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Lewis H. Morgan

Lewis H. Morgan
Lewis H. Morgan
Born (1818-11-21)November 21, 1818
Aurora, Cayuga County, New York, U.S.
Died December 17, 1881(1881-12-17) (aged 63)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Occupation Anthropologist, politician
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth Steele
Children Lemuel Morgan, Mary Elisabeth Morgan, Helen King Morgan
Parent(s) Jedediah and Harriet (Steele) Morgan

Lewis Henry Morgan (November 21, 1818 – December 17, 1881) was a pioneering American anthropologist and social theorist who worked as a railroad lawyer. He is best known for his work on kinship and social structure, his theories of social evolution, and his ethnography of the Iroquois. Interested in what holds societies together, he proposed the concept that the earliest human domestic institution was the matrilineal clan, not the patriarchal family.

Also interested in what leads to social change, he was a contemporary of the European social theorists American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1879.[1]

Morgan was a Republican member of the New York State Assembly (Monroe Co., 2nd D.) in 1861, and of the New York State Senate in 1868 and 1869.


  • Biography 1
    • The American Morgans 1.1
    • Early life and education of Lewis Morgan 1.2
    • The New Confederacy of the Iroquois 1.3
    • Encounter with the Iroquois 1.4
    • The Ogden Land Company affair 1.5
    • Marriage and family 1.6
    • Supporting education 1.7
    • Success at last 1.8
    • Field anthropologist 1.9
    • Morgan and American Civil War 1.10
    • The Erie Railroad affair 1.11
    • The Grant-Parker policy on native Americans 1.12
    • Later career 1.13
    • Death and legacy 1.14
    • Professional associations 1.15
  • Thought 2
    • Work in ethnology 2.1
    • Theory of social evolution 2.2
    • Influence on Marxism 2.3
  • Eponymous honors 3
  • List of Morgan's writings 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8


The American Morgans

According to Herbert Marshall Lloyd, an attorney and editor of Morgan's works, Lewis was descended from James Morgan, brother of Miles, who were American Revolutionary War, they were Continentals. Immediately after the war, the Connecticut line, along with many other land-hungry Yankees, migrated into New York State. Following the United States' victory against the British, the new government forced the latter's Iroquois allies to cede most of their traditional lands in New York and Pennsylvania to the US. New York made 5 million of acres available for public sale. In addition, the US government granted some plots in western New York to Revolutionary veterans as compensation for their service in the war.

Early life and education of Lewis Morgan

Lewis' grandfather, Thomas Morgan of Connecticut, had been a Continental soldier in the Revolutionary War. Afterward he and his family migrated west to New York's Finger Lakes region, where he bought land from the Cayuga people and planted a farm on the shores of Lake Cayuga near Aurora. He and his wife already had three sons, including Jedediah, the future father of Lewis; and a daughter.

In 1797, [4] Lewis later decided that this H, if anything, stood for "Henry." [5]

A multi-skilled Erie Canal, which opened in 1825.

At his death in 1826, Jedediah left 500 acres with herds and flocks in trust for the support of his family. This provided for education as well. Lewis studied classical subjects at Cayuga Academy: Georges Cuvier.

Masonic temple, constructed 1819 in Aurora. After

The New Confederacy of the Iroquois

[8], the building was not used for freemasonry from 1827-1846. The Gordian Knot met on the second floor in the early 1840s. In 1847 the Scipio Lodge #110 started Masonic activities again.

After graduating in 1840, Morgan returned to Aurora to read the law with an established firm.[9] In 1842 he was admitted to the The Knickerbocker under the pen name Aquarius.[10]

On January 1, 1841, Morgan and some friends from Cayuga Academy formed a secret fraternal society which they called the

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Elias Pond
New York State Assembly
Monroe County, 2nd District

Succeeded by
Eliphaz Trimmer
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Thomas Parsons
New York State Senate
28th District

