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This series focuses on the region from where the roots of Western Judaic and Christian civilization of today are traced: the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern region surrounding the Mediterranean  from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine,  Jordan, Iraq, (western) Iran, and Egypt to Europe and then to the Americas.

To read the entire Punishing Eve series on Zeitgeist Change, and about the novels written by Janet Wise, go to


Ancient cultures
Ancient Cultures that Developed the High Arts of Civilization
Earlier chapters have discussed how the goddess-worshiping Neolithic civilizations located in the surrounds of the Mediterranean, and the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, gave us all the high arts of civilization: agriculture and a managed food supply, architecture, art, forging of metals (but used for jewelry and artifacts not weaponry), language, script, literature, judicial systems, medicine, knowledge of anatomy, pharmacology, and astronomy. Archaeologists also tell us those societies worshiped a female goddess, were more matriarchal and matrilineal in structure and that their societies were the most just and humane in human history.

We traced the timing and consequence of the androcratic invasions of these peaceful societies by the male-dominated cultures who ruled by force or threat of force known as the Indo-Europeans, and worshiped a male god of war and mountains.  We know of these waves of invasions that stamped out the matriarchate of the Neolithic, gradually replacing with a violent patriarchy, most particularly because of advances made after World War II in dating archaeological artifacts and digs revealing millenniums-old town-sites. Succeeding chapters tracked and exposed the consequences of the rise and domination of the patriarchal (androcratic) Hebrew and Christians, not only on the old cultures around the Mediterranean, but then spread throughout the European continent. This period when the goddess representing life and nature was violently replaced by a male monotheistic god who represented death, marked the greatest paradigm shift in the history of Homo sapiens. It ushered in two and a half millennium of a regression into violence, war, disease, death, and darkness—a time when all scientific and medical exploration ceased, to be replaced by fear of the vindictive male god—all in the name of male dominance for control of resources and profits.

British Colonies
British Colonies in America
There is an abundance of written record of the next wave of androcratic invasions: when European Christian patriarchy developed the skill to cross the oceans, there is ample evidence that documents this morally dark and murderous period in history. This chapter focuses on the Americas and the arrival of the white man in search of gold and riches. The preceding chapter explored one of the dominant Christian fundamentalist groups that settled in Massachusetts and how it, along with other Christian fundamentalist’s beliefs and practices, lies potent still in our nation’s DNA. Additionally, there are other profound impacts of what patriarchy implemented in order to tame and exploit this new land for the profit of a few, that remain as deep festering sores in our society today.

Americans hold on to an image of a country of exceptionalism; we pay homage through hero worship of those brave Founding Fathers who fought a war of independence, and wrote profound documents that insured that we were the land of the free. Though that is the story taught to us as children, that story is as greatly simplified into myth as a child’s fairy tale; it’s based on idealized fantasy rather than truth. America’s history is one of violent and brutal oppression intermixed with fitful insurrections by the poor against the powerful aristocracy—the few. Our country did not begin as a land of freedom. Quite the opposite, it was a quest by aristocratic Europeans for new territory and acquisition of new wealth – wealth gained through barbaric violence and rule by force at the expense of everyone they had to enslave and kill, and at the expense of the natural environment. Even when the American colonies became an independent nation with a Constitutional form of government, it was contrived to be a class-based nation ruled by wealthy property owners and controllers over labor—poor labor was the design of those property owners—with just enough of a middle class of technocrats, millers, shop-keepers, etc., to whom they gave just enough benefits to ensure support against rebellions waged against them by the Indians, the poor, and the enslaved.

