Δευτέρα, 22 Μαρτίου 2010

What Did Ezra Pound Really Say?

By Michael Collins Piper

From 1945 through 1958 America’s iconoclastic poet —the flamboyant Ezra Pound, one of the most influential individuals of his generation—was held in a Washington, D.C. mental institution, accused of treason. Pound had merely done what he had always done—spoken his mind. Unfortunately for Pound, however, he had made the error of criticizing the American government in a series of broadcasts from Italy during World War II. For that he was made to pay the price. The July 1995 issue of The Barnes Review told the story of Pound’s travails. Here, however, TBR presents an in-depth over view of precisely what Pound had to say in those now-infamous broadcasts. Was Pound a traitor—or a prophet? Read his words and judge for yourself.
American students have been taught by scandalized educators that famed American poet and philosopher Ezra Pound delivered “treasonous” English-language radio broadcasts from Italy (directed to both Americans and to the British) during World War II. However, as noted by Robert H. Walker, an editor for the Greenwood Press: “Thousands of people have heard about them, scores have been affected by them, yet but a handful has ever heard or read them.”1
This ignorance of Pound’s most controversial political rhetoric is ironic, inasmuch as: “No other American—and only a few individuals throughout the world—has left such a strong mark on so many aspects of the 20th century: from poetry to economics, from theater to philosophy, from politics to pedagogy, from Provençal to Chinese. If Pound was not always totally accepted, at least he was unavoidably there.”2
One critic called Pound’s broadcasts a “confused mixture of fascist apologetics, economic theory, anti-Semitism, literary judgment and memory”3 Another described them as “an unholy mixture of ambiguity, obscurity, inappropriate subject matters [and] vituperation,” adding (grudgingly) there were “a few pearls of unexpected wisdom.”4
Despite all the furor over Pound’s broadcasts—which were heard between January of 1941 through July of 1943—it was not until 1978 that a full-length 465-page compendium of transcriptions of the broadcasts was assembled by Prof. Leonard Doob of Yale University in association with aforementioned Greenwood Press. Published under the title “Ezra Pound Speaking”—Radio Speeches of World War II, the volume provides the reader a comprehensive look at Pound’s philosophy as it was presented by the poet himself in what Robert Walker, who wrote the foreword to the compendium, describes as “that flair for dramatic hyperbole.”5
What follows is an attempt to synthesize Pound’s extensive verbal parries. Most of what is appears here has never been printed anywhere except in the compendium of Pound’s wartime broadcasts. Thus, for the first time ever—for a popular audience—here is what Pound really had to say, not what his critics claim he said.
When he was broadcasting from Italy during wartime, Pound evidently pondered the possibility of one day compiling transcriptions of his broadcasts (or at least expected—quite correctly—that one day the transcripts would be compiled by someone else). He hoped the broadcasts would show a consistent thread once they were committed to print.
Pound recognized relaying such a massive amount of information about so many seemingly unrelated subjects might be confusing listeners less widely read than he. However, the poet also had very firm ideas about the need of his listeners to be able to synthesize the broad range of material that appeared in his colorful lectures.
Pound was sure his remarks on radio were not seditious, but were strictly informational and dedicated to traditional principles of Americanism—including the Constitution, in particular. In response to media claims that he was a fascist propagandist, Pound had this to say:
If anyone takes the trouble to record and examine the series of talks I have made over this radio it will be found I have used three sorts of material: historical facts; convictions of experienced men, based on fact; and the fruits of my own experience. The facts . . . mostly antedate the fascist era and cannot be considered as improvisations trumped up to meet present requirements. Neither can the beliefs of Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Van Buren, and Lincoln be laughed off as mere fascist propaganda. And even my own observations date largely before the opening of the present hostilities.
I defend the particularly American, North American, United States heritage. If anybody can find anything hostile to the Constitution of the U.S.A. in these speeches, it would greatly interest me to know what. It may be bizarre, eccentric, quaint, old-fashioned of me to refer to that document, but I wish more Americans would at least read it. It is not light and easy reading but it contains several points of interest, whereby some of our present officials could, if they but would, profit greatly.6
Pound’s immediate concern was the war in Europe—“this war on youth—on a generation” 7—which he described as the natural result of the “age of the chief war pimps.”8 He hated the very idea that Americans were being primed for war, and on the very day of Pearl Harbor he denounced the idea that American boys should soon be marching off to war: “I do not want my compatriots from the ages of 20 to 40 to go get slaughtered to keep up the Sassoon and other British Jew rackets in Singapore and in Shanghai. That is not my idea of Ameri can patriotism,” he added.9
In Pound’s view, the American government alliance with British finance capitalism and Soviet Bolshevism was contrary to America’s tradition and heritage: “Why did you take up with those gangs?” he rhetorically asked his listeners. “Two gangs. [The] Jews’ gang in London, and [the] Jew murderous gang over in Mos cow? Do you like Mr. Litvinov? [Soviet ambassador to Britain Meyer Wallach, alias Litvinov, born 1876.—Ed.]
“Do the people from Delaware and Vir ginia and Connecticut and Massachusetts . . . who live in painted, neat, white houses . . . do these folks really approve [of] Mr. Litvinov and his gang, and all he stands for?”10
There was no reason for U.S. intervention abroad, he said: “The place to defend the American heritage is on the American continent. And no man who had any part in helping [Franklin] Delano Roosevelt get the United States into [the war] has enough sense to win anything . . .11The men who wintered at Valley Forge did not suffer those months of intense cold and hunger . . . in the hope that . . . the union of the colonies would one day be able to stir up wars between other countries in order to sell them munitions.”12
What was the American tradition? According to Pound: “The determination of our forbears to set up and maintain in the North American continent a government better than any other. The determination to govern ourselves internally, better than any other nation on earth. The idea of Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, to keep out of foreign shindies [fights].”13
Of FDR’s interventionism, he declared: “To send boys from Omaha to Singapore to die for British monopoly and brutality is not the act of an American patriot.”14 However, Pound said: “Don’t shoot the president. I dare say he deserves worse, but . . . [a]ssassination only makes more mess.”15
Pound saw the American national tradition being buried by the aggressive new internationalism. According to Pound’s harsh judgment: “The American gangster did not spend his time shooting women and children. He may have been misguided, but in general he spent his time fighting superior forces at considerable risk to himself . . . not in dropping booby traps for unwary infants. I therefore object to the modus in which the American troops obey their high commander. This modus is not in the spirit of Washington or of Stephen Decatur.”16
Pound hated war and detected a particular undercurrent in the previous wars of history. Wars, he said, were destructive to nation-states, but profitable for the special interests. Pound said international bankers—Jewish bankers, in particular—were those who were the primary beneficiaries of the profits of from war. He pulled no punches when he declared:
Sometime the Anglo-Saxon may awaken to the fact that . . . nations are shoved into wars in order to destroy themselves, to break up their structure, to destroy their social order, to destroy their populations. And no more flaming and flagrant case appears in history than our own American Civil War, said to be an occidental record for size of armies employed and only surpassed by the more recent triumphs of [the Warburg banking family:] the wars of 1914 and the present one.17
Although World War II itself was much on Pound’s mind, the poet’s primary concern, referenced repeatedly throughout his broadcasts, was the issue of usury and the control of money and economy by private special interests. “There is no freedom without economic freedom,” he said. “Freedom that does not include freedom from debt is plain bunkum. It is fetid and foul logomachy [wordplay] to call such servitude freedom . . . Yes, freedom from all sorts of debt, including debt at usurious interest.”18
Usury, he said, was a cause of war throughout history. In Pound’s view understanding the issue of usury was central to understanding history: “Until you know who has lent what to whom, you know nothing whatever of politics, you know nothing whatever of history, you know nothing of international wrangles.19
“The usury system does no nation . . . any good whatsoever. It is an internal peril to him who hath, and it can make no use of nations in the play of international diplomacy save to breed strife between them and use the worst as flails against the best. It is the usurer’s game to hurl the savage against the civilized opponent. The game is not pretty, it is not a very safe game. It does no one any credit.”20 Pound thus traced the history of the current war:
This war did not begin in 1939. It is not a unique result of the infamous Versailles Treaty. It is impossible to understand it without knowing at least a few precedent historic events, which mark the cycle of combat. No man can understand it without knowing at least a few facts and their chronological sequence.
This war is part of the age-old struggle between the usurer and the rest of mankind: between the usurer and peasant, the usurer and producer, and finally between the usurer and the merchant, between usurocracy and the mercantilist system . . .
The present war dates at least from the founding of the Bank of England at the end of the 17th century, 1694-8. Half a century later, the London usurocracy shut down on the issue of paper money by the Pennsylvania colony, AD 1750. This is not usually given prominence in the U.S. school histories. The 13 colonies rebelled, quite successfully, 26 years later, AD 1776.21
According to Pound, it was the money issue (above all) that united the Allies during the second 20th-century war against Germany: “Gold. Nothing else uniting the three governments, England, Russia, United States of America. That is the interest—gold, usury, debt, monopoly, class interest, and possibly gross indifference and contempt for humanity.”22 Although “gold” was central to the world’s struggle, Pound still felt gold “is a coward. Gold is not the backbone of nations. It is their ruin. A coward, at the first breath of danger gold flows away, gold flows out of the country.”23
Pound perceived Germany under Hitler as a nation that stood against the international money lenders and communist Russia under Stalin as a system that stood against humanity itself. He told his listeners:
Now if you know anything whatsoever of modern Europe and Asia, you know Hitler stands for putting men over machines. If you don’t know that, you know nothing. And beyond that you either know or do not know that Stalin’s regime considers humanity as nothing save raw material. Deliver so many carloads of human material at the consumption point. That is the logical result of materialism. If you assert that men are dirty, that humanity is merely material, that is where you come out. And the old Geor gian train robber [Josef Stalin—ed.] is perfectly logical. If all things are merely material, man is material—and the system of anti-man treats man as matter.24
The real enemy, said Pound, was international capitalism. All people everywhere were victims: “They’re working day and night, picking your pockets,” he said. “Every day and all day and all night picking your pockets and picking the Russian working man’s pockets.”25Capital, however, he said, was “not international, it is not hypernational. It is subnational. A quicksand under the nations, destroying all nations, destroying all law and government, destroying the nations, one at a time, Russian empire and Austria, 20 years past, France yesterday, England today.”26
According to Pound, Americans had no idea why they were being expected to fight in Britain’s war with Germany: “Even Mr. Churchill hasn’t had the grass to tell the American people why he wants them to die, to save what. He is fighting for the gold standard and monopoly. Namely the power to starve the whole of mankind, and make it pay through the nose before it can eat the fruit of its own labor.” 27
As far as the English were concerned, in Pound’s broadcasts aimed at the British Isles he warned his listeners that although Russian-style communist totalitarianism was a threat to British freedom, it was not the biggest threat Britain faced:
You are threatened. You are threatened by the Russian methods of administration. Those methods [are not] your sole danger. It is, in fact, so far from being your sole danger that I have, in over two years of talk over this radio, possibly never referred to it before. Usury has gnawed into England since the days of Elizabeth. First it was mortgages, mortgages on earls’ estates; usury against the feudal nobility. Then there were attacks on the common land, filchings of village common pasture. Then there developed a usury system, an international usury system, from Cromwell’s time, ever increasing.”28
In the end, Pound suggested, it would be the big money interests who would really win the war—not any particular nation-state—and the foundation for future wars would be set in place: “The nomadic parasites will shift out of London and into Manhattan. And this will be presented under a camouflage of national slogans. It will be represented as an American victory. It will not be an American victory. The moment is serious. The moment is also confusing. It is confusing because there are two sets of concurrent phenomena, namely, those connected with fighting this war, and those which sow seeds for the next one.”29
Pound believed one of the major problems of the day—which itself had contributed to war fever—was the manipulation of the press, particularly in the United States: “I naturally mistrust newspaper news from America,” he declared. “I grope in the mass of lies, knowing most of the sources are wholly untrustworthy.”30
According to Pound: “The United States has been misinformed. The United States has been led down the garden path, and may be down under the daisies. All through shutting out news. There is no end to the amount of shutting out news that the sons of blood who started this war, and wanted this war, and monkeyed around to get a war started and monkeyed around to keep the war going, and spreading. There is no end to the shutting out and perversions of news that these blighters ain’t up to, and that they haven’t, and aren’t still trying to compass.”31Pound believed press manipulation was a historic phenomenon:
I ask my compatriots of my own age to note that the very high percentage of articles printed in American magazines contains a joker, that is a silent point, a basically false assumption. I don’t mean they all contain the same false assumption. I point out that there is no public medium in the United States for serious discussion. Every [one] of these publications has subjects which its policy forbids it to mention or to mention without falsification. And I ask the men in my generation to consider the effects, the cumulative effect of this state of things which does not date from September 1941, but has been going on ever since we can remember.32
Pound believed it was vital for the American people to circumvent the controlled press and to investigate current events—and history—for themselves.
Long before anyone ever conceived of C-SPAN’s daily broadcasts of congressional activity Pound suggested one way for the American people to have a better view of what was happening in official Washington: “You could put Congress on the air. Then you would know more of what your representatives are putting on you.”33
The poet noted that the press was so controlled it was virtually impossible to express opinions contrary to those of the controllers of the media of the day: “You can’t talk it over with me; because none of you can get to a radio. You can’t print stuff like this in your papers, because the newspapers are not there to inform the people.”34 Pound harkened back to the old Committees of Correspondence that existed in the American colonies prior to the American Revolution when he suggested: “You have got talk to each other, you have got to write letters one to another”35 in order to be able to discuss the real issues of the day.
