The Roots of the American Nation
The American story began when, after the failure of the Roanoke Island colony in 1587,
the Jamestown settlement initiated in 1607 succeeded and became the starting point for the development of the coastal region then known as Virginia. Alas, twelve years later the first shipment of Negro slaves arrived. The American drama had, begun: productivity at the cost of individual freedom. Southern culture began its development under such tragic circumstances. Yet if we believe unofficial reports and an "esoteric" tradition, the movement for the colonization of Virginia was not only organized for commercial purpose by London, merchants and adventurers; it was also inspired by Englishmen of spiritual vision who hoped that the establishment of the colony would allow for the development of a new type of community. It is pointed out that in 1609 Francis Bacon became a member of the Virginia Company organized in London, and that in his book The New Atlantis
(which according to tradition was actually finished even though only the first part was published) he was attempting to lay the philosophical and theoretical foundation for an ideal community, perhaps along Platonic lines. In the unpublished part of the book he is said to have given the names of other English noblemen who with him belonged to some secret Order, possibly the Rosicrucians. A number of people even believe that this book and other secret material were preserved and will soon be brought to light.(1
Even if this is only partially true — and I shall presently return to Francis Bacon and his influence on the development of the collective mentality of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Europe and America — the basic fact remains that what so many great minds — as well as the mass of European immigrants envisioned as "the New World" was at its origin contaminated, or we might say cursed, by the most barbaric and inhuman manifestation of the ancient tribal past, slavery.
Slavery, in the strict sense of the term, did not exist in Europe. The institution of serfdom, which originally arose from the need of peasants for protection from brigands and roving bands of armed men, was not too different in practice. In the ancient Mediterranean world — Egypt, Greece, Rome — slaves were primarily booty obtained by conquest in war, or by raiding expeditions. A slave trade certainly existed, but the regular transfer of African slaves simply for the sake of monetary gain and by men who considered themselves Christians was a relatively new development. It paralleled the gruesome treatment of the Indians by Columbus, and later by the Spanish conquistadors and the priests who accompanied them, but the social results were different, in that the Spaniards soon mixed and intermarried with the natives while in North America the Negro slaves remained a class apart. In the United States, slavery became a social question because it pitted commercial interests against the spreading humanism and rationalism of progressive intellectual leaders. Slaves were needed in the South, especially to work in the fields in the heat. Their use became even more widespread after a temporary reduction on the traffic in slaves was lifted in 1749 by the English Parliament under mounting pressure from landowners, shippers and traders. This firmly established the plantation system in the southern colonies. In 1776 there were 500,000 Negro slaves in America, one-fifth of the population.
cf. Manly Palmer Hall: The Secret Destiny of America
; 1942-1944. Return
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