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  • The Aztecs, Part Eight
    as a possible model for their own future Their interpretation and that of historians who later wrote of Inca socialism tended to ignore the high degree of hierarchy in the Inca Empire and the fact that the state extracted labor and goods from the subject communities to support the nobles who held extensive power The utopian view of the Incas was no less political than the despotic view Perhaps the lesson here is that what we see in the past often depends on what we think about the present or what we want for the future But if Inca socialism or despotism was a matter that has fascinated students of the past Aztec religion has caught the imagination of historians and of the general public It causes us to ask how a civilization as advanced and accomplished as this could engage in a practice so cruel and to us so morally reprehensible Perhaps nothing challenges our appreciation of the American civilizations more than the extensive evidence of ritual torture and human sacrifice which among the Aztecs reached staggering proportions on some occasions thousands of people were slain usually by having their hearts ripped out First we must put these practices in some perspective Cruelty and violence can be found in many cultures and to a world that has witnessed genocide mass killings and atomic warfare the Aztec practices do not stand in such marked contrast to what our own age has witnessed Certain customs in many past civilizations and in present cultures seem to us strange cruel and immoral We find Aztec human sacrifice particularly abhorrent but we should be aware that such practices were found among the ancient Canaanites and the Celtic peoples and that the story of Abraham and Isaac in the Old Testament while its message is against such sacrifice reflects what was a known practice Human sacrifice was practiced in pre Christian Scandinavia and in ancient India Although by the time of Confucius human sacrifice of wives and retainers at the burial of a ruler was no longer practiced in China the custom had been known and the issue of suttee the Hindu ritual suicide of the widow on the funeral pyre of her husband raged in India in the 20th century The Aztecs were certainly not alone in the taking of human life as a religious rite Whatever our moral judgments about such customs it remains the historian s responsibility to understand them in the context of their own culture and time How have historians tried to explain or understand the extent of Aztec human sacrifice Some defenders of Aztec culture have seen it as a limited phenomenon greatly exaggerated by the Spanish for political purposes Many scholars have seen it as essentially a religious act central to their belief that humans must sacrifice that which was most precious to them life in order to receive in return the sun rain and other blessings of the gods that make life possible Others have viewed Aztec

