again, speaking generally 
of the Maya Indians of Yucatan, he remarks that "when 
any satisfaction was to be made for damages, if he who 
was adjudged to pay was like to be reduced to poverty, 
the kindred contributed/' 2 In this another gentile usage 
may be recognized. Again, speaking of the Aztecs; "if 
they were guilty, no favor or kindred could save them 
from death/' 8 One more citation to the same effect 
may be made, applied to the Florida Indians who were 
organized in gentes. He observes "that they were ex- 
travagantly fond of their children, and cherished them, 
the parents and kindred lamenting such as died a whole 
year/' 4 The early observers noticed, as a peculiarity of 
Indian society, that large numbers of persons were 
bound together by the bond of kin, and therefore the 
group came to be mentioned as "the kindred/' But they 
did not 'carry the scrutiny far enough to discover, what 
was probably the truth, that the kindred formed a gens, 
and, as such, the unit of their social system. 

Herrera remarks further of the Mayas, that "they 
were wont to observe their pedigrees very much, and 
therefore thought themselves all related, and were help- 
ful to one another They did not marry mothers, or 

sisters-in-law, nor any that bore the same name as their 
father, which was looked upon as unlawful/' 6 The ped- 

i "General History of America/' L.ond. ed., 1726. Stevens' 
Trans., ill, 299. 
a "Ib.," iv, 171. 

3 "Ib.," iii, 203. 

4 "Ib.," iv, 33. 

5 "General History of Ameiica," Iv, 171. 


igfee of an Indian under their system of consanguinity 
could have no significance apart from a gens; but leav- 
ing this out of view, there was no possible way, under 
Indian institutions, by which a father and his children 
could bear the same name except through a gens, which 
conferred a common gentile name upon all its members. 
It would also require descent in the male line to bring 
father and children into the same gens. The statement 
shows, moreover, that intermarriage in the gens among 
the Mayas was prohibited. Assuming the correctness of 
Herrera's words, it is proof conclusive of the existence 
of gentes among the Mayas, with descent in the male 
line. Tylor, in his valuable work on the "Early His-^ 
tory of Mankind/' which is a repository of widely-drawn 
and well-digested ethnological information, cites the 
same fact from another source, with the following re- 
marks : "The analogy of the North American Indian cus- 
tom is therefore with that of the Australian in making 
clanship on the female side a bar to marriage, but if we 
go down further south into Central America, the reverse 
custom, as in China, makes its appearance. Diego de 
Landa says of the people of Yucatan, that no one took a 
wife of his name, on the father's side, for this was a very 
vile thing among them; but they might marry cousins 
german on the mother's side." 1 

XI. South American Indian Tribes. 

Traces of the gens have been found in all parts of 
South America, as well as the actual presence of the 
Ganowanian system of consanguinity, but the subject 
has not been fully investigated. Speaking of the numer- 
ous tribes of the Andes brought by the Incas under a 
species of confederation, Herrera observes that "this va- 
riety of tongues proceeded from the nations being di- 
vided into races, tribes, or clans." 2 Here in the clans 
the existence of gentes is recognized. Mr. Tylor, dis- 
cussing the rules with respect to marriage and descent, 
remarks that "further south, below the Isthmus, both the 

i "Early History of Mankind," p. 287. 
3 "Gen. Hist, of Amer.," Iv. 231. 


clanship and the prohibition re-appear on the female side. 
Bernau says that among the Arrawaks of British Gui- 
ana, 'Caste is derived from the mother, and children are 
allowed to marry into their father's family, but not into 
that of their mother/ Lastly, Father Martin Dobrizhof- 
fer says that the Guaranis avoid, as highly criminal, mar- 
riage with the most distant relations; and speaking of 

the Abipones, he makes the following statement : 

The Abipones, instructed by nature and the example of 
their ancestors, abhor the very thought of marrying any 
one related to them by the most distant tie of relation- 
ship/ 9 1 These references to the social system of the 
aborigines are vague; but in the light of the facts al- 
ready presented the existence of gentes with descent in 
the female line, and with intermarriage in the gens pro- 
hibited, renders them intelligible. Brett remarks of the 
Indian tribes in Guiana that they "are divided into fam- 
ilies, each of which has a distinct name, as the Siwidi, 
Karuafudi, Onisicli, etc. Unlike our families, these all 
descend in the female line, and no individual of either 
sex is allowed to marry another of the same family name. 
Thus a woman of the Siwidi family bears the same name 
as her mother, but neither her father nor her husband 
can be of that family. Her children and the children of 
her daughters will also be called Siwidi, but both her 
sons and daughters are prohibited from an alliance with 
any individual bearing the same name; though they 
may marry into the family of their father if they choose. 
These customs are strictly observed, and any breach of 
them would be considered as wicked." * In the family 
of this writer may at once be recognized the gens in its 
archaic form. All the South American tribes above 
named, with the exception of the Andean, were when 
discovered either in the Lower Status of barbarism, or 
in the Status of savagery. Many of the Peruvian tribes 
concentrated under the government established by the 
Inca Village Indians were in the Lower Status nf bar- 

t "Early History of Mankind," p. 287. 
"Indian Tribes of Guiana," p. 98; cited by Lu*-bock 
of Civilization," p. 98. 


barism, if an opinion may be formed from the imperfect 
description of their domestic institutions found in Gar- 
cillasso de la Vega. 

To the Village Indians of North and South America, 
whose indigenous culture had advanced them far into, 
and near the end of, the Middle Period of barbarism, our 
attention naturally turns for the transitional history of 
the gentes. The archaic constitution of the gens has 
been shown ; its latest phases remain to be presented in 
the gentes of the Greeks and Romans ; but the intermedi- 
ate changes, both of descent and inheritance, which oc- 
curred in the Middle Period, are essential to a complete 
history of the gentile organization. Our information is 
quite ample with respect to the earlier and later condition 
of this great institution, but defective with respect to the 
transitional stage. Where the gentes are found in any 
tribe of mankind in their latest form, their remote an- 
cestors must have possessed them in the archaic form; 
but historical criticism demands affirmative proofs rather 
than deductions. These proofs once existed among the 
Village Indians. We are now well assured that their sys- 
tem of government was social and not political. The up- 
per members of the series, namely, the tribe and the con- 
federacy, meet us at many points ; with positive evidence 
of the gens, the unit of the system, in a number of the 
tribes of Village Indians. But we are not able to place our 
hands upon the gentes among the Village Indians in gen- 
eral with the same precise information afforded by the 
tribes in the Lower Status of barbarism. The golden 
opportunity was presented to the Spanish conquerers and 
colonists, and lost, from apparent inability to understand 
a condition of society from which civilized man had so 
far departed in his onward progress. Without a knowl- 
edge of the unit of their social system, which impressed 
its character upon the whole organism of society, the 
Spanish histories fail entirely in the portrayal of their 
governmental institutions. 

A glance at the remains of ancient architecture in 
Central America and Peru sufficiently proves that the 
Middle Period of barbarism was one of great progress in, 


human development, of growing knowledge, and of ex- 
panding intelligence. It was followed by a still more 
remarkable period in the Eastern hemisphere after the 
invention of the process of making iron had given that 
final great impulse to human progress which was to bear 
a portion of mankind into civilization. Our appreciation 
of the grandeur of man's career in the Later Period of 
barbarism, when inventions and discoveries multiplied 
with such rapidity, would be intensified by an accurate 
knowledge of the condition of society in the Middle 
Period, so remarkably exemplified by the Village Indi- 
ans. By a great effort, attended with patient labor, it may 
yet be possible to recover a large portion at least of the 
treasures of knowledge which have been allowed to dis- 
appear. Upon our present information the conclusion is 
warrantable that the American Indian tribes were uni- 
versally organized in gentes at the epoch of European 
discovery, the few exceptions found not being sufficient 
to disturb the general rule. 



The Spanish adventurers, who captured the Pueblo of 
Mexico, adopted the erroneous theory that the Aztec gov- 
ernment was a monarchy, analogous in essential respects 
to existing monarchies in Europe. This- opinion was 
adopted generally by the early Spanish writers, without 
investigating minutely the structure and principles of the 
Aztec social system. A terminology not in agreement 
with their institutions came in with this- misconception 
which has vitiated the historical narrative nearly as com- 
pletely as though it were, in the main, a studied fabrica- 
tion. With the capture of the only stronghold the Aztecs 
possessed, their governmental fabric was destroyed, Span- 
ish rule was substituted in its place, and the subject of 
their internal organization and polity was allowed sub- 
stantially to pas-s into oblivion. l 

The Aztecs and their confederate tribes were ignorant 
of iron and consequently without iron tools: they had no 
money, and traded by barter of commodities; but they 
worked the native metals, cultivated by irrigation, manu- 
factured coarse fabrics of cotton, constructed joint-tene- 

1 The histories of Spanish America may be trusted In whatever relates 
to the acts of the Spaniards, nnd to the acts and personal characteristic* 
of the Indiana ; In whatever relates to their weapons. Implements and 
utensils, fabrics, food and raiment, and things of a similar character. 
But Jn whatever relates to Indian society nnd government, their social 
relations, and plan of life, they are nearly worthies*, because they learned 
nothing and knew nothing of either. We are at liberty to reject them 
in these respects and commence anew; using any facts they may contain 
which hnrmontac with what is known of Indian society. 



ment houses of adobe-bricks and of stone, and made 
earthenware of excellent quality. They had, therefore, 
attained to the Middle Status of barbarism. They still 
held their lands in common, lived in large households 
composed of a number of related families ; and, as there 
are strong reasons for believing, practiced communism 
in living in the household. It is rendered reasonably 
certain that they had but one prepared meal each day, 
a dinner; at which they separated, the men eating first 
and by themselves, and the women and children after- 
wards. Having neither tables nor chairs for dinner serv- 
ice they had not learned to eat their single daily meal in 
the manner of civilized nations. These features of their 
social condition show sufficiently their relative status of 

In connection with the Village Indians of other parts 
of Mexico and Central America, and of Peru, they af- 
forded the best exemplification of this condition of anci- 
ent society then existing on the earth. They represented 
one of the great stages of progress toward civilization in 
which the institutions derived from a previous ethnical 
period are seen in higher advancement, and which were 
to be transmitted, in the course of human experience, to 
an ethnical condition still higher, and undergo still further 
development before civilization was possible. But the 
Village Indians were not destined to attain the Upper 
Status of barbarism so well represented by the Homeric 

The Indian pueblos in the valley of Mexico revealed 
to Europeans a lost condition of ancient society, which 
was so remarkable and peculiar that it aroused at the 
time an insatiable curiosity. More volumes have been 
written, in the proportion of ten to one, upon the Mexi- 
can aborigines and the Spanish Conquest, than upon any 
other people of the same advancement, or upon any event 
of the same importance. And yet, there is no people con- 
cerning whose institutions and plan of life so little is ac- 
curately known. The remarkable spectacle presented so 
inflamed the imagination that romance swept the field, 
and has held it to the present hour. The failure to ascer- 


tain the structure of Aztec society which resulted was a 
serious loss to the history of mankind. It should not be 
made a cause of reproach to anyone, but rather for deep 
regret. Even that which has been written, with such 
painstaking industry, may prove useful in some future 
attempt to reconstruct the history of the Aztec confeder- 
acy. Certain facts remain of a positive kind from which 
other facts may be deducted ; so that it is not improbable 
that a well-directed original investigation may yet re- 
cover, measurably at least, the essential features of the 
Aztec social system. 

The "kingdom of Mexico" as it stands in the early his- 
tories, and the "empire of Mexico'* as it appears in the 
later, is a fiction of the imagination. At the time there 
\vas a seeming foundation for describing the government 
as a monarchy, in the absence of a correct knowledge of 
their institutions ; but the misconception can no longer be 
defended. That which the Spaniards found was simply 
a confederacy of three Indian tribes, of which the count- 
erpart existed in all parts of the continent, and they had 
no occasion in their descriptions to advance a step beyond 
this single fact. The government was administered by 
a council of chiefs, with the co-operation of a general 
commander of the military bands. It was a government 
of two powers : the civil being represented by the coun- 
cil, and the military by a principal war-chief. Since the 
institutions of the confederate tribes were essentially 
democratical, the government may be called a military 
democracy, if a designation more special than confeder- 
acy is required. 

Three tribes, the Aztecs or Mexicans, the Tezcucans 
and the Tlacopans, were united in the Aztec confeder- 
acy, which gives the two upper members of the organic 
social series. Whether or not they possessed the first 
and the second, namely, the gens and the phratry, does 
not appear in a definite form in any of the Spanish 
writers ; but they have vaguely described certain institu- 
tions which can only be understood by supplying the lost 
members of the series. Whilst the phratry is not essen- 
tial it is otherwise with the gens, because it is the unit 


upon which the social system rests. Without entering 
the vast and unthreadable labyrinth of Aztec affairs as 
they now stand historically, I shall venture to invite at- 
tention to a few particulars only of the Aztec social sys- 
tem, which may tend to illustrate its real character. Be- 
fore doing this, the relations of the confederated to sur- 
rounding- tribes should be noticed. 

The Aztecs were one of seven kindred tribes who had 
migrated from the north and settled in and near the 
valley of Mexico; and who were among the historical 
tribes of that country at the epoch of the Spanish Con- 
quest They called themselves collectively the Nahu- 
atlacs in their traditions. Acosta, who visted Mexico in 
1585, and whose work was published at Seville in 1580, 
has given the current native tradition of their migrations, 
one after the other, from Aztlan, with their names and 
places of settlement. He states the order of their arrival 
as follows: 1. Sochimilcas, "Nation of the Seeds of Flow- 
ers," who settled upon Lake Xochimilco, on the south 
slope of the valley of Mexico ; 2. Chalcas, "People of 
Mouths," who came long after the former and settled 
near them, on Lake Chalco; 3. Tepanecans, "People of 
the Bridge," who settled at Azcopozalco, west of Lake 
Tezcuco, on the western slope of the valley ; 4. Culhuas, 
"A Crooked People," who settled on the east side of Lake 
Tezcuco, and were afterwards known as Tezcucans; 
5. Tlatluicans, "Men of the Sierra," who, finding the 
valley appropriated around the lake, passed over the Si- 
erra southward and settled upon the other side ; 6. Tlas- 
calans, "Men of Bread," who, after living for a time 
with the Tepanecans, finally settled beyond the valley 
eastward, at Tlascala ; 7. The Aztecs, who came last and 
occupied the site of the present city of Mexico. * Acosta 
further observes that they came "from far countries 
which lie toward the north, where now they have found 
a kingdom which they call New Mexco." * The same 

"The Natural and Moral History of the East and West Indies.'* 
Lond. ed., 1604. Grlmatone's Trans., pp. 407-504. 

* "The Natural and Moral History o fthe East and West Indies/* 
p. 499. 


tradition is given by Herrera, 1 and also by Clavigero.* 
It will be noticed that the Tlacopans are not mentioned. 
They were, in all probability, a subdivision of the Tepane- 
cans who remained in the original area of that tribe, 
while the remainder seem to have removed to a territory 
immediately south of the Tlascalans, where they were 
found under the name of the Tepeacas. The latter hjd 
the same legend of the seven caves, and spoke a dialect 
of the Nahuatlac language.' 

This tradition embodies one significant fact of a kind 
that could not have been invented ; namely, that the seven 
tribes were of immediate common origin, the fact being 
confirmed by their dialects; and a second fact of impor- 
tance, that they came from the north. It shows that 
they were originally one people, who had fallen into 
seven and more tribes by the natural process of segmen- 
tation. Moreover, it was this same fact which rendered 
the Aztec confederacy possible as well as probable, a com- 
mon language being the essential basis of such organiza- 

The Aztecs found the best situations in the valley occu- 
pied, and after several changes of position they finally 
settled upon a small expanse of dry land in the midst 
of a marsh bordered with fields of pedregal and with 
natural ponds. Here they founded the celebrated pueblo 
of Mexico (Tenochtitlan), A. D. 1325, according to 
Clavigero, one hundred and ninety-six years prior to the 
Spanish Conquest. 4 They were few in number and poor 
in condition. But fortunately for them, the outlet of 
Lakes Xochimilco and Chalo and rivulets from the west- 
ern hills flowed past their site into Lake Tezcuco. Hav- 
ing the sagacity to perceive the advantages of the loca- 
tion they succeeded, by means of causeways and dikes, 
in surrounding their pueblo with an artificial pond of 
large extent, the waters being furnished from the sources 

1 "General History of America," Loud, ed., 1725, Stevens* Trans., 
ill, 188. 

"History of Mexico," Philadelphia ed.. 1817. Cullen's Trans., 1, 

Hfrre.ra, "Hist, of Amer., ft ill, 110. 

4 "History of Mexico, loc. clt, i, 162. 


named ; and the level of Lake Tezcuco being higher then 
than at present, it gave them, when the whole work was 
completed, the most secure position of any tribe in the 
valley. The mechanical engineering by which they 
accomplished this result was one of the greatest achieve- 
ments of the Aztecs, and one without which they would 
not probably have risen above the level of the surround- 
ing tribes. Independence and prosperity followed, and 
in time a controlling influence over the valley tribes. 
Such was the manner, and so recent the time of founding 
the pueblo according to Aztec traditions which may be 
accepted as substantially trustworthy. 

At the epoch of the Spanish Conquest five of the seven 
tribes, namely, the Aztecs, Tezcucans, Tlacopans, Sochi- 
milcas, and Chalcans resided in the valley, which was an 
area of quite limited dimensions, about equal to the state 
of Rhode Island. It was a mountain or upland basin 
having no outlet, oval in form, being longest from north 
to south, one hundred and twenty miles in circuit, and 
embracing about sixteen hundred square miles excluding 
the surface covered by water. The valley, as described, 
is surrounded by a series of hills, one range rising above 
another with depressions between, encompassing the val- 
ley with a mountain barrier. The tribes named resided 
in some thirty pueblos, more or less, of which that of 
Mexico was the largest. There is no evidence that any 
considerable portion of these tribes had colonized out- 
side of the valley and the adjacent hill-slopes; but, on the 
contrary, there is abundant evidence that the remainder 
of modern Mexico was then occupied by numerous tribes 
who spoke languages different from the Xahuatlac, and 
the majority of whom were independent. The Tlascalans, 
the Cholulans, a supposed subdivision of the former, the 
Tepeacas, the Huexotzincos, the Meztitlans, a supposed 
subdivision of the Tezcucans, and the Tlatluicans were 
the remaining Nahuatlac tribes living without the valley 
of Mexico, all of whom were independent excepting the 
last, and the Tepeacas. A large number of other tribes, 
forming some seventeen territorial groups, more or less, 
and speaking as many stock languages, held the remain- 


cler of "Mexico. They present, in their state of dis- 
integration and independence, a nearly exact repetition 
of the tribes of the United States and British America, 
at the time of their discovery, a century or more later. 

Prior to A. D. 1426, when the Aztec confederacy was 
formed, very little had occurred in the affairs of the val- 
ley tribes of historical importance. They were disunited 
and belligerent, and without influence beyond their im- 
mediate localities. About this time the superior position 
of the Aztecs began to manifest its results in a prepon- 
derance of numbers and of strength. Under their war- 
chief, Itzcoatl, the previous supremacy of the Tezcucans 
and Tlacopans was overthrown, and a league or confed- 
eracy was established as a consequence of their previous 
wars against each other. It was an alliance between 
the three tribes, offensive and defensive, with stipulations 
for the division among them, in certain proportions, of 
the spoils, and the after tributes of subjugated tribes. 1 
These tributes, which consisted of the manufactured fab- 
rics and horticultural products of the villages subdued, 
seem to have been enforced with system, and with rigor 
of exaction. 

The plan of organization of this confederacy has been 
lost. From the absence of particulars it is now difficult 
to determine whether it was simply a league to be con- 
tinued or dissolved at pleasure ; or a consolidated organ- 
ization, like that of the Iroquois, in which the parts were 
adjusted to each other in permanent and definite rela- 
tions. Each tribe was independent in whatever related 
to local self-government; but the three were externally 
one people in whatever related to aggression or defense. 
While each tribe had its own council of chiefs, and its 
own head war-chief, the war-chief of the Aztecs was the 
commander-in-chief of the confederate bands. This may 
be inferred from the fact that the Tezcucans and Tlaco- 
pans had a voice either in the election or in the confirma- 
tion of the Aztec war-chief. The acquisition of the chief 

i Claviscero, "Hist, of Mex.," I. 229: Herrera. Hi. 312: PrescoU, 
"Conq. of Mex./' 1, 18. 


command by the Aztecs tends to show that their influ- 
ence predominated in establishing the terms upon which 
the tribes confederated. 

Nezahualcojotl had been deposed, or at least dispos- 
sessed of his office, as principal war-chief of the Tezcu- 
cans, to which he was at this time (1426) restored by 
Aztec procurement. The event may be taken as the date 
of the formation of the confederacy or league which- 
ever it was. 

Before discussing the limited number of facts which 
tend to illustrate the character of this organization, a* 
brief reference should be made to what the confederacy 
accomplished in acquiring territorial domination during 
the short period of its existence. 

From A. D. 1426 to 1520, a period of ninety- four years, 
the confederacy was engaged in frequent wars with adja- 
cent tribes, and particularly with the feeble Village 
Indians southward from the valley of Mexico to the 
Pacific, and thence eastward well toward Guatemala. 
They began with those nearest in position whom they 
overcame, through superior numbers and concentrated 
action, and subjected to tribute. The villages in this 
area were numerous but small, consisting in many cases 
of a single large structure of adobe-brick or of stone, 
and in some cases of several such structures grouped to- 
gether. These joint-tenement houses interposed serious 
hinderances to Aztec conquest, but they did not prove 
insuperable. These forays were continued from time to 
time for the avowed object of gathering spoil, imposing 
tribute, and capturing prisoners for sacrifice; 1 until the 

> The Aztecs, like the Northern Indians, neither exchanged nor re- 
leased prisoners. Among the latter the stake was the doom of the 
captive unless saved by adoption ; but among the former, under the 
teachings of the priesthood, the unfortunate captive was offered as a 
sacrifice to the principal god they worshiped. To utlltee the life of 
the prisoner In the service of the god. a life forfeited by the immem- 
orial usages of savages and barbarians, was the high conception of 
the first hierarchy in the order of institutions. An organised priest- 
hood first appeared among the American aborigines in the Middle Sta- 
tus of barbarism ; And ft stands connected with the invention of Idols 
and human sacrifices, as a means of acquiring authority over man- 
kind through the religious sentiments. It probably has a similar 


principal tribes within the area named, with some excep- 
tions, were subdued and made tributary, including the 
scattered villages of the Totonacs near the present 
Vera Cruz. 

No attempt was made to incorporate these tribes in 
the Aztec confederacy, which the barrier of language 
rendered impossible under their institutions. They were 
left under the government of their own chiefs, and to the 
practice of their own usages and customs. In some cases 
a collector of tribute resided among them. The barren 
results of these conquests reveal the actual character of 
their institutions. Adomination of the strong over the 
weak for no other object than to enforce an unwilling 
tribute, did not even tend to the formation of a nation. 
If organized in gentes, there was no way for an individ- 
ual to become a member of the government except 
through a gens, and no way for the admission of a gens 
except by its incorporation among the Aztec, Tezcucan, 
or Tlacopan gentes. The plan ascribed to Romulus of 
removing the gentes of conquered Latin tribes to Rome 
might have been resorted to by the Aztec confederacy 
with respect to the tribes overrun; but they were not 
sufficiently advanced to form such a conception, even 
though the barrier of language could have been obviated. 
Neither could colonists for the same reason, if sent 
among them, have so far assimilated the conquered tribes 
as to prepare them for incorporation in the Aztec social 
system. As it was the confederacy gained no strength 
by the terrorism it created; or by holding these tribes 
under burdens, inspired with enmity and ever ready to 
revolt. It seems, however, that they used the military 
bands of subjugated tribes in some cases, and shared 
with them the spoils. All the Aztecs could do, after 

history in the principal tribes of mankind. Three successive usages 
with respect to captives appeared in the three subperiods of bar 
barlsm. In the first he was burned at the stake, in the second he was 
sacrificed to the rods, and in the third he was made a slave. All 
alike they proceeded upon the principle that the life of the prisoner 
was forfeited to his captor. This principle became no deeply seated 
in the human mind that civilisation and Christianity combined were 
requred for Its displacement. 


forming the confederacy, was to expand it over the 
remaining Nahuatlac tribes. This they were unable to 
accomplish. The Xochimilcas and Chalcans were not 
constituent members of the confederacy, but they enjoyed 
a nominal independence, though tributary. 

This is about all that can now be discovered of the 
material basis of the so-called kingdom or empire of the 
Aztecs. The confederacy was confronted by hostile and 
independent tribes on the west, northwest, northeast, 
east, and southeast sides : as witness, the Mechoacans on 
the west, the Otomies on the northwest, ( scattered bands 
of the Otomies near the valley had been placed under 
tribute), the Chichimecs or wild tribes north of the 
Otomies, the Meztitlans on the northeast, the Tlascalans 
on the east, the Cholulans and Htiexotzincos on the 
southeast and beyond them the tribes of the Tabasco, the 
tribes of Chiapas, and the Zapotecs. In these several 
directions the dominion of the Aztec confederacy did 
not extend a hundred miles beyond the valley of Mexico, 
a portion of which surrounding area was undoubtedly 
neutral ground separating the confederacy from perpet- 
ual enemies. Out of such limited materials the kingdom 
of Mexico of the Spanish chronicles was fabricated, and 
afterwards magnified into the Aztec empire of current 

A few words seem to be necessary concerning the pop- 
ulation of the valley and of the pueblo of Mexico. No 
means exist for ascertaining the number of the people in 
the five Nahuatlac tribes who inhabited the valley. Any 
estimate must be conjectural. As a conjecture then, 
based upon what is known of their horticulture, their 
means of subsistence, their institutions, their limited area, 
and not forgetting the tribute they received, two hundrec 
and fifty thousand persons in the aggregate would prob- 
ably be an excessive estimate. It would give about a 
hundred* and sixty persons to the square mile, equal to 
nearly twice the present average population of the state of 
New York, and about equal to the average population of 
Rhode Island. It is difficult to perceive what sufficient 
reason can be assigned for so large a number of inhab- 


itants in all the villages within the valley, said to have 
been from thirty to forty. Those who claim a higher 
number will be bound to show how a barbarous people, 
without flocks and herds, and without field agriculture, 
could have sustained in equal areas a larger number of 
inhabitants than a civilized people can now maintain 
armed with these advantages. It cannot be shown for 
the simple reason that it could not have been true. Out 
of this population thirty thousand may, perhaps, be 
assigned to the pueblo of Mexico. l 

It will be unnecessary to discuss the position and rela- 
tions of the valley tribes beyond the suggestions made. 
The Aztec monarchy should be dismissed from American 
aboriginal history, not only as delusive, but as a misrep- 
resentation of the Indians, who had neither developed 
nor invented monarchical institutions. The government 
they formed was a confederacy of tribes, and nothing 
more ; and probably not equal in plan and symmetry with 
that of the Iroquois. In dealing with this organization, 
War-chief, Sachem, and Chief will be sufficient to distin- 
guish their official persons. 

The pueblo of Mexico was the largest in America. 
Romantically situated in the midst of an artificial lake, 
its large joint-tenement houses plastered over with gyp- 

i There is some difference in the estimates of the population 
of Mexico found in the Spanish histories; but several of them 
concurred in the number of houses, which, strange to say, is 
placed at sixty thousand. Zuazo, who visited Mexico in 1521, 
wrote sixty thousand inhabitants (Prescott, "Conq. of Mex.," 
ii, 112, note); the Anonymous Conqueror, who accompanied 
Cortes also wrote sixty thousand inhabitants, "soixante mllle 
habitans" ("H. Ternaux-Compans," x, 92); but Qomora and 
Martyr wrote sixty thousand houses, and this estimate has been 
adopted by Clavigero ("Hist, of Mex./' ii, 360) by Herrera 
("Hist, of Amer.," 1J, 360), and by Prescott ("Conq. of Mex.," 
11,112). Soils says sixty thousand families ("Hist. Conq. of 
MPX., 1. c.," i, 393). This estimate would give a population of 
300,000, although London at that time contained but 146,000 
inhabitants (Black's "London." p. 6). Finally, Torquemada, cited 
by Clavigero (ii, 360, note), boldly writes one hundred and 
tvy^nty thousand houses. There can scarcely be a doubt that 
the houses in this pueblo were in general large communal, or 
joint-tenement houses, like ttiose in New Mexico of the same 
period, large enough to accommodate from ten to fifty and a 
hundred families in each. At either number the mistake is 
egregious. Zuazo and the Annonymous Conqueror came the 
nearent to a respectable estimate, because they did not much 
more than double the probable number. 


sum, which made them a brilliant white, and approached 
by causeways, it presented to the Spaniards, in the dis- 
tance, a striking and enchanting spectacle. It was a rev- 
elation of an ancient society lying two ethnical periods 
back of European society, and eminently calculated, from 
its orderly plan of life, to awaken curiosity and inspire 
enthusiasm. A certain amount of extravagance of opin- 
ion was unavoidable. 

A few particulars have been named .tending to show 
the extent of Aztec advancement to which some others 
may now be added. Ornamental gardens were found, 
magazines of weapons and of military costumes, im- 
proved apparel, manufactured fabrics of cotton of supe- 
rior workmanship, improved implements and utensils, 
and an increased variety of food; picture-writing, used 
chiefly to indicate the tribute in kind each subjugated 
village was to pay ; a calendar for measuring time, and 
open markets for the barter of commodities. Adminis- 
trative offices had been created to meet the demands of 
a growing municipal life; a priesthood, with a temple 
worship and a ritual including human sacrifies, had been 
established. The office of head war-chief had also risen 
into increased importance. These, and other circum- 
stances of their condidtion, not necessary to be detailed, 
imply a corresponding development of their institutions. 
Such are some of the differences between the Lower and 
the Middle Status of barbarism^ as illustrated by the rel- 
ative conditions of the Iroquois and the Aztecs, both 
having doubtless the same original institutions. 

With these preliminary suggestions made, the three 
most important and most difficult questions with respect 
to the Aztec social system, remain to be considered. 
They relate first, to the existence of Gentes and Phra- 
tries ; second, the existence and functions of the Council 
of Chiefs ; and, third, the existence and functions of the 
office of General Military Commander, held by Monte- 
I. The Existence of Gentes and Phratries. 

It may seem singular that the early Spanish writers 
did not discover the Aztec gentes, if in fact they existed; 


but the case was nearly the same with the Iroquois under 
the observation of our own people more than two hun- 
dred years. The existence among them of clans, named 
after animals, was pointed out at an early day, but with- 
out suspecting that it was the unit of a social system 
upon which both the tribe and the confederacy rested. * 
The failure of the Spanish investigators to notice the 
existence of the gentile organization among the tribes of 
Spanish America would afford no proof of its non-exist- 
ence ; but if it did exist, it would simply prove that their 
work was superficial in this respect 

There is a large amount of indirect and fragmentary 
evidence in the Spanish writers pointing both to the gens 
and the phratry, some of which will now be considered. 
Reference has been made to the frequent use of the term 
"kindred" by Herrera, showing that groups of persons 
were noticed who were bound together by affinities of 
blood. This, from the size of the group, seems to require 
a gens. The term "lineage" is sometimes used to indi- 
cate a still larger group, and implying a phratry. 

The pueblo of Mexico was divided geographically into 
four quarters, each of which was occupied by a lineage, 
a body of people more nearly related by consanguinity 
among themselves than they were to the inhabitants of 
the other quarters. Presumptively, each lineage was a 
phratry. Each quarter was again subdivided, and each 
local subdivision was occupied by a community of per- 
sons bound together by some common tie.* Presump- 
tively, this community of persons was a gens. Turning 
to the kindred tribe of Tlascalans, the same facts nearly 
re-appear. Their pueblo was divided into four quarters, 
each occupied by a lineage. Each had its own Teuctli 
or head war-chief, its distinctive military costume, and 
its own standard and blazon.* As one people they were 
under the government of a council of chiefs, which the 
Spaniards honored with the name of the Tlascalan sen- 

"Learn* of the Iroquois," p. 78. 

Herrera. JI1, 194. 209. 

Herrera, II, 279, 304; Clavifcero, i. 140. 


ate. 1 Cholula, in like manner, was divided into six 
quarters, called wards by Herrera, which leads to the 
same inference. * The Aztecs in their social subdivisions 
having arranged among themselves the parts of the 
pueblo they were severally to occupy, these geographical 
districts would result from their mode of settlement. If 
the brief account of these quarters at the foundation of 
Mexico, given by Herrera, who follows Acosta, is read 
in the light of this explanation, the truth of the matter 
will be brought quite near. After mentioning the build- 
ing of a ''chapel of lime and stone for the idol," Herrera 
proceeds as follows: "When this was done, the idol 
ordered a priest to bid the chief men divide themselves, 
with their kindred and followers, into four wards or 
quarters, leaving the house that had been built for him 
to rest in the middle, and each party to build as they 
liked best. These are the four quarters of Mexico now 
called St. John, St. Mary the Round, St. Paul and St. 
Sebastian. That division being acordingly made, their 
idol again directed them to distribute among themselves 
the gods he should name, and each ward to appoint pecul- 
iar places where the gods should be worshiped ; and thus 
every quarter has several smaller wards in it according to 
the number of their gods this idol called them to adore . . . 
Thus Mexico, Tenochtitlan, was founded .... When 
the aforesaid partition was made, those who thought 
themselves injured, with their kindred and followers, 
went away to seek some other place/ 13 namely, Tlatelueco, 
which was adjacent. It is a reasonable interpretation 
of this language that they divided by kin, first into four 
general divisions, and these into smaller subdivisions, 
which is the usual formula for stating results. But the 
actual process was the exact reverse ; namely, each body 
of kindred located in an area by themselves, and the 
several bodies in such a way as to bring those most 
nearly related in geographical connection with each 

i Clavlgrero, 1, 147; The four war-chiefs were ex ofllcio mem* 
beni of the Council. Ib.. ii, 137. 
a Herrera, 11, 31U. 
3 Herrera, HI, 194. 


other. Assuming that the lowest subdivision was a 
gens, and that each quarter was occupied by a phratry, 
composed of related gentes, the primary distribution of 
the Aztecs in their pueblo is perfectly intelligible. With- 
out this assumption it is incapable of a satisfactory ex- 
planation. When a people, organized in gentes, phratri^s 
and tribes, settled in a town or city, they located by 
gentes and by tribes, as a necessary consequence, of their 
social organization. The Grecian and Roman tribes 
settled in their cities in this manner. For example, the 
three Roman tribes were organized in gentes and curiae, 
the curia being the analogue of the phratry; and they 
settled at Rome by gentes, by curiae and by 'tribes. The 
Ramnes occupied the Palatine Hill. The Titles were 
mostly on the Quirinal, and the Luceres mostly on the 
Esquiline. If the Aztecs were in gentes and phratries, 
having but one tribe, they would of necessity be found 
in as many quarters as they had phratries/ with each 
gens of the same phratry in the main locally by itself. 
As husband and wife were of different gentes, and the 
children were of the gens of the father or mother as 
descent was in the male or the female line, the pre- 
ponderating number in each locality would be of the 
same gens. 

Their military organization was based upon these so- 
cial divisions. As Nestor advised Agamemnon to arrange 
the troops by phratries and by tribes, the Aztecs seem 
to have arranged themselves by gentes and by phratries. 
I the Mexican Chronicles, by the native author Tezo- 
zomoc (for a reference to the following passage in 
which I am indebted to my friend Mr. Ad. F. Bandelier. 
of Highland, Illinois, who is now engaged upon its 
translation), a proposed invasion of Michoacan is refer- 
rej to. Axaycatl "spoke to the Mexican captains Tlaca- 
tecatl and Tlacochcalcatl, and to all the others, and in- 
quired whether all the Mexicans were prepared, after the 
usuges and customs of each ward, each one with its cap- 
tains; and if so that they should begin to march, and 
th I all were to reunite at Matlatzinco Toluca." 1 It in- 

t *Cronica Mexicana," De Fernando de Alvarado Teioiomoo, 
&K 11, p. $8, Klnffsborough, v. ix. 


dicates that the military organization was by gentes and 
by phratries. 

An inference of the existence of Aztec gentes arises 
also from their land tenure. Qavigero remarks that 
"the lands which were called Altepetlatti [altepetl=pue- 
blo] that is, those of the communities of cities and vil- 
lages, were divided into as many parts as there were 
districts in a city, and every district possessed its own 
part entirely distinct from, and independent of every 
other. These lands could not be alienated by any means 
whatever." * In each of these communities we are led 
to recognize a gens, whose localization was a necessary 
consequence of their social system. Clavigero puts the 
districts for the community, whereas it was the latter 
which made the district, and which owned the lands in 
common. The element of kin, which united each com- 
munity, omitted by Clavigero is supplied by Herrera. 
'There were other lords, called major parents [sachems], 
whose landed property all belonged to one lineage 
[gens], which lived in one district, and there were many 
of them when the lands were distributed at the time 
New Spain was peopled; and each lineage received its 
own, and have possessed them until now; and these 
lands did not belong to any one in particular, but to all 
in common, and he who possessed them could not sell 
them, although he enjoyed them for life and left them to 
his sons and heirs; and if a house died out they were 
left to the nearest parent to whom they were given and 
to no other, who administered the same district or line- 
age." * In this remarkable statement our author was 
puzzled to harmonize the facts with the prevailing the- 
ory of Aztec institutions. He presents to us an Aztec 
lord who held the fee of the land as a feudal proprietor, 
and a title of rank pertaining to it, both of which he 
transmitted to his son and heir. But in obedience to 
truth he states the essential fact that the lands belonged 
to a body of consanguine! of whom he is styled the major 

* "History of Mexico," II, 141. 

9 "History of America/* HI, 314. The above is a retraaslatlon by 
Mr. Bandeller from the Spanish text 


parent, i. e., he was the sachem, it may be supposed, of 
the gens, the latter owning these lands in common. The 
suggestion that he held the lands in trust means nothing. 
They found Indian chiefs connected with gentes, each 
gens owning a body of lands in common, and when the 
chief died, his place was filled by his son, according to 
Herrera. In so far it may have been analogous to a 
Spanish estate and title ; and the misconception resulted 
from a want of knowledge of the nature and tenure of 
the office of chief. In some cases they found the son 
did not succeed his father, but the office went to some 
other person; hence the further statement, "if a house 
(alguna casa, another feudal feature) died out, they [the 
lands] were left to the nearest major parent;" t. 0., an- 
other person was elected sachem, as near as any conclu- 
sion can be drawn from the language. What little V\as 
been given to us by the Spanish writers concerning In- 
dian chiefs, and the land tenure of the tribes is corrupted 
by the use of language adapted to feudal institutions that 
had no existence among them. In this lineage we are 
warranted in recognizing an Aztec gens : and in this lord 
an Aztec sachem, whose office was hereditary in the 
gens, in the sense elsewhere stated, and elective among 
its members. If descent was in the male line, the choice 
would fall upon one of the sons of the deceased sachem, 
own or collateral, upon a grandson, through one of his 
sons, or upon a brother, own or collateral. But if in the 
female line it would fall upon a brother or nephew, own 
or collateral, as elsewhere explained. The sachem had 
no title whatever to the lands, and therefore none to 
transmit to any one. He was thought to be the pro- 
prietor because he held an office which was perpetually 
maintained, and because there was a body of lands per- 
petually belonging to a gens over which he was a sa- 
chem. The misconception of this office and of its tenure 
has been the fruitful source of unnumbered errors in our 
aboriginal histories. The lineage of Herrera, and the 
communities of Qavigero were evidently organizations, 
and the same organization. They found in tihis body of 
kindred, without knowing* the fact, the unit of their so- 
cial system, a gens, as we must suppose. 


Indian chiefs are described as lords by Spanish writ- 
ers, and invested with rights over lands and over per- 
sons they never possessed. It is a misconception to style 
an Indian chief a lord in the European sense, because 
it implies a condition of society that did not exist. A 
lord holds a rank and a title by hereditary right, secured 
to him by special legislation in derogation of the rights 
of the people as a whole. To this rank and title, since 
the overthrow of feudalism, no duties are attached which 
may be claimed by the king or the kingdom as a matter 
of right. On the contrary, an Indian chief holds an of- 
fice, not by hereditary right, but by election from a con- 
stituency, which retained the right to depose him for 
cause. The office carried with it the obligation to per- 
form certain duties for the benefit of the constituency. 
He had no authority over the persons or property or 
lands of the members of the gens. It is thus seen that 
no analogy exists between a lord and his title, and an 
Indian chief and his office. One belongs to political so- 
ciety, and represents an aggression of the few upon the 
many; while the other belongs to gentile society and is 
founded upon the common interests of the members of 
the gens. Unequal privileges find no place in the gens, 
phratry or tribe. 

Further traces of the existence of Aztec gentes will 
appear. A prima facie case of the existence of gentes 
among them is at least made out. There was also an 
antecedent probability to this effect, from the presence 
of the two upper members of the organic series, the tribe, 
and the confederacy, and from the general prevalence of 
the organization among other tribes. A very little close 
investigation by the early Spanish writers would have 
placed the question beyond a doubt, and, as a conse- 
quence, have given a very different complexion to Aztec 

The usages regulating the inheritance of property 
among the Aztecs have come down to us in a confused 
and contradictory condition. They are not material in 
this discussion, except as they reveal the existence of 
bodies of consanguinei, and the inheritance by children 
from their fathers. If the latter were the fact it would 


show that descent was in the male line, and also an ex- 
traordinary advance in a knowledge of property. It is 
not probable that children enjoyed an exclusive inherit- 
ance, or that any Aztec owned a foot of land which he 
could call his own, with power to sell and convey to 
whomsoever he pleased. 

II. The Existence and Functions of the Council of 


The existence of such a council among the Aztecs 
might have been predicted from the necessary constitu- 
tion of Indian society. Theoretically, it would have 
been composed of that class of chiefs, distinguished as 
sachems, who represented bodies of kindred through an 
office perpetually maintained. Here again, as elsewhere, 
a necessity is seen for gentes, whose principal chiefs 
would* represent the people in their ultimate social sub- 
divisions as among the Northern tribes. Aztec gentes 
are fairly necessary to explain the existence of Aztec 
chiefs. Of the presence of an Aztec council there is no 
doubt whatever ; but of the number of its members and 
of its functions we are left in almost total ignorance. 
Brasseur de Bourbourg remarks generally that "nearly 
all the towns or tribes are divided into four clans or 
quarters whose chiefs constitute the great comjcil." l 
Whether he intended to limit the number to oiwchief 
from each quarter is not clear ; but elsewhere he limits 
the Aztec council to four chiefs. Diego Duran, who 
wrote his work in 1579-1581, and thus preceded both 
Acosta and Tezozomoc, remarks as follows : "First we 
must know, that in Mexico after having elected a king 
they elected four lords of the brothers or near relations 
of thjs king to w T hom they gave the titles of princes, and 
from whom they had to choose the king. [To the offices 
he gives the names of Tlacachcalcatl, Tlacatecal, Eztiau- 

uacatl, and Fillancalqticl These four lords and 

titles after being elected princes, they made them the 
royal council, like the presidents and judges of the su- 
preme council, without whose opinion nothing could be 

i "Popol Vuh," Intro, p. 117. note 2, 


done." l Acosta, after naming the same offices, and call- 
ing the persons who held them "electors," remarks that 
"all these four dignities were of the great council, with- 
out whose advice the king might not do anything of im- 
portance." f And Herrera, after placing these offices in 
four grades, proceeds: "These four sorts of noblemen 
were of the supreme council, without whose advice the 
king was to do nothing of moment, and no king could 
be chosen but what was of one of these four orders." 8 
The use of the term king to describe a principal war- 
chief and of princes to describe Indian chiefs cannot 
create a state or a political society where none existed; 
but as misnomers they stilt up and disfigure our aborig- 
inal history and for that reason ought to be discarded. 
Wjhen the Huexotzincos sent delegates to Mexico pro- 
posing an alliance against the Tlascalans, Montezuma 
addressed them, according to Tezozomoc, as follows: 
"Brothers and sons, you are welcome, rest yourselves 
awhile, for although I am king indeed I alone cannot 
satisfy you, but only together with all the chiefs of the 
sacred Mexican senate." 4 The above accounts recog- 
nize the existence of a supreme council, with authority 
over the action of the principal war-chief, which is the 
material point. It tends to show that the Aztecs guarded 
them^lves against an irresponsible despot, by subjecting 
his araon to a council of chiefs, and by making him 
elective and deposable. If the limited and incomplete 
statements of these authors intended to restrict this coun- 
cil to four members, which Duran seems to imply, the 
limitation is improbable. As such the council would re- 
present, not the Aztec tribe, but the small body of kins- 
men from whom the military commander was to be 
chosen. This is not the theory of a council of chiefs. 
Each chief represents a constituency, and the chiefs to- 
gether represent the tribe. A selection from their num- 

i "History of the Indies of New Spain and Islands of the 
Main Land," Mexico, 1867. Ed. by Jose F. Ramirez, p. 102. Pub- 
lished from the original MS. Translated by Mr. Bandelier. 

a "The Natural and Moral History of the Bast and West 
Indies," Lend, ed., 1604. Grimstone's Trans., p. 485. 

3 '^History of America," iii, 224. 

4 "Cronica Mexicana," cap. xcvii. Bandolier's Trans. 


ber is sometimes made to form a general council ; but it 
is through an organic provision which fixes the num- 
ber, and provides for their perpetual maintenance. The 
Tezcucan council is said to have consisted of fourteen 
members, l while the council at Tlascala was a numerous 
body. Such a council among the Aztecs is required by 
the structure and principles of Indian society, and there- 
fore would be expected to exist. In this council may 
be recognized the lost element in Aztec history. A 
knowledge of its functions is essential to a comprehen- 
sion of Aztec society. 

In the current histories this council is treated as an 
advisory board of Montezuma's, as a council of minist- 
ers of his own creation ; thus Clavigero : "In the history 
of the conquest we shall find Montezuma in frequent 
deliberation with his council on the pretensions of the 
Spaniards. We do not know the number of each coun- 
cil, nor do historians furnish us with the lights neces- 
sary to illustrate such a subject." 2 It was one of the 
first questions requiring investigation, and the fact that 
the early writers failed to ascertain its composition and 
functions is proof conclusive of the superficial character 
of their work. We know, however, that the council of 
chiefs is an institution which came in with the gentes, 
which represents electing constituencies, and which from 
time immemorial had a vocation as well as original gov- 
erning powers. We find a Tezcucan and Tlacopan coun- 
cil, a Tlascalan, a Cholulan and a Michoacan council, 
each composed of chiefs. The evidence establishes the 
existence of an Aztec council of chiefs ; but so far as it 
is limited to four members, all of the same lineage, it is 
presented in an improbable form. Every tribe in Mexico 
and Central America, beyond a reasonable doubt, had its 
council of chiefs. It was the governing body of the tribe, 
and a constant phenomenon in all parts of aboriginal 
America. The council of chiefs is the oldest institution 
of government of mankind. It can show an unbroken 

i Ixtlllxochltl. "Hist. Chichlmeca," Klngrsborough, "Hex. An* 
' 2 f' Mexico/* 11, 111 


succession on the several continents from the Upper 
Status of savagery through the three sub-periods of bar- 
barism to the commencement of civilization, when, hav- 
ing been changed into a preconsidering council with the 
rise of the assembly of the people, it gave birth to the 
modern legislature in two bodies. 

It does not appear that there was a general council of 
the Aztec confederacy, composed of the principal chiefs 
of the three tribes, as distinguished from the separate 
councils of each. A complete elucidation of this subject 
is required before it can be known whether the Aztec or- 
ganization was simply a league, offensive and defensive, 
and as such under the primary control of the Aztec tribe, 
or a confederacy in which the parts were integrated in 
a symmetrical whole. This problem must await future 

III. The Tenure and Functions of the Office of Princ- 
ipal War-chief. 

The name of the office held by Montezuma, according 
to the best accessible information, was simply Teuctli, 
which signifies a war-chief. As a member of the coun- 
cil of chiefs he was sometimes called Tlatoani, which 
signifies speaker. This office of a general military com- 
mander was the highest known to the Aztecs. Tt was the 
same office and held by the same tenure as that of princi- 
pal war-chief in the Iroquois confederacy. It made the 
person, ex officio, a member of the council of chiefs, as 
may be inferred from the fact that in some of the tribes 
the principal war-chief had precedence in the council 
both in debate and in pronouncing his opinion. 1 None 
of the Spanish writers apply this title to Montezuma or- 
his successors. It was superseded by the inappropriate 
title of king. Ixtlilxochitl, who was of mixed Tezcucan 
and Spanish descent, describes the head war-chiefs of 

i "The title of 'Teuctli 1 was added In the manner of a sur- 
name to the proper name of the person advanced to this dig- 
nity, as *Chichimeca-Teuctli,' 'Pil-Teuctli,' and others. The 
'Teuctli' took precedency of all others in the senate, both in 
the order of sitting 1 and voting, and were permitted to have a 
servant behind them with a seat, which was esteemed a privi- 
lege of the highest honor." Clavigero, ii, 137. This is a re-ap- 
of the sub-sachem of the Iroquois behind his principal. 


Mexico, Tezcuco and Tlacopan, by the simple title of 
war-chief, with another to indicate the tribe. After 
speaking of the division of powers between the three 
chiefs when the confederacy was formed, and of the as- 
sembling of the chiefs of the three tribes on that occa- 
sion, he proceeds : "The king of Tezcuco was saluted by 
the title of Aculhua Teuctli, also by that of Chichimecatl 
Tcuctli which his ancestors had worn, and which was 
the mark of the empire; Itzcoatzin, his uncle, received 
the title of Culhua Tcuctli, because he reigned over the 
Toltecs-Culhuas ; and Totoquihuatzin that of Tecpanuatl 
Teuctli, which had been the title of Azcaputzalco. Since 
that time their successors have received the same title." * 
Itzcoatzin (Itzcoatl), here mentioned, was war-chief of 
the Aztecs when the confederacy was formed. As the 
title was that of war-chief, then held by many other per- 
sons, the compliment consisted in connecting with it a 
tribal designation. In Indian speech the office held by 
Montezuma was equivalent to head war-chief, and in 
English to general. 

Clavigero recognizes this office in several Nahuatlac 
tribes, but never applies it to the Aztec war-chief. "The 
highest rank of nobility in Tlascala, in Huexotzinco and 
in Cholula was that of Teuctli. To obtain this rank it 
was necessary to be of noble birth, to have given proofs 
in several battles of the utmost courage, to have arrived 
at a certain age, and to command great riches for the 
enormous expenses which were necessary to be sup- 
ported by the possessor of such a dignity/' 2 After 
Montezuma had been magnified into an absolute potent- 
ate, with civil as well as military functions, the nature 
and powers of the office he held were left in the back- 
ground in fact uninvestigated. As their general mili- 
tary commander he possessed the means of winning the 
popular favor, and of commanding the popular ^respect. 
It was a dangerous but necessary office to the tribe and 
to the confederacy. Throughout human experience, from 
the Lower Status of barbarism to the present time, it has 

i "Historla Chichimeca," ch. xxxii, Kingsborough: "ICex. A- 
tiq.," ix, 219. 
a "History of Mexico," 1. c., ii, 186. 


ever been a dangerous office. Constitutions and laws 
furnish the present security of civilized nations, so far 
as they have any. A body of usages and customs grew 
up, in all probability, among the advanced Indian tribes 
and among the tribes of the valley of Mexico, regulating 
the powers and prescribing the duties of this office. 
There are general reasons warranting the supposition 
that the Aztec council of chiefs was supreme, not only 
in civil affairs, but over military affairs, the person and 
direction of the war-chief included. The Aztec polity 
under increased numbers and material advancement, had 
undoubtedly grown complex, and for that reason a 
knowledge of it would have been the more instructive. 
Could the exact particulars of their governmental or- 
ganization be ascertained they would be sufficiently re- 
markable without embellishment. 

The Spanish writers concur generally in the statement 
that the office held by Montezuma was elective, with the 
choice confined to a particular family. The office was 
found to pass from brother to brother, or from uncle to 
nephew. They were unable, however, to explain why it 
did not in some cases pass from father to son. Since the 
mode of succession was unusual to the Spaniards there 
was less possibility of a mistake with regard to the prin- 
cipal fact. Moreover, two successions occurred under 
the immediate notice of the conquerors. Montezuma was 
succeeded by Cuitlahua. In this case the office passed 
from brother to brother, although we cannot know 
whether they were own or collateral brothers without a 
knowledge of their system of consanguinity. Upon the 
death of the latter Guatemozin was elected to succeed 
him. Here the office passed from uncle to nephew, but 
we do not know whether he was an own or a collateral 
nephew. (See Part Third, ch. iii.) In previous cases 
the office had passed from brother to brother and also 
from uncle to nephew. l An elective office implies a con- 
stituency; but who were the constituents in this case? 
To meet this question the four chiefs mentioned by Du- 
ran (supra) are introduced as electors, to whom one 

t Clavlffero, II, 126. 


elector from Tezcuco and one from Tlacopan are added, 
making, six, who are then invested with power to choose 
from a particular family the principal war-chief. This 
is not the theory of an elective Indian office, and it may 
be dismissed as improbable. Sahagun indicates a much 
larger constituency. "When the king or lord died," he 
remarks, "all the senators called Tecutlatoques, and the 
old men of the tribe called Achcacauhti, and also the cap- 
tains and old warriors called Yautequioaques, and other 
prominent captains in warlike matters, and also the 
priests called Tlenamacaques, or Papasaques all these 
assembled in the royal houses. Then they deliberated 
upon and determined who had to be lord, and chose one 
of the most noble of the lineage of the past lords, who 
should be a valiant man, experienced in warlike matters, 
daring and brave. . . . When they agreed upon one they 
at once named him as lord, but this election was not made 
by ballot or votes, but all together conferring at last 
agreed upon the man. The lord once elected they also 
elected four others which were like senators, and had to 
be always with the lord, and be informed 1 of all the busi- 
ness of the kingdom." * This scheme of election by a 
large assembly, while it shows the popular element in 
the government which undoubtedly existed, is without 
the method of Indian institutions. Before the tenure of 
this office and the mode of election can be made intellig- 
ible, it is necessary to find whether or not they were or- 
ganized in gentes, whether descent was in the female line 
or the male, and to know something of their system of 
consanguinity. If they had the system found in many 
other tribes of the Ganowanian family, which is probable, 
a man would call his brother's son his son, and his sis- 
ter's son his nephew; he would call his father's brother 
his father, and his mother's brother his uncle; the chil- 
dren of his father's brother his brothers and sisters, and 
the children of his mother's brother his cousins, and so 
on. If organized into gentes with descent in the female 
line, a man would have brothers, uncles and nephews, 
Collateral grandfathers and grandsons within his own 

i "Hlstoria General/' ch. xviil. 


gens ; but neither own father, own son, nor lineal grand- 
son. His own sons and his brother's sons would belong 
to other gentes. It cannot as yet be affirmed that the 
Aztecs were organized in gentes : but the succession to 
the office of principal war-chief is of itself strong proof 
of the fact, because it would explain this succession com- 
pletely. Then with descent in the female line the office 
would be hereditary in a particular gens, but elective 
among its members. In that case the office would pass, 
by election within the gens, from brother to brother, or 
from uncle to nephew, precisely as it did among the 
Aztecs, and never from father to son. Among the Iro- 
quois at that same time the offices of sachem and of prin- 
cipal war-chief were passing from brother to brother or 
from uncle to nephew, as the choice might happen to fall, 
and never to the son. Tt was the gens, with descent in 
the female line, which gave this mode of succession, and 
which could have been secured in no other conceivable 
way. It is difficult to resist the conclusions, from these 
facts alone, that the Aztecs were organized in gentes, 
and that in respect to this office at least descent was still 
in the female line. 

It may therefore be suggested, as a probable explana- 
tion, that the office held by Montezuma was hereditary in 
a gens (the eagle was the blazon or totem on the house 
occupied by Montezuma), by the members of which the 
choice was made from among their number; that their 
nomination was then submitted separately to the four 
lineages or divisions of the Aztecs (conjectured to be 
phratries), for acceptance or rejection; and also to the 
Tezcucans and Tlacopans, who were directly interested 
in the selection of the general commander. When they 
had severally considered and confirmed the nomination 
each, division appointed a person to signify their concur- 
rence; whence the six miscalled electors. It is not un- 
likely that the four high chiefs of the Aztecs, mentioned 
as electors by a number of authors, were in fact the war- 
chiefs of the four divisions of the Aztecs, like the four 
war-chiefs of the four lineages of the Tlascalans. The 
function of these persons was not to elect, but to ascer- 
tain by a conference with each other whether the choice 


made by the gens had been concurred in, and if so to 
announce the result. The foregoing is submitted as a 
conjectural explanation, upon the fragments of evidence 
remaining, of the mode of succession to the Aztec office 
of principal war-chief. It is seen to harmonize with In- 
dian usages, and with the theory of the office of an elec- 
tive Indian chief. 

The right lo depose from office follows as a necessary 
consequence of the right to elect, where the term was 
for life. Tt is thus turned into an office during good be- 
havior. In these two principles of electing and deposing, 
universally established in the social system of the Ameri- 
can aborigines, sufficient evidence is furnished that the 
sovereign power remained practically in the hands of the 
people. This power to depose, though seldom exercised, 
was vital in the gentile organization. Montezuma was 
no exception to the rule. It required time to reach this 
result from the peculiar circumstances of the case, for a 
good reason was necessary. When Montezuma allowed 
himself, through intimidation, to be conducted from his 
place of residence to the quarters of Cortes where he was 
placed under confinement, the Aztecs were paralyzed for 
a time for the want of a military commander. The Span- 
iards had possession both of the man and of his office. l 
They waited some weeks, hoping the Spaniards would 
retire; but when they found the latter intended to re- 
main they met the necessity, as there are sufficient rea- 
sons for believing, by deposing Montezuma for want of 
resolution, and elected his brother to fill his place. Im- 
mediately thereafter they assaulted the Spanish quarters 

i In the West India Islands the Spaniards discovered that 
when they captured the cacique of a tribe and held him a pris- 
oner, the Indians became demoralized and refused to fight. 
Taking advantage of this knowledge when they reached the 
main-land they made it a point to entrap the principal chief, 
by force or fraud, and hold him a prisoner until their object 
was grained. Cortes simply acted upon this experience when he 
captured Montezuma and held him a prisoner in his quarters; 
and Pizaarro did the same when he seized Atahuallpa. Under 
Indian customs the prisoner was put to death, and if a princi- 
pal chief, the office reverted to the tribe and was at once filled. 
But in these cases the prisoner remained alive, and in posses- 
sion of his office, so that it could not be filled. The action of 
the people was paralyzed by novel circumstances. Cortes put 
the Aztecs in this position. 


with great fury, and finally succeeded in driving them 
from their pueblo. This conclusion respecting the depo- 
sition of Montezuma is fully warranted by Herrera's 
statement of the facts. After the assault conmmenced, 
Cortes, observing the Aztecs obeying a new commander, 
at once suspected the truth of the matter, and "sent 
Marina to ask Montezuma whether he thought they had 
put the government into his hands," l i. e., the hands of 
the new commander. Montezuma is said to have replied 
"that they would not presume to choose a king in Mexico 
whilst he was living." a He then, went upon the roof of 
the house and addressed his countrymen, saying among 
other things, "that he had been informed they had chosen 
another king because he was confined and loved the 
Spaniards;" to which he received the following ungra- 
cious reply from an Aztec warrior : <r Hold your peace, 
you effeminate scoundrel, born to weave and spin ; these 
dogs keep you a prisoner, you are a coward." 8 Then 
they discharged arrows upon him and stoned him, from 
the effects of which and from deep humiliation he shortly 
afterwards died. The war-chief in the command of the 
Aztecs in this assault was Cuitlahua, the brother of Mon- 
tezuma and his successor. * 

Respecting the functions of this office very little satis- 
factory information can be derived from the Spanish 
writers. There is no reason for supposing that Monte- 
zuma possessed any power over the civil affairs of the Az- 
tecs. Moreover, every presumption is against it. In 
military affairs when in the field he had the powers of 
a general ; but military movements were probably decided 
upon by the council. It is an interesting fact to be no- 
ticed that the functions of a priest were attached to the 
office of principal war-chief, and, as it is claimed, those 
of a judge. 6 The early appearance of these functions in 
the natural growth of the military office will be referred 
to again in connection with that of basileus. Although 
the government was of two powers it is probable that 

i :'Hiitory of Mexico/' ill, 66. 

a Ib., lii. 67. 

