Lewis H. Morgan  

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"The growth of the idea of property, and the rise of monogamy, furnished motives sufficiently powerful to demand and obtain [a] change in order to bring children into the gens of their father, and into a participation in the inheritance of his estate. Monogamy assured the paternity of children; which was unknown when the gens was instituted, and the exclusion of children from the inheritance was no longer possible. "--Ancient Society (1877) by Lewis H. Morgan

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Lewis H. Morgan (1818 – 1881) was an anthropologist and social theorist best known for his work on kinship and social structure, his theories of social evolution, and his ethnography of the Iroquois.

Adopted by the Left after his death, Morgan is the only American social theorist to be cited by Darwin, Marx and Freud.

Combined with an exhaustive study of classic Greek and Roman sources, he crowned his work with his magnum opus Ancient Society (1877).

Work in ethnology

Morgan became interested in the Native Americans during his days with the Grand Order of the Iroqouis. While studying their society, he was formally incorporated as an adopted member. They named him Tayadaowuhkuh, meaning bridging the gap (between the Iroquois and the European-Americans.)

Morgan was lucky enough to meet and form a friendship with Ely S. Parker, of the Seneca tribe and the Tonawanda Reservation. Classically educated and a diplomat on behalf of the Seneca, Parker had also studied law. With his help, Morgan studied the culture and the structure of Iroquois society. He wrote the book The League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois (1851), recognizing the importance of Parker's contribution by dedicating it to him and "our joint researches." This work, which presented the complexity of Iroquois society, became a pathbreaking work of ethnography and a model for future anthropologists to emulate .

In that first book, Morgan presented the kinship system of the Iroquois with unprecedented nuance. After putting aside scholarship to devote himself to his own family and his work as a lawyer, his interest in kinship and human social organization was reignited in the late 1850s. This time, expanding his research far beyond the Iroquois. He set himself the task of collecting and sorting the systems of relationship terms used by tribes spanning the greater part of the United States of America, and then to peoples across the globe. With the help of local contacts and after intensive correspondence over the course of years, this research culminated in Morgan's seminal Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity (1871), which was printed by the Smithsonian Press. 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 these kinship terms, Morgan discerned that the structure of the family and social institutions develop and change according to a specific sequence.

In the years that followed, Morgan developed his theories. Combined with an exhaustive study of classic Greek and Roman sources, he crowned his work with his magnum opus Ancient Society (1877). In this book, Morgan elaborated upon his theory of 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. Looking across a vastly expanded span of human existence, Morgan presented three major stages: savagery, barbarism, and civilization. These stages were further divided and defined by technological inventions, like use of fire, bow, pottery in the savage era; domestication of animals, agriculture, metalworking in the barbarian era; and development of alphabet and writing in the civilization era. (In part, this was an effort to create a structure for North American history that was comparable for the three ages of European pre-history, developed by scholars in Denmark during these years.)

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.

Many specific aspects of Morgan's evolutionary position have been rejected by later anthropologists. But his 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. Although Karl Marx never finished his own book based on Morgan's work, Engels continued where Marx left off, so Morgan, a capitalist, railroad lawyer and Republican state legislator, strongly influenced Engels' sociological theory of dialectical materialism (The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, 1884). In fact, Morgan became the preeminent anthropologist in the Communist bloc.

Although Morgan would be shocked to see the impact that his work has had on the Left, the connections are not hard to understand. His Yankee republicanism was radical in many ways. He believed that American greatness rested upon the diffusion of property and political power. He was strongly against class systems and anything that smacked of feudalism. An American patriot of deep conviction, he believed that wage-earning would be and should be only a stage of life in the United States: after the Civil War, he grew increasingly worried about the concentration of wealth and power. In his social theory he makes it clear: progress is driven by greed. While he saw progress as necessary and desirable, he also mourned the losses; he was nostalgic for the virtues that he saw among the classical Stoics, among Native Americans and other "primitive" peoples. He was concerned that what he called "the mere property career" was spinning out of control. His faith in the human capacity to learn, to cope with the surroundings, to adapt, to, in short, progress, enabled him to overcome his ambivalences. Looking to the future, he foresaw a revival, in new form, of "the liberty, equality and fraternity" of primitive peoples.