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  • Tenochtitlan and the Conquest of the Americas
    other towns nearby on the lake and the many villages built on the dry land This great accursed temple was so high that from the top of it everything could be seen perfectly And from up there we saw the three causeways that led into Mexico the causeway of Iztapalapan by which we had come four days earlier the causeway of Tiacopan by which we were later to flee on the night of our great defeat and that of Tepeyacac We saw the aqueduct that comes from Chapultepec to supply the town with sweet water and at intervals along the three causeways the bridges which let the water flow from one part of the lake to another We saw a multitude of boats upon the great lake some coming with provisions and some going off loaded with merchandise and in these towns we saw temples and oratories shaped like towers and bastions all shining white a wonderful thing to behold And we saw the terraced houses and along the causeways other towers and chapels that looked like fortresses So having gazed at all this and reflected upon it we turned our eyes to the great market place and the host of people down there who were buying and selling the hum and the murmur of their voices could have been heard for more than a league And among us were soldiers who had been in many parts of the world at Constantinople all over Italy and at Rome and they all said they had never seen a market so well ordered so large and so crowded with people Pre Colombian Civilization in the Americas Cortes had found one of the world s great cities For the preceding fifteen hundred years the Indians of America had been creating a high quality of civilization without benefit of contact with Asia from which they originated or with Europe or Africa They had created a food surplus by cultivating Native American plants especially maize or corn beans squash and potato Cities had been built as elaborate ceremonial centers regulated by a large priestly group who organized the peasant majority to carry out enormous manual tasks building temples and roads and irrigating the land In these cities stone sculpture metalworking astronomy and engineering were developed and often a certain amount of commercial exchange took place By the fifteenth century the Mayan peoples of Yucatan and Guatemala perhaps the most creative of all the Indians in science and art had broken up into quarreling states and their temple complexes had been abandoned for centuries In Peru the Incas had consolidated a large number of city states into an integrated empire linked by miraculous roads and governed despotically and bureaucratically by the Great Inca from his capital of Cuzco Unlike the Incas who used their troops to maintain the cohesion of their empire the Aztecs in Mexico went to war primarily to seize human victims for sacrifice to their insatiable gods especially the infamous Quetzalcoatl They overran the highly advanced tribes of the valley of Mexico in the thirteenth century finding there vast pyramids like those of the vanished Toltecs and borrowing ideas like all successful conquerors on the islands created by a series of swampy lakes they raised great pyramids of a similar kind The creation of the city was a task similar to that of building Venice in its lagoon Land had to be created by dredging mud from the lake between lines of pilings extra fields for food growing were formed by piling sludge on floating platforms of reeds as can be seen today in the floating gardens of Xochimilco stone had to be brought in from a hostile countryside But by 1519 they had created a beautiful flourishing city Its center was the great temple where Mexico City s main square is today a terraced building up which the captives were marched to the sacrificial stone to have their hearts cut out Across from the temple was the vast imperial palace Like the temple it was a complex of buildings grouped around interior courts and broken by canals I went several times to the emperor s residence merely to look at it one Spanish soldier remarked Each time I walked about until I was quite tired but even so I never saw the whole of it All these white painted buildings which housed hundreds of priests and visiting nobility the law courts and public treasury prisons music school and even a house of rare birds were entwined with blossoming trees For this conjunction of a priestly and warrior aristocracy Tenochtitlan existed Its third function as marketplace was satisfied by the canals and vast open squares where merchandise from all over the valley was sold in carefully arranged aisles gold and silver feathers slaves shoes foodstuffs colors for dyeing building materials and medicines And to facilitate communication the whole city was laid out in regular rectangles divided by broad straight streets one side of which was beaten earth the other a canal The countryside that supported this metropolis with food and sacrificial victims was exploited receiving no benefits for the supplies exacted from it and the Aztecs neighbors were easily persuaded by Cort6s to aid him against their overlords The Construction of Mexico City The beauty of Tenochtitlan survived the arrival of Cort6s for only two years In an uprising provoked by the Spanish destruction of their temples Montezuma was stoned to death by his own people and Cort6s lost one third of his men while fleeing by night across the causeways He returned in 1521 besieged the city for three months and finally destroyed it block by block The debris of houses and temples was pushed into the lake and street canals and a larger number of natives perished from an epidemic of smallpox than fell victim to the Spaniards other weapons The next year Cort6s decided to rebuild the city in the same location as the metropolitan center of the colony as

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/aztecs.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • Doctor Martin Luther King, "I Have A Dream"
    dream that one day even the state of Mississippi a state sweltering with the heat of injustice sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character I have a dream today I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers I have a dream today I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together This is our hope This is the faith that I go back to the South with With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood With this faith we will be able to work together to pray together to struggle together to go to jail together to stand up for freedom together knowing that we will be free one day This will be the day this will be the day when all of God s children will be able to sing with

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  • The Black Codes
    Slaves also ran away In the British possessions in the New World the settlers were free to promulgate any regulations they saw fit to govern their labor supply As early as the 17th century a set of rules was in effect in Virginia and elsewhere but the codes were constantly being altered to adapt to new needs and they varied from one colony and later one state to another All the slave codes however had certain provisions in common In all of them the color line was firmly drawn and any amount of Negro blood established the race of a person whether slave or free as Negro The status of the offspring followed that of the mother so that the child of a free father and a slave mother was a slave Slaves had few legal rights in court their testimony was inadmissible in any litigation involving whites they could make no contract nor could they own property even if attacked they could not strike a white person There were numerous restrictions to enforce social control slaves could not be away from their owner s premises without permission they could not assemble unless a white person was present they could not own firearms they could not be taught to read or write or transmit or possess inflammatory literature they were not permitted to marry Obedience to the slave codes was exacted in a variety of ways Such punishments as whipping branding and imprisonment were commonly used but death which meant destruction of property was rarely called for except in such extreme cases as the rape or murder of a white person White patrols kept the slaves under surveillance especially at night Slave codes were not always strictly enforced but whenever any signs of unrest were detected the appropriate machinery of