3 Clavigero. 11, 406. 

4 Ib., 11, 404. 

$ .mi-era, ill, 393. 


the council was supreme, in case of a conflict of author- 
ity, over civil and military affairs. It should be remem- 
bered that the council of' chiefs was the oldest in time, 
and possessed a solid basis of power in the needs of so- 
ciety and in the representative character of the office of 

The tenure of the office of principal war-chief and the 
presence of a council with power to depose from office, 
tend to show that the institutions of the Aztecs were es- 
sentially democratical. The elective principle with respect 
to war-chief, and which we must suppose existed with re- 
spect to sachem and chief, and the presence of a council 
of chiefs, determine the material fact. A pure democ- 
racy of the Athenian type was unknown in the Lower, 
in the Middle, or even in the Upper Status of barbarism ; 
but it is very important to know whether the institutions 
of a people are essentially democratical, or essentially 
monarchical, when we seek to understand them. Insti- 
tutions of the former kind are separated nearly as widely 
from those of the latter, as democracy is from monarchy. 
Without ascertaining the unit of their social system, if 
organized in gentes as they probably were, and without 
gaining a knowledge of the system that did exist, the 
Spanish writers boldly invented for the Aztecs an abso- 
lute monarchy with high feudal characteristics, and have 
succeeded in placing it in history. This misconception 
has stood, through American indolence, quite as long as 
it deserves to stand. The Aztec organization presented 
itself plainly to the Spaniards as a league or confederacy 
of tribes. Nothing but the grossest perversion of obvious 
facts could have enabled the Spanish writers to fabricate 
the Aztec monarchy out of a democratic organization. 

Theoretically, the Aztecs, Tezcucans and Tlacopans 
should severally have had a head-sachem to represent 
the tribe in civil affairs when the council of chiefs was 
not in session, and to take the initiative in preparing its 
work. There are traces of such an officer among the 
Aztecs in the Ziahuacatl, who is sometimes called the 
second chief, as the war-chief is called the first. But 
the accessible information respecting this office is too lim- 
ited to warrant a discussion of the subject 


It has been shown among the Iroquois that the war- 
riors could appear before the council of chiefs and ex- 
press their views upon public questions; and that the 
women could do the same through orators of their own 
selection. This popular participation in the government 
led in time to the popular assembly, with power to adopt 
or reject public measures submitted to them by the coun- 
cil. Among the Village Indians there is no evidence, so 
far as the author is aware, that there was an assembly of 
the people to consider public questions with power to 
act upon them. The four lineages probably met for spe- 
cial objects, but this was very different from a general 
assembly for public objects. From the democratic char- 
acter of their institutions and their advanced condition 
the Aztecs were drawing near the time when the assembly 
of the people might be expected to appear. 

The growth of the idea of government among the 
American aborigines, as elsewhere remarked, commenced 
with the gens and ended with the confederacy. Their 
organizations were social and not political. Until the 
idea of property had advanced very far beyond the point 
they had attained, the substitution of political for gentile 
society was impossible. There is not a fact to show that 
any portion of the aborigines, at least in North America, 
had reached any conception of the second great plan of 
government founded upon territory and upon property. 
The spirit of the government and the condition of the 
people harmonize with the institutions under which they 
live. When the military spirit predominates, as it did 
among the Aztecs, a military democracy rises naturally 
under gentile institutions. Such a government neither 
supplants the free spirit of the gentes, nor weakens the 
principles of democracy, but accords with them har- 



Civilization may be said to have commenced among 
the Asiatic Greeks with the composition of the Homeric 
poems about 850 B. C. ; and among the European Greeks 
about a century later with the composition of the Hesi- 
odic poems. Anterior to these epochs, there was a 
period of several thousand years during which the Hel- 
lenic tribes were advancing through the Later Period of 
barbarism, and preparing for* their entrance upon a civil- 
ized career. Their most ancient traditions find them al- 
ready established in the Grecian peninsula, upon the east- 
ern border of the Mediterranean, and upon the inter- 
mediate and adjacent islands. An older branch of the 
same stock, of which the Pelasgians were the chief rep- 
resentatives, had preceded them in the occupation of the 
greater part of these areas, and were in time either Hel- 
lenized by them, or forced into emigration. The anterior 
condition of the Hellenic tribes and of their predecessors, 
must be deduced from the arts and inventions which they 
brought down from the previous period, from the state 
of development of their language, from their traditions 
and from their social institutions, which severally sur- 
vived into the period of civilization. Our discussion will 
be restricted, in the main, to the last class of facts. 

Pelasgians and Hellenes alike were organized in gen- 
tes, phratries l and tribes ; and the latter united by coa- 
lescence into nations. In some cases the organic series 

i The phratries were not common to the Dorian tribes. 
Mttller's "Dorians," Tufnel and Law's Trans., Oxford ed., 11, 82. 



was not complete. Whether in tribes or nations their 
government rested upon the gens as the unit of organi- 
zation, and resulted in a gentile society or a people, as 
distinguished from a political society or a state. The in- 
strument of government was a council of chiefs, with the 
co-operation of an agora or assembly of the people, and 
of a basileus or military commander. The people were 
free, and their institutions democratical. Under the in- 
fluence of advancing ideas and wants the gens had passed 
out of its archaic into its ultimate form. Modifications 
had been forced upon it by the irresistible demands of an 
improving society; but, notwithstanding the concessions 
made, the failure of the gentes to meet these wants was 
constantly becoming more apparent. The changes were 
limited, in the main, to three particulars : firstly, descent 
was changed to the male line; secondly, intermarriage 
in the gens was permitted in the case of female orphans 
and heiresses; and thirdly, children had gained an ex- 
clusive inheritance of their father's property. An at- 
tempt will elsewhere be made to trace these changes, 
briefly, and the causes by which they were produced. 

The Hellenes in general were in fragmentary tribes, 
presenting the same characteristics in their form of gov- 
ernment as the barbarous tribes in general, when organ- 
ized in gentes and in the same stage of advancement. 
Their condition was precisely such as might have been 
predicted would exist under gentile institutions, and 
therefore presents nothing remarkable. 

When Grecian society came for the first time under 
historical observation, about the first Olympiad (776 B. 
C.) and down to the legislation of Cleisthenes (509 B. 
C), it was engaged upon the solution of a great prob- 
lem. It was no less than a fundamental change in the 
plan of government, involving a great modification of in- 
stitutions. The people were seeking to transfer them- 
selves out of gentile society, in which they had lived 
from time immemorial, into political society based upon 
territory and upon property, which had become essential 
to a career of civilization. In fine, they were striving 
to establish a state, the first in the experience of the 
Aryan family, and to place it upon a territorial found*- 


tion, such as the state has occupied from that time to 
the present. Ancient society rested upon an organiza- 
tion of persons, and was governed through the relations 
of persons to a gens and tribe; but the Grecian tribes 
were outgrowing this old plan of government, and began 
to feel the necessity of a political system. To accomplish 
this result it was only necessary to invent a deme or 
township, circumscribed with boundaries, to christen it 
with a name, and organize the people therein as a body 
politic. The township, with the fixed property it con- 
tained, and with the people who inhabited it for the time 
being, was to become the unit of organization in the new 
plan of government. Thereafter the gentilis, changed 
into a citizen, would be dealt with by the state through 
his territorial relations, and not through his personal re- 
lations to a gens. He would be enrolled in the deme of 
his residence, which enrollment was the evidence of his 
citizenship; would vote and be taxed in his deme; and 
from it be called into the military service. Although ap- 
parently a simple idea, it required centuries of time and 
a complete revolution of pre-existing conceptions of gov- 
ernment to accomplish the result. The gens, which had 
so long been the unit of a social system, had proved in- 
adequate, as before suggested, to meet the requirements 
of an advancing society. But to set this organization 
aside, together with the phratry and tribe, and substitute 
a number of fixed areas, each with its community of citi- 
zens, was, in the nature of the case, a measure of extreme 
difficulty. The relations of the individual to his gens, 
which were personal, had to be transferred to the town- 
ship and become territorial ; the demarch of the township 
taking, in some sense, the place of the chief of the gens. 
A township with its fixed property would be permanent, 
and the people therein sufficiently so ; while the gens was 
a fluctuating aggregate of persons, more or less scat- 
tered, and now growing incapable of permanent estab- 
lishment in a local circumscription. Anterior to experi- 
ence, a township, as the unit of a political system, was 
abstruse enough to tax the Greeks and Romans to the 
depths of their capacities before the conception was 
formed and set in practical operation. Property wa$ the 


new element that had been gradually remoulding Grecian 
institutions to prepare the way for political society, of 
which it was to be the mainspring as well ag the founda- 
tion. It was no easy task to accomplish such a funda- 
mental change, however simple and obvious it may now 
seem ; because all the previous experience of the Grecian 
tribes had been identified with the gentcs whose powers 
were to be surrendered to the new political bodies. 

Several centuries elapsed, after the first attempts were 
made to found the new political system, before the prob- 
lem was solved. After experience had demonstrated that 
the gentes were incapable of forming the basis of a state, 
several distinct schemes of legislation were tried in the 
various Grecian communities, who copied more or less 
each other's experiments, all tending to the same result. 
Among the Athenians from whose experience the chief 
illustrations will be drawn, may be mentioned the legisla- 
tion of Theseus, on the authority of tradition ; that of 
Draco (624 B. C.) ; that of Solon (594 B. C.) ; and that 
of Cleisthenes (509 B. C.), the last three of which were 
within the historical period. The development of munic- 
ipal life and institutions, the aggregation of wealth in 
walled cities, and the great changes in the mode of life 
thereby produced, prepared the way for the overthrow 
of gentile society, and for the establishment of political 
society in its place. 

Before attempting to trace the transition from gentile 
into political society, with which the closing history of 
the gentes is identified, the Grecian gens and its attri- 
butes will be first considered. 

Athenian institutions are typical of Grecian institu- 
tions in general, in whatever relates to the constitution 
of the gens and tribe, down to the end of ancient society 
among them. At the commencement of the historical 
period, the lonians of Attica were subdivided, as is well 
known, into four tribes (Geleontes, Hopletes, Aegicores, 
and Argades), speaking the same dialect, and occupying 
a common territory. They had coalesced into a nation 
as distinguished from a confederacy of tribes; but such a 


confederacy had probably existed in anterior times. * 
Each Attic tribe was composed of three phratries, and 
each phratry of thirty gentes, making an aggregate of 
twelve phratries, and of three hundred and sixty gentes 
in the four tribes. Such is the general form of the state- 
ment, the fact being constant with respect to the number 
of tribes, and the number of phratries in each, but liable 
to variation in the number of gentes in each phratry. In 
like manner the Dorians were generally found in three 
tribes (Hylleis, Pamphyli, and Dymanes), although 
forming a number of nationalities ; as at Sparta, Argos, 
Sicyon, Corinth, Epidaurus and Troczcn; and beyond 
the Peloponnesus at Megara, and elsewhere. One or 
more non-Dorian tribes were found in some cases united 
with them, as at Corinth^ Sicyon and Argos. 

In all cases the Grecian tribe presupposes the gentes, 
the bond of kin and of dialect forming the basis upon 
which they united in a tribe; but the tribe did not pre- 
suppose the phratry, which, as an intermediate organiza- 
tion, although very common among all these tribes, was 
liable to be intermitted. At Sparta, there were subdivi- 
sions of the tribes called obes, each tribe contain- 
ing ten, which were analogous to phratries ; but concern- 
ing the functions of these organizations some uncertainty 
prevails. 2 

The Athenian gentes will now be considered as they 
appeared in their ultimate form and in full vitality ; but 
with the elements of an incipient civilization arrayed 
against them, before which they were yielding step by 
step, and by which they were to be overthrown with the 
social system they created. In some respects it is the 

i Hermann mentions the confederacies of JEglna., Athena, 
Prasia, Nauplia, etc. "Political Antiquities of Greece/' Oxford 
Trans., ch. i, s. 11. 

"In the ancient "Rhetra" of Lycurgus, the tribes and obes 
are directed to be maintained unaltered: but the statement of 
O. Mttller and Boeckh that there were thirty obfcs In all, ten 
to each tribe, rests upon no higher evidence than a peculiar 
punctuation in this "Rhetra," which various other critics reject; 
and seemingly with good reason. We are thus left without any 
Information respecting: tHe obe, though we know that it was 
an old peculiar and lasting division among the Spartan people." 
Grote T "History of Greece/' Murray's ed., ii, 362. But see 
Mailer's "Dorians," 1. c., 11, 80. 


most interesting portion of the history of this remarkable 
organization, which had brought human society out of 
savagery, and carried it through barbarism into the early 
stages of civilization. 

The social system of the Athenians exhibits the fol- 
lowing series : first, the gens (genos) founded upon kin ; 
second, the phratry (phratra and phratria), a brother- 
hood of gentes derived by segmentation, probably, from 
an original gens; third, the tribe (phylon, later phyle), 
Composed of several phratries, the members of which 
spoke the same dialect; and fourth, a people or nation, 
composed of several tribes united by coalescence into one 
gentile society, and occupying the same territory. These 
integral and ascending organizations exhausted their so- 
cial system under the gentes, excepting the confederacy 
of tribes occupying independent territories, which, al- 
though it occurred in some instances in the early period 
and sprang naturally out of gentile institutions, led to 
no important results. It is likely that the four Athenian 
tribes confederated before they coalesced, the last occur- 
ring after they had collected in one territory under pres- 
sure from other tribes. If true of them, it would be 
equally true of the Dorian and other tribes. When such 
tribes coalesced into a nation, there was no term in the 
language to express the result, beyond a national name. 
The Romans, under very similar institutions, styled 
themselves the Populus Romanus, which expressed the 
fact exactly. They were then simply a people, and noth| 
ing more ; which was all that could result from an aggref 
gation of gentes, curiae and tribes. The four Athenian 
tribes formed a society or people, which became com* 
pletely autonomous in "the legendary period under the 
name of the Athenians. Throughout the early Grecian 
communities, the gens, phratry and tribe were constant 
phenomena of their social systems, with the occasional 
absence of the phratry. 

Mr. Grote has collected the principal facts with respect 
to the Grecian gentes with such critical ability that they 
cannot be presented in a more authoritative manner than 
in his own language, which will be quoted where he treats 
the subject generally. After commenting upon the tribal 


divisions of the Greeks, he proceeds as follows : "But the 
Phratries and Gentes are a distribution completely differ- 
ent from this. They seem aggregations of small primi- 
tive unities into larger ; they are independent of, and do 
not presuppose, the tribe ; they arise separately and spon- 
taneously, without preconcerted uniformity, and without 
reference to a common political purpose; the legislator 
finds them pre-existing, and adapts or modifies them to 
answer some national scheme. We must distinguish the 
general fact of the classification, and the successive sub- 
ordination in the scale, of the families to the gens, of 
the gentes to the phratry, and of the phratries to the 
tribe from the precise numerical symmetry with which 
this subordination is invested, as we read it, thirty 
families to a gens, thirty gentes to a phratry, three phrat- 
ries to each tribe. If such nice equality of numbers could 
ever have been procured, by legislative constraint, oper- 
ating upon pre-existent natural elements, the proportions 
could not have been permanently maintained. But we 

may reasonably doubt whether it did ever so exist 

That every phratry contained an equal number of gentes, 
and every gens an equal number of families, is a suppo- 
sition hardly admissible without better evidence than we 
possess. But apart from this questionable precision of 
numerical scale, the Phratries and Gentes themselves 
were real, ancient, and durable associations among the 
Athenian people, highly important to be understood. The 
basis of the whole was the house, hearth, or family, * a 
number of which, greater or less, composed the Gens or 
Genos. This gens was therefore a clan, sept, or enlarged, 
and partly factitious, brotherhood, bound together by, 
i. Common religious ceremonies, and exclusive privilege 
of priesthood, in honor of the same god, supposed to be 
the primitive ancestor, and characterized by a soecial sur- 
name. 2. By a common burial place. J 3. By mutual 
rights of succession to property. 4. By reciprocal obli- 
gations of help, defense, and redress of injuries. 5. By 
mutual right and obligation to intermarry in certain de- 
terminate cases, especially where there was an orphan 

i -Demoithenu, "Bubulidti," 1307. 


daughter or heiress. 6. By possession, in some cases, at 
least, of common property, an archon and treasurer of 
their own. Such were the rights and obligations char- 
acterizing the gentile union. The phratric union, bind- 
ing together several gentes, was less intimate, but still 
included some mutual rights and obligations of an anal- 
ogous character; especially a communion of particular 
sacred rites, and mutual privileges of prosecution in the 
event of a phrator being slain. Each phratry was con- 
sidered as belonging to one of the four tribes, and all the 
phratries of the same tribe enjoyed a certain periodical 
communion of sacred rites under the presidency of a mag- 
istrate called the Phylo-Basileus or tribe-king selected 
from the Eupatrids." 1 

The similarities between the Grecian and the Iroquois 
gens will at once be recognized. -Differences in char- 
acteristics will also be perceived, growing out of the 
more advanced condition of Grecian society, and a fuller 
development of their religious system. It will not be 
necessary to verify the existence of the several attributes 
of the gens named by Mr. Grote, as the proof is plain 
in the classical authorities. There were other character- 
istics which doubtless pertained to the Grecian gens, al- 
though it may be difficult to establish the existence of all 
of them ; such as : 7. The limitation of descent to the 
male line ; 8. The prohibition of intermarriage in th' 
gens excepting in the case of heiresses; 9. The right of 
adopting strangers into the gens; and 10. The right of 
electing and deposing its chiefs. 

The rights, privileges and obligations of the members 
of the Grecian gens may be recapitulated, with the addi- 
tions named, as follows: 

I. Common religious rites. 

II. A common burial place. 

III. Mutual rights of succession to property of de- 

ceased members. 

IV. Reciprocal obligations of help, defense and re- 

dress of injuries. 

i "History of Greece," Hi, 53, et seq. 


V. The right to intermarry in the gens in the cases 
of orphan daughters and heiresses. 

VI. The possession of common property, an cvrchon, 

and a treasurer. 

VII. The limitation of descent to the male line. 
VIII. The obligation not to marry in the gens except 
in specified cases. 

IX. The right to adopt strangers into the gens. 
X. The right to elect and depose its chiefs. 

A brief reference to the added characteristics should 
be made. 

7. The limitation of descent to the male line. There 
is no doubt that such was the rule, because it is proved 
by their genealogies. I have not been able to find in any 
Greek author a definition of a gens or of a gentilis that 
would furnish a sufficient test of the right of a given 
person to the gentile connection. Cicero, Varro and 
Festus have defined the Roman gens and gentilis, which 
were strictly analogous to the Grecian, with sufficient 
fullness to show that descent was in the male line. 
From the nature of the gens, descent was either in the 
female line or the male, and included but a moiety of the 
descendants of the founder. It is precisely like the fam- 
ily among ourselves. Those who are descended from 
the males bear the family name, and they constitute a 
gens in the full sense of the term, but in a state of disper- 
sion, and without any bond of union excepting those 
nearest in degree. The females lose, with their mar- 
riage, the family name, and with their children are trans- 
ferred to another family. Grote remarks that Aristotle 
was the "son of the physician Nikomachus who belonged 
to the gens of the Asklepiads." 1 Whether Aristotle was 
of the gens of his father depends upon the further ques- 
tion whether they both derived their descent from Aescu- 
lapius, through males exclusively. This is shown by 
Laertius, who states that "Aristotle was the son of 

Nikomachus and Nikomachus was descended 

from Nikomachus the son of Machaon, the son of Aescu- 
lapius." 3 Although the higher members of the series 

f "History of Greece," ill, GO. 

a Diogenes, Laertius, "Vit, Aristotle/' v, I, 


may be fabulous, the manner of tracing the descent 
would Show the gens of the person. The statement of 
Hermann, on the authority of Isacus, is also to the point. 
"Every infant was registered in the phratria and clan of 
its father." 1 Registration in the gens of the father im- 
plies that his children were of his gens. 

8. The obligation not to marry in the gens excepting 
in specified cases. This obligation may be deduced from 
the consequences of marriage. The wife by her mar- 
riage lost the religious rites of her gens, and acquired 
those of her husband's gens. The rule is stated as so 
general as to imply that marriage was usually out of the 
gens. "The virgin who quits her father's house," 
Wachsmuth remarks, "is no longer a sharer of the pater- 
nal sacrificial hearth, but enters the religious communion 
of her husband, and this gave sanctity to the marriage 
tie.' 1 8 The fact of her registration is stated by Hermann 
as follows : "Every newly married woman, herself a cit- 
izen, was on this account enrolled in the phratry of her 
husband." 8 Special religious rites (sacra gentilicia) were 
common in the Grecian and Latin gens. Whether the 
wife forfeited her agnatic rights by her marriage, as 
among the Romans, I am unable to state. It is not prob- 
able that marriage severed all connection with her gens, 
and the wife doubtless still counted herself of the gens 
of her father. 

The prohibition of intermarriage in the gens was fun- 
damental in the archaic period; and it undoubtedly re- 
mained after descent was changed to the male line, with 
the exception of heiresses and female orphans for whose 
case special provision was made. Although a tendency 
to free marriage, beyond certain degrees of consanguin- 
ity, would follow the complete establishment of the 
monogamian family, the rule requiring persons to marry 
out of their own gens would be apt to remain so long as 
the gens was the basis of the social system. The special 
provision in respect to heiresses tends to confirm this 

i "Political Antiquities of the Greek*," c. v, . 100; and vld- 
"Ettbulldei" of Demosthenes, 24. 

a "Historical Antiquities of the Greeks," Woolrych's Trans* 
Oxford ed., 1837, i. 451. 

* "Political Antiquities, L c.," cap. v, n. 


supposition. Becker remarks upon this question, that 
"relationship was, with trifling limitations, no hindrance 
to marriage, which could take place within all degrees of 
anchisteia, or sungeneia, though naturally not in the 
gens itself." 1 

9. The right to adopt strangers into the gens. This 
right was practiced at a later day, at least in families; 
but it was done with public formalities, and was doubt- 
less limited to special cases. 2 Purity of lineage became a 
matter of high concern in the Attic gentes, interposing 
no doubt serious obstacles to the use of the right except 
for weighty reasons. 

10. The right to elect and depose its chiefs. This 
right undoubtedly existed in the Grecian gentes in the 
early period. Presumptively it was possessed by them 
while in the upper Status of barbarism. Each gens had 
its archon, which was the common name for a chief. 
Whether the office was elective, for example, in the 
Homeric period, or was transmitted by hereditary right 
to the eldest son, is a question. The latter was not the 
ancient theory of the office; and a change so great and 
radical, affecting the independence and personal rights 
of all the members of the gens, requires positive proof 
to override? the presumption against it. ' Hereditary right 
to an office, carrying with it authority over, and obliga- 
tions from, the members of a gens is a very different 
thing from an office bestowed by a free election, with the 
reserved power to depose for unworthy behavior. The 
free spirit of the Athenian gentes down to the time of 
Solon and Cleisthenes forbids the supposition, as to them, 
that they had parted with a right so vital to the inde- 
pendence of the members of the gens. I have not been 
able to find any satisfactory explanation of the tenure of 
this office. Hereditary succession, if it existed, would 
indicate a remarkable development of the aristocratical 
element in ancient society, in derogation of the democrat- 
ical constitution of the gentes. Moreover, it would be a 

j "Charlcles," Metcalfe's Trans.. L,ond. ed., 1866, p. 477; cltlnr 
*I0aeufl de Clr. her." 217: "Demosthenes adv. Bbul.." 1304: 
-Plutarch, Themist.," 32: "Paueaniaa," i, 7, 1: "Achlll. Tat./' 1. . 

a Hermann, "1. c.," v, s. 100 and 101. 


sign of the commencement, at least, of their decadence. 
All the members of a gens were free and equal, the rich 
and the poor enjoying equal rights and privileges, and 
acknowledging the same in each other. We find liberty, 
equality and fraternity, written as plainly in the constitu- 
tion of the Athenian gentes as in those of the Iroquois. 
Hereditary right to the principal office of the gens is 
totally inconsistent with the older doctrine of equal rights 
and privileges. 

Whether the higher offices of anax, koiranos, and 
basileus were transmitted by hereditary right from father 
to son, or were elective or confirmative by a larger con- 
stituency, is also a question. It will be considered else- 
where. The former would indicate the subversion, as 
the latter the conservation, of gentile institutions. With- 
out decisive evidence to the contrary every presumption 
is adverse to hereditary right. Some additional light will 
be gained on this subject when the Roman gentes are 
considered. A careful re-investigation of the tenure of 
this office would, not unlikely, modify essentially the re- 
ceived accounts. 

It may be considered substantially assured that the 
Grecian gentes possessed the ten principal attributes 
named. All save three, namely, descent in the male line, 
marrying into the gens in the case of heiresses, and the 
possible transmission of the highest military office by 
hereditary right, are found with slight variations in the 
gentes of the Iroquois. It is thus rendered apparent that 
in the gentes, both the Grecian and the Iroquois tribes 
possessed the same original institution, the one having 
the gens in its later, and the other in its archaic form. 

Recurring now to the quotation from Mr. Grote, it 
may be remarked that had he been familiar with the 
archaic form of the gens, and with the several forms of 
the family anterior to the monogamian, he would prob- 
ably have modified essentially some portion of his state- 
ment. An exception must be taken to his position that 
the basis of the social system of the Greeks "was the 
house, hearth, or family." The form of the family in 
the mind of the distinguished historian was evidently the 
Roman, under the iron-clad rule of a pater familias, to 


which the Grecian family of the Homeric period approx- 
imated in the complete domination of the father over the 
household. It would have been equally untenable had 
other and anterior forms of the family been intended. 
The gens, in its origin, is older than the monogamian 
family, older than the syndyasmian, and substantially 
contemporaneous with the punaluan. In no sense was it 
founded upon either. It does not recognize the existence 
of the family of 1 any form as a constituent of itself. On 
the contrary, every family in the archaic as well as in 
the later period, was partly within and partly without the 
gens, because husband and w r ife must belong to different 
gentes. The explanation is both simple and complete; 
namely, that the family springs up independently of the 
gens with entire freedom to advance from a lower into a 
higher form, while the gens is constant, as well as the 
unit of the social system. The gens entered entire into 
the phratry, the phratry entered entire into the tribe, and 
the tribe entered entire into the nation; but the family 
could not enter entire into the gens because husband and 
wife must belong to different gentes. 

The question here raised is important, since not only 
Mr. Grote, but also Niebuhr, Thirlwall, Maine, Momm- 
sen, and many other able and acute investigators have 
taken the same position with respect to the monogamian 
family of the patriarchal type as the integer around 
which society integrated in the Grecian and Roman sys- 
tems. Nothing whatever was based upon the family in 
any of its forms, because it was incapable of entering a 
gens as a whole. The gens was homogeneous and to a 
great extent permanent in duration, and as such, the nat- 
ural basis of a social system. A family of the monog- 
amian type might have become individualized and power- 
ful in a gens, and in society at large ; but the gens never- 
theless did not and could not recognize or depend upon 
the family as an integer of itself. The same remarks 
are equally true with respect to the modern family and 
political society. Although individualized by property 
rights and privileges, and recognized as a legal entity by 
statutory enactment, the family is not the unit of the 
political system. The state recognizes the counties of 


which it is composed, the county its townships, but the 
township takes no note of the family ; so the nation rec- 
ognized its tribes, the tribe its phratries, and the phra- 
try its gentes; but the gens took no note of the family. 
In dealing with the structure of society, organic relations 
alone are to be considered. The township stands in the 
same relation to political society that the gens did to gen- 
tile society. Each is the unit of a system. 

There are a number of valuable observations by Mr. 
Grote, upon the Grecian gentes, which I desire to incor- 
porate as an exposition of them ; although these observa- 
tions seem to imply that they are no older' than the then 
existing mythology, or hierarchy of the gods from the 
members of which some of the gentes claimed to have 
derived their eponymous ancestor. In the light of the 
facts presented, the gentes are seen to have existed long 
before this mythology was developed before Jupiter or 
Neptune, Mars or Venus were conceived in the human 

Mr. Grote proceeds : "Thus stood the primitive relig- 
ious and social union of the population of Attica in its 
gradually ascending scale as distinguished from the 
political union, probably of later introduction, repre- 
sented at first by the trittyes and naukraries, and in after 
times by the ten Kleisthenean tribes, subdivided into 
trittyes and demes. The religious and family bond of 
aggregation is the earlier of the two; but the political 
bond, though beginning later, will be found to acauire 
constantly increasing influence throughout the greater 
part of this history. In the former, personal relation is 
the essential and predominant characteristic local rela- 
tion being subordinate; in the latter, property and resi- 
dence become the chief considerations, and the personal 
element counts only as measured along with these accom- 
paniments. All these phratric and gentile associations, 
the larger, as well as the smaller, were founded upon the 
same principles and tendencies of the Grecian mind a 
coalescence of the idea of worship with that of ancestry, 
or of communion In certain special religious rites with 
communion of blood, real or supposed. The god or hero, 
to whom the assembled members offered their sacrifices, 

GfcBCIAN GEtfS ftSft 

was conceived as the primitive ancestor to whom they 
owed their origin; often through a long list of interme- 
diate names, as in the case of the Milesian Hekataeus, so 
often before referred to. Each family had its own sacred 
rites and funeral commemorations of ancestors , cele- 
brated by the master of the house, to which none but 
members of the family were admissible. . . . The larger 
associations, called gens, phratry, tribe, were formed by 
an extension of the same principle of the family con- 
sidered as a religious brotherhood, worshiping some com- 
mon god or hero with an appropriate surname, and rec- 
ognizing him as their joint ancestor ; and the festival of 
Theoenia, and Apaturia (the first Attic, the second com- 
mon to all the Ionian race) annually brought together 
the members of these phratries and gentes for worship, 
festivity, and maintenance of special sympathies; thus 
strengthening the larger ties without effacing the smaller. 
. . . But the historian must accept as an ultimate fact 
the earliest state of things which his witnesses make 
known to him, and in the case now before us, the gentile 
and phratric unions are matters into the beginning of 
which we cannot pretend to penetrate." 1 

"The gentes both at Athens, and in other parts of 
Greece, bore a patronymic name, the stamp of their be- 
lieved common paternity. 2 . . . But at Athens, at least 
after the revolution of Kleisthenes. the gentile name was 
not employed : a man was described by his own single 
name, followed first by the name of his father, and next 
by that of the deme to which he belonged, as Aeschines 
son of Atromctus, a Kothokid. . . . The gens constituted 
a close incorporation, both as to property and as to per- 
sons. Until the time of Solon, no man had any power 

i "History of Greece," iii, 55. 

a "We find the Asklepiadae In many parts of Greece the 
Aleuadce in Thessaly the Midylidae, Psalychidae. Belpsiadee, 
Buxenldae, at Aoplna the Branohldtp at Miletus the Nebridse 
at KOs the I am Idee and Klytiade at Olympia the Akestorida* 
at Argrps the Kinyradap at Cyprus the Penthilldae at Mitylene 
the Talthybiadep at Sparta not less than the Kodridee, Eu- 
molpfdee, Phytalidse, Lykomedae, Butadee, Euneldee, Hen y chide. 
Bryliadee, etc., in Attica. To each of these corresponded a 
mythical ancestor more or less known, and passing for the first 
father as well as the eponymous hero of the pens Kodrus. 
Bumolpus. Butes, Phytalus, Hesychus, etc." Qrote's "Hist, or 
Greece," tit, ft. 


of testamentary disposition. If he died without children", 
his ^ennetes succeeded to his property, and so they con- 
tinued to do even after Solon, if he died intestate. An 
orphan girl might be claimed in marriage of right by any 
member of the gens^ the nearest agnates being preferred ; 
if she was poor, and he did not choose to marry her him- 
self, the law of Solon compelled him to provide her with 
a dowry proportional to his enrolled scale of property, 
and to give her out in marriage to another. ... If a man 
was murdered, first his near relations, next his gennetes 
and phrators, were both allowed and required to prose- 
cute the crime at law ; while his fellow demots, or inhab- 
itants of the same deme, did not possess the like right of 
prosecuting. All that we hear of the most ancient 
Athenian laws is based upon the gentile and phratric divi- 
sions, which are treated throughout as extensions of the 
family. It is to be observed tfiat this division is com- 
pletely independent of any property qualification rich 
men as well as poor being comprehended in the same 
gens. Moreover, the different gentes were very unequal 
in dignity, arising chiefly from the religious ceremonies 
of which each possessed the hereditary and exclusive 
administration, and which, being in some cases consid- 
ered of pre-eminent sanctity in reference to the whole 
city, were therefore nationalized. Thus the Kumolpidae 
and Kerykes, who supplied the hierophant and superin- 
tendent of the mysteries of the Kleusinian Demeter and 
the Butadae, who furnished the priestess of Athene Polias, 
as well as the priest of Poseidon Erechtheus in the Acrop- 
olis seem to have been reverenced above all the other 
gentes." l 

Mr. Grote speaks of the gens as an extension of the 
family, and as presupposing its existence ; treating the 
family as primary and the gens as secondary. This view, 
for the reasons stated, is untenable. The two organiza- 
tions proceed upon different principles and are independ- 
ent of each other. The gens embraces a part only of the 
descendants of a supposed common ancestor, and ex- 
cludes the remainder; it also embraces a part only of a 

I "History of Greece," ill. 62, et seq. 


family, and excludes the remainder. In order to be a 
constituent of the gens, the family should enter entire 
within its ' folds, which was impossible in the archaic 
period, and constructive only in the later. In the organ- 
ization of gentile society the gens is primary, forming 
both the basis and the unit of the system. The family 
also is primary, and older than the gens; the punaluan 
and the consanguine families having preceded it in the 
order of time ; but it was not a member of the organic 
series in ancient society any more than it is in modern. 
The gens 'existed in the Aryan family when the Latin, 
Grecian and Sanskrit speaking tribes were one people, as 
is shown by the presence in their dialects of the same 
term (gens, gcnos, and ganas) to express the organiza- 
tion. They derived it from their barbarous ancestors, 
and more remotely from their .savage progenitors. If 
the Aryan family became differentiated as early as tlu 4 
Middle period of barbarism, which seems probable, the 
gens must have been transmitted to them in its archaic 
form. After that event, and during the long periods of 
time which elapsed between the separation of these tribes 
from each other and the commencement of civilization, 
those changes in the constitution of the gens, which have 
been noticed hypothetically, must have occurred. It is 
impossible to conceive of the gens as appearing, for the 
first time, in any other than its archaic form ; conse- 
quently the Grecian gens must have been originally in 
this form. If, then, causes can be found adequate to 
account for so great a change of descent as that from 
the female line to the male, the argument will be com- 
plete, although in the end it substituted a new body of 
kindred in the gens in place of the old. The growth of 
the idea of property, and the rise of monogamy, furnished 
motives sufficiently powerful to demand and obtain this 
change in order to bring children into the gens of their 
father, and into a participation in the inheritance of his 
estate. Monogamy assured the paternity of children, 
which was unknown when the gens was instituted, and 
the exclusion of children from the inheritance was no 
longer possible. In .the face of the new circumstances, 
the gens would be forced into reconstruction or dissolu- 


tion. When the gens of the Iroquois, as it appeared in 
the Lower Status of barbarism, is placed beside the gens 
of the Grecian tribes as it appeared in the Upper Status, 
it is impossible not to perceive that they are the same 
organization, the one in its archaic and the other in its 
ultimate form. The differences between them are pre- 
cisely those which would have been forced upon the gens 
by the exigencies of human progress. 

Along with these mutations in the constitution of the 
gens are found the parallel mutations in the rule of inher- 
itance. Property, always hereditary in the gens, was first 
hereditary among the gentiles; secondly, hereditary 
among the agnates, to the exclusion of the remaining 
gentiles; and now, thirdly, hereditary among the agnates 
in succession, in the order of their nearness to the dece- 
dent, which gave an exclusive inheritance to the children 
as the nearest agnates. The pertinacity with which the 
principle was maintained down to the time of Solon, that 
the property should remain in the gens of the deceased 
owner, illustrates the vitality of the organization through 
all these periods. It was this rule which compelled the 
heiress to marry in her own gens to prevent a transfer 
of the property by her marriage to another gens. When 
Solon allowed the owner of property to dispose of it by 
will, in case he had no children, he made the first inroad 
upon the property rights of the gens. 

How nearly the members of a gens were related, or 
whether they were related at all, has been made a ques- 
tion. Mr. Grote remarked that "Pollux informs us dis- 
tinctly that the members of the same gens at Athens were 
not commonly related by blood, and even without any 
express testimony we might have concluded such to be 
the fact. To what extent the gens, at the unknown epoch 
of its formation was based upon actual relationship, we 
have no means of determining, either with regard to the 
Athenian or the Roman gentes, were in the main 
points analogous. Gentilism is a tie by itself; distinct 
from the family ties, but presupposing their existence 
and extending them by an artificial analogy, partly 
founded in religious belief, and partly on positive com- 
pact, so as to comprehend strangers in blood. All the 


members of one gens, or even of one phratry, believed 
themselves to be sprung, not indeed from the same grand- 
father or great-grandfather, but from the same divine or 
heroic ancestor. . . . And this fundamental belief, into 
which the Greek mind passed with so much facility, was 
adopted and converted by positive compact into the gen- 
tile and phratric principle of union. . . . Doubtless Nie- 
buhr, in his valuable discussion of the ancient Roman 
gentes, is right in supposing that they were not real fam- 
ilies, procreated from any common historical ancestor. 
Still it is not the less true (although he seems to sup- 
pose otherwise) that the idea of the gens involved the 
belief in a common first father, divine or heroic a gene- 
alogy which we may properly call fabulous, but which 
was consecrated ancl accredited among the members of 
the gens itself; and served as one important bond of 
union between them. . . . The natural families of course 
changed from generation to generation, some extending 
themselves, while others diminished or died out; but the 
gens received no alterations, except through the procrea- 
tion, extinction, or subdivision of these component fam- 
ilies. Accordingly the relations of the families with the 
gens were in perpetual course of fluctuation, and the gen- 
tile ancestorial genealogy, adapted as it doubtless was^to 
the early condition of the gens, became in process of time 
partially obsolete and unsuitable. We hear of this gene- 
alogy but rarely, because it is only brought before the 
public in certain cases pre-eminent and venerable. But 
the humbler gentes had their common rites, and common 
superhuman ancestor and genealogy, as well as the more 
celebrated : the scheme and ideal basis was the same in 
all." l 

The several statements of Pollux, Niebuhr and Grote 
are true in a certain sense, but not absolutely so. The 
lineage of a gens ran back of the acknowledged ancestor, 
and therefore the gens of ancient date could not have had 
a known progenitor; neither could the fact of a blood 
connection be proved by their system of consanguinity? 
nevertheless the gentiles not only believed in their com- 

i "Hist, of Greece/' lii, 58, et <* * * 


mon descent, bat were justified in so believing. The sys- 
tem of consanguinity which pertained to the gens in its 
archaic form, and which the Greeks probably once pos- 
sessed, preserved a knowledge of the relationships of 
all the members of a gens to each other. This fell into 
desuetude with the rise of the monogamian family, as I 
shall endeavor elsewhere to show. The gentile name 
created a pedigree beside which that of a family was in- 
significant. It was the function of this name to preserve 
the fact of the common descent of those who bore it; 
but the lineage of the gens was so ancient that its mem- 
bers could not prove the actual relationship existing be- 
tween them, except in a limited number of cases through 
recent common ancestors. The name itself was the evi- 
dence of a common descent, and conclusive, except as it 
was liable to interruption through the adoption of stran- 
gers in blood in the previous history of the gens. The 
practical denial of all relationship between its members 
made by Pollux and Nicbnhr, which would change the 
gens into a purely fictitious association, has no ground to 
rest upon. A large proportion of the number could prove 
their relationship through descent from common ances- 
tors within the gens, and as to the remainder the gentile 
name they bore was sufficient evidence of common descent 
for practical purposes. The Grecian gens was not usu- 
ally a large body of persons. Thirty families to a gens, 
not counting the wives of the heads of families, would 
give, by the common rule of computation, an average of 
one hundred and twenty persons to the gens. 

As the unit of the organic social system, the gens 
would naturally become the centre of social life and activ- 
ity. It was organized as a social body, with its archon 
or chief, and treasurer; having common lands to some 
extent, a common burial place, and common religious 
rites. Beside these were the rights, privileges and obli- 
gations which the gens conferred and imposed upon all 
its members. It was in the gens that the religious activ- 
ity of the Greeks originated, which expanded over the 
phratries, and culminated in periodical festivals common 
to all the tribes. This subject has been admirably treated 


by M. De Coulanges in his recent work on "The Ancient 

In order to understand the condition of Grecian soci- 
ety, anterior to the formation of the state, it is necessary 
to know the constitution and principles of the Grecian 
gens ; for the character of the unit determines the char- 
acter of its compounds in the ascending series, and can 
alone furnish the means for their explanation. 



The phratry, as we have seen, was the second stage of 
organization in the Grecian social system. It consisted 
of several gentes united for objects, especially religious, 
which were common to them all. It had a natural foun- 
dation in the bond of kin, as the gentes in a phratry were 
probably subdivisions of an original gens, a knowledge 
of the fact having been preserved by tradition. "All the 
contemporary members of the phratry of Hekateus," Mr. 
Grote remarks, "had a common god for their ancestor 
at the sixteenth degree/' l which could not have been 
asserted unless the several gentes comprised in the phra- 
try of Hekataeus, were supposed to be derived by seg- 
mentation from an original gens. This genealogy, al- 
though in part fabulous, would be traced according to 
gentile usages. Dikaearchus supposed that the practice 
of certain gentes in supplying each other with wives, led 
to the phratric organization for the performance of com- 
mon religious rites. This is a plausible explanation, be- 
cause such marriages would intermingle the blood of the 
gentes. On the contrary, gentes formed, in the course of 
time, by the division of a gens and by subsequent sub- 
divisions, would give to all a common lineage, .and form 
a natural basis for their re-integration in a phratry. As 
such the phratry would be a natural growth, and as such 
only can it be explained as a gentile institution. The 
gentes thus united were brother gentes, and the associa- 
tion itself was a brotherhood as the term imports. 

i "History of Greece," Hi, 58. 



Stephanas of Byzantium has preserved a fragment of 
Dikaearchus, in which an explanation of the origin of 
the gens, phratry and tribe is suggested. It is not full 
enough, with respect to either, to' amount to a definition ; 
but it is valuable as a recognition of the three stages of 
organization in ancient Grecian society. He uses patry 
in the place of gens, as Pindar did in a number of in- 
stances, and Homer occasionally. The passage may he 
rendered : "Patry is one of three forms of social union 
among 1 the Greeks, according to Dikrearchus, which we 
call respectively, patry, phratry, and tribe. The patry 
vomes into being when relationship, originally solitary, 
passes over into the second stage [the re'atnnship of 
parents with children and children with parents], and 
derives its cponym from the oldest and chief member of 
the patry, as Aicidas, Pelopidas." 

"But it came to be called phatria and phratria when 
certain ones gave their daughters to be married into an- 
other patry. For the woman who was given in marriage 
participated no longer in her paternal sacred rites, but 
was enrolled in the patry of her husband ; so that for the 
union, formerly subsisting by affection between sisters 
and brothers, there was established another union based 
on community of religious rites, which they denominated 
a phratry ; and so that again, while the patry took its rise 
in the way we have previously mentioned, from the blood 
relation between parents and children and children and 
parents, the phratry took its rise from the relationship 
between brothers." 

"But tribe and tribesmen were so called from the 
coalescence into communities and nations so called, for 
each of the coalescing bodies was called a tribe." l 

It will be noticed that marriage out of the gens is here 
recognized as a custom, and that the wife was enrolled In 
the gens, rather than the phratry, of her husband. 
Dikaearchus, who was a pupil of Aristotle, lived at a time 
when the gens existed chiefly as a pedigree of individuals, 
its powers having been transferred to new political bodies. 

T Wachsmuth's "Historical Antiquities of the Greejci," L c. r I. 
449, app. for text. 


He derived the origin of the gens from primitive times; 
but his statement that the phratry originated in the mat- 
rimonial practices of the gentes, while true doubtless as 
to the practice, is but an opinion as to the origin of the 
organization. Intermarriages, with common religious 
rites, would cement the phratric union ; but a more satis- 
factory foundation of the phratry may be found in the 
common lineage of the gentes of which it was composed. 
It must be remembered that the gentes have a history 
running back through the three sub-periods of barbarism 
into the previous period of savagery, antedating the exist- 
ence even of the Aryan and Semitic families. The phra- 
try has been shown to have appeared among the Amer- 
ican aborigines in the Lower Status of barbarism ; while 
the Greeks were familiar with so much only of their for- 
mer history as pertained to the Upper Status of bar- 

Mr. Grote does not attempt to define the functions of 
the phratry, except generally. They were doubtless of a 
religious character chiefly ; but they probably manifested 
themselves, as among the Iroquois, at the burial of the 
dead, at public games, at religious festivals, at councils, 
and at the agoras of the people, where the grouping of 
chiefs and people would be by pfiratries rather than by 
gentes. It would also naturally show itself in the array 
of the military forces, of which a memorable example is 
given by Homer in the address of Nestor to Agamem- 
non. l "Separate the troops by tribes and by phratries, 
Agamemnon, so that phratry may support phratry, and 
tribes, tribes. If thou wilt thus act, and the Greeks obey, 
thou wilt then ascertain which of the commanders and 
which of the soldiers is a coward, and which of them 
may be brave, for they will fight their best." The num- 
ber from the same gens in a military force would be too 
small to be made a basis in the organization of an army ; 
but the larger aggregations of the phratries and tribes 
would be sufficient. Two things may be inferred from 
the advice of Nestor : first, that the organization of armies 
by phratries and tribes had then ceased to be common; 

," ii, 362. 


and secondly, that in ancient times it had been the usual 
plan of army organization, a knowledge of which had 
not then disappeared. We have seen that the Tlascalans 
and Aztecs, who were in the Middle Status of barbarism, 
organized and sent out their military bands by phratries 
which, in their condition, was probably the only method 
in which a military force could be organized. The ancient 
German tribes organized their armies for battle en a sim- 
ilar principle. 1 It is interesting to notice how closely 
shut in the tribes of mankind, have been to the theory of 
their social system. 

The obligation of blood revenge, which was turned at 
a later day into a duty of prosecuting the murderer before 
the legal tribunals, rested primarily upon the gens of the 
slain person ; but it was also shared in by the phratry, 
and became a phratric obligation. 3 In the Eumenides of 
Aeschylus, the Erinnys, after speaking of the slaying of 
his mother by Orestes, put the question : "What lustral 
water of his phrators shall await him?" 1 which seems to 
imply that if the criminal escaped punishment final puri- 
fication was performed by his phratry instead of his gens. 
Moreover, the extension of the obligation from the gens 
to the phratry implies a common lineage of all the gentes 
in a phratry. 

Since the phratry was intermediate between the gens 
and the tribe, and not invested with governmental func- 
tions, it was less fundamental and less important than 
either of the others; but it was a common, natural and 
perhaps necessary stage of re-integration between the 
two. Could an intimate knowledge of the social life of 
the Greeks in that early period be recovered, the phe- 
nomena would centre probably in the phratric organiza- 
tion far more conspicuously than our scanty records lead 
us to infer. It probably possessed more power and influ- 
ence than is usually ascribed to it as an organization. 
Among the Athenians it survived the overthrow of the ' 
gentes as the basis of a system, and retained, under the 

i Tacitus, "Germania," cap. vll. 

a Qrote's "History of Greece," ill, 55. The Court of Aroparui 
took Jurisdiction over homicides. Ib., Hi, 79. 
3 "Eum.," 666. 


new political system, some control over the registration 
of citizens, the enrollment of marriages and the prosecu- 
tion of the murderer of a phrator before the courts. 

It is customary to speak of the four Athenian tribes as 
divided each into three phratries, and of each phratry as 
divided into thirty gentes; but this is merely for con- 
venience in description. A people under gentile institu- 
tions do not divide themselves into symmetrical divisions 
and subdivisions. The natural process of their forma- 
tion was the exact reverse of this method ; the gentes fell 
into phratries, and ultimately into tribes, which reunited 
in a society or a people. Each was a natural growth. 
That the number of gentes in each Athenian phratry was 
thirty is a remarkable fact incapable of explanation by 
natural causes. A motive sufficiently powerful, such as 
a desire for a symmetrical organization of the phratries 
and tribes, might lead to a subdivision of gentes by con- 
sent until the number was raised to thirty in each of these 
phratries ; and when the number in a tribe was in excess, 
by the consolidation of kindred gentes until the number 
was reduced to thirty. A more probable way would be 
by the admission of alien gentes into phratries needing 
an increase of number. Having a certain number of 
tribes, phratries and gentes by natural growth, the reduc- 
tion of the last two to uniformity in the four tribes could 
thus have been secured. Once cast in this numerical 
scale of thirty gentes to a phratry and three phratries to 
a tribe, the proportion might easily have been maintained 
for centuries, except perhaps as to the number of gentes 
in each phratry. 

The religious life of the Grecian tribes had its centre 
and source in the gentes and phratries. It must be sup- 
posed that in and through these organizations, was per- 
fected that marvelous polytheistic system, with its hier- 
archy of gods, its symbols and forms of worship, which 
impressed so powerfully the mind of the classical world. 
In no small degree this mythology inspired the great 
achievements of the legendary and historical periods, and 
created that enthusiasm whiclvproduced the temple and 
ornamental architecture in which the modern world has 
taken so much delight. Some of the religious rites, 


which originated in these social aggregates, were nation- 
alized from the superior sanctity they were supposed to 
possess; thus showing to what extent the gentes and 
phratries were nurseries of religion. The events of this 
extraordinary period, the most eventful in many respects 
in the history of the Aryan family, are lost, in the main, 
to history. Legendary genealogies and narratives, myths 
and fragments of poetry, concluding with the Homeric 
and Hesiodic poems, make up its literary remains. But 
their institutions, arts, inventions, mythological system, 
in a word the substance of civilization which they 
wrought out and brought with them, were the legacy they 
contributed to the new society they were destined to 
found. The history of the period may yet be recon- 
tructed from these various sources of knowledge, repro- 
ducing the main features of gentile society as they ap- 
peared shortly before the institution of political society. 

As the gens had its archon, who officiated as its priest 
in the religious observances of the gens, so each phratry 
had its phratriarch, who presided at its meetings, and 
officiated in the solemnization of its religious rites. "The 
phratry," observes M. De Coulanges, <4 had its assemblies 
and its tribunals, and could pass decrees. In it, as well 
as in the family, there was a god, a priesthood, a legal 
tribunal and a government." l The religious rites of the 
phratries were an expansion of those of the gentes of 
which it was composed. It is in these directions that 
attention should be turned in order to understand the 
religious life of the Greeks. 

Next in the ascending scale of organization was the 
tribe, consisting of a number of phratries, each composed 
of gentes. The persons in each phratry were of the 
same common lineage, and spoke the same dialect. 
Among the Athenians as before stated each tribe con- 
tained three phratries, which gave to each a similar 
organization. The tribe corresponds with the Latin tribe, 
and also with those of the American aborigines, an inde- 
pendent dialect for each tribe being necessary to render 

i "The Ancient City," Small's Trans., p. 167. Boston, Lee & 


the analogy with the latter complete. The concentration 
of such Grecian tribes as had coalesced into a people, in 
a small area, tended to repress dialectical variation, which 
a subsequent written language and literature tended still 
further to arrest. Each tribe from antecedent habits, 
however, was more or less localized in a fixed area, 
through the requirements of a social system resting on 
personal relations. It seems probable that each tribe had 
its council of chiefs, supreme in all matters relating to the 
tribe exclusively. But since the functions and powers of 
the general council of chiefs, who administered the gen- 
eral affairs of the united tribes, were allowed to fall into 
obscurity, it would not be expected that those of an 
inferior and subordinate council would be preserved. If 
such a council existed, which was doubtless the fact from 
its necessity under their social system, it would have con- 
sisted of the chiefs of the gentes. 

When the several phratries of a tribe united in the 
commemoration of their religious observances it was in 
their higher organic constitution as a tribe. As such, 
they were under the presidency, as we find it expressed, 
of a phylo-basileus, who was the principal chief of the 
tribe. Whether he acted as their commander in the mil- 
itary service I am unable to state. He possessed priestly 
functions, always inherent in the office of basileus, and 
exercised a criminal jurisdiction in cases of murder; 
whether to try or to prosecute a murderer, I am unable 
to state. The priestly and judicial functions attached to 
the office of basileus tend to explain the dignity it acquired 
in the legendary and heroic periods. But the absence 
of civil functions, in the strict sense of the term, of the 
presence of which we have no satisfactory evidence, is suf- 
ficient to render the term king, so constantly employed 
in history as the equivalent of basileus, a misnomer. 
Among the Athenians we have the tribe-basileus, where 
the term is used by the Greeks themselves as legiti- 
mately as when applied to the general military com- 
mander of the four united tribes. When each is described 
as a king it makes the solecism of four tribes each under 
a king separately, and the four tribes together under 
another king. There is a larger amount of fictitious roy- 


alty here than the occasion requires. Moreover, when 
we know that the institutions of the Athenians at the 
time were essentially democratical it becomes a carica- 
ture of Grecian society. It shows the propriety of re- 
turning to simple and original language, using the term 
basileus where the Greeks used it, and rejecting king as 
a false equivalent. Monarchy is incompatible with gen- 
tilism, for the reason that gentile institutions are essen- 
tially democratical. Every gens, phratry and tribe was 
a completely organized self-governing body; and where 
several tribes coalesced into a nation the resulting gov- 
ernment would be constituted in harmony with the prin- 
ciples animating its constituent parts. 

The fourth and ultimate stage of organization was the 
nation united in a gentile society. Where several tribes, 
as those of the Athenians and the Spartans, coalesced 
into one people, it enlarged the society, but the aggre- 
gate was simply a more complex duplicate of a tribe. 
The tribes took the same place in the nation which the 
phratries held in the tribe, and the gentes in the phratry. 
There was no name for the organism 1 which was sim- 
ply a society (socictas), but in its place a name sprang 
up for the people or nation. In Homer's description of 
the forces gathered against Troy, specific names are 
given to these nations, where such existed, as Athenians, 
^itolians, Locrians ; but in other cases they are described 
by the name of the city or country from which they came. 
The ultimate fact is thus reached, that the Greeks, prior 
to the times of Lyctirgus and Solon, had but the four 
stages of social organization (gens, phratry, tribe and 
nation), which was so nearly universal in ancient society, 
and which has been shown to exist, in part, in the Status 
of savagery, and complete in the Lower, in the Middle 
and in the Upper Status of barbarism, and still subsisting 
after civilization had commenced. This organic series 
expresses the extent of the growth of the idea of gov- 
ernment among mankind down to the institution of polit- 
ical society. Such was the Grecian social system. It 

i Aristotle, Thucydldea. and other writers, use the term bai- 
lleia for the governments of the heroic period. 


gave a society, made up of a series of aggregates of per- 
sons, with whom the government dealt through their 
personal relations to a gens, phratry or tribe. It was 
also a gentile society as distinguished from a political 
society, from which it was fundamentally different and 
easily distinguishable. 

The Athenian nation of the heroic age presents in its 
government three distinct, and in some sense co-ordinate, 
departments or powers, namely : first, the council of chiefs, 
second, the agora, or assembly of the people ; and third, 
the basileus, or general military commander. Although 
municipal and subordinate military offices in large num- 
bers had been created, from the increasing necessities of 
their condition, the principal powers of the government 
were held by the three instrumentalities named. I am 
unable to discuss in an adequate manner the functions 
and powers of the council, the agora or, the basileus, but 
will content myself with a few suggestions upon subjects 
grave enough to deserve re-investigation at the hands of 
professed Hellenists. 

I. The Council of Chiefs. The office of basileus in 
the Grecian tribes has attracted far more attention than 
either the council or the agora. As a consequence it has 
been unduly magnified while the council and the agora 
have either been depreciated or ignored. We know, 
however, that the council of chiefs was a constant phe- 
nomenon in every Gfecian nation from the earliest period 
to which our knowledge extends down to the institution 
of political society. Its permanence as a feature of their 
social system is conclusive evidence that its functions 
were substantial, and that its powers, at least presump- 
tively, were ultimate and supreme. This presumption 
arises from what is known of the archaic character and 
functions of the council of chiefs under gentile institu- 
tions, and from its vocation. How it was constituted 
in the heroic age, and under what tenure the office of 
chief was held, we are not clearly informed ; but it is a 
reasonable inference that the council was composed of 
the chiefs of the gentes. Since the number who formed 
the council was usually less than the number of gentes, 
a selection must have been made in some way from the 


body of chiefs. In what manner the selection was made 
we are not informed. The vocation of the council as a 
legislative body representing the principal gentes, and its 
natural growth under the gentile organization, rendered 
it supreme in the first instance, and makes it probable 
that it remained so to the end of its existence. The in- 
creasing importance of the office of basileus, and the 
new offices created in their military and municipal affairs 
with their increase in numbers and in wealth, would 
change somewhat the relations of the council to public 
affairs, and perhaps diminish its importance; but it could 
not be overthrown without a radical change of institu- 
tions. It seems probable, therefore, that every office of 
the government, from the highest to the lowest, re- 
mained accountable to the council for their official acts. 
The council was fundamental in their social system ; x 
and the Greeks of the period were free self-governing 
peoples, under institutions essentially democratical. A 
single illustration of the existence of the council may be 
given from Aeschylus, simply to show that in the Greek 
conception it was always present and ready to act. In 
The Seven against Thebes, Eteocles is represented in 
command of the city, and his brother Polynices as one 
of the seven chiefs who had invested the place. The 
assault was repelled, but the brothers fell in a personal 
combat at one of the gates. After this occurrence a her- 
ald says : "It is necessary for me to ^announce the decree 
and good pleasure of the councilors of the people of this 
city of Cadmus. It is resolved," 2 etc. A council which 
can make and promulgate a decree at any moment, which 
the people are expected to obey, possesses the supreme 
powers of government. Aeschylus, although dealing in 
this case with events in the legendary period, recognizes 
the council of chiefs as a necessary part of the system 
of government of every Grecian people. The boule of 
ancient Grecian society was the prototype and pattern 
of the senate under the subsequent political system of 
the state. 

i Dionysius, a, xii. 

a Ae&chylus. "The Seven against Thebes/' 1005, 


II. The Agora. Although an assembly of the people 
became established in the legendary period, with a rec- 
ognized power to adopt or reject public measures sub- 
mitted by the council, it is not as ancient as the council. 
The latter came in at the institution of the gentes; but 
it is doubtful whether the agora existed, with the func- 
tions named, back of the Upper Status of barbarism. It 
has been shown that among the Iroquois, in the Lower 
Status, the people presented their wishes to the council 
of chiefs through orators of their own selection, and that 
a popular influence was felt in the affairs of the confed- 
eracy; but an assembly of the people, with the right to 
adopt or reject public measures, would evince an amount 
of progress in intelligence and knowledge beyond the 
Iroquois. When the agora first appears, as represented 
in Homer, and in the Greek Tragedies, it had tte same 
characteristics which it afterwards maintained in the 
ecclesia of the Athenians, and in the comitia cur*ata of 
the Romans. It was the prerogative of the comcil of 
chiefs to mature public measures, and then submf* them 
to the assembly of the people for acceptance or rejection, 
and their decision was final. The functions of the agora 
were limited to this single act. It could neither origi- 
nate measures, nor interfere in the administration of 
affairs ; but nevertheless it was a substantial power, emi- 
nently adapted to {he protection of their liberties. In 
the heroic age certainly, and far back in the legendary 
period, the agora is a constant phenomenon among the 
Grecian tribes, and, in connection with the council, is 
conclusive evidence of the democratical constitution of 
gentile society throughout these periods. A public sen- 
timent, as we have reason to suppose, was created among 
the people on all important questions, through the exer 
cise of their intelligence, which the council of chiefs 
found it desirable as well as necessary to consult, both 
for the public good and for the maintenance of their own 
authority. After hearing the submitted question dis-' 
cussed, the assemt/.y of the people, which was free to all 
who desired to speak, l made their decision in ancfent 

i Euripides, "Orestes," 884. 


times usually by a show of hands. * Through participa- 
tion in public affairs, which affected the interests of all, 
the people were constantly learning the art of self-gov- 
ernment, and a portion of them, as the Athenians, were 
preparing themselves for the full democracy subsequently 
established by the constitutions of Cleisthenes. The 
assembly of the people to deliberate upon public ques- 
tions, not unfrequently derided as a mob by writers who 
were unable to understand or appreciate the principle of 
democracy, was the germ of the ecclesia of the Atheni- 
ans, and of the lower house of modern legislative bodies. 
III. The Basileus. This officer became a conspicu- 
ous character in the Grecian society of the heroic age, 
and was equally prominent in the legendary period. He 
has been placed by historians in the centre of the system. 
The name of the office was used by the best Grecian 
writers to characterize the government, which was styled 
a basileia. Modern writers, almost without exception, 
translate basileus by the term king, and basileia by the term 
kingdom, without qualification, and as exact equivalents, 
I wish to call attention to this office of basileus, as it 
existed in the Grecian tribes, and to question the correct- 
ness of this interpretation. There is no similarity what- 
ever between the basileia of the ancient Athenians and 
the modern kingdom or monarchy ; certainly not enough 
to justify the use of the same term to describe both. Our 
idea of a kingly government is essentially of a type in 
which a king, surrounded by a privileged and titled 
class in the ownership and possession of the lands, rules 
according to his own will and pleasure by edicts and 
decrees ; claiming an hereditary right to rule, because he 
cannot allege the consent of the governed. Such govern- 
ments have been self-imposed through the principle of 
hereditary right, to which the priesthood have sought to 
superadd a divine right. The Tudor kings of England 
and the Bourbon kings of France are illustrations. Con* 
stitutional monarchy is a modern development, and essen- 
tially different from the basileia of the Greeks. The 
basileia was neither an absolute nor a constitutional mon- 

i Aeschylus, "The Suppliants/' 607. 


archy; neither was it a tyranny or a despotism. The 
question then is, what was it. 