Succeeded by
Jarvis Lord
  • Works by Lewis H. Morgan at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Lewis H. Morgan at Internet Archive
  • Morgan, Lewis H. (2004). "Ancient Society". Marxist Internet Archive Reference Archive. 
  • Lewis Henry Morgan at Find a Grave
  • "Morgan, Lewis Henry". River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester. 
  • McKelvey, Blake (Winter 1965). "The Pundit Club and the City of Rochester". University of Rochester Library Bulletin XX (2). 
  • Knight, C. 2008. Early Human Kinship was Matrilineal. In N. J. Allen, H. Callan, R. Dunbar and W. James (eds), Early Human Kinship. London: Royal Anthropological Institute, pp. 61–82.
  •  "Morgan, Lewis Henry".  
  • Lewis H. Morgan — Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences

External links

  • Conn, Steven (2004). History's Shadow: Native Americans and Historical Consciousness in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 
  • Deloria, Philip Joseph (1998) [1994]. Playing Indian. Yale Historical Publications. New Haven: Department of History of Yale University. 
  • Feeley-Harnik, Gillian (2001), "'The Mystery of Life in All Its Forms': Religious Dimensions in the Culture of Early American Anthropology", in Mizruchi, Susan Laura, Religion and Cultural Studies, Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 140–191 .
  • Lloyd, Herbert M. (1922), "Appendix B, Notes", in Lloyd, Herbert Marshall, League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois II (New ed.), New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, pp. 145–310 .
  • Morgan, Lewis Henry (1993). White, Leslie A., ed. The Indian Journals, 1859-62. New York: Dover Publications. 
  • Moses, Daniel Noah (2009). The Promise of Progress: The Life and Work of Lewis Henry Morgan. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. 
  • Porter, Charles T. (1922), "Personal Reminiscences", in Lloyd, Herbert Marshall, League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois II (New ed.), New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, pp. 153–161 .
  • Stern, Bernhard J. "Lewis Henry Morgan Today; An Appraisal of His Scientific Contributions," Science & Society, vol. 10, no. 2 (Spring 1946), pp. 172–176. In JSTOR.
  • Trautman, Thomas R.; Kabelac, Karl Sanford (1994). The Library of Lewis Henry Morgan and Mary Elizabeth Morgan. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, volume 84, Parts 6-7. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society. 
  • White, Leslie A. (1951). "Lewis H. Morgan's Western Field Trips" (PDF). American Anthropologist 53: 11–18.  


