Lewis Henry Morgan; Foreword by Elisabeth Tooker University of Arizona Press, 1985 Library of Congress GN478.M67 1985 | Dewey Decimal 301
Lewis Henry Morgan studied the American Indian way of life and collected an enormous amount of factual material on the history of primitive-communal society. All the conclusions he draws are based on these facts; where he lacks them, he reasons back on the basis of the data available to him. He determined the periodization of primitive society by linking each of the periods with the development of production techniques. The “great sequence of inventions and discoveries;” and the history of institutions, with each of its three branches — family, property and government — constitute the progress made by human society from its earliest stages to the beginning of civilization. Mankind gained this progress through '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.'
Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–1881) was trained as a lawyer, but in the second part of his life he focused his attention on the emerging science of ethnography.
Covering areas of North and Central America, Morgan’s last book, Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines was the first to regard a set of problems that is still currently debated: what does domestic architecture show anthropologists and archaeologists about social organization, and how does social organization combine with a system of production technology and ecological adjustment to influence domestic and public architecture? As William Longacre makes clear in the new introduction, the development of anthropological archaeology was profoundly affected by this book, and its impact continues to resonate.
Demonstrating a lack of ethnocentrism rare for his day, Morgan gathered most of his own data from the field and from a gigantic correspondence. The result is a lively, readable work that is still fascinating and instructive today.
Lewis Henry Morgan's mid-nineteenth-century assemblage of Iroquois-made artifacts featured more than 500 objects and at the time was the largest such collection for a single Indian group. In this richly illustrated volume, Elisabeth Tooker has brought together much previously unpublished material not only to show how Morgan managed such an impressive feat of scholarship but also to reveal something of his too often neglected research methods.
A pioneering anthropologist, social theorist, railroad lawyer, and advocate for Native Americans, Lewis Henry Morgan was the only American to be cited by Darwin, Marx, and Freud. By many accounts, he was the most influential American social scientist of the nineteenth century. Morgan traced humanity’s progress from life among a primary group to one in an increasingly impersonal civilization—from primitive cave to civilized parlor—and along the way explained the meaning of modernity and the meaning of America. For Morgan, they were one and the same.
Daniel Noah Moses has written the most complete biography of this prominent intellectual to date, tracing his career and documenting in detail his worldwide influence. Although Morgan is best known among anthropologists, Moses reveals to a wider readership his life and accomplishments as an important American thinker who considered the United States the embodiment of the Enlightenment and a model for the world.
Moses presents Morgan’s life in great detail, with facts that will surprise even those who think they know him. From his early work with the Iroquois to his defense of American capitalism to his strange posthumous career among international communists and American leftists, Moses weaves together the diverse strands that made up the rich tapestry of this singular life. He locates Morgan’s American voice within a tradition of transatlantic social theory dedicated to understanding the spirit that motivates modern societies. In showing how Morgan reflected the interplay between Christian, classical, and liberal traditions, Moses delves into the role of such concepts as “savagery,” “barbarism,” the “primitive,” “progress,” and “civilization” in nineteenth-century social theory and in the broader American culture. And he tells how even today Morgan’s influence is felt among environmentalists, anarchists, feminists, and other social visionaries.
Morgan explained how humans evolved beyond nature to both the splendor and squalor of the Industrial Age and offered an unprecedented analysis of the interplay between family, property relations, the state, and the human mind. The Promise of Progress will spark the imagination of anyone who worries that progress has outstripped the human capacity to live together, allowing readers to better understand the relationship between the American emphasis on consumption, the buried riches of the American dream, and the possibilities for our future.