Pound also noted another press phenomenon: the fact that the American press had failed to tell its readers that in Europe the Masonic order was a widely discussed issue. Pound told his listeners it ought to be news in America, but it wasn’t: “Nothing will come as a greater shock to America in general,” he said, “but in particular to honest men who compose the greater part, numerically, of American Masonry, than the view held concerning that order in Europe.”36 Regarding the Masonic order, Pound had his own questions: “What are the Masons? Where do they get their money? And who controls them?37
As far as the all-important question of money creation was concerned, Pound also saw the controlled press—and the academic establishment —covering up the truth. He was in trigued by the fact that there was precedent, in history, for the governments of nation-states to create money rather than relying upon private, special interests to do so:
For years economics professors have been lying, even going so far as to deprecate loans by the state, when the fleet that won the battle of Salamis was built with money lent by the Athenian state to the ship builders, instead of mortgaging the whole nation to . . . swine and enemies of the people as has been done in damn near every nation ever since the Stank [Bank] of England was founded. Well, states have lent money, and the Pennsylvania Colony lent it. And the French . . . are lending it. So the British fire on their late allies. And every damn possible thing is done to prevent the American in Utah or Montana from learning economics or history. And our Constitution does give Congress the right to determine prices, though it is worded, “right to determine the value of money,” which is the same thing.38
In Pound’s judgment, the American people had fallen down on the job and relied upon the greatest protection they had against the moneyed interests—the U.S. Constitution. “You have not kept the Constitution in force,” he said. “You have not developed it according to its own internal laws . . . The main protection of the whole people is in the clause about Congress issuing money . . . but you have not wanted to maintain the Constitution. You have not wanted, that is, you have not had a will, to maintain the Con sti tution or to maintain honest, just government.39
The U.S. Constitution, Pound said, was “for more than a century, in fact for 130 years, far and away the best on earth. I had always thought we could get all the social justice we need, by a few sane reforms of money, such as Adams and Lincoln would have thought honest and Constitutional. The grafters would rather throw you into a ten years war and kill off five or ten million young men than even let the discussion of monetary reform flower on the front pages of the American papers.40
All of these warnings by Pound about the money system have been suppressed or ignored or forgotten.
Despite his international travel, his choice to live abroad, his fluency in foreign tongues, his cosmopolitan associations, Pound was very much an American nationalist and a patriot in the truest sense. American culture and history were the foundation of his thinking, and he was the first to proclaim it. At the same time, Pound felt the American people were badly misinformed about the realities of European history:
“The Americans are unqualified for intervention,” he said. “They are disqualified by reason for their intense, abysmal, unfathomable ignorance of the state and past facts of Europe. Even my colleagues in the Academy of Social and Political Science have no competent perception of the difference, the basic difference between the American problem and that of Europe. And most of them have not made any adequate use of even such fragmentary fragments of knowledge as they possess.”41
As far as the Jewish question was concerned, Pound was never an advocate of mass extermination or of any program of discrimination against the Jews—contrary to what modern day “historians” might contend. Pound did perceive communism as an outgrowth of ancient Judaic teachings. He called communism “the left hand of Judah”42(the right hand, presumably, being international finance capitalism) and declared that, “The Bolshevik anti-morale [anti-morality system] comes out of the Talmud, which is the dirtiest teaching any race ever codified. The Talmud is the one and only begetter of the Bolshevik system.”43
Pound sometimes resorted to the use of ethnic slurs, but earthy expressions and salty language were integral to the poet’s style. Pound’s real target was the international banking establishment—many of whose leaders were, in fact, Jews. But he was not an enemy of the Jewish people: “Don’t start a pogrom,” he said. “That is, not an old-style killing of small Jews. That system is no good whatsoever. Of course if some man had a stroke of genius and could start a pogrom up at the top, there might be something to say for it. But on the whole legal measures are preferable. 44
Pound traced many historical problems to the direct involvement of Jewish financiers. For example, he pointed out: “Nobody with any historical knowledge says that the French revolution occurred without Jewish assistance. Nor that since that somewhat bloody upset and series of subsequent upsets the Jew weren’t cock-a-hoop in the French capital. A knowledge of the French commune would have helped us to understand the Russian November revolution If we had had it. But handy and useful knowledge has an easy way of getting mislaid. Now what causes that?45
Of the much-discussed Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, Pound had the following intriguing comment:
If or when one mentions the protocols alleged to be of the Elders of Zion, one is frequently met with the reply: Oh, but they are a forgery. Certainly they are a forgery, and that is the one proof we have of their authenticity. The Jews have worked with forged documents for the past 24 hundred years, namely ever since they have had any documents whatsoever.
And no one can qualify as a historian of this half century without having examined the Protocols. Alleged, if you like, to have been translated from the Russian, from a manuscript to be consulted in the British Museum, where some such document may or may not exist . . .
Their interest lies in the type of mind, or the state of mind of their author. That was their interest for the psychologist the day they first appeared. And for the historian two decades later, when the program contained in them has so crushingly gone into effect up to a point, or down to a squalor.46
Pound saw the ongoing war as an enemy of culture and he acknowledged his goal was stopping the war, if he could: “Oh yes, I want it to stop. I didn’t start it. I should like to conserve a few art works, a few mosaics, a few printed volumes, I should like to shore, or bring to beach what is left of the world’s cultural heritage, including libraries and architectural monuments. To serve as models for new construction.”47
Contrary to his modern reputation for “racism,” Pound resented racist attacks on the Japanese by the Allies. Shortly after Pearl Harbor he remarked that: “A BBC commentator somewhere about January 8 was telling his presumably music hall audience the Japs were jackals, and that they had just recently, I think he said within living men’s lifetime, emerged from barbarism. I don’t know what patriotic end you think, or he thinks, or the British authorities think is served by such fetid ignorance.”48 Pound told his audience the United States had, “with unspeakable vulgarity . . . insulted the most finely tempered people on earth, threatening them with starvation, threatening them with encirclement and telling them they were too low down to fight.”49 The result, he said, was Pearl Harbor and American intervention in the war.
Pound also recognized Japan’s Chi nese enemies were as much victims of the international money lenders and intriguers as were the Japanese. In colorful language evoking lively imagery that only Pound could conjure up, he declared:
“There are millions of Chinamen, many of them living on very short rations in the interior and about as much interested in Chiang Kai-shek as they are in the White Socks and the Phillies, if there still are any Phillies. You could get more enthusiasm out of those Chinks for a Hot Dog Championship on the Northside than you could for Chiang’s foreign party in China. A lot of China is not pro-Kai-shek. A lot of China is not for that gang of foreign investors.”50
Pound was very much attuned to the nationalist instincts of other peoples. He was himself an American nationalist who knew there were nationalistic strivings all across the globe—that nationalists everywhere wanted their peoples to be free of the big money interests:
Parts of the world prefer local control, of their own money power and credit. It may be deplorable (in the eyes of Wall Street and Washington) that such aspirations toward personal and national liberty still persist, but so is it. Some people, some nations, prefer their own administration, to that of Baruch and . . . the Sassoons, and the problem is: how many more millions of British, Russians, and Americans of both the northern and southern American continents, plus Zulus, Basutos, Hottentots, etc. and the lower, so-called lower races, phantom governments, Maccabees and their sequelae, are expected to die in the attempt to crush out European and Japanese independence?51
Pound also had a profound respect for the European contribution to civilization. He told his listeners: “Europe is an organic body, its life continues, its life has components and nearly every damn thing that has made your lives worth living up to this moment, has had its origins right here in Europe.52 In Pound’s view, the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany was an exclusively European phenomenon and one that should be of no concern to America:
Europe with systems of government less modern than ours, Germany and Italy with the leftovers of earlier centuries, especially Germany, saw revolutions. Worked out a new system suited to Europe. It is not our American affair. We could with honor advocate freedom of the seas. For Europe as well as for a few Jew controlled shipping firms. We could, with honor advocate natural commerce; that is, a commerce wherein each nation would exchange what it has, what it has in superfluity or abundance, with what other nations can or will spare. We could stand for that sort of commerce instead of trying to throttle it. Why do we not? Why should all men under 40 be expected to die or be maimed in support of flagrant injustice, monopoly and a dirty attempt to strangle and starve out 30 nations?53
Pound felt there was much to be said for the social and economic achievements of Italy and Germany and that they could prove a model for the rest of the Western World: “Every social reform that has gone into effect in Germany and Italy should be defended,” he said. “And the best men in England know that as well as I do. The time of calumny is past, and its passing should be seen very clearly.54
Conscious of the reforms effected in Italy and Germany, Pound saw similar possibilities for the American system. Pound believed the U.S. Constitution itself provided Americans the mechanism for change. However, he said, “You have not made use of the machinery provided in the Constitution itself, to keep the American government modern.”55 Pound suggested:
You could keep the Constitution, and under that Constitution every state in the Union could reorganize its system of representation. Any or every state could elect its Congressmen on trade basis . . . Any or every state could organize its congressional representation on a corporate basis. Carpenters, artisans, mechanics, could have one representative; writers, doctors, and lawyers could have one representative.
You could perfectly legally and constitutionally divide up the representatives of any or every state on the basis of trades and professions and the life of that state, every man in it, would gain representation in Congress; and Congress would take on an honesty and reality no American in our time has dreamed of.
Present Congressmen are mostly so ignorant that some people have thought it might be useful to have a bit of congressional education. Insist on Congressmen being able to pass an exam in at least some of the subject matters they are expected to vote on . . . I think the representation by trades and profession would be a better way out, with, if you like, different exams for the different trades and professions.
That could do no harm whatsoever. Man to represent steel workers, to be able to show he knows the working of steel; miner to know the workings of mines; professional to represent his profession, really to represent his profession, the best qualities, most acute knowledge of his profession. That would certainly lead to efficiency. Health regulations would be decided by someone who knew something about sanitation. Rules for mining coal, rates per day, decided by someone who knows coal don’t just crawl out of a mine, while somebody sits round playing pinochle . . .
“I am telling you how to oil up the machine,” he said, “and change a few gadgets so that it would work as the founders intended.56
Quick and certain to draw distinctions between U.S. and European traditions, however, Pound declared: “Class war is not an American product, not from the roots of the nation. Not in our historic process. And the racial solution, which is Europe’s solution, which is IN Europe’s process, rooted deep down, un-uprootable.”57 He told his listeners it was vital they study the evolution of the American system, and why the American Revolution took place to begin with—yes, it had to do with money:
Colonies, pretty much racially homogeneous, evolved. They found a solution for the problem of money, not of fields against money, not of colonists, farmers fighting money, but of fields and money working together, and they found it in Pennsylvania, and the world said, “How marvelous.” And an unjust, usurious, monopolist government shut down on the money—money handed out to the colonists to facilitate their field production, the repayment not going to a set of leeches and exploiters. And the unjust monopolist government, namely the British, was hoofed out [of] the colonies 30 years later.58
Full of contempt for those whom a real historian—his friend, Dr. Harry Elmer Barnes—called the “Court Historians” of the day, Pound recognized people could not make correct decisions about the course of their future if they were being lied to about their past: “You have a half-dozen historians but not all of them, by any means, are able to take out the facts and show how they hitch together.”59 He wondered, however, why people could not look at recent events that took place within their own time frame and see why things were happening as they were. To the people of war-torn England he addressed this poignant inquiry:
Have you no . . . eyes, no knowledge or . . . memory of events that have happened before you? Do you know only watery pools where were the cellars of London, only the material ruins, having no knowledge of . . . deeper causes, of why these things have come on you, or what you have done, or in most cases omitted, and which have caused these things to come on you, and have you no wish to know why this has happened?60
Pound suggested some good reading for his American listeners who might have a desire to bring back American tradition: “Two great friendships, at the base of American history. John Adams and Jefferson, Van Buren and Andy Jackson. You can pass the time reading that history. It will make the boys better citizens. Make any young man more American if he sticks to seeing American history first before swallowing exotic perversions.”61
Knowledge—basic historical knowledge—was vital, according to Pound. That theme—that knowledge was critical—was central to all of his wartime broadcasts. He urged his listeners to know who they were and why the world was in crisis. To his listeners, Pound urged this much: “Don’t die like a beast. If you are dead set to be sunk in the mid-Atlantic or Pacific or scorched in the desert, at least know why it is done to you. To die not knowing why is to die like an animal . . . To die like a human being you have at least got to know why it is done to you.”62
Pound’s graphic words could well be a warning to modern-day Americans in this age when American soldiers are being asked to fight and die in endless brush-fire wars around the globe—wars that enrich their real enemies—the very plutocrats Pound so fiercely condemned.
Pound’s defense attorney, who found the transcripts of the broadcasts “dreary,” later summarized them as follows:
There was no criticism of the allied war effort in the broadcasts; nothing was said to discourage or disturb American soldiers or their families. Pound’s main concern was with usury and other economic sins which he conceived were being committed by an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers who were the powers behind the throne of England and had succeeded in duping the government of the United States. The broadcasts were in essence lectures in history and political and economic theory, highly critical of the course of American government beginning with Alexander Hamilton . . . The American people were told they did not understand what was going on in Europe and if they did, the war would not have been necessary.”63
Was Pound a traitor—or a prophet?
NOTE: The dates cited in the following footnotes refer to the dates of radio broadcasts by Ezra Pound excerpted from the volume, “Ezra Pound Speaking” —Radio Speeches of World War II, the singular source for the information appearing in this article. The page numbers which follow refer to the location of the broadcast in the published compendium.

