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The Mystery of America
By STERLING HETLIG. IT Is not often that you see a man of 92 who, after a lifetime of original research, is still writing and has new books in preparation. Such is Henry Vignaud, an American in Paris, of old Louisiana family and the most distin guished of living Americanists. He would be a striking figure to-day if only from the fact that he came to France in 13S3 as secretary' to the Confederate diplomatic commission of Mason and Sli dell. In 1372 he was connected with the Alabama Claims Commission at Geneva. And for fifty years since he served with our diplomatic establishment in Paris, fre quently acting as charge d'affaires, and remains to-day honorary counselor of the embassy. But when you remember that Henry Vignaud is also author of twenty-four works relating to the discovery of America, and several of them of giant proportions; that in his long diplomatic service he had access to collections and enjoyed personal relations with the great on both sides of ! the Atlantic; that he has long been cor responding member of the French Insti- 1 tute, president of the Society of Ameri- ' canists of Paris, honored guest at learned International congresses. in technical touch with specialists of the subject?why. then, it is easy to see how the Mystery of America, which h* .sums up and decides ofi in the ripe experience of his ninety sggond year. Is of Interest to all Ameri calls. \Vho were the aboriginal Americans'.' : Where did the Indians come from? Did | ttjpy spring from the soil or emigrate from elgewhere? Were their ancestors black, yellow or white?or neither? And the mystery thickens with the extinct civili zations of Mexico and Central and South America, which have left such grand and Inexplicable monuments behind them. The specialists are not agreed. They have explored, dug and photo graphed; compared hieroglyphics, language roots and human skulls; sounded ocean depths, compared land fossils and criti cized obscure Spanish and Indian authors of the Conquest, to form conflicting theories. Trie astonishing thing about H. nry Vig naud is that in addition to his own re ,searches he has specialized on all these specialists, and is ?s deeply versed in modern sensational theories, like Enoch's "The Secret of the Pacific" < London, 1912) and Gaffarel's "The Phoenicians in Amer ica" (Xan<y. I1*?.".!, as with grand old deadwood like George Jones's "Identity of the Aborigines with the Tyrians" (Sew York. London and Paris, 1843) and John Banking's "Conquest of Peru by the Tar tars of Kubla-Khan" < London, 1829). For the twenty years that I have en Joyed Mr. Vlgnaud's personal friendship I have admired and wondered at the monu mental library i absolutely complete, I think) that he has collected and whose ul timate destination, legally fixed already, is for a great American university. So. now, to look them over with Henry Vignaud! Man did not spring from' the American soil. Agassiz. Haeckel, Bory St. Vinqpnt. Mor ton. Meigs and others thought that he had done so. Huxley was strong for an antarctic continent as spot of origin, and as 1 *te as Osborn. the eminent American j naturalist ("The Age of Mammals." N'. Y., 1910). the idea h;is been flirted with. The big bump came, however, with the alleged discovery of Ameghino, learned South .American naturalist, who proved by bones ! found on the pampas of the Argentine that all humanity had sprung from down there; But a Government commission of our Bureau of American Ethnology, led by Hrdlicka and Bailley Willis, the g'-ologist. wiped out this theory, which had enjoyed considerable vogue. In France. Dr Kivet and Prof. Verneau polished off the last hopes of American soil origin, in any case. Man did not originate in it, for the fundamental reason that no authentn fossil bones can be pro duce,! showing men in America as different from those existing actually. Mm came to America. How? It is astonishing how many emigration routes have been found! tl>?Bering Btrait was formerly an isthmus. Scharff. Lucas and Gill and Osborn are for it (2)?Land united Alaska to the Aleutian , single science but reconciling all as much Isles and Kamchatka. (3)?A north At- as possible, cannot go back even that far. lantic continent united America and Eu rope by Greenland and Labrador. It in cluded the British Isles, and the climate was temperate. Lapparent, the geologist, claims that it did not sink until the Pleistocene (200,000 years ago) and that