  1. ^ Moses 2009, p. 2.
  2. ^ Lloyd 1922, p. 162
  3. ^ Weeks, Lyman Horace (October 1912), "Morgan of New England and New York", in Weeks, Lyman Horace, Genealogy: A Journal of American Ancestry, Volumes One and Two 2, New York: William M. Clements, p. 324 
  4. ^ Tooker, Elizabeth. (1994) Lewis H. Morgan on Iroquois Material Culture.
  5. ^ Moses 2009, p. 9.
  6. ^ Moses 2009, p. 12. Note: Sometimes the name is given as Cayuga Lake Academy.
  7. ^ Trautman & Kabelac 1994, p. 10
  8. ^ Moses 2009, p. 14.
  9. ^ Porter, Charles T. (1922), "Personal Reminiscences", in Lloyd, Herbert Marshall, League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois II (New ed.), New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, pp. 153–161 
  10. ^ Moses 2009, p. 10
  11. ^ Feeley-Harnik 2001, p. 146
  12. ^ Deloria 1998, p. 218
  13. ^ Feeley-Harnik 2001, p. 147
  14. ^ Trautman & Kabelac 1994, p. 11
  15. ^ Deloria 2001, p. 73
  16. ^ Deloria 2001, p. 72
  17. ^ Moses 2009, p. 52
  18. ^ Deloria 1998, p. 84
  19. ^ Lloyd 1922, pp. 200–201
  20. ^ Porter 1922, pp. 157–158
  21. ^ a b Morgan 1993, p. 4
  22. ^ Deloria 1998, p. 85
  23. ^ Deloria 1998, p. 92
  24. ^ Moses 2009, p. 56
  25. ^ Trautman & Kabelac 1994, p. 13
  26. ^ Moses 2009, pp. 119–120
  27. ^ moses 2009, p. 125
  28. ^ Moses 2009, p. 122
  29. ^ a b Trautman & Kabelac 1994, p. 14
  30. ^ Moses 2009, pp. 143–144
  31. ^ Moses 2009, pp. 139–141
  32. ^ Moses 2009, pp. 145–147
  33. ^ White 1951, pp. 1–2
  34. ^ Morgan 1993, p. 231
  35. ^ Moses 2009, pp. 147–149
  36. ^ Moses 2009, p. 142
  37. ^ Moses 2009, p. 159
  38. ^ Moses 2009, p. 149
  39. ^ Moses 2009, p. 151
  40. ^ Moses 2009, p. 154
  41. ^ a b Trautman & Kabelac 1994, p. 21
  42. ^ While 1951, pp. 3–4
  43. ^ "Lewis Henry Morgan, LLD". Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 17 (Whole Series): 485. June 1881 to June 1882. 
  44. ^ Conn 2004, p. 210
  45. ^ Conn 2004, pp. 14–15
  46. ^ Lewis Henry Morgan. 1871. Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge. Washington DC.
  47. ^ Thomas R. Trautmann, p. 62, Dravidian Kinship. Cambridge University Press. "It has been argued kinship was 'invented' by the US lawyer, Lewis Henry Morgan, with the publication of his 'Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family' in 1871." "Kinship", pp. 543-546. Peter P. Schweitzer. Volume one. The Social Science Encyclopedia, Third Ed., edited by Adam Kuper and Jessica Kuper. London: Routledge.
  48. ^ Conn 2004, pp. 137–139
  49. ^ Conn 2004, pp. 225–226
  50. ^ The oft-repeated statement that Morgan's effort on behalf of the Tonawanda Senecas was the crucial one in preventing the sale of the Tonawanda Reservation to the Ogden Land Company apparently has its source in Charles Talbot Porter's reminiscences written in 1901 and published that year in Herbert M. Lloyd's edition of Morgan's League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois (New York, 1901), vol. 2, p. 156. The best account to date of what actually transpired is contained in William H. Armstrong, Warrior in Two Camps: Ely S. Parker, Union General and Seneca Chief (Syracuse, 1978).
  51. ^ Morgan, League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois (Rochester, 1851), pp. 447 and 446.
  52. ^ Ancient SocietyLewis H. Morgan, , online, Marxist Internet Archive Reference Archive, accessed 16 Feb 2009. Note: Source is a copy of Morgan's text; it says nothing about his influence on Marxist thinkers.
  53. ^ Origin of the Family, a Defense of Marx and Morgan
  54. ^ Lloyd 1922, pp. 175–179


See also

Date Work Publication
1841 "Essay on the History and Genius of the Grecian Race" Unpublished
1841 "Essay on Geology" Unpublished
1842 "Aristomenes the Messenian" The Knickerbocker, January, 1843, pen name Aquarius
1843 "Thoughts on Niagara" The Knickerbocker, September, 1843, pen name Aquarius
1843 "Mind or instinct, an inquiry concerning the manifestation of mind by the lower orders of animals" The Knickerbocker, November–December, 1843, pen name Aquarius
1844 "Vision of Kar-is-ta-gi-a, a sachem of Cayuga" The Knickerbocker, September, 1844, pen name Aquarius
1846 "An Essay on the Constitutional Government of the Six Nations of Indians" Unpublished, except read to the New York Historical Society.
1851 The League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois (later edition) Published by Sage and Brothers, Rochester.
1851 Report to the Regents of the University upon the articles furnished to the Indian collection Published in the Third Annual Report of the Regents of the University of the Condition of the State Cabinet of Natural History and the Historical and Antiquarian Collection Annexed Thereto.
1852 "Diffusion against centralization" Read to the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics' Association and published by D.M. Dewey.
1856 "The Laws of Descent of the Iroquois" Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Volume XI. Read before the society.
1859 "The Indian Method of Bestowing and Changing Names" Published in Proceedings of American Association for the Advancement of Science, Volume XIII.
1868 The American Beaver and his Works Published by J.B. Lippincott and Company, Philadelphia.
1868 "A Conjectural Solution of the Origin of the Classificatory System of Relationship" Proceedings American Academy of Arts & Sciences, February, Volume VII.
1868 "The Stone and Bone Implements of the Arickarees" In the 21st Annual Report on the State Cabinet, Albany.
1871 Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family Published by the Smithsonian Institution.
1872 "Australian Kinship" Proceedings American Academy of Arts and Sciences, March, Volume VIII.
1876 "Montezuma's Dinner" North American Review, April.
1876 "Houses of the Mound Builders" North American Review, July
1877 Ancient Society Published by Henry Holt and Company, New York.
1880 "On the Ruins of a Stone Pueblo on the Animas River in New Mexico, with a ground plan" Published in the 12th Annual Report, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge, MA.
1880 "Objects of an Expedition to New Mexico and Central America" Paper given to the Archaeological Institute of America, Boston, in March.
1880 "A Study of the Houses of the American Aborigines, with a scheme of exploration of the Ruins in New Mexico and elsewhere" Published in the 1st Annual Report of the Archaeological Institute of America.
1881 Houses and House-life of the American Aborigines In Contributions to North American Ethnology, Volume IV, published by the United States Geological Survey.