Columbus Slaughter
Columbus Slaughtering Indigenous People
Europeans landed on the shores, of what would later be named the United States of America, (region now north of Mexico and south of Canada) inhabited by what some historians have estimated to have been as many as eighteen million indigenous people. By 1800, that population had been reduced to about 600,000, and by 1900 to less than 250,000. Though we tell a different story in our children’s textbooks, the elimination of the American Indian (Indian so-named because Columbus thought he had reached the East Indies) became a brutally orchestrated genocide for the purpose of stealing land and the land’s resources.[1] That we’ve managed to revise and gloss over this major chapter of violent history, so totally that most Americans are quite unmindful of it, is a pretty big achievement of propaganda and deception. We make heroes out of those who first managed to navigate the ocean and deemphasize the atrocities they committed once they landed on the new shore. We quietly accept conquest and murder in the name of progress (of the white man) – that the most brutal and barbaric, who slaughter a lesser-armed peaceful society into cowering captivity deserved the land they confiscated and had the right to rule, due to their brutish ability to over-power with superior weapons.
Iroquois Indians
Iroquois Indians
Who were these people the European settlers thought to be inferior and destroyed, who came out on the beach and swam to bring presents to Columbus and his crew, and who peered out of the forests at the first white settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts? Historians tell us they had come perhaps 25,000 years ago from Asia, across the land bridge of the Bering Straits (later to disappear under water) to Alaska. They moved southward. Widely dispersed over the great land of the Americas, they perfected agriculture at the same time that other people of the Neolithic were revolutionizing these same arts. While some tribes remained nomadic hunters and food gatherers, others developed settled communities, grew their food, developing a plentiful food supply that enabled them to establish a division of labor among their larger populations. They had leisure time for artistic and social work, making cloth out of cotton, and building large terraced buildings, nestled in among cliffs and mountains, with hundreds of rooms in each village. Their communities included toolmakers, hide dressers, potters, jewelry-makers, weavers, salt-makers, copper engravers, and magnificent ceramists.[2]
Symbol of Iroquois Confederacy
In the region that is now Pennsylvania and upper New York, the most powerful tribe was the League of the Iroquois: five nations were united by a governing “constitution” and a common Iroquois language (Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas). Iroquois was the name given to the Haudenosaunee by the French, but will be used as it is the more commonly known name both in French and English. Also, the Iroquois in 1723 added a sixth nation—the Tuscaroras after they were nearly destroyed by the colonists.

 In the words of the Mohawk chief Hiawatha, “We bind ourselves together by taking hold of each other’s hands so firmly and forming a circle so strong that if a tree should fall upon it, it could not shake nor break it, so that our people and grandchildren shall remain in the circle in security, peace, and happiness.”[3]

Iroquois Longhouse
Haudenosaunee: People of the Longhouse
In the villages of the Iroquois, land was owned in common and worked in common. Hunting was done together, the catch divided among the members of the village. Houses were considered common property; the concept of private ownership foreign. A Jesuit priest wrote of them in the 1650s, “No poorhouses are needed among them, because they are neither mendicants nor paupers… Their kindness, humanity and courtesy not only make them liberal with what they have, but causes them to possess hardly anything except in common.”[4]

Women were important and respected in Iroquois society, with families matrilineal in that family line went down through the female members. The senior women in the village named the men who represented the clans at village or tribal councils. They also named the forty-nine chiefs who were the ruling council for the Five Nation confederacy of the Iroquois. The women attended clan meetings, stood behind the circle of men who spoke and voted and removed men from office if they strayed too far from the wishes of the women. Gary B. Nash notes in his study of early America: “Thus the power was shared between the sexes and the European idea of male dominancy and female subordination in all things was conspicuously absent in Iroquois society.”[5]

Corn Maiden
Corn Maiden
Children of the in Iroquois, while taught the cultural heritage of their people and solidarity with the tribe, were also taught to be independent, not to submit to overbearing authority. They were taught equality in status and in sharing of possessions. The Iroquois did not use harsh punishment on children. All of this was in sharp contrast to European Christian fundamentalist values brought over by the colonialists—a society of rich and poor, controlled by priests, by governors, and by male heads of families. For example, the pastor of the Pilgrim colony, John Robinson, thus advised his parishioners how to deal with their children: “And surely there is in all children… a stubbornness, and stoutness of mind arising from inner pride, which must be beaten and broken down; that so the foundation of their education being laid in humility and tractableness, other virtues may, in their time, be built thereon.”[6]

Nash went on to describe the Iroquois: “No laws and ordinances, sheriff and constables, judges, and juries, or courts or jails—the apparatus of authority in European societies—were to be found in the northeast woodlands prior to European arrival. Yet boundaries of acceptable behavior were firmly set. Though priding themselves on the autonomous individual, the Iroquois maintained a strict sense of right and wrong… He who stole another’s food or acted invalourously in war was ‘shamed’ by his people and ostracized from their company until he had atoned for his actions and demonstrated to their satisfaction that he had morally purified himself.”[7]

Other historians validated that other indigenous tribes behaved in the same way. Thus, these were the “inferior savages” the Christian fundamentalist European colonialists annihilated through barbarous brutality and genocide, including bio-warfare—the spreading of smallpox through infected blankets. Their righteous justification: to gain “free land.” Also, it was due to the fact that the indigenous ‘Indian’ could not be enslaved. They ran away from captivity, and being better woodsmen, hid in those woods.