man could have remembered it. There was (4) another Atlantic conti nent from the Mediterranean to the Antilles. This was the Lost Atlantis of Plato. Ignatius Donnelly and Pierre Benoit Then <?) the Africano-Brazilian continent If man were in America in the stone age of the Old World how had he not multiplied beyond the scattered populations discovered in 1492? Worse, how had they not made more progress up to a date when Chinese and other Asiatics, not to mention Europe, had attained high civilization? As early as B. C. 2,000, says Mr. Vignaud. the Chinese formed civilized communities; "and yet earlier modern investigations indicate the of Haug. (8)?An Australian-Pacific conU- yel,ow race a? havin* attained ??1 nent. extending to the west coast of South How did those who had gone to America. The South Sea Islands are its t -America, w here nothing opposed their vestiges Clark claims that America re- development, remain so far behind? ceived much of its population by this route. It is ' The Secret of the Pacific" in which Reginald Enoch cites vast ruined South Why does he make this reference to the yellow race? Because the Indians of both Americas, although their languages have j ll Henry Vignaud. Sea Islands monuments to set up this spot as the world's center of civilization! "Knoch w a distinguished archaeologist and knows South America well," says Henry Yijrnaud courteously. Then (7) there was an Americano-Afri cano-Australian continent, urged by Mar cou, eminent French geologist. It is more or less (8) the Austro-Indo-Madagascar continent of Haug, the "Gandvana" of Suess. which united New Zealand, Ecua dor. Chile and Bolivia. And. strongest <9), the Antarctic continent which our Oaborn believes in. Which route did our aboiigines take? All American Indians, north and south, "form one race group, sharply character ized. whose language cannot be linked up with any of those of the Old World." Also, when the Spanish arrived among their most cultured representatives in Mexico and South America, who "had a social organization, a cult, an army, va ried industries, grandiose architecture, a system of writing and an astronomical cal endar. it w:ts found that they were igno rant of the principle of the wheel (that means of practical transport so universal and ancient that it cannot be dated). They had no knowledge of sails or oars; I they had no Idea that milk was food; they possessed no lamps, and had neither horses, cattle nor a knowledge of iron." Brinton says that man. in America, goes Hack to the glacial period' But the great Marceilin Boule, studying human remains in America, will not date man's arrival there earlier than "the aurora of the present geological period!" Mr. Vignaud. not working with one no such relation, are distinctly of tho Asiatic yellow race type! White, yellow, black, these stick! IYob ably a parent type preceded them. Stuart <Chapin (X. Y? 1913) claims that the orig inal type of all is the white man. W. L?. , Duckworth (Cambridge, 1901) supposes a lost type, from -which have come the white and the yellow, but not the black. But according to a very learned Australian, Griffith Tayor. ths parent, of us all is the black man, and yellow gave birth to white (Geographical Keview, X. Y.. Jan.. 1921). As a fact, the aboriginal Americans did not, get rid of their yellow Mongolian charac teristics. "In 1912 an American anthropologist ! profoundly versed in these subjects," says Mr. VIgnaud, "l?r. Hrdlicka, explored Asiatic Siberia" in this sense and "found j even more than he had looked for." On the Yenisei River, particularly, among sur vivors of the purest old populations ho found types identical with those of our Xorth American Indians. The identity ex tended even to mentality, manner of dress, &c. (International Congress of Prehistoric Archaeology, Geneva, 1912). Holmes, Brinton and the majority of American specialists have come to take this vi \v. In France Marcellin Boule. Ver neau. Rivet and Capitan hold to it. So, too, thought Humboldt, Quatrefarges, Ha my and Xadaillac. The only differences are :is to purity of race. Some think that Malayo-Polynesian emigrations modified considerably the primitive yellow type. Mr VIgnaud takes small stock In It but - they came from northern Asia. They came in successive small end tions. They did not have the plow, the use of cereals, nor knowledge of iron. Neither had they flocks. Hunting and fishing they must ever pass onward. 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