Lewis Morgan wrote continuously, whether letters, papers to be read, or published articles and books. A list of his major works follows. Some of the letters and papers have been omitted. A complete list, as far as was known, is given by Lloyd in the 1922 revised edition (posthumous) of The League ....[54] Specifically omitted are 14 "Letters on the Iroquois" read before the New Confederacy, 1844–1846, and published in The American Review in 1847 under another pen name, Skenandoah; 31 papers read before The Club, 1854–1880; and various book reviews published in The Nation.

List of Morgan's writings

  • Annual lecture in Morgan's name at the Anthropology Department of the University of Rochester.
  • Rochester Public School #37 in the 19th Ward named "Lewis H. Morgan #37 School"
  • Lewis Henry Morgan Institute (a research organization), SUNYIT, Utica, New York
  • Lewis H. Morgan Rochester Regional Chapter of the New York State Archeological Association

Eponymous honors

[53][52] In 1881,

Influence on Marxism

Morgan was not quite the social reformer some would believe him to be. Outraged at the manipulations of the Ogden Land Company to get possession of the Tonawanda Seneca Reservation, Morgan exerted some effort in behalf of the Indians, but not nearly as much or to such effect as is generally supposed.[50] Most of his effort seems to have been limited to a few months in 1846, and the issue was not settled until 1857, more than ten years later. The Indians' principal legal counsel in these years was not Morgan, but John Martindale. Morgan's role, such as it was, was that of citizen activist. Then, too, although a champion of the Indian, Morgan was not an advocate of cultural pluralism nor did he work for "cultural survival." The Indian, Morgan exhorted his fellow citizens, ought to be rescued "from his impending destiny," "reclaimed and civilized, and thus saved eventually from the fate which has already befallen so many of our aboriginal races" by education and Christianity.[51]

Although many specific aspects of Morgan's evolutionary position have been rejected by later anthropologists, his real achievements remain impressive. He founded the sub-discipline of kinship studies. Anthropologists remain interested in the connections which Morgan outlined between material culture and social structure. His impact has been felt far beyond the Ivory Tower.

Morgan's final work, Houses and House-life of the American Aborigines (1881), was an elaboration on what he had originally planned as an additional part of Ancient Society. In it, Morgan presented evidence, mostly from North and South America, that the development of house architecture and house culture reflected the development of kinship and property relations.

Initially Morgan's work was accepted as integral to American history, but later it was treated as a separate category of anthropology. Henry Adams wrote of Ancient Society that it "must become the foundation of all future work in American historical science." The historian Francis Parkman also was a fan, but later nineteenth-century historians pushed Native American history to the side of the American story.[49]

Looking across an expanded span of human existence, Morgan presented three major stages: savagery, barbarism, and civilization. He divided and defined the stages by technological inventions, such as use of fire, bow, pottery in the savage era; domestication of animals, agriculture, and metalworking in the barbarian era; and development of the alphabet and writing in the civilization era. (In part, this was an effort to create a structure for North American history that was comparable to the three-age system of European pre-history, which had been developed as an evidence-based system by the Danish antiquarian Christian Jürgensen Thomsen in the 1830s; his work Ledetraad til Nordisk Oldkyndighed (Guideline to Scandinavian Antiquity) was published in English in 1848. The concept of evidence-based chronological dating received wider notice in English-speaking nations as developed by J. J. A. Worsaae, whose The Primeval Antiquities of Denmark was published in English in 1849.[48]

In the years that followed, Morgan developed his theories. Combined with an exhaustive study of classic social evolution. He introduced a critical link between social progress and technological progress. He emphasized the centrality of family and property relations. He traced the interplay between the evolution of technology, of family relations, of property relations, of the larger social structures and systems of governance, and intellectual development.

