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Source: Josiah Clark Nott, Types of Mankind (1854), Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo &
Accessed online on 09/01/2019 at https://archive.org/details/typesmankindore01pattgoog
Types of Mankind
Josiah Clark Nott (1854)
The author of Crania Americana separated the races of this continent into two grand divisions:
viz., the Toltecan and the Barbarous tribes. That luminous paper â€” Inquiry into the Distinctive
Characteristics of the Aboriginal Mace of America â€”amply justified the travelerâ€™s adage, that
“he who has seen one tribe of Indians, has seen all.â€
â€œThe half-clad Fueglan, shrinking from his dreary winter, has the same
characteristic lineaments, though in an exaggerated degree, as the Indians of the
tropical plains ; and these, again, resemble the tribes which inhabit the region rest
of the Rocky Mountains â€” those of the great Valley of the Mississippi, and those,
again, which skirt the Eskimaux in the North. All possess alike the long, lank,
black hair, the brown or cinnamon-colored skin, the heavy brow, the doll and
sleepy eye, the full and compressed lips, and the salient, but dilated nose. . . . The
same conformity of organization is not less obvious in the osteological structure
of these people, as seen in the square or rounded head, the flattened or vertical
occiput, the large quadrangular orbits, and the low, receding forehead. . . . Mere
exceptions to a general rule do not alter the peculiar physiognomy of the Indian,
which is undeviatingly characteristic as that of the Negro ; for whether we see him
in the athletic Charib or the stunted Chayma, in the dark Californians or the fair
Borros, he is an Indian still, and cannot be mistaken for a being of any other race.
Finally, the “Peruvian Antiquities” of Rivero and Tschudi corroborate the above scientific view,
viz., that the artificial disfigurement of the skull among the Inca-Peruvians and other South
American families, owes its origin to the prior existence of an autochthonous race, in whose
crania such (to us, seemingly) a deformity was natural: and thus the contradictory materials
which induced Dr. Morton at first to deem this peculiarity to be congenital, and afterwards so
exclusively artificial, become reconciled ; while due regard is preserved to his truthful candor
and craniological acumen.
Of the four forms of head among the Old Peruvians, which were produced by artificial means (as
established by Morton, in Ethnography and Archeology of American Aboriginal, 1846), space
restricts me to one example (Fig. 297), on which the “course of every bandage is in every
instance distinctly marked by corresponding cavity of the bony structure;â€ and another form
(Figs. 298, 299} is monumentally illustrated through Del Rio’s Account of Palenque.
These points established, I would remark,
that the most striking anatomical characters
of the American crania are, small size,
averaging but seventy-nine cubic inches
internal capacity ; low, receding forehead;
short antero-posterior diameter; great interparietal diameter ; flattened occiput ;
prominent vertex ; high cheek-bones ;
ponderous and somewhat prominent jaws.
Such characteristics are more universal in
the Toltecan than the Barbarous tribes.
Among the Iroquois, for instance, the heads
were often of a somewhat more elongated form; but the Cherokees and Choctaws, who of all
modern Barbarous tribes display greater aptitude for civilization, present the genuine type in a
remarkable degree. My birth and long residence in Southern States have permitted the study of
many of these living tribes (a hundred Choctaws may be seen daily, even now, in the streets of
Mobile), and they exhibit this
conformation almost without exception. I
have also scrutinized many Mexicans,
besides Catawbas of South Carolina, and
tribes on the Canada Lakes, and can bear
witness that the living tribes everywhere
confirm Morton’s type.
One might, indeed, describe an Indian’s
skull by saying, it is the opposite in every
respect from that of the Negro ; as much
as the brown complexion of the Red-man
is instantly distinguishable from the
Black’s ; or the long hair of the former
differs in substance from the short wool of
(pg. 451 â€“ 465)
Some classification of races, however arbitrarily seems to be almost indispensable, for the sake
of conveying clear ideas to the general reader; yet the one here adopted by Dr. Morton, if
accepted without proper allowance, is calculated to lead to grave error. Like Tiedemann, he has
grouped together races which between themselves possess no affinity whatever â€” that present
the most opposite cranial characters, and which are doubtless specifically different. In the
“Caucasian” group, for example, are placed, among so-called white races, the Hindoos, the
ancient and modern Egyptians, etc., who are dark. Our preceding chapters have shown that this
group contains many diverse types, over which physical causes have exercised very little, if any
Deploring the absence of these cranial desiderata, the idea occurred to me that such deficiency
might, in some degree, be supplied by hat-manufacturers of various nations ; notwithstanding
that the information derived from this source could give but one measurement ; viz.: the
horizontal periphery. Yet this one measurement alone, on an extended scale, would go far
towards determining the general size of the brain. Accordingly, I applied to three hat-dealers in
Mobile, and to a large manufacturer in Newark, New Jersey, for statements of the relative
number of each size of hat sold to adult males. Their tables agree so perfectly, as to leave no
doubt of the circumference of the heads of the white population of the United States. The three
houses, together, dispose of about 15,000 hats annually. [image of table unavailable].