To be clear, Columbus and his successors were not coming into an empty wilderness, but into a world which in some places was as densely populated as Europe itself, where the culture was complex, where human relations were more egalitarian than in Europe, and where the relations among men, women, children, and nature were more beautifully worked out than perhaps any place in the world.[8] The Christian fundamentalist patriarchs butchered them in the millions, in the name of doing God’s work, the conquerors telling the history from the standpoint of the conquerors—the white male leaders of Western civilization.

Many of the early colonialist immigrants were indentured servants: poor Europeans bonded to labor for a master without pay for years to pay the price of their passage. At the very start of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, the Puritan governor, John Winthrop, had declared the philosophy of the rulers: “… in all times some must be rich, some poore, some highe and eminent in power and dignitie, others meane and in subjection.”[9]

And so it was that the American colonies proceeded to develop in the European feudal model. Growth was fast in the 1700s. English settlers were joined by Scotch-Irish and German immigrants. The population of the colonies was 250,000 in 1700; 1,600,000 by 1760. Agriculture was growing. Small manufacturing was developing. Shipping and trading were expanding. The big cities—Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston—were tripling in size. Through all that growth, the upper class was acquiring most of the benefits, the wealth, and the political power. Only property owners could vote and hold political office. A historian who studied Boston tax lists in 1687 and 1771 found that in 1687 there were, out of a population of six thousand, about one thousand property owners, and that the top five percent—one percent of the population—consisted of fifty rich individuals who had twenty-five percent of the wealth. By 1770, the top one percent owned forty-four percent of the wealth.[10] As today, this inequality had nothing to do with industry, or hard work, even brains and ingenuity. Rather the rules were simply rigged to grant property ownership to the aristocracy who extracted slave-wage labor from the poor, and high rents, or high taxes and mortgage interests, from small farmers and merchants.

Colonial Aristocrats
Opulence of Colonial Aristocrats
In Newport, Rhode Island, as in Boston, “the town meetings, while ostensibly democratic, were in reality controlled year after year by the same merchant aristocrats who secured most all of the important offices.” The New York aristocracy was the most ostentatious of all. “… window-hangings of camlet, japanned tables, gold-framed looking glasses, spinets, richly carved furniture, jewels, silver service, and black house servants.” New York in the colonial period was like a feudal kingdom. The Dutch had set up a patroonship system along the Hudson River, with enormous landed estates, where the barons controlled completely the lives of tenants. In 1689, there was a revolt—the leader of which was hanged, and the parceling out of huge estates continued. Under Governor Benjamin Fletcher, three-fourths of the land in New York was granted to about thirty people. He gave a friend a half million acres for a token annual payment of thirty shillings. Under Lord Cornbury in the early 1700s one grant to a group of speculators was for 2 million acres.[11]

But backing up to the early 1600s, those early ‘landed’ colonial settlers were desperate for labor. The Virginians needed labor: to grow corn for subsistence, to grow tobacco for export. They had just figured out how to grow tobacco, and in 1617 they sent the first cargo to England. Finding that, like all pleasurable drugs tainted with moral disapproval, it brought a high price, the planters, despite their religious talk, were not going to question the morality about something so profitable. They couldn’t force Indians to work for them, as Columbus had done. They were outnumbered, and while, with superior firearms, they could massacre Indians, they would face massacre in return. They could not capture them, and keep them enslaved; the Indians were tough, resourceful, defiant, and at home in these woods, as the transplanted Englishmen were not. White indentured servants had not yet been brought over in sufficient quantity. As for the free white settler, many of them were men of leisure back home in England, and not inclined to work the land.[12] Edmund Morgan speculates in his book, American Slavery, American Freedom, there may have been a kind of frustrated rage at their own ineptitude, at the Indian superiority at taking care of themselves that made the Virginians especially ready to become the masters of slaves.[13]