This original theory became less relevant because of the Darwinian revolution, which demonstrated how change happens over time. In addition, Morgan became increasingly interested in the comparative study of kinship (family) relations as a window into understanding larger social dynamics; he saw kinship relations as a basic part of society.

Theory of social evolution

With the help of local contacts and, after intensive correspondence over the course of years, Morgan analyzed his data and wrote his seminal Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1871),[46] which was printed by the Smithsonian Press. It "created at a stroke what without exaggeration might be called the seminal concern of contemporary anthropology, the study of kinship..."[47] In this work, Morgan set forth his argument for the unity of humankind. At the same time, he presented a sophisticated schema of social evolution based upon the relationship terms, the categories of kinship, used by peoples around the world. Through his analysis of kinship terms, Morgan discerned that the structure of the family and social institutions develop and change according to a specific sequence.

In the late 1850s and 1860s, Morgan collected kinship data from a variety of Native American tribes. In his quest to do comparative kinship studies, Morgan also corresponded with scholars, missionaries, US Indian agents, colonial agents, and military officers around the world. He created a questionnaire which others could complete so he could collect data in a standardized way. Over several years, he made months-long trips to what was then the Wild West to further his research.

He wanted to provide evidence for monogenesis, the theory that all human beings descend from a common source (as opposed to polygenism).

Morgan expanded his research far beyond the Iroquois. Although Asia. He thought he could prove it by a broad study of kinship terms used by people in Asia as well as tribes in North America.

Based on his extensive research, Morgan wrote and published The League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois (1851). He dedicated the book to Parker (who was then 23) and "our joint researches".[44] This work presented the complexity of Iroquois society in a path-breaking ethnography that was a model for future anthropologists, as Morgan presented the kinship system of the Iroquois with unprecedented nuance.

In the 1840s, Morgan had befriended the young

Work in ethnology


He was elected president of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professional associations

His wife survived him by two years. They both left wills. A nephew of Lewis moved to Rochester with his family and took up residence in the house to care for Lewis' and Mary's son. On the son's death 20 years later, the entire estate reverted to the University of Rochester, which by the terms of the wills was to use the funds for the endowment of a college for women, dedicated as a memorial to the Morgan daughters.[43] The nephew attempted to break the wills on his behalf but lost the case in the state supreme court. The house with the library survived into mid-20th-century, when it was demolished to make way for a highway bypass system. Materials relating to Morgan's writings are held in a special collection at the University of Rochester library.

In 1879 Lewis completed two construction projects. One was his library, an addition to the house he had purchased with Mary many years before and where he died in December 1881. He combined the opening of the library with a celebration of the 25th anniversary of The Club. It included a dinner for 40 persons, who were by that time the leading lights of Rochester. The library acquired some fame as a local monument. Pictures were taken and published. The Club only met there one other time, however, at Lewis' funeral in 1881. The second building project was a mausoleum for his daughters in Mount Hope Cemetery. It became the resting place of the entire remainder of the family, starting with Lewis.[41]

Death and legacy

He continued with his independent scholarship, never becoming affiliated with any university, although he associated with university presidents and the leading ethnologists looked up to him as a founder of the field. He was an intellectual mentor to those who followed, including American Southwest. They were the first to describe the Aztec ruins on the Animas River but missed discovering Mesa Verde.[42]

Having failed to become Leslie White.

Later career

In 1871 Congress took action to halt the suppression of the natives. It created a Board of Indian Commissioners and relieved Parker of his main responsibilities. Parker resigned in protest.[40] After suffering years of poverty and attempt to suppress their cultures, American Indians were admitted to citizenship in 1924. The government continued to send their children to Indian boarding schools, started in the late 1870s, where Indian languages and cultures were prohibited. Policies of diversity and limited sovereignty were adopted. The Grant administration is universally regarded as inept in Indian affairs as well as have been rife with corruption. Although Morgan contributed to the ideology of assimilation, he escaped accountability for the results.