1 “Ezra Pound Speaking”—Radio Speeches of World War II. Edited by Leonard Doob. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1978). p. ix.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid., p. 427.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid., p. ix.
6 1942 (undated script), p. 393.
7 November 6, 1941, pp. 16-17.
8 Ibid.
9 December 7, 1941, p. 21.
10 March 6, 1942, p. 54.
11 March 30, 1942, p. 80.
12 February 26, 1942, p. 44.
13 February 3, 1942, p. 30.
14 February 19, 1942, pp. 42-43.
15 February 18, 1943, p. 221.
16 July 20, 1943, p. 370.
17 April 30, 1942, p. 113.
18 February 19, 1943, p. 226.
19 Early 1941 (undated script), p. 382.
20 May 23, 1943, p. 319.
21 March 25, 1943, p. 259.
22 March 2, 1942, pp. 48-49.
23 March 8, 1942
24 Ibid.
25 March 8, 1942, p. 55.
26 Ibid.
27 October 26, 1941, p. 7.
28 May 23, 1943, p. 318.
29 May 23, 1943, p. 319.
30 April 30, 1942, p.113.
31 January 29, 1942, p. 24.
32 February 17, 1942, p. 39.
33 July 13, 1942, p. 203.
34 Ibid.
35 Ibid.
36 April 30, 1942, pp. 114-115.
37 Ibid.
38 1941 (undated script), p. 390.
39 June 1, 1943, p. 331.
40 November 6, 1941, p. 19.
41 June 14, 1942, p. 170.
42 May 31, 1942, p. 155
43 May 4, 1942, p. 117.
44 April 30, 1942, p. 115.
45 July 17, 1942, p. 207.
46 April 20, 1943, p. 283.
47 Ibid.
48 January 29, 1942, p. 26
49 February 3, 1942, p. 30.
50 October 2, 1941, p. 5.
51 July 17, 1943, p. 369.
52 October 26, 1941, p. 9.
53 November 6, 1941, p. 19.
54 May 23, 1943, p. 319.
55 June 1, 1943, p. 331.
56 July 13, 1942, pp. 204-205.
57 May 28, 1942, p. 153.
58 May 28, 1942, p. 153.
59 February 3, 1942, p. 30.
60 May 28, 1942, p. 151.
61 May 9, 1942, p. 121.
62 1943 (undated script), p. 409.
63 Doob, p. 427.