As Dr. Morton tabulated his skulls on a somewhat arbitrary basis, I abandon, that arrangement,
and present his facts as they stand in nature, allowing
the reader to compare for himself.
Absolute measurements array themselves into a
sliding scale of seventeen cubic inches, between the
lowest and the highest races. Here we behold cranial
measurements as history and the monuments first
find them; nor can such facts be controverted.
Let me again revert to the question of hybridity, in
connection with endeavors to obtain accurate cranial
statistics. The adulteration of primitive types, at the
present day conspicuous among many races of
mankind, renders precision, in regard to the
commingled inhabitants of various countries,
frequently impossible ; especially wherever the fairskinned races of Europe, and the lower grades of
humanity elsewhere, have co-operated in mutual
contaminations. Of the latter, our own continent
supplies two deplorable regions, from which real philanthropy might take warning. Tschudi’s ”
Travels in Peru ” furnishes a list of the crosses resulting from the intermixture of Spanish with
Indian and Negro races in that country. The settlement of Mexico by Spaniards took place at the
same time, and the intermixture of races has been perhaps greater there than in Peruvian
colonies. Mexican soldiers present the most unequal characters that can be met with anywhere in
the world. If some are brave, others are quite the reverse â€” possessing the basest and most
barbarous qualities. This, doubtless, is a result, in part, of the crossing of the races.
And, as concerns the “beautiful” likely to arise in Africa when the half-civilized mulatto becomes
re-absorbed into the indigenous Negro population, let me add, that, were authority necessary at
this day to rebut the good-natured Abbe Gregoire’s testimony in favor of mulatto-poesies, (and
such posies!) ethnography might begin with Mr. Jefferson’s. His Notes on Virginia contain this
sentence: â€œNever yet could I find that a Black had uttered a thought above the level of plain
narration; never saw even an elementary trait of painting or of sculpture.”
I have looked in vain, during twenty years, for a solitary exception to these characteristic
deficiencies among the Negro race. Every Negro is gifted with an ear for music; some are
excellent musicians; all imitate well in most things ; but, with every opportunity for culture, our
Southern Negroes remain as incapable, in drawing, as the lowest quadrumane.
Our remarks on African types have shown the gradations which, ever ascending in caste of race,
may be traced from the Cape of Good Hope northward to Egypt. The same gradation might be
followed through Asiatic and European races up to the Teutonic; and with equal accuracy were it
not for migrations and geographical displacements of these last, to which aborigines in Africa
have been less subjected.
Although I do not believe in the intellectual equality of races, and can find no ground in natural
or in human history for such popular credence, I belong not to those who are disposed to degrade
any type of humanity to the level of the brute-creation. Nevertheless, a man must be blind not to
be struck by similitudes between some of the lower races of mankind, viewed as connecting links
in the animal kingdom; nor can it be rationally affirmed, that the Orang-Outan and Chimpanzee
are more widely separated from certain African and Oceanic Negroes than are the latter from the
Teutonic or Pelasgic types. But the very accomplished anatomist of Harvard University, Dr.
Jeffiies Wyman, has placed this question in its true light:
â€œThe organization of the anthropoid quadrumane justifies the naturalist placing
them at the head of the brute-creation, and placing them in a position in which
they, of all the animal series, shall be nearest to man. Any anatomist, however,
who will take the trouble to compare the skeletons of the Negro and Orang,
cannot fail to be struck at sight with the wide gap which separates them. The
difference between the cranium, the pelvis, and the conformation of the upper
extremities, in the Negro and Caucasian, sinks into insignificance when compared
with the vast difference which exists between the conformation of the same parts
in the Negro and the Orang. Yet it cannot be denied, however wide the separation,
that the Negro and Orang do afford the points where man and the brute, when the
totality of their organization is considered, most nearly approach each other.”
The truth of these observations becomes popularly apparent through the following comparative
series of likenesses. There are fourteen of them; and, by reference to the works whence they are
chosen, the reader can verify the fidelity of the major portion. For the remainder, taken from
living nature, the authors are responsible when vouching for their accuracy.
It will doubtless be objected by some that extreme examples are here selected ; and this is
candidly admitted : yet, each animal type has a centre around which it fluctuates â€” and such a
head as the Greek is never seen on a Negro, nor such a head as that of the Negro on a Greek.
Absolute uniformity of type is not a law of Nature in any department: in the gradations of
species, extremes meet, and are often confounded.