The implementation of assimilation policy was more difficult than either man had anticipated. Parker controlled none of the variables. The American Indians were to be moved into reservations, assisted with supplies and food so they could start subsistence farming, and educated at mission schools to be converted to Christianity and American values, until they adopted European-American ways. In theory they would then be able to enter American society at large. The system of appointed Indian agents and traders had long been corrupt; in addition, unscrupulous land agents took the best land and moved American Indians into the desert lands, which did not support small-scale household farms and did not have sufficient game for hunting. Thieves among the agents replaced food and goods intended for the Indians with inedible or no foodstuffs. Faced with these realities, the American Indians refused the reservations or abandoned them, and attempted to return to ancestral lands, now occupied by white settlers. In other cases, they raided white settlements for food or attacked them seeking to repel the invaders. Grant resorted to military solutions and used US soldiers to repress the tribes. This warfare exacerbated the failure of the army to protect the American Indians against depredations and encroachment by white settlers.

Despite his new interest in government, which was to come to be expressed in his subsequent works on social systems, Morgan persisted in his major goal in running for office, to be appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs. The choice was now up to President Grant. Together in The League, Parker and Morgan had determined the policy Grant was to adopt. They thought that, much as Parker had assimilated, American Indians should assimilate into American society; they were not yet considered US citizens. Of the two men responsible for his policy, Grant chose his former adjutant. Terribly disappointed, Morgan never applied for the post again. The two collaborators did not speak to each other during Parker's tenure, but Morgan stayed on intimate terms with Parker's family.

The Grant-Parker policy on native Americans

The Railroad Committee investigated the affair. Gould purchased inaction among the senators, a practice Morgan had seen in the Ogden Land Company Affair. This time he worked to protect his friends from investigation. No action was taken. The Erie Railroad affair tapped Morgan's deepest ideological beliefs. To him the role of capitalism in creating mobile wealth was essential to the advancement of civilization. A monopoly such as Vanderbilt had been trying to build would choke off the downward flow of wealth. His report of the Railroad Committee attacked both Vanderbilt and Gould. It argued that the system in its "tendency to combination" was broken. He asserted that the people had to use government action to rein in the power of large corporations. For the time being the Erie Railroad was supported, but Morgan noted that its victory was just as dangerous to society as its defeat would have been.

As member of the Standing Committee on Railroads, Morgan became embroiled in a major issue of the day and one closer to his interests: monopoly. The New York Central Railroad, under Cornelius Vanderbilt, had attempted a hostile takeover of the Erie Railroad under Jay Gould by buying up its stock. The two railroads competed for the Rochester market. Daniel Drew, Erie's treasurer, defended successfully by creating new stock, which he had his friends sold short, dropping the value of the stock. Vanderbilt dumped the stock, barely covering the losses. Ordinarily such stock manipulations were illegal. The Railroad Act of 1850, however, allowed railroads to borrow money in exchange for bonds convertible to stocks. Given essentially free stocks, friends of the Erie Railroad grew rich; that is, Drew had found a way to transfer Vanderbilt's wealth to his own friends. Vanderbilt just escaped ruin. He immediately appealed to the state government.[39]

In that year also, his wealth secure and free of business, Morgan entered the state government again as a senator, 1868–1869, still seeking appointment as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was ridiculed by the Union Advertiser as being a "hobby candidate."[38] The Republicans that year were running on a platform of moral probity. They argued that as a superior class, they could and should serve as guardians of the public morals. Lewis passed muster on the heredity because of his descent and Mary's descent from William Bradford, of Mayflower note. Morgan soon was immersed in such issues as whether beer drinking on Sunday should be allowed (a veiled hit at the new German immigrants).

