Monday, February 17, 2014

What A Difference One Hundred Years Makes

I am reading a book I found at an antique shop.  It is titled, "Bryant's Popular History of the United States."  Copyright 1878.

For those unfamiliar, the 1890 US Federal Census "officially" considered the Indian Wars to be over and the plains to be largely traversable without incident.  However, the 1870's and 1880's were the eras of "the wild wild west." 

Custer's Last Stand was in 1876, the Nez Perce war from Oregon was in 1877, the shootout at the OK Corral took place in 1881.  Interestingly in doing genealogy, my family in Georgia of whom I am a direct descendant, occupied lands taken from Indians forced onto the Trail of Tears. However, the Apache wars continued up until 1924.  

But in 1878 when this book was written, the Indian wars were not yet over.   In fact, in 1878, a great deal of the sentiment regarding the Indians and the wars was still alive.  The wars were still being fought.  Which is what makes this book so interesting.

I've got a non-politically correct book about the history of the Indian wars and the American settlement of the continent.

In reading the book, I will say that the book does appear to be fairly balanced as it does pose the questions the Indians asked about whether to destroy these people coming and drive them back to their ships, and why should they help them, and much much more.  Interesting to me is reading the early accounts of the Indians' physical and military prowess.  The colonists and Spanish and British noted that the Indians' adaptability and physical ability for war exceeded anything they had ever seen in the whole of Europe, and had European soldiers' the Indians' abilities, they would have never lost a war again.  There was nothing like it that had ever been seen.

But what a difference 100 years makes in a history book, one hundred thirty something to be more precise.   I do agree with the sentiments of some of the early Puritan ministers that it would be better - well in their words to "convert" - the natives than to war against them.  I'm more for peace than war. But regardless, an unspoiled land, and a hungry civilization for raw goods and world domination?  There was no way that this land would remain as it was forever.  I imagine World War II spilling over onto this continent and imagine Hitler's dealings with the natives with modern machinery of war had it remained undiscovered that long. 

But the question really was, how could these two civilizations coexist?  The answer? They couldn't.  That was realized as early as the 1400's.

European despotism against which our forefathers fought and from which they fled being what it was, there was still a progress and an enlightenment and furtherance among the Christian civilization that was not had among the rest of the world.  If the case were referred to the favoritism and powers of the worshipped gods of the individual nations, it would appear that the Christian God was much mightier and stronger than the gods of the natives or any other civilization elsewhere.

I've long wondered whether it was "right" that the natives be slaughtered as they were, and struggled with my feelings about it because my family of which I am a direct descendant participated in that in one form or another, and sometimes directly, in the wars and moving of the natives.  I've tried to think of things like "I didn't do it" and "Well, let those who believe they should have the land give theirs to them" or "let them buy back their land just as we all do" and "It was a long time ago, get over it" and other such nonsense.

In reading the book, I think, as I always do, that war is a tragedy.   The oppression of women and children hurts my heart to think of it and having seen it in a life lived in the military long ago....I'm not in favor of it.  But I do know this: this land exists for a purpose and has a divine destiny.  And only those who can bring it about or who will not hinder it will be suffered to be here.  It was God's land before it was ever the Indians' or the white man's.  What was meant to come forth on it was a law that righteous men could live bringing them onto equal grounds with one another and granting them the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience.

Granted, America has struggled greatly with that concept, as all men in power do.  Nevertheless, she has shed blood to protect that notion and for 200+ years now it has remained intact.  The framework that was established and secured with bloodshed called the constitution was foretold some several thousand years ago by Isaiah. Out of that framework has come the word of the Lord again, which word was once rejected by the Indians, though their words now speak to us again.

Now we live in a day which looks back romantically on the native lifestyle which included child-sacrifice and human torture, our civilization today now decries its self and its own liberties and thirst for the slavery of old Europe from which our ancestors fled confusing the security and unpredictability of said slavery with liberty.  They came bringing many traditions with them and thus were not entirely free from what they left, but what is amazing is - this book recognizes that. 

Could this book be written in our day?  I don't think so. 

But I'm thinking this book was written at the perfect time.  In a time that was forward looking - recognizing this was to be a historical work requiring balance with a more liberal view, but still acknowledging and using the language that had carried them to that point, and still living amidst the struggles that were described in it.

Well, the scriptures tell us to "seek learning out of the best books."  I don't know that this is the best book, or a best book.  But I do know that I do tire of the endless pedanting and pontificating of the self-appointed and self-proclaimed self-enlightened sophists of our day - knaves which some other fool let have a keyboard and access to the internet.  Heaven sighs no doubt at how many have found access to Youtube. For this I am grateful for this book to give me a view at how we arrived where we are. 

Can I reverse history? 


But I can do this which none of the rest of babylon can do:  I can submit their temple work that they have an election to the celestial kingdom.

I can liberate them from prison by my work.

And that, is exactly what I shall do.  In between chapters.

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