Boers - The Great Trek of South Africa

By John Tiffany

The Great Trek or Voortrek is the central event in the history of South Africa, beginning in the mid-thirties of the 19th century and petering out in the early forties. This great northward exodus of the Afrikaner people, reminiscent of the American wagon trains to the West, involved thousands of cattle and sheep farmers who fled British tyranny. They left the frontier districts of the Cape Colony, and founded the independent republics of Natal, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.
The struggle of the Afrikaner or Boer people since the 17th century when they arrived in South Africa from Europe was, like that of Americans, a struggle for freedom from foreign tyranny, and for self-determination. In particular, the capture of the Cape of Good Hope by the invading British in 1795 and events on the frontier of the eastern Cape Colony in the early 19th century caused a dramatic spread northward and eastward by the Boers.
The Boers (the word comes from the Dutch for “farmers”) were predominantly Dutch to start with, and spoke the Dutch language, but over the centuries their language changed to become a uniquely South African tongue of the Indo-European language family. Other white ethnic groups, notably the French, joined with the Boers and readily became acculturated. Many Huguenot surnames are still notable among the Boers today. Even some English speakers became Boers, but for the most part, the English settlers in South Africa formed a separate group from the Boers.
It was the Napoleonic wars that brought the British to South Africa as rulers and settlers. Between 1795, when the British first occupied the cape, and the Second Anglo-Boer War (called by the Boers the Second War of Freedom) of 1899, the Boers increasingly regarded the British as meddlesome interlopers.
The first event to signal the approaching discord between what were then called the “white races” of the Boers and the British occurred in 1815, four months after Waterloo.
An Afrikaner named Cornelius Fred erick (Freek) Bezuidenhout, 55, living alone on a remote farm, was ordered to answer charges of ill treating a Hottentot servant. To a Boer, especially a trekboer (i.e., an individualistic Boer pioneer), such matters were outside the purview of the law.
Unwilling to risk his property while traveling to the nearest village, Bezuiden hout ignored the summons. A number of locally enlisted Hottentot soldiers were sent by the British authorities to arrest him, and in the ensuing struggle he was killed.
A body of armed burghers, led by his brother Johannes Jurgen (Hans) Bezuidenhout, 57, set out in pursuit of the Hottentot soldiers, bent on revenge. But they were captured by a troop of British Light Dragoons, led, rather ironically, by a loyalist from America, Jacob Cuyler, a man devoid of any idealism, who reacted with arrogant displeasure and vindictive fury to anyone who dared to oppose his will and commands.
Johannes Bezuidenhout was shot dead in the capture. His wife, who helped by loading his gun, was also killed.
The surviving Boers were put on trial for insurgency. All admitted their guilt, and five were hanged on March 9, 1816 at the place where they had assembled, Slachter’s Nek, an appropriately ominous-sounding name.
These frontier Boers were huge and heavy men. Cuyler had taken the precaution of ordering the ropes doubled, but as the platform fell away under their feet the ropes suspending four of them snapped. As one Boer twitched in his dying spasms, the others got dazedly to their feet and rushed toward the British magistrate, begging for mercy. Their relatives flocked around, calling also for mercy. However, Cuyler, in typically British style, went ahead and ruthlessly hanged the unfortunate wretches a second time. The atrocity of the botched hangings was to become a source of permanent, festering hatred of the British by the Boer people. “Slachter’s Nek” be came a synonym for the unforgettable and unforgivable. “British” became a synonym for enemy.
Memories of Slachter’s Nek, the threat of political equality for the non-whites, and other instances of what the Boers regarded as British interference in their affairs all built up a head of steam in the Boer consciousness, which finally erupted after 1834, following the abolition of slavery, with inadequate compensation for the owners.
It is often forgotten by liberal writers that slavery was legal and then abruptly was not; many farmers were ruined, and the money they had borrowed to invest in their labor was, in effect, expropriated. No wonder they were fed up and ready to leave the country.
Worn out by the wars against the Kaffirs (the local black tribes), the burghers were dismayed to find the British government—a government that had withdrawn, in the heat of battle, the licenses of hawkers to sell gunpowder—was now slow to pay up on military requisition notes and was firmly resolved not to hear of such novel proposals as compensation for war losses, delay in the payment of taxes, or a reduction of the amount of taxes due.
News came that the eagerly awaited slave compensation would be paid out, not in the colony, but in London. And hard on the heels of that report came rumors (which soon turned out to be true) that Queen Adelaide Province was to be given back to the Kaffirs. Furthermore, the Boers were to be recalled from the Stormberg lands.
The decision to pay compensation for freed slaves in London made a certain amount of sense from an exclusively British point of view: Slaves were being freed in the West Indies simultaneously, and West Indian plantation owners were generally in the habit of visiting London rather often, so for them it was no great inconvenience. But many Boers, less favorably situated, could not possibly afford to travel to London to collect the money.
But what really disgusted the Boers was that they learned they were being accused of causing the war, when it was the Kaffirs who had invaded the lands of the white people, and not the other way around. Unjustifiable odium was being poured upon the Boer folk by a distant government that was spurred on by greedy and dishonest persons under the cloak of religion, whose testimony was believed in England despite all evidence to the contrary.
For some time, Boer men had been allowed to go in search of pasture beyond the Orange River into the territory known as Philippolis, ruled at the time by East Griqua chief Adam Kok III. (The Griquas were a branch of Cape Coloreds, partly white and partly Hottentot.)
Some of the Boer men went even farther north, into the Basuto borderlands. In the Griqua and Basuto country, their flocks increased rapidly. Moreover, hunters told of still finer land, clear of Negroes, Hottentots, Coloreds and Bush men, far beyond the Griqua territory.
The interior was not entirely un known. Hunters, traders, missionaries, trekboers and others had already gone beyond the Orange, beyond the Vaal, even as far as the Limpopo River. There was good reason to believe that vast tracts of land in the north and in Natal had been swept clear of inhabitants by the ferocious Negro tribes of the Mantatis, Matabeles and Zulus.
The Christian Boers were offended by the British placing of them on an equal footing with the animist blacks, “contrary to the laws of god and the natural distinction of race and religion, so that it was intolerable for any decent Christian to bow down beneath such a yoke, where for we rather withdrew in order to preserve our doctrines in purity,” as Voor trekker Anna Steenkamp expressed it.
More than the men, it was the Boer women who most keenly resented the British intrusion into their affairs. Their household arrangements were upset, with Hottentot servants and slaves flitting from one mistress to another. Mantati refugees in the north, and stray Fingos in the east did not fill all the gaps and were even more incompetent than Hottentots. Besides, were these colored folks to compete with their own sons for land, to stand on an equality before the law with them?
It was an outrage to that sense of racial superiority which was naturally stronger in the bearers of children than in the mere begetters of them.
The migration called the Great Trek was a deliberate move by thousands of men and women, frontier farmers for the most part, who left hearth and home in their ox-drawn covered wagons, similar to the American Conestogas, at great personal sacrifice to put as much distance between themselves and the tyrannical British government as possible.
Just like the Western pioneers in their wagon trains, the Boers would circle their wagons when camping in hostile territory to form laagers for self-defense against the local savages.
In retrospect, we can see that the Boers might have been better off to have followed another American pattern and waged a war of revolution against their British overlords, for the British government, while it at first let them go, was soon to follow them to impose its tyranny. But there was no way at the time of foreseeing the troubles that lay ahead in the shape of the Boer wars, with all their attendant horrors.
The emigrants were to launch a new military tradition for the Boers—they be came resolute, organized, and matchlessly disciplined, as they had to be in order to contend with the savage new enemies they faced: the Zulu and Ndebele, themselves fierce warriors who believed in full-face charges rather than evasive guerrilla tactics. They also did not hesitate to kill Boer women and children, given the opportunity.
The reasons for the exodus included the deep and growing gulf in all religious and political questions between the British and the Boers, the liberal tendencies of the Brits toward the blacks and coloreds, the exclusion of the Afrikaners from participation in the government, and basic differences between Boer and British culture. A stubborn British contempt for anything non-British, coupled with British liberalism and power politics, contrasted with the Afrikaner’s urge for individual freedom.
Between 1835 and 1843 some 12,000 Afrikaners, about one-fourth of those living in the Cape Colony, hitched their oxen to covered wagons, and, with their wives, children, servants, cattle and sheep, escaped from British control without resorting to violence.
Piet Retief, destined to become a leader of the trekkers, drafted and published a manifesto promising:
“Wherever we go . . . we will uphold the just principles of liberty; but, while we will take care that no one is brought by us into a condition of slavery, we will establish such regulations as may suppress crime and prepare proper relations between master and servant. We solemnly declare that we leave this country with a desire to enjoy a quieter life than we have hitherto had. We will not molest any people, nor deprive them of the smallest property; but if attacked we shall consider ourselves fully justified in defending our lives and effects. We propose . . . to make known to the native tribes our intentions, and our desire to live in peace and friendly intercourse with them . . . We quit this Colony under the full assurance that the English Government has nothing more to require of us, and will allow us to govern ourselves without interference in future.”
The Great Trek had begun, and a goodly portion of one of the two white tribes of southern Africa was on the move.
By this time, white men were familiar in Transorangia and even in the remoter parts of the high veldt. Many trekboers already lived in the vicinity of the Orange River.
The four principal native groups on the high veldt at this time were the Ndebele or Matabele, whose chief was Mzilikazi, the Basotho (Basuto) nation under Chief Moshoeshoe, the Tlokwa (Btlokua) under Sikonyela, and the various bands of Griquas. After the Zulus, the Ndebele were the second most powerful black nation in southern Africa.
Although the British authorities were familiar with the custom of always requesting permission to enter a chief’s territory, it does not appear that they warned the trekkers that they should do the same. The early Voortrekkers did not follow this custom.
The first wagon trains managed to escape the attention of the scouts of Mzilikazi after they had crossed the Vaal River, and continued safely northward to the Limpopo. The trekkers who followed immediately after were not so lucky. The Ndebele attacked the Voortrekkers and mercilessly dispatched the women and children as well as the men.
The trekkers then came together under the leadership of Hendrik Pot gie ter, 45, a man rich in cattle, and defeated the Nde bele in two battles, but Mzili kazi’s warriors drove off all their livestock.
In their brief but bloody encounters with the Ndebele the trekkers under Potgieter quickly perfected the style of warfare that was to be the Boer strategy for the rest of the century, easily adaptable to fighting the British army as well as black men.
In their first defense against the Ndebele, at a hill later to be called Vegkop on October 19, 1836, 40 Boer men, with their women and children, faced an onrushing army of several thousand warriors. Fifty wagons were drawn into an outer laager, lashed together end-to-end with chains, with thorn bushes jammed under and between them and between the spokes of the wheels to prevent attackers creeping through. Each man had a spare gun or two, which his wife could load for him and while they waited they cast a large supply of bullets, small so as to slip down the barrel easily and nicked across so they would split up in flight.
Their horses they could bring within the laager, but the sheep and even the irreplaceable draft oxen must take their chances in the open.
Women and children were placed inside an inner circle of four wagons forming a square that was roofed over with planks and rawhides. But the laager was used only as a final retreat. The men rode forward on their horses carrying their long, heavy, large-caliber muskets, called snaphaans, which they loaded and fired from the saddle with unexcelled accuracy.
By riding to and fro in front of the advancing enemy, several miles from the laager, and remaining out of range of flying spears, they tried to bring down as many as possible before retiring to the wagons. These were tactics highly suitable to the open country in which they were fighting.
The Ndebele fell in heaps at Vegkop. Their spears could not penetrate the quadruple layer of canvas covering the wagons, while a blast from a musket of splintering bullets could take down a half-dozen warriors. Also the muskets had twice the range of a spear toss—100 yards versus 50.
When the Ndebele drew off, the Boers waited, and while they waited they picked off such warriors as lay on the ground sweating. Dead men do not sweat, so these were either the wounded or the wily waiting close to the wagon-ring for the next rush. In any case the defenders could not afford to take risks. A dead Ndebele was the best Ndebele under the circumstances. There would certainly be no Boer survivors if the warriors broke into the laager.
Eventually Potgieter and half a dozen of his best men rode out and drew the enemy on again. Once more the Ndebele charged the laager, and once more they were shot down. Finally they turned and fled, taking, however, the captured beasts with them. The Boers had lost two men and none of their women and children. One in three men had been wound ed. The Ndebele losses were uncounted, perhaps a thousand or so dead.
But the Boers were not satisfied. Mzilikazi must be punished and the captured beasts taken back.
Just after New Year, 1837, a punitive expedition set out: 107 Boers and 40 Griquas and Korannas all mounted and fully armed, plus 60 Barolongs on foot to drive the cattle. Moving swiftly through the empty country, they fell upon the Ndebele kraals at Mosega at dawn.
The Ndebele warriors fought well, but could not stand up to the guns. They lost 400 men and then fled, leaving the Win commando, the victors, to burn the kraals at their leisure and retire with more than 7,000 cattle and some wagons that had also been lost, and three forlorn American missionaries who had been among the Ndebele (and having little success in their efforts to Christianize them). The trekker losses amounted only to four of the Barolongs.
By the middle of 1837, some 5,000 Boers had trekked across the Orange River; by the middle of the 1840s, an estimated 14,000, roughly one-fifth of the white population of South Africa. At Thaba Nchu, they established a provisional government for themselves.
Opinions were divided among the trekkers as to where their ultimate destination should lie. A large body of them decided to follow the man they had chosen as their supreme leader, Piet Retief, across the nearly impassible Drakensberg Mountains into Natal, a beautiful province, where they would have an outlet to the sea.
On February 6, 1838, a tragedy unfolded: Retief and his hundred-man treaty party were massacred by the treacherous Zulu chief Dingaan (Dingane). Here is how it happened.
When the Voortrekkers showed up in his area and settled on his lands without waiting for permission, Dingaan stalled for time. Some cattle had been stolen from him, he told Retief. Get them back, and we’ll talk, he said, in effect.
It was a task of Hercules, and the chief could not have expected the Voortrek kers to achieve it.
But Retief knew who had taken the cattle. It was Sikonyela, the Tlokwa chief, who ruled in the upper valley of the Caledon. He was a formidable potentate possessed of a few guns and horses, son of Ma-Ntatisi, queen of the once dreaded Mantatis. Earlier, Boer scouts had reported seeing 50 of Sikonyela’s men, armed with guns and clothed more or less like white men, riding up the slopes with cattle, sheep and horses looted from Chief Dingaan.
Retief did this favor with ease, handcuffing Sikonyela by trickery, holding him prisoner for three days, and showing up at the royal kraal with the stolen herd. He also carried in a satchel a document ready for the Zulu king’s signature. Arrogantly, the document demanded all of the land from the mountains to the sea and from the Tugela River to the Um zimvubu, including Port Natal. Dingaan asked that the guns and horses taken from Sikonyela be turned over to him, and this Retief refused, twice, which undoubtedly enraged the king, although he hid his feelings well.
There had been several warnings that the king was up to no good, but Retief chose to ignore them.
Dingaan determined to have the Retief party, under promises of safe conduct, killed, then go after the other Boers and try to wipe them out as well. He received the Retief party courteously on February 4, 1838, even putting his mark on the parchment to convince them of his good faith, and entertained them with vast amounts of beer and regimental dancing displays. After three days of this, he invited the Boers to take a parting drink with him, and persuaded them to leave their guns outside.
His fiercest soldiers, a regiment of young Zulus called the Wild Beasts, had been summoned to the kraal and told to amuse the Boers by singing and dancing. Suddenly the king stood up and yelled, “Kill the wizards!”
Three thousand warriors who had been hidden in the rings of huts that lined Dingaan’s great palisade rushed in and grabbed the Boers. The Retief party —some 66 Voortrekker volunteers and 30 Khoikhoi servants—were dragged to the execution hill and killed.
Missionary Francis Owen described the event:
“I turned my eyes and behold! an immense multitude on the bloodstained hill nearly opposite my hut. About 9 or 10 Zoolus to each Boer were dragging their helpless unarmed victim to the fatal spot, where those eyes which awakened this morning to see the cheerful light of day for the last time, are now closed in death . . . Presently the deed of death being accomplished the whole multitude returned to the town to meet their sovereign, and as they drew near to him set up a shout which reached the [mission] station and continued for some time.”
On February 17, several Afrikaner laagers were savagely attacked at the Blou krans (Blaauwkrans) River. People were slain without distinction as to age or gender, and cattle were stolen. White infants had their brains dashed out against the wheels of their burning wagons. Eighty-five adult Boers and 148 children died that day, along with 250 Khoikhoi servants. Two young girls of about 10 or 12 years who somehow managed to survive were found to have 19 stab wounds in one case, 21 in the other.
The killing of their wives and children, first by the Ndebele and then by the Zulu, fastened in the minds of the trekkers and their descendants an image of the black man as a brutal enemy that became permanently established in their reactions to him.
However, Dingaan’s men missed the laager of Piet Retief entirely, and Gert Maritz’s group managed to fight off the attack and even dispatch a small expedition to recover some of the stolen cattle.
On December 16, Andries Pretorius, 39, led 462 Afrikaners and two English men against 10,000-12,000 of Dingaan’s warriors to inflict a devastating revenge that nearly broke the Zulu power, at a small river that was appropriately re named Blood River. The Battle of Blood River has become a symbol of determined Afrikaner resistance in the face of overwhelming odds. The Day of the Covenant, as it was called, or Dingaan’s Day, became the central date in the Boer calendar and was passed down to the trekkers’ descendants as the spiritual feast day on which to repledge their national will.
The battle lasted around two hours, at the end of which an estimated 3,000 Zulus lay dead around the laager. The remainder were forced to flee back into Zululand. Three Boers were slightly wounded, none killed. In addition to having a deed from the treacherous Zulu king, Natal was now theirs by right of conquest.
Several thousand independent people had hauled their wagons across seemingly impassable country, established their own independent re public and defeated the powerful Zulu nation in a classic battle without a single loss to themselves. It was seen as a sign from God that they were indeed a chosen people.