Lewis took up trout fishing during his Michigan period. He fished in the wilds of Michigan during the summers, sometimes with Ojibwe guides. During this recreational activity, he became interested in beavers, which had greatly modified the lowlands. After several summers of tracking and observing beavers in the field, in 1868 he published a work describing in detail the biology and habits of this animal, which shaped the environment through its construction of dams.[37]

The Erie Railroad affair

Morgan did participate indirectly in the war through his company. Recovering from the deaths of his daughters and having resolved to end the expeditions that had taken him away from home, he gave his life totally over to business. In 1863 he and Samuel Ely formed a partnership creating the Morgan Iron Company in northern Michigan. The war had created such a high demand for metals that within the first year of business, the company paid off its founding debt and offered 100% dividends on its stock. The demand went on until 1868, enabling the company to construct a blast furnace. Lewis became independently wealthy and could retire from the practice of law.[36]

Morgan was anti-slavery but opposed abolitionism on the grounds that slavery was protected by law. Before the war he assented to the possible division of the nation on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences;" that is, slavery, between regions. Morgan began to change his mind when some of his friends who had gone out to watch the First Battle of Bull Run were captured and imprisoned by the Confederates for the duration. By the end of the war, he was insisting along with most others that Jefferson Davis be hanged as a traitor. In 1866 he formed the Rochester Committee for the Relief of Southern Starvation.[35]

Morgan held no consistent views on the war. He could easily have joined the anti-slavery cause if he had wished to do so. Rochester, as the last station before Canada on the Underground Railroad, was a center of abolitionism. Frederick Douglass published the North Star in Rochester. Like Morgan, Douglass supported the equality of women, yet they never made connection.

During this time, neither Morgan nor Mary showed any interest in abolitionism nor did they participate in the American Civil War. They differed markedly from their friend Ely Parker. The latter attempted to raise an Iroquois regiment but was denied, on the grounds that he was not a US citizen, and denied service on the same ground. He entered the army finally by the intervention of his friend, Ulysses S. Grant, served on Grant's staff. Parker was present at the surrender of General Lee; to Lee's remark that Parker was the "true American" (as an American Indian), he responded, "We are all Americans here, sir."

Morgan and American Civil War

"Two of three of my children are taken. Our family is destroyed. The intelligence has simply petrified me. I have not shed a tear. It is too profound for tears. Thus ends my last expedition. I go home to my stricken and mourning wife, a miserable and destroyed man."

[34] At the height of Morgan's anthropological field work, death struck his family. In May and June, 1862, their two daughters, ages 6 and 2, died as a result of

After attending the 1856 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Morgan decided on an ethnology study to compare kinship systems. He conducted a field research program funded by himself and the Smithsonian Institution, 1859-1862. He made four expeditions, two to the Plains tribes of Kansas and Nebraska, and two more up the Missouri River past Yellowstone. This was before the development of any inland transportation system, and passengers could shoot Bison and other game for food from riverboats on the Missouri. He collected data on 51 kinship systems. Tribes included the Winnebago, Crow, Yankton, Kaw, Blackfeet, Omaha and others.[33]

Field anthropologist At the last moment

In 1861 in the middle of his field work, Morgan was elected as Member of the New York State Assembly on the Republican ticket. The Morgans traditionally had belonged to the William H. Seward would be elected president, and outlined to him plans to employ the natives in the manufacture and sale of Indian goods.[32]

Morgan vigorously defended American capitalism to protect his own interests. After the stockholders refused to pay him for some of his legal work, he all but withdrew from business in favor of field work in anthropology. [31] In 1855 Morgan and other Rochester businessmen invested in the expanding metals industry of the

Success at last

Morgan and other leading men of Rochester decided to found a university, the University of Rochester. It did not support the matriculation of women. The group resolved to found a college for women, the Barleywood Female University, which was advertised but apparently never started. In the same year of its foundation, 1852, the donor of the land on which it was to be located gave it to the University of Rochester instead. Lewis was gravely disappointed. He believed that equality of the sexes is a mark of advanced civilization. For the present, he lacked the wealth and connections to prevent the collapse of Barleywood. Later he would serve as a founding trustee of the board of Wells College in Aurora. In addition, he and Mary would leave their estate to the University of Rochester for the foundation of a women's college.[30]

For several years "his ethnical interests lay dormant",[29] but not his scholarship and writing. In 1852 Morgan and eight other "Rochester intellectuals" instituted The American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Supporting education

Lewis and his wife were active in the First Presbyterian Church of Rochester, mainly of interest to Mary. Lewis refused to make "the public profession of Christ that was necessary for full membership."[29] They both contributed to and sponsored charitable works. In 1856, Mary Elisabeth was born and in 1860 Helen King.

