New York: American subscription House, 1856. 8vo. -720. Third Edition. Illustrated half-title, color plate illustrations.
Mondern brown-cloth binding, topographical green endleaves, green marbled edges. Minor spotting, but interior mainly clean and bright. Sound copy. Item #15156
Third edition of an engaging and an extensive study of the natives of North, Central and South America. Combining anecdotal narrative with the keen observations of an artist, Brownell describes the customs, mythology, and religious rites of the indigenous tribes of the area, focusing specifically on the histories of the most powerful tribes. His observations on the interactions and relations with settlers are noteworthy, particularly his take on the ways in which the Native Americans were received by the Europeans: “It is lamentable to reflect that in the primitive dealings between the venturous Europeans and aborigines of America, the kindly welcome and the hospitable reception were the part of the savage, and treachery, kidnaping and murder too frequently that of the civilized and nominally Christian visitor. It appears to have been matter of common custom among these unscrupulous adventurers to seize by force or fraud on the persons of their simple entertainers, and carry them off as curiosities to the distant shores of Europe” (p. 199). With the Indian Removal Act of the 1830’s and the tendency towards westward expansion, turning a blind eye to the injustices suffered by Native Americans since the early days of colonization was common practice as Brownell demonstrates. The book contains very useful tables with important dates of interesting events in Indian history.
Brownell (1822-1909) was a New England-born landscape artist who is best known for his detailed paintings of New England and the Connecticut river valley. His slave-trading ancestors established sugar and coffee plantations in Cuba where he spent seven consecutive winters and produced many paintings of the Cuban landscape from close-up of hibiscus and royal palms to panoramic views of the island. He traveled extensively throughout Europe (1871-1877), to Egypt in 1877, the Caribbean in 1888, and Jamaica in 1894, as well as to various parts of America.