Barthorp, Michael, The Anglo-Boer Wars: The British and the Afrikaners: 1815-1902, Blandford Press, London, New York, Sydney, 1987.
Mostert, Noël, Frontiers: The Epic of South Africa’s Creation and the Tragedy of the Xhosa People, Alfred A. Knopf, Publishers, New York, 1992.
Vatcher, Jr., William Henry, White Laager: The Rise of Afrikaner Nationalism, Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, New York, Washington, London, 1965.
Walker, Eric Anderson, The Great Trek, 2d ed., Adam and Charles Black, London, 1938.

Narcotics in Colonial and Modern Asia

By George Fowler
Regarding Asia, the post-World War II West has endured decades of self-flagellation within its literature, theater, media and written history. This month Hong Kong reverts to the often untender mercies of Red China. With China’s communist government an increasingly cryptic relic of an expired era, that country’s future dealings with the West may be strongly influenced by what it claims happened in lands where incredible wealth was never far from dire poverty. There are many bitter memories handed down from events of this and prior centuries. But the influences of the West held no monopoly on cruelty, avarice and exploitation. Those in China and Asia who grasp the standard racist canard, shouting “payment for past sins,” must be brought to the table of history’s record.
In 1497, five years after Columbus had reached “the Indies” under the Spanish flag, Portugal’s Vasco da Gama set out on the first known Western sea passage to India. He was provided a letter of credence to the Rajah of Calicut and valuable presents. In 1847 Bartholomeu Diaz left Lisbon, and rounded the Cape of Good Hope in early 1488. He returned with the news that a sea route to the Indies was evidently open. Also in 1488, an Arabic-speaking Portuguese squire, Pero de Couilha, traveled overland and reached the west coast of India. By the dawn of the 16th century, the Portuguese had established a monopoly on Indian Ocean sea trade.
C. R. Boxer wrote in The Portuguese Seaborne Empire—1415-1825 of the 13th century trips by way of the Euro-Asian land mass; from the shores of the Black Sea to those of the China Sea. In that age Mongol khans imposed their Pax Tartarica over Central Asia and beyond. Successful Western round-trip travelers such as Marco Polo “recounted the wonders and marvels of the East” to their compatriots. Either they were disbelieved, or their recollections “were too highly coloured and fragmentary to give an accurate idea of Asia to the Western world.”
In his famed History of England, Vol. II, G.M. Trevelyan wrote that by the 15th century the less liberal Turks had eclipsed Tartar rule over the medieval land trade routes to the East. The Turks exacted greater tolls, and “medieval Europe was being constantly denuded” of gold and silver to pay for Asiatic spices, etc. This was largely alleviated in the post-Columbus decades by new supplies of gold and silver flowing to Europe from the Americas. But the transport by sea of the goods, particularly those of bulk, proved a vast relief relative to markets in the East.
If one entity personifies the ages of Western colonialism it is the British East India Company. In its many salad decades it was a unique enterprise, ruling nearly a fifth of the world’s population. It possessed its own Crown-allied army, and navy and civil service.
Many who would be associated with it were among the mightiest subjects of the mightiest empire—Clive of India, Lord Cornwallis following his Yorktown de feat, Lord Raffles and Arthur Wellesley prior to his becoming Duke of Welling ton. It held unchallenged sway from the St. Helena’s Island of Napoleon’s demise to Britain’s long-brightest Asian jewel, Singapore.
In The East India Company, A History author Brian Gardner recounts the 1580’s exhilaration of the English people following Sir Francis Drake’s voyage around the world—accomplished nearly a century after it was achieved by the remarkable but eventually fading maritime capacities of Portugal. With the defeat eight years later of Phillip II of Spain’s Armada (due largely to poorly prepared ships, poor seamanship and storms than to England’s superior seamanship) the England of Elizabeth I reached a youthful pride.
Elizabeth I and her advisors thought it time to launch an operation that would be instrumental in bringing England fame and fortune. Thus “Queen Bess” signed a charter granting broad monopoly rights to the Honorable East India Company. Marked with the royal seal of England, it was valid for 15 years.
The prior centuries of East Asia’s wide trade among its various kingdoms and with such outsiders as Indians, Arabs and Portuguese, would prove very interesting reading on its own. Trade between India and China involved Japan, Korea, Siam, Indochina, etc. Officially sanctioned piracy, far from extinct in today’s Asian seas, thrived. Its volume no doubt dwarfed that practiced by the buccaneers of the “Spanish Main” who have fascinated generations of Western children.
In The Traditional Trade of Asia, author C.G.F. Simkin wrote that, in the decades following Elizabeth I’s 1603 death, China “had a remarkable economic growth within the limits of its traditional methods of production.” Although faulty, census estimates of China’s population listed 64 million in the “Armada” age of 1578, over 143 million in 1741 and 432 million by 1851. These population increases were largely the result of increasingly sophisticated farming methods. New crops brought substantial benefits to all classes. Rice was of course a multi-regional staple, but in sandy south China the staple food of the poor became the sweet potato.
Simkin continued that “a less fortunate development was the spread of the opium poppy. It had been known in China for some centuries but most supplies had come from India and had been used medicinally.” Indian imports of opium had been much limited by piracy and by suppression of it by the Ming Dynasty.
Carlton Hayes points out in his History of Modern Europe that 17th century India was ruled by a dynasty of Moslem emperors called Moguls. They had entered the country as conquerors in the previous century and had established a splendid architectural complex in Delhi, off the Ganges River. Overwhelmingly, the people maintained their ancient, highly caste-structured Hindu religion.
The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602, the year prior to Elizabeth’s death. It was composed of an amalgamation of several smaller interests in Holland. Brian Gardner notes that it “was a mighty military and naval organization, and it looked upon the English company as an impertinent but potentially dangerous intruder into a trade which it considered was a monopoly belonging to itself.” But circumstances of war and internal dynamics would eventually favor England. Al though the Britons were often stretched thin in terms of purse and military power, their alliances and their fortunes (save in relation to a newly born United States) worked toward their sea power-borne primacy.
Trevelyan wrote in History of England, Vol. III that the French East India Company was “hopelessly inferior to the English in trade,” and had decided to enter into military alliances with some of the native powers; in India raising “Sepoy regiments under French officers.” French activities included pressures on “the stations of the British East India Company at Madras (a major British port-fortification) and elsewhere.”
During the early 18th century reign of George II, England’s Sir Robert Clive (Clive of India) was provided with the British and allied Indian troops to destroy French power in India. Under Clive, Bengal became the first great area of British rule within the huge peninsula. The early stages were set for the British East India Company’s use of India as China’s “supplier.” In India as in China, this deadly traffic would also mean immense to middling profits for favorably placed Indians and Chinese.
Trevelyan wrote that by “the era of Waterloo,” the ever growing British Empire had become “the characteristic representative of European trade and influence in Asia. The Industrial Revolution had given fresh speed and vigour to the outward expansion of English life which had been going on ever since the days of Elizabeth.”
But before the “era of Waterloo” and shortly after America gained her independence, the first American ships set out for China. In Americans and the China Trade, Margaret C.S. Christman notes that Robert Morris, centrally heroic in his efforts to finance George Wash ington’s perpetual-shoestring Conti nen tal Army, was instrumental in the first, and successful, American trip to China. On Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1784, the Empress of China set sail from New York. Upon her return, Morris wrote John Jay, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, that “our ship from China does tolerably well for the concerned; she has opened new objects to all America.”
Trade by Americans and Europeans centered in Canton. Christman wrote that “The Emperor of China did not deign to recognize foreign trade. But he allowed a guild of some half dozen merchants, called Co-Hong, to pay [the throne] handsomely for the privilege of controlling the barbarian trade.”
From the beginning most Americans, as far as we know, dealt in non-narcotic trade. Prominent among the minority of American dope barons were the Delanos. The name had been semi-anglicized from the French (in their case Huguenot) de la Noye, following the family’s coming to America in 1621. In FDR—A Biography author Ted Morgan wrote that, like his father and his grandfather, Warren Delano Jr. “went to sea not to hunt whales but to bring tea from China. It was a profitable trade, if you had ships swift enough to get the tea to market before it lost its flavor . . . In 1851 Warren Delano bought a 60 acre farm on a point of land overlooking the Hudson near Newburgh . . . Buddhist temple bells and teakwood screens [in the home he built] indicated the origins of the family fortune.”
Warren Delano Jr. was FDR’s maternal grandfather. Periodically, and for many of this century’s middle years, Westbrook Pegler was one of America’s most prominent reporter-columnists. The Hearst papers and hundreds of other newspapers carried his column. Pegler detailed the opium-based fortune that had built what would become Hyde Park, the estate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Morgan skips over the China trade activities of Warren Delano Jr.’s father and grandfather with this explanation of Warren Jr.’s opium activities: “In 1859, aged 50, he dealt in a cargo no bulkier than tea but a hundred times more valuable: opium.” His timing could not have been better, for when the Civil War erupted in 1861, opium became a vitally needed medical supply, and opium traders were upgraded from disreputable suppliers of addicts to patriotic savers of lives. Warren Delano was under orders from the government to ship this widely used anesthetic to the Medical Bureau of the War Department. He was also named the agent of the State Department in China for the war’s duration.
Morgan added that the Lincoln administration was “a good paymaster, and within three years Delano was able to charter a ship to transport his entire family to Hong Kong” for an extended holiday. Thus an administration obsessed with “setting all men free” (as well as the vast, “incidental” profits), was expending great amounts of money that would result not only in the relief of suffering but in the enslaving to opium of many thousands of Union soldiers.
In allowing the westerners access to Canton, the foreign traders enjoyed a location offering the best trading facilities in China. Its native population had reached a million during the 17th century, and it was sheltered from the open sea by a funnel-shaped bay 30 miles long. In The East Indiamen Russell Miller wrote that, after Britain’s eventual dominance following “long and bitter power struggles with the Dutch and the French,” outward-bound British passenger traffic grew steadily. In India, what the British needed most was “not merchandise but men.” A strong civilian, civil service and military presence was needed to build an empire in India as well as in Africa. For purposes related to expansion of Her Majesty Victoria’s Empire, the largely opium-derived in come that flowed into the royal coffers—sums probably never to be disclosed—was magnificently opportune.
In 1857, at the time of the Crimean War, the reason for rebellion of the Sepoy regiments in India may sound humorous to Western ers but not to the religious sensibilities of the natives. Although there was no intent to insult, it was realized that issued cartridges had been greased with the fat of cows (sacred) and pigs (repulsive). A mutiny at Bengal the same year was prompted by excessive severity toward Indian troops by British officers. The hardest fighting to regain control took place in the upper Ganges region of Central India. Gallant British defenses, some as magnificent as those of the Thin Red Line at Rorke’s Drift in South Africa that saved several British garrisons from annihilation. Loyal Indian troops complemented the excellent fighting on the part of reinforcements (disproportionately Scottish) from England.
By the summer of 1857 India was quieted, and its Native States would remain pillars of the Raj until the Gandhi-immediate post World War II years, when Lord Mountbatten, the last Raj, lowered the Union Jack.
In his book The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia Alfred W. McCoy noted that “China’s political situation changed dramatically toward the end of the 19th century.” Humiliating defeat by Japan in their 1894-1895 war led to demands for reform. Retaliations suffered by China following the 1899-1900 Boxer Rebellion against the European presence saw China again beaten and even more strapped financially. McCoy wrote that “opium was a clear-cut symptom and symbol of foreign intrusion and national decay.” Of course the Chinese, who could affect a sanctimoniously righteous stance as imposing as that of the Indians, would not admit that the generations of drug-induced internal problems would have been impossible without generations of collusion on the part of thousands of Chinese; from humble smugglers to imperial insiders.
In 1906 the Chinese government launched an opium suppression campaign. An imperial edict of that year stated plans for the elimination of China’s opium problem within 10 years. McCoy wrote that “the officially sponsored British contribution was finally eliminated, and domestic cultivation was temporarily, yet drastically, reduced.” In compromise, “His Majesty’s Government signed an agreement that went into effect in 1908, committing itself gradually to reduce the export of Indian opium intended for Hong Kong and China. However, many British officials, particularly those ruling India, were less than wildly enthusiastic about this decision,” expressing skepticism regarding both China’s determination and capacities to effectively suppress opium.
McCoy recounts from cable traffic carried on by Sir Edward Grey, Britain’s Foreign Secretary then and during World War I. Grey stated that His Majesty’s Government stood prepared to resist any effective Chinese efforts that would “discriminate” against foreign opium. McCoy wrote that “this meant that the British, who had perfected the technique of opium monopoly for government profit, strenuously objected . . .” British documents for the first years of the suppression campaign are full of accounts of incidents in which Chinese attempts to restrict opium sales provoked outraged cries from opium merchants, who were almost invariably backed up by British officials. A subsequent book by a Chinese named Ch’en, Opium and Anglo-Chinese Relations, found that imports of Indian opium actually increased slightly during the years 1907-1911.
However, by 1911 Britain’s official and practical positions began to change; no doubt largely due to the bad publicity Britannia was receiving. In that year Britain and China signed a strong anti-opium agreement. By 1915 most of China’s provinces were declared closed to foreign opium. During the early period of suppression, morphine began to grow in popularity with Chinese. Not long after morphine’s derivative, heroin, was used with increasing frequency by ever greater numbers.
Clearly, an immense demand for dope had long been cultivated in China and elsewhere in Asia. In The Peking Bomb —The Psychological War Against America, author Gerd Hamburger noted that from the beginning of the 19th century, 2,000 boxes and chests of opium were exported from India each year. And “it was planned that by 1837 more than 40,000 boxes would be shipped every year.” The value of this export (in 1830s pound sterling value) was more than four million pounds.
In recent decades the story of the international narcotics problem is so vast and so worldwide that it has been a major component in world power struggles. Narcotic substances were used by the Asian Reds and the Soviet Reds, and they were a clandestine funding device of Republican administrations faced with the anti-anti-Communist balkings of Dem ocratic Congresses. Few would deny that large amounts of narcotics were moved in Asia by Air America, the CIA’s airline, by unscrupulous station chiefs making deals with anti-communist drug runners, some with substantial military might of their own.
As Hong Kong reverts to still-Red China, a country with ever widening strips of private enterprise luxury crossing its coastal underbelly, what will be its future relative to narcotics? Granted, it has other, very big economic fish to fry. And Beijing shows no immediate indication (for what that is worth) of putting away its frying pans. But Hong Kong and narcotics have long been as close as pastrami and rye.
McCoy’s book pointed out that Hong Kong bears many physical similarities to Marseilles, France’s polyglot sin port. Marseilles locations long served as the heroin labs for Turkish opium, a largely Corsican Mafia operation. But “Hong Kong chiu chau chemists have a longer tradition, produce a higher grade of heroin . . . It was not until American GIs serving in Vietnam began using alarming quantities of No. 4 heroin refined in the Golden Triangle region that any attention was focused on the Asian heroin trade.”
Despite the West’s recent years’ “financial news” emphasis regarding Hong Kong’s future, it must be realized that capitalism’s favorite Disneyland has the world’s highest per capita addiction rate, and remains a Mecca for high rolling dealers and Triad syndicate operators. Therefore, quo vadis Hong Kong?

The East India Company—A History, Brian Gardner, The McCall Publishing Co., New York, 1971.
The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, C.R. Boxer, Hutchinson & Co., Ltd., London, 1969.
Americans and the China Trade 1784-1844, Margaret C.S. Christman, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., 1948.
FDR—A Biography, Ted Morgan, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1985.
The Traditional Trade of Asia, C.F.G. Simkin, Oxford University Press, Ely House, London, 1968.
The East Indiamen, Russell Miller, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Va., 1980.
History of England (Volumes II & III) , G.M. Trevelyan, Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd., London, 1926.
Ways That Are Dark, Ralph Townsend, P.G. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1936.
A Political and Cultural History of Europe , Carleton J. H. Hayes, The MacMillan Co., New York, 1947.
The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, Alfred W. McCoy, Harper & Rowe, New York, 1972.
The Peking Bomb, Fred Hamberger, Robert B. Luce, Inc Washington—New York, 1975.