[28] In 1853 Mary's father died, leaving her a large inheritance. The Morgans bought a

In 1851 Morgan summarized his investigation of Iroquois customs in his first book of note, League of the Iroquois, one of the founding works of ethnology. In it he compares systems of kinship. In that year also he married his cross-cousin, Mary Elizabeth Steele, his companion and partner for the rest of his life. She had intended to become a Presbyterian missionary. On their wedding day he presented to her an ornate copy of his new book. It was dedicated to his collaborator, Ely Parker.[25]

Marriage and family

The Ogden Land Company collapsed. [24] affirmed that only the federal government could evict natives from their land. As it declined to do that, the case was over.Supreme Court of the United States The Seneca case dragged on. Finally in 1857 the [23] When internal dissent began to impede the group's efficacy in 1847, Morgan stopped attending. For practical purposes it ceased to exist, but Morgan and Parker continued with a series of "Iroquois Letters" to the [22] After Morgan was admitted to the tribe, he lost interest in the New Confederacy. The group retained its secrecy and initiation requirements, but they were being hotly disputed.

Lewis about 1848.

The great majority of the tribe were against the sale of the land. When they discovered they had been defrauded, they were galvanized to action. The New Confederacy stepped into the case on the side of the Seneca, conducting a major publicity campaign. They held mass meetings, circulated a general petition, and spoke to congressmen in Washington. The US [21]

[19] In 1838 the Ogden Land Company began a campaign to defraud the remaining Iroquois in New York of their lands. By Iroquois law, only a unanimous vote of all the chiefs sitting in council could effect binding decisions relating to the tribe. The OLC set about to purchase the votes of as many chiefs as it could, plying some with alcohol. The chiefs in many cases complied, believing any resolutions to sell the land would be defeated in council. Obtaining a majority vote for sale at one council called for the purpose, the OLC took their treaty to the Congress of the United States, which knew nothing of Iroquois law. President

"...when the last tribe shall slumber in the grass, it is to be feared that the stain of blood will be found on the escutcheon of the American republic. This nation must shield their declining day...."

Meanwhile, the organization had had activist goals from the beginning. In his initial New Gordius address Morgan had said:[18]

The Ogden Land Company affair

Morgan and his colleagues invited Parker to join the New Confederacy. They (chiefly Morgan) paid for the rest of Parker's education at the Cayuga Academy, along with his sister and a friend of hers. Later the Confederacy paid for Parker's studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he graduated in civil engineering. After military service in the American Civil War, from which Parker retired at the rank of brigadier general, he entered the upper ranks of civil service in the presidency of his former commander, Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant's staff. Ely Parker sits on the left.

[17] The delegation, led by Jimmy Johnson, its chief officer (and son of chief

By specific treaties, the US set aside small reservations in New York for their own allies, the Onondaga and Seneca. In the 1840s, long after the war, the Ogden Land Company, a real estate venture, laid claim to the Seneca Tonawanda Reservation on the basis of a fraudulent treaty. The Seneca sued and had representatives at the state capital pressing their case when Morgan was there.

On an 1844 business trip to the capital of Cayuga treaties in the state archives. The Seneca people were also studying old treaties, to support their land claims. After the Revolutionary War, the United States had forced the four Iroquois tribes allied with the British to cede their lands and migrate to Canada.

Finger Lakes, upstate New York.

Encounter with the Iroquois

The men intended to resurrect the spirit of the Iroquois. They tried to learn the languages, assumed Iroquois names, and organized the group by the historic pattern of Iroquois tribes. In 1844 they received permission from the former Freemasons of Aurora to use the upper floor of the Masonic temple as a meeting hall. New members underwent a secret rite called inindianation in which they were transformed spiritually into Iroquois.[13] They met in the summer around campfires and paraded yearly through the town in costume.[14] Morgan seemed infused with the spirit of the Iroquois. He said, "We are now upon the very soil over which they exercised dominion ... Poetry still lingers around the scenery...."[15] These new Iroquois retained a literary frame of mind, but they intended to focus on "the writing of a native American epic that would define national identity."[16]

They made the group a research organization to collect information on the Iroquois, whose historical territory for centuries had included central and upstate New York west of the Hudson and the Finger Lakes region. [12]

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