Mr. Grote claims that "the primitive Grecian govern- 
ment is essentially monarchical, reposing on personal feel- 
ing and divine right ;" l and to confirm this view he re- 
marks further, that "the memorable dictum in the Iliad 
is borne out by all that we hear in actual practice : 'the 
rule of many is not a good thing; let us have one ruler 
only one king him to whom Zeus has given the 
sceptre, with the tutelary sanctions/ " 2 This opinion is 
not peculiar to Mr. Grote, whose eminence as a historian 
all delight to recognize ; but it has been steadily and gen- 
erally affirmed by historical writers on Grecian themes, 
until it has come to be accepted as historical truth. Our 
views upon Grecian and Roman questions have been 
moulded by writers accustomed to monarchical govern- 
ment and privileged classes, who were perhaps glad to 
appeal to the earliest known governments of the Grecian 
tribes for a sanction of this form of government, as at 
once natural, essential and primitive. 

The true statement, as it seems to an American, is 
precisely the reverse of Mr. Crete's; namely, that the 
primitive Grecian government was essentially democrat- 
ical, reposing on gentes, phratries and tribes, organized 
as self-governing bodies, and on the principles of liberty, 
equality and fraternity. This is borne out by all we know 
of the gentile organization, which has been shown to rest 
on principles essentially democratical. The question 
then is, whether the office of basileus passed in reality 
from father to son by hereditary right; which, if true, 
would tend to show a subversion of these principles. We 
have seen that in the Lower Status of barbarism the 
offide of chief was hereditary in a gens, by which is meant 
that the vacancy was filled from the members of the gens 
as often as it occurred. Where descent was in the fe- 
male line, as among the Iroquois, an own brother was 
usually selected to succeed the deceased chief, and where 
descent was in the male line, as among the Ojibwas and 

t "History of Greece," 11, 69. 

9 "History of Greece/' 11, 69, and "Iliad/' 11, 104. 


Omahas, the oldest son. In the absence of objections to 
the person such became the rule ; but the elective princi- 
ple remained, which was the essence of self-government. 
It cannot be claimed, on satisfactory proof, that the old- 
est son of the basileus took the office, upon the demise 
of his father, by absolute hereditary right. This is the 
essential fact; and it requires conclusive proof for its 
establishment. The fact that the oldest, or one of the 
sons, usually succeeded, which is admitted, does not 
establish the fact in question; because by usage he was 
in the probable line of succession by a free election from 
a constituency. The presumption, on the face of Grecian 
institutions, is against succession to the office of basileus 
by hereditary right ; and in favor either of a free election, 
or of a confirmation of the office by the people through 
their recognized organizations, as in the case of the 
Roman rex. l With the office of basileus transmitted in 
the manner last named, the government would remain 
in the hands of the people. Because without an elec- 
tion or confirmation he could not assume the office ; and 
because further, the power to elect or confirm implies 
the reserved right to depose. 

The illustration of Mr. Grote, drawn from the Iliad, 
is without significance on the question made. Ulysses, 
from whose address the quotation is taken, was speak- 
ing of the command of an army before a besieged city. 
He might well say : "All the Greeks cannot by any means 
rule here. The rule of many is not a good thing. Let 
us have one koiranos, one basileus, to whom Zeus has 
given the sceptre, and the divine sanctions in order that 
he may command us." Koiranos and basileus are used 
as equivalents, because both alike signified a general mil- 
itary commander. There was no occasion for Ulysses 
to discuss or endorse any plan of government; but he 
had sufficient reasons for advocating obedience to a sin- 
gle commander of the army before a besieged city. 

? Mr. Gladstone, who presents to his readers the Grecian 
chiefs oAhe heroic age as kings and princes, with the superad- 
ded qualities of gentlemen, is forced to admit that "on the 
whole we seem to have the custom or law of primogeniture 
sufficiently, but not oversharplv defined." "Juventus Mundl." 
Little & Brown's ed., p. 428, ^ 


Basileia may be defined as a military democracy, the 
people being free, and the spirit of the government, 
which is the essential thing, being democratical. The 
basileus was their general, holding the highest, the most 
influential and the most important office known to their 
social system. For the want of a better term to describe 
the government, basileia was adopted by Grecian writers, 
because it carried the idea of a generalship which had 
then become a conspicuous feature in the government. 
With the council and the agora both existing with the 
basileus, if a more special definition of this form of gov- 
ernment is required, military democracy expresses it 
with at least reasonable correctness; while the use of 
the term kingdom, with the meaning it necessarily con- 
veys, would be a misnomer. 

In the heroic age the Grecian tribes were living in 
walled cities, and were becoming numerous and wealthy 
through field agriculture, manufacturing industries, and 
flocks and herds. New offices were required, as well as 
some degree of separation of their functions ; and a new 
municipal system was growing up apace with their in- 
creasing intelligence and necessities. It was also a per- 
iod of incessant military strife for the possession of the 
most desirable areas. Along with the increase of prop- 
erty the aristocratic element in society undoubtedly in- 
creased, and was the chief cause of those disturbances 
which prevailed in Athenian society from the time of 
Theseus to the times of Solon and Cleisthenes. During 
this period, and until the final abolition of the office some 
time before the first Olympiad, (776 B. C.) the basileus, 
from the character of his office and from the state of the 
times, became more prominent and more powerful than 
any single person in their previous experience. The 
functions of a priest and of a judge were attached to or 
inherent in his office ; and he seems to have been ex offi- 
do a member of the council of chiefs. It was a great 
as well as a necessary office, with the powers of a gen- 
eral over the army in the field, and over the garrison in 
the city, which gave him the means of acquiring influ- 
ence in civil affairs as well. But it does not appear that 


he possessed civil functions. Prof. Mason remarks, that 
"our information respecting the Grecian kings in the 
more historical age is not ample or minute enough to 
enable us to draw out a detailed scheme of their func- 
tions/ 11 The military and priestly functions of the 
basileus are tolerably well understood, the judicial im- 
perfectly, and the civil functions cannot properly be said 
to have existed. The powers of such an office under gen- 
tile institutions would gradually become defined by the 
usage of experience, but with a constant tendency in 
the basileus to assume new ones dangerous to society. 
Since the council of chiefs remained as a constituent ele- 
ment of the government, it may be said to have repre- 
sented the democratic principles of their social system, 
as well as the gentes, while the basileus soon came to 
represent the aristocratic principle. It is probable that a 
perpetual struggle was maintained between the council 
and the basileus, to hold the latter within the limits of 
powers the people were willing to concede to the office. 
Moreover, the abolition of the office by the Athenians 
makes it probable that they found the office unmanage- 
able, and incompatible with gentile institutions, from the 
tendency to usurp additional powers. 

Among the Spartan tribes the ephoralty was instituted 
at a very early period to limit the powers of the basileus 
in consequence of a similar experience. Although the 
functions of the council in the Homeric and the legend- 
ary periods are not accurately known, its constant pres- 
ence is evidence sufficient that its powers were real, es- 
sential and permanent. With the simultaneous existence 
.of the agora, and in the absence of proof of a change of 
institutions, we are led to the conclusion that the council, 
under established usages, was supreme over gentes, 
phratries, tribes and nation, and that the basileus was 
amenable to this council for his official acts. The free- 
dom of the gentes, of whom the members of the council 
were representatives, presupposes the independence of 
the council, as well as its supremacy. 

i Smith'* "Die., Art. Rex," p. Ml. 


Thucydides refers incidentally to the governments of 
the traditionary period, as follows: "Now when the 
Greeks were becoming more powerful, and acquiring 
possession of property still more than before, many tyr- 
annies were established in the cities, from their revenues 
becoming greater ; whereas before there had been hered- 
itary basileia with specified powers." 1 The office was 
hereditary in the sense of perpetual because it was filled 
as often as a vacancy, occurred, but probably hered- 
itary in a gens, the choice being by a free election by his 
gennetes, or by nomination possibly by the council, and 
confirmation by the gentcs, as in the case of the rex of 
the Romans. 

Aristotle has given the most satisfactory definition of 
the basileia and of the basileus of the heroic period of 
any of the Grecian writers. These then are the four 
kinds of basileia he remarks : the first is that of the heroic 
times, which was a government over a free people, with 
restricted rights in some particulars ; for the basileus was 
their general, their judge and their chief priest. The 
second, that of the barbarians which is an hereditary 
despotic government, regulated by laws ; the third is that 
which they call Aesymnetic, which is an elective tyranny. 
The fourth is the Lacedaemonian, which is nothing more 
than an hereditary generalship. 2 Whatever may be said 
of the last three forms, the first does not answer to the 
idea of a kingdom of the absolute type, nor to any rec- 
ognizable form of monarchy. Aristotle enumerates with 
striking clearness the principal functions of the basileus, 
neither of which imply civil powers, and all of which 
% are consistent with an office for life, held by an elective- 
tenure. They are also consistent with his entire subor- 
dination to the council of chiefs. The "restricted rights," 
and the "specified powers*' in the definitions of these au- 
thors, tend to show that the government had grown into 
this form in harmony with, as well as under, gentile in- 
stitutions. The essential element in the definition of 
Aristotle is the freedom of the people, which in ancient 

i "Thucydides," 1, 13. 
i ? Aristotle. "Politics." iii, c. x. 


society implies that the people held the powers of the gov- 
ernment under their control, that the office of basileus 
was voluntarily bestowed, and that it could be recalled 
for sufficient cause. Such a government as that de- 
scribed by Aristotle can be understood as a military de- 
mocracy, which, as a form of government under free in- 
stitutions, grew naturally out of the gentile organization 
when the military spirit was dominant, when wealth and 
numbers appeared, with habitual life in fortified cities, 
and before experience had prepared the way for a pure 

Under gentile institutions, with a people composed of 
gentes, phratries and tribes, each organized as independ- 
ent self-governing bodies, the people would necessarily 
be free. The rule of a king by hereditary right and with- 
out direct accountability in such a society was simply im- 
possible. The impossibility arises from the fact that 
gentile institutions are incompatible with a king or with 
a kingly government. It would require, what I think 
cannot be furnished, positive proof of absolute heredi- 
tary right in the office of basileus, with the presence of 
civil functions, to overcome the presumption which arises 
from the structure and principles of ancient Grecian so- 
ciety. An Englishman, under his constitutional mon- 
archy, is as free as an American under the republic, and 
his rights and liberties are as well protected ; but he owes 
that freedom and protection to a body of written laws, 
created by legislation and enforced by courts of justice. 
In ancient Grecian society, usages and customs supplied 
the place of written laws, and the person depended for 
his freedom and protection upon the institutions of his 
social system. His safeguard was pre-eminently in such 
institutions as the elective tenure of office implies. 

The reges of the Romans were, in like manner, mili- 
tary commanders, with priestlv functions attached to 
their office; and this so-called kingly government falls 
into the same category of a military democracy. The rex, 
as before stated, was nominated by the senate, and con- 
firmed by the comitia curiata; and the last of the n'um- 
ber was deposed. With his deposition the office was 


abolished, as incompatible ivith what remained of tfoe 
democratic principle, after the institution of Roman 
political society. 

The nearest analogues of kingdoms among the Gre- 
cian tribes were the tyrannies, which sprang up here and 
there, in the early period, in different parts of Greece. 
They were governments imposed by force, and the po,wer 
claimed was no greater than that of the feudal kings of 
mediaeval times. A transmission of the office from father 
to son through a few generations in order to superadd 
hereditary right was needed to complete the analogy. 
But such governments were so inconsistent with Grecian 
ideas, and so alien to their democratic institutions, that 
none of them obtained a permanent footing in Greece. 
'Mr. Grote remarks that "if any energetic man could by- 
audacity or craft break down the constitution and render 
himself permanent ruler according to his own will and 
pleasure even though he might rule well he could 
never inspire the people with any sentiment of duty to- 
wards him. His sceptre was illegitimate from the be- 
ginning, .and even the taking of his life, far from being 
interdicted by that moral feeling which condemned the 
shedder of blood in other cases, was considered meri- 
torious/' l It was not so much the illegitimate sceptre 
which aroused the hostility of the Greeks, as the antag- 
onism of democratical with monarchical ideas, the former 
of which were inherited from the gentes. 

When the Athenians established the new political sys- 
tem, founded upon territory and upon property, the gov- 
ernment was a pure democracy. It was no new theory, 
or special invention of the Athenian mind, but an old 
and familiar system, with an antiquity as great as that 
of the gentes themselves. Democratic ideas had existed 
in the knowledge and practice of their forefathers from 
time immemorial, and now found expression in a more 
elaborate, and in many respects, in an improved govern- 
ment. The false element, that of aristocracy, which had 
penetrated the system and created much of the strife in 

i "HUtory of Greece/' 11, 61, and see 69. 


the transitional period connected itself with the office of 
basileus, and remained after this office was abolished; 
but the new system accomplished its overthrow. More 
successfully than the remaining Grecian tribes, the 
Athenians were able to carry forward their ideas of gov- 
ernment to their logical result. It is one reason why 
they became, for their numbers, the most distinguished, 
the most intellectual and the most accomplished race of 
men the entire human family has yet produced. In purely 
intellectual achievements they are still the astonishment 
of mankind. It was because the ideas which had been 
germinating through the previous ethnical period, and 
which had become interwoven with every fibre of their 
brains, had found a happy fruition in a democratically 
constituted state. Under its life-giving impulses their 
highest mental development occurred. 

The plan of government instituted by Cleisthenes re- 
jected the office of a chief executive magistrate, while it 
retained the council of chiefs in an elective senate, and 
the agora in the popular assembly. It is evident that the 
council, the agora and the basileus of the gentes were the 
germs of the senate, the popular assembly, and the chief 
executive magistrate (king, emperor and president) of 
modern political society. The latter office sprang from 
the military necessities of organized society, and its de- 
velopment with the upward progress of mankind is in- 
structive. It can be traced from the common war-chief, 
first to the Great War Soldier, as in the Iroquois Con- 
federacy: secondly, to the same military commander in 
a confederacy of tribes more advanced, with the func- 
tions of a priest attached to the office, as the Teuctli of 
the Aztec Confederacy ; thirdly, to the same military com- 
mander in a nation formed by a coalescence of tribes, 
with the functions of a priest and of a judge attached to 
the office, as in the basileus of the Greeks ; and finally, to 
the chief magistrate in modern political society. The 
elective ardion of the Athenians, who succeeded the ba- 
sileus, and the president of modern republics, from the 
elective tenure of the office, were the natural outcome of 
gentilism. We are indebted to the experience of barbar- 


ians for instituting and developing the three principal in- 
strumentalities of government now so generally incorpo- 
rated in the plan of government in civilized states. The 
human mind, specifically the same in all individuals in 
all the tribes and nations of mankind, and limited in the 
range of its powers, works and must work, in the s'une 
uniform channels, and within narrow limits of variati m. 
Its results in disconnected regions of space, and in wide- 
ly separated ages of time, articulate in a logically con- 
nected chain of common experiences. In the grand ag- 
gregate may still be recognized the few primary germs 
of thought, working upon primary human necessities, 
which, through the natural process of development, have 
produced such vast results. 



The several Grecian communities passed through a 
substantially similar experience in transferring them- 
selves from gentile into political society; but the mode 
of transition can be l>est illustrated from Athenian his- 
tory, because the facts with respect to the Athenians are 
more fully preserved. A bare outline of the material 
events will answer the object in view, as it is not pro- 
posed to follow the growth of the idea of government 
beyond the inauguration of the new political system. 

It is evident that the failure of gentile institutions to 
meet the now complicated wants of societv originated 
the movement to withdraw all civil powers from 
the gentes, phratries and tribes, and re-invest them in 
new constituencies. This movement was gradual, ex- 
tending through a long period of time, and was embodied 
in a series of successive experiments by means of which 
a remedy was sought for existing evils. The coming in 
of the new system was as gradual as the sluing" out of 
the old. the two for a part of the time existing side by 
side. In the character and objects of the experiments 
tried we may discover wherein the gentile organization 
had failed to meet the requirements of societv. the neces- 
sity for the subversion of the gentes. phratries and tribes 
as sources of power, and the means by which it was ac- 

Looking backward upon the line of human progress, 
it may be remarked that the stockaded village was the 
usual "home of the tribe in the Lower Status of barbar- 
ism. In the Middle Status joint-tenement houses of 


adobe-bricks and of stone, in the nature of fortresses, 
make their appearance. But in the Upper Status, cities 
surrounded with ring embankments, and finally with 
walls of dressed stone, appear for the first time in human 
experience. It was a great step forward when the thought 
found expression in action of surrounding an area ample 
for a considerable population with a defensive wall of 
dressed stone, with towers, parapets and gates, designed 
to protect all alike and to be defended by the common 
strength. Cities of this grade imply the existence of a 
stable and developed field agriculture, the possession of 
domestic animals in flocks and herds, of merchandise in 
masses and of property in houses and lands. The city 
brought with it new demands in the art of government 
by creating a changed condition of society. A necessity 
gradually arose for magistrates and judges, military and 
municipal officers of different grades, with a mode of 
raising and supporting military levies which would re- 
quire public revenues. Municipal life and wants must 
have greatly augmented the duties and responsibilities 
of the council of chiefs, and perhaps have overtaxed its 
capacity to govern. 

It has been shown that in the Lower Status of barbar- 
ism the government was of one power, the council of 
chiefs; that in the Middle Status it was of two powers, 
the council of chiefs and the military commander; and 
that in the Upper Status it was of three powers, the coun- 
cil of chiefs, the assembly of the people and the military 
commander. But after the commencement of civilization, 
the differentiation of the powers of the government had 
proceeded still further. The military power, first devol- 
ved upon the basileus, was now exercised by generals 
and captains under greater restrictions. By a further 
differentiation the judicial power had now appeared 
among the Athenians. It was exercised by the archons 
and dicasts. Magisterial powers were now being devol- 
ved upon municipal magistrates. Step by step, and 
with the progress of experience and advancement, these 
several powers had been taken by differentiation from 
the sum of the powers of the original council of chiefs, 


so far as they could be said to have passed from the pe.o- 
ple into this council as a representative body. 

The creation of these municipal offices was a neces- 
sary consequence of the increasing magnitude and com- 
plexity of their affairs. Under the increased burden 
gentile institutions were breaking down. Unnumbered 
disorders existed, both from the conflict of authority, and 
from the abuse of powers not as yet well defined. The 
brief and masterly sketch by Thucydides of the condition 
of the Grecian tribes in the transitional period, 1 and the 
concurrent testimony of other writers to the same effect, 
leave no doubt that the old system of government was 
failing, and that a new one had become essential to fur- 
ther progress. A wider distribution of the powers of 
the government, a clearer definition of them, and a 
stricter accountability of official persons were needed for 
the welfare as well as safety of society; and more espe- 
cially the substitution of written laws, enacted by com- 
petent authority, in the place of usages and customs. It 
was through the experimental knowledge gained in this 
and the previous ethnical period that the idea of polit- 
ical society or a state was gradually forming in the 
Grecian mind. It was a growth running through cen- 
turies of time, from the first appearance of a necessity 
for a change in the plan of government, before the en- 
tire result was realized. 

The first attempt among the Athenians to subvert the 
gentile organization and establish a new system is 
ascribed to Theseus, and therefore rests upon tradition; 
but certain facts remained to the historical period which 
confirm some part at least of his supposed legislation. It 
will be sufficient to regard Theseus as representing a 
period, or a series of events. From the time of Cecrops 
to Theseus, according to Thucydides, the Attic people 
had always lived in cities, having their own prytaneums 
and archons, and when not in fear of danger did not con- 
sult their basileus, but governed their own affairs sepa- 
rately according to their own councils. But when The- 

t **Thucydld," lib. I. 1-13, 


seus was made basileus, he persuaded them to break up 
the council-houses and magistracies of their several cities 
and come into relation with Athens, with one council- 
house (bouleuterios) , and one prytaneum, to which all 
were Considered as belonging. 1 This statement embodies 
or implies a number of important facts; namely, that 
the Attic population were organized in independent 
tribes, each having its own territory in which the people 
were localized, with its own council-house and prytane- 
um; and that while they were self-governing societies 
thev were probably confederated for mutual protection, 
and elected their basileus or general to command their 
common forces. It is a picture of communities demo- 
cratically organized, needing a military commander as 
a necessity of their condition, but not invested with civil 
functions which their gentile system excluded. Under 
Theseus they were brought to coalesce into one people, 
with Athens* as their seat of government, which gave 
them a higher organization than before they had been 
able to form. The coalescence of tribes into a nation in 
one territory is later in time than confederations, where 
the tribes occupy independent territories. It is a higher 
organic process. While the gentes had always been in- 
termingled by marriage, the tribes were now intermin- 
gled by obliterating territorial lines, and by the use of 
a common council-hall and prytaneum. The act ascribed 
to Theseus explains the advancement of their gentile so- 
ciety from a lower to a higher organic form, which must 
have occurred at some time, and probably was effected 
in the manner stated. 

But another act is ascribed to Theseus evincing a more 
radical plan, as well as an appreciation of the necessity 
for a fundamental change in the plan of government. He 

i "Thucyd.," lib. II, c. 15. Plutarch speaks nearly to the aama 
effect: "He settled all the inhabitant* of Attica In Athena, and 
made them one people In one city, who before wore scattered 
up and down, and could with difficulty be assembled on any 
urgent occasion for the public welfare. . . . Dissolving therefore 
the associations, the council*, and the courts In each particular 
town, he built one common prytanum and court hall, where It 
stands to this day. The citadel with Its dependencies, and the 
city or the old and new town, he united under the comn 
name of Athens." Plutarch. "Vit. Theseus/* cap. 14. 


divided the people into three classes, irrespective of 
gentes, called respectively the Eupatridae or "well-born" 
the Geomori or "Husbandmen," and the Demiurgi or 
"artisans." The principal offices were assigned to the 
first class both in the civil administration and in the 
priesthood. This classification was not only a recogni- 
tion of property and of the aristocratic element in the 
government of society, but it was a direct movement 
against the governing power of the gentes. It was the 
evident intention to unite the chiefs of the gentes with 
their families, and the men of wealth in the several 
gentes, in a class by themselves, with the right to hold 
the principal offices in which the powers of society were 
vested. The seperation of the remainder into two great 
classes traversed the gentes again. Important results 
might have followed if the voting power had been taken 
from the gentes, phraties and tribes, and given to the 
classes, subject to the right of the first to hold principal 
offices. This does not appear to have been done 
although absolutely necessary to give vitality to the 
classes. Moreover, it did not change essentially the 
previous owler of things with respect to holding office. 
Those now called Eupatrids were probably the men of the 
several gentes who had previously been called into 
office. This scheme of Theseus died out, because there 
was in reality no transfer of powers from the gentes, 
phratries and tribes to the classes, and because such 
classes were inferior to the gentes as the basis of a 

The centuries that elapsed from the unknown time of 
Theseus to the legislation of Solon (594 B. C.) formed 
one of the most important periods in Athenian experi- 
ence ; but the succession of events is imperfectly known. 
The office of basileus was abolished prior to the first 
Olympiad (776!*, C), and the archonship established in 
its place. The latter seems to have been hereditary in a 
gens, and it is stated to have been hereditary in a particular 
family within the gens, the first twelve archons being 
called the Medontidae from Medon, the first archon, 
claimed to have been the son of Codrus, the last basileus. 


In the case of these archons, who held for life, the same 
question exists which has elsewhere been raised with 
respect to the basileus ; that an election or confirmation by 
a constituency was necessary before the office could be 
assumed. The presumption is against the transmission of 
the office by hereditary right. In 711 B. C. the office of 
archon was limited to ten years, and bestowed by free 
election upon the person esteemed most worthy of the 
position. We are now within the historical period, though 
near its threshold, where we meet the elective principle 
with respect to the highest office in the gift of the people 
clearly and completely established. It is precisely whit 
would have been expected from the constitution and 
principles of the gentes, although the aristocratical prin- 
ciple, as we must suppose, had increased in force with the 
increase of property, and was the source through which 
hereditary right was introduced wherever found. The ex- 
istence of the elective principle with respect to the later 
archons is not without significance in its relation to the 
question of the previous practice of the Athenians. In 683 
B. C. the office was made elective annually, the number 
was increased to nine, and their duties werejnade min- 
isterial and judicial. 1 We may notice, in th'ese events, 
evidence of a gradual progress in knowledge with respect 
to the tenure of office. The Athenian tribes had inherited 
from their remote ancestors the office of archon as chief 
of the gens. It was hereditary in the gens as may fairly be 
supposed, and elective among its members. After descent 
was changed to the male line the sons of the deceased 
chief were within the line of succession, and one of their 

i "Of the nine archons, whose number continued unaltered 
from I8S B. C. to the end of the democracy, three bore special 
tKles the Archon Eponyraus, from whose name the designation 
of the year was derived, and who was spoken of as "the 
Archon, the Archon Basileus (Kins;), or more frequently, the 
Basileus; and the Polemarch. The remaining: six passed by the 

Kneral name of Thesmothetes The Archon Eponymus 
termined all disputes relative to the family, the gentile, and 
the phratrlo relations! he was the legal protector of orphans 
and widow*. The Arcbon Basileus (or King Archon) enjoyed 
competence in complaints respecting offenses against the reli- 
gious sentiment and respecting homicide. The PnUmarch 
(speaking of times anterior to KleUthenta) was the leader of 
military force, and Judge In disputes between cltlsens and non- 
cUiens."-<Jrote's "HuFory of Greece/' t c.. ill 74. 


number would be apt to be chosen in the absence of 
personal objections. But now they reverted to this 
original office for the name of their highest magistrate, 
made it elective irrespective of any gens, and limited its 
duration, first to ten years and finally to one. Prior to 
this, the tenure of office to which they had been accus- 
tomed was for life. In the Lower and also in the Middle 
Status of barbarism we have found the office of chief, 
elective and for life; or during good behavior, for this 
limitation follows from the right of the gens to depose 
from office. It is a reasonable inference that the office of 
chief in a Grecian gens was held by a free election and 
by the same tenure. It must be regarded as proof of a 
remarkable advancement in knowledge at this early 
period that the Athenian tribes substituted a term of 
years for their most important office, and allowed a 
competition of candidates. They thus worked out the 
entire theory of an elective and representative office, and 
placed it upon its true basis. 

In the time of Solon, it may be further noticed, the 
Court of Areopagus, composed of ex-archons, had come 
into existence with power to try criminals and with a 
censorship over morals, together with a number of new 
offices in the military, naval and administrative services. 
But the most important event that occurred about this 
time was the institution of the naucraries, twelve in each 
tribe, and forty-eight in all : each of which was a local 
circumscription of householders from which levies were 
drawn into the military and naval service, and from 
which taxes were probably collected. The naucrary was 
the incipient deme or township which, when the idea of 
a territorial basis was fully developed, was to become the 
foundation of the second great plan of government. By 
whom the naucraries were instituted is unknown. "They 
must have existed even before the time of Solon/' 
Boeckh remarks, "since the presiding officers of the 
naucraries are mentioned before the time of his legisla- 
tion; and when Aristotle ascribes their institution to 
Solon, we may refer this account only to their 


confirmation by the political constitution of Solon." 1 
Twelve naucraries formed a trittys, a larger territorial 
circumscription, but they were not necessarily contiguous. 
It was, in like manner, the germ of the county, the next 
territorial aggregate above the township. 

Notwithstanding the great changes that had occurred 
in the instrumentalities by which the government was 
administered, the people were still in a gentile society, 
and living under gentile institutions. The gens, phratry 
and tribe were in full vitality, and the recognized sources 
of power. Before the time of Solon no person could 
become a member of this society except through con- 
nection with a gens and tribe. All other persons were 
beyond the pale of the government. The council of 
chiefs remained, the old and time-honored instrument of 
government ; but the powers of the government were now 
co-ordinated between itself, the agora or assembly of the 
people, the Court of Areopagus, and the nine archons. It 
was the prerogative of the council to originate and 
mature public measures for submission to the people, 
which enabled it to shape the policy of the government. 
It doubtless had the general administration of the 
finances, and it remained to the end, as it had been from 
the beginning*, the central feature of the government. 
The assembly of the people had now come into increased 
prominence. Its functions were still limited to the adop- 
tion or rejection of public measures submitted to its 
decision by the council ; but it began to exercise a power- 
ful influence upon public affairs. The rise of this 
assembly as a power in the government is the surest 
evidence of the progress of the Athenian people in 
knowledge and intelligence. Unfortunately the functions 
and powers of the council of chiefs and of the assembly 
of the people in this early period have been imperfectly 
preserved, and but partially elucidated. 

In 624 B. C. Draco had framed a body of laws for the 
Athenians which were chiefly remarkable for their 
unnecessary severity ; but this code demonstrated that the 

i "Public Economy of Athens," Lamb's Trans., Little * 
Brown's *&, p. 353. 


time was drawing near in Grecian experience when 
usages and customs were to be superseded by written 
laws. As yet the Athenians had not learned the art of 
enacting laws as the necessity for them appeared, which 
required a higher knowledge of the functions of legis- 
lative bodies than they had attained. They were in that 
stage in which lawgivers appear, and legislation is in a 
scheme or in gross, under the sanction of a personal 
name. Thus slowly the great sequences of human prog- 
ress unfold themselves. 

When Solon came into the archonship (594 B. C.) the 
evils prevalent in society had reached an unbearable 
degree. The struggle for the possession of property, now 
a commanding interest, had produced singular results. 
A portion of the Athenians had fallen into slavery, 
through debt, the person of the debtor being liable to 
enslavement in default of payment; others had mort- 
gaged their lands and were unable to remove the 
encumbrances; and as a consequence of these and other 
embarrassments society was devouring itself. In addition 
to a body of laws. some, of them novel, but corrective of 
the principal financial difficulties, Solon renewed the 
project of Theseus of organizing society into classes, not 
according to callings as before, but according to the 
amount of their property. It is instructive to follow the 
course of these experiments to supersede the gentes and 
substitute a new system, because we shall find the Roman 
tribes, in the time of Servius Tullius, trying the same 
experiment for the same purpose. Solon divided the 
people into four classes according to the measure of their 
wealth, and going beyond Theseus, he invested these 
classes with certain powers, and imposed upon them 
certain obligations. It transferred a portion of the civil 
powers of the gentes, phratries and tribes to the property 
classes. In proportion as the substance of power was 
drawn from the former and invested in the latter, the 
gentes would be weakened and their decadence would 
commence. But so far as classes composed of persons 
were substituted for gentes composed of persons, the 
government was still founded upon person, and upon 


relations purely personal. The scheme failed to reach the 
substance of the question. Moreover, in changing the 
council of chiefs into the senate of four hundred, the 
members were taken in equal numbers from the four 
tribes, and not from the classes. But it will be noticed 
that the idta of property, as the basis of a system of 
government, was now incorporated by Solon in the new 
plan of property classes. It failed, however, to reach the 
idea of political society, which must rest upon territory 
as well as property, and deal with persons through their 
territorial relations. The first class alone were eligible to 
the high offices, the second performed military service on 
horseback, the third as infantry, and the fourth as light- 
armed soldiers. This last class were the numerical ma- 
jority. They were disqualified from holding office, and 
paid no taxes; but in the popular assembly of which they 
were members, they possessed a vote upon the election of 
all magistrates and officers, with power to bring them to 
an account. They also had power to adopt or reject all 

Biblic measures submitted by the senate to their decision, 
nder the constitution of Solon their powers were real 
and durable, and their influence upon public affairs was 
permanent and substantial. All freemen, though not 
connected with a gens and tribe, were now brought into 
the government, to a certain extent, by becoming citizens 
and members of the assembly of the people with the 
powers named. This was one of the most important 
results of the legislation of Solon. 

It will be further noticed that the people were now 
organized as an army, consisting of three divisions ; the 
cavalry, the heavy-armed infantry, and the light-armc;d 
infantry, each with its own officers of different grades. 
The form of the statement limits the array to the last 
three classes, which leaves the first class in the un- 
patriotic position of appropriating to themselves the 
principal offices of the government, and taking no part 
in the military service. This undoubtedly requires modi- 
fication. The same plan of organization, but including 
the five classes, will re-appear among the Romans under 
Servius Tullius, by whom the body of the people were 


organized as an army (cxercitus) fully officered and 
equipped in each subdivision. The idea of a military 
democracy, different in organization but the same 
theoretically as that of the previous period, re-appears in 
a new dress both in the Solonian and in the Servian 

In addition to the property element, which entered 
into the basis of the new system, the territorial element 
was partially incorporated through the naucraries before 
adverted to, in which it is probable there was an enroll- 
ment of citizens and of their property to form a basis 
for military levies and for taxation. These provisions, 
with the senate, the popular assembly now called the 
ecclewa, the nine archons, and the Court of Areopagus, 
gave to the Athenians a much more elaborate government 
than they had before known, and requiring a higher 
degree of intelligence for its management. It was also 
essentially 3emocratical in harmony with their antecedent 
ideas and institutions; in fact a logical consequence of 
them, and explainable only as such. But it fell short of 
a pure system in three respects : firstly, it was not founded 
upon territory; secondly, all the dignities of the state 
were not open to every citizen ; and thirdly, the principle 
of local self-government in primary organizations was 
unknown, except as it may have existed imperfectly in 
the naucraries. The gentes, phratries and tribes still 
remained in full vitality, but with diminished powers. It 
was a transitional condition, requiring further* experience 
to develop the theory of a political system toward which 
it was a great advance. Thus slowly but steadily human 
institutions are evolved from lower into higher forms, 
through the logical operations of the human mind work- 
ing in uniform but predetermined channels. 

There was one weighty reason for the overthrow of 
the gentes and the substitution of a new plan of govern- 
ment. It was probably recognized by Theseus, and 
undoubtedly by Solon. From the disturbed condition of 
the Grecian tribes and the unavoidable movements of the 
people in the traditionary period arid in the times prior to 
Solon, many persons transfered themselves from one 


nation to another, and thus lost their connection with 
their own gens without acquiring a connection with 
another. This would repeat itself from time to time, 
through personal adventure, the spirit of trade, and the 
exigencies of warfare, until a considerable number with 
their posterity would be developed in every tribe 
unconnected with any gens. All such persons, as before 
remarked, would be without the pale of the government 
with which there could be no connection excepting 
through a gens and tribe. The fact is noticed by Mr. 
Grote. "The phratries and gentes," he remarks, 
"probably never at any time included the whole popu- 
lation of the country and the population not included 
in them tended to become larger and larger in the times 
anterior to Kleisthenes, as well as afterwards. 9n As early 
as the time of Lycurgus there was a considerable immi- 
gration into Greece from the islands of the Mediterranean 
and from the Ionian cities of its eastern coasts, which 
increased the number of persons unattached to any gens. 
When they came in families they would bring a fragment 
of a new gens with them ; but they would remain aliens 
unless the new gens was admitted into a tribe. This 
probably occurred in a number of cases, and it may assist 
in explaining the unusual number of gentes in Greece. The 
gentes and phratries were close corporations, both of 
which would have been adulterated by the absorption of 
these aliens through adoption into a native gens., Persons 
of distinction might be adopted into some gens, or secure 
the admission of their own gens into some tribe; but the 
poorer class would be refused either privilege. Tfyere 
can be no doubt that as far back as the time of Theseus, 
and more especially in the time of Solon, the number of 
the unattached class, exclusive of the slaves, had become 
large. Having neither gens nor phratry they were also 
without direct religious privileges, which were inherent 
and exclusive in these organizations. It is not difficult to 
see in this class of persons a growing element of discon- 
tent dangerous to the security of society. 

i "History of Greece," Hi, 65. 


The schemes of Theseus and of Solon made imperfect 
provision for their admission to citizenship through the 
classes ; but as the gentes and phratries remained from 
which they were excluded, the remedy was still incom- 
plete. Mr. Grote further remarks, that "it is not easy to 
make out distinctly what was the political position of the 
ancient Gentes and Phratries, as Solon left them. The 
four tribes consisted altogether of gentes and phratries, 
insomuch that no one could be included in any one of the 
tribes who was not also a member of some gens and 
phratry. Now the new probouleutic or pre-considering 
senate consisted of 400 members, 100 from each of the 
tribes: persons not included in any gens and phratry 
could therefore have had no access to it. The conditions 
of eligibility were similar, according to ancient custom, 
for the nine archons of course, also, for the senate of 
Areopagus. So that there remained only the public 
assembly, in which an Athenian, not a member of these 
tribes, could take part: yet he was a citizen, since he 
could give his vote for archons and senators, and 
could take part in the annual decision of their account- 
ability, besides being entitled to claim redress for wrong 
from the archons in his own person while the alien 
could ouly do so through the intervention of an avouching 
citizen, or Prostates. It seems therefore that all persons 
not included in the four tribes, whatever their grade or 
fortune mi^ht be, were on the same level in respect to 
political privilege as the fourth and poorest class of the 
Solonian census. It has already been remarked, that 
even before the time of Solon, the number of Athenians 
not included in the gentes or phratries was probably 
considerable: it tended to become greater and greater, 
since these bodies were close and unexpansive, while the 
policy of the new lawgiver tended to invite industrious 
settlers from Bother parts of Greece to Athens/' 1 The 
Roman Plebeians orginated from causes precisely similar. 
They were not members of any gens, and therefore 
formed no part of the Populus Romanus. We may find 

I "HUtory of Gretce," ill, if |, 


in the facts stated one of the reasons of the failure of the 
gentile organization to meet the requirements of society. 
In the time of Solon, society had outgrown their ability to 
govern, its affairs had advanced so far beyond the condi- 
tion in which the gentes originated. They furnished a 
basis too narrow for a state, up to the measure of which 
the people had grown. 

There was also an increasing difficulty in keeping the 
members of a gens, phratry and tribe locally together. 
As parts of a governmental organic series, this fact of 
localization was higly necessary. In the earlier period, 
the gens held its lands in common, the phratries held 
certain lands in common for religious uses, and the tribe 
probably held other lands in common. When they estab- 
lished themselves In country or city, they settled locally 
together by gentes, by phratries and by tribes, as a 
consequence of their social organization. Each gens was 
in the main by itself not all of its members, for two 
gentes were represented in every family, but the body 
who propagated the gens. Those gentes belonging to 
the same phratry naturally sought contiguous or at least 
near areas, and the same with the several phratries of the 
tribe. But in the time of Solon, lands and houses had 
come to be owned by individuals in severalty, with power 
of alienation as to lands, but not of houses out of the 
gens. It doubtless became more and more impossible to 
keep the members of a gens locally together, from the 
shifting relations of persons to land, and from the crea- 
tion of new property by its members in other localities. 
The unit of their social system was becoming unstable in - 
place, and also in character. Without stopping to develop 
this fact of their condition further, it must have proved 
one of the reasons of the failure of the old plan of 
government. The township, with its fixed property and 
its inhabitants for the time being, yielded that element of 
permanence now wanting in the gens. Society had made 
immense progress from its former condition of extreme 
simplicity. It was very different from that which the 
gentile organization was instituted to govern. Nothing 
but the unsettled condition and incessant warfare of the 


Athenian tribes, from their settlement in Attica to the 
time of Solon, could have preserved this organization 
from overthrow. After their establishment in walled 
cities, that rapid development of wealth and numbers 
occurred which brought the gentes to the final test, and 
demonstrated their inability to govern a people now rap- 
idly approaching civilization. But their displacement 
even then required a long period of time. 

The seriousness of the difficulties to be overcome in 
creating a political society are strikingly illustrated in 
the experience of the Athenians. In the time of Solon, 
Athens had already produced able men; the useful arts 
had attained a very considerable development ; commerce 
on the sea had become a national interest; agriculture 
and manufactures were well advanced; and written 
composition in verse had commenced. They were in fact 
a civilized people, and had been for two centuries; but 
their institutions of government were still gentile, and of 
the type prevalent throughout the Later Period of bar- 
barism. A great impetus had been given to the Athenian 
commonwealth by the new system of Solon ; nevertheless, 
nearly a century elapsed, accompanied with many dis- 
orders, before the idea of a state was fully developed in 
the Athenian mind. Out of the naucrary, a conception 
of a township as the unit of a political system was 
finally elaborated; but it required a man of the highest 
genius, as well as great personal influence, to seize the 
idea in its fullness, and give it an organic embodiment. 
That man finally appeared in Cleisthenes (509 B. C), 
who must be regarded as the first of Athenians-legislators 
the founder of the second great plan of human govern- 
ment, that under which modern civilized nations are 

Cleisthenes went to the bottom of the question, and 
placed the ^ Athenian political system upon the foundation 
on^ which it remained to the close of the independent 
existence of the commonwealth. He divided Attica into 
a hundred -dernes, or townships, each circumscribed by 
metes and bounds, and distinguished by a name. Every 
citizen was required to register himself, and to cause an 


enrollment of his property in the deme in which he 
resided. This enrollment was the evidence as well as the 
foundation of his civil privileges. The deme displaced) 
the naucrary. Its inhabitants were an organized bodw 
politic with powers of local self-government, like the! 
modern American township. This is the vital and the 
remarkable feature of the system. It reveals at once its 
democratic character. The government was placed in the 
hands of the people in the first of the series of territorial 
organizations. The demotae elected a demarch, who had 
the custody of the public register; he had also power 
to convene the demotae for the purpose of electing 
magistrates and judges, for revising the registry of 
citizens, and for the enrollment of such as became of age 
during the year. They elected a treasurer, and provided 
for the assessment and collection of taxes, and for 
furnishing the quota of troops required of the deme for 
the service of the state. They also elected thirty dicasts 
or judges, who tried all causes arising in the deme where 
the amount involved fell below a certain sum. Besides 
these powers of local self-government, which is the 
essence of a democratic system, each deme had its own 
temple and religious worship, and its own priest, also 
elected by the demotae. Omitting minor particulars, we 
find the instructive and remarkable fact that the town- 
ship, as first instituted, possessed all the powers of local 
self-government, and even upon a fuller and larger scale 
than an American township. Freedom in religion is also 
noticeable, which was placed where it rightfully belongs, 
under the control of the people. All registered citizens 
were free, and equal in their rights and privileges, with 
the exception of equal eligibility to the higher offices. 
Such was the new unit of organization in Athenian 
political society, at once a model for a free state, and a 
marvel of wisdom and knowledge. The Athenians com- 
menced with a democratic organization at the point where 
every people must commence who desire to create a 
free state, and place the control of the government in the 
hands of its citizens. 
The second member of the organic territorial series 


consisted of ten demes, united in a larger geographical 
district. It was called a local tribe, to preserve some part 
of the terminology of the old gentile system. 1 Each 
district was named after an Attic hero, and it was the 
analogue of the modern county. The demes in each 
district were usually contiguous, which should have been 
true in every instance to render the analogy complete : but 
in a few cases one or more of the ten were detached, 
probably in consequence of the local separation of por- 
tions of the original consanguine tribe who desired to 
have their deme incorporated in the district of their 
immediate kinsmen. The inhabitants of each district or 
county were also a body politic, with certain powers of 
local self-government. They elected a phylarch, who 
commanded the cavalry ; a taxiarch, who commanded the 
foot-soldiers and a general, who commanded both; 
and as each district was required to furnish five triremes, 
they probably elected as many trierarchs to command 
them. Cleisthenes increased the senate to five hundred, 
and assigned fifty to each district. They were elected by 
its inhabitants. Other functions of this larger body pol- 
itic doubtless existed, but they have been imperfectly ex- 

The third and last member of the territorial series was 
the Athenian commonwealth or state, consisting of ten 
local tribes or districts. It was an organized body politic, 
embracing the aggregate of Athenian citizens. It was 
represented by a senate, an ecclesia, the court of Areo- 
pagus, the archons, and judges, and the body of elected 
military and naval commanders. 

Thus the Athenians founded the second great plan of 
government upon territory and upon property. They 
substituted a series of territorial aggregates in the place 
of an ascending series of aggregates of persons. 
As a plan of government it rested upon territory which 
was necessarily permanent, and upon property which was 

i The Latin "tribu8"-~tribe, signified originally "a third part," 
and was used to designate a third part of the people when 
composed of three tribes; but in course of time, after the Latin 
tribes were made local instead of consanguine, like the Athen- 
ian local tribes, the term tribe lost its numerical quality, and 
came, like the phylon of Cleisthenes to be a local designation. 
-See Mommscrfs "Hist- of Rome V c^ i, 71. 


more or less localized ; and it dealt with its citizens, now 
localized in demes though their territorial relations^ To 
be a citizen of the state it was necessary to be a citizen 
of a deme. The person voted and was taxed in his deme, 
and he was called into the military service from his deme. 
In like manner he was called by election into the senate, 
and to the command of a division of the army or navy 
from the larger district of his local tribe. His relations 
to a gens or phratry ceased to govern his duties as a 
citizen. The contrast between the two systems is as 
marked as their difference was fundamental. A coales- 
cence of the people into bodies politic in territorial areas 
now became complete. 

The territorial series enters into the plan of govern- 
ment of modern civilized nations. Among ourselves, for 
example, we have the township, the county, the state, and 
the United States ; the inhabitants of each of which are 
an organized body politic with powers of local self- 
government. Each organization is in full vitality and 
performs its functions within a definite sphere in which 
it is supreme. France has a similar series in the commune, 
the arrondissement, the department, and the empire, now 
the republic. In Great Britain the series is the parish, the 
shire, the kingdom, and the three kingdoms. In the 
Saxon period the hundred seems to have been the 
analogue of the township; 1 but already emasculated of the 
powers of local self-government, with the exception of 
the hundred court. The inhabitants of these several areas 
were organized as bodies politic, but those below the 
highest with very limited powers. The tendency to cen- 
tralization under monarchical institutions has atrophied, 
practically, all the lower organizations. 

As a consequence of the legislation of Cleisthenes, the 
gentes, phratries end tribes were divested of their 
influence, because their powers were taken from them and 
vested in the deme, the local tribe and the state, which 
became from thenceforth the sources of all politica!, 
power. They were not dissolved, however, even after this 

i "Anglo Saxon Law," by Henry Adams and others, pp. 20, 23. 


, but remained for centuries as a pedigree and 
lineage!, and as fountains of religious life. In certain 
orations of Demosthenes, where the cases involved 
personal or property rights, descents or rights of sep- 
ulture, both the gens and phratry appear as living organi- 
zations in his time. 1 They were left undisturbed by the 
new system so far as their connection with religious rites, 
with certain criminal proceedings, and with certain social 
practices were concerned, which arrested their total 
dissolution. The classes, however, both those instituted 
by Theseus and those afterwards created by Solon, dis- 
appeared after the time of Cleisthenes. 2 

Solon is usually regarded as the founder of Athenian 
democracy, while some writers attribute a portion of the 
work to Cleisthenes and Theseus. We shall draw nearer 
the truth of the matter by regarding Theseus, Solon and 
Cleisthenes as standing connected with three great move- 
ments of the Athenian people, not to found a democracy, 
for Athenian democracy was older than either, but to 
change the plan of government from a gentile into a 
political organization. Neither sought to change the ex- 
isting principles of democracy which had been inherited 
from the gentes. They contributed in their respective 
times to the great movement for the formation of a state, 
which required the substitution of a political in the place 
of gentile society. The invention of a township, and the 
organization of its inhabitants as a body politic, was the 
main feature ^in the problem. It may seem to us a simple 
matter; but it taxed the capacities' of the Athenians to 
their lowest depths before the idea of a township found 
expression in its actual creation. It was an inspiration 
of the genius of Cleisthenes ; and it stands as the master 
work of a master mind. In the new political society they 
realized that complete democracy which already existed 
in every essential principle, but which required a change 
in the plan of government to give it a more ample field 

partlcv xrly the Orations against Eubulldes, and Mar- 
Hermann's Mtlcal Antiquities of Greece", 1. c. p. 187, s. 


and a fuller expression. It is precisely here, as it seems 
to the writer, that we have been misled by the erroneous 
assumption of the great historian, Mr. Grote, whosej 
general views of Grecian institutions are so sound and 
perspicuous, namely, that the early governments of tha 
Grecian tribes were essentially monarchical. 1 On thi| 
assumption it requires a revolution of institutions to ex- 
plain the existence of that Athenian democracy under 
which the great mental achievements of the Athenians 
were made. No such revolution occurred, and no radical 
change of institutions was ever effected, for the reason 
that they were and always had been essentially demo- 
craticaL Usurpations not unlikely occurred, followed 
by controversies for the restoration of the previous or- 
der; but they never lost their liberties, or those ideas of 
freedom and of the right of self-government which had 
been their inheritance in all ages. 

Recurring for a moment to tKe basileus, the office tend- 
ed to make the man more conspicuous than any other in 
their affairs. He was the first person to catch the mental 
eye f>f the historian by whom he has been metamorph- 
osed into a king, notwithstanding he was made to reign, 
and by divine right, over a rude democracy. As a general 
in a military democracy, the basileus becomes intelligible, 
and without violating the institutions that actually 
existed. The introduction of this office did not change 
the principles of the gentes, phratries and tribes, which 
in their organization were essentially democratical, and 
which of necessity impressed that character on their 
gentile system. Evidence is not wanting that the popular 
element was constantly active to resist encroachments on 
personal rights. The basileus belongs to the traditionary 
period, when the powers of government were more or 
less undefined; but the council of chiefs existed in the 
centre of the system, and also the gentes, phratries and 

t Th primitive Grecian government 10 essentially monarch- 
ical, reposta* on personal feelln* and divine rlcht."-"HUtory 


tribes in full vitality. These are sufficient to determine 
the character of the government. l 

The government as reconstituted by Cleisthenes con- 
trasted strongly with that previous to the time of Solon. 
But the transition was not only natural but inevitable if 
the people followed their ideas to their logical results. It 
was a change of plan, but not of principles nor even of. 
instrumentalities. The council of chiefs remained in the 
senate, the agora in the epclesia ; the three highest archons 
were respectively ministers of state, of religion, and of 
justice as before, while the six inferior archons exercised 
judicial functions in connection with the courts, and the 
large body of dicasts now elected annually for judicial 
service. No executive officer existed under the system; 
which is one of its striking peculiarities. The nearest apj 
proach to it was the president of the senate, who was 
elected by lot for a single day, without the possibility of 
a re-election during the year. For a single day he 
presided over the popular assembly, and held the keys of 
the citadel and of the treasury. Under the new govern- 
ment the popular assembly held the substance of power, 
and guided the destiny of Athens. The new Element 
which gave stability and order to the state was the deme 
or township, with its complete autonomy, and local self- 
government. A hundred demes similarly organized would 
determine the general movement of the commonwealth. 
As the unit, so the compound. It is here that the people, 
as before remarked, must begin if they would learn the 
art of self-government, and maintain equal laws and 
equal rights and privileges. They must retain in their 
hands, all the powers of society not necessary to the state 
to insure an efficient general administration, as well as the 
control of the administration itself. 

i Sparta retained the office of baslleus in the period of civil!* 
tation. It was a dual ajeneralahip, and hereditary in a partic- 
ular family. The power* of government were co-ordinated 
between the Gerousfa or council, the popular assembly, the lire 
ephors, and two military commanders. The ephors were elected 
annually, with powers analogous to the Roman tribunes* Roy* 
alty at Sparta needs Qualification. The basnets commanded the 
army, and in their capacity of chief priests offered the sacrifices 
to the rods. 


Athens rose rapidly into influence and distinction un- 
der the new political system. That remarkable develop- 
ment of genius and intelligence, which raised the Athen- 
ians to the highest eminence among the historical nations 
of mankind, occurred under the inspiration of democratic 

With the institution of political society under Cleis- 
thenes, the gentile organization was laid aside as a por- 
tion of the rags of barbarism. Their ancestors had lived 
for untold centuries in gentilism, with which they had 
achieved all the elements of civilization, including a writ- 
ten language, as well as entered upon a civilized career. 
The history of the gentile organization will remain as a 
perpetual monument of the anterior ages, identified as it 
has been with the most remarkable and extended expe- 
rience of mankind. It must ever be ranked as one of the 
most remarkable institutions of the human family. 

In this brief and inadequate review the discussion has 
been confined to the main course of events in Athenian 
history. Whatever was true of the Athenian tribes will 
be found substantially true of the remaining Grecian 
tribes, though not exhibited on so broad or so grand a 
scale. The discussion tends to render still more apparent 
one of the main propositions advanced that the idea of 
government in all the tribes of mankind has been a 
growth through successive stages of development. 



When the Latins, and their congeners the Sabellians, 
the Oscans and the Umbrians, entered the Italian penin- 
sula probably as one people, they were in possession of 
domestic animals, and probably cultivated cereals and 
plants. l At the least they were well advanced in the 

i "During the period when the Indo-Germanic nations which 
are now separated still formed one stock speaking the same 
language, they attained a certain stage of culture, and they 
had a vocabulary corresponding to it. This vocabulary the 
several nations carried along with them, in its conventionally 
established use, as a common dowry and a foundation for 
further structures of their own. ... In this way we possess 
evidence of the development of pastoral life at that remote 
epoch in the unalterably Axed names of domestic animals; the 
Sanskrit "gftus" is the Latin "bos," the Greek "bous"; Sanskrit 
"avis," is the Latin "ovis." the Greek "ois;" Sanskrit "a^vas," 
Latin "equus," Greek "hippos," Sanskrit "haftsas." Latin "anser," 
Greek "chen;" ... on the other hand, we have as yet no certain 
proofs of the existence of agriculture at this period. Language 
rather favors the negative view." Mommsen's "History of 
Rome," Dlckson's Trans., Scribner's ed., 1871, 1, 37. In a note 
he remarks that "barley, wheat, and spelt were found growing 
together Sn a wild state on the right bank of the Euphrates, 
northwest from Anah. The growth of barley and wheat in a 
wild state in Mesopotamia had already been mentioned by the 
Babylonian historian, Berosus." 

Fick remarks upon the same subject as follows: "While past- 
urage evidently formed the foundation of primitive social life 
we can find in it but very slight beginnings of agriculture. 
They were acquainted to be sure with a few of the grains, but 
the cultivation of these was carried on very incidentally in 
order to gain a supply of milk and flesh. The material exist- 
ence of the people rested in no way upon agriculture. This 
becomes entirely clear from the small number of primitive 
words which have reference to agriculture. These words are 
"yava," wild fruit, "varka," hoe, or plow, "rava," sickle, to- 
gether with "pio, plnsere" (to bake) and "mak," Gk. "masso," 
which vive indications of threshing out and grinding of grain." 
Fick'a "Primitive Unity of Indo-European Languages, Gttt- 
tinren, 1873, p. 280. See also "Chips From a German Work- 

tintft ** II 49 

With 'reference to the possession of agriculture by the 
Qraeco-Itftllc people, see Mommsen, i, p. 47, et seq. 


Middle Status of barbarism; and when they first came 
under historical notice they were in the Upper Status, 
and near the threshold of civilization. 

The traditionary history of tjie Latin tribes, prior to the 
time of Romulus, is much more scanty and imperfect than 
that of the Grecian, whose earlier relative literary culture 
and stronger literary proclivities enabled them to pre- 
serve a larger proportion of their traditionary accounts. 
Concerning their anterior experience, tradition did not 
reach beyond their previous life on the Alban hills, and 
the ranges of the Appenines eastward from the site of 
Rome. For tribes so far advanced in the arts of life it 
would have required a long occupation of Italy to efface 
all knowledge of the country from which they came. In 
the time of Romulus 1 they had already fallen by segmen- 
tation into thirty independent tribes, still united in a loose 
confederacy for mutual protection. They also occupied 
contiguous territorial areas. The Sabellians, Oscans, and 
Umbrians were in the same general condition ; their re- 
spective tribes were in the same relations ; and their terri- 
torial circumscriptions, as might have been expected, were 
founded upon dialect. All alike, including their northern 
neighbors the Etruscans, were organized in gentes, with 
institutions similar to those of the Grecian tribes. Such 
was their general condition when they first emerged from 
behind the dark curtain of their previous obscurity, and 
the light of history fell upon them. 

Roman history has touched but slightly the particulars 
of a vast experience anterior to the founding of Rome 
(about 753 B. C.) The Italian tribes had then become 
numerous and populous; they had become strictly agri- 
cultural in their habits, possessed flocks and herds of 
domestic animals, and had made great progress in the 
arts of life. They had also attained the monogamian 
family. All this is shown by their condition when first 
made known to us ; but the particulars of their prqgress 

i The use of the word Romulus, and of the names of his suc- 
cessors, does not involve the adoption of the aneient Roman 
traditions. These names personify the treat movements which 
then took place with which we are chiefly concerned 


from a lower to a higher state had, in the main, fallen 
out of knowledge. They were backward in the growth 
of the idea of government ; since the confederacy oi tribes 
was still the full extent of their advancement. Although 
the thirty tribes were confederated, it was in the nature 
of a league for mutual defense, and neither sufficiently 
close or intimate to tend to a nationality. 

The Etruscan tribes were confederated; and the same 
was probably true of the Sabellian, Oscan and Umbrian 
tribes. While the Latin tribes possessed numerous forti- 
fied towns and country strongholds, they were spread over 
the surface of the country for agricultural pursuits, and 
for the maintenance of their flocks and herds. Concentra- 
tion and coalescence had not occurred to any marked ex- 
tent until the great movement ascribed to Romulus which 
resulted in the foundation of Rome. These loosely united 
Latin tribes furnished the principal materials from which 
the new city was to draw its strength. The accounts of 
these tribes from the time of the supremacy of the chiefs 
of Alba down to the time of Servius Tullius, were made 
up to a great extent of fables and traditions ; but certain 
facts remained in the institutions and social usages trans- 
mitted to the historical period which tend, in a remark- 
able manner, to illustrate their previous condition. They 
are even more important than an outline history of act- 
ual events. 

Among the institutions of the Latin tribes existing at 
the commencement of the historical period were the 
gentes, curiae and tribes upon which Romulus and his 
successors established the Roman power. The new gov- 
ernment was not in all respects a natural growth; but 
modified in the upper members of the organic series by 
legislative procurement. The gentes, however, which 
formed the basis of the organization, were natural 
growths, and in the main either of common or cognate 
lineage. That is, the Latin gentes were of the same lin- 
eage while the Sabine and other gentes, with the excep- 
tion of the Etruscans, were of cognate descent In tne 
time of Tarquinius Priscus, -the fourth in succession from 
Romulus, the organization bad been brought to * nqm- 


erical scale, namely : ten gentes to a curia, ten curiae to a 
tribe, and three tribes of the Romans ; giving a total of 
three hundred gentes integrated in one gentile society. 