See also

Acceptera, Adolph Bandelier, Affinity (law), African Pygmies, Alain Testart, Alexander Winchell, Alfred Ploetz, Alfred William Howitt, Alice Mossie Brues, Alliance theory, Alpine race, Ambilineality, An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus, Ancient Society, Andrew Arthur Abbie, Andrey Korotayev, Ann Laura Stoler, Annihilation of Caste, Anténor Firmin, Anthropology of technology, Anthropology, Aquarius, Arabid race, Armenoid race, Arthur C. Parker, Arthur de Gobineau, Aryan race, Asher Wright, Ashley Montagu, Asian people, Atlantid race, Augustus Henry Keane, Aurora, Cayuga County, New York, Australian Aboriginal kinship, Australo-Melanesian, Avunculate, Benjamin Rush, Bertil Lundman, Biblical terminology for race, Bibliography of anthropology, Bilateral descent, Biraja Sankar Guha, Black Man's Burden, Black people, Bride price, Bride service, Bronze (racial classification), Brown (racial classification), Burmese kinship, Calvin Ira Kephart, Capoid race, Carl Linnaeus, Carleton S. Coon, Caspian race, Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development, Caucasian race, Chambri people, Charles Caldwell (physician), Charles Davenport, Charles Gabriel Seligman, Charles Hamilton Smith, Charles Pickering (naturalist), Cheikh Anta Diop, Chiefdom, Chinese ghost marriage, Chinese kinship, Chittenango, New York, Chris Gregory, Christoph Meiners, Clan, Classical Marxism, Classificatory kinship, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Cognatic kinship, Collateral (kinship), Color terminology for race, Coming of Age in Samoa, Conjectural history, Consanguinity, Cousin marriage law in the United States, Cousin marriage, Craniometry, Cross-cultural studies, Crow kinship, Crow people, Cultural anthropology, Cultural evolution, Cultural materialism (anthropology), Culture, D. C. Douglas, Davenport Tablets, Deborah Cameron (linguist), Diane Bell (anthropologist), Dinaric race, Dominick McCausland, Don Kulick, Dowry, Early infanticidal childrearing, Earnest Hooton, East Baltic race, Edward Burnett Tylor, Edwin B. Morgan, Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt, Eleanor Leacock, Ely S. Parker, Endogamy, Erie language, Erwin Baur, Eskimo kinship, Ethiopid race, Ethnography, Ethnotaxonomy, Eugen Fischer, Eugenics, Exogamy, Family, Fei Xiaotong, Felix von Luschan, Feminist anthropology, Fictive kinship, Fish Carrier (Ojageght), Francis Galton, François Bernier, Franz Boas, Franz Weidenreich, Frederick Ludwig Hoffman, Fritz Lenz, Gens (anthropology), George Copway, Georges Cuvier, Georges Pouchet, Georges Vacher de Lapouge, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, Gerhard Lenski, Gilbert Herdt, Gitel Steed, Giuseppe Sergi, Great Law of Peace, Great Peacemaker, Group marriage, Gustaf Retzius, Halfdan Bryn, Hamites, Hans F. K. Günther, Hawaiian kinship, Hawkins Preserve, Hazel Hertzberg, Heinrich Schmidt (philosopher), Henric Sanielevici, Henrietta Moore, Herbert Spencer, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, Hiawatha, Hijra (South Asia), Hikmet Kıvılcımlı, Hindustani kinship terms, Historical definitions of races in India, Historical race concepts, History of anthropology, History of anthropometry, History of human sexuality, History of technology, History of the family, Hottentot (racial term), House society, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Hubert Howe Bancroft, Ilse Schwidetzky, Incest taboo, Inclusive fitness in humans, Index of sociopolitical thinkers, Indid race, Influences on Karl Marx, Irano-Afghan race, Iroquois kinship, Iroquois, Isaac La Peyrère, James Cowles Prichard, Jan Czekanowski, Janet Carsten, Japhetites, Jarvis Lord, Jedediah Morgan, Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Johann Jakob Bachofen, John