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  • Negro Slavery In America, Its Introduction By Law
    slaves to these lands the clerigo Casas first gave not considering the injustice with which the Portuguese take them and make them slaves which advice after he had apprehended the nature of the thing he would not have given for all he had in the world For he always held that they had been made slaves unjustly and tyrannically for the same reason holds good of them as of the Indians The above confession is delicately and truthfully worded not considering he does not say not being aware of but though it was a matter known to him his moral sense was not watchful as it were about it We must be careful not to press the admissions of a generous mind too far or to exaggerate the importance of the suggestion of Las Casas It would be quite erroneous to look upon this suggestion as being the introduction of negro slavery From the earliest times of the discovery of America negroes had been sent there But what is of more significance and what it is strange that Las Casas was not aware of or did not mention the Hieronymite Fathers 1 had also come to the conclusion that negroes must be introduced into the West Indies Writing in January 1518 when the fathers could not have known what was passing in Spain in relation to this subject they recommended licenses to be given to the inhabitants of Espanola or to other persons to bring negroes there From the tenor of their letter it appears that they had before recommended the same thing Zuazo the judge of residencia and the legal colleague of Las Casas wrote to the same effect He however suggested that the negroes should be placed in settlements and married Fray Bernardino de Manzanedo the Hieronymite father sent over to counteract Las Casas gave the same advice as his brethren about the introduction of negroes He added a proviso which does not appear in their letter perhaps it did exist in one of the earlier ones that there should be as many women as men sent over or more Footnote 1 Spanish monks followers of St Jerome Hieronymus The suggestion of Las Casas was approved of by the Chancellor and indeed it is probable there was hardly a man of that time who would have seen further than the excellent clerigo did Las Casas was asked what number of negroes would suffice He replied that he did not know upon which a letter was sent to the officers of the India House at Seville to ascertain the fit number in their opinion They said that four thousand at present would suffice being one thousand for each of the islands Espanola Porto Rico Cuba and Jamaica Somebody now suggested to the Governor De Bresa a Fleming of much influence and a member of the council that he should ask for this license to be given to him De Bresa accordingly asked the King for it who granted his

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/slaverybylaw.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • Canada, An Early History, Part Two
    acres and were obliged to pay dues cens et rents that included several days of service per year to the seigneur On the surface the system appeared to resemble the feudal like seigniorial system in France Three factors however made the system far more flexible and less feudal than its French counterpart in New France it was not the seigneur but the local militia captain who was district military leader the seigneur was usually not of noble blood and enjoyed no special political distinction to set him apart from the habitants and the abundance of land and the existence of a forest frontier undermined efforts by a seigneur to impose a true feudal like discipline on his habitants One of the most important differences in the Canadian seigneurial system was that in New France the habitants effectively owned their plots and even had the right to will them to their children The great partner and sometime rival of the fur trade was the missionary endeavor of the Jesuits They had two obligations 1 to keep New France Catholic by ministering to its people and excluding Huguenots and 2 to convert the Indians The missionaries made the conversion of the agrarian Huron their principal concern Huronia was the hub of the inland fur trade To make Huronia a Christian community would create a centre of Christianity and confirm the French commercial alliance with the Huron and their Algonquin clients French missionaries had already visited Huronia in the mid 1620s and in 1634 the Jesuits resumed the mission which thrived at least outwardly for 10 years As the French Huron alliance tightened Iroquois hostility toward both parties increased This was a case of traditional tribal trade rivalries being exacerbated by newer trade rivalries involving Europeans The introduction of European weapons and the imperatives of the fur trade transformed the nature of Indian warfare which once had been little more than blood sport The Iroquois sought to eliminate the Huron and take complete control of the interior fur trade Using firearms obtained from the Dutch in the Hudson River valley they launched ever more devastating raids on Huronia The French tightly controlled the firearms trade with their Huron allies putting the latter at a tremendous disadvantage In 1648 and 1649 the Iroquois inflicted major defeats on the Huron virtually eliminating them as a significant factor in the region These checks to both the fur trade and the missions at least in terms of the intentions and hopes of 1627 were the result not only of bad luck and poor management but also of the economic conditions of New France which depended almost entirely on the fur trade for profit Settlement was unprofitable to both the company and the colonists The population of New France therefore grew quite slowly rising from an estimated 200 residents habitants in 1642 to perhaps 2 500 by 1663 and by no means were all of these farmers The fur trade however was booming borne up by the fashion