Romulus had the sagacity to perceive that a confeder- 
acy of tribes, composed of gentes and occupying separate 
areas, had neither the unity of purpose nor sufficient 
strength to accomplish more than the maintenance of au 
independent existence. The tendency to disintegration 
counteracted the advantages of the federal principle. 
Concentration and coalescence were the remedy proposed 
by Romulus and the wise men of his time. It was a re- 
markable movement for the period, and still more re- 
markable in its progress from the epoch of Romul is to 
the institution of political society under Servius Tuilius. 
Following the course of the Athenian tribes and concen- 
trating in one city, they wrought out in five generations 
a similar and complete change in the plan of government, 
from a gentile into a political organization. 

It will be sufficient to remind the reader of the general 
facts that Romulus united upon and around the Palatine 
Hill a hundred Latin gentes, organized as a tribe, the 
Ramnes; that by a fortunate concurrence of circum- 
stances a large body of Sabines were added to the new 
community whose gentes, afterwards increased to one 
hundred, were organized as a second tribe, the Tities; 
and that in the time of Tarquinius Priscus a third tribe, 
the Luceres, had been formed, composed of a hundred 
gentes drawn from surrounding tribes, including the 
Etruscans. Three hundred gentes, in about the space of 
a hundred years, were thus gathered at Rome, and com- 
pletely organized under a council of chiefs now called the 
Roman Senate, an assembly ofi the people now called the 
comitia curiata, and one military commander, the rex; 
and with one purpose, that of gaining a military ascend- 
ency in Italy. 

Under the constitution of Romulus, ^nd the subsequent 
legislation of Servius Tuilius, the government was essen- 
tially a military democracy, because the military spirit 
predominated in the government But it may be re- 
nntrked in passing* that a new and antagonistic element. 


the Roman senate, was now incorporated in the centre 
of the social system, which conferred patrician rank upon 
its members and their posterity. A privileged class was 
thus created at a stroke, and intrenched first in the gentile 
and afterwards in the political system, which ultimately 
overthrew the democratic principles inherited from the 
gentes. It was the Roman senate, with the patrician class 
it created, that changed the institutions and the destiny 
of the Roman people, and turned them from a career, 
analogous to that of the Athenians, to which their in- ( 
herited principles naturally and logically tended. 

In its main features the new organization was a mas- 
terpiece of wisdom for military purposes. It soon car- 
ried them entirely beyond the remaining Italian tribes, 
and ultimately into supremacy over the entire peninsula. 

The organization of the Latin and other Italian tribes 
into gentes has been investigated by Niebuhr, Hermann, 
Mommsen, Long and others; but their several accounts 
fall short of a clear and complete exposition of the struc- 
ture and principles of the Italian gens. This is due in 
part to the obscurity in which portions of the subject arc 
enveloped, and to the absence of minute details in the 
Latin writers. It is also in part due to a misconception, 
0y some of the first named writers, of the relations of the 
family to the gens. They regard the gens as composed ] 
of families, whereas it was composed of parts of families; 
so that the gens and not the family was the unit of the 
social system. It may be difficult to carry the investiga- 
tion much beyond the point where they have lef* it ; but 
information drawn from the archaic constitution of the 
gens may serve to elucidate some of its characteristics 
which are now obscure. 

Concerning the prevalence of the organization into 
gentes among the Italian tribes, Niebuhr remarks as fol- 
lows: "Should any one still contend that no conclusion 
is to be drawn from the character of the Athenian gen- 
netes to that of the Roman gentiles, he will be bound to 
show how an institution which runs through the whole 
ancient world came to have a completely different char- 
acter in Italy and in Greece Every body of citizens 


was divided in this manner; the Gephyraeans and Sala- 
minians as well as the Athenians, the Tusculans as well 
as the Romans." l 

Besides the existence of the Roman gens, it is desir- 
able to know the nature of the organization; its rights, 
privileges and obligations, and the relations of the gentes 
, to each other, as members of a social system. After 
these have been considered, their relations to the curiae, 
tribes, and resulting people of which they formed a part, 
will remain for consideration in the next ensuing chapter. 
After collecting the accessible information from various 
sources upon these subjects it will be found incomplete 
in many respects, leaving some of the attributes and func- 
tions of the gens a matter of inference. The powers of 
the gentes were withdrawn, and transferred to new po- 
litical bodies before historical composition among the 
Romans had fairly commenced. There was, therefore, 
no practical necessity resting upon the Romans for pre- 
serving the special features of a system substantially set 
aside. Gaius, who wrote his Institutes in the early part 
of the second century of our era, took occasion to remark 
that the whole jus gentilicium had fallen into desuetude, 
and that it was then superfluous to treat the subject. f 
But at the foundation of Rome, and for several centuries 
thereafter, the gentile organization was in vigorous 

The Roman definition of a gens and of a gentilis, and 
the line in which descent was traced should be presented 
before? the characteristics of the gens are considered. In 
thtTopics of Cicero a gentilis is defined as follows : Those 
are gentiles who are of the same name among themselves. 
This is insufficient. Who were born of free parents. 
Even that is not sufficient. No one of whose ancestors 
has been a slave. Something still is wanting. Who have 
never suffered capital diminution. This perhaps mav do ; 
for I am not aware that Scaevola, the Pontiff, addea any- 
thing to this definition. 8 There is one by Festus: "A 

i "Htatory of Rome." 1. c., I, 541, 245. 
* "Int. f " ill, 17. 
3 "Cicero, Topic* ft." 


gentilis is described as one both sprung from the same 
stock, and who is called by the same name." l Also by 
Varro : As from an Aemilius men are born Aemilii, and 
gentiles; so from the name Aemilius terms are derived 
pertaining to gentilism. 2 

Cicero does not attempt to define a gens, but rather 
to furnish certain tests bv which the right to the gentile 
connection might be proved, or the loss of it be detected. 
Neither of these definitions show the composition of a 
gens ; that is, whether all, or a part only, of the descend- 
ants of a supposed genarch were entitled to bear the gen- 
tile name ; and, if a part only, what part. With descent 
in the male line the gens would include those only who 
could trace their descent through males exclusively ; and 
if in the female line, then through females only. If lim- 
ited to neither, then all the descendants would be included. 
These definitions must have assumed that descent in the 
male line was a fact known to all. From other sources 
it appears that those only belonged to the gens who could 
trace their descent through its male members. Roman 
genealogies supply this proof. Cicero omitted the mate- 
rial fact that those were gentiles who could trace their 
descent through males exclusively from an acknowledged 
ancestor within the gens. It is in part supplied by Festus 
and Varro. From an Aemilius, the latter remarks, men 
are born Aemilii, and gentiles; each must be born of a 
male bearing the gentile name. But Cicero's definition 
also shows that a gentilis must bear the gentile name. 

In the address of the Roman tribune Canuleius (445 
B. C), on his proposition to repeal an existing law for- 
bidding intermarriage between patricians and plebeians, 
there is a statement implying descent in the male line. 
For what else is there in the matter, he remarks, if a 
patrician man shall wed a plebeian woman, or a plebeian 
man a patrician woman ? What right in the end is there- 
by changed ? The children surely follow the father, * 

A practical illustration, derived from transmitted gen- 

i -Quoted in Smith*! "Die. Ok. & Bom. Antlq., Article, Gent," 
a -Varro. "P* Un*ua Z-atina," lib. viii, cap. 4. 
3 Uvy, lib. ir, cap. 4. 


tile names, will show conclusively that descent was in the 
male line. Julia, the sister of Caius Julius Caesar, mar- 
ried Marcus Attius Balbus. Her name shows that she 
belonged to the Julian gens. 1 Her daughter Attia, ac- 
cording to custom, took the gentile name of her father 
and belonged to the Attian gens. Attia married Caiua 
Octavius, and became the mother of Caius Octavius, the 
first Roman emperor. The son, as usual, took the gentile 
name of his father, and belonged to the Octavian gens. * 
After becoming emperor he added the names Caesar 

In the Roman gens descent was in the male line from 
Augustus back to Romulus, and for an unknown period 
back of the latter. None were gentiles except such as 
could trace their descent through males exclusively from 
some acknowledged ancestor within the gens. But it was 
unnecessary, because impossible, that all should be able 
to trace their descent from the same common ancestor; 
and much less from the eponymous ancestor. 

It will be noticed that in each of the above cases, to 
which a large number might be added, the persons mar- 
ried out of the gens. Such was undoubtedly the general 
usage by customary law. ' 

The Roman gens was individualized by the following 
rights, privileges and obligations: 

I. Mutual rights of succession to the property of 
deceased gentiles. 

IT. The possession of a common burial place. 

III. Common religious rites; sacra gentilicia. 

i "When there was only one daughter In a family, she used 
to be called from the name of the gens; thus, Tullla, the 
daughter of dcero, Julia, the daughter of Caesar; Octavia, the 
later of Augustus, etc.- and they retained the same name after 
they were married. When there were two daughters, the one 
was called Major and the other Minor. If there were more 
than two, they were distinguished by their number: thus, 
Prlraa. Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, Quinta, etc.; or more softly, 
Tertulla, Quartllla, Quintilla. etc. . . . During the flourishing 
state of the republic, the names of the gentes, and surnames of 
the families, always remained fixed and certain. They were 
common to all the children of the family, and descended to 
thetr posterity. But after the subversion of liberty they were 
changed and confounded." AdAms's "Roman Antiquities/* Glas- 
gow ed., 1825, p. 27. 

a Suetonius, "Vit. Octavlanus," c. 3 and 4. 


IV. The obligation not to marry in the gens. 

V. The possession of lands in common. 

VI. Reciprocal obligations of help, defense, and re- 

dress of injuries. 

VII. The right to bear the gentile name. 
VIII. The right to adopt strangers into the gens. 

IX. The right to elect and depose its chiefs; query. 

These several characteristics will be considered in the 
order named. 

1. Mutual rights of succession to the property of de- 
ceased gentiles. 

When the law of the Twelve Tables was promulgated 
(451 13. C.)t the ancient rule, which presumptively dis- 
tributed the inheritance among the gentiles, had been 
superseded by more advanced regulations. The estate of 
an intestate now passed, first, to his sui heredes, that is, 
to his children ; and, in default of children, to his lineal 
descendants through males. * The living children took 
equally, and the children of deceased sons took the share 
of their father equally. It will be noticed that the inher- 
itance remained -in the gens ; the children of the female 
descendants of the intestate, who belonged to other gen- 
tes, being excluded. Second, if there were no sui her- 
edes, by the same law, the inheritance then passed to the 
agnates. 2 The agnatic kindred comprised all those per- 
sons who could trace their descent through males from 
the same common ancestor with the intestate. In virtue 
of such a descent they all bore the same gentile name, fe- 
males as well as males, and were nearer in degree to the 
decedent than the remaining gentiles. The agnates near- 
est in degree had the preference ; first, the brothers and 
unmarried sisters; second, the paternal uncles and un- 
married aunts of the intestate, and so on until the agnatic 
relatives were exhausted. Third, if there were no agnates 
of the intestate, the same law called the gentiles to the 
inheritance. 8 This seems at first sight remarkable; be- 

i Galua, "Institutes," lib. ill, 1 and 2. The wife was a co- 
heiress with the children. 

&tV ub. in. n. 


cause the children of the intestate's sisters were excluded 
from the inheritance, and the preference given to gentile 
kinsmen so remote that their relationship to the intestate 
could not be traced at all, and only existed in virtue of 
an ancient lineage preserved by a common gentile name. 
The reason, however, is apparent; the children of the 
sisters of the intestate belonged to another gens, and the 
gentile right predominated over greater nearness of con- 
sanguinity, because the principle which retained the prop- 
erty in the gens was fundamental. It is a plain infer- 
ence from the law of the Twelve Tables that inheritance 
began in the inverse order, and that the three classes of 
heirs represent the three successive rules of inheritance ; 
namely, first, the gentiles; second, the agnates, among 
whom were the children of the decedent after descent was 
changed to the male line ; and third, the children, to the 
exclusion of the remaining agnates. 

A female, by her marriage, suffered what was tech- 
nically called a loss of franchise or capital diminution 
(deminutio capitis), by which she forfeited her agnatic 
rights. Here again the reason is apparent. If after her 
marriage she could inherit as an agnate it would transfer 
the property inherited from her own gens to that of her 
husband. An unmarried sister could inherit, but a mar- 
ried sister could not. 

With our knowledge of the archaic principles of the 
gens, we are enabled to glance backward to the time 
when descent in the Latin gens was in the female line, 
when property was inconsiderable, and distributed 
among the gentiles; not necessarily within the life-time 
of the Latin gens, for its existence reached back of the 
period of their occupation of Italy. That the Roman 
gens had passed from the archaic into its historical form 
is partially indicated by the reversion of property in cer- 
tain cases to the gentiles. * 

i A singular Question arose between the Marc ell I and Claudii, 
two families of the Claudlan Kens, with respect to the estate 
of the son of a freedman of the Marcelli; the former claiming 
by right of family, and the latter by right of gens. The law of 
tne Twelve Tables gave the estate of a freedman to his former 
master, who by the act of manumission became his 
provided he died Intestate, and without "sui heredes; 


"The right of succeeding to the property of members 
who died without kin and intestate," Niebuhr remarks, 
"was that which lasted the longest; so long indeed, as 
to engage the attention of the jurists, and even' though 
assuredly not as anything more than a historical ques- 
tion that of Gaius, the manuscript of whom is unfor- 
tunately illegible in this part/' L 
II. A common burial place. 

The sentiment of gentilism seems to have been stronger 
in the Upper Status of barbarism than in earlier condi- 
tions, through a higher organization of society, and 
through mental and moral advancement. Each gens usu- 
ally had a burial place for the exclusive use of its mem- 
bers as a place of sepulture. A few illustrations will ex- 
hibit Roman usages with respect to burial. 

Appius Claudius, the chief of the Claudian gens, re- 
moved from Regili, a town of the Sabines, to Rome in 
the time of Romulus, where in due time he was made a 
senator, and thus a patrician. He brought with him the 
Claudian gens, and such a number of clients that his ac- 
cession to Rome was regarded as an important event. 
Suetonius remarks that the gens received from the state 
lands upon the Anio for their clients, and a burial place 
for themselves near the capitol. 2 This statement seems 
to imply that a common burial place was, at that time, 
considered indispensable to a gens. The Claudii, having 
abandoned their Sabine connectioh and identified them- 
selves with the Roman people, received both a grant of 

did not reach the case of the son of a freedman. The fact that 
tne Claudii were a patrician family, and the Marcelli were not, 
could not affect the question. The freedman did not acquire 
gentile rights in his master's gens by his manumission, al- 
though he was allowed to adopt the gentile name of his patron; 
as Cicero's freedman, Tyro, was called M. Tullius Tyro. It is 
not known how the case, which is mentioned by Cicero ("De 
Orator e," 1, 39), and commented upon by Long (Smith's 4i Dtc. 
Ok. & Rom. Antlq., Art. Gens"), and Niebuhr, was decided; but 
the latter suggests that it was probably against the Claudii 
("Hist, of Rome," i, 246, "note"). It is difficult to discover how 
any claim whatever could be urged by the Claudii; or any by 
the Marcelli, except through an extension of the patronal right 
by judicial construction. It is a noteworthy case, because it 
shows how strongly the mutual rights with respect to the In- 
heritance of property were intrenched in the gens. 

t "History of Rome," i, 242. 

t -Suet., M Vit. Tiberius," cap. 1. 


lands and a burial place for the gens, to place them in 
equality of condition with the Roman gentes. The trans- 
action reveals a custom of the times. 

The family tomb had not entirely superseded that of 
the gens in the time of Julius Caesar, as was illustrated 
by the case of Quintilius Varus, who,, having lost his 
army in Germany, destroyed himself, and his body fell 
into the hands of the enemy. The half-burned body of 
Varus, says Paterculus, was mangled by the savage ene- 
emy ; his head was cut off, and brought to Maroboduus, 
and by him having been sent to Caesar, was at length 
honored with burial in the gentile sepulchre. 1 

In his. treatise on the laws, Cicero refers to the usages 
of his own times in respect to burial in the following 
language : now the sacredness of burial places is so great 
that it is affirmed to be wrong to perform the burial in- 
dependently of the sacred rites of the gens. Thus in the 
time of our ancestors A. Torquatus decided respecting 
the Popilian gens. 2 The purport of the statement is that 
it was a religious duty to bury the dead with sacred rites, 
and when possible in land belonging to the gens. It fur- 
ther appears that cremation and inhumation were both 
practiced prior to the promulgation of the Twelve Tables, 
which prohibited the burying or burning of dead bodies 
within the city. 8 The columbarium, which would usual- 
ly accommodate several hundred urns, was eminently 
adapted to the uses of a gens. In the time of Cicero the 
gentile organization had fallen into decadence, but cer- 
tain usages peculiar to it had remained, and that respect- 
ing a common burial place among the number. The fam- 
ily tomb began to take the place of that of the gens, as 
the families in the ancient gentes rose into complete au- 
tonomy; nevertheless, remains of ancient gentile usages 
with respect to burial manifested themselves in various 
ways, and were still fresh in the history of the past. 
III. Common sacred rites; sacra gentilicia. 

The Roman sacra embody our idea of divine worship, 

x "Vellelua Paterculus," 11, 119. 

-"De Legr.," 11, 22. 

3 Cicero, "De !>.," li, 23. 


and were either public or private. Religious rites per- 
formed by a gens were called sacra privata, or sacra gen- 
tilicia. They wer performed regularly at stated periods 
by the gens. * Cases are mentioned in which the ex- 
penses of maintaining these rites had become a burden 
in consequence of the reduced numbers in the gens. They 
were gained and lost by circumstances, e. g., adoption 
or marriage. 2 'That the members of the Roman gens 
had common sacred rites," observes Niebuhr, "is well 
known; there were sacrifices appointed for stated days 
and places." 8 The sacred rites, both public and private, 
were under pontifical regulation exclusively, and not sub- 
ject to civil cognizance. * 

The religious rites of the Romans seem to have had 
their primary connection with the gens rather than the 
family. A college of pontiffs, of curiones, and of augurs, 
with an elaborate system of worship under these priest- 
hoods, in due time grew into form and became estab- 
lished ; but the system was tolerant and free. The priest- 
hood was in the main elective. 6 The head of every fam- 
ily also was the priest of the household. The gentes of 6 
the Greeks and Romans were the fountains from which 
flowed the stupendous mythology of the classical world. 

In the early days of Rome many gentes had each their 
own sacellum for the performance of their religious rites. 
Several gentes had each special sacrifices to perform, 
which had been transmitted from generation to genera- 
tion, and were regarded as obligatory; as those of the 
Nautii to Minerva, of the Fabii to Hercules, and of the 
Horatii in expiation of the sororicide committed by Ho- 
ratius. 7 It is sufficient for my purpose to have shown 

i "There were certain sacred rites ("sacra gen tilicia") which 
belonged to a gens, to the observance of which all the members 
of a grens, as such, were bound, whether they were members by 
birth, adoption or adrogration. A person was freed from the 
observance of such "sacra," and lost tto privileges connected 
with his gentile rights when he lost his gens/* Smith's "Die. 
Antiq., Gens." 

a C*cero, "Pro Domo," c. 13. 

3 "History of Rome," 1, 241. 

4 Cicero, "De Leg..' 1 ii, 23. 

5 "Dionysius," Ii, 22. 

6 lb.. ii, 21. 

7 NIebuhr's "History of Rome," i, 241. 

lift Attctifttfr aociitf Y 

generally that each gens had its own religious rites as 
one of the attributes of the organization. 

IV, The obligation not to marry in the gens. 
Gentile regulations were customs having the force of 

law. The obligation not to marry in the gens was one 
of the number. It does not appear to have been turned, 
at a later day, into a legal enactment ; but evidence that 
such was the rule of the gens appears in a number of 
ways. The Roman genealogies show that marriage was 
out of the gens, of which instances have been given. 
This, as we have seen, was the archaic rule for reasons 
of consanguinity. A woman by her marriage forfeited 
her agnatic rights, to which rule there was no exception. 
It was to prevent the transfer of property by marriage 
from one gens to another, from the gens of her birth to 
the gens of her husband. The exclusion of the children 
of a female from all rights of inheritance from a ma- 
ternal uncle or maternal grandfather, which followed, 
was for the same reason. As the female was required 
to marry out of her gens her children would be of the 
gens of their father, and there could be no privity of in- 
heritance between members of different g-entes. 

V. The possession of lands in common. 

The ownership of lands in common was so general 
among barbarous tribes that the existence of the same 
tenure among the Latin tribes is no occasion for surprise. 
A portion of their lands seems to have been held in sev- 
erally by individuals from a very early period. No time 
can be assigned when this was not the case ; but at first 
it was probably the possessory right to lands in actual 
occupation, so often before referred to, which was rec- 
ognized as far back as the Lower Status of barbarism. 

Among the rustic Latin tribes, lands were held in com- 
mon by each tribe, other lands by the gentes, and still 
other by households* 

Allotments of lands to individuals became common at 
Rome in the time of Romulus, and afterwards quite gen- 
eral. Varro and Dionysius both state that Romulus al- 
lotted two jugera (about two and a quarter acres) to 

*if ROHAN 

each man. 1 Similar allotments are said to have been 
afterwards made by Numa and Servius Tullius. They 
were the beginnings of absolute ownership in severalty, 
and presuppose a settled life as well as a great advance- 
ment in intelligence. It was not only admeasured but 
granted by the government, which was very different 
from a possessory right in lands growing out of an indi- 
vidual act. The idea of absolute individual ownership of 
land was a growth through experience, the complete at- 
tainment of which belongs to the period of civilization. 
These lands, however, were taken from those held in com- 
mon by the Roman people. Gentes, curiae and tribes held 
certain lands in common after civilization had com- 
menced, beyond those held by individuals in severalty. 

Mommsen remarks that "the Roman territory was di- 
vided in the earliest times into a number of clan-districts, 
which were subsequently employed in the formation of 

the earliest rural wards (tribus rusticae) These 

names are not, like those of the districts added at a later 
period, derived from the localities, but are formed with- 
out exception from the names of the clans." * Each gens 
held an independent district, and of necessity was local- 
ized upon it This was a step in advance, although it 
was the prevailing practice not only in the rural districts, 
but also in Rome, for the gentes to localize in separate 
areas. Mommsen further observes : "As each household 
had its own portion of land, so the clan-household or 
village, had clan-lands belonging to it, which, as will aft- 
erwards be shown, were managed up to a comparatively 
late period after the analogy of house-lands, that is, on 
the system of joint possession These clanships, how- 
ever, were from the beginning regarded not as independ- 
ent societies, but as integral parts of a political com- 
munity (civitas populi). This first presents itself as an 
aggregate of a number of clan-villages of the same stock, 
language and manners, bound fo mutual observance of 

i Varro, "De He Ruatlca," lib. i, cap. 10. 
"HUtory of Rome/ 9 1, 82. He names the Camilla. GaUrlt, 
"1. Pollll. Puplnil. Voltlnii, A em 11 11, Cornell!, Fabll, Ho- 
enenll, Paplrll, Romllll, Serylt, Vcturll.-Ib. f p. ft. 


law and mutual legal redress and to united action in ag- 
gression and defense." l Clan is here used by Momm- 
sen, or his translator, in the place of gens, and elsewhere 
canton is used in the place of tribe, which are the more 
singular since the Latin language furnishes specific terms 
for these organizations which have become historical. 
Mommsen represents the Latin tribes anterior to the 
founding of Rome as holding lands by households, by 
gentes and by tribes; and he further shows the ascend- 
ing series of social organizations in these tribes ; a com- 
parison of which with those of the Iroquois, discloses 
their close parallelism, namely, the gens, tribe and con- 
federacy. 8 The phratry is not mentioned although it 
probably existed. The household referred to could 
scarcely have been a single family. It is not unlikely that 
it was composed of related families who occupied a joint- 

i "History of Rome," i, 63. 

a "A fixed local centre was quite as necessary In the case of 
such a canton as in that of a clanship; but as the members of 
the clan, or, in other words, the constituent elements of the 
canton dwelt in villages, the centre of the canton can- 
not have been a town or place of joint settlement in the 
strict sense. It must, on the contrary, have been simply a 
place of common assembly, containing the seat of justice and 
the common sanctuary of the canton, where the members of 
the canton met every eighth day for purposes of intercourse and 
amusement, and where, in case of war, they obtained a safer 
shelter fir themselves and their cattle than in the villages; in 
ordinary circumstances this place of meeting was not at all or 
but scantily inhabited. . . These cantons accordingly, having 
their rendezvous in some stronghold, and including a certain 
number of clanships, form the primitive political unities with 
which Italian history begins. . . . All af these cantons were In 
primitive times politically sovereign, and each of them was 
governed by its prince with the co-operation of the council of 
elders and the assembly of warriors. Nevertheless the feeling 
of fellowship based on community of descent and of language 
not only pervaded the whole of them, but manifested itself In 
an important religious and political institution the perpetual 
league of the collective Latin cantons." "Hist, of Rome," i, 64- 
66. The statement that the canton or tribe was governed by 
its prince with the co-operation of the council, etc., is a re- 
versal of the correct statement, and therefore misleading. We 
must suppose that the military commander held an elective 
office, and that he was deposable at the pleasure of the constit- 
uency who elected him. Further than this, there is no groumd 
for assuming that he possessed any civil functions. It is a 
reasonable, if not a necessary conclusion, therefore, that the 
tribe was governed by a council composed of the chiefs of the 
gentes, and by an assembly of the warriors, with the co-opera* 
tlon of a general military commander, whose functions were 
exclusively military. It was a government of three powers, 
common in the Upper Status of barbarism, and identified with 
institutions essentially democratlcal. 


tenement house, and practiced communism in living in 

the household, 

VI. Reciprocal obligations of help, defense and redress 

of injuries. 

During the period of barbarism the dependence of 
the gentiles upon each other for the protection of personal 
rights would be constant; but after the establishment of 
political society, the gentilis, now a citizen, would turn 
to the law and to the state for the protection before 
administered by his gens. This feature of the ancient 
system would be one of the first to disappear under the 
new. Accordingly but slight references to these mutual 
obligations are found in the early authors. It does not 
follow, however, that the gentiles did not practice these 
duties to each other in the previous period ; on the 
contrary, the inference that they did is a necessary one 
from the principles of the gentile organization. Remains 
of these special usages appear, under special circumstan- 
ces, well down in the historical period. When Appius 
Claudius was cast into prison (about 432 B. C), Caius 
Claudius, then at enmity with him, put on mourning, as 
well as the whole Claudian gens. * A calamity or disgrace 
falling upon one member of the body was felt and shared 
by all. During the second Punic war, Niebuhr remarks, 
"the gentiles united to ransom their fellows who were in 
captivity, and were forbidden to do it by the senate. This 
^obligation is fin essential characteristic of the gens." 2 
In the case of Camillus, against whom a tribune had 
lodged an accusation on account of the Veientian spoil, 
he summoned to his house before the day appointed for 
his trial his tribes-men and clients to ask their advice, 
and he received for an answer that they would collect 
whatever sum he was condemned to pay; but to clear 
him was impossible. 8 The active principle of gentilism 
is plainly illustrated in these cases. Niebuhr further re- 
marks that the obligation to assist their indigent gentiles 
rested on the members of the Roman gens. * 

i -Livy, vi, 20. 

a "History of Rome," i, 242. 

4 "History of 'Rome/' i, 242: citing Dionysius, li, 10. 


VII. The right to bear the gentile name. 

This followed necessarily from the nature of the gens. 
All such persons as were born sons or daughters of a male 
member of the gens were themselves members, and of 
right entitled to bear the gentile name. In the lapse of 
time it was found impossible for the members of a gens 
to trace their descent back to the founder, and, conse- 
quently, for different families within the gens to find their 
connection through a later common ancestor. Whilst this 
inability proved the antiquity of the lineage, it was no 
evidence that these families had not sprung from a remote 
common ancestor. The fact that persons were born in the 
gens, and that each could trace his descent through a 
series of acknowledged members of the gens, was 
sufficient evidence of gentile descent, and strong evidence 
of the blood connection of all the gentiles. But some 
investigators, Niebuhr among the number, * have denied 
the existence of any blood relationship between the 
families in a gens, since they could not show a connec- 
tion through a common ancestor. This treats the gens as 
a purely fictitious organization, and is therefore unten- 
able. Niebuhr's inference against a blood connection 
from Cicero's definition is not sustainable. If the right 
of a person to bear the gentile name were questioned, 
proof of the right would consist, not in tracing his 
descent from the genarch, but from a number of acknowl- 
edged ancestors within the gens. Without written records 
the number of generations through which a pedigree 
might be traced would be limited. Few families in the 
same gens might not be able to find a common ancestor, 
but it would not follow that they were not of common 
descent from some remote ancestor within the gens. 1 

After descent was changed to the male line the ancient 
names of the gentes, which not unlikely were taken' from 

i "History of Rome/' i, 140. 

a "Nevertheless, affinity in blood always appeared to the 
Romans to lie at the root of the connection betwean the mem* 
bers of the clan, and still more between those of a family; and 
the Roman community can only have interfered with these 
groups to a limited extent consistent with the retention of 
their fundamental character of aAnity/'~Mommsen's "History 
of Rome/' i, IDS. 


animals, 1 or inanimate objects, gave place to personal 
names. Some individual, distinguished in the history of 
the gens, became its eponymous ancestor, and this person, 
as elsewhere suggested, was not unlikely superseded by 
another at long intervals of time. When a gens divided 
in consequence of separation in area, one division would 
be apt to take a new name , but such a change of name 
would not disturb the kinship upon which the gens was 
founded. When it is considered that the lineage of the 
Roman gentes, under changes of names, ascended to the 
time when the Latins, Greeks and Sanskrit speaking 
people of India were one people, without reaching its 
source, some conception of its antiquity may be gained. 
The loss of the gentile name at any time by any individual 
was the most improbable of all occurrences ; consequently 
its possession was the highest evidence that he shared 
with his gentiles the same ancient lineage. There was 
one way, and but one, of adulterating gentile descent, 
namely: by the adoption of strangers in blood into the 
gens. This practice prevailed, but the extent of it was 
small. If Niebuhr had claimed that the blood relationship 
of the gentiles had become attenuated by lapse of time to 
an inappreciable quantity between some of them, no 
objection could be taken to his position; but a denial of 
all relationship which turns the gens into a fictitious 
aggregation of persons, without any bond of union, 
controverts the principle upon which the gens came into 
existence, and which perpetuated it through three entire 
ethnical periods. 

Elswhere I have called attention to the fact that the 
gens came in with a system of consanguinity which 
reduced all consanguine! to a small number of categories, 
and retained their descendants indefinitely in the same. 
The relationships of persons were easily traced, no matter 

i It is a curious fact that Cleisthenes of Argos changed the 
ties of the three Dorian tribes of Sicvon, one to Hyato. 
itifying in the singular "a boar;" another to Oneats*, sif- 
jring "an ass," and a third to Choereata, signifying "a little 
r." They were intended as an insult to the Sicyonians; but 
remained during his lifetime, and for sixty years after- 

Didjthe Idea of these anir - 

Grote's "History 


how remote their actual common ancestor. In an 
Iroquois gens of five hundred persons, all its members 
are related to each other and each person knows rr cyi 
find his relationship to every other ; so that the fact of kin 
was perpetually present in the gens of the archaic period. 
With the rise of the monogamian family, a new and 
totally different system of consanguinity came in, under 
which the relationships between collaterals soon disap- 
peared. Such was the system of the Latin and Grecian 
tribes at the commencement of the historical period. That 
which preceded it was, presumptively at least, Turanian, 
under which the relationships of the gentiles to each 
other would have been known. 

After the decadence; of the gentile organization com- 
menced, new gentes ceased to form by the old process of 
segmentation ; and some of those existing died out. This 
tended to enhance the value of gentile descent as a 
lineage. In the times of the empire, new families were 
constantly establishing themselves in Rome from foreign 
parts, and assuming gentile names to gain social ad- 
vantages.. This practice being considered an abuse, the 
Emperor Claudius (A. D. 40-54) prohibited foreigners 
from assuming Roman names, especially those of the 
ancient gentes. 1 Roman families, belonging to the 
historical gentes, placed the highest value upon their 
lineages both under the republic and the empire. 

All the members of a gens were free, and equal in their 
rights and privileges, the poorest as well as the richest, 
the distinguished as well as the obscure ; and they shared 
equally in whatever dignity the gentile name conferred 
which they inherited as a birthright. Liberty, equality 
and fraternity were cardinal principles of the Roman 
gens, not less certainly than of the Grecian, and of the 
American Indian. 

VIII. The right of adopting strangers in blood into the 


In the times of the republic, and also of the empire, 
, adoption into the family, which carried the person into the 

i Sueton., "Vit. Claudius/' cap. 26. 


gtns of the family, was practiced ; but it was attended 
with formalities which rendered it difficult A person who 
had no children, and who was past the age to expect 
tfcem, might adopt a son with the consent of the pontifices, 
and of fhe comitia curiata. The college of pontiffs were 
entitled to be consulted lest the sacred rites of the family, 
from which the adopted person was taken, might thereby 
be impaired : l as also the assembly, because the adopted 
person would receive the gentile name, and might inherit 
the estate of his adoptive father. From the precautions 
which remained in the time of Cicero, the inference is 
reasonable that under the previous system, which was 
purely gentile, the restrictions must have been greater 
and the instances rare. It is not probable that adoption 
in the early period was allowed without the consent of the 
genr, and of the curia to which the gens belonged; and 
if so, the number adopted must have been limited. Few 
details remain of the jancient usages with respect to 

IX. The right of electing and deposing its chiefs; query. 
The incompleteness of our knowledge of the Roman 
gentes is shown quite plainly by the absence of direct 
information with respect to the tenure of the office of 
chief (princeps). Before the institution of political 
society each gens had its chief, and probably more than 
one. When the office became vacant it was necessarily 
filled, either by the election of one of the gentiles, as 
among the Iroquois, or taken by hereditary right. But 
the absence of any proof of hereditary right, and the 
presence of the elective principle with respect to nearly 
afl offices under the republic, and before that, under the 
reges, leads to the inference that hereditary right was 
alien to the institutions of the Latin tribes. The highest 
office, that of rex, was elective, the office of senator was 
elective or by appointment, and that of consuls and of 
inferior magistrates. It varied with respect to the college 
of pontiffs instituted by Numa. At first the pontiffs 
themselves filled vacancies by election. Livy speaks of 

"Pro Porno," cap. IS. s * 


the election of a pontifex maximus by the comitia about 
212 B. C 1 By the lex Domitia the right to elect the 
members of the several colleges of pontiffs and of priests 
was transferred to the people, but the law was subsequent- 
ly modified by Sulla. f The active presence of the elective 
principle among the Latin gentes when they first come 
under historical notice, and from that time through the 
period of the republic, furnishes strong grounds for the 
inference that the office of chief was elective in tenure. 
The democratic features of their social system, which 
present themselves at so many points, were inherited 
from the gentes. It would require positive evidence that 
the office of chief passed by hereditary right to over- 
come the presumption against it. The right to elect car- 
ries with it the right to depose from office, where the 
tenure is for life. 

These chiefs, or a selection from them, composed the 
council of the several Latin tribes before the founding 
of Rome, which was the principal instrument of govern- 
ment. Traces of the three powers co-ordinated in the 
government appear among the Latin tribes as they did 
in the Grecian, namely : the council of chiefs, the assembly 
of the people, to which we must suppose the more im- 
portant public measures were submitted for adoption or 
rejection, and the military commander. Mommsen re- 
marks that "All of these cantons [tribes] were in primi- 
tive times politically sovereign, and each of them was 
governed by its prince, and the co-operation of the coun- 
cil of elders, and the assembly of the warriors." * The 
order of Mommsen's statement should be reversed, and 
the statement qualified. This council, from its functions 
and from its central position in their social system, of 
which it was a growth, held of necessity the supreme 
power in civil affairs. It was the council that governed, 
and not the military commander. "In all the cities be- 
longing to civilized nations on the coasts, of the Mediter- 
ranean," Niebuhr observes, "a senate was a no less es- 

i Livjr. xxv, 6. 

Smith'* "Die,, Art. Pontlfox." 

3 "Htitory of Rome,*' 1, 66. 


sential and .indispensable part of the state, than a popular 
assembly; it was a select body of elder citizens; such a 
council, says Aristotle, there always is, whether the coun- 
cil be aristocratical or democratical ; even in oligarchies, 
be the number of sharers in the sovereignty ever so small, 
certain councilors are appointed for preparing public 
measures/' l The senate of political society succeeded 
the council of chiefs of gentile society. Romulus formed 
the first Roman senate of a hundred elders ; and as there 
were then but a hundred gentes, the inference is substan- 
tially conclusive^that they were the chiefs of these gentes. 
The office was for life, and non-hereditary ; whence the 
final inference, that the office of chief was at the time 
elective. Had it 'been otherwise there is every proba- 
bility that the Roman senate would have been instituted 
as an hereditary bodv. Evidence of the essentially demo- 
cratic constitution of ancient society meets us at many 
points, which fact has failed to find its way into the mod- 
ern historical expositions of Grecian and Roman gentile 

With respect to the number of persons in a Roman 
gens, we are fortunately not without some information. 
About 474 B. C. the Fabian gens proposed to the senate 
to undertake the Veientian war as a gens, which they 
said required a constant rather than a large force. J 
Their offer was accepted, and they marched out of Rome 
three hundred and six soldiers, all patricians, amid the 
applause of their countrymen. 8 After a series of suc- 
cesses they were finally cut off to a man through an am- 
buscade. But they left behind them at Rome a single 
male under the age of puberty, who alone remained to 
perpetuate the Fabian gens.* It seems hardly credible 
that three hundred should have left in their families but 
a single male child, below the age of puberty, but such 

i Ib., 1, 258. 
Llvy. 11. 48. 

4 Treccntos sex pertsse sails convenlt: unum prope pubescent 
aeiaie rellctum stirpem genie Fabiae, dublisque rebut populi 
Romanl sepe doml belllque yel maximum futurum auxillum,- 
II, Bli; and M* Ovid, "Fasil," II, m. 


is the statement. This number of persons would indicate 
an equal number of females, who, with the children of 
the males, would give an aggregate of at least seven hun- 
dred members of the Fabian gens. 

Although the rights, obligations and functions of the 
Roman gens have been inadequately presented, enough 
has been adduced to show that this organization was the 
source of their social, governmental and religious activi- 
ties. As the unit of their social system it projects its 
character upon the higher organizations into which it 
entered as a constituent. A much fuller knowledge of 
the Roman gens than we now possess is essential to a 
full comprehension of Roman institutions in their origin 
and development. 



Having considered the Roman gens, it remains to take 
up the curia composed of several gentes, the tribe com- 
posed of several curiae, and lastly the Roman people com- 
posed of several tribes. In pursuing the subject the in- 
quiry will be limited to the constitution of society as it 
appeared from the time of Romulus to that of Servius 
Tullius, with some notice of the changes which occurred 
in the early period of the republic while the gentile sys- 
tem was giving way, and the new political system was 
being established. 

It will be found that two governmental organizations 
were in existence for a time, side by side, as among the 
Athenians, one going out and the other coming in. The 
first was a society (societas), founded upon the gentes; 
and the other a state (civitas), founded upon territory 
and upon property, which was gradually supplanting the 
former. A government in a transitional stage is neces- 
sarily complicated, and therefore difficult to be under- 
stood. These changes were not violent but gradual, com- 
mencing with Romulus and substantially completed, 
though not perfected, by Servius Tullius; thus embrac- 
ing a supposed period of nearly two hundred years, 
crowded with events of great moment to the infant com- 
monwealth. In order to follow the history of the gentes 
to the overthrow of their influence in the state it will be 
necessary, after considering the curia, tribe and nation, 
to explain briefly the new political system. The last will 
form the subject of the ensuing chapter. 


Gentile society among the Romans exhibits four stages 
of organization : first, the gens, which was a body of con- 
$aneuinei and the unit of the social system ; second, the 
curia, analogous to the Grecian phratry, which consisted 
of ten gentes united in a higher corporate body; third, 
Ac tribe, consisting of ten curise, which possessed some 
of the attributes of a nation under gentile institutions; 
and fourth, the Roman people (Populus Romanus), con- 
sisting, in the time of Tullus Hostilius, of three such 
tribes united by coalescence in one gentile society, em- 
bracing three hundred gentes. There are facts warrant- 
ing the conclusion that all the Italian tribes were simi- 
larly organized at the commencement of the historical 
period ; but with this difference, perhaps, that the Roman 
curia was a more advanced organization than the Grecian 
phratry, or the corresponding phratry of the remaining 
Italian tribes; and that the Roman tribe, by constrained 
enlargement, became a more comprehensive organization 
than in the remaining Italian stocks. Some evidence in 
support of these statements will appear in the sequel. 

Before the time of Romulus the Italians, in their var- 
ious branches, had become a numerous people. The 
large number of petty tribes, into which they had be- 
come subdivided, reveals that state of unavoidable disin- 
tegration which accompanies gentile institutions. But 
the federal principle had asserted itself among the other 
Italian tribes as well as the Latin, although it did not 
result in any confederacy that achieved important results. 
Whilst this state of things existed, that great movement 
ascribed to Romulus occurred, namely : the concentration 
of a hundred Latin gentes on the banks of the Tiber, 
which was followed by a like gathering of Sabine, Latin 
and Etruscan and other gentes, to the additional number 
of two hundred, ending in their final coalescence into 
one people. The foundations of Rome were thus laid, 
and Roman power and civilization were to follow* It 
was this consolidation of gentes and tribes under one 
government, commenced by Romulus and completed by 
his successors, that prepared the way for the new po- 
litical ly item for the transition from a government 



based upon persons and upon personal relations, into one 
based upon territory and upon property. 

It is immaterial whether either of the seven so-called 
kings of Rome were real or mythical persons, or whether 
the legislation ascribed to either of them is fabulous or 
true, so far as this investigation is concerned: because 
the facts with respect to the ancient constitution of Latin 
society remained incorporated in Roman institutions, and 
thus came down to the historical period. It fortunately 
so happens that the events of human progress embody 
themselves, independently of particular men, in a material 
record, which is crystallized in institutions, usages and 
customs, and preserved in inventions and discoveries. 
Historians, from a sort of necessity, give to individuals 
great prominence in the production of events ; thus plac- 
ing persons, who are transient, in the place of principles, 
which are enduring. The work of society in its totality, 
by means of which all progress occurs, is ascribed far 
too much to individual men, and far too little to the pub- 
lic intelligence. It will be recognized generally that the 
substance of human history is bound up in the growth 
of ideas, which are wrought out by the people and ex- 
pressed in their institutions, usages, inventions and dis- 

The numerical adjustment, before adverted to, of ten 
gentes to a curia, ten curiae to a tribe, and three tribes 
of the Roman people, was a result of legislative procure- 
ment not older, in the first two tribes, than the time of 
Romulus. It was made possible by the accessions gained 
from the surrounding tribes, by solicitation or conquest ; 
the fruits of which were chiefly incorporated in the Titics 
and Luceres, as they were successively formed. But such 
a precise numerical adjustment could not be permanently 
maintained through centuries, especially with respect to 
the number of gentes in each curia. 

We have seen that the Grecian phratry was rather a 
religious and social than a governmental organization. 
Holding an intermediate position between the gens and 
the tribe, it would be less important than either, until 
governmental functions were superadded. It appears 


among the Iroquois in a rudimentary form, its social as 
distinguished from its governmental character being at 
that early day equally well marked. But the Roman 
curia, whatever it may have been in the previous period, 
grew into an organization more integral and govern- 
mental than the phratry of the Greeks; more is known, 
however, of the former than of the latter. It is probable 
that the gentes comprised in each curia were, in the main, 
related gentes; and that their reunion in a higher or- 
ganization was further cemented by inter-marriages, the 
gentes of the same curia furnishing each other with 

The early writers give no account of the institution of 
the curia ; but it does not follow 'that it was a new crea- 
tion by Romulus. It is first mentioned as a Roman in- 
stitution in connection with his legislation, the number 
of curia in two of the tribes having been established in 
his time. The organization, as a phratry, had probably 
existed among the Latin tribes from time immemorial. 

Livy, speaking of the favor with which the Sabine 
women were regarded after the establishment of peace 
between the Sabines and Latins through their interven- 
tion, remarks that Romulus, for this reason, when he had 
divided the people into thirty curiae bestowed upon them 
their names. 1 Dionysius uses the term phratry as the 
equivalent of curia, but gives the latter also, 8 and ob- 
serves further, that Romulus divided the curiae into dec- 
ades, the ten in each being of course gentes. 8 In like 
manner Plutarch refers to the fact that each tribe con- 
tained ten curiae, which some say, he remarks, were called 
after the Sabine women. 4 He is more accurate in the 
use of language than Livy or Dionysius in saying that 
each tribe contained ten curiae, rather than that each was 
divided into ten, because the curiae were made of gentes 
as original unities, and not the gentes out of a curia by 
subdivision. The work performed by Romulus was the 

i - Livy. i, is. 

a -Dionya., "Antlq. of Rome/' IJ, 7. 

3 Dionys., 11, 7. 

4 Plutarch, "Vit. Romulus," cap. 20. 


adjustment of the number of gentes in each curia, and 
the number of curiae in each tribe, which he was enabled 
to accomplish through the accessions gained from the 
surrounding tribes. Theoretically each curia should have 
been composed of gentes derived by segmentation from 
one or more gentes, and the tribe by natural growth 
through the formation of more than one curia, each com- 
posed of gentes united by the bond of a common dialect 
The hundred gentes of the Ramnes were Latin gentes. 
In their organization into ten curiae, each composed of 
ten gentes, Romulus undoubtedly respected the bond of 
kin by placing related gentes in the same curia, as far 
as possible, and then reached numerical symmetry by 
arbitrarily taking the excess of gentes from one natural 
curia to supply the deficiency in another. The hundred 
gentes of the tribe Titles were, in the main, Sabine gen- 
tes. These were also arranged in ten curiae, and most 
likely on the same principle. The third tribe, the Luceres, 
was formed later from gradual accessions and conquests. 
It was heterogeneous in its elements, containing, among 
others, a number of Etruscan gentes. They were brought 
into the same numerical scale of ten curiae each composed 
of ten gentes. Under this re-constitution, while the gens, 
the unit of organization, remained pure and unchanged, 
the curia was raised above its logical level, and made to 
include, in some cases, a foreign element which did not 
belong 1 to a strict natural phratry ; and the tribe also was 
raised above its natural level, and made to embrace for- 
eign elements that did not belong to a tribe as the tribe 
naturally grew. By this legislative constraint the tribes, 
with their curiae and gentes, were made severally equal, 
while the third tribe was in good part an artificial crea- 
tion under the? pressure of circumstances. The linguistic 
affiliations of the Etruscans are still a matter of discus- 
sion. There is a presumption that their dialect was not 
wholly unintelligible to the Latin tribes, otherwise they 
would not have been admitted into the Roman social sys- 
tem, which at the time was purely gentile. The numer- 
ical proportions thus secured, facilitated the governmental 
action of the society as a whole. 


Niebuhr, who was the first to gain a true conception 
of the institutions of the Romans in this period, who rec- 
ognized the fact that the people were sovereign, that the 
so-called kings exercised a delegated power, and that the 
senate was based on the principle of representation, each 
gens having a senator, became at variance with the facts 
before him in stating in connection with this graduated 
scale, that "such numerical proportions are an irrefragi- 
ble proof that the Roman houses [gentes] l were not 
more ancient than the constitution; but corporations 
formed 'by a legislator in harmony with the rest of his 
scheme." * That a samll foreign element was forced into 
the curiae of the second and third tribes, and particularly 
into the third, is undeniable ; but that a gens was changed 
in its composition or reconstructed or made, was simply 
impossible. A legislator could not make a gens ; neither 
could he make a curia, except by combining existing 
gentes around a nucleus of related gentes ; but he might 
increase or decrease by constraint the number of gentes 
in a curia, and increase or decrease the number of curiae 
in a tribe. Niebuhr has also shown that the gens was 
an ancient and universal organization among the Greeks 
and Romans, which renders his preceding declaration the 
more incomprehensible. Moreover it appears that the 
phratry was universal, at least among the Ionian Greeks, 
leaving it probable that the curia, perhaps under another 
name, was equally ancient among the Latin tribes. The 
numerical proportions referred to were no doubt the 
result of legislative procurement in the time of Romulus, 
and we have abundant evidence of the sources from 
which the new gentes were obtained with which these 
proportions might have been produced. 

The members of the ten gentes united in a curia were 
called curiales among themselves. They elected a priest, 
curio, who was the chief officer of the fraternity. Each 
curia had its sacred rites, in the observance of which the 

x Whether Niebuhr used the word "house" In the place of 
ens, or it is a conceit of the translators, I am unable to state, 
'htrlwall, one of the translators, applies this term frequently 
o the Grecian gens, which at best is objectionable. 
a "History of Rome," i, 244. 


brotherhood participated ; its sacellum as a place of wor- 
ship, and its place of assembly where they met for the 
transaction of business. Besides the curio, who had the 
principal charge of their religious affairs, the curiales 
also elected an assistant priest, flamen curialis, who had 
the immediate charge of these observances. The curia 
gave its name to the assembly of the gentes, the comitia 
curiata, which was the sovereign power in Rome to a 
greater degree than the senate under the gentile system. 
Such, in general terms, was the organization of the Ro- 
man curia or phratry. * 

Next in the ascending scale was the Roman tribe, com- 
posed of ten curiae and a hundred gentes. When a nat- 
ural growth, uninfluenced externally, a tribe would be an 
aggregation of such gentes as were derived by segmen- 
tation from an original gens or pair of gentes; all the 
members of which would speak the same dialect. Until 
the tribe itself divided, by processes before pointed out, 
it would include all the descendants of the members of 
these gentes. But the Roman tribe, with which alone we 
are now concerned, was artificially enlarged for special 
objects and by special means, but the basis and body of 
the tribe was a natural growth. 

i Dionysius has given a definite and circumstantial analysis 
of the or sanitation ascribed to Romulus, although a portion of 
It seems to belong; to a later period. It is interesting: from the 
parallel he runs between the gentile institutions of the Greeks, 
with which he was equally familiar, and those of the Romans. 
In the first place, he remarks. I will speak of the order of his 
polity which I consider the most sufficient of all political ar- 
rangements in peace, and also in time of war. It was as fol- 
lows: After dividing the whole multitude into three divisions, 
he appointed the most prominent man as a leader over each of 
the divisions; in the next place dividing each of the three again 
Into ten, he appointed the bravest men leaders, having equal 
rank; and he called the greater divisions tribes, and the less 
curiss, as they are also still called according to usage. And 
these names interpreted In the Greek tongue would be the 
"trlbus," a third part, a phyle; the "curia." a phratry. and also 
a band; and those men who exercised the leadership of the 
tribes were both phylarchs and trlttyarchs, whom the Romans 
call tribunes; and those who had the command of the curl* 
both phratriarchs and lochagol, whom they call curiones. And 
the phratrles were also divided into decades, and a leader call- 
ed in common parlance a decadarch had command of each. And 
when all had been arranged into tribes and phratries, he di- 
vided the land Into thirty equal shares, and gave one full share 
to each phratry, selecting a sufficient portion for religious fest- 
ivals and temples, and leaving a certain piece of ground for 
common use. "Anttq. of Rome?* II, T. 


Prior to the time of Romulus each tribe elected a chief 
officer whose duties were magisterial, military and relig- 
ious. 1 He performed in the city magisterial duties for 
the tribe, as well as administered its sacra, and he also 
commanded its military forces in the field. * He was 
probably elected by the curiae collected in a general as- 
sembly; but here again pur information is defective. 
It was undoubtedly an ancient office in each Latin tribe, 
peculiar in character and held by an elective tenure. It 
was also the germ of the still higher office of rex, or gen- 
eral military commander, the functions of the two offices 
being similar. The tribal chiefs are styled by Dionysiua 
leaders of the tribes. * When the three Roman tribes 
had coalesced into one people, under one senate, one as- 
sembly of the people, and one military commander, the 
office of tribal chief was overshadowed and became less 
important; but the continued maintenance of the office 
by an elective tenure confirms the inference of its orig- 
inal popular character. 

An assembly of the tribe must also have existed, from 
a remote antiquity. Before the founding of Rome each 
Italian tribe was practically independent, although the 
tribes were more or less united in confederate relations. 
As a self-governing body each of these ancient tribes had 
its council of chiefs (who were doubtless the chiefs of 
the gentes) its assembly of the people, and its chiefs who 
commanded its military bands. These three elements in 
the organization of the tribe ; namely, the council, the 
tribal chief, and the tribal assembly, were the types upon 
which were afterwards modeled the Roman senate, the 
Roman rex, and the comitia curiata. The tribal chief 
was in all probability called by the name of rex before 
the founding of Rome ; and the same remark is applica- 
ble to die name of senators (senex), and the comitia 
(con-ire). The inference arises, from what is known of 
the condition and organization of these tribes, that their 
institutions were essentially democratical. After the 



coalescence of the three Roman tribes, the national char- 
acter of the tribe was lost in the higher organization; 
but it still remained as a necessary integer in the organic 

The fourth and last stage of organization was the Ro- 
man nation or people, formed, as stated, by the coales- 
cence of three tribes. Externally the ultimate organiza- 
tion was manifested by a senate (scnatus), a popular as- 
sembly (comitia curiata), and a general military com- 
mander (rex}. It was further manifested by a city mag- 
istracy, by an army organization, and by a common na- 
tional priesthood of different orders. l 

A powerful city organization was from the first the 
central idea of their governmental and military systems, 
to which all areas beyond Rome remained provincial. 
Under the military democracy of Romulus, under the 
mixed democratical and aristocratical organization of the 
republic, and under the later imperialism it was a govern- 
ment with a great city in its centre, a perpetual nucleus, 
to which all additions by conquest were added as incre- 
ments, instead of being made, with the city, common 
constituents of the government. Nothing precisely like 
this Roman organization, this Roman power, and the 
career of the Roman race, has appeared in the experience 
oi mankind. It will ever remain the marvel of the ages. 

As organized by Romulus they styled themselves the 
Roman People (Populus Romamts), which was perfectly 
exact. They had formed a gentile society and nothing 
more. But the rapid increase of numbers in the time 
of Romulus^nd the still greater increase between this 
period and that of Servius Tullius, demonstrated the ne- 
cessity for a fundamental change in the plan of govern- 
ment. Romulus and the wise men of his time had made 
the most of gentile institutions. We are indebted to his 

i The thirty curionea, as a body, were organized into a col* 
le*e of priests, one of their number holding the office of "curio 
maximum" He was elected by the assembly of the rente*. 
Besides this was the college of augurs, consisting under the 
Ogulnian law (200 B. C.) of nine members, including their chief 
officer ("magister collegil"); and the college of ponti&o, com- 
posed under the same law of nine members, including th 
"pontifex maximus." 


legislation for a grand attempt to establish upon the gen- 
tes a great national and military power; and thus for 
some knowledge of the character and structure of insti- 
tutions which might otherwise have faded into obscurity, 
if they had not perished from remembrance. The rise 
of the Roman power upon gentile institutions was a re- 
markable event in human experience. It is not singular 
that the incidents that accompanied the movement should 
have come to us tinctured with romance, not to say en- 
shrouded in fable. Rome came into existence through 
a happy conception, ascribed to Romulus, and adopted 
by his successors, of concentrating the largest possible 
number of gentes in a new city, under one government, 
and with their united military forces under one com- 
mander. Its objects were essentially military, to gain a 
supremacy in Italy, and it is not surprising that the or- 
ganization took the form of a military democracy. 

Selecting a magnificent situation upon the Tiber, where 
after leaving the mountain range it had entered the cam- 
pagna, Romulus occupied the Palatine Hill, the site of 
an ancient fortress, with a tribe of the Latins of which 
he was the chief. Tradition derived his descent from the 
chiefs of Alba, which is a matter of secondary import- 
ance. The new settlement grew with marvelous rapidity, 
if the statement is reliable that at the close of his life the 
military forces numbered 46,000 foot and 1,000 horse, 
which would indicate some 200,000 people in the city and 
in the surrounding region under its protection. Livy re- 
marks that it was an ancient device (vetus consilium) of 
the founders of cities to draw to themselves an obscure 
an4 humble multitude, and then set up for their progeny 
the autocthonic claim. 1 Romulus pursuing this ancient 
policy is said to have opened an asylum near the Pala- 
tine, and to have invited all persons in the surrounding 
tribes, without regard to character or condition, to share 
with his tribe the advantages and the destiny of the new 
city. A great crowd of people, Livy further remarks, 
fled to this place from the surrounding territories, slave 

I WT7, 1,1. 


as well as free, which was the first accession of foreign 
strength to the new undertaking. * Plutarch, * and Cio- 
nysitts 8 both refer to the asylum or grove, the opening 
of which, for the object and with the success named, was 
an event of probable occurrence. It tends to show that 
the people of Italy had then become numerous for bar- 
barians, and that discontent prevailed among them in 
consequence, doubtless, of the imperfect protection of 
personal rights, the existence of domestic slavery, and 
the apprehension of violence. Of such a state of things 
a wise man would naturally avail himself if he possessed 
sufficient military genius to handle the class of men thus 
brought together. The next important event in this 
romantic narrative, of which the reader should be re- 
minded, was the assault of the Sabines to avenge the 
entrapment of the Sabine virgins, now the honored wives 
of their captors. It resulted in a wise accommodation 
under which the Latins and Sabines coalesced into one 
society, but each division retaining its own military 
leader. The Sabines occupied the Quirinal and Capitol- 
ine Hills. Thus was added the principal part of the sec- 
ond tribe, the Titles, under Titius Tatius their military 
chief. After the death of the latter they all fell under 
the military command of Romulus. 

Passing over Numa Pompilius, the successor of Rom- 
ulus, who established upon a broader scale the religious 
institutions of the Romans, his successor, Tullus Hostil- 
ius, captured the Latin city of Alba and removed its 
entire population to Rome. They occupied the Ccelian 
Hill, with all the privileges of Roman citizens. The 
number of citizens was now doubled, Livy remarks; 4 
but not likely from this source exclusively. Ancus Mar- 
tius, the successor of Tullu-s, captured the Latin city of 
Politorium, and following the established policy, trans- 
ferred the people bodily to Rome. 6 To them was as- 

"----" .-.-.--... __ 

i Eo ex finitimia populls turba omnls cine dlscrlmlne, liber an 
eervus esset, avida novarum rerum perfugrlt; idque prlmum ad 
coeptam magnitudinem roboris fuit. Livy, i, 8. 

* r 'Vit. Romulus," cap. 20. 

3 "Antiq, of Rome," ii, IB. 

