It can now be asserted that savagery preceded barbarism in all the tribes of mankind, as barbarism is known to have preceded civilization. The history of the human race is one in source, one in experience, one in progress.
-- Lewis Henry Morgan ( 1877), Anthropologist
DURING THE LATE nineteenth century, Lewis Henry Morgan, a Rochester lawyer-turned-ethnologist, was America's most influential anthropologist. Raised on a farm in western New York, Morgan encountered his first Indian in the pages of The Last of the Mohicans. The powerful imagery of the League of the Iroquois fueled Morgan's life-long fascination with American Indian lore.
As a young lawyer in 1842, Morgan and several upstate New York friends formed a secret literary fraternity called "The Gordian Knot." Their patriotic mission was to pen the great American epic, to distill a fundamentally American national identity. In the process, they would put to rest, once and for all, unfavorable comparisons between the United States and mother Europe. Al-