Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MORGAN, Lewis Henry, anthropologist, born in Aurora, New York, 21 November, 1818; died in Rochester, New York, 17 December, 1881. He was graduated at Union college in 1840, and then studied law. After admission to the bar he followed his profession in Rochester, New York, where he acquired a lucrative practice, principally in connection with railroads. In 1861 he was sent to the lower house of the legislature and in 1868 chosen to the state senate. He acquired reputation by his researches in anthropology, especially in relation to the history of American Indians, in which he was the pioneer investigator. His acquaintance with this subject began in 1844 by his relations with a secret organization known as the Grand Order of the Iroquois, which was formed on the plan of the ancient confederacy of that tribe. For the purpose of more closely studying their social organization and government Mr. Morgan visited the Indians of New York, and was adopted by a tribe of Senecas. His discoveries were of such importance and interest that he continued his investigations, obtaining a deep insight into the home life and customs of the Indians. As early as 1847 he began the publication of a series of " Letters on the Iroquois" in the "American Review " over the name of "Skenandoah." This he followed with " The League of the Iroquois" (Rochester, 1851), in which the social organization and government of that confederacy were thoroughly explained. It was the first scientific account of an Indian tribe that was published, and in after years gained for him the title of the "Father of American Anthropology." In 1858, while in Marquette, Michigan. he found that the society and government of the Ojibway Indians were organized upon a similar plan. This discovery induced him to continue his investigations still further among other Indians. The Smithsonian institution caused the circulation of schedules, which he prepared, among its correspondents in this country and throughout the world. The department of state, through its consuls and other agents, likewise lent aid to this undertaking. From the information that Mr. Morgan acquired during his travels and from the correspondence that was begun by his inquiries, he continued his work until the kinship systems of more than four fifths of the world were recorded, either directly by himself or by others who had become interested in the undertaking. The materials thus collected were systematized by him and published by the Smithsonian institution as "Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family" (Washington, 1869). This book was essentially a volume of facts, and the rich material on tribal society that he had gathered was condensed into one philosophic treatise on "Ancient Society" (New York, 1877). In this work he considered his subject from four standpoints: the growth of intelligence through inventions and discoveries, of the ideas of government, of family, and of property. "Thus," according to Dr. John W. Powell, "was laid the foundation for the science of government as it is finally to be erected by the philosophy of evolution." He received the degree of LL. D. from Union college in 1873, and was elected a member of the National academy of sciences in 1875, and of other scientific societies at home and abroad. In 1879 he was elected president of the American association for the advancement of science. The last years of his life were devoted to the preparation of " Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines" (Washington, 1881). Besides papers contributed to periodicals, he was the author of "The American Beaver and his Works" (Philadelphia, 1868).
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