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  • Canada, An Early History, Part Three
    stoves and even cannons shipbuilding flourished The colony nevertheless remained largely dependent on the fur trade which in turn depended on keeping the west open Access to the far west was frustrated however by the three Fox wars 1714 42 in which that tribe strove to close the Wisconsin portages to French traders Then Pierre Gaultier de Varennes Lord de La Vérendrye turned the flanks of the Fox and Sioux by proceeding by way of Lake Superior and the Rainy River to the Lake of the Woods and the Red and Saskatchewan River country There he found a new region for the French fur trade and also cut into the English trade in the area of Hudson Bay and the Hayes River The expansion of New France in these years was challenged however by the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession in Europe in 1740 In America the war became known as King George s War 1744 48 Fighting broke out again in Acadia on Lake Champlain and among the English and French Indian allies in the country of the Great Lakes and the Ohio River valley It was a confused conflict of raids and reprisals marked by only one action of major significance the capture of Louisbourg by an expedition from New England Holding the St Lawrence River valley the Great Lakes and the mouth of the Mississippi River the French commanded the better strategic position in America However the English colonies if having a less advantageous location were far wealthier and more populous All this was perceived by Roland Michel Barrin Marquis de La Galissonière the exceptionally able governor of New France 1747 49 He declared in a memorandum to the French court that New France must restore its position by a bold advance into the Ohio River valley which theretofore had not been claimed by New France or its Indian allies His policy was adopted by his successors and in 1749 Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville led an expedition down the Ohio to claim the valley for France and to confine English colonists and their fur trade to the east of the Alleghenies The British colonists from New York to Virginia immediately felt the threat to their trade to their expansion and to their settlement In 1749 the Ohio Company was formed in London with English and American support and the fortress of Halifax in Nova Scotia was built to counter the French fort at Louisbourg which had been restored to New France by the peace of 1748 ending King George s War In 1753 an American expedition under George Washington was sent to the Forks of the Ohio to make good the English claim The French and Indian War The French had also been active on the Ohio and had opened a line of communication from Lake Erie to the Forks The rivals clashed on the Monongahela and Washington was forced to surrender and retreat This clash marked the beginning of the Anglo French

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  • Canada, An Early History, Part Four
    authority in matters such as relations with the Indians After 1774 however the bishop and the church reigned supreme in their own sphere especially since British governing authorities were loath to interfere in religious matters The Quebec Act also enhanced the status of the seigneurs by giving them unchallenged legal authority to set the terms and conditions of settlement on their lands Magnifying this important change some seigneurs sold their holdings to members of the newly arrived English speaking merchant class These new seigneurs with no understanding of the informal habitant seigneur relationship under French rule thought of themselves and acted as landed gentry in their dealings with the habitants Carleton had erred badly He had either misunderstood or ignored the underlying realities of the social structure and class relations he found when he arrived in Quebec instead imposing his own vision of what he thought Quebec ought to be This action earned the British the support of the church and the seigneurs but the enmity of the habitants who soon realized just how much their position in society had been eroded As the years went by that erosion would have a dramatic impact on their living standards The influence of the American Revolution To the American colonies the Quebec Act was menacing and it reestablished to the north and west an area despotically ruled predominantly French and Roman Catholic with an alien form of land tenure Instead of intimidating the American colonies the act helped push the Americans to open revolt Indeed the first act of the American Continental Congress in 1775 was not to declare independence but to invade Canada The failure of that invasion ensured that the continent north of the Rio Grande would on the recognition of American independence be divided between the Americans and the British Not all American colonists had supported the cause of independence and many had resisted it in arms At the conclusion of hostilities these loyalists had to make their peace with the new republic as by far the greater part did or go into exile The refugees known as United Empire Loyalists were the objects of considerable concern to the British government which sought to compensate them for their losses and to assist them in establishing new homes Some went to the United Kingdom others to the British West Indies but the majority emigrated to Nova Scotia or Canada Nova Scotia which to a great extent had been recently settled by American colonists had not except for an ineffectual rising or two joined the revolting colonies Overawed by British sea power and by the fortress of Halifax Nova Scotians at first kept quiet and later many of them even made fortunes privateering against American commerce Easily reached by sea from New York Nova Scotia became the chief refuge of the loyalists Some settled in the peninsula itself some in Cape Breton and in the separate colony of Prince Edward Island A large number however settled along the St John River

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