The Mysterious Megaliths of New England

By Paul Tudor Angel

In the heart of New England stand inexplicable sites of great antiquity—sites so sophisticated and enigmatic, serious archeologists have declined their study because of their monumental implications: It would force them to throw their preconceived notions about the achievements of ancient man into the historical garbage can. The uncomfortable evidence indicates that these monuments were constructed by Europeans who settled on these shores more than 1,500 years before even the Vikings arrived.
According to the Establishment prehistorians, these sites are impossible—they are not supposed to be there. But Mystery Hill, the Upton Cave, Calendar I and Calendar II, Gungywamp and Druid’s Hill are just a few of the incredibly important, yet archeologically inexplicable, ancient New England sites of which many have never heard a whisper. The existence and the importance of these sites is becoming harder and harder to hide as more are discovered and as interested folk become exposed to their majesty and mystery.
Sometime in the late 1600s or early 1700s, early American colonists began discovering and utilizing underground “root cellars” made of large, but manageable pieces of dressed stone as storage houses for foodstuffs. Colonists were also finding numerous stone buildings, usually of “one story, circular or rectangular in form, and up to 30 feet in length and up to 10 feet wide and eight feet high or more.” Many included roof slabs or lintels of several tons. Many also had carefully crafted openings in their roofs which allowed a small amount of light to pass through to the interiors. The colonial newcomers were convinced that these so-called root cellars had been constructed by the former Amerindian inhabitants of the area—regardless of the fact that their Indian neighbors showed little hint of an ability to work in large stone or the desire to do so.
Before long, the inheritors of these properties thought their own American ancestors had built these cellars—some which were eighty feet deep and lined the entire way with roughly hewn stone.
Simultaneously, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of oddly inscribed flagstones were being found in the surrounding New England woods, carted off by farmers for use in stone walls or in larger stone structures in the settlements of the growing Northeast. The angular cuts on these stones looked much like the marks a plow makes when it strikes a submerged piece of stone—at least they looked that way to most of the simple country farmers of the day. Others believed the markings appearing in rocks all across New England were “the action of the roots of trees.” For decades nothing at all was thought of them. As any New Englander can tell you, the entire Northeast is strewn with large chunks of striated stone material left from the last era of glacial recession.
But a local Puritan clergyman, Cotton Mather, was not convinced. In 1712 he discovered some strange incisions on an exposed seaside rock face in Dighton, Massachusetts—far from where any plow could have marked it. Winter ice and constant submergence at high tide under the Taunton River began obliterating some of the older markings and Mather was concerned the inscriptions—as he believed them to be—would be lost to posterity.
He immediately wrote to the Royal Society in London, England, to inform them of his find and to convey his belief that the rock carvings were in fact an ancient scriptural alphabet—perhaps several differing ancient alphabets. Unexpectedly, his letter generated little interest. The scientists of the Royal Society were already busy exploring newly discovered rock inscriptions in neighboring Ireland. These European inscriptions were later given the name of Irish hinge Ogam, a form of Gaelic Keltic writing forgotten for centuries and stubbornly indecipherable. It is referred to as “hinge” Ogam because a central dividing line or a facet edge was used to separate the subtly different individual characters. Little did anyone know at the time, that the inscriptions found on both sides of the Atlantic were firmly connected.
Yet how could vowelless Keltic writing, a style reminiscent of that from the first millennium B.C., be in America? Who were the authors of the many rock engravings? How could the carvers possibly have gotten to America a thousand years before the birth of Christ? Why had they come and what evidence is there to support such a far-fetched notion? And what of the large stone structures found across the American Northeast, eerily similar to types found in Europe? The answers were being spoken loudly and clearly if someone could only listen to what the rocks and buildings themselves had to say. But time seemed to be running out. Thousands of the inscribed rocks were being broken up for building material and the larger stone structures were being dismantled or vandalized, destroying the monumental works of these mysterious builders.
For a solution to this puzzle, we first turn to an odd stone arrangement found in the hills of New England. In 1823 a stone complex in North Salem, New Hampshire known as Mystery Hill became the property of a settler named Jonathan Pattee. An ardent abolitionist, Pattee was said to have turned the stone “caves” and structures of Mystery Hill into a way-station for the Underground Railroad, hiding slaves in the ancient edifices found there. Pattee, an insurance millionaire, built a home directly upon several of the most important ancient buildings of the site. Experts estimate that during the next 50 years, contractors bought and removed over 40% of the stone structures found at Mystery Hill. To this day, many of the older churches, stone fences and stone houses in the area contain bits of stone from the site (although most of the stones were used as street curbing and for the construction of the nearby Lawrence Dam). Ancient inscriptions can still be found on the stones used to build these more modern-day edifices.
Even as the Mystery Hill site was being hauled away by quarrymen, other sites like it were not going unnoticed by more learned men. In 1893, Professor Hugh Morrisson, Chairman of the Architecture Department of Dartmouth College and Daniel Fiske, an interested author, wrote about the impossibility of the megalithic structures at Mystery Hill and the surrounding New England area being the work of Amerindians or American settlers. They each focused on an extraordinary building known as the Upton Chamber, one of the many of what they called “unexplained stoneworks” of the area.
The Upton Chamber is one of the largest and most perfectly built stone chambers in New England and is all underground. It is mammoth—a six-foot-high and fourteen-foot-long tunnel leading into the side of a hill with an inner chamber of small quarried stones. The chamber is topped with several large oval stones weighing several tons as a roof and measures 12 feet in diameter and 11 feet high. The Upton chamber has been dated by experts to 710 A.D.1
Even with the publicity generated by the Upton Chamber, it took until 1936 to find an owner for the Mystery Hill property who truly appreciated the importance of the site and the structures within. In that year William Goodwin purchased the property and erected a high fence around much of the site, ending, for a time, the rampant vandalism. He was the first owner to begin the restoration and study of Mystery Hill. Goodwin believed, erroneously, that the site was built by the Culdee monks. He spent the rest of his life trying to find evidence to support his theory. Irish monks did in fact arrive and settle in the New World, but over a thousand years after construction of the mysterious megalithic sites had begun. (See TBR, October 1995.)
In 1950 Mystery Hill was leased by a far-sighted and open-minded man named (appropriately enough) Robert Stone. He purchased the property in 1956 and began in earnest the restoration, study and preservation of the area around Mystery Hill. Stone’s informed (still-ongoing) restoration of the site has yielded some astonishing finds.
The Mystery Hill complex, the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in North America, covers more than 30 acres and is composed of monolithic standing stones, stone walls and underground chambers, most of which are aligned to obvious astronomical points. Even now the site can be used as an accurate yearly calendar utilizing the stones set up over two thousand (perhaps as long as 5,000) years BP. The lack of household artifacts and grave goods leads one to believe the site was a ceremonial center and neither living quarters nor a village.
Over the years the more interesting features and structures on-site have been given unscientific names that insinuate inferred function. The “Watch House” is the name given to a chamber structure located outside the main complex at Mystery Hill. The entryway of the structure is not easily accessible. After passing through a small entrance hole, one finds a narrow stone passageway leading into a large interior space. An existing glacial boulder was used for one of the walls of the chamber and smaller quarried stones make up the other walls. The roof is a quarried slab of granite several tons in mass. On the back wall of the chamber the stones contain a high percentage of white quartz, a stone found in its pure form in many of the Neolithic structures over the world and treasured by ancient peoples for its reflective qualities.
This particular chamber is aligned to the February first sunrise and lunar minor south. At sunrise on this date the rays of the Sun enter the entrance of the chamber and slowly move along one wall until they illuminate the quartz crystals at the back wall, making the semiprecious gems sparkle noticeably. February first, it turns out, was one of the eight most important divisions of the Keltic year.
The “Oracle Chamber” is one of the most interesting and important structures located at Mystery Hill—or anywhere for that matter. It is significantly larger than any other chamber found at the site and contains unique characteristics found nowhere else in any of the other megalithic sites in New England.
The Oracle Chamber has two entry passageways that form a “T,” with one of the arms forming another unique chamber under a five-foot-thick wall/ceiling of stonework. One enters the Oracle Cham ber through a vestibule, once capped by large roof slabs. A 42-foot stone-lined drain exits from the wall and still keeps the underground excavation free from flooding. The bedrock floor of the Oracle Chamber was channeled for drainage as well and the corbeled roof, made without mortar, does not leak, the interior staying remarkably dry. A “secret bed,” a niche cut carefully into the wall that is 6 feet 4 inches long by 22 inches wide by about 12 inches high, is just the right size for a man to lie within it and be completely hidden from view but still able to monitor activity within the chamber.
A 4 inch by 6 inch shaft, lined with thin facing stones, runs from the exterior and enters through the interior wall at about chin level. A stone step is below the hole in the wall this shaft makes, ostensibly for the comfort of a speaker. The “Speaking Tube,” as it is called, emerges above ground, yet concealed underneath a sacrificial altar with runnels. It would seem that the speakers within the Oracle Chamber could talk into the tube, their voices warped and amplified, carrying up to the altar above and creating quite an impressive sound to a group of worshippers who might be gathered around the altar—in effect making the altar talk.
There is also an opening in the roof that once had stone louvers that could open and close. A large slab slid on stone tracks and could be adjusted to allow smoke to be released and would keep the interior smoke-free yet warm. Two great cornerstones were used to solidify the entire structure. These have been determined NOT to be glacial stones and were moved with great effort to create the structure. The weights of the two stones have been estimated at 45 tons and 70 tons. A stone bench, comfortable seating for three, has been carved into one wall and a finely made “closet” exists in one wall above a 21-ton worked stone.
It is obvious from the layout of the Oracle Chamber that each of the features found within had a particular ceremonial or functional purpose in this incredibly well thought-out and masterfully crafted edifice.
Also found across the Mystery Hill site are huge monolithic standing stones (some now fallen) all of which line up to Sun, Moon or star alignments as seen from a central viewing slab located by one of the earlier researchers at the site. From this slab, monoliths align to the Midwinter Solstice sunrise and sunset, the November 1 sunrise and sunset, the Spring and Fall Equinox sunrises and sunsets, the May 1 sunrise and sunset, the Midsummer Solstice sunrise and sunset, the August 1 sunrise and sunset and true north (this stone is aligned to the star Thuban, the pole star of 2,000 B.C.). On these days the Sun will either rise or set above worked monolith stones. Exact alignments coincide, according to astron omers and other scholars, with a date of 2499 B.C. to 1900 B.C.