4 Livy, i. 30. 

I Ib. t 1, SI. * 


signed the Aventine Hilly with similar privileges. Not 
long afterwards the inhabitants of Tellini and Ficana 
were subdued and removed to Rome, where they also 
occupied the Aventine. l It will be noticed that in each 
case the gentes brought to Rome, as well as the original 
Latin and Sabine gentes, remained locally distinct It 
was the universal usage in gentile society, both in the 
Middle and in the Upper Status of barbarism, when the 
tribes began to gather in fortresses and in walled cities, 
for the gentes to settle locally together by gentes and by 
phratries. 9 Such was the manner the gentes settled at 
Rome. The greater portion of these accessions were 
united in the third tribe, the Luceres, which gave it a 
broad basis of Latin gentes, It was not entirely filled until 
the time of Tarquinius Priscus, the fourth military leader 
from Romulus, some of the new gentes being Etruscan. 
By these and other means three hundred gentes were 
gathered at Rome and there organized in curiae and 
tribes, differing somewhat in tribal lineage ; for the Ram- 
nes, as before remarked, were Latins, the Tities were in 
the main Sabines and the Luceres were probably in the 
main Latins with large accessions from other sources. 
The Roman people and organization thus grew into being 
by a more or less constrained aggregation of gentes into 
curiae, of curiae into tribes, and of tribes into one gentile 
society. But a model for each integral organization, ex- 
cepting the last, had existed among them and their an- 
cestors from time immemorial; with a natural basis for 
each curia in the kindred gentes actually united in each, 
and a similar basis for each tribe in the common lineage 
of a greater part of the gentes united in each. All that 
was new in organization was the numerical proportions 
of gentes to a curia, of curiae to a tribe, and the coales- 
cence of the latter into one people. It may be called a 

i Livy. I, 38. 

a In the pueblo houses In New Mexlc*> all the occupants of 
each house belonged to the same tribe, and in some cases a 
single joint-tenement house contained a tribe. In the pueblo 
of Mexico there were four principal quarters, as has been 
shown, each occupied by a lineage, probably a phratry; while 
the Tlatelulcos occupied a fifth district. At Tlascala there 
were also four quarters occupied by four lineages, probabl/ 


growth under legislative constraint, because the tribes 
thus formed were not entirely free from the admixture 
of foreign elements ; whence arose the new name tribus= 
a third part of the people, which now came in to dis- 
tinguish this organism. The Latin language must have 
had a term equivalent to the Greek phylon=tribe, be- 
cause they had the same organization; but if so it has 
disappeared. The invention of this new term is some 
evidence that the Roman tribes contained heterogeneous 
elements, while the Grecian were pure, and kindred in 
the lineage of the gentes they contained. 

Our knowledge of the previous constitution of Latin 
society is mainly derived from the legislation ascribed 
to Romulus, since it brings into view the anterior or- 
ganization of the Latin tribes, with such improvements 
and modifications as the wisdom of the age was able to 
suggest It is seen in the senate as a council of chiefs, 
in the comitia curiata as an assembly of the people by 
curiae, in the office of a general military commander, and 
in the ascending series of organizations. It is seen more 
especially in the presence of the gentes, with their rec- 
ognized rights, privileges and obligations. Moreover, 
the government instituted by Romulus and perfected by 
his immediate successors presents gentile society in the 
highest structural form it ever attained in any portion 
of the human family. The time referred to was immedi- 
ately before the institution of political society by Servius 

The first momentous act of Romulus, as a legislator, 
was the institution of the Roman senate. It was com- 
posed of a hundred members, one from each gens, or ten 
from each curia. A council of chiefs as the primary in- 
strument of government was not a new thing among the 
Latin tribes. From time immemorial they had been ac- 
customed to its existence and to its authority. But it is 
probable that prior to the time of Romulus it had be* 
come changed, like the Grecian councils, into a pre-con- 
sidering body, obligated to prepare and submit to an as* 
sembly of the people the most important public measures 
lor adoption or rejection. This was in effect a resump- 


tion by the people of powers before vested in the council 
of chiefs. Since no public measure of essential import- 
ance could become operative until it received the sanc- 
tion of the popular assembly, this fact alone shows that 
the people were sovereign, and not the council, nor the 
military commander. It reveals also the extent to which 
democratic principles had penetrated their social system. 
The senate instituted by Romulus, although its functions 
were doubtless substantially similar to those of the prev- 
ious council of chiefs, was an advance upon it in several 
respects. It was made up either of the chiefs or of the 
wise men of the gentes. Each gens, as Niebuhr remarks, 
"sending its decurion who was its alderman," 1 to repre- 
sent it in the senate. It was thus a representative and an 
elective body in its inception, and it remained elective, 
or selective, down to the empire. The senators held their 
office for life, which was the only term of office then 
known among them, and therefore not singular. Livy 
ascribes the selection of the first senators to Romulus, 
which is probably an erroneous statement, for the reason 
that it would not have been in accordance with the theory 
of their institutions. Romulus chose a hundred senators, 
he remarks, either because that number was sufficient, or 
because there were but a hundred who could be created 
Fathers. Fathers certainly they were called on account 
of their official dignity, and their descendants were called 
patricians. f The character of the senate as a represent- 
ative body, the title of Fathers of the People bestowed 
upon its members, the life tenure of the office, but, more 
than all these considerations, the distinction of patricians 
conferred upon their children and lineal descendants in 
perpetuity, established at a stroke an aristocracy of rank 
in the centre of their social system where it became firmly 
intrenched. The Roman senate, from its high vocation, 
from its composition, and from the patrician ratfc re- 

i "History of Rome/' i, 268. 

9 Centum creat eenatoree: sive quia in nume*u* atl erat; 
sive quta soli centum erant, qui crearl Patres poseent, Patres 
pert* ab honore, patridique progenies eorum *ppellati.~Livy, 
i* t. And Cicero: Principe*, qui appellati stint propter oarita- 
tea, patres.-"De Rep.," U I. 


ceived by its members and transmitted to their descend- 
ants, held a powerful position in the subsequent state. 
It was this aristocratic element, now for the first time 
planted in gentilism, which gave to the republic its mon- 
grel character, and which, as might have been predicted, 
culminated in imperialism, and with it in the final dis- 
solution of the race. It may perhaps have increased the 
military glory and extended the conquests of Rome, whose 
institutions, from the first, aimed at a military destiny; 
but it shortened the career of this great and extraordinary 
people, and demonstrated the proposition that imperial- 
ism of necessity will destroy any civilized race. Under 
the republic, half aristocratic, half democratic, the Ro- 
mans achieved their fame, which one can but think would 
have been higher in degree, and more lasting in its fruits, 
had liberty and equality been nationalized, instead of un- 
equal privileges and an atrocious slavery. The long pro- 
tracted struggle of the plebeians to eradicate the aristo- 
cratic element represented by the senate, and to recover 
the ancient principles of democracy, must be classed 
among the heroic labors of mankind. 

After the union of the Sabines the senate was increased 
to two hundred by the addition of a hundred senators l 
from the gentes of the tribe Tities; and when the Lu- 
ceres had increased to a hundred gentes in the time of 
Tarquinius Priscus, a third hundred senators were added 
from the gentes of this tribe. f Cicero has left some 
doubt upon this statement of Livy, by saying that Tar- 
quinius Priscus doubled the original number of the sena- 
tors. * But Schmitz well suggests, as an explanation of 
the discrepancy, that at the time of the final increase the 
senate may have become reduced to a hundred and fifty 
members, and been filled up to two hundred from the 
gentes of the first two tribes, when the hundred were 
added from the third. The senators taken from the tribes 
Ramnes and Tities were thenceforth called Fathers of 
the Greater Gentes (patres maiorum gentium), and 
those of the Luceres Fathers of the Lesser Gentes (patres 

i Dtonyiiuf, 11, 47. 
, -Liv 1, 36. 

, -Livy, i, 35. 

j -Cletro, "I* Rp./ f it, SO. 


minorum gentium). l From the form of the statement 
the inference arises that the three hundred senators rep- 
resented the three hundred gentes, each, senator repre- 
senting a gens. Moreover, as each gens doubtless had 
its principal chief (princeps), it becomes extremely prob- 
able that this person was chosen for the position either 
by his gens, or the ten were chosen together by the curia, 
from the ten gentes of which it was composed. Such a 
method of representation and of choice is most in accord- 
ance with what is known of Roman and gentile institu- 
tions. 8 After the establishment of the republic, the cen- 
sors filled the vacancies in the senate by their own choice, 
until it was devolved upon the consuls. They were gen- 
erally selected from the ex-magistrates of the higher 

The powers of the senate were real and substantial. 
All public measures originated in this body those upon 
which they could act independently, as well as those 
which must be submitted to the popular assembly and 
be adopted before they could become operative. It had 
the general guardianship of the public welfare, the man- 
agement of their foreign relations, the levying of taxes 
and of military forces, and the general control of rev- 
enues and expenditures. Although the administration of 
religious affairs belonged to the several colleges of priests, 
the senate had the ultimate power over religion as well. 

i Cicero, "De Rep.," 11, 20. 

a .This was substantially the opinion of Nlebuhr. "We may 
go further* and affirm without hesitation, that originally, when 
the number of houses (gentes) was complete, they were rep- 
resented immediately by the senate, the number of which was 
proportionate to theirs. The three hundred senators answered 
to the three hundred houses, which was assumed above on 
Rood grounds to be the number of them; each gens sent Its 
decurion, who was its alderman and the president of Its meet- 
ings to represent it in the senate That the senate should 

be appointed by the kings at their discretion, can never have 
been the original institution. Even Dionystus supposes that 
there was an election: his notion of it, however, is quite unten- 
able, and the deputies must have been chosen, at least original- 
ly, by the houses and not by the curlse." "Hist, of Rome," i, 
258. An election by the curl Is, In principle, most probable. If 
the office did not fall to the chief "ex offlclo," because the gen- 
tes in a curia had a direct interest In the representation of 
each gens. It was for the same reason that a sachem elected 
by the members of an Iroquois gens must be accepted by the 
other gentes of the same tribe before his nomination was 


From its functions and vocation it was the most influen- 
tial body which ever existed under gentile institutions* 

The assembly of the people, with the recognized right 
bf acting upon important public measures to be discussed 
by them and adopted or rejected, was unknown in the 
Lower, and probably in the Middle Status of barbarism ; 
but it existed in the Upper Status, in the agora of the 
Grecian tribes, and attained its highest form in the eccle- 
sia of the Athenians ; and it also existed in the assembly 
of the warriors among the Latin tribes, attaining its 
highest form in the comitia curiata of the Romans. The 
growth of property tended to the establishment of the 
popular assembly, as a third power in gentile society, for 
the protection of personal rights and as a shield against 
the encroachments of the council of chiefs, and of the 
military commander. From the period of savagery, after 
the institution of the gentes, down to the times of Solon 
and Romulus, the popular element had always been active 
in ancient gentile society. The council of chiefs was 
usually open in the early conditions to the orators of 
the people, and public sentiment influenced the course of 
events. But when the Grecian and -Latin tribes first came 
under historical notice the assembly of the people to 
discuss and adopt or reject public measures was a phe- 
nomenon quite as constant as that of a council of chiefs. 
It was more perfectly systematized among: the Romans 
under the constitution of Romulus than among the 
Athenians in the time of Solon. In the rise and progress 
of this institution may be traced the growth and devel- 
opment of the democratic principle. 

This assembly among the Romans was called the 
comitia curiata, because the members of the gentes of 
adult age met in one assembly by curiae, and voted in the 
same manner. Each curia had one collective vote, the 
majority in each was ascertained separately, and deter- 
mined what that vote should be. * It was the assembly of 
the gentes, who alone were members of the government. 
Plebeians and clients, who already formed a numerous 

* Llry, 1, 43. Dionyt., 11, 14; iv, 20, 84. 


class, were excluded, because there could be no connec- 
tion with the Populus Romanus, except through a gens 
and tribe. This assembly, as before stated, could ^neither 
originate public measures, nor amend such as were sub- 
mitted to them ; but none of a certain grade could become 
operative until adopted by the comitia. All laws were 
passed or repealed by this assembly ; all magistrates and 
high public functionaries, including the rex, were elected 
by it on the nomination of the senate. 1 The imperium 
was conferred upon these persons by a law of the as- 
sembly (lex curiata de imperio), which was the Roman 
method of investing with office. Until the imperium 
was thus conferred, the person, although the election 
was complete, could not enter upon his office. The com- 
itia curiata, by appeal, had the ultimate decision in 
criminal cases involving the life of a Roman citizen. It 
was by a popular movement that the office of rex was 
abolished. Although the assembly of the people never 
acquired the power of originating: measures, its powers 
were real and influential. At this time the people were 

The assembly had no power to convene itself; but it is 
said to have met on the summons of the rex, or, in his 
absence, on that of the praefect (praefcctus urbi). In the 
time of the republic it was convened by the consuls, or in 
their absence, by the praetor ; and in all cases the person 
who convened the assembly presided over its delibera- 

In another connection the office of rex has been con- 
sidered. The rex was a general and also a priest, but 
without civil functions, as some writers have endeav- 
ored to imply. * His powers as a general, though not 

i Numa Pornpilius (Cicero, "De Rep./' II, 11; Liv.. I. 17). 
Tullus Hostllius (Cicero, "De Hep./' 11. 17). and Ancua Martius 
(Clc., "De Rep./' II, 18: Livy, 1, 32), were elected by the 
"comitia curiata." In the case of Tarquinlus Priscus, Llvy 
observe* that the people by a great majority elected him "rex** 
(1, 35). It was necessarily by the "comitia curiata." Servlus 
Tulllus assumed the office which was afterwards confirmed by 
the "comitia" (Cicero, "De Rep.," 11, 21). The right of elec- 

tion thus reserved to the people, shows that the office of "rex" 
wast a popular one, and that his powers were delegated. 

* Mr. Leonhard Schmitz, one of the ablest defenders of the 
theory of kingly government among the Greeks and Roman*, 


defined, were necessarily absolute over the military 
forces in the field and in the city. If he exercised any 
civil powers in particular cases, it must be supposed that 
they were delegated for the occasion. To pronounce him 
a king, as that term is necessarily understood, is to vitiate 
and mis-describe the popular government to which he 
belonged, and the institutions upon which it rested. The 
form of government under which the rex and basileus 
appeared is identified with gentile institutions and disap- 
peared after gentile society was overthrown. It was a 
peculiar organization having no parallel in modern 
society, and is unexplainable in terms adapted to mo- 
narchical institutions. A military democracy under a 
senate, an assembly of the people, and a general of their 
nomination and election, is a near, though it may not be 
a perfect, characterization of a government so peculiar, 
which belongs exclusively to ancient society, and rested 
on institutions essentially democratical. Romulus, in all 
probability, emboldened by his great successes, assumed 
powers which were regarded as dangerous to the senate 
and to the people, and his assassination by .the Roman 
chiefs is a fair inference from the statements concerning 
his mysterious disappearance which have come down to 
us. This act, atrocious as it must be pronounced, evinces 
that spirit of independence, inherited from the gentes, 
which would not submit to arbitrary individual power. 
When the office was abolished, and the consulate was 
established in its place, it is not surprising that two 
consuls were created instead of one. While the powers 
of the office might raise one man to a dangerous height, 
it could not be the case with two. The same subtlety of 
reasoning led the Iroquois, without original experience, 
to create two war-chiefs of the confederacy instead of 
one, lest the office of commander-in-chief, bestowed 

with great candor remarks: "It 10 very difficult to determine 
the extent of the king's powers, as the ancient writers natur- 
ally judged of the kingly period by their own republican con- 
stitution, and frequently assigned to the king, the senate, and 
the "comltia" of the "curie" the respective powers and run 
tions which were only true in reference to the consuls, " 
senate and the "comltia" of their own time." Smith's "Die. 
it Rom. Antiq., Art. Rex." 


upon a single man, should raise him to a position too 

In his capacity of chief priest the rex took the auspices 
on important occasions, which was one of the highest 
acts of the Roman religious system, and in their estima- 
tion quite as necessary in the field on the eve of a battle 
as in the city. He performed other religious rites as well 
It is not surprising that in those times priestly function! 
are found among the Romans, as among the Greeks, 
attached to or inherent in the highest military office. 
When the abolition of this office occurred, it was found 
necessary to vest in some one the religious functions 
appertaining to it, which were evidently special ; whence 
the creation of the new office of rex sacrificulus, or rex 
sacrorum, the incumbent of which performed the relig- 
ious duties in question. Among the Athenians the same 
idea reappears in the second of the nine archons, who 
was called arch on basil eus, and had a general supervi- 
sion of religious affairs. Why religious functions were 
attached to the office of rex and basileus, among the 
Romans and Greeks, and to the office of Teuctli among 
the Aztecs; and why, after the abolition of the office in 
the two former cases, the ordinary priesthoods could not 
perform them, has not been explained. 

Thus stood Roman gentile society from the time of 
Romulus to the time of Servius Tullius, through a period 
of more than two hundred years, during which the foun- 
dations of Roman power were laid. The government, as 
before remarked, consisted of three powers, a senate, an 
assembly of the people, and a military commander. They 
had experienced the necessity for definite written laws to 
be enacted by themselves, as a substitute for usages and 
customs. In the rex they had the germinal idea of a chief 
executive magistrate, which necessity pressed upon them, 
and which was to advance into a more complete form 
after the institution of political society. But they found 
it a dangerous office in those times of limited experience 
in the higher conceptions of government, because the 
powers of the rex were, in the main, undefined, as well 
as difficult of definition. It is not surprising that when 


a serious controversy arose between the people and 
Tarquinius Superbus, they deposed the man and abol- 
ished the office. As soon' as something like the irrespon- 
sible power of a king met them face to face it was found 
incompatible with liberty and the fetter gained the 
victory. They were willing, however, to admit into the 
system of government a limited executive, and they 
created the office in a dual form in the two consuls. This 
occurred after the institution of political society. 

No direct steps were taken, prior to the time of Servius 
Tullius, to establish a state founded upon territory and 
upon property ; but the previous measures were a prepara- 
tion for that event. In addition to the institutions named, 
they had created a city magistracy, and a complete mili- 
tary system, including the institution of the equestrian 
order. Under institutions purely gentile Rome had 
become, in the time of Servius Tullius, the strongest 
military power in Italy. 

Among the new magistrates created, that of warden of 
the city (custos urbis) was the most important. This 
officer, who was chief of the senate (princeps senatus), 
was, in the first instance, according to Dionysius, 
appointed by Romulus. l The senate, which had no 
power to convene itself, was convened by him. It is also 
claimed that the rex had power to summon the senate. 
That it would be apt to convene upon his request, through 
the call of its own officer, is probable ; but that he could 
command its convocation is improbable, from its inde- 
pendence in functions, from its dignity, and from its 
representative character. After the time of the Decem- 
virs the name of the office was changed to praefect of the* 
city (praefectus urbi), its powers were enlarged, and it 
was made elective by the new comitia centuriata. Under 
the republic, the consuls, and in their absence, the praetor, 
had power to convene the senate, and also to hold the 
comitia. At a later day, the office of praetor (praetor 
wbanus) absorbed the functions of this ancient office and 
became its successor. A judicial magistrate, the Roman 

s Dion?*, 11, IB. 


praetor was the prototype of the modern judge. Thus, 
every essential institution in the government or admin- 
istration of the affairs of society may generally be traced 
to a simple germ, which springs up in a rude; form from 
human wants, and, when able to endure the test of time 
and experience, is developed into a permanent institution. 
A knowledge of the tenure of the office of chief, and 
of the functions of the council of chiefs, before the time 
of Romulus, could they be ascertained, would reflect 
much light upon the condition of Roman gentile society 
in the time of Romulus. Moreover, the several periods 
should be studied separately, because the facts of their 
social condition were changing with their advancement 
in intelligence. The Italian period prior to Romulus, the 
period of the seven regcs* and the subsequent periods of 
the republic and of the empire are marked by great differ- 
ences in the spirit and character of the government. But 
the institutions of the first period entered into the second, 
and these again were transmitted into the third, and 
remained with modifications in the fourth. The growth, 
development and fall of these institutions embody the 
vital history of the Roman people. It is by tracing these 
institutions from the germ through their successive stages 
of growth, on the wide scale of the tribes and nations of 
mankind, that we can follow the great movements of 
the human mind in its evolution from its infancy in 
savagery to its present high development. Out of the 
necessities of mankind for the organization of society 
came the gens; out of the gens came the chief, and the 
tribe with its council of chiefs ; out of the tribe came by 
segmentation the group of tribes, afterwards re-united in 
a confederacy, and finally consolidated by coalescence into 
a nation; out of the experience of the council came the 
necessity of an assembly of the people with a division of 
the powers of the government between them ; and finally, 
out of the military necessities of the united tribes came 
the general military commander, who became in time a 
third power in the government, but subordinate to the 
two superior powers. It was the germ of the office of the 


subsequent chief magistrate, the king and the president. 
The principal institutions of civilized nations are simply 
continuations of those which germinated in savagery, 
expanded in barbarism, and which are still subsisting and 
advancing in civilization. 

As the Roman government existed at the death of 
Romulus, it was social, and not political; it was person- 
al, and not territorial. The three tribes were located, it 
is true, in separate and distinct areas within the limits 
of the city; but this was the prevailing mode of settle- 
ment under gentile institutions. Their relations to each 
other and to the resulting society, as gentes, curiae and 
tribes, were wholly personal, the government dealing 
with them as groups of persons, and with the whole as 
the Roman people. Localized in this manner within in- 
closing ramparts, the idea of a township or city ward 
would suggest itself when the necessity for a change in 
the plan of government was forced upon them by the 
growing complexity of affairs. It was a great change 
that was soon to be required of them, to be wrought out 
through experimental legislation precisely the same 
which the Athenians had entered upon shortly before the 
time of Servius Tullius. Rome was founded, and its first 
victories were won under institutions purely gentile ; but 
the fruits of these achievements by their very magnitude 
demonstrated the inability of the gentes to form the basis 
of a state. But it required two centuries of intense activ- 
ity in the growing commonwealth to prepare the way for 
the institution of the second great plan of government 
based upon territory and upon property. A withdrawal 
of governing powers from the gentes, curiae and tribes, 
and their bestowal upon new constituencies was the sac- 
rifice demanded. Such a change would become possible 
only through a conviction that the gentes could not be 
made to yield such a form of government as their ad- 
vanced condition demanded. It was practically a ques- 
tion of continuance in barbarism, or progress into civili- 
zation. The inauguration of the new system will form 
*he subject of the next chapter. 



Servius Tullius, the sixth chief of the Roman military 
democracy, came to the succession about one hundred 
and thirty-three years after the death of Romulus, as 
near as the date can be ascertained. 1 This would place 
his accession about 576 B. C To this remarkable man 
the Romans were chiefly indebted for the establishment 
of their political system. It will be sufficient to indicate 
its main features, together with some of the reasons 
which led to its adoption. 

From the time of Romulus to that of Servius Tullius 
the Romans consisted of two distinct classes, the populus 
and the plebeians. Both were personally free, and both 
entered the ranks of the army ; but the former alone were 
organized in gentes, curiae and tribes, and held the pow- 
ers of the government. The plebeians, on the other hand, 
did not belong to any gens, curia or tribe, and conse- 
quently were without the government. 2 They were ex- 
cluded from office, from the comitia curiata, and from 
the sacred rites of the gentes. In the time of Servius 
they had become nearly if not quite as numerous as the 
populus. They were in the anomalous position of being 
subject to the military service, and of possessing families 
and property, which identified them with the interests of 
Rome, without being in any sense connected with the gov- 

* Dlonysius, iv, 1. 

a Niebuhr says: "The existence of the plebs as acknowl- 
edgedly a free and very numerous portion of the nation, may 
be traced back to the reign of Ancus; but before the time of 
Serviua it was only an aggregate of unconnected parts, not a 
united tegular whole.'* History of Rome/' 1. c., 315. 


ernment. Under gentile institutions, as we have seen, 
there could be no connection with the government except 
through a recognized gens, and the plebeians had no 
gentes. Such a state of things, affecting so large a por- 
tion of the people, was dangerous to the commonwealth. 
Admitting of no remedy under gentile institutions, it 
must have furnished one of the prominent reasons for 
attempting the overthrow of gentile society, and the sub- 
stitution of political. The Roman fabric would, in all 
probability, have fallen in pieces if a remedy had not 
been devised. It was commenced in the time of Romu- 
lus, renewed by Numa Pompilius, and completed by 
Servius Tullius. 

The origin both of the plebeians and of the patricians, 
and their subsequent relations to each other, have been 
fruitful themes of discussion and of disagreement. A 
few suggestions may be ventured upon each of these 

A person was a plebeian because he was not a member 
of a gens, organized with other gentes in a curia and 
tribe. It is easy to understand how large numbers of 
persons would have become detached from the gentes of 
their birth in the unsettled times which preceded and fol- 
lowed the founding of Rome. The adventurers who 
flocked to the new city from the surrounding tribes, the 
captives taken in their wars and afterwards set free, and 
the unattached persons mingled with the gentes trans- 
planted to Rome, would rapidly furnish such a class. It 
might also well happen that in filling up the hundred 
gentes of each tribe, fragments of gentes, and gentes hav- 
ing less than a prescribed number of persons, were ex- 
cluded. These unattached persons, with the fragments of 
gentes thus excluded from recognition and organization 
in a curia, would soon become, with their children and 
descendants, a great and increasing class. Such were the 
Roman plebeians, who, as such, were not members of the 
Roman gentile society. It seems to be a fair inference 
from the epithet applied to the senators of the Luceres, 
the third Roman tribe admitted, who were styled "Fathers 
of the Lesser Gentes," that the old gentes were reluctant 


to acknowledge their entire equality. For a stronger rea- 
son they debarred the plebeians from all participation in 
the government When the third tribe was filled up with 
the prescribed number of gentes, the last avenue of ad- 
mission was closed, after which the number in the plebeian 
class would increase with greater rapidity. Niebuhr 
remarks that the existence of the plebeian class may be 
traced to the time of Ancus, thus implying that they 
made their first appearance at that time. l He also denies 
that the clients were a part oi the plebeian body ;* in both 
o{ winch positions he differs from Dionysius, 11 and from 
Plutarch.* The institution of the relation of patron and 
client is ascribed by the authors last named to Romulus, 
and it is recognized by Suetonius as existing in the time 
of Romulus. * A necessity for such an institution existed 
in the presence of a class without a gentile status, and 
without religious rites, who would avail themselves of this 
relation for the protection of their persons and property, 
and for the access it gave them to religious privilege*. 
Members of a gens would not be without this protection 
or these privileges ; neither would it befit the dignity or 
accord with the obligations of a gens to allow one of its 
members to accept a patron in another gens. The 
unattached class, or, in other words, the plebeians, were 
the only persons who would naturally seek patrons and 
become their clients. The clients formed no part of the 
populus for the reasons stated. It seems plain, notwith- 
standing the weight of Niebuhr's authority on Roman 
questions, that the clients were a part of the plebeian 

The next question is one of extreme difficulty, namely : 
the origin and extent of the patrician class whether it 
originated with the institution of the Roman Senate, and 

i "History of Rome," 1, a 16. 

a "That the client! were total strangers to the plebeian com- 
monalty and did not coalesce with it until late, when the bond 
of servitude had been loosened, partly from the houses of their 
patrons dying oft or sinking Into decay, partly from the ad- 
vance of the whole nation toward freedom, will be proved to 
the sequel of this history. "-"Hiitory of Rome," 1, 316. 

3 Dionysius, it. 8. 

4 Plutarch, "Vit. Rom.," xiM, 16. 

5 "VU. Tiberius," cap. 1. 


was limited to the senators, and to their children and de- 
scendants ; or included the entire populus, as distinguished 
from the plebeians. It is claimed by the most eminent 
modern authorities that the entire populus were 
patricians. Niebuhr, who is certainly the first on Roman 
questions, adopts this view, 1 to which Long, Schmitz, 
and 'others have given their concurrence.* But the 
reasons assigned are not conclusive. The existence of 
the patrician class, and of the plebeian class as well, may 
be traced, as stated, to the time of Romulus. 8 If the 
populus, who were the entire body of the people organ- 
ized in gentes, were all patricians at this early day, the 
distinction would have been nominal, as the plebeian class 
was then unimportant. Moreover, the plain statements 
of Cicero and of Livy are not reconcilable with this con- 
clusion. Dionysius, it is true, speaks of the institution of 
the patrician class as occurring before that of the senate, 
and as composed of a limited number of persons distin- 
guished for their birth, their virtue, and their wealth; 
thus excluding the poor and obscure in birth, although 
they belonged to the historical gentes. 4 Admitting a class 
of patricians without senatorial connection, there was still 
a large class remaining in the several gentes who were 
not patricians. Cicero has left a plain statement that the 
senators and their children were patricians, ^and without 
referring to the existence of any patrician class beyond 
their number. When that senate of Romulus, he remarks, 
which was constituted of the best men, whom Romulus 
himself respected so highly that he wished them to be 
called fathers, and their children patricians, attempted, 5 
etc. The meaning attached to the word fathers (patres) 
as here used was a subject of disagreement among the 
Romans themselves ; but the word patricii, for the class 
is formed upon patres, thus tending to show the necessary 
connection of the patricians with the senatorial office. 
Since each senator at the outset represented, in all prob- 

i "History of Rome," 1, 266,460. 

Smith's "Die., Articles, Gens, Patricii, and Plebs." 

3 Dicmysiuft, , 8; Plutarch, "Vit. Rom./' xiii. 


ability, a gens, and the three hundred thus represented 
all the recognized .gentes, this fact could not of itself 
make all the members of the gentes patricians, because 
the dignity was limited to the senators, their children, 
and their posterity. Livy is equally explicit. They were 
certainly called fathers, he remarks, on account of their 
official dignity, and their posterity (progenies) patri- 
cians. l Under the reges and also under the republic, indi- 
viduals were created patricians by the government; but 
apart from the senatorial office, and special creation by 
the government, the rank could not be obtained. It is not 
improbable that a number of persons, not admitted into 
the senate when it was instituted, were placed by public 
act on the same level with the senators as to the new 
patrician rank; but this would include a small number 
only of the members of the three hundred gentes, all of 
whom were embraced in the Populus Romanus. 

It is not improbable that the chiefs of the gentes were 
called fathers before the time of Romulus, to indicate the 
paternal character of the office; and that the office may 
have conferred a species of recognized rank upon their 
posterity. But we have no direct evidence of the fact 
Assuming it to have been the case, and further, that the 
senate at its institution did not include all the principal 
chiefs, and further still, that when vacancies in the senate 
were subsequently filled, the selection was made on ac- 
count of merit and not on account of gens, a foundation 
for a patrician class might have previously existed 
independently of the senate. These assumptions might 
be used to explain the peculiar language of Cicero, 
namely ; that Romulus desired that the senators might be 
called Fathers, possibly because this was already the 
honored title of the chiefs of the gentes. In this way a 
limited foundation for a patrician class may be found in- 
dependent of the senate; but it would not be broad 
enough to include all the recognized gentes. It was in 
connection with the senators that the suggestion was 
made that their children and descendants should te called 

i -Llvy, i, 8. 


patricians. The same statement is repeated by Pater* 
culus. J 

It follows that there could be no patrician gens and no 
plebeian gens, although particular families in one gens 
might be patricians, and in another plebeians. There is 
some confusion also upon this point. All the adult male 
members of the Fabian gens, to the number of three 
hundred and six, were patricians. f It must be explained 
by the supposition that all the families in this gens could 
trace their descent from senators, or to some public act 
by which their ancestors were raised to the patriciate. 
There were of course patrician families in many gentes, 
and at a later day patrician and plebeian families in 
the same gens. Thus the Claudii and Marcelli, before 
referred to (supra p. 294), were two families of the 
Claudian gens, but the Claudii alone were patricians. It 
will be borne in mind, that prior to the time of Servius 
Tullius the Romans were divided into two classes, the 
populus and the plebeians; but that after his time, and 
particularly after the Licinian legislation (367 B. C), by 
which all the dignities of the state were opened to every 
citizen, the Roman people, of the degree of freemen, fell 
into two political classes, which may be distinguished as 
the aristocracy and the commonalty The former class 
consisted of the senators, and those descended from 
senators, together with those who had held either of the 
three curule offices, (consul, praetor, and curule aedile) 
and their descendants. The commonalty were now 
Roman citizens. The gentile organization had fallen into 
decadence, and the old division could no longer, be main- 
tained. Persons, who in the first period as belonging to 
the populus, could not be classed with the plebeians, 
would in the subsequent period belong to the aristocracy 
without being patricians. The Qaudii could trace their 
descent from Appius Claudius who was made a senator 
in the time of Romulus ; but the Marcelli could not trace 
their descent from him, nor from any other senator, 
although, as Niebuhr remarks, "equal to the Apii in the 

Patercului, 1, S. 
t JLIvy, 11. 49. 


splendor of the honors they attained to, and incomparably 
more useful to the commonwealth." 1 This is a sufficient 
explanation of the position of the Marcelli without 
resorting to the fanciful hypothesis of Niebuhr, that the 
Marcelli had lost patrician rank through a marriage of 
disparagement. s 

The patrician class were necessarily numerous, because 
the senators,* rarely less than three hundred, were chosen 
as often as vacancies occurred, thus constantly including 
new families ; and because it conferred patrician rank on 
their posterity. Others were from time to time made 
patricians by act of the state. 8 This distinction, at first 
probably of little value, became of great importance with 
their increase in wealth, numbers and power; and it 
changed the complexion of Roman society. The full 
effect of introducing a privileged class in Roman gentile 
society was not probably appreciated at the time; and it 
is questionable whether this institution did not exercise 
a more injurious than beneficial influence upon the 
subsequent career of the Roman people. 

When the gentes had ceased to be organizations for 
governmental purposes under the new political system, 
the populus no longer remained as distinguished from the 
plebeians , j but the shadow of the old organization and of 
the old distinction remained far into the republic. 4 The 
plebeians under the new system were Roman citizens, 
but they were now the commonalty ; the question of the 
connection or non-connection with a gens not entering 
into the distinction. > 

From Romulus to Servius Tullius the Roman organiza- 
tion, as before stated, was simply a gentile society, with- 
out relation to territory or to property. All we find is 
a series of aggregates of persons, in gentes, curia? and 
tribes, by means of which the people were dealt with by 
the government as groups of persons forming these 
several organic unities. Their condition was precisely 
like that of the Athenians prior to the time of Solon. But 

i "History of Rome/' 1, 241 
Ib., 1, 246. 

3 Llvy, IT, 4. 

4 Llvy., hr, 51. 


they had instituted a senate in the place of the old council 
of chiefs, a comitia curiata in the place of the old 
assembly of the people, and had chosen a military com- 
mander, with the additional functions of a priest and 
judge. With a government of three powers, co-ordinated 
with reference to their principal necessities, and with a 
coalescence of the three tribes, composed of an equal 
number of gentes and curiae, into one people, they pos- 
sessed a higher and more complete governmental organi- 
zation than the Latin tribes had before attained. A num- 
erous class had gradually developed, however, who were 
without the pale of the government, and without religious 
privileges, excepting that portion who had passed into 
the relation of clients. If not a dangerous class, their 
exclusion from citizenship, and from all participation in 
the government, was detrimental to the commonwealth. 
A municipality was growing up upon a scale of magni- 
tude unknown in their previous experience, requiring a 
special organization to conduct its local affairs. A 
necessity for a change in the plan of government must 
have forced itself more and more upon the attention of 
thoughtful men. The increase of numbers and of wealth, 
and the difficulty of managing their affairs, now complex 
from weight of numbers and diversity of interests, began 
to reveal the fact, it must be supposed, that they could not 
hold together under gentile institutions. A conclusion of 
this kind is required to explain the several expedients 
which were tried. 

Numa, the successor of Romulus, made the first signifi- 
cant movement, because it reveals the existence of an 
impression, that a great power could not rest upon gentes 
as the basis of a system. He attempted to traverse the 
gentes, as Theseus did, by dividing the people into 
classes, some eight in number, according to their arts and 
trades. 1 Plutarch, who is the chief authority for thi$ 
statement, speaks of this division of the people according 
to tbeir vocations as the most admired of Numa's insti- 
tutions ; and remarks further, that it was designed to take 

^ I ?l*Urch, "Vlt Numa," xrit, 10, 


away the distinction between Latin and Sabine, both 
name and thing, by mixing them together in a new 
distribution. But as he did not invest the classes with the 
powers exercised by the gentes, the measure failed, like 
the similar attempt of Theseus, and for the same reason. 
Each guild, as we are assured by Plutarch, had its 
separate hall, court and religious observances. These 
records, though traditionary, of the same experiment in 
Attica and at Rome, made for the same object, for similar 
reasons, and by the same instrumentalities, render the 
inference reasonable that the experiment as stated was 
actually tried in each case. 

Servius Tullius instituted the new system, and placed 
it upon a foundation where it remained to the close of the 
republic, although changes were afterwards made in the 
nature of improvements. His period (about 576 533 
B. C.) follows closely that of Solon (596 B. C), and pre- 
cedes that of Cleisthenes (509 B. C). The legislation 
ascribed to him, and which was obviously modeled upon 
that of Solon, may be accepted as having occured as early 
as the time named, because the system was in practical 
operation when the republic was established 509 B. C., 
within the historical period. Moreover, the new political 
system may as properly be ascribed to him as great 
measures have been attributed to other men, although in 
both cases the legislator does little more than formulate 
what experience had already suggested and pressed upon 
his attention. The three principal changes, which set 
aside the gentes and inaugurated political society based 
upon territory and upon property, were : first, the substi- 
tution of classes, formed upon the measure of individual 
wealth, in the place of the gentes ; second, the institution 
of the comitia centuriata, as the new popular assembly, 
in the place of the comitia curiata, the assembly of the 
gentes, with a transfer of the substantial powers of the 
latter to the former ; and third, the creation of four city 
wards, in the nature of townships, circumscribed by metes 
and bounds and named as territorial areas, in which the 
residents of each ward were required to enroll their 
names and register their property. 


Imitating Solon, with whose plan of government he 
was doubtless familiar, Servius divided the people into 
five classes, according to the value of their property, the 
effect of which was to concentrate in one class the 
wealthiest men of the several gentes. l Each class was 
then subdivided into centuries, the number in each being 
established arbitrarily without regard to the actual num- 
ber of persons it contained, and with one vote to each 
century in the comitia. The amount of political power 
to be held by each class was thus determined by the num- 
ber of centuries given to each. Thus, the first class con- 
sisted of eighty centuries, with eighty votes in the comitia 
centuriata; the second class of twenty centuries, to which 
two centuries of artisans were attached, with twenty-two 
votes ; the third class of twenty centuries, with twenty 
votes ; the fourth class of twenty, to which two centuries 
of horn-blowers and trumpeters were attached, with 
twenty-two votes ; and the fifth class of thirty centuries, 
with thirty votes. In addition to these, the equites 
consisted of eighteen centuries, with eighteen votes. To 
these classes Dionysius adds a sixth class, consisting of 
one century, with one vote. It was composed of those 
who had no property, or less than the amount required 
for admission into the fifth class. They neither paid 
taxes, nor served in war. 8 The whole number of cen- 
turies in the six classes with the equites added made a 
total of one hundred and ninety-three, according to 
Dionysius. 8 Livy, agreeing with the former as to the 
number of regular centuries in the five classes, differs 
from him by excluding the sixth class, the persons being 
formed into owe century with one vote, and included in or 
attached to the fifth class. He also makes three centuries 
of horn-blowers instead of two, and the whole number of 
centuries one more than Dionysius. 4 Cicero remarks that 
ninety-six centuries were a minority, which would be 

i The property qualification for the first class was 100,000 
asses; for the second class, 75,000 asses: for third, 50,000: foi* 
the fourth. 25,000; and for the fifth; 11,001 ase*-~ Llvy, I. 41. 

a Dionyslus, iv, 20. 

3 Ito., !v. 18. 17, 18. 

4 Liry, i. 48. 


equally true under either statement. 1 The centuries of 
each class were divided into seniors and juniors, of which 
the senior centuries were composed of such persons as 
were above the age of fifty-five years, and were charged 
with the duty, as soldiers, of defending the city ; while the 
junior centuries consisted of those persons who were 
below this age and above seventeen, and were charged 
with external military enterprises.* The armature of 
each class was prescribed and made different for each. 1 

It will be noticed that the control of the government, 
so far as the assembly of the people could influence its 
action, was placed in the hands of the first class, and the 
equites. They held together ninety-eight votes, a 
majority of the whole. Each century agreed upon its 
vote separately when assembled in the comitia centuriata, 
precisely as each curia had been accustomed to dp in the 
comitia curiata. In taking a vote upon any public ques- 
tion, the equites were called first, and then the first class. 4 
If they agreed in their votes it decided the question, and 
the remaining centuries were not called upon to vote ; bul 
if they disagreed, the second class was called, and so on 
to the last, unless a majority sooner appeared. 

The powers formerly exercised by the comitia curiata, 
now transferred to the comitia centuriata, were enlarged 
in some slight particulars in the subsequent period. It 
elected all officers and magistrates on the nomination of 
the senate ; it enacted or rejected laws proposed by the 
senate, no measure becoming a law without its sanction ; 
it repealed existing laws on the proposition of the same 
body, if they chose to do so : and it declared war on the 
same recommendation. But the senate colncluded peace 
without consulting the assembly. An appeal in all cases 
involving* life could be taken* to this assembly as the 
highest judicial tribunal of the state. These powers were 
substantial, but limited control over the finances being 

i "D* Rep.," Si, 10. 

a Dionjrsius. Iv, If. 

3 Llvy, I, 41. 

4LIvy, I, 48; But Dionrsiua place* the equltes la the first 
class, and remarks that this class was first called. Dionrsius, 
IV, 20. i 


excluded. A majority of the votes, however, were lodged 
with the first class, including the equites, which embraced 
the body of the patricians, as must be supposed, and the 
wealthiest citizens. Property and not numbers controlled 
the government. They were able, however, to create a 
body of laws in the course of time which afforded equal 
protection to all, and thus tended to redeem the worst 
effects of the inequalities of the system. 

The meetings of the comitia were held in the Campus 
Martius annually for the election of magistrates and offi- 
cers, and at other times when the public necessities 
required. The people assembled by centuries, and by 
classes under their officers, organized as an army 
(exercitus) ; for the centuries and classes were designed 
to subserve all the purposes of a military as well as a civil 
organization. At the first muster under Servius Tullius, 
eighty thousand citizen soldiers appeared in the Campus 
Martius under arms, each man in his proper century, 
each century in its class, and each class by itself. 1 Every 
member of a century was now a citizen of Rome, which 
was the most important fruit of the new political system. 
In the time of the republic the consuls, and in their 
absence, the praetor, had power to convene the comitia, 
which was presided over by the person who caused it to 

Such a government appears to us, In the light of our 
more advanced experience, both rude and clumsy ; but it 
was a sensible improvement upon the previous gentile 
government, defective and illiberal as it appears. Under 
it, Rome became mistress of the world. The element of 
property, now rising into commanding importance, 
determined its character. It had brought aristocracy and 
privilege into prominence, which seized the opportunity 
to withdraw the control of the government in a great 
measure from the hands of the people, and bestow it upon 
the men of property. It was a movement in the opposite 
direction from that to which the democratic principles in- 
herited from the gentes naturally tended. Against the 

t Llry, t, 44; Dionylm atatei the number at l4.7M.--hr, 11. 


new elements of aristocracy and privilege now incorpo- 
rated in their governmental institutions, the Roman 
plebeians contended throughout the period of the repub- 
lic, and at times with some measure of success. But 
patrician rank and property, possessed by the higher 
classes, were too powerful for the wiser and grander 
doctrines of equal rights and equal privileges represented 
by the plebeians. It was even then far too heavy a tax 
upon Roman society to carry a privileged class. 

Cicero, patriot and noble Roman as he was, approved 
and commended this gradation of the people into classes, 
with the bestowment of a controlling influence in the 
government upon the minority of citizens. Servius 
Tullius, he remarks, "having created a large number of 
equites from the common mass of the people, divided the 
remainder into five classes, distinguishing between the 
seniors and juniors, which he so constituted as to place 
the suffrages, not in the hands of the multitude, but of the 
men of property ; taking care to make it a rule of ours, 
as it ought to be in every government, that the greatest 
number should not have the greatest weight." 1 In the 
light of the experience of the intervening two thousand 
years, it may well be observed that the inequality of privi- 
leges, and the denial of the right of self-government here 
commended, creat%d and developed that mass of ignorance 
and corruption which ultimately destroyed both govern- 
ment and people. The human race is gradually learning 
the simple lesson, that the people as a whole are wiser for 
the public good and the public prosperity, than any privi- 
leged class of men, however refined and cultivated, have 
ever been, or, by any possibility, can ever become. Gov- 
ernments over societies the most advanced are still in a 
transitional stage ; and they are necessarily and logically 
moving, as President Grant, not without reason, intimated 
in his last inaugural address, in the direction of democ- 
racy; that form of self-government which represents 
and expresses the average intelligence and virtue of a 
free and educated people. 

t Cicfo t "D Rep./ 1 ii, 22. 


The property classes subserved the useful purpose of 
breaking up the gentes, as the basis of a governmental 
system, by transferring their powers to a different body. 
It was evidently the principal object of the Servian 
legislation to obtain a deliverance from the gentes, which 
were close corporations, and to give the new government 
a basis wide enough to include all the inhabitants of Rome, 
with the exception of the slaves. After the classes had 
accomplished this work, it mi^ht have been expected that 
they would have died out as they did at Athens ; and that 
city wards and country townships, with their inhabitants 
organized as bodies politic, would have become the basis 
of the new political system, as they rightfully and logic- 
ally should. But the municipal organization of Rome 
prevented this consummation. It gained at the outset, 
and maintained to the end the central position in the gov- 
ernment, to which all areas without were made sub- 
ordinate. It presents the anomaly of a great central 
municipal government expanded, in effect, first over Italy, 
and finally over the conquered provinces of three conti- 
nents. The five classes, with some modifications of the 
manner of voting, remained to the end of the republic. 
The creation of a new assembly of the people to take the 
place of the old, discloses the radical character of the 
Servian constitution. These classes would never have 
acquired vitality without a newly constituted assembly, 
investing them with political powers. With the increase 
of wealth and population the duties and responsibilities 
of this assembly were much increased. It was evidently 
the intention of Servius Tullius that it should extinguish 
the comitia cnriata, and with it the power of the gentes. 

This legislator is said to have instituted the comitia 
tribiita, a separate assembly of each local tribe or ward, 
whose chief duties related to the assessment and collec- 
tion of taxes, and to furnishing contingents of troops. 
At a later day this assembly elected the tribunes of the 
people. The ward was the natural unit of their political 
system, and the centre where local self-government should 
have been established had the Roman people wished to 


create a democratic state. But the senate and the property 
classes had forestalled them from that career. 

One of the first acts ascribed to Servius was the insti- 
tution of the census. Livy pronounces the census a most 
salutary measure for an empire about to become so great, 
according to which the duties of peace and of war were 
to be performed, not individually as before, but according 
to the measure of personal wealth. 1 Each person was 
required to enroll himself in the ward of his residence, 
with a statement of the amount of his property. It was 
done in the presence of the censor; and the lists when 
completed furnished the basis upon which the classes 
were formed. * This was accompanied by a very remark- 
able act for the period, the creation of four city wards, 
circumscribed by boundaries, and distinguished by appro- 
priate names. In point of time it was earlier than the in- 
stitution of the Attic deme by Cleisthenes; but the two 
were quite different in their relations to the government. 
The Attic deme, as has been shown, was organized as a 
body politic with a similar registry of citizens and of 
their property, and having besides a complete local self- 
government, with an elective magistracy, judiciary and 
priesthood. On the other hand, the Roman ward was a 
geographical area, with a registry of citizens and of their 
property, with a local organization, a tribune and other 
elective offices, and with an assembly. For a limited 
number of special objects the inhabitants of the wards 
were dealt with by the government through their terri- 
torial relations. But the government of the ward did not 
possess the solid attributes of that of the Attic deme. It 
was a nearer copy of the previous Athenian naucrary, 
which not unlikely furnished the model, as the Solonian 
classes did of the Servian. DionySius remarks, that after 
Servius Tullius had inclosed the seven hills with one wall 
he divided the city into four parts, and gave the names of 
the hills to the re-divisions : to the first, Palatina, to the 
second, Suburra, to the third, Collina, and to the fourth, 
Esquilina ; and made the city consist of four parts, which 

i Ltrr, 1, 42. 

t Dionjrgtos, IT, IS. 


before consisted of three ; and he ordered the people who 
dwelt in each of the four regions, like villagers, not to 
take any other dwelling, nor to pay taxes elsewhere, nor 
give in their names as soldiers elsewhere, nor pay their 
assessments for military purposes and other needs, which 
each must furnish for the common welfare; for these 
things were no longer to be done according to the three 
consanguine tribes, but according to the four local tribes, 
which last had been arranged by himself ; and he appoint- 
ed commanders over each tribe, as phylarchs or 
comarchs, whom he directed to note what house each 
inhabited. l Mommsen observes that "each of these four 
levy-districts had to furnish the fourth part not only of 
the force as a whole, but of each of its military subdivis- 
ions, so that each legion and each century numbered an 
equal proportion of conscripts from each region ; evident- 
ly for the purpose of merging all distinctions of a gentile 
and local nature in one common levy of the community, 
and especially of binding, through the powerful leveling 
influence of the military spirit, the meteoci and the 
burgesses into one people." 1 

In like manner, the surrounding country under the 
government of Rome was organized in townships (tribus 
rusticae), the number of which is stated at twenty-six by 
some writers, and at thirty-one by others ; making, with 
the four city wards, a total of thirty-one in one case, and 
of thirty-five in the other. * The total number was never 
increased beyond thirty-five. These townships did not 
become integral in the sense of participating in the admin- 
istration of the government. 

As finally established under the Servian constitution, 
the government was cast in the form in which it remained 
during the existence of the republic; the consuls taking 
the place of the previous military commanders. It was 
not based upon territory in 'the exclusive sense of the 

*.j Dionysius, lv, 14. 

"History of Rome. 1. c.." Scribner's ed., i, 186. 

3 Dionysius, lv, 15; Niebuhr has .furnished the names of six- 
teen country townships, as follows: Aemillan, Camillan, duen- 
tian. Cornelian. Fabian, Galerian, Horatian, Lemonian, Menen- 
tan. Paperian. Romilian, Serbian, Veturlan, Claudtan. "History 
of Rome/' i, 110, note. 


Athenian government, or in the modern sense ; ascending 
from the township or ward, the unit of organization, to 
the county or arrondissement, and from the latter to the 
state, each organized and invested with governmental 
functions as constituents of a whole. The central gov- 
ernment overshadowed and atrophied the parts. It rested 
more upon property than upon territory, this being made 
the commanding element, as is shown by the lodgment of 
the controlling power of the government in the highest 
property classes. It had, nevertheless, a territorial basis 
as well, since it recognized and used territorial subdivi- 
sions for citizenship, and for financial and military ob- 
jects, in which the citizen was dealt with through his 
territorial relations. 

The Romans were now carried fairly out of gentile 
society into and under the second great plan of govern- 
ment, founded upon territory and upon property. They 
had left gentilism and barbarism behind them, and 
entered upon a new career of civilization. Henceforth 
the creation and protection of property became the 
primary objects of the government, with a superadded 
career of conquest for domination over distant tribes and 
nations. This great change of institutions, creating polit- 
ical society as distinguished from gentile society, was 
simply the introduction of the new elements of territory 
and property, making the latter a power in the govern- 
ment, which before had been simply an influence. Had 
the wards and rustic townships been organized with full 
powers of local self-government, and the senate been 
made elective by these local constituencies without 
distinction of classes, the resulting government would 
have been a democracy, like the Athenian ; for these local 
governments would have moulded the state into their 
own likeness. The senate,. with the hereditary rank it 
conferred, and the property basis qualifying the voting 
power in the assembly of the people, turned the scale 
against democratical institutions, and produced a mixed 
government, partly aristocratic and partly democratic; 
eminently calculated to engender perpetual animosity 
between the two classes of citizens thus deliberately and 


unnecessarily created by affirmative legislation. It is 
plain, I think, that the people were circumvented by the 
Servian constitution and had a government put upon 
them which the majority would have rejected had they 
fully comprehended its probable results. The evidence is 
conclusive of the antecedent democratical principles of 
the gentes, which, however exclusive as against all 
persons not in their communion, were carried out fully 
among themselves. The evidence of this free spirit and 
of their free institutions is so decisive that the proposi- 
tion elsewhere stated, that gentilism is incompatible with 
monarchy, seems to be incontrovertible. 

As a whole, the Roman government was anomalous. 
The overshadowing municipality of Rome, made the 
centre of the state in its plan of government, was one of 
the producing causes of its novel character. The primary 
organization of the people into an army with the military 
spirit it fostered created the cohesive force which held the 
republic together, and afterwards the empire. With a 
selective senate holding office for life, and possessing 
substantial powers ; with a personal rank passing to their 
children and descendants ; with an elective magistracy 
graded to the needs of a central metropolis; with an 
assembly of the people organized into property classes, 
possessing an unequal suffrage, but holding both an affir- 
mative and a negative upon all legislation; and with an 
elaborate military organization, no other government 
strictly analogous has appeared among men. It was 
artificial, illogical, approaching a monstrosity; but cap- 
able of wonderful achievements, because of its military 
spirit, and because the Romans were endowed with 
remarkable powers for organizing and managing affairs. 
The patchwork in its composition was the product of the 
superior craft of the wealthy classes who intended to 
seize the substance of power while they pretended to re- 
spect the rights and interests of all. 

.When the new political system became established, the 
old one did not immediately disappear. The functions of 
the senate and of the military commander remained as 
before; but the property classes took the place of the 


gentes, and the assembly of the classes took the place of 
the assembly of the gentes. Radical as the changes were, 
they were limited, in the main, to these particulars, and 
came in without friction or violence. The old assembly 
(comitia curiata) was allowed to retain a portion of its 
powers, which kept alive for a long period of time the 
organizations of the gentes, curiae and consanguine tribes. 
It still conferred the imperium upon all the higher magi- 
strates after their election was completed, though in 
time it became a matter of form merely ; it inaugurated 
certain priests, and regulated the religious observances 
of the curiae. This state of things continued down to the 
time of the first Punic war, after which the comitia 
curiata lost its importance and soon fell into oblivion. 
Both the assembly and the curiae were superseded rather 
than abolished, and died out from inanition ; but the 
gentes remained far into the empire, not as an organiza- 
tion, for that also died out in time, but as a pedigree and 
a lineage. Thus the transition from gentile into political 
society was gradually but effectually accomplished, and 
the second great plan of human government was substi- 
tuted by the Romans in the place of the first which had 
prevailed from time immemorial. 

After an immensely protracted duration, running back 
of the separate existence of the Aryan family, and re- 
ceived by the Latin tribes from their remote ancestors, 
the gentile organization finally surrendered its existence, 
among the Romans, to the demands of civilization. It 
had held exclusive possession of society through these 
several ethnical periods, and until it had won by experi- 
ence all the elements of civilization, which it then proved 
unable to manage. Mankind owe a debt of gratitude to 
their savage ancestors for devising an institution able to 
carry the advancing portion of the human race out of 
savagery into barbarism, and through the successive 
stages of the latter into civilization. It also accumulated 
by experience the intelligence and knowledge necessary 
to devise political society while the institution yet re- 
mained. It holds a position on the great chart of human 
progress second to none in its influence, in its achieve- 


ments and in its history. As a plan of government, the 
gentile organization was unequal to the wants of civilized 
man; but it is something to be said in its remembrance 
that it developed from the germ the principal govern- 
mental institutions of modern civilized states. Among 
others, as before stated, out of the ancient council of 
chiefs came the modern senate; out of the ancient 
assembly of the people came the modern representative 
assembly, the two together constituting the modern legis- 
lature; out of the ancient general military commander 
came the modern chief magistrate, whether a feudal or 
constitutional king, an emperor or a president, the latter 
being the natural and logical results ; and out of the an* 
cient custos urbis, by a circuitous derivation, came the 
Roman praetor and the modern judge. Equal rights and 
privileges, personal freedom and the cardinal principles 
of democracy were also inherited from the gentes. When 
property had become created in masses, and its influence 
and power began to be felt in society, slavery came in; 
an institution violative of all these principles, but sus- 
tained by the selfish and delusive consideration that the 
person made a slave was a stranger in blood and a captive 
enemy. With property also came in gradually the princi- 
ple of aristocracy, striving for the creation of privileged 
classes. The element of property, which has controlled 
society to a great extent during the comparatively short 
period of civilization, has given mankind despotism, im- 
perialism, monarchy, privileged classes, and finally rep- 
resentative democracy. It has also made the career of 
the civilized nations essentially a property-making career. 
But when the intelligence of mankind rises to the height 
of the great question of the abstract rights of property, 
including the relations of property to the state, as well 
as the rights of persons to property, a modification of 
the present order of things mav be expected. The nature 
of the coming changes it may be impossible to conceive ; 
but it seems probable that democracy, once universal in 
a rudimentary form and repiessed in many civilized 
states, is destined to become again universal and supreme. 
An American, educated in the principles of democracy, 


and profoundly impressed with the dignity and grandeur 
of those great conceptions which recognize the liberty, 
equality and fraternity of mankind, may give free 
expression to a preference for self-government and free 
institutions. At the same time the equal right of every 
other person must be recognized to accept and approve 
any form of government, whether imperial or monarch- 
ical, that satisfies his preferences. 



An important question remains to be considered, 
namely: whether any evidence exists that descent was 
anciently in the female line in the Grecian and Latin 
gentes. Theoretically, this must have been the fact at 
some anterior period among their remote ancestors; but 
we are not compelled to rest the question upon theory 
alone. Since a change to the male line involved a nearly 
total alteration of the membership in a gens, a method 
by which it might have been accomplished should be 
pointed out. More than this, it should be shown, if 
possible, that an adequate motive requiring the change 
was certain to arise, with the progress of society out of 
the condition in which this form of descent originated. 
And lastly, the existing evidence of ancient descent in 
the female line among them should be presented. 

A gens in the archaic period, as we have seen, consisted 
of a supposed female ancestor and her children together 
with the children of her daughters, and of her female 
descendants through females in perpetuity. The children 
of her sons, and of her male descendants, through males, 
were excluded. On the other hand, with descent in the 
male line, a gens consisted of a supposed male ancestor and 
his children, together with the children of his sons and of 
his male descendants through males in perpetuity. The 
children of his daughters, and of his female descendants 
through females, were excluded. Those excluded in 
the first case would be members of the gens in the tec- 


ond case, and vice versa. The question then arises, how 
could descent be changed from the female line to the male 
without the destruction of the gens ? 

The method was simple and natural, provided the 
motive to make the change was general, urgent and com- 
manding. When done at a given time, and by precon- 
certed determination, it was only necessary to agree that 
all the present members of the gens should remain 
members, but that in future all children, whose fathers 
belonged to the gens, should alone remain in it and bear 
the gentile name, while the children of its female mem- 
bers should be excluded. This would not break or change 
the kinship or relations of the existing gentiles; but 
thereafter it would retain in the gens the children it 
before excluded and exclude those it before retained. 
Although it may seem a hard problem to solve, the press- 
ure of an adequate motive would render it easy, and the 
lapse of a few generations would make it complete* As a 
practical question, it has been changed from the female 
line to the male among the American aborigines in a num- 
ber of instances. Thus, among the Ojibwas descent is now 
in the male line, while among their congeners, the Dela- 
warea and Mohegans, it is still in the female line. Origi- 
nally, without a doubt, descent was in the female line in 
the entire Algonkin stock. 

Since descent in the female line is archaic, and more in 
accordance with the early condition of ancient society 
than descent in the male line, there is a presumption in 
favor of its ancient prevalence in the Grecian and Latin 
gentes. Moreover, when the archaic form of any trans- 
mitted organization has been discovered and verified, it 
is impossible to conceive of its origination in the later 
more advanced form. 

Assuming a change of descent among them from the 
female line to the male, it must have occurred very re- 
motely from the historical period. Their history in the 
Middle status of barbarism is entirely lost, except it has 
been in some measure preserved in their arts, institutions 
aad inventions, and in improvements in language. The 
Upper Status has the superadded light of tradition and 


of the Homeric poems to acquaint us with its experience 
and the measure of progress then made. But judging 
from the condition in which their traditions place them, 
it seems probable that descent in the female line had not 
entirely disappeared, at least among the Pelasgian and- 
Grecian tribes, when they entered the Upper Status of 

When descent was in the female line in the Grecian 
and Latin gentes, the gens possessed the following 
among other characteristics : i. Marriage in the gens 
was prohibited ; thus placing children in a different gens 
from that of their reputed father. 2. Property and the 
office of chief were hereditary in the gens ; thus exclud- 
ing children from inheriting the property or succeeding 
to the office of their reputed father. This state of things 
would continue until a motive arose sufficiently general 
and commanding to establish the injustice of this exclu- 
sion in the face of their changed condition. 