In 1619, a “strange ship, indeed, by all accounts, a frightening ship, a ship of mystery rode the tide in from the sea. Whether she was trader, privateer, or man-of-war no one knows. Through her bulwarks black-mouthed cannon yawned. The flag she flew was Dutch; her crew a motley. Her port of call, an English settlement, Jamestown, in the colony of Virginia. She came, she traded, and shortly afterwards was gone. Probably no ship in modern history had carried a more portentous freight. Her cargo? Twenty slaves.”[14]

The Slave Trade
The Slave Trade
Slavery in the colonies developed quickly after that. Blacks had already been kidnapped and transported from Africa to South America, and the Caribbean, to the Portuguese and Spanish colonies to work as slaves. The slave traders found an eager market in America’s British colonies. Some Europeans have tried to justify the slave trade because slavery existed in Africa anyway. However, Basil Davidson points out in his book, The African Slave Trade, that “slaves” of Africa were more like serfs of Europe—in other words, the condition of most of the population of Europe. Though it was a harsh life and servitude, the serf/slaves in Africa had rights, which slaves brought to America did not. In America, they were brought in as “human cattle.” Whereas, “In the Ashanti Kingdom of West Africa, a slave might marry, own property, himself own a slave, be a competent witness, and ultimately become heir to his master. His descendants often merged and intermarried with the owner’s kinsmen, with only a few who might know of his origin.”[15] American slavery, by contrast, was the most cruel form of slavery in history: it was lifelong, morally crippling, destructive of family ties, and without hope of any future. In America, it was the frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture; the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, where white was master and black was slave nurtured by the white property owners that together with the cruelty and abuse has created a racial hatred so deep, that after 400 years, it tears at the fabric of American society today.

History has no way of testing the behavior of whites and blacks toward one another under favorable conditions—no history of subordination, no money incentive for exploitation and enslavement, no desperation for survival requiring forced labor. All the conditions for black and white in seventeenth-century America were the opposite of that, all powerfully directed toward antagonism and mistreatment. In spite of the special subordination of blacks in the Americas in the seventeenth century, there is evidence that where whites and blacks found themselves with common problems, common work, common enemy in their master, they behaved toward one another as equals. As one scholar of slavery, Kenneth Stampp, has put it, Negro and white servants of the seventeenth century were ‘remarkably unconcerned about the visible physical differences.” Black and white worked together, fraternized together. The very fact that laws had to be passed after a while to forbid such relations indicates the strength of that tendency. In fact, it became the biggest fear of the plantation owners—that the poor whites (indentured labor) and the black slaves would join forces and rebel against them. Fear of slave revolt seems to have been a permanent fact of plantation life. To counter it, they put in place an intricate and powerful system of control to maintain their labor supply and their way of life—a system both subtle and crude, involving every device that social orders employ for keeping power and wealth where it is. As Kenneth Stampp put it:

“A wise master did not take seriously the belief that Negroes were natural-born slaves. He knew better. He knew that Negroes freshly imported from Africa had to be broken into bondage; that each succeeding generation had to be carefully trained. This was no easy task, for the bondsman rarely submitted willingly. Moreover, he rarely submitted completely. In most cases, there was no end to the need for control—at least not until old age reduced the slave to a condition of helplessness.”[16]

Wealthy Virginians
Wealthy Virginian Slave Owners
The system was psychological and physical. Slaves were taught discipline and to “know their place” to see blackness as subordinate to the white master, and to merge their interests with those of the master’s, destroying their own individual needs. To accomplish this there was the discipline of hard labor; the breakup of families; the creating of disunity by separating the slaves into field slaves and the more privileged house slaves; and finally the power of the law and the immediate power of the overseer to invoke whipping, burning, mutilation, dismemberment and death.[17]

Still rebellions took place—enough to create constant fear in the badly outnumbered aristocracy, the property owners. Again, the biggest fear was that the poor whites, the black slaves, and the Indians would join together in rebellion. In 1661 a law was passed in Virginia that “in case any English servant shall run away in company of any Negroes” he would have to give special service for extra years to the master of the runaway Negro. In 1691, Virginia provided for the banishment of any “white man or woman being free who shall intermarry with a Negro, mulatoo, or Indian man or woman bond or free.”[18]