Stone walls throughout the site also provide over 200 astronomical alignments with the Moon, 45 different stars and important geographic points. One long stone wall aligns with true south. Another alignment wall allows one to observe the southernmost standstill of the Moon on its 18.61-year metonic cycle. This cycle reflects the imperfect elliptical orbit the Moon takes around the Earth. Gravitational forces may sometimes take the Moon away from a perfect ellipse by a relatively subtle 5 degrees north or south of the southern limit of the Sun. A period of 18.61 years is required to carry the Moon to all of its possible positions in respect to the Sun. This event is marked at Mystery Hill as the Moon passes above the Winter Solstice stone and then aligns with the terminal of this wall. This Moon cycle was supposedly discovered by the Greek astronomer Meton in 433 B.C. although this astronomical phenomenon would now seem to have been understood much earlier than originally believed.
The purpose of other walls is less clear to scholars. Two walls made of quarried bedrock (not the field stones of colonial walls) delineate a long path whose starting point is bathed by the May first sunrise. It would appear this was a processional way through which worshippers would pass to enter sacred areas, much like at several of the megalithic sites in the British Isles, most notably the much larger, mile-long stone-lined Kennet and Beckhampton avenues of the huge megalithic complex at Avebury, England built sometime between 3,000 B.C. and 2,500 B.C.
Other impressive constructions on the site offer a number of underground cham bers with clear astronomical alignments including a south-facing chamber made of large quarried rocks and covered by several multi-ton lintel slabs and a clas sic V-hut chamber, above ground, wedge shaped and adjacent to a large basin cut into the bedrock which was a starting point for a network of sophisticated drains that extends to the east. This chamber is oriented to the southwest as are many similar European Neolithic structures and bears a striking resemblance to those found in the British Isles. The east-west chamber, a three-sectioned chamber also made with massive roof lintels and entry stones of several tons, is on the site as well. This chamber, like others in Europe, is located on an old fault line, some say, because of the discernible magnetic phenomena that occur near geological sites of this kind.
The calendrical orientations of the slab-roofed chambers, it would seem, would rule out these structures being constructed as root cellars by early American colonists or the woodlands Indians of the Northeast as neither were concerned with alignments that coincide with the most important of yearly Keltic celebrations. Further, noted archeo-astronomer Byron Dix has determined that New England is replete with underground chambers. He says, “[T]here are some 105 astronomically aligned chambers in Massachusetts, 51 in New Hamp shire, 41 in Vermont, 62 in Connecticut, 12 in Rhode Island, and 4 in Maine.”2 Suffice it to say, it is obvious the solar alignments found at Mystery Hill, and other sites are not random.
According to Charles Pearson, who surveyed the complex in 1987,
[T]he number of very large and prominent stones is limited and those very large stones happen to be the ones that make up the significant astronomical alignments. To state that this site is a calendar by statistical probability or by “accident” and not by design demonstrates a complete misinterpretation of the obvious physical evidence at the site, and a misrepresentation of the facts located at the site. Comments were made indicating that with over 100 standing stones and the freedom to adjust the observation center of the site to any location desired, that purely by chance one could demonstrate a calendar site at any location. This is obviously not the case at Mystery Hill.3
There are many other exciting and surprising features at the Mystery Hill complex. These include an ancient on-site well lined with paving stones and providing the site with fresh water. Ac cording to author Peter Berresford Ellis in his book The Druids, water and wells were a major factor in pre-Christian Keltic religion and almost always accompanied their religious sites.
There is also a megaron court area which may have been an entry area to the complex or a gathering place for large groups of worshippers to meet before entering, a tool sharpening stone and a mining shaft for the extraction of pure quartz crystals.
According to archaeologist Warren Dexter, “[Q]uartz [like copper] was a very valuable commodity to the ancient peoples, but quartz was equally, if not more, important for spiritual reasons and mystical science.” Quartz, in fact, was purposely embedded in triangular chunks at the back of many New Eng land and European chambers, positioned to be illuminated by the Sun as it shone through roof openings only on those very few days, usually the equinoxes, when the sunlight could pass through the roof opening. Quartz can be found not only in areas where it naturally abounds, but in areas where it is scarce, having been brought there for ceremonial purposes by ancient peoples.4
One of the central features of the Mystery Hill site is the so-called sacrificial table/altar. It is a 4.5-ton grooved slab whose purpose is still under debate by scholars. In the words of archeologist and Mystery Hill curator Robert Stone: “[O]thers believe it was used for sacrifices, not only because of its central location, its size, but also because the oracle speaking tube was beneath it, as well as the carved channel [possibly for the draining of blood] on the top surface. It is positioned on four worked stone legs and is located at the center of the site in a large courtyard.”5
It too bears a striking resemblance to altar stones found at megalithic sites in Europe.
The builders of Avebury, the Iberian Phoenicians and the Vatic druids are believed to have conducted human sacrifices. The bodies of small children or “strang ers” (referred to as strangers because the artifacts found with the skeletal remains did not match the cultural objects of the builders of the sites) have been found near many megalithic monuments. This stems from the ancient Indo-European belief that human blood, sprinkled on a construction site, ensured safety and stability for the building. Victims were many times interred with the remains of specific animals—a boar in one or an ox in another—inferring a totem or clan relationship to the site. Many of these bodies showed obvious forensic signs of ritual murder. It was said in Ireland, a land with over 2,000 megalithic sites, that the greatest enemy of St. Patrick was manifest in a standing stone “addicted” to human sacrifice.6
And the Carthaginian Phoenicians are also famous for their child sacrifices, attested to by the ancient, massive, sacrificial children’s graveyards of Tophet.
But even more than mere physical resemblance to European sacrificial altars and megalithic sites, it was radiocarbon dating, carried out under the supervision of respected scientists from Geochron Laboratories in 1971 that supported the disputed claims of researchers who were being ridiculed for insisting that Mystery Hill was a site of extreme antiquity. Carbon tests conducted on charcoal found alongside a stone pick and a hammer stone unearthed at an excavation near one of the underground chambers reveal a date of 2,000 B.C. The artifacts were clearly related to Neolithic pieces of the same era in the British Isles and Iberia. The excavation pit carbon tested had been undisturbed before digging, and layers of strata above were perfectly intact. Charcoal dating of tree roots penetrating one of the other chambers revealed a date of 1690 B.C. (Could it be that this complex was started by the same culture who built Stonehenge? The Stonehenge builders must have possessed sturdy ships if scholars are correct about their ability to haul the multi-ton monoliths hundreds of miles along the rivers of England to their resting sites on the Salisbury Plain.)
Artifacts found near another charcoal pit included a hammer stone, spallings and a scraper. Its carbon date was determined to be later—995 B.C. Obviously this complex had been constructed, and these tools left, by people, possibly the ancestors of some of us today, thousands of years ago.
Unfortunately, many of the other structures at the site were carted away, vandalized or destroyed—yet what re mains should be viewed as one of the most important historical sites in the Western Hemisphere. And Mystery Hill is far from being the only megalithic site in New England whose origins are somewhat clouded.
Megalithic constructions known as dolmens can be found all across New England, the western part of Europe and even into Syria and South Africa. “Dolmen” comes from the Breton word for “stone table” as the dolmens in many instances are three, four or five smaller boulders topped by an immense, flat-topped boulder than can weigh anywhere from several tons to 90 tons. Many of these capstones, however, are roundish, dressed stones, and not flat topped.
The dolmen may have been erected to commemorate the death of a chieftain or another event of great importance, and scriptural incisions usually accompany the dolmen on stone markers. Dolmens are frequently occurring structures in the American Northeast. There are in fact over 200 examples of dolmens in New England alone and some very impressive examples can be found in our country as far away as California.
Of the dolmen found at Salem, Massachusetts, author Robert Ellis Cahill asks, “How did these men, without the assistance of proper tools, lift and balance boulders weighing from 30 to 90 tons squarely on top of three little boulders?”7 And noted ancient sites expert and archaeologist James Whittall adds, “I find it difficult to distinguish the North American examples from the European ones and I believe that both sets were produced by ancient builders who shared a common culture.”8
Another frequently occurring megalithic structure familiar to all readers is the stone circle. We know of the great Stonehenge complex in England with its huge Sarcen (meaning “heathen” and derived from the word “Saracen”) stones and the many calendrical alignments they delineate. But there are ancient stone circles in New England as well.
Probably the most intriguing archaeological site in Connecticut is located in Groton and is called “Gungywamp,” once thought to be an Indian name, but actually ancient Gaelic, meaning, “church of the people.”
Besides containing beehive chambers and petroglyphs, the Gungywamp site has a double circle of stones near its center, just north of two stone chambers. Two concentric circles of large quarried stones—21 large slabs laid end to end—are at the center of the site. Extensive fire burning on some of the slabs is apparent which leads many to believe it was an ancient altar configuration. Nearby there are several large pillar stones and one boulder slab that have been carefully positioned along astronomical site lines.
Visiting the Gungywamp site on the afternoon of September 21, Dave Barron, the head of the Gungywamp Society, saw a sight that he would never forget. He said:
The setting Sun had cast a beam of light through the vent shaft at the back of the chamber. This beam of light slowly moved down the east wall and spotlighted into the small beehive crypt near the entrance. This stone-lined tube was designed precisely to permit the Equinoctial sunset to fully penetrate the chamber’s dark interior on only two days during the year—March 22nd and September 21. The high density of garnet in the stones magnified the intensity of the sunlight entering the chamber. It certainly acts as a predictable calendar. [The Gungywamp site has been carbon dated to 600 A.D. as is accompanied by Christian Keltic rock carvings.]9
James Whittall had this to say about an astonishing megalithic stone circle he viewed at LeBlanc Park in Lowell, Massachusetts: “There I saw a sight I had not seen since my travels in the British Isles. Situated on a mound were weathered megalithic stones. I was filled with disbelief—it just couldn’t be—western Europe, yes, but here in Massachusetts, no. The reality of the scene was astonishing.”
This oval mound was measured at 112 feet long by 56 feet wide. And the stones, as Whittall predicted, provided astronomical alignments. The monoliths were oriented east to west, and bearings of the sight indicated that it had been used to observe solar events. The first observation was made on September 22nd, the Fall Equinox, from the highest stone on the western side from the peak of the eastern most stone. The Sun set behind stone number four just as Whittall had surmised.
“On November 1 we returned to the site, primarily because it was the ancient Keltic ritual day of Samhain, [October 31—November 1] and we got a perfect alignment of Stone Nine over Stone Six and we had a setting alignment. At the Winter Solstice observations were made again and stone one and stone ten aligned. The red disk of the Sun slowly descended in a long arc toward the point on the monolith until it split the disk. This site had been known for generations as Druid Hill.”10 Previous to this, the site had been called Bridget’s Hill, Bridget being one of the goddesses of the Keltic pantheon.
Taken all together, the megalithic carvings, buildings, monoliths, calendar circles, stone phalli, fertility fetishes and other striking stone monuments, all so reminiscent of those in Europe, might be enough to infer an ancient European culture had built them—but was it possible that the Amerindians had in fact constructed them? After all, scientists are now realizing that an invention, such as pottery or weaving, can be invented in two places by two different cultures at the same time. So what did the numerous rock carvings strewn across New England have to tell us, if anything at all? This matter will be explored in depth in my next installment, The Mysterious Inscriptions of Megalithic New England.