The natural remedy was a change of descent from the 
female line to the male. All that was needed to effect the 
change was an adequate motive. After domestic animals 
began to be reared in flocks and herds, becoming thereby 
a source of subsistence as well as objects of individual 
property, and after tillage had led to the ownership of 
houses and lands in severalty, an antagonism would be 
certain to arise against the prevailing form of gentile 
inheritance, because it excluded the owner's children, 
whose paternity was becoming more assured, and gave 
his property to his gentile kindred. A contest for a new 
rule of inheritance, shared in by fathers and their chil- 
dren, would furnish a motive sufficiently powerful to 
effect the change. With property accumulating in 
masses and assuming permanent forms, and with an 
increased proportion of it held by individual ownership, 
descent in the female line was certain of overthrow, and 
the substitution of the male line equally assured. Such 
a change would leave the inheritance in the gens as 
before, but it would place children in the pens of their 
father, and at the head of the agnatic kindred For a 
time, in all probability, they would share in the distribtt- 


tion of the estate with the remaining agnates ; but an 
extension of the principle by which the agnates cut off 
the remaining gentiles, would in time result in the exclu- 
sion of the agnates beyond the children and an exclusive 
inheritance in the children. Farther than this, the son 
would now be brought in the line of succession to the 
office of his father. 

Such had the law of inheritance become in the Athen- 
ian gens in the time of Solon or shortly after; when the 
property passed to the sons equally, subject to the obliga- 
tion of maintaining the daughters, and of apportioning 
them in marriage ; and in default of sons, to the daugh- 
ters equally. If there were no children, then the inherit- 
ance passed to the agnatic kindred, and in default of the 
latter, to the gentiles. The Roman law of the Twelve 
Tables was substantially the same. 

It seems probable further, that when descent was 
changed to the male, or still earlier, animal names for the 
gentes were laid aside and personal names substituted in 
their place. The individuality of persons would assert 
itself more and more with the progress of society, and 
with the increase and individual ownership of property, 
leading to the naming of the gens after some ancestral 
hero. Although new gentes were being formed from 
time to time by the process of segmentation, and others 
were dying out, the lineage of a gens reached back 
through hundreds not to say thousands of years. After 
the supposed substitution, the eponymous ancestor would 
have been a shifting person, at long intervals of time, 
some later person distinguished in the history of the gens 
being put in his place, when the knowledge of the former 
person became obscured, and faded from view in the 
misty past. That the more celebrated Grecian gentes 
made the change of names, and made it gracefully, is 
shown by the fact, that they retained the name of the 
mother of their gentile father, and ascribed his birth to 
her embracement by some particular god. Thus Eumol- 
pus, the eponymous ancestor of the Attic Eumolpidae, was 
the reputed son of Neptune and Chione; but even the 
Grecian gens was older than the conception of Neptune. 


Recurring now to the main question, the absence of 
direct proof of ancient descent in the female line in the 
Grecian and Latin gentes would not silence the presump- 
tion in its favor; but it so happens that this form of 
descent remained in some tribes nearly related to the 
Greeks with traces of it in a number of Grecian tribes. 

The inquisitive and observing Herodotus found one 
nation, the Lycians, Pelasgian in lineage, but Grecian in 
affiliation, among whom iir his time (440 B. C.), descent 
was in the female line. After remarking that the Lycians 
were sprung from Crete, and stating some particulars of 
their migration to Lycia under Sarpedon, he proceeds as 
follows: 'Their customs are partly Cretan and partly 
Carian. They have, however, one singular custom in 
which they differ from every other nation in the world. 
Ask a Lycian who he is, and he answers by giving his 
own name, that of his mother, and so on in the female 
line. Moreover, if a free -woman marry a man who is a 
slave, their children are free citizens ; but if a free man 
marry a foreign woman, or cohabit with a concubine 
even though he be the first person in the state, the chil- 
dren forfeit all the rights of citizenship." 1 It follows 
necessarily from this circumstantial statement that the 
Lycians were organized in gentes, with a prohibition 
against intermarriage in the gens, and that the children 
belonged to the gens of their mother. It presents a clear 
exemplification of a gens in the archaic form, with con- 
firmatory tests of the consequences of a marriage of a 
Lycian man with a foreign woman, and of a Lycian 
woman with a slave. 2 The aborigines of Crete were 
Pelasgian, Hellenic and Semitic tribes, living locally 
apart. Minos, the brother of Sarpedon, is usually 
regarded as the head of the Pelasgians in Crete ;.but the 
Lycians were already Hellenized in the time of Herod- 
otus and quite conspicuous among the Asiatic Greeks 

i Rawlinson's "Herodotus," 1, 173. 

j If a Seneca-Iroquois man marries a foreign woman, their 
children are aliens; but if a Senooa-Iroquois woman marries an 
alien, or an Onondaga, their children are Iroquois of the Seneca 
tribe; and of the gens and phratry of their mother. The woman 
confers her nationality and her gens upon her children, whoever 
may be their father. 


for their advancement. The insulation of their ancestor S 
upon the island of Crete, prior to their migration in the 
legendary period to Lycia, may afford an explanation of 
their retention of descent in the female line to this late 

* Among the Etruscans also the same rule of descent 
prevailed. "It is singular enough/' observes Cramer, 
"that two customs peculiar to the Etruscans, as we dis- 
cover from their monuments, should have been noticed 
by Herodotus as characteristic of the Lycians and Cauni- 
ans of Asia Minor. The first is, that the Etruscans invari- 
ably describe their parentage and family with reference 
to the mother, and not the father. The other, that they 
admitted their wives to their feasts and banquets." l 

Curtius comments on Lycian, Etruscan and Cretan 
descent in the female line in the following language : "It 
would be an error to understand the usage in question as 
an homage to the female sex. It is rather rooted in prim- 
itive conditions of society, in which monogamy was not 
yet established with sufficient certainty to enable descent 
upon the father's side to be affirmed with assurance. 
Accordingly the usage extends far beyond the territory 
commanded by the Lycian nationality. It occurs, even to 
this day, in India ; it may be demonstrated to have exist- 
ed among the ancient Egyptians; it is mentioned by 
Sanchoniathon (p. 16, Orell), where the reasons for its 
existence are stated with great freedom ; and beyond the 
confines of the East it appears among the Etruscans, 
among the Cretans, who were so closely connected with 
the Lycians, and who called their father-land mother- 
land; and among the Athenians, consult Bachofen, etc. 
Accordingly, if Herodotus regards the usage in question 
as thoroughly peculiar to the Lycians, it must have main- 
tained itself longest among them of all the nations related 
to the Greeks, as is also proved by the Lycian inscriptions. 
Hence we must in general regard the employment of the 
maternal name for a designation of descent as the 
remains of an imperfect condition of social life and 

i "Description of Ancient Italy," 1, 158; citing "Lap*!," it, 114. 


family law, which, as life becomes more regulated, was 
relinquished in favor of usages, afterwards universal in 
Greece, of naming children after the father. This 
diversity of usages, which is extremely important 1 for the 
history of ancient civilization, has been recently discussed 
by Bachofen in, his address above named." l 

In a work of vast research, Bachofen has collected and 
discussed the evidence of female authority (mother- 
right) and of female rule (gyneocracy) among the 
Lycians, Cretans, Athenians, Lemnians, Egyptians, 
Orchomenians, Locrians, Lesbians, Mantineans, and 
among eastern Asiatic nations. a The condition of ancient 
society, thus brought under review, requires for its full 
explanation the existence of the gens in its archaic form 
as the source of the phenomena. This would bring the 
mother and her children into the same gens, and in the 
composition of the communal household, on the basis of 
gens, would give the gens of the mothers the ascendency 
in the household. The family, which had probably at- 
tained the syndyasmian form, was still environed with the 
remains of that conjugal system which belonged to a still 
earlier condition. Such a family, consisting of a married 
pair with their children, would naturally have sought 
shelter with kindred families in a communal household, 
in which the several mothers and their children would be 
of the same gens, and the reputed fathers of these chil- 
dren would be of other gentes. Common lands and joint 
tillage would lead to joint-tenement houses and commu- 
nism in living; so that gyneocracy seems to require for 
its creation, descent in the female line. Women thus 
entrenched in large households, supplied from common 

i "History of Greece," Scrlbner & Armstrong's ed., Ward'* 
Trans., i, 94, note. The Etiocretes, of whom Minos was the hero, 
were doubtless Pelasgians. They occupied the east end of the 
Island of Crete. Sarpedon, a brother of Minos, led the emi- 
grants to Lycla where they displaced the Solyml, a Semitic 
tribe probably; but the Lycians had become Hellenlzed, like 
many other Felasgian tribes, before the time of Herodotus, a 
circumstance quite material in consequence of the derivation of 
the Grecian and Pelasgian tribes from a common original stock. 
In the time of Herodotus the Lycians were as far advanced In 
the arts of life as the European Greeks (Curtius, i, 98: GreU. 
i, 224). It seems probable that descent in the female line was 
derived from their Pelasgian ancestors. 

"Das Mutterrecht," Stuttgart, 1881, 


stores, in which their own gens so largely predominated 
in numbers, would produce the phenomena of mother 
right and gyneocracy, which Bachofen has detected and 
traced with the aid of fragments of history and of tradi- 
tion. Elsewhere I have referred to the unfavorable 
influence upon the position of women which was produced 
by a change of descent from the female line to the male, 
and by the rise of the monogamian family, which dis- 
placed the joint-tenement house, and in the midst of a 
society purely gentile, placed the wife and mother in a 
single house and separated her from her gentile kindred. 1 
Monogamy was not probably established among the 
Grecian tribes until after they had attained the Upper 
Status of barbarism ; and we seem to arrive at chaos in 
the marriage relation within this period, especially in the 
Athenian tribes. Concerning the latter, Bachofen remarks : 
"For before the time of Cecrops the children, as we have 
seen, had only a mother, no father ;,they were of one line. 
Bound to no man exclusively, the woman brought only 
spurious children into the world. Cecrops first made an 
end of this condition of things ; led the lawless union of 
the sexes back to the exclusiveness of marriage ; gave to 
the children a father and mother, and thus from being 
of one line (unilateres) made them of two lines 
(bilateres)"* What is here described as the lawles* 
union of the sexes must be received with modifications. 
We should expect at that comparatively late day to find 
the syndyasmian family, but attended by the remains of 
an anterior conjugal system which sprang from mar- 
riages in the group. The punaluan family, which the 
statement fairly implies, must have disappeared before 

i Bachofen, speaking: of the Cretan city of Lyktos, remark* 
that "thii city was considered a Lacedaemonian colony, and a* 
also related to the Athenians. It was in both cases only on the 
mother's side, for only the mothers were Spartans; the Athenian 
relationship, however, goes back to those Athenian women 
whom the Pelasgian Tyrrhenians are said to have enticed away 
from the Brauron promontory." "Das Mutterrecht," ch. IS, 
p. SI. 

With descent in the male line the lineage of the women would 
have remained unnoticed; but with descent In the female line 
the colonists would have given their pedigrees through female* 

9 "Das Mutterrecht/' ch. 31, p. 71. 


they reached the ethnical period named. This subject 
will be considered in subsequent chapters in connection 
with the growth of the family. 

There is an interesting reference by Polybius to the 
hundred families of the Locrians of Italy. "The Locri- 
ans themselves/' he remarks, "have assured me that their 
own traditions are more conformable to the account of 
Aristotle than to that of Timseus. Of this they mention 
the following proofs. The first is, that all nobility of 
ancestry among them is derived from women, and not 
from men. That those, for exam-pie, alone are noble, who 
derive their origin from the hundred families. That these 
families were noble among the Locrians before they 
migrated ; and were the same, indeed, from which a hun- 
dred virgins were taken by lot, as the oracle had com- 
manded, and were sent to Troy/' 1 It is at least a reason- 
able supposition that the rank here referred to was con- 
nected with the office of chief of the gens, which enno- 
bled the particular family within the gens, upon one of 
the members of which it was conferred. If this supnosi- 
tion is tenable, it implies descent in the female line both as 
to persons and to office. The office of chief was hereditary 
in the gens, and elective among its male members in 
archaic times ; and with descent in the female line, it 
would pass from brother to brother, and from uncle to 
nephew. But the office in each case passed through 
females, the eligibility of the person depending upon the 
gens of his mother, who gave him his connection with 
the gens, and with the deceased chief whose place was 
to be filled. Wherever office or rank runs through fe- 
males it requires descent in the female line for its ex- 

Evidence of ancient descent in the female line among 
the Grecian tribes is found in particular marriages which 
occurred in the- traditionary period. Thus Salmoneus and 
Kretheus were own brothers, the sons of ^Eolus. The 
former gave his daughter Tyro in marriage to her uncle. 

i "Polyblui," xli, extract the second, Hampton's Tran*., ill, 

ttft ANCIENT SCKttflf t 

With descent in the male line, Kretheus and Tyro would 
have been of the same gens, and could not have married 
for that reason ; but with descent in the female line, they 
would have been of different gentes, and therefore not of 
gentile kin. Their marriage in that case would not have 
violated strict gentile usages. It is immaterial that the 
persons named are mythical, because the legend would 
apply gentile usages correctly. This marriage is 
explainable on the hypothesis of descent in the female 
line, which in turn raises a presumption of its existence 
at the time, or as justified by their ancient usages which 
had not wholly died out. 

The same fact is revealed by marriages within the 
historical period, when an ancient practice seems to have 
survived the change of descent to the male line, even 
though it violated the gentile obligations of the parties. 
After the time of Solon a brother might marry his half- 
sister, provided they were born of different mothers, but 
not conversely. With descent in the female line, they 
would be of different gentes, and, therefore, not of gentile 
kin. Their marriage would interfere with no gentile 
obligation. But with descent in the male line, which was 
the fact when the cases about to be cited occurred, they 
would be of the same gens, and consequently under 
prohibition. Cimon married his half-sister, Elpinice, their 
father being the same, but their mothers different. In the 
Eubulides of Demosthenes we find a similar case. "My 
grandfather/' says Euxithius, "married his sister, she not 
being his sister by the same mother." * Such marriages, 
against which a strong prejudice had arisen among the 
Athenians as early as the time of Solon, are explainable* 
as a survival of an ancient custom with respect to mar- 
riage, which prevailed when descent was in the female 
line, and which had not been entirely eradicated in the 
time of Demosthenes. 

Descent in the female line presupposes the gens to 
distinguish the lineage. With our present knowledge of 
the ancient and modern prevalence of the gentile organi- 

i "DemoctheneB contra Eubulldei," 20. 


nation upon five continents, including the Australian, and 
of the archaic constitution of the gens, traces of descent 
in the female line might be expected to exist in traditions, 
if not in usages coming down to historical times. It is 
not supposable, therefore, that the Lycians, the Cretans, 
the Athenians and the Locrians, if the evidence is suffi- 
cient to include the last two, invented a usage so remark- 
able as descent in the female line. The hypothesis that 
it was the ancient law of the Latin, Grecian, and other 
Graeco-Italian gentes affords a more rational as well as 
satisfactory explanation of the facts. The influence of 
property and the desire to transmit it to children fur- 
nished adequate motives for the change to the male line. 
It may be inferred that marrying out of the gens was 
the rule among the Athenians, before as well as after the 
time of Solon, from the custom of registering the wife, 
upon her marriage, in the phratry of her husband, and 
the children, daughters as well as sons, in the gens and 
phratry of their father. 1 The fundamental principle on 
which the gens was founded was the prohibition of inter 
marriage among its members as consanguinei. In each 
gens the number of members was not large. Assuming 
sixty thousand as the number of registered Athenians in 
the time of Solon, and dividing them equally among the 
three hundred and sixty Attic gentes, it wc^uld give but 
one hundred and sixty persons to each gens. The gens 
was a great family of kindred persons, with common 
religious rites, a common burial place, and, in general, 
common lands. From the theory of its constitution, inter- 
marriage would be disallowed. With the change of 
descent to the male line, with the rise of monogamy and 
an exclusive inheritance in the children, and with the 
appearance of heiresses, the way was being gradually 
prepared for free marriage regardless of gens, but with 
a prohibition limited to certain degrees of near consan- 
guinity. Marriages in the human family began in the 

i Dem osth., "Bubul.," 24: In his time the registration wai In 
the Deme; but it would show who were the phrators. blood rel- 
aties, fellow demots and gennetes of the person registered; a 
Kuxitheus says; see also Hermann's "Pol It. Antlq. of Greece," 
par. 100. 

864 AttCtBtflT SOCIETY 

group, all the males and females of which, excluding tht 
children, were joint husbands and wives; but the hus- 
bands and wives were of different gentes; and it ended 
in marriages between single pairs, with an exclusive 
cohabitation. In subsequent chapters an attempt will be 
made to trace the several forms of marriage and of the 
family from the first stage to the last. 

A system of consanguinity came in with the gens, dis- 
tinguished as the Turanian in Asia, and as the Ganow- 
anian in America, which extended the prohibition of in- 
termarriage as far as the relationship of brother and sister 
extended among collaterals. This system still prevails 
among the American aborigines, in portions of Asia and 
Africa, and in Australia. It unquestionably prevailed 
among the Grecian and Latin tribes in the same anterior 
period, and traces of it remained down to the traditionary 
period. One feature of the Turanian system may be 
restated as follows: the children of brothers are them- 
selves brothers and sisters, and as such could not inter- 
marry ; the children of sisters stood in the same relation- 
ship, and were under the same prohibition. It may serve 
to explain the celebrated legend of the Danaidae, one ver- 
sion of which furnished to Aeschylus his subject for the 
tragedy of the Suppliants. The reader will remember 
that Danaus and ^gyptus were brothers, and descend- 
ants of Argive lo. The former by different wives had 
fifty daughters, and the latter by different wives had fifty 
sons; and in due time the sons of ^Egyptus sought the 
daughters of Danaus in marriage. Under the system of 
consanguinity appertaining to the gens in its archaic form, 
and which remained until superseded by the system intro- 
duced by monogamy, they were brothers and sisters, and 
for that reason could not marry. If descent at the time 
was in the male line, the children of Danaus and ^Egyptus 
would have been of the same gens, which would have in- 
terposed an additional objection to their marriage, and of 
equal weight. Nevertheless the sons of ^Egyptus sought 
to overstep these barriers and enforce wedlock upon the 
Danaidae; whilst the latter, crossing the sea, fled from 
Egypt to Argos to escape what they pronounced an un 


lawful and incestuous union. In the Prometheus of the 
same author, this event is foretold to lo by Prometheus, 
namely : that in the fifth generation from her future son 
Epaphus, a band of fifty virgins should come to Argos, 
not voluntarily, but fleeing from incestuous wedlock with 
the sons of -#gyptus. 1 Their flight with abhorrence from 
the proposed nuptials finds its explanation in the ancient 
system of consanguinity, independently of gentile law. 
Apart from this explanation the event has no significance, 
and their aversion to the marriages would have been mere 

The tragedy of the Suppliants is founded upon the 
incident of their flight over the sea to Argos, to claim 
the protection of their Argive kindred against the pro- 
posed violence of the sons of yEgyptus, who pursued 
them. At Argos the Danaidae declare that they did not 
depart from Egypt under the sentence of banishment, but 
fled from men of common descent with themselves, scorn- 
ing unholy marriage with the sons of ^gyptus. 2 Their 
reluctance is placed exclusively upon the fact of kin, thus 
implying an existing prohibition against such marriages, 
which they had been trained to respect. After hearing 
the case of the Suppliants, the Argives in council resolved 
to afford them protection, which of itself implies the ex- 
istence of the prohibition of the marriages and the valid- 
ity of their objection. At the time this tragedy was pro- 
duced, Athenian law permitted and even required mar- 
riage between the children of brothers in the case of heir- 
esses and female orphans, although the rule seems to have 
been confined to these exceptional cases ; such marriages, 
therefore, would not seem to the Athenians either incest- 
uous or unlawful ; but this tradition of the Danaidae had 
come down from a remote antiquity, and its whole sig- 
nificance depended upon the force of the custom for- 
bidding the nuptials. The turning-point of the tradition 
and its incidents was their inveterate repugnance to the 
proposed marriages as forbidden by law and custom. No 

i "PromethfttiiL" 8SS. 

n Aeschylui, "Supp.," 9. 


other reason is assigned, and no other is needed. At the 
same time their conduct is intelligible on the assumption 
that such marriages were as unpermissible then, as mar- 
riage between a brother and sister would be at the present 
time. The attempt of the sons of ^Egyptus to break 
through the barrier interposed by the Turanian system 
of consanguinity may mark the time when this system 
was beginning to give way, and the present system, which 
came in with monogamy, was beginning to assert itself, 
and which was destined to set aside gentile usages and 
Turanian consanguinity by the substitution of fixed 
degrees as the limits of prohibition. 

Upon the evidence adduced it seems probable that 
among the Pelasgian, Hellenic and Italian tribes descent 
was originally in the female line, from which, under the 
influence of property and inheritance, it was changed to 
the male line. Whether or not these tribes anciently pos- 
sessed the Turanian system of consanguinity, the reader 
will be better able to judge after that system has been 
presented, with the evidence of its wide prevalence in 
ancient society. 

The length of the traditionary period of these tribes 
is of course unknown in the years of its duration, but it 
must be measured by thousands of years. It probably 
reached back of the invention of the process of smelting 
iron ore, and if so, passed through the Later Period of 
barbarism and entered the Middle Period. Their condi- 
tion of advancement in the Middle Period must have at 
least equaled that of the Aztecs, Mayas and Peruvians, 
who were found in the status of the Middle Period ; and 
their condition in the Later Period must have surpassed 
immensely that of the Indian tribes named. The vast 
and varied experience of these European tribes in the 
two great ethnical periods named, during which they 
achieved the remaining, elements of civilization, is entire- 
ly lost, excepting as it is imperfectly disclosed in their 
traditions, and more fully by their arts of life, their cus- 
toms, language and institutions, as revealed to us by 
the poems of Homer. Empires and kingdoms were nec- 
essarily unknown in these periods ; but tribes and incon- 


siderable nations, city and village life, the growth and 
development of the arts of life, and physical, mental and 
moral improvement, were among the particulars of that 
progress. The loss of the events of these great periods 
to human knowledge was much greater than can easily 
be imagined. 



Having considered the organization into gentes, phra- 
tries and tribes in their archaic as well as later form, it 
remains to trace the extent of its prevalence in the human 
family, and particularly with respect to the gens, the basis 
of the system. 

The Celtic branch of the Aryan family retained, in the 
Scottish clan and Irish sept, the organization into gentes 
to a later period of time than any other branch of the 
family, unless the Aryans of India are an exception. The 
Scottish clan in particular was existing in remarkable 
vitality in the Highlands of Scotland in the middle of the 
last century. It was an excellent type of the gens in 
organization and in spirit, and an extraordinary illustra- 
tion of the power of the gentile life over its members. The 
illustrious author of Waverley has perpetuated a number 
of striking characters developed under clan life, and 
stamped with its peculiarities. Evan Dhu, Torquil, Rob 
Roy and many others rise before the mind as illustrations 
of the influence of the gens in molding the character of 
individuals. If Sir Walter exaggerated these characters in 
some respects to suit the emergencies of a tale, they had 
a real foundation. The same clans, a few centuries ear- 
lier, when clan life was stronger and external influences 
were weaker, would probably have verified the pictures. 
We find in their feuds and blood revenge, in their locali- 
zation by gentes, in their use of lands in common, in the 
fidelity of the clansman to his chief and of the members 
of the clan to each other, the usual and persistent features 


of gentile society. As portrayed by Scott, it was a more 
intense and chivalrous gentile life than we are able to 
find in the gentes of the Greeks and Romans, or, at the 
other extreme, in those of the American aborigines* 
Whether the phratric organization existed among them 
does not appear; but at some anterior period both the 
phratry and the tribe doubtless did exist It is well 
known that the British government were compelled to 
break up the Highland clans, as organizations, in order 
to bring the people under the authority of law and the 
usages of political society. Descent was in the male line, 
the children of the males remaining members of the clan, 
while the children of its female members belonged to the 
clans of their respective fathers. 

We shall pass over the Irish sept, the phis or phrara of 
the Albanians, which embody the remains of a prior 
gentile organization, and the traces of a similar organi- 
zation in Dalmatia and Croatia; and also the Sanskrit 
ganas, the existence of which term in the language im- 
plies that this branch of the Aryan family formerly pos- 
sessed the same institution. The communities of Villeins 
on French estates in former times, noticed by Sir Henry 
Maine in his recent work, may prove to be, as he inti- 
mates, remains of ancient Celtic gentes. "Now that the 
explanation has once been given," he remarks, "there can 
be no doubt that these associations were not really volun- 
tary partnerships, but groups of kinsmen ; not, however, 
so often organized on the ordinary type of the Village- 
Community as on that of the House-Community, which 
has recently been examined in Dalmatia and Croatia. 
Each of them was what the Hindus call a Joint-Undi- 
vided family, a collection of assumed descendants from 
| common ancestor, preserving a common hearth and 
common meals during several generations/ 11 

A brief reference should be made to the question 
whether any traces of the gentile organization remained 
among the German tribes when they first came under 
historical notice. That they inherited this institution, 

History of Institutions," Holt's ed., p. 7, 


with other Aryan tribes, from the common ancestors of 
the Aryan family, is probable. When first known to the 
Romans, they were in the Upper Status of barbarism. 
They could scarcely have developed the idea of govern- 
ment further than the Grecian and Latin tribes, who were 
in advance of them, when each respectively became 
known. While the Germans may have acquired an imper- 
fect conception of a state, founded upon territory and 
upon property, it is not probable that they had any knowl- 
edge of the second great plan of government which the 
Athenians were first among Aryan tribes to establish. 
The condition and mode of life of the German tribes, as 
described by Caesar and Tacitus, tend to the conclusion 
that their several societies were held together through 
personal relations, and with but slight reference to ter- 
ritory; and that their government was through these 
relations. Civil chiefs and military commanders acquired 
and held office through the elective principle, and consti- 
tuted the council which was the ohief instrument of gov- 
ernment. On lesser affairs, Tacitus remarks, the chiefs 
consult, but on those of greater importance the whole 
community. While the final decision of all important 
questions belonged to the people, they were first maturely 
considered by the chiefs. 1 The close resemblance of 
these to Grecian and Latin usages will be perceived. The 
government consisted of three powers, the council of 
chiefs, the assembly of the people, and the military com- 

Caesar remarks that the Germans were not studious of 
agriculture, the greater part of their food consisting of 
milk, cheese and meat ; nor had any one a fixed quantity 
of land, or his own individual boundaries, but the mag- 
istrates and chiefs each year assigned to the gentes and 
kinsmen who had united in one body (gentibus cogna- 
tionibtuque hominum qui una coerint) as much land, and 
in such places as seemed best, compelling them the next 
year to remove to another place.* To give effect to the 

i "Germanla *' e. ii. 

"I* Bll. 6*11.," vl, II 


expression in parenthesis, it must be supposed that he 
found among them groups of persons, larger than a 
family, united on the basis of kin, to whom, as groups of 
persons, lands were allotted. It excludes individuals, and 
even the family, both of whom were merged in the group 
thus united for cultivation and subsistence. It seems 
probable, from the form of the statement, that the Ger- 
man family at this time was syndyasmian ; and that sev- 
eral related families were united in households and prac- 
ticed communism in living. 

Tacitus refers to a usage of the German tribes in the 
arrangement of their forces in battle, by which kinsmen 
were placed side by side. It would have no significance, 
if kinship were limited to near consanguine!. And what 
is an especial incitement of their courage, he remarks, 
neither chance nor a fortuitous gathering of the forces 
make up the squadron of horse, or the infantry wedge; 
but they were formed according to families and kinships 
(fatnilix et propinqititates). 1 This expression, and that 
previously quoted from Caesar, seem to indicate the re- 
mains at least of a prior gentile organization, which at 
this time was giving place to the mark or local district as 
the basis of a still imperfect political system. 

The German tribes, for the purpose of military levies, 
had the mark (markgenossenschaft), which also existed 
among the English Saxons, and a larger group, the gau, 
to which Caesar and Tacitus gave the name of pagus? It 
is doubtful whether the mark and the gau were then 
strictly geographical districts, standing to each other in 
the relations of township and county, each circumscribed 
by bounds, with the people in each politically organized. 
It seems more probable that the gau was a group of 
settlements associated with reference to military levies. 
As such, the mark and the gau were the germs of the 
future township and county, precisely as the Athenian 

i "German!*," cap. 7. The line of battle, thli author remark*. 
! formed by wedgei. "Aclet per cuneoe componitur." "Qer.,** 
e. 6. Kohlrautch observe* that "the confederate* of one mark 
or hundred, and of one race or sept. fou*ht united." "History 
of Germany/* Appleton's ed., trans, by J. D. Haas, p. It* 

"pe Bell Oall," Iv. 1. "Germanlm," cap. *. 


naucrary and trittys were the rudiments of the Cleisthen- 
ean deme and local tribe. These organizations seemed 
transitional stages between a gentile and a political 
system, the grouping of the people still resting on con- 
sanguinity. 1 

We naturally turn to the Asiatic continent, where the 
types of mankind are the most numerous, and where, 
consequently, the period of human occupation has been 
longest, to find the earliest traces of the gentile organi- 
zation. But here the transformations of society have 
been the most extended, and the influence of tribes and 
nations upon each other the most constant. The early 
development of Chinese and Indian civilization and the 
overmastering influence of modern civilization have 
wrought such changes in the condition of Asiatic stocks 
that their ancient institutions are not easily ascertainable. 
Nevertheless, the whole experience of mankind from 
savagery to civilization was worked out upon the Asiatic 
continent, and among its fragmentary tribes the remains 
of their ancient institutions' must now be sought. 

Descent in the female line is still very common iji the 

i Dr. Freeman, who has studied this ffubject specially, re* 
marks: "The lowest unit in the political system is that which 
still exists under various names, as the 'mark,' the 'gemeinde/ 
the 'commune/ or the 'pariah.' This, as we have seen, is one 
of many forms of the 'gens' or clan, that in which it is no 
longer a wandering or a mere predatory body, but when, on 
the other hand, it has not joined with others to form one corn- 

village community of the West. This lowest political unit, this 

gathering of real or artificial kinsmen, is made up of families, 
each living under the rule, the 'mund' of its own father, that 
'patria potestas* which survived at Rome to form so marked 
and lasting a feature of Roman law. As the, union of families 
forms the T gens,' and as the 'gens' in its territorial aspect forms 
the 'markgenossenschaft/ so the union of several such village 
communities and their 'marks' or common lands forms the next 
higher political union, the hundred, a name to be found in one 
shape or another in most lands into which the Teutonic race 

has spread itself Above the hundred comes the *pagus/ 

the 'gau/ the Danish 'syssel,' the English 'shire/ that is, the 
tribe looked at as occupying a certain territory. And each of 

these divisions, greater and smaller, had its chiefs The 

hundred Is made up of villages, marks, gemeinden, whatever 
we call the lowest unit; the 'shire/ the ^gau/ the *pajrus/ is 
made up of hundreds." "Comparative Politics/' McMillan & 
ed. f p. 11. 


ruder Asiatic tribes ; but there are numerous tribes among 
whom it is traced in the male line. It is the limitation of 
descent to one line or the other, followed by the organiza- 
tion of the body of consanguine!, thus separated under a 
common name which indicates a gens. 

In the Magar tribe of Nepaul, Latham remarks, "there 
are twelve thums. All individuals belonging to the 'same 
thum are supposed to be descended from the same male 
ancestor; descent from the same mother being by no 
means necessary. So husband and wife must belong to 
different thums. Within one and the same there is no 
marriage. Do you wish for a wife? If so, look to the 
thum of your neighbor; at any rate look beyond your 
own. This is the first time I have found occasion to 
mention this practice. It will not be the last; on the 
contrary, the principle it suggests is so common as to be 
almost universal. We shall find it in Australia ; we shall 
find it in North and South America; we shall find it in 
Africa; we shall find it in Europe; we shall suspect and 
infer it in many places where the actual evidence of its 
existence is incomplete/' 1 In this case we have in the 
thum clear evidence of the existence of a gens, with 
descent in the male line. 

'The Munnieporees, and the following tribes inhabit- 
ing the hills round Munniepore the Koupooes, the 
Mows, the Murams, and the Murring are each and all 
divided into four families Koomul, Looang, Angom, 
and Ningthaja. A member of any of these families may 
marry a member of any other, but the intermarriage of 
members of the same family is strictly prohibited. In 
these families may be recognized four gentes in each of 
these tribes. Bell, speaking of the Telush of the Circas- 
sians, remarks that "the tradition in regard to them is, 
that the members of each and all sprang from the same 
stock or ancestry; and thus they may be considered as 

so many septs or clans These cousins german, 

or members of the same fraternity, are not only them* 

i "Descriptive Ethnology," 1, 80. 
McLennan'* "Primitive Marriage," 

p. 109. 


selves interdicted from intermarrying, but their serfs, t66, 
must wed with serfs of another fraternity*" 1 It is proba- 
ble that the telush is a gens. 

Among the Bengalese "the four castes are subdivided 
into many different sects or classes, and each of these is 
again subdivided; for instance, I am of Nundy tribe 
[gens?], and if I were a heathen I could not marry a 
woman of the same tribe, although the caste must be the 
same. The children are of the tribe of their father. 
Property descends to the sons. In case the'person has no 
sons, to his daughters; and if he leaves neither, to his 
nearest relatives. Castes are subdivided, such as Shuro, 
which is one of the first divisions; but it is again sub- 
divided, such as Khayrl, Tilly, Tatnally, Tanty, Chomor, 
Kari, etc. A man belonging to one of these last-named 
subdivisions cannot marry a woman of the same." 1 These" 
smallest groups number usually about a hundred persons, 
and still retain several of the characteristics of a gens. 

Mr. Tyler remarks, that "in India it is unlawful for a 
Brahman to marry a wife whose clan-name or ghotra 
(literally 'cow-stall') is the same as his own, a prohibi- 
tion which bars marriage among relatives in the male 
line indefinitely. This law appears in the code of Manu 
as applying to the first three castes, and connexions on 
the female side are also forbidden to marry within certain 
wide limits."* And again : "Among the Kols of Chota- 
Nagpur, we find many of the Oraon and Munda clans 
named after animals, as eel, hawk, crow, heron, and they 
must not kill or eat what they are named after." 4 

The Mongolians approach the American aborgines 
quite nearly in physical characteristics. They are divided 
into numerous tribes. "The connection," says Latham, 
"between the members of a tribe is that of blood, pedi- 
gree, or descent; the tribe being, in some cases, named 
after a real or supposed patriarch. The tribe, by which 

i Quoted In "Primitive Marriare," p. 101. 
'^Letter to the Author/' by Key. Gopenath Nuad?* a Nathre 
ttencalese. India. 

3 'TBarly Hiitory of Mankind/' jp. 282. 

4 "Primitive Culture/' Holt * Co/i ed., 11, 215, 

ttf OTHfifc TfttBfiS OF HUMAN FAfclLT 875 

we translate the native name aimauk, or aimdk, is a large 
division falling into so many kokhums, or banners." 1 The 
statement is not full enough to show the existence of 
gentes. Their neighbors, the Tungusians are composed 
of subdivisions named after animals, as the horse, the 
dog, the reindeer, which imply the gentile organizations, 
but it cannot be asserted without further particulars. 

Sir John Lubbock remarks of the Kalmucks that 
according to De Hell, they "are divided into hordes, and 
no man can marry a woman of the same horde ;" and of 
the Ostiaks, that they "regard it as a crime to marry a 
woman of the same family or even of the same name;" 
and that "when a Jakut (Siberia) wishes to marry, he 
must choose a girl from another clan." 1 We have in 
each of these cases evidence of the existence of a gens, 
one of the rules of which, as has been shown, is the 
prohibition of intermarriage among its members. The 
Yurak Samoyeds are organized in gentes. Klaproth, 
quoted by Latham, remarks that "this division of the 
kinsmanship is so rigidly observed that no Samoyed takes 
a wife from the kinsmanship to which he himself belongs. 
On the contrary, he seeks her in one of the other two/" 

A peculiar family system prevails among the Chinese 
which seems to embody the remains of an ancient gentile 
organization. Mr. Robert Hart, of Canton, in a letter to 
the author remarks, "that the Chinese expression for the 
people is Pih-sing, which means the Hundred Family 
Names; but whether this is mere word-painting, or had 
its origin at a time when the Chinese general family con- 
sisted of one hundred subfamilies or tribes [gentes?] I 
am unable to determine. At the present day there are 
about four hundred family names in this country, among 
which I find some that have reference to animals, fruits, 
metals, natural objects, etc., and which may be translated 
as Horse, Sheep, Ox, Fish, Bird, Phoenix, Plum, Flower, 
Leaf, Rice, Forest, River, Hill, Water, Cloud, Gold, Hide, 

i "Descriptive Ethnology," 1, 290. 

"Origin of Civilization/' 96. 

j "Descriptive Ethnology," i, 475. 


Bristles, etc., etc. In some parts of the country large 
villages are met with, in each of which there exists but 
one family name ; thus in one district will be found, say, 
three villages, each containing two or three thousand peo- 
ple, the one of the Horse, the second of the Sheep, and 

the third of the Ox family name Just as among the 

North American Indians husbands and wives are of dif- 
ferent tribes [gentes], so in China husband and wife are 
always of different families, i. e., of different surnames. 
Custom and law alike prohibit intermarriage on the part 
of people having the same family surname. The children 
are of the father's family, that is, they take his family 
surname Where the father dies intestate the prop- 
erty generally remains undivided, but under the control 
of the oldest son during the life of the widow. On her 
death he divides the property between himself and his 
brothers, the shares of the juniors depending entirely up- 
on the will of the elder brother." 

The family here described appears to be a gens, anal- 
ogous to the Roman in the time of Romulus ; but whether 
it was reintegrated, with other gentes of common descent, 
in a phratry does not appear. Moreover, the gentiles are 
still located as an independent consanguine body in one 
area, as the Roman gentes were localized in the early 
period, and the names of the gentes are still of the archaic 
type. Their increase to four hundred by segmentation 
might have been expected; but their maintenance to the 
present time, after the period of barbarism has long 
passed away, is the remarkable fact, and an additional 
proof of their immobility as a people. It may be sus- 
pected also that the monogamian family in these villages 
has not attained its full development, and that commun- 
ism in living, and in wives as well, may not be unknown 
among them. Among the wild aboriginal tribes, who 
still inhabit the mountain regions of China and who speak 
dialects different from the Mandarin, the gens in its 
archaic form may yet be discovered. To these isolated 
tribes, we should naturally look for the ancient institu- 
tions of the Chinese. 

In like manner the tribes of Afghanistan are said to 


be subdivided into clans ; but whether these clans are true 
gentes has not been ascertained. 

Not to weary the reader with further details of a sim- 
ilar character, a sufficient number of cases have been 
adduced to create a presumption that the gentile organi- 
zation prevailed very generally and widely among the 
remote ancestors of the present Asiatic tribes and nations. 

The twelve tribes of the Hebrews, as they appear in 
the Book of Numbers, represent a reconstruction of 
Hebrew society by legislative procurement. The condi- 
tion of barbarism had then passed away, and that of civi- 
lization had commenced. The principle on which the 
tribes were organized, as bodies of consanguinei, presup- 
poses an anterior gentile system, which had remained in 
existence and was now systematized. At this time they 
had no knowledge of any other plan of government than 
a gentile society formed of consanguine groups united 
through personal relations. Their subsequent localiza- 
tion in Palestine by consanguine tribes, each district 
named after one of the twelve sons of Jacob, with the 
exception of the tribe of Levi, is a practical recognition 
of the fact that they were organized by lineages and not 
into a community of citizens. The history of the most 
remarkable nation of the Semitic family has been con- 
centrated around the names of Abraham, Isaac and 
Jacob, and the twelve sons of the latter. 

Hebrew history commences essentially with Abraham 
the account of whose forefathers is limited to a pedigree 
barren of details. A few passages will show the extent 
of the progress then made, and the status of advancement 
in which Abraham appeared. He is described as "very 
rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold." l For the cave of 
Machpelah "Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, 
which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, 
four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the 
merchant." * With respect to domestic life and subsist- 
ence, the following passage may be cited : "And Abra- 

i "Gnls," xili. *. 
"OeneiU," xxili, II. 


ham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make 
ready quickly three measures of fine meal ; knead It, and 
make cakes upon the hearth." a "And he took butter and 
milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before 
them." * With respect to 1 implements, raiment and orna- 
ments : "Abraham took the fire in his hand and a knife." 8 
"And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jew- 
els of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah : he 
gave also to her brother and to her mother precious 
things." 4 When she met Isaac, Rebekah "took a veil 
and covered herself." 6 In the same connection are men- 
tioned the camel, ass, ox, sheep and goat, together with 
flocks and herds; the grain mill, the water pitcher, ear- 
rings, bracelets, tents, houses and cities. The bow and 
arrow, the sword, corn and wine, and fields sown with 
grain, are mentioned. They indicate the Upper Status 
of barbarism for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Writing in 
this branch of the Semitic family was probably then un- 
known. The degree of development shown corresponds 
substantially with that of the Homeric Greeks. 

Early Hebrew marriage customs indicate the presence 
of the gens, and in its archaic form. Abraham, by his 
servant, seemingly purchased Rebekah as a wife for 
Isaac ; the "precious things" being givep to the brother, 
and to the mother of the bride, but not to the father. In 
this case the presents went to the gentile kindred, pro- 
vided a gens existed, with descent in the female line. 
Again, Abraham married his half-sister Sarah. "And 
yet indeed," he says, "she is my sister ; she is the daughter 
of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and 
she became my wife." e 

With an existing gens and descent in the female line 
Abraham and Sarah would have belonged to different 
gentes, and although of blood kin they were not of gen- 
tile kin, and could have married by gentile usage. The 

i Ib., xviii, 6. 

a Ib., xviii, 8. 

3 Ib., xxii, 6. 

4 Ib., xxiv, 63. 

Jib., xxiv. 66. 

Ib., xx, i2. 

C5IDNTES |K Ortttfi* TfctBttS OF HUMAN FAMtLt 87$ 

case would have been reversed in both particulars with 
descent in the male line. Nahor married his niece, the 
daughter of his brother Haran ; 1 and Amram, the father 
of Moses, married his aunt, the sister of his father, who 
became the mother of the Hebrew lawgiver. 1 In these 
cases, with descent in the female line, the persons mar- 
rying would have belonged to different gentes ; but other- 
wise with descent in the male line. While these cases 
do not prove absolutely the existence of gentes, the 
latter would afford such an explanation of them as to 
raise a presumption of the existence of the gentile or- 
ganization in its archaic form. 

When the Mosaic legislation was completed the 
Hebrews were a civilized people, but not far enough 
advanced to institute political society. The scripture 
account shows that they were organized in a series of 
consanguine groups in an ascending scale, analogous to 
the gens, phratry and tribe of the Greeks. In the muster 
and organization of the Hebrews, both as a society and 
as an army, while in the Sinaitic peninsula, repeated ref- 
erences are made to these consanguine groups in an 
ascending series, the seeming equivalents of a gens, 
phratry and tribe. Thus, the tribe of Levi consisted of 
eight gentes organized in three phratries, as follows : 

Tribe of Levi. 
Sons ( I. Gershon. 7,500 Males. 

of ] II. Kohath. 8,600 " 
Levi. (ill. Merari. 6,aoo " 

I. Gershonite Phratry. 
Gentes. i. Libni. 2. Shimei. 

II. Kohathite Phratry. 

Gentes. i. Amram. 2. Ishar. 3. Hebron. 4. U**iel. 

III. Merarite Phratry. 
Gentes. i. Mahli. 2. Mushi. 

"Number the children of Levi after the house of their 

," xi, t. 

"Bxodui," vl, 20. 

880 ANCIENT aoctm-r 

fathers, by their families And these were the sons 

of Lev! by their names ;. Gershon, and Kohath, and Mer- 
ari. And these were the names of the sons of Gershon 
by their families; Libni, and Shimei. And the sons of 
Kohath by their families; Amram, and Izhar, Hebron, 
and Uzziel. And the sons of Merari by their families ; 
Mahli, and Mushi. These are the families of the Le- 
vites by the house of their fathers." l 

The description of these groups sometimes commences 
with the upper member of the series, and sometimes with 
the lower or the unit. Thus : "Of the children of Sim- 
eon, by their generations, after their families, by the 
house of their fathers." * Here the children of Simeon, 
with their generations, constitute the tribe; the families 
are the phratries; and the house of the father is the gens. 
Again : "And the chief of the house of the father of the 
families of the Kohathites shall be Elizaphan the son of 
Uzziel.' * Here we find the gens first, and then the 
phratry and last the tribe. The -person named was the 
chief of the phratry. Each house of the father also had its 
ensign or banner to distinguish it from others. "Every 
man of the children . of Israel shall pitch by his own 
standard, with the ensign of their father's house. 1 ** These 
terms describe actual organizations ; and they show that 
their military organization was by gentes, by phratries 
and by tribes. 

With respect to the first arid smallest of these groups, 
"the house of the father," it must have numbered several 
hundred persons from the figures given of the number 
in each phratry. The Hebrew term beth' ab, signifies 
paternal house, house of the father, and family house. If 
the Hebrews possessed the gens, it was this group of 
persons. The use of two terms to describe it would leave 
a doubt, unless individual families under monogamy had 
then become so numerous and so prominent that this cir- 
cumlocution was necessary- to cover the kindred. We 
have literally, the house of Amram, of Izhar, of Hebron, 

i "Numberi/' ill, 16-10. 

9 ib. t i, 22. 

3 Ib., ill, 80. 

4 Ib., II, 2. 


and of Uzziel; but as the Hebrews at that time could 
have had no conception of a house as now applied to a 
titled family, it probably signified, as used, kindred or 
lineage. 1 Since each division and subdivision is headed 
by a male, and since Hebrew descehts are traced through 
males exclusively, descent among them, at this time, was 
undoubtedly in the male line. Next in the ascending 
scale is the family, which seems to be a phratry. The 
Hebrew term for this organization, mishpacah, signifies 
union, clanship. It was composed of two or more houses 
of the father, derived by segmentation from an original 
group, and distinguished by a phratric name. It answers 
very closely to the phratry. The family or phratry had 
an annual sacrificial feast. f Lastly, the tribe, called in 
Hebrew matteh, which signifies a branch, stem or shoot, 
is the analogue of the Grecian tribe. 

Very few particulars are given respecting the rights, 
privileges and obligations of the members of these bodies 
of consanguine!. The idea of kin which united each or- 
ganization from the house of the father to the tribe, is 
carried out in a form much more marked and precise 
than in the corresponding organizations of Grecian, 
Latin or American Indian tribes. While the Athenian 
traditions claimed that the four tribes were derived from 
the four sons of Ion, they did not pretend to explain the 
origin of the gentes and phratries. On the contrary, the 
Hebrew account not only derives the twelve tribes gen- 
ealogically from the twelve sons of Jacob, but also the 
gentes and phratries from the children and descendants 
of eacli. Human experience furnishes no parallel of the 
growth of gentes and phratries precisely in this way. 
The account must be explained as a classification of exist- 
ing consanguine groups, according to the knowledge 
preserved by tradition, in doing which minor obstacles 
were overcome by legislative constraint. 

The Hebrews styled themselves the " People of Israel," 

i Kiel and Delltaschs, In their commentaries on Exodus vt. 
14, remark that "father's house was a technical term applied 
to a collection of families called by the name of a commop an- 
cestor." This is a fair definition of a arena. 

"f Samuel/' xx, f, I*. 


and also a "Congregation/' * It is a direct recognition of 
the fact that their organization was social, and not po- 

In Africa we encounter a chaos of savagery and bar- 
barism. Original arts and inventions have largely dis~ 
appeared, through fabrics and utensils introduced from 
external sources; but savagery in its lowest forms, can- 
nibalism included, and barbarism in its lowest forms pre- 
vail over the greater part of the continent. Among the 
interior tribes, there is a nearer approach to an indige- 
nous culture and to a normal condition; but Africa, in 
the main, is a barren ethnological field. 

Although the home of the Negro race, it is well known 
that their numbers are limited and their areas small. 
Latham significantly remarks that "the negro is an ex- 
ceptional African/ The Ashiras, Aponos, Ishogos and 
Ashangos, between the Congo and the Niger, visited by 
Du Chaillu, are of the true negro type. "Each village," 
he remarks, "had its chief, and further in the interior the 
villages seemed to be governed by elders, each elder with 
his people having a separate portion of the village to 
themselves. There was in each clan the ifoumou, fumou, 
or acknowledged head of the clan (ifoumou meaning the 
source, the father). I have never been able to obtain 
from the natives a knowledge concerning the splitting of 
their tribes into clans; they seemed not to know how it 
happened, but the formation of new clans does not take 
place now among them. . . . The house of a chief or 
elder is not better than those of his neighbors. The 
despotic form of government is unknown ..... A 
council of the elders is necessary before one is put to 
death ..... Tribes and clans intermarry with each 
other, and this brings about a friendly feeling among the 
people. People of the same clan cannot intermarry with 
each other. The least consanguinity is considered an 
abomination ; nevertheless the nephew has not the slight- 
est objection to take his uncle's wives, and, as among the 

u. IM. 


Balakai, the son takes his father's wives, except his own 
mother Polygamy and slavery exist every- 
where among the tribes I have visited The law 

of inheritance among the Western tribes is, that the next 
brother inherits the wealth of the eldest (women, slaves, 
etc.), but that if the youngest dies the eldest inherits his 
property, and if there are no brothers that the nephew 
inherits it. The headship of the clan or family is hered- 
itary, following the same law as that of the inheritance 
of property. In the case of all the brothers having died, 
the eldest son of the eldest sister inherits, and it goes on 
thus until the branch is extinguished, for all clans are 
considered as descended from the female side." 1 

All the elements of a true gens are embodied in the 
foregoing particulars, namely, descent is limited to one 
line, in this case the female, which gives the gens in its 
archaic form. Moreover, descent is in the female line 
with respect to office and to property, as well as the gen- 
tile name. The office of chief passes from brother to 
brother, or from uncle to nephew, that nephew being the 
son of a sister, as among the American aborigines ; whilst 
the sons are excluded because not members of the gens 
of the deceased chief. Marriage in the gens is also for- 
bidden. The only material omission in these precise 
statements is the names of some of the gentes. The 
hereditary feature requires further explanation. 

Among the Banyai of the Zambezi river, who are a 
people of higher grade than the negroes, Dr. Livingstone 
observed the following usages : 'The government of the 
Banyai is rather peculiar, being a sort of feudal republic- 
anism. The chief is elected, and they choose the son of 
a deceased chief's sister in preference to his own off- 
spring. When dissatisfied with one candidate, they even 
go to a distant tribe for a successor, who is usually of the 
family of the late chief, a brother, or a sister's son, but 

never his own son or daughter All the wives, 

goods, and children of his predecessor belong to him."* 

i "Ashaniro Land," Appletons' ed., p. 425, et seq. 

"Travels in South Africa," Appletons' ed. t ch. 80, p. 660. 
"When a young man takes a liking for a girl of anotner vll- 


Dr. Livingstone does not give the particulars of their so- 
cial organization; but the descent of the office of chief 
from brother to brother, or from uncle to nephew, im- 
plies the existence of the gens with descent in the female 

The numerous tribes occupying the country watered 
by the Zambezi, and from thence southward to Cape 
Colony, are regarded by the natives themselves, accord- 
ing to Dr. Livingstone, as one stock in three great divis- 
ions, the Bechuanas, the Basutos, and the Kafirs. 1 With 
respect to the former, he remarks that "the Bechuana 
tribe^ are named after certain animals, showing probably 
that in ancient times they were addicted to animal worship 
like the ancient Egyptians. The term Bakatla means 
'they of the Monkey'; Bakuona, 'they of the Alligator'; 
Batlapi, 'they of the Fish'; each tribe having a super- 
stitious dread of the animal after which it is called. . . 
A tribe never eats the animal which is its namesake. 
.... We find traces of many ancient tribes in individ- 
ual members of those now extinct ; as Batau, 'they of the 
Lion'; Banoga, 'they of the Serpent/ though no such 
tribes now exist."* These animal names are suggestive 
of the gens rather than the tribe. Moreover, the fact 
that single individuals are found, each of whom was the 
last survivor of his tribe, would be more likely to have 
occurred if gens were understood in the place of tribe. 
Among the Bangalas of the Cassange Valley, in Argola, 
Livingstone remarks that "a chief's brother inherits in 
preference to his sons. The sons of a sister belong to her 
brother ; and he often sells his nephews to pay his debts.** 
Here again we have evidence of descent in the female 
line ; but his statements are too brief and general in these 
and other cases to show definitely whether or not they 
possessed the gens. 

lage, and the parents have no objection to the match, he in 
obliged to come and live at their village. He ha* to perform 
certain services for the mother-in-law. .... If he becomes tired 
of living in this state of vassalage, and wishes to return to 
his own family, he is obliged to leave all his children behind 
they belong to his wife."- Ib., p. 667. 
i "Travel in South Africa," p. $19, 
* Ib. 9 p. 471. 
3 |b., j>. 471, 


Among the Australians the gentes of the Kamilaroi 
have already been noticed. In ethnical position the 
aborigines of this great island are near the bottom of the 
scale. When discovered they were not only savages, but 
in a low condition of savagery. Some of the tribes were 
cannibals. Upon this last question Mr. Fison, before 
mentioned, writes as follows to the author: "Some, at 
least, of the tribes are cannibals. The evidence of this 
is conclusive. The Wide Bay tribes eat not only their 
enemies slain in battle, but their friends also who have 
been killed, and even those who have died a natural death, 
provided they, are in good condition. Before eating they 
skin them, and preserve the skins by rubbing them with 
mingled fat and charcoal. These skins they prize very 
highly, believing them to have great medicinal value." 

Such pictures of human life enable us to understand 
the condition of savagery, the grade of its usages, the 
degree of material development, and the low level of the 
mental and moral life of the people. Australian human- 
ity, as seen in their cannibal customs, stands on as low a 
plane as it has been known to touch on the earth. And 
yet the Australians possessed an area of continental 
dimensions, rich in minerals, not uncongenial in climate, 
and fairly supplied with the means of subsistence. But 
after an occupation which must be measured by thou- 
sands of years, they are still savages of the grade above 
indicated. Left to themselves they would probably have 
remained for thousands of years to come, not without 
any, but with such slight improvement as scarcely to 
lighten the dark shade of their savage state. 

Among the Australians, whose institutions are normal 
and homogeneous, the organization into gentes is not 
confined to the Kamilaroi, but seems to be universal. The 
Narrinyeri of South Australia, near Lacepede Bay are 
organized in gentes named after animals and insects. 
Rev. George Taplin, writing to my friend Mr. Fison, 
after stating that the Narrinyeri do not marry into their 
own gens, and that the children were of the gens of their 
father, continues as follows : "There are no castes, nor 
are there any classes, similar to those of the Kamilaroi- 


tribes of New South Wales. But each tribe or 
family {and a tribe is a family) has its totem, or ngaityej 
and indeed some individuals have this ngaitye. It is 
regarded as the man's tutelary genius. It is some animal, 

bird, or insect The natives are very strict 

in their marriage arrangements. A tribe [gens] is con- 
sidered a family, and a man never marries into his own 

Mr. Fison also writes, "that among the tribes of the 
Maranoa district, Queensland, whose dialect is called 
Urghi, according to information communicated to me by 
Mr. A. S. P. Cameron, the same classification exists as 
among the Kamilaroi-speaking tribes, both as to the class 
names and the totems/' With respect to the Australians 
of the Darling River, upon information communicated by 
Mr. Charles G. N. Lockwood, he further remarks, that 
"they are subdivided into tribes (gentes), mentioning the 
Emu, Wild Duck, and Kangaroo, but without saying 
whether there are others, and that the children take both 
the class name and totem of the mother/' 1 

From the existence of the gentile organization among 
the tribes named its general prevalence among the Austra- 
lian aborigines is rendered probable ; although the institu- 
tion, as has elsewhere been pointed out, is in the incipient 
stages of its development. 

Our information with respect to the domestic institu- 
tions of the inhabitants of Polynesia, Micronesia and the 
Papuan Islands is still limited and imperfect. No traces 
of the gentile organization have been discovered among 
the Hawaiians, Samoans, Marquesas Islanders or New 
Zealanders. Their system of consanguinity is still prim- 
itive, showing that their institutions have not advanced 
as far as this organization presupposes. 1 In some of the 
Micronesian Islands the office of chief is transmitted 
through females; 1 but this usage might exist indepen- 
dently of the gens. The Fijians are subdivided into 
several tribes speaking dialects of the same stock Ian- 

i See Atoo Taylor'1 "Early History, of Mankind," p. 284. 
"8ytera or Conmurulnity," etc.; loe. ctt., pp. 461, 481. 
3"MUaiofcary Herald," 1SSS, p. 00. 


guage. One of these, the Rewas, consists of four subdivi- 
sions under* distinctive names, and each of these is again 
subdivided. It does not seem probable that the last sub- 
divisions are gentes, for the reason, among others, that 
its members are allowed to intermarry. Descent is in the 
male line. In like manner the Tongans are composed of 
divisions, which are again subdivided the same as the 

Around the simple ideas relating to marriage and the 
family, to subsistence and to government, the earliest 
social organizations were formed ; and with them an ex- 
position of the structure and principle of ancient society 
must commence. Adopting the theory of a progressive 
development of mankind through the experience of the 
ages, the insulation of the inhabitants of Oceanica, their 
limited local areas, and their restricted means of sub- 
sistence predetermined a slow rate of progress. They 
still represent a condition of mankind on the continent of 
Asia in times immensely remote from the present ; and 
while peculiarities, incident to their insulation, undoubt- 
edly exist, these island societies represent one of the early 
phases of the great stream of human progress. An ex- 
position of their institutions, inventions and discoveries, 
and mental and moral traits, would supply one of the 
great needs of anthropological science. 

This concludes the discussion of the organization into 
gentes, and the range of its distribution. The organiza- 
tion has been found among the Australians and African 
Negroes, with traces of the system in other African 
tribes. It has been found generally prevalent among that 
portion of the American aborigines who when discovered 
were in the Lower Status of barbarism ; and also among 
a portion of the Village Indians who were in the Middle 
Status of barbarism. In like manner it existed in full 
vitality among the Grecian and Latin tribes in the Upper 
Status of barbarism ; with traces of it in several of the 
remaining branches of the Aryan family. The organiza- 
tion has been found, or traces of its existence, in the 
Turanian, Uralian and Mongolian families ; in the Tun- 
gusian and Chinese stocks, and in the Semitic family 


among the Hebrews. Facts sufficiently numerous and 
commanding have been adduced to claim for it an ancient 
universality in the human family, as well as a general 
prevalence through the latter part of the period of savag- 
ery, and throughout the period of barbarism. 

The investigation has also arrayed a sufficient body of 
facts to demonstrate that this remarkable institution was 
the origin and the basis of Ancient Society. It was the 
first organic principle, developed through experience, 
which was able to organize society upon a definite plan, 
and hold it in organic unity until it was sufficiently 
advanced for the transition into political society. Its 
antiquity, its substantial universality and its enduring 
vitality are sufficiently shown by its perpetuation upon all 
the continents to the present time. The wonderful adapt- 
ability of the gentile organization to the wants of man- 
kind in these several periods and conditions is sufficiently 
attested by its prevalence and by its preservation. It has 
been identified with the most eventful portion of the ex- 
perience of mankind. 

