Monday, September 26, 2011

last of the mohicans monday

Referencing and comparing Native Americans to classical cultures was a theme which runs throughout Jefferson's musings on Indians. "Aboriginal Homeric concepts of human behavior had early become real and concrete to him in the simple dignity of American Indians." (Lehmann, 1994).

Perhaps this comparison with Europe's heroic era was to buttress his defense of all things American. For, it was then contended, by France's Count Buffon, that all flora, fauna, and men of the New World were degenerate. Jefferson contested Buffon's statement about the notion that the Native American "savage" was "feeble," "timid and cowardly," with "no vivacity, no activity of mind." On the contrary, stated Jefferson, the Indian "meets death with more deliberation" than any other race on earth; "his friendships are strong and faithful to the uttermost extremity." (Burnstein, 1997).

"As for happiness, he thought it probably greater among the American Indians than among the great body of people in Europe."(Malone, 1951).

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