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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/212

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the occupied area, and by facilities of escape from it. But, as we now see, not only is political integration under its primary aspect of increasing mass hindered by these last-named physical conditions, but there is hindrance to the development of a more integrated form of government. That which impedes social consolidation also impedes the concentration of political power.

The truth here chiefly concerning us, however, is that the continued presence of the one or the other set of conditions fosters a character to which either the centralized or the diffused kind of political organization is appropriate. Existence, generation after generation, in a region where despotic control has arisen, produces an adapted type of nature; partly by daily habit and partly by survival of those most fit for living under such control. Contrariwise, in a region favoring maintenance of their independence by small groups, there is a strengthening, through successive ages, of sentiments averse to restraint; since not only are these sentiments exercised in all by resisting the efforts from time to time made to subordinate them, but, on the average, those who most pertinaciously resist are those who, remaining unsubdued, and transmitting their characters to posterity, determine the tribal character.

Having thus glanced at the effects of the factors, external and internal, as displayed in simple tribes, we shall understand how they coöperate when, by migration or otherwise, such tribes fall into circumstances which favor the growth of large societies.

 

The case of an uncivilized people of the nature described, who have in recent times shown what occurs when union of small groups into great ones is prompted, will best initiate the interpretation.

The Iroquois nations, each made up of many tribes previously hostile, had to defend themselves against European invaders. Combination for this purpose among these five (and finally six) nations necessitated a recognition of equality of power among them; since agreement to join would not have been arrived at had it been required that some divisions should be subject to others. The groups had to coöperate on the understanding that their "rights, privileges, and obligations" should be the same. Though the numbers of permanent and hereditary sachems appointed by the respective nations to form the Great Council, differed, yet the voices of the several nations were equal. Omitting details of the organization, we have to note first, that for many generations, notwithstanding the wars which this league carried on, its constitution remained stable—no supreme individual arose; and, second, that this equality of power among the groups coexisted with inequality within each group: the people had no share in its government.

A clew is thus furnished to the genesis of those compound headships with which ancient history familiarizes us. We are enabled to