Morton’s manuscripts supply an extract which shows, that “skeptical physicians” are not the only
honest men who cannot descry unity of human origins in Nature’s phenomena:
â€œWe fully concur with a learned and eloquent divine (the Hon. and Ber. William
Herbert), that we possess no information concerning the origin of the different
races of mankind, which are as different in appearance as the species of
vegetables. ‘ No one of these races has sprung up within the period of historical
certainty ; nor are we any better informed in respect to their innumerable
languages, which cannot be reunited ; and no person can show how or when any
one of them arose, although we may trace the minglings of one with another in the
later years of the world.â€
I had intended to publish an entire chapter on title: “Comparative Mental Characters of Races;”
but our Part I. has already swelled beyond its prescribed limits; and, in consequence, although
this field is a broad and fertile one, I must be content with a few brief remarks. It has been
admirably observed by Dr. Robert Knox, that â€œHuman History cannot be a mere chapter of
accidents. The fate of nations cannot be always regulated by chance; its literature, science, art,
wealth, religion, language, laws and morals cannot surely be the result of mere accidental
It is the primitive organization of races, their mental instincts, which determine their characters
and destinies, and not blind hazard. All history, as well as anatomy and physiology, prove this.
Reason has been called the “proud prerogative of man” â€” being the faculty which disunites him
from the brute creation. Metaphysicians propose many definitions of instinct and of reason; and
learned tomes have been written to show wherein the one differs from the other: and yet no true
mental philosopher will contend that the line of demarcation can be drawn, nor can he point out
where animal intellect ends and that of man begins. Even Prichard admits that animals do reason,
and I might quote observations of the ablest naturalists to support him; but the following resume
Sequoyah, alias George Guess, the “Cherokee Cadmus,” so renowned for the invention of an
alphabet, was a half-breed, owing his inventive genius to his Scotch father. My information
respecting these Cherokee tribes has been obtained from such men as Governor Butler, Major
Hitchcock, Colonel Bliss, and other distinguished officers of our army â€” all perfectly
conversant with these hybrid nations.
While, on the one hand, it must be admitted, that animals possess a limited degree of reason, it is
equally true, on the other, that the races of men also have their instincts. They reason, but this
“reason,” as we term it, is often propelled by a blind internal force, which cannot be controlled.
Groups of mankind, as we have abundantly seen, differ in their cranial developments; and their
instincts drive them into lines diverging from each other â€” giving to each one its typical or
The Black- African races inhabiting the South of Egypt have been in constant intercourse with
her, as we prove from the monuments, during 4000 years; and yet they have not made a solitary
step towards civilization â€” neither will they, nor can they, until their physical organization
becomes changed. With our verbal reservations about the term “Caucasian,” the following
paragraph, from the trenchant pen of Theodore Parker, speaks incontestable truths:
â€œThe Caucasian differs from all other races: he is humane, he is civilized, and
progresses. He conquers with his head, as well as with his hand. It is intellect,
after all, that conquers â€” not the strength of a man’s arm. The Caucasian has been
often master of the other races â€” never their slave. He has carried his religion to
other races, but never taken theirs. In history, all religions are of Caucasian origin.
All the great limited forms of monarchies are Caucasian. Republics are
Caucasian. All the great sciences are of Caucasian origin; all inventions are
Caucasian; literature and romance come of the same stock; all the great poets are
of Caucasian origin ; Moses, Luther, Jesus Christ, Zoroaster, Budha, Pythagoras,
were Caucasian. No other race can bring up to memory such celebrated names as
the Caucasian race. The Chinese philosopher, Confucius, is an exception to the
rule. To the Caucasian race belong the Arabian, Persian, Hebrew, Egyptian; and
all the European nations are descendants of the Caucasian race.”
It is vehemently maintained, that mankind must be of common origin, because all men are
endowed with more or less of reason, with some moral sense, and are impressed with the idea of
responsibility to a Supreme Being; but the very’ statement of such proposition carries with it the
conviction that it is simply an hypothesis, unsupported by facts. No line can be drawn between
men and animals on the ground of “reason,” and more than one of the savage races of men
possess no perceptible moral or religious ideas.
In a Review by Geo. Combe of Morton’s Crania Americana, may be found a most interesting
comparison of the brains of American aborigines with the European. Comparisons of any two
well-marked types would yield results quite as striking. A few extracts are all we can afford from
an article that, commanding the respect, will excite the interest of the reader.
â€œNo adequately-instructed naturalist doubts that the brain is the organ of the mind.
But there are two questions, on which great difference of opinion continues to
prevail: â€” 1. Whether the size of the brain (health, age and constitution being
equal,) has any, and if so, what influence, on the power of mental manifestations!
2. Whether different faculties. are, or are not, manifested by particular portions of
I believe that all scientific men concede that brains below a certain size are always indicative of
idiocy, and that men of distinguished mental faculties have large heads.
The above comparison of two human brains illustrates anatomical divergences between
European and American races. Could a complete series of engravings, embracing specimens
from each type of mankind, be submitted to the reader, his eye, seizing instantaneously the
cerebral distinctions between Peruvians and Australians, Mongos and Hottentots, would compel
him to admit that the physical difference of human races is as obvious in their internal brains as
in their external features.
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