1. Robert Ellis Cahill, New England’s Ancient Mysteries. (Salem, Massachusetts: Old Saltbox Publishing House, 1993), p. 41.
2. Barry Fell, America, B.C.—Ancient Settlers In the New World. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), p. 215.
3. Joanne Dondero Lambert, America’s Stonehenge—An Interpretive Guide. Kingston, New Hampshire, Sunrise Publications, 1996), p. 83.
4. Warren Dexter and Donna Martin, America’s Ancient Stone Relics—Vermont’s Link to Bronze Age Mariners. (Rutland, Vermont, Academy Books, 1995), p. 88.
5. Joanne Dondero Lambert, America’s Stonehenge—An Interpretive Guide. Kingston, New Hampshire, Sunrise Publications, 1996), p. 45.
6. Maive and Conor Cruise O’Brien, A Concise History of Ireland. Kingston. (New York, Beekman House, 1972), p. 29.
7. Robert Ellis Cahill, New England’s Ancient Mysteries. (Salem, Massachusetts: Old Saltbox Publishing House, 1993), p. 22.
8. Ibid., p 29
9. Ibid., p. 41
10. Ibid., p. 26
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Ruins of Great Ireland In New England, William B. Goodwin and Malcolm D. Pearson, Meador Publishing Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1946.
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