Virginia Plantation
Slavery grew as the plantation system grew. The reason: the number of arriving whites, whether bond or free, was not enough to meet the labor needs of the plantations. By 1700, in Virginia, there were 6,000 slaves, one-twelfth of the population. By 1763, there were 170,000 slaves, about one-half the population. Plus, slavery was immensely profitable. James Madison told a British visitor shortly after the American Revolution that he could make $257 on every Negro in a year, and spend only $12 or $13 on his keep.[19]

And so it was, this patriarchal, Christian fundamentalist, feudal class-based society of Britain that was transplanted to the American colonies. One half of the population was invisible with no rights at all—those were the women of all social strata and color. Added to the new landscape, absent in the British feudal society, was the added element of the Indians to be pushed off their land and the need to massacre them when they resisted, and the huge population of black slaves to be owned and controlled—exploited to create wealth for the one percent.

[1] Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, (Harper Collins Publishers: New York, 1999) pp 1 – 22.; referencing from William Brandon, The Last Americans: The Indian in American Culture, (McGraw Hill, New York, 1974); John Collier, Indians of the Americas, (W.W. Norton, New York, 1947); Bartolome de las Casas, History of the Indies, (Harper & Row, New York, 1971); Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1975); Hans Koning, Columbus: His Enterprise  (Monthly Review Press, New York, 1976); Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, (Little Brown, Boston, 1942) and Christopher Columbus, Mariner (Little Brown, Boston, 1955)

“When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. Columbus later wrote of this in his log: ‘They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and many other things. They willingly traded everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them for I showed them a sword; they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They would make fine servants . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

“These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like the Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.”

“Because of Columbus’s exaggerated report and promises to the Court in Madrid, his second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve thousand men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. On Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. Even then, too many slaves died in Spain in captivity. So Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, all persons fourteen years or older were ordered to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. The Indians had been given an impossible task, as the only gold around was bits of dust gathered in streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs and were killed. Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords and horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicide began with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 on the island were dead.”

“When it became clear there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates. They were worked at a ferocious pace and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps 50,000 Indians left. By 1550, there were 500. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.”

“What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, Cortes did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots.”

[2] Ibid., pp 18-19, referencing William Brandon, The Last Americans: The Indians in American Culture, (McGraw Hill, New York, 1974); John Collier, Indians of the Americas, (W.W. Norton, New York, 1947); Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest, (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1975)

[3] Ibid., p 19

[4] Ibid., p 20; referencing Gary B. Nash, Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early America (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1970); and Virgil Vogel, ed., This Country was Ours, (Harper & Row, New York, 1972)

[5] Ibid., 20

[6] Ibid., 20

[7] Ibid., p 21

[8] Ibid., p 21

[9] Ibid., p 48; referencing Gary B. Nash, Class and Society in Early America, (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1970)

[10] Ibid., p49; referencing Cheesman Herrick, White Servitude in Pennsylvania: Indentured and Redemptive Labor in Colony and Commonwealth, (Negro University Press, Washington, 1926);  Richard Hofstadter, America at 1750: A Social History, (Knopf, New York, 1971); Richard Hofstadter and Michael Wallace, American Violence: A Documentary History (Knopf, New York, 1970); Raymond Mohl, Poverty in New York, 1783-1825 (Oxford University Press, New York, 1971); Abbot Smith, Colonists in Bondage: White Servitude and Convict Labor in America, (W.W. Norton, New York, 1971)

[11] Ibid, p 48, quoting from Carl Bridenbaugh, Cities in the Wilderness: The First Century of Urban Life in America, (Oxford University Press, New York, 1971)

[12] Ibid., p 25

[13] Edward Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia, (W.W. Norton, New York, 1975)

[14] J. Saunders Redding, They Came in Chains (Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1973)

[15] Basil Davidson, The African Slave Trade (Little Brown, Boston, 1961)

[16] Zinn., Ibid., p 35

[17] Ibid., p 35

[18] Ibid., p 31

[19] Ibid. p 33

Originally posted to Janet Wise on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Sexism and Patriarchy.

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