Whether the gens originates spontaneously in a given 
condition of society, and would thus repeat itself in 
disconnected areas ; or whether it had a single origin, and 
was propagated from an original center, through succes- 
sive migrations, over the earth's surface, are fair ques- 
tions for speculative consideration. The latter hypothesis, 
with a simple modification, seems to be the better one, 
for the following reasons : We find that two forms of 
marriage, and two forms of the family preceded the 
institution of the gens. It required a peculiar experience 
to attain to the second form of marriage and of the 
family, and to supplement this experience by the inven- 
tion of the gens. This second form of the family was the 
final result, through natural selection, of the reduction 
within narrower limits of a stupendous conjugal system 
which enfolded savage man and held him with a power- 
ful grasp. His final deliverance was too remarkable and 
too improbable, as it would seem, to be repeated many 
different times, and in widely separated areas. Groups 
of consanguinei, united for protection and subsistence, 


doubtless, existed from the infancy of the human family ; 
but the gens is a very different body of kindred. It takes 
a part and excludes the remainder ; it organized this part 
on the bond of kin, under a common name, and with 
common rights and privileges. Intermarriage in the gens 
was prohibited to secure the benefits of marrying out 
with unrelated persons, This was a vital principle of the 
organism as well as one most difficult of establishment 
Instead of a natural and obvious conception, the gens was 
essentially abstruse ; and, as such, a product of high intel- 
ligence for the times in which it originated. It required 
long periods of tim^., after the idea was developed into 
life, to bring it to maturity with its uses evolved. The 
Polynesians had this punaluan family, but failed of 
inventing the gens ; the Australians had the same form of 
the family and possessed the gens. It originates in the 
punaluan family, and whatever tribes had attained to it 
possessed the elements out of which the gens was formed. 
This is the modification of the hypothesis suggested. In 
the prior organization, on the basis of sex, the germ of 
the, gens existed. When the gens had become fully devel- 
oped in its archaic form it would propagate itself over 
immense areas through the superior powers of an im- 
proved stock thus created. Its propagation is more easily 
explained than its institution. These considerations tend 
to show, the improbability of its repeated reproduction in 
disconnected areas. On the other hand, its beneficial 
effects in producing a stock of savages superior to any 
then existing upon the earth must be admitted. When 
migrations were flights under the law of savage life, or 
movements in quest of better areas, such a stock would 
spread in wave after wave until it covered the larger part 
of the earth's surface. A consideration of the principal 
facts now ascertained bearing upon this question seems 
to favor the hypothesis of a single origin of the organiza- 
tion into gentes, unless we go back of this to the Austra- 
lian classes, which gave the punaluan famijy out of which 
the gens originated, and regard these classes as the orig- 
inal basis of ancient society. In this event wherever the 
classes were established, the gens existed potentially. 


Assuming the unity of origin of mankind, the occupA* 
tion of the earth occurred through migrations from an 
original center. The Asiatic continent must then be 
regarded as the cradle-land of the species, from the great- 
er number of original types of man it contains in com- 
parison with Europe, Africa and America. It would also 
follow that the separation of the Negroes and Australians 
from the common stem occurred when society was organ- 
ized on the basis of sex, and when the family was puna- 
luan; that the Polynesian migration occurred later, but 
with society similarly constituted; and finally, that the 
Ganowanian migration to America occurred later still, 
and after the institution of the gentes. These inferences 
are put forward simply as suggestions. 

A knowledge of the gens and its attributes, and of the 
range of its distribution, is absolutely necessary to a prop- 
er comprehension of Ancient Society. This is the great 
subject now requiring special and extended investigation. 
This society among the ancestors of civilized nations at- 
tained its highest development in the last days of bar- 
barism. But there were phases of that same society far 
back in the anterior ages, which must now be sought 
among barbarians and savages in corresponding condi- 
tions. The idea of organized society has been a growth 
through the entire existence of the human race ; its sev- 
eral phases are logically connected, the one giving birth 
to the other in succession, and that form of it we have 
been contemplating originated in the gens. No other insti- 
tution of mankind has held such an ancient and remark* 
able relation to the course of human progress. The real 
history of mankind is contained in the history of the 
growth and development of institutions, of which the 
gens is but one. It is, however, the basis of those which 
have exercised the most material influence upon human 




We have been accustomed to regard the monogarnian 
family as the form which has always existed; but inter- 
rupted in exceptional areas by the patriarchal. Instead 
of this, the idea of the family has been a growth 1 through 
successive stages of development, the monogamian being 
the last in its series of forms. It will be my object to 
show that it was preceded by more ancient forms which 
prevailed universally throughout the period of savagery, 
through the Older and into the Middle Period of barbar- 
ism ; and that neither the monogamian nor the patriarchal 
can be traced back of the Later Period of barbarism. 
They were essentially modern. Moreover, they were im- 
possible in ancient society, until an anterior experience 
under earlier forms in every race of mankind had pre- 
pared the way for their introduction. 

Five different and successive forms may now be distin- 
guished, each having an institution of marriage peculiar 
to itself. They are the following : 

I. The Consanguine Family. 

It was founded upon the intermarriage of brothers and 
sisters, own and collateral, in a group. 

II. The Punaluan Family. 

It was founded upon the intermarriage of several sis- 
ters, own and collateral, with each other's husbands, in a 
group ; the joint husbands not being necessarily kinsmen 
of -each other. Also, on the intermarriage of several 
brothers, own and collateral, with each other's wives, in 
a group ; these wives not being necessarily of kin to each 

&4 AtfClfitft SOCtfiT? 

other, although often the case in both instances. In each 
case the group of men were conjointly married to the 
group of women. 

III. The Syndyasmian or Pairing Family. 

It was founded upon marriage between single pairs, 
but without an exclusive cohabitation. The marriage 
continued during the pleasure of the parties. 

IV. The Patriarchal Family. 

It was founded upon the marriage of one man with 
several wives; followed, in general, by the seclusion of 
the wives. 

V. The Monogamian Family. 

It was founded upon marriage between single pairs, 
with an exclusive cohabitation. 

Three of these forms, namely, the first, second, and 
fifth, were radical ; because they were sufficiently general 
and influential to create three distinct systems of con- 
sanguinity, all of which still exist in living forms. 
Conversely, these systems are sufficient of themselves to 
prove the antecedent existence of the forms of the family 
and of marriage, with which they severally stand con- 
nected. The remaining two, the syndyasmian and the 
patriarchal, were intermediate, and not sufficiently influ- 
ential upon human affairs to create a new, or modify 
essential!}' the then existing system of consanguinity. It 
will not be supposed that these types of the family are 
separated from each other by sharply defined lines; on 
the contrary, the first passes into the second, the second 
into the third, and the third into the fifth by insensible 
gradations. The propositions to be elucidated and estab- 
lished are, that they have sprung successively one from 
the other, and that they represent collectively the growth 
of the idea of the family. 

In order to explain the rise of these several forms of 
the family and of marriage, it will be necessary to present 
the substance of the system of consanguinity and affinity 
which pertains to each. These systems embody com- 
pendious and decisive evidence, free from all suspicion of 
design, bearing directly upon the question. Moreover, 
they speak with an authority and certainty which leave 


fto room to doubt the inferences therefrom. But a system 
of consanguinity is intricate and perplexing until it is 
brought into familiarity. It will tax the reader's patience 
to look into the subject far enough to be able to test the 
value and weight of the evidence it contains. Having 
treated at length, in a previous work, the "Systems of 
Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family," 1 I 
ghall confine the statements herein to the material facts, 
reduced to the lowest number consistent with intelligi- 
bility, making reference to the other work for fuller 
details, and for the general Tables. The importance of 
the main proposition as a part of the history of man, 
namely, that the family has been a growth through sev- 
eral successive forms, is a commanding reason for the pre- 
sentation and study of these systems, if they can in truth 
establish the fact. It will require this and the four suc- 
ceeding chapters to make a brief general exhibition of 
the proof. 

The most primitive system of consanguinity yet discov- 
ered is found among the Polynesians, of which the 
Hawaiian will be used as typical. I have called it the 
Malayan system. Under it all consanguinei, near and 
remote, fall within some one of the following relation- 
ships; namely, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, 
brother, and sister. No other blood relationships are 
recognized. Beside these are the marriage relationships. 
This system of consanguinity came in with the first form 
of the family, the consanguine, and contains the principal 
evidence of its ancient existence. It may seem a narrow 
basis for so important an inference ; but if we are justi- 
fied in assuming that each relationship as recognized was 
the one which actually existed, the inference is fully 
sustained. This system prevailed very generally in Pol- 
ynesia, although the family among them had passed out 
of the consanguine into the punaluan. It remained 
unchanged because no motive sufficiently strong, and no 
alteration of institutions sufficiently radical had occurred 
to produce its modification. Intermarriage between broth- 

i "Smithsonian Contribution* to Knowledge," voL 


ers and sisters had not entirely disappeared from the 
Sandwich Island when the American missions, about 
fifty years ago, were established among them. Of the 
ancient general prevalence of this system of consanguin- 
ity over Asia there can be no doubt, because it is the basis 
of the Turanian system still prevalent in Asia. It also 
underlies the Chinese. 

In course of time, a second great system of consanguin- 
ity, the Turanian, supervened upon the first, and spread 
over a large part of the earth's surface. It was universal 
among the North American aborigines, and has been 
traced sufficiently among those of South America to 
render probable its equally universal prevalence among 
them. Traces of it have been found in parts of Africa ; 
but the system of the African tribes in general ap- 
proaches nearer the Malayan. It still prevails in South 
India among the Hindus who speak dialects of the Dra- 
vidian language, and also, in a modified form, in North 
India, among the Hindus who speak dialects of the Gaurn 
language. It also prevails in Australia in a partially 
developed state, where it seems to have originated either 
in the organization into classes, or in the incipient organ- 
ization into gentes, which led to the same result. In the 
principal tribes of the Turanian and Ganowanian families, 
it owes its origin to punaluan marriage in the group and 
to the gentile organization, the latter of which tended to 
repress consanguine marriages. It has been shown how 
this was accomplished by the prohibition of intermarriage 
in the gens, which permanently excluded own brothers 
and sisters from the marriage relation. When the Turan- 
ian system of consanguinity came in the form of the 
family was punaluan. This is proven by the fact that 
punaluan marriage in the group explains the principal 
relationships under the system ; showing them to be those 
which would actually exist in virtue of this form of 
marriage. Through the logic of the facts we are enabled 
to show that the punaluan family was once as wide-spread 
as the Turanian system of consanguinity. To the or- 
ganization into gentes and the punaluan family, the 
Turanian system of consanguinity must be ascribed. It will 


be seen in the sequel that this system was formed out of 
the Malayan, by changing those relationship^ only which 
resulted from the previous intermarriage of brothers and 
sisters, own and collateral, and which were, in fact, 
changed by the gentes ; thus proving the direct connection 
between them. The powerful influence of the gentile or- 
ganization upon society, and particularly upon the puna- 
luan group, is demonstrated by this change of systems. 

The Turanian system is simply stupendous. It recog- 
nizes all the relationships known under the Aryan system, 
besides an additional number unnoticed by the latter. 
Consanguine!, near and remote, are classified into cate- 
gories; and are traced, by means peculiar to the system, 
far beyond the ordinary range of the Aryan system. In 
familiar and in formal salutation, the people address each 
other by the term of relationship, and never by the per- 
sonal name, which tends to spread abroad a knowledge 
of the system as well as to preserve, by constant recogni- 
tion, the relationship of the most distant kindred. Where 
no relationship exists, the form of saluation is simply 
"my friend." No other system of consanguinity found 
among men approaches it in elaborateness of discrimina- 
tion or in the extent of special characteristics. 

When the American aborigines were discovered, the 
family among them had passed out of the punaluan into 
the sydyasmian form ; so that the relationships recognized 
by the system of consanguinity were not those, in a num- 
ber of cases, which actually existed in the syndyasmian 
family. It was an exact repetition of what had occur- 
red under the Malayan system, where the family had 
passed out of the consanguine into the punaluan, 
the system of consanguinity remaining unchanged; so 
that while the relationships given in the Malayan 
system were those which actually existed in the 
consanguine family, they were untrue to a part 
of those in the punaluan family. In like 
manner, while the relationships given in the Turanian 
system are those which actually existed in the punaluan 
family, they were untrue to a part of those in the syndy- 
asmian. The form of the family advances faster of 


necessity than systems of consanguinity, which follow to 
record the family relationships. As the establishment of 
the punaluan family did not furnish adequate motives to 
reform the Malayan system, so the growth of the syndy- 
asmian family did not supply adequate motives to reform 
the Turanian. It required an institution as great as the 
gentile organization to change the Malayan system into 
the Turanian; and it required an institution as great as 
property in the concrete, with its rights of ownership and 
of inheritance, together with the monogamian family 
which it created, to overthrow the Turanian system of 
consanguinity and substitute the Aryan. 

In further course of time a third great system of con- 
sanguinity came in, which may be called, at pleasure, the 
Aryan, Semitic, or Uralian, and probably superseded a 
prior Turanian system among the principal nations, who 
afterwards attained civilization. It is the system which 
defines the relationships in the monogamian family. This 
system was not based upon the Turanian, as the latter 
was upon the Malayan ; but it superseded among civilized 
nations a previous Turanian system, as can be shown by 
other proofs. 

The last four forms of the family have existed within the 
historical period; but the first, the consanguine, has dis- 
appeared. Its ancient existence, however, can be deduced 
from the Malayan system of consanguinity. We have 
then three radical forms of the family, which represent 
three great and essentially different conditions of life, 
with three different and well-marked systems of con- 
sanguinity, sufficient to prove the existence of these fam- 
ilies, if they contained the only proofs remaining. This 
affirmation' will serve to draw attention to the singular 
permanence and persistency of systems of consanguinity, 
and to the value of the evidence they embody with respect 
to the condition of ancient society. 

Each of these families ran a long course in the tribes 
of mankind, with a period of infancy, of maturity, and 
of decadence. The monogamian family owes its origin 
to property, as the syndyasmian, which contained its 
germ, owed its origin to the gens. When the Grecian 


tribes first came under historical notice, the monogamian 
family existed; but it did not become completely estab- 
lished until positive legislation had determined its status 
and its rights. The growth of the idea of property in 
the human mind, through its creation and enjoyment, and 
especially through the settlement of legal rights with 
respect to its inheritance, are intimately connected with 
the establishment of this form of the family. Property 
became sufficiently powerful in its influence to touch the 
organic structure of society. Certainty with respect to 
the paternity of children would now have a significance 
unknown in previous conditions. Marriage between sin- 
gle pairs had existed from the Older Period of barbarism, 
under the form of pairing during the pleasure of the 
parties. It had tended to grow more stable as ancient 
society advanced, with the improvement of institutions, 
and with the progress of inventions and discoveries into 
higher successive conditions ; but the essential element of 
the monogamian family, an exclusive cohabitation, was 
still wanting. Man far back in barbarism began to exact 
fidelity from the wife, under savage penalties, but he 
claimed exemption for himself. The obligation is neces- 
sarily reciprocal, and its performance correlative. Among 
the Homeric Greeks, the condition of woman in the fam- 
ily relation was one of isolation and marital domination, 
with imperfect rights and excessive inequality. A com- 
parison of the Grecian family, at successive epochs, from 
the Homeric age to that of Pericles, shows a sensible 
improvement, with its gradual settlement into a defined 
institution. The modern family is an unquestionable im- 
provement upon that of the Greeks and Romans ; because 
woman has gained immensely in social position. From 
standing in the relation of a daughter to her husband, as 
among the Greeks and Romans, she has drawn nearer to 
an equality in dignity and in acknowledged personal 
rights. We have a record of the monogamian family, 
running back nearly three thousand years, during which, 
it may be claimed, there has been a gradual but continu- 
ous improvement in its character. It is destined to pro- 
gress still further, until the equality of the sexes is 


acknowledged, and the equities of the marriage relation 
are completely recognized. We have similar evidence, 
though not so perfect, of the progressive improvement of 
the syndyasmian family, which, commencing in a low 
type, ended in the monogamian. These facts should be 
held in remembrance, because they are essential in this 

In previous chapters attention has been called to the 
stupendous conjugal system which fastened itself upon 
mankind in the infancy of their existence, and followed 
them down to civilization ; although steadily losing ground 
with the progressive improvement of society. The ratio 
of human progress may be measured to some extent by 
the degree of the reduction of this system through the 
moral elements of society arrayed against it. Each suc- 
cessive form of the family and of marriage is a signifi- 
cant registration of this reduction. After it, was reduced 
to zero, and not until then, was the monogamian family 
possible. This family can be traced far back in the Later 
Period of barbarism, where it disappears in the syndy- 

Some impression is thus gained of the ages which 
elapsed while these two forms of the family were run- 
ning their courses of growth and development. But the 
creation of five successive forms of the family, each dif- 
fering from the other, and belonging to conditions of 
society entirely dissimilar, augments our conception of the 
length of the periods during which the idea of the family 
was developed from the consanguine, through interme- 
diate forms, into the still advancing monogamian. No 
institution of mankind has had a more remarkable or 
more eventful history, or embodies the results of a more 
prolonged and diversified experience. It required the 
highest mental and moral efforts through numberless 
ages of time to maintain its existence and carry it through 
its several stages into its present form. 

Marriage passed from the punaluan through the syn- 
dyasmian into the monogamian form without any mate- 
rial change in the Turanian system of consanguinity. This 
system, which records the relationships in punaluan fam- 


ilies, t *mained substantially unchanged until the establish- 
ment uf the monogamian family, when it became almost 
totally untrue to the nature of descents, and even a scan- 
dal upon monogamy. To illustrate : Under the Malayan 
system a man calls his brother's son his son, because his 
brother's wife is his wife as well as his brother's; and 
his sister's son is also his son because his sister is his 
wife. Under the Turanian system his brother's son is 
still hi* son, and for the same reason, but his sister's son 
is now his nephew, because under the gentile organiza- 
tion hi; sister has ceased to be his wife. Among the Iro- 
quois, where the family is syndyasmian, a man still calls 
his brother's son his son, although his brother's wife has 
ceased to be his wife; and so with a large number of 
relationships equally inconsistent with the existing form 
of marriage. The system has survived the usages in 
which it originated, and still maintains itself among them, 
although untrue in the main, to descents as they now 
exist. No motive adequate to the overthrow of a great 
and ancient system of consanguinity had arisen. Mo- 
nogamy when it appeared furnished that motive to the 
Aryan nations as they drew near to civilization. It 
assured the paternity of children and the legitimacy of 
heirs. A reformation of the Turanian system to accord 
with monogamian descents was impossible. It was false 
to monogamy through and through. A remedy, how- 
ever, existed, at once simple and complete. The Turan- 
ian system was dropped, and the descriptive method, 
which the Turanian tribes always employed when they 
wished to make a given relationship specific, was sub- 
stituted in its place. They fell back upon the bare facts 
of consanguinity and described the relationship of each 
person by a combination of the primary .terms. Thus, 
they Miid brother's son, brother's grandson; father's 
brother, and father's brother's son. Each phrase described 
a person, leaving the relationship a matter of implication. 
Such was the system of the Aryan nations, as we find it 
in its most ancient form among the Grecian, Latin, Saih* 
skritic, Germanic, and Celtic tribes ; and also in the Sem- 
itic, as witness the Hebrew Scripture genealogies. Trace* 


of the Turanian system, some of which have been referred 
to, remained among the Aryan and Semitic nations down 
to the historical period ; but it was essentially uprooted, 
and the descriptive system substituted in its place. 

To illustrate and confirm these several propositions it 
will be necessary to take up, in the order of their origina- 
tion, these three systems and the three radical forms of 
the family, which appeared in connection with them 
respectively. They mutually interpret each other. 

A system of consanguinity considered in itself is of but 
little importance. Limited in the number of ideas it 
embodies, and resting apparently upon simple sugges- 
tions, it would seem incapable of affording useful infor- 
mation, and much less of throwing light upon the early 
condition of mankind. Such, at least, would be the nat- 
ural conclusion when the relationships of a group of kin- 
dred are considered in the abstract. But when the system 
of many tribes is compared, and it is seen to rank as a 
domestic institution, and to have transmitted itself 
through immensely protracted periods of time, it assumes 
a very different aspect. Three such systems, one succeed- 
ing the other, represent the entire growth of the family 
from the consanguine to the monogamian. Since we have 
a right to suppose that each one expresses the actual rela- 
tionships which existed in the family at the time of its 
establishment, it reveals, in turn, the form of marriage 
and of the family which then prevailed, although both 
may have advanced into a higher stage while the system 
of consanguinity remained unchanged. 

It will be noticed, further, that these systems are nat- 
ural growths with the progress of society from a lower 
into a higher condition, the change in each case being 
marked by the appearance of some institution affecting 
deeply the constitution of society. The relationship of 
mother and child, of brother and sister, and of grand- 
mother and grandchild has been ascertainable in all 
ages with entire certainty ; but those of father and child, 
and of grandfather and grandchild were not ascertainable 
with certainty until monogamy contributed the highest 
assurance attainable. A number of persons would stand 


n each of these relations at the same time as equally 
probable when marriage was in the group. In the rudest 
conditions of ancient society these relationships would be 
perceived, both the actual and the probable, and terms 
would be invented to express them. A system of con- 
sanguinity would result in time from the continued appli- 
cation of these terms to persons thus formed into a group 
of kindred. But the form of the system, as before stated, 
would depend upon the form of marriage. Where mar- 
riages were between brothers and sisters, own and col- 
lateral, in the group, the family would be consanguine, 
and the system of consanguinity Malayan. Where mar- 
riages were between several sisters with each other's hus- 
bands in a group, and between several brothers with each 
other's wives in a group, the family would be punaluan, 
and the system of consanguinity Turanian; and where 
marriage was between single pairs, with an exclusive 
cohabitation, the family would be monogamian, and the 
system of consanguinity would be Aryan. Consequently 
the three systems are founded upon three forms of mar- 
riage ; and they seek to express, as near as the fact could 
be known, the actual relationship which existed between 
persons under these forms of marriage respectively. It 
will be seen, therefore, that they do not rest upon nature, 
but upon marriage ; not upon fictitious considerations, but 
upon fact; and that each in its turn is a logical as well 
as truthful system. The evidence they contain is of the 
highest value, as well as of the most suggestive character. 
It reveals the condition of ancient society in the plainest 
manner with unerring directness. 

These systems resolve themselves into two ultimate 
forms, fundamentally distinct. One of these is classifi- 
catory, and the other descriptive. Under the first, con- 
sanguine! are never described, but are classified into cat- 
egories, irrespective of their nearness or remoteness in 
degree to Ego; and the same term of relationship is 
applied to all the persons in the same category. Thus my 
own brothers, and the sons of my father's brothers are all 
alike my brothers ; my own sisters, and the daughters of 
my mother's sisters are all alike my sisters; such is the 


classification under both the Malayan and Turanian sys- 
tems. In the second case consanguine! are described 
either by the primary terms of relationship or a combi- 
nation of these terms, thus making the relationship of 
each person specific. Thus we say brother's son, father's 
brother, and father's brother's son. Such was the system 
of the Aryan, Semitic, and Uralian families, which came 
in with monogamy. A small amount of classification was 
subsequently introduced by the invention of common 
terms ; but the earliest form of the system, of which the 
Erse and Scandinavian are typical, was purely descrip- 
tive, as illustrated by the above examples. The radical 
difference between the two systems resulted from plural 
marriages in the group in one case, and from single mar- 
riages between single pairs in the other. 

While the descriptive system is the same in the Aryan, 
Semitic, and Uralian families, the classificatory has two 
distinct forms. First, the Malayan, which is the oldest 
in point of time; and second, the Turanian and Gano- 
wanian, which are essentially alike and were formed by 
the modification of a previous Malayan system. 

A brief reference to our own system of consanguinity 
will bring into notice the principles which underlie all 

Relationships are of two kinds : First, by consanguinity 
or blood ; second, by affinity or marriage. Consanguinity 
is also of two kinds, lineal and collateral. Lineal consan- 
guinity is the connection which subsists among persons 
of whom one is descended from the other. Collateral 
consanguinity is the connection which exists between per- 
sons who are descended from common ancestors, but not 
from each other. Marriage relationships exist by custom. 

Not to enter too specially into the subject, it may be 
stated generally that in every system of consanguinity, 
where marriage between single pairs exists, there must 
be a lineal and several collateral lines, the latter diverg- 
ing from the former. Each person is the centre of a 
group of kindred, the Ego from whom the degree of rela- 
tionship of each person is reckoned, and to whom the rela- 
tionship, returns. His position is necessarily in the lineal 


line, and that line is vertical. Upon it may be inscribed, 
above and below him, his several ancestors and descend* 
ants in a direct series from father to son, and these per- 
sons together will constitute his right lineal male line. 
Out of this trunk line emerge the several collateral lines, 
male and female, which are numbered outwardly. It will 
be sufficient for a perfect knowledge of the system to rec- 
ognize the main lineal line, and a single male and female 
branch of the first five collateral lines, including those on 
the father's side, and on the mother's side, and proceed- 
ing in each case from the parent to one only of his or 
her children, although it will include but a small portion 
of the kindred of Ego, either in the ascending or descend- 
ing series. An attempt to follow all the divisions and 
branches of the several collateral lines, which increase in 
number in the ascending series in a geometrical ratio, 
would not render the system more intelligible. 

The first collateral line, male, consists of my brother 
and his descendants; and the first, female, of my sister 
and her descendants. The second collateral line, male, on 
the father's side, consists of my father's brother and his 
descendants ; and the second, female, of my father's sister 
and her descendants: the second, male, on the mother's 
side, is composed of my mother's brother and his de- 
scendants ; and the second, female, of my mother's sister 
and her descendants. The third collateral line, male, on 
the father's side, consists of my grandfather's brother and 
his descendants ; and the third, female, of my grandfath- 
er's sister and her descendants ; on the mother's side the 
same line, in its male and female branches, is composed of 
my grandmother's brother and sister and their descend- 
ants respectively. It will be noticed, in the last case, that 
we have turned out of the lineal line on the father's side 
into that on the mother's side. The fourth collateral line, 
male and female, commences with great-grandfather's 
brother and sister : and great-grandmother's brother and 
sister : and the fifth collateral line, male and female, with 
great-great-grandfather's brother and sister; and with 
great-great-grandmother's brother and sister, and each 


line and branch is run out in the same manner as the 
third. These five lines, with the lineal, embrace the great 
body of our kindred, who are within the range of prac- 
tical recognition. 

An additional explanation of these several lines is 
required. If I have several brothers and sisters, they, 
with their descendants, constitute as many lines, each in- 
dependent of the other, as I have brothers and sisters; 
but altogether they form my first collateral line in two 
branches, a male and a female. In like manner, the sev- 
eral brothers and sisters of my father, and of my mother, 
with their respective descendants, make up as many lines, 
each independent of the other, as there are brothers and 
sisters; but they all unite to form the second collateral 
line in two divisions, that on the father's side, and that 
on the mother's side ; and in four principal branches, two 
male, and two female. If the third collateral line were 
run out fully, in its several branches, it would give four 
general divisions of ancestors, and eight principal 
branches ; and the number of each would increase in the 
same ratio in each successive collateral line. 

With such a mass of divisions and branches, embracing 
such a multitude of consanguinei, it will be seen at once 
that a method of arrangement and of description which 
maintained each distinct and rendered the whole intelli- 
gible would be no ordinary achievement. This task was 
perfectly accomplished -by the Roman civilians, whose 
method has been adopted by the principal European 
nations, and is so entirely simple as to elicit admiration. 1 
The development of the nomenclature to the requisite 
extent must have been so extremely difficult that it would 
probably never have occurred except under the stimulus 
of an urgent necessity, namely, the need of a code of 
descents to regulate the inheritance of property. 

To render the new form attainable, it was necessary to 
discriminate the relationships of uncle and aunt on the 
father's side and on the mother's side by concrete terms, 

"Pandecti," lib. xxxvlli, title x. De f radibui, et ad flnibin 

' " eorum: and "Int r " 

u* eofnationem. 

et nominlbui* eorum: and ''Institute* of Justinian," lib. ill/ title 
Yt De *rdlb 


an achievement made in a few only of the languages of 
mankind. These terms finally appeared among the 
Romans in patruus and amita, for uncle and aunt on the 
father's side, and in avunculus and matertera for the 
same on the mother's side. After these were invented, 
the improved Roman method of describing consanguine! 
became established. 1 It has been adopted, in its essen- 
tial features, by the several branches of the Aryan family, 
with the exception of the Erse, the Scandinavian, and the 

The Aryan system necessarily took the descriptive form 
when the Turanian was abandoned, as in the Erse. Every 
relationship in the lineal and first five collateral lines, to 
the number of one hundred and more, stands independent, 
requiring as many descriptive phases, or the gradual in- 
vention of common terms. 

It will be noticed that the two radical forms the clas- 
sificatory and descriptive yield nearly the exact line of 
demarkation between the barbarous and civilized nations. 
Such a result might have been predicted from the law of 
progress revealed by these several forms of marriage and 
of the family. 

Systems of consanguinity are neither adopted, modi- 
fied, nor laid aside at pleasure. They are identified in their 
origin with organic movements of society which produced 
a great change of condition. When a particular form had 
come into general use, with its nomenclature invented and 
its methods settled, it would, from the nature of the case, 
be very slow to change. Every human being is the centre 
of a group of kindred, and therefore every person is com- 
pelled to use and to understand the prevailing system. A 
change in any one of these relationships would be ex- 
tremely difficult. This tendency to permanence is in- 
creased by the fact that these systems exist by custom 
rather than legal enactment, as growths rather than 
artificial creations, and therefore a motive to change 

i Our term aunt is from 'amita," and uncle from "avunculus. 
"Avufl," grandfather, given "avunculus" by adding the diminu- 
tive. It therefore signifies a "little grandfather. "Matertera" 
U supposed to be derived from "mater" and "altera," equal to 
another mother. 


must be as universal as the usage. While every per- 
son is a party to the system, the channel of its trans- 
mission is the blood. Powerful influences thus existed to 
perpetuate the system long after the conditions under 
which each originated had been modified or had alto- 
gether disappeared. This element of permanence gives 
certainty to conclusions drawn from the facts, and has 
preserved and brought forward a record of ancient soci- 
ety which otherwise would have been entirely lost to 
human knowledge. 

It will not be supposed that a system so elaborate as the 
Turanian could be maintained in different nations and 
families of mankind in absolute identicalness. Diverg- 
ence in minor particulars is found, but the radical feat- 
ures are, in the main, constant. The system of consan- 
guinity of the Tamil people, of South India, and that of 
the Seneca-Iroquois, of New York, are still identical 
through two hundred relationships ; an application of nat- 
ural logic to the facts of the social condition without a 
parallel in the history of the human mind. There is also 
a modified form of the system, which stands alone and 
tells its own story. It is that of the Hindi, Bengali, Mar- 
athi, and other people of North India, formed by a com- 
bination of the Aryan and Turanian systems. A civilized 
people, the Brahmins, coalesced .with a barbarous stock, 
and lost their language in the new vernaculars named, 
which retain the grammatical structure of the aboriginal 
speech, to which the Sanskrit gave ninety per cent of its 
vocables. It brought their two systems of consanguinity 
into collision, one founded upon monogamy or syndy- 
astny, and the other upon plural marriages in the group, 
resulting in a mixed system. The aborigines, who pre- 
ponderated in number, impressed upon it a Turanian 
character, while the Sanskrit element introduced such 
modifications as saved the monogamian family from 
reproach. The Slavonic stock seems to have been derived 
from this intermixture of races. A system of consan- 
guinity which exhibits but two phases through the per- 
iods of savagery and of barbarism and projects a third 
but modified form far into the period of civilization, man- 


ifests an element of permanence calculated to arrest 

It will not be necessary to consider the patriarchal 
family founded upon polygamy. From its limited prev- 
alence it made but little impression upon human affairs. 

The house life of savages and barbarians has not been 
studied with the attention the subject deserves. Among 
the Indian tribes of North America the family was syndy- 
asmian; but they lived generally in joint-tenement houses 
and practiced communism within the household. As we 
descend the scale in the direction of the punaluan and 
consanguine families, the household group becomes 
larger, with more persons crowded together in the same 
apartment. The coast tribes in Venezuela, among whom 
the family seems to have been punaluan, are represented 
by the discoverers as living in bell-shaped houses, each 
containing a hundred and sixty persons. 1 Husbands and 
wives lived together in a group in the same house, and 
generally in the same apartment. The inference is rea- 
sonable that this mode of house life was very general in 

An explanation of the origin of these systems of con- 
sanguinity and affinity will be offered in succeeding 
chapters. They will be grounded upon the forms of 
marriage and of the family which produced them, the 
existence of these forms being assumed. If a satisfactory 
explanation of each system is thus obtained, the antecedent 
existence of each form of marriage and of the family may 
be deduced from the system it explains. In a final chap- 
ter an attempt will be made to articulate in a sequence 
the principal institutions which have contributed to the 
growth of the family through successive forms. Our 
knowledge of the early condition of mankind is still so 
limited that we must take the best indications attainable. 
The sequence to be presented is, in part, hypothetical; 
but it is sustained by a sufficient body of evidence to com- 
mend it to consideration. Its complete establishment must 
be, left to the results of future ethnological investigations. 

i Herrcra'* "HUtory of America." I 216, 118. S4S. 



Tjie existence of the Consanguine family must be 
proved bj^otjier evidence than the production of the fam- 
ily itself.^\S the first and most ancient form of the insti- 
tution, itAas ceased to exist even among the lowest tribes 
of savages. It belongs to a condition of society out of 
which the least advanced portion of the human race have 
emerged. Single instances of the marriage of a brother 
and sister in barbarou? and even in civilized nations have 
occurred within the historical period; but this is very 
different from the inter-marriage of a number of them in 
a group, in a state of society in which such marriages 
predominated and formed the basis of a social system. 
There are tribes of savages in the Polynesian and Papuan 
Islands, and in Australia, seemingly not far removed 
from the primitive state ; but they have advanced beyond 
the condition the consanguine family implies. Where, 
then, it may be asked, is the evidence that such a family 
ever existed amonjf mankind ? Whatever proof is adduced 
must be conclusive, otherwise the proposition is not estab- 
lished. It is found in a system of consanguinity and 
affinity which has outlived for unnumbered centuries the 
marriage customs in which it originated, and which 
remains to attest the fact that such a family existed when 
the system was formed. 

That system is the Malayan. It defines the relation- 
ships that would exist in a consanguine family; and it 
demands the existence of such a family to account for its 
own existence. Moreover, it proves with moral certainty 



the existence of a consanguine family when the system 
was formed. 

^This system, which is the most archaic yet discovered, 
will now be taken up for the purpose of showing, from its 
relationships, the principal facts stated. This family, 
also, is the most archaic form of the institution of which 
any knowledge remains. 

Such a remarkable record of the condition of ancient 
society would not have been preserved to the present 
time but for the singular permanence of systems of con- 
sanguinity. The Aryan system, for example, has stood 
near three thousand years without radical change, and 
would endure a hundred thousand years in the future, 
provided the monogamian family, whose relationships it 
defines, 1 should so long remain. It describes the relation- 
ships which actually exist under monogamy, and is there- 
fore incapable of change, so long as the family remains 
as at present constituted. If a new form of the family 
should appear among Aryan nations, it would not affect 
the present system of consanguinity until after it became 
universal ; and while in that case it might modify the sys- 
tem in some particulars, it would not overthrow it, unless 
the new family were radically different from the mono- 
gamian. It was precisely the same with its immediate^ 
predecessor, the Turanian system, and before that with 
the Malayan, the predecessor of the Turanian in the order 
of derivative growth. An antiquity of unknown duration 
may be assigned to the Malayan system which came in 
with the consanguine family, remained for an indefinite 
period after the punaluan family appeared, and seems to 
have been displaced in other tribes by the Turanian, with 
the establishment of the organization into gentes. 

The inhabitants of Polynesia are included in the Malay- 
an family. Their system of consanguinity has been called 
the Malayan, although the Malays proper have modified 
their own in some particulars. Among the Hawaiians 
and other Polynesian tribes flfcre still exists in daily use 
a system of consanguinity which is given in the Table, 
and may be pronounced the oldest known among man- 


kind. The Hawaiian and Rotuman * forms are used as 
typical of the system. It is the simplest, and therefore 
the oldest form, of the classificatory system, and reveals 
the primitive form on which the Turanian and Ganow- 
anian were afterwards engrafted. 

It is evident that the Malayan could not have been 
derived from any existing system, because there is none, 
of which any conception can be formed, more elementary. 
The only blood relationships recognized are the primary, 
which are five in number, without distinguishing sex. 
All consanguine!, near and remote, are classified under 
these relationships into five categories. Thus, myself, 
my brothers and sisters, and my first, second, third, and 
more remote male and female cousins, are the first grade 
or category. All these, without distinction, are my 
brothers and sisters. The word cousin is here used in 
our sense, the relationship being unknown in Polynesia. 
My father and mother, together with their brothers and 
sisters, and their first, second, and more remote cousins, 
are the second grade. All these, without distinction, are 
my parents. My grandfathers and grandmothers, on the 
father's side and on the mother's side, with their brothers 
and sisters, and their several cousins, are the third grade. 
All these are my grandparents. Below me, my sons and 
daughters, with their several cousins, as before, are the 
fourth grade. All these, without distinction, are my chil- 
dren. My grandsons and granddaughters, with their sev- 
eral cousins, are the fifth grade. All these in like man- 
ner are my grandchildren. Moreover, all the individuals 
of the same grade are brothers and sisters to each other. 
In this manner all the possible kindred of any given per- 
son are brought into five categories ; each person apply- 
ing to every other person in the same category with him- 
self or herself the same term of relationship. Particular 
attention is invited to the five grades of relations in the 
Malayan system, because the same classification appears 

i The Rotuman 10 herein for the first time published. It was 
worked out by thef Rev. John Oaborn, Weslevan missionary at 
Rotuma, and procured and forwarded to the author by the 
Rev. Lorimer Flson, of Sydney, Australia, 


in the "Nine Grades of Relations" of the Chinese, which 
are extended so as to include two additional ancestors and 
two additional descendants, as will elsewhere be shown. 
A fundamental connection between the two systems is 
thus discovered. 

There are terms in Hawaiian for grandparent, Kup- 
pun&, for parent; Mdkua; for child, Kaikee; and for 
grandchild, Moopuna. Gender is expressed by adding 
the terms Kdna, for male, and Waheena, for female; 
thus, Kuptind Kdna grandparent male, and Kup&nd, 
Waheena, grandparent female. They are equivalent to 
grandfather and grandmother, and express these relation- 
ships in the concrete. Ancestors and descendants, above 
and below those named, are distinguished numerically, as 
first, second, third, when it is necessary to be specific; 
but in common usage Kupund is applied to all persons 
above grandparent, and Moopunh is applied to all 
descendants below grandchild. 

The relationships of brother and sister are conceived 
in the twofold form of elder and younger, and separate 
terms are applied to each ; but it is not carried out with 
entire completeness. Thus, in Hawaiian, from which 
the illustrations will be taken, we have: 

Elder Brother, Male Speaking:, "KalkuaHna." Female Speak- 
ing. "Kalkunlna." 

Younger Brother, Male Speaking, "Kaikalna." Female Speak- 
ing, "Kalkfinftna." 

Elder Sister, Male Speaking:, "Kaikuwftheena." Female Speak- * 
Ing, "Kalkfiaftna." 

Younger Sister, Male Speaking. "Kalkuwftheena." Female 
Speaking, "Kalkaina." i 

It will be observed that a man calls his elder brother 
Kaiktiaana, and that a woman calls her elder sister the 
same ; that a man calls his younger brother Kaikaina, and 
a woman calls her yotyiger sister the same : hence these 
terms are in common gender, and suggest the same idea 
found in the Karen system, namely, that of predecessor 
and successor in birth. 1 A single term is used by the 
males for elder and younger sister, and a single term by 

t a as In ale; i as a In father; & as a In at; i as I in it; ft a 
oo in food. 
"Systems of Consanguinity," loc. cit, p. 44g. 


the females for elder and younger brother. It thus 
appears that while a man's brothers are classified into 
elder and younger, his sisters are not; and, while a 
woman's sisters are classified into elder and younger, her 
brothers are not. A double set of terms are thus devel- 
oped, one of which is used by the males and the other b> 
the females, a peculiarity which reappears in the system 
of a number of Polynesian tribes. 1 Among savage and 
barbarous tribes the relationships of brother and sister 
arc seldom conceived in the abstract. 

The substance of the system is contained in the five 
categories of consanguine! ; but there are special features 
to be noticed which will require the presentation in detail 
of the first three collateral lines. After these are shown 
the connection of the system with the intermarriage of 
brothers and sisters, own and collateral, in a group, will 
appear in the relationships themselves. 

First collateral line. In the male branch, with myself 
a male, the children of my brother, speaking as a Hawai- 
ian, are my sons and daughters, each of them calling me 
father; and the children of the latter are my grandchil- 
dren, each of them calling me grandfather. 

In the female branch my sister's children are my sons 
and daughters, each of them calling me father ; and their 
children are my grandchildren, each of them calling me 
grandfather. With myself a female, the relationships of 
the persons above named are the same in both branches, 
with corresponding changes for sex. 

The husbands and wives of these several sons and 
daughters are my sons-in-law and daughters-in-law; the 
terms being used in common gender, and having the 
terms for male and female added to each respectively. 

Second collateral line. In the male branch on the fa- 
ther's side my father's brother is my father, and calls me 
his son ; his children are my brothers and sisters, elder or 
younger ; their children are my sons and daughters ; and 
the children of the latter are my grandchildren, each of 
them in the preceding and succeeding cases applying to 

i Ib., pp. 525, 673, 


me the proper correlative. My father's sister is my 
mother; her children are my brothers and sisters, elder 
or younger; their children are my sons and daughters; 
and the children of the latter are my grandchildren. 

In the same line on the mother's side my mother's 
brother is my father; his children are my brothers and 
sisters; their children are my sons and daughters; and 
the children of the latter are my grandchildren. My 
mother's sister is my mother ; her children are my broth- 
ers and sisters ; their children are my sons and daughters ; 
and the children of the latter are my grandchildren. The 
relationships of the persons named in all the branches of 
this and the succeeding lines are the same with myself 
a female. 

The wives of these several brothers, own and collateral, 
are my wives as well as theirs. When addressing either 
one of them, I call her my wife, employing the usual term 
to express that connection. The husbands of these sev- 
eral women, jointly such with myself, are my brothers- 
in-law. With myself a female the husbands of my several 
sisters, own and collateral, are my husbands as well as 
theirs. When addressing either of them, I use the com- 
mon term for husband. The wives of these several hus- 
bands, who are jointly such with myself, are my sisters- 

Third collateral line. In the male branch of this line 
on the father's side, my grandfather's brother is my 
grandfather; his children are my fathers and mothers; 
their children are my brothers and sisters, elder or 
younger; the children of the latter are my sons and 
daughters ; and their children are my grandchildren. My 
grandfather's sister is my grandmother : and her children 
and descendants follow in the same relationships as in the 
last case. 

In the same line on the mother's side, my grandmo- 
ther's brother is my grandfather ; his sister is my grand- 
mother; and their respective children and descendants 
fall into the same categories as those in the first branch 
of this line. 

The marriage relationships are the same in this as in 


the second collateral line, thus increasing largely the 
number united in the bonds of marriage. 

As far as consanguine! can be traced in the more 
remote collateral lines, the system, which is all-embracing, 
is the same in its classifications. Thus, my T^reat-grand- 
father in the fourth collateral line is my grandfather ; his 
son is my grandfather also; the son of the latter is my 
father ; his son is my brother, elder or younger ; and his 
son and grandson are my son and grandson. 

It will be observed that the several collateral lines are 
brought into and merged in the lineal line, ascending as 
well as descending ; so that the ancestors and descendants 
of my collateral brothers and sisters become mine as well 
as theirs. This is one of the characteristics of the classifi- 
catory system. None of the kindred are lost. 

From the simplicity of the system it may be seen how 
readily the relationships of consanguine! are known and 
recognized, and how a knowledge of them is preserved 
from generation to generation. A single rule furnishes 
an illustration: the children of brothers are themselves 
brothers and sisters ; the children of the latter are broth- 
ers and sisters; and so downward indefinitely. It is the 
same with the children and descendants of sisters, and of 
brothers and sisters. 

All the members of each grade are reduced to the same 
level in 1 their relationships, without regard to nearness or 
remoteness in numerical degrees; those in each grade 
standing to Ego in an identical relationship. It follows, 
also, that knowledge of the numerical degrees formed an 
integral part of the Hawaiian system, without which the 
proper grade of each person could not be known. The 
simple and distinctive character of the system will arrest 
attention, pointing with such directness as it does, to the 
intermarriage of brothers and sisters, own and collateral, 
in a group, as the source from whence it sprung. 

Poverty of language or indifference to relationships 
exercised no influence whatever upon the formation of 
the system, as will appear in the sequel. 

The system, as here detailed, is found in other Polyne- 
pian tribes besides the Hawaiians and Rotumans, at 


among the Marquesas Islanders, and the Maoris of New 
Zealand. It prevails, also, among the Samoans, Kusaiens, 
and King's Mill Islanders of Micronesia, 1 and without 
a doubt in every inhabited island of the Pacific, except 
where it verges upon the Turanian. 

From this system the antecedent existence of the con- 
sanguine family, with the kind of marriage appertaining 
thereto, is plainly deducible. Presumptively it is a natural 
and real system, expressing the relationships which actu- 
ally existed when the system was formed, as near as the 
parentage of children could be known. The usages with 
respect to marriage which then prevailed may not prevail 
at the present time. To sustain the deduction it is not 
necessary that they should. Systems of consanguinity, 
as before stated, are found to remain substantially 
unchanged and in full vigor long after the marriage 
customs in which they originated have in part or wholly 
passed away. The small number of indqrcndent systems 
of consanguinity created during the extended period of 
human experience is sufficient proof of their permanence. 
They are found not to change except in connection with 
great epochs of progress. For the purpose of explaining 
the origin of the .Malayan system, from the nature of 
descents, we are at liberty to assume the antecedent inter- 
marriage of own and collateral brothers and sisters in a 
group; and if it is then found that the principal rela- 
tionships recognized are those that would actually exist 
under this form of marriage, then the system itself 
becomes evidence conclusive of the existence of such 
marriages. It is plainly inferable that the system origi- 
nated in plural marriages of consanguine!, including own 
brothers and sisters; in fact commenced with the inter- 
marriage of the latter, and gradually enfolded the col- 
lateral brothers and sisters as the range of the conjugal 
system widened. In course of time the evils of the first 
form of marriage came to be perceived, leading, if not to 
its direct abolition, to a preference for wives beyond this 
degree. Among the Australians, it was permanently 

i* 4 Syttm of Consanguinity/' tc., L c., TabU IK. pp. 541, 71. 


abolished by the organization into classes, and more wide- 
ly among the Turanian tribes by the organization into 
gentes. It is impossible to explain the system as a natu- 

l growth upon any other hypothesis than the one named, 
:e this form of marriage alone can furnish a key to 
interpretation. In the consanguine family, thus con- 

Ituted, the husbands lived in polygyny, and the wives in 

"yandry, which are seen to be as ancient as human 
lety. Such a family was neither unnatural nor remark- 
j. It would be difficult to show any other possible 
inning of the family in the primitive period. Its long 
continuance in a partial form among the tribes of man- 
kind is the greater cause for surprise; for all traces of 
it had not disappeared among the Hawaiians at the epoch 
of their discovery. 

The explanation of the origin of the Malayan system 
given in this chapter, and of the Turanian and Ganowan- 
ian given in the next, have been questioned and denied 
by Mr. John F. McLennan, author of "Primitive Mar- 
riage." I see no occasion, however, to modify the views 
herein presented, which are the same substantially as 
those given in "Systems of Consanguinity," etc. But I 
ask the attention of the reader to the interpretation here 
repeated, and to a note at the end of Chapter VI, in which 
Mr. McLennan's objections are considered. 

If the recognized relationships in the Malayan system 
are now tested by this form of marriage, it will* be found 
that they rest upon the intermarriage of own and col- 
lateral brothers and sisters in a group. 

It should be remembered that the relationships which 
grow out of the family organization are of two kinds: 
those of blood determined by descents, and those of affin- 
ity determined by marriage. Since in the consanguine 
family there are two distinct groups of persons, one of 
fathers and one of mothers; the affiliation of the children 
to both groups would be so strong that the distinction 
between relationships by blood and by affinity would not 
be recognized 1 in the system in every case. 

I. All the children of my several brothers, myself a 
male, are my sons and daughters. 


Reason : Speaking as a Hawaiian, all the wives of my 
several brothers are my wives as well as theirs. As it 
would be impossible for me to distinguish my own chil- 
dren from those of my brothers, if I call any one my 
child, I must call them all my children. One is as likely 
to be mine as another. 

II. All the grandchildren of my several brothers are 
my grandchildren. 

Reason : They are the children of my sons and daugh- 

III. With myself a female the foregoing relationships 
are the same. 

This is purely a question of relationship by marriage. 
My several brothers being my husbands, their children by 
other wives would be my step-children, which relation- 
ship being unrecognized, they naturally fall into the cate- 
gory of my sons and daughters. Otherwise they would 
pass without the system. Among ourselves a step-mother 
is called mother, and a step-son a son. 

IV. All the children of my several sisters, own and 
collateral, myself a male, are my sons and daughters. 

Reason: All my sisters are my wives, as well as the 
wives of my several brothers. 

V. All the grandchildren of my several sisters are my 

Reason : They are the children of my sons and daugh- 

VI. All the children of my several sisters, myself a 
female, are my sons and daughters. 

Reason : The husbands of my sisters are my husbands 
as well as theirs. This difference, however, exists: I 
can distinguish my own children from those of my sisters, 
to the latter of whom I am a step-mother. But since 
this relationship is not discriminated, they fall into the 
category of my sons and daughters. Otherwise they 
would fall without the system. 

VII. All the children of several own >rothers arc 
brothers and sisters to each other. 

Reason: These brothers are the husbands of all the 
mothers of these children. The children era distinguish 


their own mothers, but not their fathers, wherefore, as 
to the former, a part are own brothers and sisters, and 
step-brothers and step-sisters to the remainder; but as 
to the latter, they are probable brothers and sisters. For 
these reasons they naturally fall into this category. 

VIII. The children of these brothers and sisters are 
also brothers and sisters to each other; the children of 
the latter are brothers and sisters again, and this rela- 
tionship continues downward among their descendants 
indefinitely. It is precisely the same with the children 
and descendants of several own sisters, and of several 
brothers and sisters. An infinite series is thus created, 
which is a fundamental part of the system. To account 
for this series it must be further assumed that the mar- 
riage relation extended wherever the relationship of 
brother and sister was recognized to exist ; each brother 
having as many wives as he had sisters, own or collateral, 
and each sister having as many husbands as she had 
brothers, own or collateral. Marriage and the family 
seem to form in the grade or category, and to be coex- 
tensive with it. Such* apparently was the beginning of 
that stupendous conjugal system which has before been 
a number of times adverted to. 

IX. All the brothers of my father are my fathers ; and 
all the sisters of my mother are my mothers. 

Reasons, as in I, III, and VI. 

X. All the brothers of my mother are my fathers. 
Reason: They are my mother's husbands. 

XL All the sisters of my mother are my mothers. 
Reasons, as in VI. 

XII. All the children of my collateral brothers and sis- 
ters are, without distinction, my sons and daughters. 

Reasons, as in I, III, IV, VI. 

XIII. All the children of the latter are my grandchil- 

Reasons, ?s in II. 

XIV. All the brothers and sisters of my grandfather 
and grandmother, on the father's side and on the mother's 
side, are my grandfathers and grandmothers. 


Reason : They are the fathers and mothers of my father 
and mother. 

Every relationship recognized under the system is thus 
explained from the nature of the consanguine family, 
founded upon the intermarriage of brothers and sisters, 
own and collateral, in a group. Relationships on the 
father's side are followed as near as the parentage of chil- 
dren could be known, probable fathers being treated as 
actual fathers. Relationships on the mother's side are 
determined by the principle of affinity, step-children being 
regarded as actual chilaren. 

Turning next to the marriage relationships, confirma- 
tory results are obtained, as the following table will 
show : 


Male speaking:, 

My Brother's Wife, TJnoho, My Wife. Waheena, My Wife. 

My Wife's Sister, Unoho, My Wife. Waheena. My Wife. 

Female speaking:, 

My Husband's Brother, Unoho, My Husband. Kane, Mylfusband. 
Male speaking:, 

My F Son?s%?fT her ' 8 | Unono ' Mr Wlfe - Waheena. My Wife. 
My ^lon^s F Wif e? ter * } Unoh0 ' My Wife. Waheena, My Wife. 

Female speaking:, 

f^"' M * ba*L Kalkoeka, My Bro,i^Uw. 

[ Unoho, My Kaikoekm, My Bro.-ln.Uw. 

Wherever the relationship of wife is found in the collat- 
eral line, that of husband must be recognized in the lineal, 
and conversely. 1 When this system of consanguinity and 
affinity first came into use the relationships, which are 
still preserved, could have been none other than those 
which actually existed, whatever may have afterwards 
occurred in marriage 'usages. 

From the evidence embodied in this system of consan- 
guinity the deduction is made that the consanguine 

i Among the Kafirs of South Africa, the wife of my father'* 
brother's son, of my father's sister's son, of my mother's 
brother's son, and of my mother's sister's son. are all alike my 
wives, as well as theirs, as appears by their system of con- 


family, as defined, existed among the ancestors of the 
Polynesian tribes when the system was formed. Such a 
form of the family is necessary to render an interpreta- 
tion of the system possible. Moreover, it furnishes an 
interpretation of every relationship with reasonable 

The following observation of Mr. Oscar Peschel is 
deserving of attention: "That at any time and in any 
place the children of the same mother have propagated 
themselves sexually, for any long period, has been rend- 
ered especially incredible, since it has been established 
that even in the case of organisms devoid of blood, such 
as the plants, reciprocal fertilization of the descendants 
of the same parents is to a great extent impossible/' 1 It 
must be remembered that the consanguine group united 
in the marriage relation was not restricted to own broth- 
ers and sisters : but it included collateral brothers and sis- 
ters as well. The larger the group recognizing the mar- 
riage relation, the less the evil of close interbreeding. 

From general considerations the ancient existence of 
such a family was probable. The natural and necessary 
relations of the consanguine family to the punaluan, of 
the punaluan to the syndyasmian, and of the syndyasmian 
to the monoamian, each presupposing its predecessor, 
lead directly to this conclusion. They stand to each other 
in a logical sequence, and together stretch across several 
ethnical periods from savagery to civilization. 

In like manner the three great systems of consanguin- 
ity, which are connected with the three radical forms of 
the family, stand to each other in a similarly connected 
series, running parallel with the former, and indicating 
not less plainly a similar line of human progress from 
savagery to civilization. There are reasons for conclud- 
ing that the remote ancestors of the Aryan, Semitic, and 
Uralian families possessed a system identical with the 
Malayan when in the savage state, which was finally mod- 
ified into the Turanian after the establishment of the 
gentile organization, and then overthrown when the 

t "R*cen of Man/' Apphston'i d. 1876, p. Ill, 


monogamian family appeared, introducing the Aryan 
system of consanguinity. 

Notwithstanding the high character of the evidence 
given, there is still other evidence of the ancient existence 
of the consanguine family among the Hawaiians which 
should not be overlooked. 

Its antecedent existence is rendered probably by the 
condition of society in the Sandwich Islands when it first 
became thoroughly known. At the time the American 
missions were established upon these Islands (1820), a 
state of society was found which appalled the mission- 
aries. The relations of the sexes and their marriage cus- 
toms exited their chief astonishment. They were sud- 
denly introduced to a phase of ancient society 'where the 
monogamian family was unknown, where the syndyas- 
mian family was unknown ; but in the place of these, and 
without understanding the organism, they found the 
punaluan family, with own brothers and sisters not entire- 
ly excluded, in which the males were living in polygyny, 
and the females in polyandry. It seemed to them that 
they had discovered the lowest level of human degrada- 
tion, not to say of depravity. But the innocent Hawai- 
ians, who had not been able to advance themselves out of 
savagery, were living, no doubt respectably and modestly 
for savages, under customs and usages which to them had 
the force of laws. It is probable that they were living 
as virtuously in their faithful observance, as these excel- 
lent missionaries were in the performance of their own. 
The shock the latter experienced from their discoveries 
expresses the profoundness of the expanse which separ- 
ates civilized from savage man. The high moral sense 
and refined sensibilities, which had been a growth of the 
ages, were brought face to face with the feeble moral 
sense and the coarse sensibilities of a savage man of all 
these periods ago. As a contrast it was total and com- 
plete. The Rev. Hiram Bingham, one of these veteran 
missionaries, has given us an excellent history of the 
Sandwich Islands, founded upon original investigations, 
in which he pictures the people as practicing the sum of 
human abominations. "Polygamy, implying plurality of 


husbands and wives," he observes, "fornication, adultery, 
incest, infant murder, desertion of husband and wives, 
parents and children ; sorcery, covetousness, and oppres- 
sion extensively prevailed, and seem hardly to have been 
forbidden by their religion." 1 Pnnaluan marriage and the 
punaluan family dispose of the principal charges in this 
grave indictment, and leave the Hawaiians a chance at a 
moral character. The existence of morality, even among 1 
savages, must be recognized, although low in type; for 
there never could have been a time in human experience 
when the principle of morality did not exist. Wakea, the 
eponymous ancestor of the Hawaiians, according to Mr. 
Bingham, is said to have married his eldest daughter. In 
the time of these missionaries brothers and sisters mar- 
ried without reproach. "The union of brother and sister 
in the highest ranks," he further remarks, "became 
fashionable, and continued until the revealed will of God 
was made known to them." * It is not singular that the 
intermarriage of brothers and sisters should have sur- 
vived from the consanguine family into the punaluan in 
some cases, in the Sandwich Islands, because the people 
had not attained to the gentile organization, and because 
the punaluan family was a growth out of the consanguine 
not yet entirely consummated. Although the family was 
substantially punaluan, the system of consanguinity re- 
mained unchanged, as it came in with the consanguine 
family, with the exception of certain marriage relation- 

It is not probable that the actual family, among the 
Hawaiians, was as large as the group united in the mar- 
riage relation. Necessity would compel its subdivision 
into smaller groups for the procurement of subsistence, 
and for mutual protection ; but each smaller family would 
be a miniature of the group. It is not improbable that 
individuals passed at pleasure from one of these sub- 
divisions into another in the punaluan as well as con- 
sanguine family, giving rise to that apparent desertion by 

i Blnffham'a "Sandwich Islands," Hartford ed.. 1847. p. 21. 
Ib., p. 23. 


husbands and wives of each other, and by parents of their 
children, mentioned by Mr. Bingham. Communism in 
living must, of necessity, have prevailed both in the con- 
sanguine and in the punaluan family, because it was a 
requirement f>f their condition. It still prevails generally 
among savage and barbarous tribes. 

A brief reference should be made to the "Nine Grades 
of Relations of the Chinese." An ancient Chinese author 
remarks as follows: **A11 men born into the world have 
nine ranks of relations. My own generation is one grade, 
my father's is one, that of my grandfather is one, that 
of my grandfather's father is one, and that of my grand- 
father's grandfather is one; thus, above me are four 
grades: My son's generation is one, and that of my 
grandson's is one, that of my grandson's son is one, 
and that of my grandson's grandson is one : thus, be- 
low me are four grades; including myself in the estimate, 
there are, in all nine grades. These are brethren, and 
although each grade belongs to a different house or 
family, yet they are all my relations, and these are the 
nine grades of relations." 

"The degrees of kindred in a family are like the stream- 
lets of a fountain, or the branches of a tree ; although the 
streams differ in being more or less remote, and the 
branches in being more or less near, yet there is but one 
trunk and one fountain head." 1 

The Hawaiian system of consanguinity realizes the 
nine grades of relations (conceiving them reduced to five 
by striking off the two upper and the two lower mem- 
bers) more perfectly than that of the Chinese at the 
present time.* While the latter has changed through the 
introduction of Turanian elements, and still more through 
special addition to distinguish the several collateral lines, 
the former has held, pure and simple, to the primary 
grades which presumptively were all the Chinese pos- 
sessed originally. It is evident that consanguinei. in the 
Chinese as in the Hawaiian, are generalized into cate- 

i "Systems of Consanguinity." etc.. p. 41 5. 

