Letter from John Ledyard to Thomas Jefferson, Ante July 3, 1788 | Письмо Джона Ледьярда Томасу Джефферсону,3 июля 1788.

Letter from John Ledyard to Thomas Jefferson, Ante July 3, 1788
American Memory: Thomas Jefferson Papers.

Письмо Джона Ледьярда Томасу Джефферсону,3 июля 1788.

[Перед 3 июля 1788]

. . . Уважаемый Господин, Я уверен, что люди, которых Вы изволили называть красными на Американском континенте, а также в Европе и в Азии, до южной оконечности Китая, представляют собой один народ, как бы мы их не называли, и лучшее имя им будет Татары.

Я подозреваю, что все эти люди происходят из одной семьи. Я уверен, что Америка была заселена из Азии, что следует из анализа ее животного мира.

Я уверен, что сходство в привычках может быть объяснено только тем, что они входили в одну семью, развивая эту идею, получаем, что эти сходные обычаи, традиции, и история позволяют нам уверенно предполагать общее происхождение (как и говорил пророк Моисей) и как верят все народы. Похожие вещи распространены по всему миру, и значит, этому должна была предшествовать одна и таже причина, и она была удивительна и обладала большой силой: если я даже попытаюсь объяснить это сам, или представлю себе объяснение этих странностей, оба этих обстоятельства указывают на реальность Великого Потопа.

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[Ante July 3, 1788]

When men of genius want matter of fact to reason from it is bad, though it is worse to reason without it: it is the fate of genius not to make, or to misapply this reflexion, and so it forms theories: humble minds admire these theories because they cannot comprehend them, & disbelieve them for the same reason.

Simplify the efforts & attainments of all the antient worlds in science & it amounts to nothing but theory: to a riddle: the sublime of antient wisdom was to form a riddle: & the delphic god bore the palm. Men had then great encouragement to do so: they were made priests, phrophets, kings & gods: & when they had gained these distinctions by riddles it was necessary by riddles to preserve them.

Men have since tho but very lately & not yet universaly sought impartialy for truth & we now a days seek truth not only for its own enchanting beauty, but from a principle tho not more valuable yet more generous viz. the pleasure of Communicating it to one another. The soothsayers, magicians, phrophets, & priests of old would thinks us as errant fools as we think them knaves.

In my travels I have made it my rule to compare the written with the living history of Man, & as I have seen all kinds of men so I have not hesitated to make use of all kinds of history (t[ha]t I am acquainted with) in the comparison: & I give in many cases as much credit to traditions as to other history: implicit credit to none nor implicit credit to inferrences that I myself draw from this comparison except rarely; & then I am as sure as I want to be. Thus I know & feel myself above prejudice. Moses, Albugassi & the writers of the last 20 years are all alike to me as to what I am seeking for: I would only understand if I could what man has been from what he is: not what he may be hereafter tho all mention the tale. I would also know what the earth has been from observing how it is at present: not how it may hereafter be tho all mention also this tale. You know how ignorant & plain a Man I am, but I declare to you that in this temper of mind & from the information incident to the extent & nature of my travels I find myself at my ease concerning things which some cannot & others will not believe that are of considerable importance; & I will tell you in a very few words what some of them are. I wish I had time to mention them all, or if I do that it was more in detail.

Sir I am certain (the negroes excepted because I have not yet personaly visited them) that the difference in the colour of Men is the effect of natural causes.

Sr. I am certain that all the people you call red people on the Continent of America & on the Continents of Europe & Asia as far South as the Southern parts of China are all one people by whatever names distinguished & that the best general one would be Tartar.

I suspect that all red people are of the Same family. I am Satisfied myself that America was peopled from Asia & had some if not all its animals from thence.

I am satisfied myself that the great general analogy in the customs of Men can only be accounted for but by supposing them all to compose one family: & by extending the Idea & united Customs, traditions & history I am satisfied that this common origin was such or nearly as related by Moses & commonly believed among all the nations of the earth. There is a transposition of things on the globe that must have been produced by some cause equal to the effect which is vast & curious: whether I repose on arguments drawn from facts observed by my self or sending imagination forth to find a cause they both declare to me a general deluge.

I am yr. Excellencys most humble & most grateful friend, Ledyard