Baker (biologist), John Beddoe, John Grattan (naturalist), John H. Van Evrie, John Mitchell (geographer), John Wesley Powell, Joking relationship, Joseph Deniker, Joseph James and Joseph James Jr., Julia Averkieva, Julian Huxley, Julian Steward, Julien-Joseph Virey, Karl Binding, Karl Pearson, Kay Warren, Kinship terminology, Kinship, Kizh, Lawrence Rosen (anthropologist), Leslie White, Levirate marriage, Lewis L. Morgan, Lewis Morgan, Lineage (anthropology), Lineal descendant, Lorimer Fison, Lothrop Stoddard, Louis Agassiz, Louise Lamphere, Ludwig Hermann Plate, Ludwig Woltmann, Madison Grant, Malay race, Margaret Mead, Marija Gimbutas, Marriage, Martial race, Master race, Material culture, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Matriarchy, Matrifocal family, Matrilateral, Matrilineality, Matrilocal residence, Maurice Fishberg, Mediterranean race, Meyer Fortes, Military democracy, Milk kinship, Mohicans, Moiety (kinship), Mongoloid, Monogamy, Mononormativity, Morgan (surname), Morgan Township, Redwood County, Minnesota, Morgan, Minnesota, Morris Steggerda, Mount Hope Cemetery (Rochester), Native American cultures in the United States, Native American name controversy, Native Americans in the United States, Nazi racial theories, Negrito, Negroid, New York State Museum, Niece and nephew, Nordic race, November 21, Numerical variation in kinship terms, Nurture kinship, Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question, Olive skin, Omaha kinship, Origins of society, Oscar Peschel, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, Otto Reche, Pamirid race, Parallel and cross cousins, Patrilineality, Patrilocal residence, Paul Broca, Paul Topinard, Peking Man, Petrus Camper, Philippine kinship, Philosophy of culture, Philosophy of history, Political anthropology, Political economy in anthropology, Polyandry in India, Polyandry in Tibet, Polyandry, Polygamy, Polygenism, Polygyny, Posthumous marriage in Germany, Pre-Adamite, Pre-Marxist communism, Pre-modern conceptions of whiteness, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Primitive communism, Primitive Culture (book), Promiscuity, Race (human categorization), Race Life of the Aryan Peoples, Racial nationalism, Raymond J. DeMallie, Redskin, Reginald Ruggles Gates, Richard Goldsby, Robert Bennett Bean, Robert Dunnell, Robert E. Kuttner, Robert Hamilton Mathews, Robert Knox, Robert Lowie, Roger Lancaster, Roger Pearson (anthropologist), Romance (love), Rosalind Travers Hyndman, Samuel A. Cartwright, Samuel George Morton, Samuel Stanhope Smith, Semitic people, Senator Morgan, Seneca people, Sex and Repression in Savage Society, Sinodonty and Sundadonty, Social Bonding and Nurture Kinship, Social stratification, Socialist economics, Sociocultural evolution, Sonia Mary Cole, Sororate marriage, Stanley Marion Garn, State formation, Stephen O. Murray, Sudanese kinship, Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, Tanya Luhrmann, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, The Inevitability of Patriarchy, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, The Passing of the Great Race, The Races of Europe (Ripley book), The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, Third gender, Thomas Henry Huxley, Thomas Parsons (politician), Three-age system, Timeline of music in the United States (1850–1879), Tipi, Tom Boellstorff, Tonawanda Reservation, Tong Enzheng, Transracial (identity), Turanid race, Typology (anthropology), UNESCO statements on race, Unilineal evolution, Unilineality, Urgesellschaft, V. Gordon Childe, Veena Das, Wells College, White people, William Graham Sumner, William N. Fenton, William Z. Ripley, Women in prehistory, Yanomamö: The Fierce People

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