9 Ib., p. 432, where the Chinese system is presented In full. 


gories by generations; all collaterals of the same grade 
being brothers and sisters to each other. Moreover, 
marriage and the family are conceived as forming within 
the grade, and confined, so far as husbands and wives 
are concerned, within its limits. As explained by the 
Hawaiian categories it is perfectly intelligible. At the 
same time it indicates an anterior condition among the 
remote ancestors of the Chinese, of which this fragment 
preserves a knowledge, precisely analogous to that 
reflected by the Hawaiian. In other words, it indicated 
the presence of the punaluan family when these grades 
were formed, of which the consanguine was a necessary 

In the "Timaeus" of Plato there is a suggestive recogni- 
tion of the same five primary grades of relations. All 
consanguine! in the Ideal Republic were to fall into five 
categories, in which the women were to be in common as 
wives, and the children in common as to parents. "But 
how about the procreation of children?" Socrates savs 
to Timaeus. "This, perhaps, you easily remember, on 
account of the novelty of the proposal ; for we ordered 
that marriage unions and children should be in common 
to all persons whatsoever, special care being taken also 
that no one should be able to distinguish his own chil- 
dren individually, but all consider all their kindred* 
regarding those of an equal age, and in the prime of life, 
as their brothers and sisters, those prior to them, and yet 
further back as their parents and grandsires, and those 
below them, as their children and grandchildren/* 1 Plato 
undoubtedly was familiar with Hellenic and Pelasgian 
traditions not known to us, which reached far back into 
the period of barbarism, and revealed traces of a still 
earlier condition of the Grecian tribes. His ideal family 
may have been derived from these delineations, a sup- 
position far more probable than that it was a philosoph- 
ical deduction. It will be noticed that his five grades of 
relations are precisely the same as the Hawaiian ; that the 
family was to form in each grade where the relationship 

"Timu4," c. II, Davl'a trana. 


that of brothers and sisters; and that husbands and 
wives were to be in common in the group. 

Finally, it will be perceived that the state of society 
indicated by the consanguine family points with logical 
directness to an anterior condition of promiscuous inter- 
course. There seems to be no escape from this conclu- 
sion, although questioned by so eminent a writer as Mr. 
Darwin. 1 It is not probable that promiscuity in the prim* 
itive period was long continued even in the horde; 
because the latter would break up into smaller groups for 
subsistence, and fall into consanguine families. The 
most that can safely be claimed upon this difficult ques- 
tion is, that the consanguine family was the first organized 
form of society, and that it was necessarily an improve- 
ment upon the previous unorganized state, whatever that 
state may have been. It found mankind at the bottom of 
the scale, from which, as a starting point, and the lowest 
known, we may take up the history of human progress, 
and trace it through the growth of domestic institutions, 
inventions, and discoveries, from savagery to civilization. 
By no chain of events can it be shown more conspicuously 
than in the growth of the idea of the family through 
successive forms. With the existence of the consanguine 
family established, of which the proofs adduced seem to 
be sufficient, the remaining families are easily demon* 

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The Punaluan family lias existed in Europe, Asia, and 
America within the historical period, and in Polynesia 
within the present century, \\ith a wide prevalence in 
the tribes of mankind in the Status of Savagery, it re- 
mained in some instances among- tribes who had advanced 
into the Lower Status of barbarism, and in one case, that 
of the Britons, among tribes who had attained the Middle 

. In the course of human progress it followed the con- 
sanguine family, upon which it supervened, and of which 
it was a modification. The transition from one into the 
other was produced by the gradual exclusion of own 
brothers and sisters from the marriage relation, the evils 
of which could not forever escape human observation. 
It may be impossible to recover the events which led to 
deliverance ; but we are not without some evidence tend- 
ing to show how it occurred. Although the facts from 
which these conclusions are drawn are of a dreary and 
forbidding character, they will not surrender the knowl- 
edge they contain without a patient as well as careful 

Given the consanguine family, which involved own 
brothers and sisters and also collateral brothers and sis- 
ters in the marriage relation, and it was only necessary 
to exclude the former from the group, and retain the lat- 
ter, to change the consanguine into the punaluan family. 
To effect the exclusion of the one class and the retention 
of the other was a difficult process, because it involved a 



radical change in the composition of the family, not to 
say in the ancient plan of domestic life. It also required 
the surrender of a privilege which savages would be slow 
to make. Commencing, it may be supposed, in isolated 
cases, and with a slow recognition of its advantages, it 
remained an experiment through immense expanses of 
time ; introduced partially at first, then becoming general, 
and finally universal among the advancing tribes, still in 
savagery, among whom the movement originated. It 
affords a good illustration of the operation of the prin- 
ciple of natural selection. 

The significance of the Australian class system presents 
itself anew in this connection. It is evident from the 
manner in which the classes were formed, and from the 
rule with respect to marriage and descents, that their 
primary object was to exclude own brothers and sisters 
from the marriage relation, while the collateral brothers 
and sisters were retained in that relation. The former 
object is impressed upon the classes by an external law ; 
but the latter, which is not apparent on the face of the 
organization, is made evident by tracing their descents. 1 
It is thus found that first, second, and more remote cous- 
ins, who are collateral brothers and sisters under their 
system of consanguinity, are brought perpetually back into 
the marriage relation, while own brothers and sister? 
are excluded. The number of persons in the Australian 
punaluan group is greater than in the Hawaiian, and 
its composition is slightly different ; but the remarkable 
fact remains in both cases, that the brotherhood of the 
husbands formed the basis of the marriage relation in 
one group, and the sisterhood of the wives the basis in 
the other. This difference, however, existed with respect 
to the Hawaiians, that it does not appear as yet that there 
were any classes among them between whom marriages 
must occur. Since the Australian classes gave birth to 

i The Ippalfl and Kapotas are married In a ^roup. Tppal be- 
gets Murrl, and Murrl In turn begets Ippai; in like manner Ka- 
pota begets Mata, and Mata in turn be^eta Kapnta; so that th* 
grandchildren of Tppal and Kapota are themselves Ippnts and 
Kapotas, as well as collateral brother* and sisters; and as such 
Are born husbands and wives. 


the punaluan group, which contained the germ of the 
gens, it suggests the probability that this organization 
into classes upon sex once prevailed among all the tribes 
of mankind who afterwards fell under the gentile organ- 
ization. It would not be surprising if the Hawaiians, at 
some anterior period, were organized in such classes. 

Remarkable as it may seem, three of the most im- 
portant and most wide-spread institutions of mankind, 
namely, the punaluan family, the organization into gentes, 
and the Turanian system of consanguinity, root them- 
selves in an anterior organization analogous to the puna- 
luan group, in which the germ of each is found. Some 
evidence of the truth of this proposition will appear in 
the discussion of thU family. 

As punaluan marriage gave the punaluan family, the 
latter would give the Turanian system of consanguinity, 
as soon as the existing system was reformed so as to 
express the relationships as they actually existed in this 
family. But something more than the punaluan group 
was needed to produce this result, namely, the organiza- 
tion into gentes, which permanently excluded brothers 
and sisters from the marriage relation by an organic law, 
who before that, must have been frequently involved in 
that relation. \Yhcn this exclusion was made complete 
it would work a change in all these relationships which 
depended upon these marriages ; and when the system of 
consanguinity was made to conform to the new r state of 
these relationships, the Turanian system would supervene 
upon the Malayan. The Hawaiian., had the pvmaluan 
family, but neither the organization into gentes nor the 
Turanian system of consanguinity. Their retention of 
the old system of the consanguine family leads to a sus- 
picion, confirmed by the statements of Mr. Bingham, that 
own brothers and sisters were frequently involved in the 
punaluan group, thus rendering a reformation of the old 
system of consanguinity impossible. Whether the pun- 
aluan group of the Hawaiian type can claim an equal 
antiquity with the Australian classes is questionable, since 
the latter is more archaic than any other known constitu- 
tion of society. But the existence of a punaluan group 


of one or the other type was essential to the birth of the 
^entes, as the latter were essential to the production of 
the Turanian system of consanguinity. The three insti- 
tutions will be considered separately. 

T. The Punaluan Family. 

In rare instances a custom has been discovered in a 
concrete form usable as a key to unlock some of the 
mysteries of ancient society, and explain what before 
could only be understood imperfectly. Such a custom is 
rhe Punalita of the Hawaiians. In 1860 Judge Lorin 
Andrews, of Honolulu, in a letter accompanying a sched- 
ule of the Hawaiian system of consanguinity, commented 
upon one of the Hawaiian terms of relationship as fol- 
lows : "The relationship of punalita. is rather amphib- 
ious. It arose from the fact that two or more brothers 
with their wives, or two or more sisters with their hus- 
bands, were inclined to possess each other in common ; 
but the modern use of the w r ord is that of dear friend, or 
intimate companion." That which Judge Andrews says 
they were inclined to do, and which may then have been 
a declining practice, their system of consanguinity proves 
to have been once universal among them. The Rev. 
Artemus Bishop, lately deceased, one of the oldest mis- 
sionaries in these Islands, sent to the author the same year, 
with a similar schedule, the following statement upon 
the same subject: "This confusion of relationships is 
the result of the ancient custom among relatives of the 
living together of husbands and wives in common. " In 
a previous chapter the remark of Mr. Bingham was 
quoted that the polygamy of which he was writing, "im- 
plied a plurality of husbands and wives." The same fact 
is reiterated by Dr. Bartlett : "The natives had hardly 
more modesty or shame than so many animals. Husbands 
had many wives, and wives many husbands, and ex- 
changed with ench other at pleasure." 1 The form of mar- 
riage which they found created a punaluan group, in 

I "Historical Sk^trh of th Missions, etc.. In the Sandwich 
Islands," etc., p. 5. 


which the husbands and wives were jointly intermarried 
in the group. Each of these groups, including the chil- 
dren of the marriages, was a punaluan family; for one 
consisted of several brothers and their wives, and the 
other of several sisters with their husbands. 

If we now turn to the Hawaiian system of consanguin- 
ity, in the Table, it will be found that a man calls his 
wife's sister his wife. All the sisters of his wife, own as 
well as collateral, are also his wives. But the husband 
of his wife's sister he calls punalua, i. e., his intimate 
companion; and all the husbands of the several sisters 
of his wife the same. They were jointly intermarried 
in the group. These husbands were not, probably, broth- 
ers ; if they were, the blood relationship would naturally 
have prevailed over the affineal ; but their wives were sis- 
ters, own and collateral. In this case the sisterhood of 
the wives was the basis upon which the group was form- 
ed, and their husbands stood to each other in the relation- 
ship of punalua. In the other group, which rests upon 
the brotherhood of the husbands, a woman calls her hus- 
band's brother her husband. All the brothers of her hus- 
band, own as well as collateral, were also her husbands. 
But the wife of her husband's brother she calls punalna, 
and the several wives of her husband's brothers stand to 
her in the relationship of punalua. These wives were 
not, probably, sisters of each other, for the reason stated 
in the other case, although exceptions doubtless existed 
tinder both branches of the custom. All these wives 
stood to each other in the relationship of punalua. 

It is evident that the punaluan family was formed out 
of the consanguine. Brothers ceased to marry their own 
sisters; and after the gentile organization had worked 
upon society its complete results, their collateral sisters 
as well. But in the interval they shared their remaining 
wives in common. In like manner, sisters ceased mar- 
rying their own brothers, and after a long period of time, 
their collateral brothers ; but they shared their remaining 
husbands in common. The advancement of society out 
of the consanguine into the punaluan family was the 
inception of a great upward movement, preparing the 


way for the gentile organization which gradually con- 
ducted to the syndyasmian family, and ultimately to the 

Another remarkable fact with respect to the custom of 
punalua, is the necessity which exists for its ancient 
prevalence among the ancestors of the Turanian and 
Ganowanian families when their system of consanguinity 
was formed. The reason is simple and conclusive. Mar- 
riages in punaluan groups explain the relationships in 
the system. Presumptively they are those which actually 
existed when this system was formed. The existence of 
the system, therefore, requires the antecedent prevalence 
of punaluan marriage, and of the punaluan family. Ad- 
vancing to the civilized nations, there seems to have been 
an equal necessity for the ancient existence of punaluan 
groups among the remote ancestors of all such as pos- 
sessed the gentile organization Greeks, Romans. Ger- 
mans, Celts, Hebrews for it is reasonably certain that 
all the families of mankind who rose under the gentile 
organization to the practice of monogamy possessed, in 
prior times, the Turanian system of consanguinity which 
sprang from the punaluan group. It will be found that 
the great movement, which commenced in the formation 
of this group, was, in the main, consummated through 
the organization into gentes, and that the latter was gen- 
erally accompained, prior to the rise of monogamy, by 
the Turanian system of consanguinity. 

Traces of the punaluan custom remained, here and 
there, down to the Middle Period of barbarism, in excep- 
tional cases, in European, Asiatic, and American tribes. 
The most remarkable illustration is given by Caesar in 
stating the marriage customs of the ancient Britons. He 
observes that, "by tens and J>y twelves, husbands posses- 
sed their wives in common ; and especially brothers with 
brothers and parents with their children/' 1 

This passage reveals a custom of intermarriage in the 
group which punalua explains. Barbarian mothers would 
not be expected to show ten and twelve sons, as a rule, 

t "De Bell. Gall.," v. 14. 


or even in exceptional cases; but under the Turanian 
system of consanguinity, which we are justified in sup- 
posing the Britons to have possessed, large groups of 
brothers are always found, because male cousins, near 
and remote, fall into this category with Ego. Several 
brothers among the Britons, according to Caesar, posses- 
sed their wives in common. Here we find one branch of 
the punaluan custom, pure and simple. The correlative 
group which this presupposes, where several sisters shared 
their husbands in common, is not suggested directly by 
Caesar ; but it probablv existed as the complement of the 
first. Something beyond the first he noticed, namely, 
that parents, with their children, shared their wives in 
common. It is not unlikely that these wives were sisters. 
Whether or not Caesar by this expression referred to the 
other group, it serves to mark the extent to which plural 
marriages in the group existed among the Britons; and 
which was the striking fact that arrested the attention 
of this distinguished observer. Where several brothers 
were married to each other's wives, these wives were 
married to each other's husbands. 

Herodotus, speaking of the Massagetae, who were in 
the Middle Status of barbarism, remarks that every man 
had one wife, yet all the wives were common. 1 It may 
be implied from thts statement that the syndyasmian fam- 
ily had begun to supervene upon the punaluan. Each 
husband paired with one wife, who thus became his 
principal wife, but within the limits of the group hus- 
bands and wives continued in common. If Herodotus 
intended to intimate a state of promiscuity, it probably 
did not exist. The Massagetae, although ignorant of 
iron, possessed flocks and herds, fought on horseback 
armed with battle-axes of copper and with copper-pointed 
spears, and manufactured and used the wagon (amaxa). 
It is not supposable that a people living in promiscuity 
could have attained such a degree of advancement. H 
also remarks of the Agathyrsi, who were in the same 
status probably, that they had their wives in common 

i Lib., I, c . SIC. 


that they might all be brothers, and, as members of a 
common family, neither envy nor hate one another. 1 
Funaluan marriage in the group affords a more rational 
and satisfactory explanation of these, and similar usages 
in other tribes mentioned by Herodotus, than polygamy 
or general promiscuity. His accounts are too meager to 
illustrate the actual state of society among them. 

Traces of the punahran custom were noticed in some 
of the least advanced tribes of the South American abo- 
rigines ; but the particulars are not fully given. Thus, 
the first navigators who visited the coast tribes of Ven- 
ezuela found a state of society which suggests for its 
explanation punaluan groups. "They observe no law or 
rule in matrimony, but took as many wives as they would, 
and they as many husbands, quitting one another at pleas- 
ure, without reckoning any wrong done on either part. 
There was no such thing as jealousy among them, all 
living as best pleased them, without taking offence at one 
another. . . . The houses they dwelt in were com- 
mon to all, and so spacious that they contained one hun- 
dred and sixty persons, strongly built, though covered 
with palm-tree leaves, and shaped like a bell. 8 These 
tribes used earthen vessels and were therefore in the 
Lower Status of barbarism ; but from this account were 
but slightly removed from savagery. In this case, and 
in those mentioned by Herodotus, the observations upon 
which the statements were made were superficial. It 
shows, at least, a low condition of the family and of the 
marriage relation. 

\Yhen North America was discovered in its several 
parts, the punaluan family seems to have entirely disap- 
peared. No tradition remained among them, so far as I 
am aware, of the ancient prevalence of the punaluan 

i L,ib., iv, o. 104, 

a Herrera's "History of America," 1. c., 1, 21 G. Speaking: of the 
roast tribes of Brazil, Herrera further remarks that "they live 
In bohios, or larpre thatched cottages, of which there are about 
eight in every village, full of people, with their nests or ham- 
mocks to lie in They live in a bonstly mnnner, without 

any regard to Justice or decency." Tb., Jv, 94. Garclla*so de la 
Veg*a gives an equally unfavorable account of the marriage re- 
lation among: some of the lowest tribes of Peru. "Royal Tom. 
of Peru," 1. c., pp. 10 and 1 or,. 


custom. The family generally had passed out of the 
punaluan into the svndyasmian form; but it was envi- 
roned with the remains of an ancient conjugal system 
which points backward to punaluan groups. One custom 
may be cited of unmistakable punaluan origin, which is 
still recognized in at least forty North American Indian 
tribes. \Yhere a man married the eldest daughter of a 
* family he became entitled by custom to all her sisters as 
wives when they attained the marriageable age. It was 
a right seldom enforced, from the difficulty, on the part 
of the individual, of maintaining several families, al- 
though polygamy was recognized universally as a privi- 
lege of the males. We find in this the remains of the 
custom of punalua among their remote ancestors. Un- 
doubtedly there was a time among them when own sis- 
ters went into the marriage relation on the basis of their 
sisterhood ; the husband of one being the husband of all, 
but not the only husband, for other males were joint hus- 
bands with him in the group. After the punaluan family 
fell out, the right remained with the husband of the eldest 
sister to become the husband of all her sisters if he chose 
to claim it. It may with reason be regarded as a genuine 
survival of the ancient punaluan custom. 

Other traces of this family among the tribes of man- 
kind might be cited from historical works, tending to 
show not only its ancient existence, but its wide preva- 
lence as well. It is unnecessary, however, to extend these 
citations, because the antecedent existence of the punaluan 
family among the ancestors of all the tribes who possess, 
or did possess, the Turanian system of consanguinity can 
be deduced from the system itself. 

IT. Origin of the Organization into Gentcs. 

It has before been suggested that the time, when this 
institution originated, was the period of savagery, firstly, 
because it is found in complete development in the Lower 
Status of barbarism ; and secondly, because it is found in 
partial development in the Status of savagery. More- 
over, the germ of the gens is found as plainly in the 
Australian classes as in the Hawaiian punaluan group. 
The gentes are also found among the Australians, based 


upon the classes, with the apparent manner of their or- 
ganization out of them. Such a remarkable institution as 
the gens would not he expected to spring into existence 
complete, or to grow out of nothing, that is, without a 
foundation previously formed by natural growth. Its 
birth must he sought in pre-existing elements of society, 
and its maturity would he expected to occur long after 
its origination. 

Two of the fundamental rules of the gens in its archaic 
form are found in the Australian classes, namely, the pro- 
hibition of intermarriage between brothers and sisters, 
and descent in the female line. The last fact is made 
entirely evident when the gens appeared, for the children 
are then found in the gens of their mothers. The natural 
adaptation of the classes to give birth to the gens is suf- 
ficiently obvious to suggest the probability that it actually 
so occurred. Moreover, this probability is strengthened 
by the fact that the gens is here found in connection with 
an antecedent and more archaic organization, which was 
still the unit of a social system, a place belonging of right 
to the gens. 

Turning now to the Hawaiian punaluan group, the 
same elements are found containing the germ of the gens. 
It is confined, however, to the female branch of the 
custom, where several sisters, own and collateral, shared 
their husbands in common. These sisters, with their chil- 
dren and descendants through females, furnish the exact 
membership of a gf ns of the archaic type. Descent would 
necessarily be traced through females, because the patern- 
ity of children was not ascertainable with certainty. As 
soon as this special form of marriage in the group became 
an established institution, the foundation for a gens 
existed. It then required an exercise of intelligence to 
turn this natural punaluan group into an organization, 
restricted to these mothers, their children, and descend- 
ants in the female line. The Hawaiians, although this 
group existed among them, did not rise to the conception 
of a gens. But to precisely such a group as this, resting 
upon the sisterhood of the mothers, or to the similar 
Australian group, resting upon the same principle of 


union, the origin of the gens must be ascribed. It took 
this group as it found it, and organized certain of its 
members, with certain of their posterity, into a gens on 
the basis of kin. 

To explain the exact manner in which the gens origi- 
nated is, of course, impossible. The facts and circum- 
stances belong to a remote antiquity. But the gens may 
be traced back to a condition of ancient society calculated 
to bring it into existence. This is all I have attempted 
to do. It belongs in its origin to a low stage of human 
development, and to a very ancient condition of society ; 
though later in time than the first appearance of the 
punaluan family. It is quite evident that it sprang up 
in this family, which consisted of a group of persons 
coincident substantially with the membership of a gens. 

The influence of the gentile organization upon ancient 
society was conservative and elevating. After it had be- 
come fully developed and expanded over large areas, and 
after time enough had elapsed to work its full influence 
upon society, wives became scarce in place of their former 
abundance, because it tended to contract the size of the 
punaluan group, and finally to overthrow it. The syn- 
dyasmian family was gradually produced within the 
punaluan, after the gentile organization became predomi- 
nant over ancient society. The intermediate stages of 
progress are not well asertained ; but, given the punaluan 
family in the Status of savagery, and the syndyasmian 
family in the Lower Status of barbarism, and the fact of 
progress from one into the other may be deduced with 
reasonable certainty. It was after the latter family began 
to appear, and punaluan groups to disappear, that wives 
came to be sought by purchase and by capture. With- 
out discussing the evidence still accessible, it is a plain 
inference that the gentile organization was the efficient 
cause of the final overthrow of the punaluan family, and 
of the gradual reduction of the stupendous conjugal 
system of the period of savagery. While it originated 
in the punaluan group, as we must suppose, it neverthe- 
less carried society beyond and above its plane. 


III. The Turanian or Ganowdnian System of Consan- 

This system and the gentile organization, when in its 
archaic form, are usually found together. They are not 
mutually dependent ; but they probably appeared not far 
apart in the order of human progress. But s\ stems of 
consanguinity and the several forms of the family stand 
in direct relations. The family represents an active 
principle. It is never stationary, but advances from a 
lower to a higher form as society advances from a lower 
to a higher condition, and finally passes out of one form 
into another of higher grade. Systems of consanguinity, 
on the contrary, are passive ; recording the progress made 
by the family at long intervals apart, and only changing 
radically when the family has radically changed. 

The Turanian system could not have been formed un- 
less punaluan marriage and the punaluan family had 
existed at the time. In a society wherein by general 
usage several sisters were married in a group to each 
other's husbands, and several brothers in a group to each 
other's wives, the conditions were present for the crea- 
tion of the Turanian system. Any system formed to ex- 
press the actual relationships as they existed in such a 
family would, of necessity, be the Turanian ; and would, 
of itself, demonstrate the existence of such a family 
when it was formed. 

It is now proposed to take up this remarkable system as 
it still exists in the Turanian and (janowanian families, 
and offer it in evidence to prove the existence of the 
punaluan family at the time it was established. It has 
come down to the present time on two continents after 
the marriage customs in which it originated had disap- 
peared, and after the family had passed out of the 
punaluan into the syndyasmian form. 

In order to appreciate the evidence it will be necessary 
to examine the details of the system. That of the Seneca- 
Iroquois will be used as typical on the part of the Gano- 
wanian tribes of America, and that of the Tamil people 
of South India on the part of the Turanian tribes of 
Asia. These forms, which are substantially identical 


through upwards of two hundred relationships of the 
same person, will be found in a Table at the end of this 
chapter. In a previous work 1 I have presented in full 
the system of consanguinity of some seventy American 
Indian tribes ; and among Asiatic tribes and nations that 
of the Tamil, Telugu, and Canarese people of South 
India, among all of whom the system, as given in the 
Table, is now in practical daily use. There are diversities 
in the systems of the different tribes and nations, but the 
radical features are constant. All alike salute by kin, 
but with this difference, that among the Tamil people 
where the person addressed is younger than the speaker, 
the term of relationship must be used ; but when older 
the option is given to salute by kin or by the personal 
name. On the contrary, among the American aborigines, 
the address must always be by the term of relationship. 
They use the system in addresses because it is a system 
of consanguinity and affinity. It was also the means by 
which each individual in the ancient gentes was able to 
trace his connection with every member of his gens until 
monogamy broke up the Turanian system. It will be 
found, in many cases, that the relationship of the same 
person to Ego is different as the sex of Ego is changed. 
For this reason it was found necessary to state the ques- 
tion twice, once with a male speaking, and again with a 
female. Notwithstanding the diversities it created, the 
system is logical throughout. To exhibit its character, it 
will be necessary to pass through the several lines as was 
done in the Malayan system. The Seneca-Iroquois will 
be used. 

The relationships of grandfather (Hoc'-sotc\ and 
grandmother (Oc'-sote}, and of grandson ( f/a-ya'-rfa) , 
and granddaughter (Ka-ya'-da), are the most remote 
recognized either in the ascending or descending series. 
Ancestors and descendants above and below these, fall 
into the same categories respectively. 

The relationships of brother and sister are conceived in 

i "Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Fam- 
ily," Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, vol. zvtt. 


the twofold form of elder and younger, and not in the 
abstract ; and there are special terms for each, as follow : 

Elder Brother. Ha'-gre. Elder Sister, Ah'-je*. 
Younger Brother, Ha'-ffi. Younger Sister, Ka ->gi. 

These terms are used by the males and females, and 
are applied to all such brothers or sisters as are older or 
younger than the person speaking. In Tamil there are 
two sets of terms for these relationships, but they are 
now used indiscriminately by both sexes. 

First Collateral Line. With myself a male, and speak- 
ing as a Seneca, my brother's son and daughter are my 
son and daughter (Ha-ah'-wuk, and Ka-ah'-wuk), each 
of them calling me father (Ha-nih). This is the first 
indicative feature of the system. It places my brother's 
children in the same category with my own. They are my 
children as well as his. My brother's grandchildren are 
my grandsons and granddaughters (Ha-ya'da, and Ka- 
y'd-da, singular), each of them cabling me grandfather 
(Hoc'-sote). The relationships here given ar^ those 
recognized and applied ; none others are known. 

Certain relationships will be distinguished as indica- 
tive. They usually control those that precede and follow. 
When they agree in the systems of different tribes, and 
even of different families of mankind, as in the Tura- 
nian and Ganowanian, they establish their fundamental 

In the female branch of this line, myself still a male, 
my sister's son and daughter are my nephew and niece 
(Ha-yd' -wan-da, and Ka-y&'wan-da), each of them call- 
ing me uncle (Hoc-no' seh). This is a second indicative 
feature. It restricts the relationships of nephew and 
niece to the children of a man's sisters, own or collateral. 
The children of this nephew and niece are my grand- 
children as before, each of them applying to me the 
proper correlative. 

With myself a female, a part of these relationships are 
reversed. My brother's son and daughter are my nephew 
and niece (Ha-soh'-neh, and Ka-soh'-neh) , each of them 
calling me aunt (Ah-gaf-huc). It will be noticed that the 
terms for nephew and niece used by the males are dil f 


ferent from those used by the females. The children of 
these nephews and nieces are my grandchildren. In the 
female branch, my sister's son and daughter arc my son 
and daughter, each of them calling me mother (Xoh- 
ych') y and their children are my grandchildren, each of 
them calling me grandmother (Oc'-sotc). 

The wives of these sons and nephews are my daughters- 
in-law (Ka'-sa), and the husbands of these daughters 
and nieces are my sons-in-law (Oc-na'-hosc, each term 
singular), and they apply to me the proper correlative. 

Second Collateral Line. In the male branch of this 
line, on the father's side, and irrespective of the sex of 
Ego, my father's brother is my father, and calls me his 
son or daughter as I am a male or a female. Third in- 
dicative feature. All the brothers of a father are placed 
in the relation of fathers. His son and daughter are my 
brother and sister, elder or younger, and 1 apply to then] 
the same terms I use to designate own brothers and sis- 
ters. Fourth indicative feature. It places the children 
of brothers in the relationship of brothers and sisters. 
The children of these brothers, myself a male, are my 
sons and daughters, and their children are my grand- 
children ; whilst the children of these sisters are my 
nephews and nieces, and the children of the latter are 
my grandchildren. But with myself a female the children 
of these brothers are my nephews and nieces, the chil- 
dren of these sisters are my sons and daughters, and their 
children, alike are my grandchildren. It is thus seen that 
the classification in the first collateral line is carried into 
the second, as it is into the third and more remote as 
far as consanguine! can be traced. 

My father's sister is my aunt, and calls me her nephew 
if I am a male. Fifth indicative feature. The relation- 
ship of aunt is restricted to the sisters of my father, and 
to the sisters of such other persons as stand to me in the 
relation of a father, to the exclusion of the sisters of 
my mother. My father's sister's children arc my cousins 
(.Ih-garc'-seh, singular), each of them calling me 
cousin. With myself a male, the children of my male 
cousins are my sons and daughters, and of my female 


cousins are my nephews and nieces; but with myself a 
female these last relationships are reversed. All the chil- 
dren of the latter are my grandchildren. 

On the mother's side, myself a male, my mother's 
brother is my uncle, and calls me his nephew. Sixth in- 
dicative feature. The relationship of uncle is restricted 
to the brothers of my mother, own and collateral, to the 
exclusion of my father's brothers. His children are my 
cousins, the children of my male cousins are my sons and 
daughters, of my female cousins arc my nephews and 
nieces; but with myself a female these last relationships 
are reversed, the children of all alike are my grandchil- 

In the female branch of the same line my mother's sis- 
ter is my mother. Seventh indicative feature. All of 
several sisters, own and collateral, are placed in the rela- 
tion of a mother to the children of each other. My 
mother's sister's children are my brothers and sisters, 
elder or younger.- Eighth indicative feature. It estab- 
lishes the relationship of brother and sister among the 
children of sisters. The children of these brothers are 
my sons and daughters, of these sisters arc my nephews 
and nieces ; and the children of the latter are my grand- 
children. With myself a female the same relationships 
are reversed as in previous cases. 

Each of the wives of these several brothers, and of 
these several male cousins is my sister-in-law (Ah-gc-ah'- 
ne-ah), each of them calling me brother-in-law (Ha- 
yd'-o). The precise meaning of the former term is not 
known. Each of the husbands of these several sisters and 
female cousins is my brother-in-law, and they all apply 
to me the proper correlative. Traces of the punaluan 
custom remain here and there in the marriage relation- 
ship of the American aborigines, namely, between Ego 
and the wives of several brothers and the husbands of 
several sisters. In Mandan my brother's wife is my wife, 
and in Pawnee and Arickarce the same. In Crow my 
husband's brother's wife is "my comrade" (Bol-ze'-no- 
f>ti-chc), in Creek my "present occupant" (Chu-hu'-cho- 
zc'a),and in Munsee "my friend" (Nain-josS). In Win- 


nebago and Achaotinnc she is "my sister." My wife's 
sister 's husband, in some tribes is "my brother," in others 
my "brother-in-law," and in Creek "my little separater" 
(Un-ka-pu'-chc), whatever that may mean. 

Third Collateral Line. As the relationships in the sev- 
eral branches of this line are the same as in the corres- 
ponding branches of the second, with the exception of 
one additional ancestor, it will be sufficient to present one 
branch out of the four. My father's father's brother is 
my grandfather, and calls me his grandson. This is a 
ninth indicative feature, and the last of the number. It 
places these brothers in the relation of grandfathers, and 
thus prevents collateral ascendants from passing beyond 
this relationship. The principle which merges the col- 
lateral lines in the lineal line works upward as well as 
downward. The son of this grandfather is my father; 
his children are my brothers and sisters; the children of 
these brothers are my sons and daughters, of these sisters 
arc my nephews and nieces ; and their children are my 
grandchildren. With myself a female the same relation- 
ships are reversed as in previous cases. Moreover, the 
correlative term is applied in every instance. 

Fourth Collateral Line. It will be sufficient, for the same 
reason, to give but a single branch of this line. My grand- 
father's father's brother is my grandfather ; his son is also 
my grandfather; the son of the latter is my father; his 
son and daughter are my brother and sister, elder or 
younger ; and their children and grandchildren follow in 
the same relationships to Ego as in other cases. In the 
fifth collateral line the classification is the same in its sev- 
eral branches as in the corresponding branches of the 
second, with the exception of additional ancestors. 

It follows, from the nature of the system, that a knowl- 
edge of the numerical degrees of consanguinity is essen- 
tial to a proper classification of kindred. But to a native 
Indian accustomed to its daily use the apparent maze of 
relationships presents no difficulty. 

Among the remaining marriage relationships there are 
terms in Scncca-Iroquois for father-in-law (Oona'-Aojt), 
for a wife's father, and (Hii-ga'-sd) for a husband's 


father. The former term is also used to designate a son- 
in-law, thus showing it to be reciprocal. There are also 
terms for step-father and step-mother (Hoc'-no-ese) and 
(Oc'-no-ese), and for step-son and step-daughter (Hcf- 
no and Ka'-no). In a number of tribes two fathers-in- 
law and two-mothers-in-law are related, and there are 
terms to express the connection. The opulence of the 
nomenclature, although made necessary by the elaborate 
discriminations of the system, is nevertheless remarkable. 
For full details of the Seneca-Iroquois and Tamil system 
reference is made to the Table. Their identity is appar- 
ent on bare inspection. It shows not only the .prevalence 
of punaluan marriage amongst their remote ancestors 
when the system was formed, but also the powerful im- 
pression which this form of marriage made upon ancient 
society. It is, at the same time, one of the most ex- 
traordinary applications of the natural logic of the human 
mind to the facts of the social system preserved in the 
experience of mankind. 

That the Turanian and Ganowanian system was 
engrafted upon a previous Malayan, or one like it in all 
essential respects, is now demonstrated. In about one- 
half of all the relationships named, the two are identical. 
If those are examined, in which the Seneca and Tamil 
differ from the Hawaiian, it will be found that the dif- 
ference is upon those relationships which depended on 
the intermarriage or non-intermarriage of brothers and 
sisters. In the former two, for example, my sister's son 
is my nephew, but in the latter he is my son. The two 
relationships express the difference between the consan- 
guine and punaluan families. The change of relation- 
ships which resulted from substituting punaluan in the 
place of consanguine marriages turns the Malayan into 
the Turanian system. But it may be asked why the 
Hawaiians, who had the punaluan family, did not reform 
their system of consanguinity in accordance therewith? 
The answer has elsewhere been given, but it may be 
repeated. The -form of the family keeps in advance of 
the system. In Polynesia it was punaluan while the sy- 
tem remained Malayan; in America it was syndyaimian 


while the system remained Turanian ; and in Europe and 
Western Asia it became monogamian while the system 
seems to have remained Turanian for a time, but it then 
fell into decadence, and was succeeded by the Aryan. 
Furthermore, although the family has passed through 
five forms, but three distinct systems of consanguinity 
were created, so far as is now known. It required an 
organic change in society attaining unusual dimensions 
to change essentially an established system of, consanguin- 
ity. I think it will be found that the organization into 
gentes was sufficiently influential and sufficiently uni- 
versal to change the Malayan system into the Turanian ; 
and that monogamy, when fully established in the more 
advanced branches of the human family, was sufficient, 
with the influence of property, to overthrow the Turan- 
ian system and substitute the Aryan. 

It remains to explain the origin of such Turanian rela- 
tionships as differ from the Malayan. Punaluan mar- 
riages and the gentile organizations form the basis of 
the explanation. 

I. AH the children of my several brothers, own and 
collateral, myself a male, are my SOPS and daughters. 

Reasons : Speaking as a- Seneca, all the wives of my 
several brothers are mine as well as theirs. We are now 
speaking of the time when the system was formed. It is 
the same in the Malayan, where the reasons are assigned. 

II. All the children of my several sisters, own and 
collateral, myself a male, are my nephews and nieces. 

Reasons : Under the gentile organization these females, 
by a law of the gens, cannot be my wives. Their chil- 
dren, therefore, can no longer be my children, but stand 
to me in a more remote relationship; whence the new 
relationships of nephew and niece. This differs from the 

III. With myself a female, the children of my several 
brothers, own and collateral, are my nephews and nieces. 

Reasons, as in ll. This also differs from the Malayan. 

IV. With myself a female, the children of my several 
sisters, own and collateral, and of my several female 
cousins, are my sons and daughters* 


Reasons : All their husbands are my husbands as well. 
In strictness these children are my step-children, and are 
so described in Ojibwa and several other Algonkin tribes ; 
but in the Seneca-Iroquois, and in Tamil, following the 
ancient classification, they are placed in the category of 
my sons and daughters, for reasons given in the Ma- 

V. All the children of these sons and daughters are 
my grandchildren. 

Reason : They are the children of my sons and daugh- 

VI. - All the children of these nephews and nieces are 
my grandchildren. 

Reason : These were the relationships of the same per- 
sons under the Malayan system, which presumptively pre- 
ceded the Turanian. No new one having been invented, 
the old would remain. 

VII. All the brothers of my father, own and collat- 
eral! are my fathers. 

Reason: They are the husbands of my mother. It is 
the same in Malayan. 

VIII. All the sisters of my father, own and collateral, 
are my aunts. 

Reason : Under the gentile organization neither can be 
the wife of my father; wherefore the previous relation- 
ship of mother is inadmissible. A new relationship, 
therefore, was required: whence that of aunt. 

IX. All the brothers of my mother, own and collat- 
eral, are my uncles. 

Reasons: They are no longer the husbands of my 
mother, and must stand to me in a more remote relation- 
ship than that of father : whence the new relationship of 

X. All the sisters of my mother, own and collateral, 
are my mothers. 

Reasons, as in IV. 

XL All the children of my father's brothers, and all 
the children of my mother's sisters, own and collateral, 
are my brothers and sisters. 


Reasons: It is the same in Malayan, and for reasons 
there given. 

XlL All the children of my several uncles and all the 
children of my several aunts, own and collateral, are my 
male and female cousins. 

Reasons: Under the gentile organization all these 
uncles and aunts are excluded from the marriage rela- 
tion with my father and mother; wherefore their chil- 
dren cannot stand to me in the relation of brothers and 
sisters, as in the Malayan, but must be placed in one 
more remote : whence the new relationship of cousin. 

XIII. In Tamil all the children of my male cousins, 
myself a male, are my nephews and nieces, and all the 
children of my female cousins are my sons and daughters. 
This is the exact reverse of the rule among the Seneca- 
Iroquois. It tends to show that among the Tamil peo- 
ple, when the Turanian system came in, all my female 
cousins were my wives, whilst the wives of my male 
cousins were not. It is a singular fact that the devia- 
tion on these relationships is the only one of any import- 
ance between the two systems in the relationships to Ego 
of some two hundred persons. 

XIV. All the brothers and sisters of my grandfather 
and of my grandmother are my grandfathers and grand- 

Reason : It is the same in Malayan, and for the reasons 
there given. 

It is now made additionally plain that both the Tura- 
nian and Ganowanian systems, which are identical, super- 
vened upon an original Malayan system ; and that the lat- 
ter must have prevailed generally in Asia before the Ma- 
layan migration to the Islands of the Pacific. Moreover, 
there are good grounds for believing that the system was 
transmitted in the Malayan form to the ancestors of the 
three families, with the streams of the blood, from a com- 
mon Asiatic source, and afterward, modified into its pres- 
ent form by the remote ancestors of the Turanian and 
Ganowanian families. 

The principal relationships of the Turanian system 
have now been explained in their origin, and are found 

4U Attttl&K? 

to be those which would actually exist in the punalukri 
family as near as the parentage of children could be 
known. The system explains itself as an organic growth, 
and since it could not have originated without an ade- 
quate cause, the inference becomes legitimate as well as 
necessary that it .was created by punaluan families. It 
will be noticed, however, that several of the marriage 
relationships have been changed. 

The system treats all brothers as the husbands of each 
other's wives, and all sisters as the wives of each other's 
husbands, and as intermarried in a group. At the time 
the system was formed, wherever a man found a brother, 
own or collateral, and those in that relation were numer- 
ous, in the wife of that brother he found an additional 
wife. In like manner, wherever a woman found a sister, 
own or collateral, and those in that relation were equally 
numerous, in the husband of that sister she found an 
additional husband. The brotherhood of the husbands 
and the sisterhood of the wives formed the basis of the 
relation. It is fully expressed by the Hawaiian custom 
of punalua. Theoretically, the family of the period was 
co-extensive with the group united in the marriage rela- 
tion ; but, practically, it must have subdivided into a num- 
ber of smaller families for convenience of habitation and 
subsistence. The brothers, by tens and twelves, of the 
Britons, married to each other's wives, would indicate 
the size of an ordinary subdivision of a punaluan group. 
Communism in living seems to have originated in the 
necessities of the consanguine family, to have been con- 
tinued in the punaluan, and to have been transmitted to 
.the syndyasmian among the American aborigines, with 
whom it remained a practice down to the epoch of their 
discovery. Punaluan marriage is now unknown among 
them, but the system of consanguinity it created has sur- 
vived the customs in which it originated. The plan of 
family life and of habitation among savage tribes has 
been imperfectly studied. A knowledge of their usages 
in these respects and of their mode of subsistence would 
throw a strong light upon the questions under consider- 


Two forms of the family have now been explained in 
*>fceir origin by two parallel systems of consanguinity. 
The proofs seem to be conclusive. It gives tli^starting 
point of human society after mankind had emerged from 
a still lower condition and entered the organism of the 
consanguine family. From this first form to the sec- 
ond the transition was natural; a development from a 
lower into a higher social condition through observation 
and experience. It was a result of the improvable mental 
and moral qualities which belong to the human species. 
The consanguine and punaluan families represent the 
substance of human progress through the greater part 
of the peiiod of savagery. Although the second was a 
great improvement upon the first, it was still very distant 
from the monogamian. An impression may be formed by 
a comparison of the several forms of the family, of the 
slow rate of progress in savagery, where the means of 
advancement were slight, and the obstacles were formid- 
able. Ages upon ages of substantially stationary life, with 
advance and d?cline v undoubtedly marked the course of 
events; but the general movement of society was from 
a lower to a higher condition, otherwise mankind would 
have remained in savagery. It is something to find an 
assured initial point from which mankind started on their 
great and marvelous career of progress, even though so 
near the bottom of the scale, and though limited to a 
form of the family so peculiar as the 





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When the American aborigines were discovered, that 
portion of them who were in the Lower Status of barbar- 
ism, had attained to the syndyasmian or pairing family. 
The large groups in the marriage relation, which must 
have existed in the previous period, had disappeared ; and 
in their places were married pairs, forming clearly 
marked, though but partially individualized families. In 
this family, may be recognized the germ of the mono- 
gamian, but it was below the latter in several essential 

The syndyasmian family was special and peculiar. Sev- 
eral of them were usually found in one house, forming 
a communal household, in which the principle of com- 
munism in living was practiced. The fact of the con- 
junction of several such families in a common household 
is of itself an admission that the family was too feeble an 
organization to face alone the hardships of life. Never- 
theless it was founded upon marriage between single 
pairs, and possessed some of the characteristics of the 
monogamian family. The woman was now something 
more than the principal wife of her husband; she was 
his companion, the preparer of his food, and the mother 
of children whom he now began with some issurancc to 
regard as his own. The birth of children, fo whom they 
jointly cared, tended to cement the union and render it 


But the marriage institution was as peculiar as the 
family. Men did not seek wives as they are sought in 
civilized society, from affection, for the passion of love, 
which required a higher development than they had at- 
tained, was unknown among them. Marriage, therefore, 
was not founded upon sentiment but upon convenience 
and necessity. It was left to the mothers, in effect, to 
arrange the marriages of their children, and they were 
negotiated generally without the knowledge of the parties 
to be married, and without asking their previous consent. 
It sometimes happened that entire strangers were thus 
brought into the marriage relation. At the proper time 
they were notified when the simple nuptial ceremony 
would be performed. Such were the usages of the Iro- 
quois and many other Indian tribes. Acquiescence in 
these maternal contracts was a duty which the parties 
seldom refused. Prior to the marriage, presents to the 
gentile relatives of the bride, nearest in degree, partaking 
of the nature of purchasing gifts, became a feature in 
these matrimonial transactions. The relation, however, 
continued during the pleasure of the parties, and no 
longer. It is for this reason that it is properly distin- 
guished as the pairing family. The husband could put 
away his wife at pleasure and take another without 
offence, and the woman enjoyed the equal right of leav- 
ing her husband and accepting another, in which the 
usages of her tribe and gens were not infringed. But a 
public sentiment gradually formed and grew into strength 
against such separations. When alienation arose between 
a married pair, and their separation became imminent, 
the gentile kindred of each attempted a reconciliation of 
the parties, in which they were often successful; but il 
they were unable to remove the difficulty their separation 
was approved. The wife then left the home of her hus- 
band, taking with her their children, who were regarded 
as exclusively her own. and her personal effects, upon 
which her husband had no claim: or where the wifr's 
kindred predominated in the communal household, whio- 
was usually the case, the husband left the home of tu* 


wife. * Thus the continuance of the marriage relation 
remained at the option of the parties. 

There was another feature of the relation which shows 
that the American aborigines in the Lower Status of bar- 
barism had not attained the moral development implied 
by monogamy. Among the Iroquois, who were barbar- 
ians of high mental grade, and among the equally ad- 
vanced Indian tribes generally, chastity had come to be 
required of the wife under severe penalties which the 
husband might inflict; but he did not admit the reciprocal 
obligation. The one cannot be permanently realized with- 
out the other. Moreover, polygamy was universally rec- 
ognized as the right of the males, although the practice 
was limited from inability to support the indulgence. 
There were other usages, that need not be mentioned, 
tending still further to show that they were below a con- 
ception of monogamy, as that great institution is properly 
defined. Exceptional cases very likely existed. It will 
be found equally true, as I believe, of barbarous tribes 
in general. The principal feature which distinguished 
the syndyasmian from the monogamian family, although 
liable to numerous exceptions, was the absence of an 
exclusive cohabitation. The old conjugal system, a record 
of which is still preserved in their system of consanguin- 

i The late Rev. A. Wright, for many years a missionary among: 
the Senecas, wrote the author in 1873 on this subject as follows: 
"As to their family system, when occupying- the old long-houses, 
it is probable that some one clan predominated, the women tak- 
ing in husbands, however, from the other clans; and some- 
times, f- r a novelty, some of their sons bringing in their young 
wives until they felt brave enough to leave their mothers. Usu- 
ally, the female portion ruled the house, and were doubtless 
clannish enough about it. The stores were in common; but woe 
to the luckless husband or lover who was too shiftless to do 
his share of the providing. No matter how many children, or 
whatever goods he might have in the house, he might at any 
time be ordered to pick up his blanket and budge; and after 
such orders it would not be healthful for him to attempt to 
disobey. The house would be too hot for him; and, unless saved 
by the intercession of some aunt or grandmother, he must re- 
treat to his own clan; or, as was often done, go and start a 
new matrimonial alliance in some other. The women were the 
great power among the clans, as everywhere else. They did 
not hesitate, when occasion required, 'to knock off the horns.' 
as it was technically called, from the head of a chief, and send 
him back to the ranks of the warriors. The original nomina- 
tion of the chiefs also always rested with them." These state- 
ments illustrate the gyneocracy discussed by Bachofen in "Das 


ity, undoubtedly remained, but under reduced and re- 
stricted forms. 

Among the Village Indians in the Middle Status of 
barbarism the facts were not essentially different, so far 
as they can be said to be known. A comparison of the 
usages of the American aborigines, with respect to mar- 
riage and divorce, shows an existing similarity suffi- 
ciently strong to imply original identity of usages. A 
few only can be noticed. Clavigero remarks that among 
the Aztecs "the parents were the persons who settled all 
marriages, and none were ever executed without their 
consent/' l "A priest tied a point of the huepilli, or 
gown of the bride, with the tilmatli, or mantle of the 
bridegroom, and in this ceremony the matrimonial con- 
tract chiefly consisted." 2 Herrera, after speaking of the 
same ceremony, observes that "all that the bride brought 
was kept in memory, that in case they should be unmar- 
ried again, as was usual among them, the goods might 
be parted ; the man taking the daughters, and the wife 
the sons, with liberty to marry again." 8 

It will be noticed that the Aztec Indian did not seek 
his wife personally any more than the Iroquois. Among 
both it was less an individual than a public or gentile 
affair, and therefore still remained under parental con- 
trol exclusively. There was very little social intercourse 
between unmarried persons of the two sexes in Indian 
life; and as attachments were not contracted, none were 
traversed by these marriages, in which personal wishes 
were unconsidered, and in fact unimportant. It appears 
further, that the personal effects of the wife were kept 
distinct among the Aztecs as among the Iroquois, that 
in case of separation, which was a common occurrence 
as this writer states, she might retain them in accord- 
ance with general Indian usage. Finally, while among 
the Iroquois in the case of divorce the wife took all the 
children, the Aztec husband was entitled to the daugh- 
ters, and the wife to the sons; a modification of the an- 

i "FfiBtory of Mexico," Phil. ed.. 1817, Culten's trans., It, t>. 

a Ib.. ii, 101. 

3 "Hlatory of America," 1. r., ill. 217. 


cient usage which implies a prior time when the Iroquois 
Indian rule existed among the ancestors of the Aztecs. 

Speaking of the people of Yucatan generally Herrera 
further remarks that "formerly they were wont to marry 
at twenty years of age, and afterwards came to twelve 
or fourteen, and having no affection for their wives were 
divorced for every trifle." l The Mayas of Yucatan were 
superior to the Aztecs in culture and development; but 
where marriages were regulated on the principle of neces- 
sity, and not through personal choice, it is not surpris- 
ing that the relation was unstable, and that separation 
was at the option of either party. Moreover, polygamy 
was a recognized right of the males among the Village 
Indians, and seems to have been more generally practiced 
than among the less advanced tribes. These glimpses at 
institutions purely Indian as well as barbarian reveal in 
a forcible manner the actual condition of the aborigines 
in relative advancement. In a matter so personal as the 
marriage relation, the wishes or preferences of the par- 
ties were not consulted. No better evidence is needed 
of the barbarism of the people. 

We are next to notice some of the influences which 
developed this family from the punaluan. In the latter 
there was more or less of pairing from the necessities of 
the social state, each man having a principal wife among 
a number of wives, and each woman a principal hus- 
band among a number of husbands; so that the tend- 
ency in the punaluan family, from the first, was in the 
direction of the syndyasmian. 

The organization into gentes was the principal instru- 
mentality that accomplished this result ; but through long 
and gradual processes. Firstly. It did not at once break 
up intermarriage in the group, which it found established 
by custom; but the prohibition of intermarriage in the 
gens excluded own brothers and sisters, and also the chil- 
dren of own sisters, since all of these were of the same 
gens. Own brothers could still share their wives in com- 
mon, and own sisters their husbands; consequently the 

i "Hlitoir of America," IT. 171. 


gens did not interfere directly with punaluan marriage, 
except to narrow its range. But it withheld permanently 
from that relation all the descendants in the female line 
of each ancestor within the gens, which was a great in- 
novation upon the previous punaluan group. When the 
gens subdivided, the prohibition followed its branches, 
for long periods of time, as has been shown was the case 
among the Iroquois. Secondly. The structure and prin- 
ciples of the organization tended to create a prejudice 
against the marriage of consanguine!, as the advantages 
of marriages between unrelated persons were gradually 
discovered through the practice of marrying out of the 
gens. This seems to have grown apace until a public 
sentiment was finally arrayed against it which had become 
very general among the American aborigines when dis- 
covered. l For example, among the Iroquois none of the 
blood relatives enumerated in the Table of consanguinity 
were marriageable. Since it became necessary to seek 
wives from other gentes they began to be acquired by 
negotiation and by purchase. The gentile organization 
must have led, step by step, as its influence became gen- 
eral, to a scarcity of wives in place of their previous 
abundance; and as a consequence, have gradually con- 
tracted the numbers in the punaluan group. This con- 
clusion is reasonable, because there are sufficient grounds 
for assuming the existence of such groups when the 
Turanian system of consanguinity was formed. They 
have now disappeared although the system remains. 
These groups must have gradually declined, and finally 
disappeared with the general establishment of the syndy- 
asmian family. Fourthly. In seeking wives, they did 
not confine themselves to their own, nor even to friendly 
tribes, but captured them by force from hostile tribes. It 
furnishes a reason for the Indian usage of sparing the 
lives of female captives, while the males were put to 

t A case among the Shyans was mentioned to the author, t>y 
one of their chiefs, where first cousins had married against 
their usages. There was no penalty for tKe act; hut they were 
ridiculed 110 constantly by their associate* that they voluntar- 
ily separated rather than face the prejudice. 


death. When wives came to be acquired by purchase and 
by capture, and more and more by effort and sacrifice, 
they would not be as readily shared with others. It would 
tend, at least, to cut off that portion of the theoretical 
group not immediately associated for subsistence; and 
thus reduce still more the size of the family and the range 
of the conjugal system. Practically, the group would 
tend to limit itself, from the first, to own brothers who 
shared their wives in common and to own sisters who 
shared their husbands in common. Lastly. The gentcs 
created a higher organic structure of society than had 
before been known, with processes of development as a 
social system adequate to the wants of mankind until 
civilization supervened. With the progress of society 
under the gentes, the way was prepared for the appear- 
ance of the syndyasmian family. 

The influence of the new practice, which brought unre- 
lated persons into the marriage relation, must have given 
a remarkable impulse to society. It tended to create a 
more vigorous stock physically and mentally. There is 
a gain by accretion in the coalescence of diverse stocks 
which has exercised great influence upon human devel- 
opment. When two advancing tribes, with strong mental 
and physical characters, are brought together and blended 
into one people by the accidents of barbarous life, the 
new skull and brain would widen and lengthen to the 
sum of the capabilities of both. Such a stock would be 
an improvement upon both, and this superiority would 
assert itself in an increase of intelligence and of numbers. 

It follows that the propensity to pair, now so power- 
fully developed in the civilized races, had remained un- 
formed in the human mind until the punaluan custom 
began to disappear. Exceptional cases undoubtedly oc- 
curred where usages would permit the privilege ; but it 
failed to become general until the syndyasmian family 
appeared. This propensity, therefore, cannot be called nor- 
mal to mankind, but is, rather, a growth through experi- 
ence, like all the great passions and powers of the mind. 

Another influence may be adverted to which tended to 
regard the growth of this family. Warfare among bar- 


barians is more destructive of life than among savages, 
from improved weapons and stronger incentives. The 
males, in all periods and conditions of society, have as- 
sumed the trade of fighting, which tended to change the 
balance of the sexes, and leave the females in excess. 
This would manifestly tend to strengthen the conjugal 
system created by marriages in the group. It would, 
also, retard the advancement of the syndyasmian family 
by maintaining sentiments of low grade with respect to 
the relations of the sexes, and the character and dignity 
of woman. 

On the other hand, improvement in subsistence, which 
followed the cultivation of maize and plants among the 
American aborigines, must have favored the general ad- 
vancement of the family. It led to localization, to the 
use of additional arts, to an improved house architecture, 
and to a more intelligent life. Industry and frugality, 
though limited in degree, with increased protection of 
life, must have accompanied the formation of families 
consisting of single pairs. The more these advantages 
were realized, the more stable such a family would 
become, and the more its individuality would increase. 
Having taken refuge in a communal household, in which 
a group of such families succeeded the punaluan group, 
it now drew its support from itself, from the household, 
and from the gentes to which the husbands and wives 
respectively belonged. The great advancement of soci- 
ety indicated by the transition from savagery into the 
Lower Status of barbarism, would carry with it a cor- 
responding improvement in the condition of the family, 
the course of development of which was steadily upward 
to the monogamian. If the existence of the syndyasmian 
family were unknown, given the punaluan toward one 
extreme, and the monogamian on the other, the occur- 
rence of such an intermediate form might have been pre- 
dicted. It has had a long duration in human experience. 
Springing up on the confines oi savagery and "barbarism, 
it traversed the Middle and the greater part of the Later 
Period of barbarism, when it was superseded by a low 
form of the monogamian. Overshadowed -by the conjugal 


system of the times, it gained in recognition with the 
gradual progress of society. The selfishness of mankind, 
as distinguished from womankind, delayed the realization 
of strict monogamy until that great fermentation of the 
human mind which ushered in civilization. 

Two forms of the family had appeared before the 
syndyasmian and created two great systems of consan- 
guinity, or rather two distinct forms of the same system ; 
but this third family neither produced a new system nor 
sensibly modified the old. Certain marriage relationships 
appear to have been changed to accord with those in the 
new family; but the essential features of the system 
remained unchanged. In fact, the syndyasmian family 
continued for an unknown period of time enveloped in 
a system of consanguinity, false, in the main, to existing 
relationships, and which it had no power to break. It 
was for the sufficient reason that it fell short of monog- 
amy, the coming power able to dissolve the fabric. Al- 
though this family has no distinct system of consanguin- 
ity to prove its existence, like its predecessors, it has 
itself existed over large portions of the earth within the 
historical period, and still exists in numerous barbarous 

In speaking thus positively of the several forms of the 
family in .their relative order, there is danger of being 
misunderstood. I do not mean to imply that one form 
rises complete in a certain status of society, flourishes 
universally and exclusively wherever tribes of mankind 
are found in the same status, and then disappears in an- 
other, which is the next higher form. Exceptional cases 
of the punaluan family may have appeared in the consan- 
guine, and vice versa; exceptional cases of the syndyas- 
mian may have appeared in the midst of the punaluan, 
and vice versa; and exceptional cases of the monogamian 
in the midst of the syndyasmian, and vice versa. Even 
exceptional cases of the monogamian may have appeared 
as low down as the punaluan, and of the syndyasmian as 
low down as the consanguine. Moreover, some tribes 
attained to a particular form earlier than other tribes 
more advanced ; for example, the Iroquois had the syndy- 


asmian family while in the Lower Status of barbarism, 
but the Britons, who were in the Middle Status, still had 
the punaluan. The high civilization on the shores of the 
Mediterranean had propagated arts and inventions into 
Britain far beyond the mental development of its Celtic 
inhabitants, and which they had imperfectly appropriated. 
They seem to have been savages in their brains, while 
wearing the art apparel of more advanced tribes. That 
which I have endeavored to substantiate, and for which 
the proofs seem to be adequate, is, that the family began 
in the consanguine, low down in savagery, and grew, by 
progressive development, into the monogamian, through 
two well-marked intermediate forms. Each was partial 
in its introduction, then general, and finally universal over 
large areas ; after which it shaded off into the next suc- 
ceeding form, which, in turn, was at first partial, then 
general, and finally universal in the same areas. In the 
evolution of these successive forms the main direction of 
progress was from the consanguine to the monogamian. 
With deviations from uniformity in the progress of man- 
kind through these several forms, it will generally be 
found that the consanguine and punaluan families belong 
to the status of savagery the former to its lowest, and 
the latter to its highest condition while the punaluan 
continued into the Lower Status of barbarism ; that the 
syndyasmian belongs to the Lower and to the Middle 
Status of barbarism, and continued into the Upper; and 
that the monogamian belongs to the Upper Status of bar- 
barism, and continued to the period of civilization. 

It will not be necessary, even if space permitted, to 
trace the syndyasmian family through barbarous tribes 
in general upon the partial descriptions of travelers and 
observers. The tests given may be applied by each reader 
to cases within his information. Among the American 
aborigines in the Lower Status of barbarism it was the 
prevailing form of the family at the epoch of their 
discovery. Among the Village Indians in the Middle 
Status, it was undoubtedly the prevailing form, although 
the information given by the Spanish writers is vague 
and general. The communal character of their 


tenement houses is of itself strong evidence that the 
family had not passed out of the syndyasmian form. It 
had neither the individuality nor the exclusiveness which 
monogamy implies. 

The foreign elements intermingled with the native 
culture in sections of the Eastern hemisphere produced 
an abnormal condition of society, where the arts of civil- 
ized life were remolded to the aptitudes and wants of 
savages and barbarians. l Tribes strictly nomadic have 
also social peculiarities, growing out of their exceptional 
mode of life, which are not well understood. Through in- 
fluences, derived from the higher races, the indigenous 
culture of many tribes has been arrested, and so far 
adulterated as to change the natural flow of their prog- 
ress. Their institutions and social state became modi- 
fied in consequence. 

It is essential to systematic progress in Ethnology that 
the condition both of savage and of barbarous tribes 
should be studied in its normal development in areas 
where the institutions of the people are homogeneous. 
Polynesia and Australia, as elsewhere suggested, are the 
best areas for the study of savage society. Nearly the 
whole theory of savage life may be deduced from their in- 
stitutions, usages and customs, inventions and discoveries. 
North and South America, when discovere