Chapter 10

Miletary <forts.> arangement. amusements. <Custom.>Extent of the Empirs

Solomon Spaulding, Manuscript Found: The Complete Original “Spaulding Manuscript,” ed. Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1996), 59–67.


"Manuscript Found," p. 93

The Customs & amusements of a Nation evince the state of Society which exists among the people—When the two Empires of Sciota & Kentuck had commenced their new carear on the plan which was formed by Lobasko—they adopted this as a true maxim, that to avoid war it was necessary to be in constant preparation for it—It was the wise policy of of the two goverments to make such military arangements as never to be surprized by an enimy unprepared. In every City, town & vilage the people were required to provide military impliments & to deposit them in a secure place place These magizines were to contain a sufficient quantity <of arms of warlike impliments>, to furnish evry man who <Should be destitute> was able to bear arms.—In order that evry man might have sufficient skill to use them to advantage, great pains was taken to prepare him by teaching <him> the art of war.

The knowledge of military tackticks as they <it> was then attainable, was likewise defused among the people—Young men from sixteen to twenty five years old, were required to take the field four times in each year & to spend sixteen days during each time in learning the miletary art & in building fortifications—And evry able bodied man was required to spend eight days in each year in the same employment.—

[p. 94] In consequence of these regulations a revalship existed among the different sexions of the empires to exceed each other in skill & dexterity in their miletary manoevers—Hence it was a general Custom in evry part of the Country for different bodies of men to meet—to engage in feigned Battles once evry year, in order to make a display of their improvements in the art of war—Premeums were given to those who were the most expert in shooting the Arrow or in managing the spear & the sword.

Their Amusements were generally of the athletick kind—calculated to improve their agility & strength—& prepare them for warriors. Wrestling, slinging & throwing stones at marks—leaping ditches & fences & climbing trees & pricipices were some of their most favorite diversions—And as they took great pains to perfect themselvs in these exercises, it would astonish spectators of other nations to observe the improvment they had made & the extraordinary feats of agility & strength which they exhibited.—

Other diversions, which had not tendency, to fit them for war, they seldom practised, except when in <the> company of women—Being taught by their religion the social virtues they manifested a great regard for the rights of the other sex & always treated them with attention, civility & tenderness—Hence <when in company of the fair Sex—> it was curious to observe, that when in <the> company of women—they easily exchanged the warriors ruged &bold attitude of the <bold> warrior, for the complasant & tender deportment of the <affectionate> Galant—The amusements which were pleasing to [p. 95] the female mind were equally pleasing to the men whenever they held their social meetings for recreation.—These <meetings> were freequent among the yonger class of Citizens, whether married or single—Various kinds of amusements would freequently be introduced at such times for their <mutual> entertainment—but that which held the most conspicuous place was dancing—But their manner of dancing was different from that of the polished Europians.—

Gracefulness & easy attitude were not so much studied in their movments as sprigtliness & agility & those tunes which admited the greatest display of activity & sprightliness were generally the most pleasing fashonable—Hence those whose Bodies were formed for the quickest movments, if they keept time with the music were the most admired.—

In small assemblies, it was fashonable to amuse themselvs with at playing with peices of parchment—This they denominated the Bird Play. Each peice of is of an oval form & of convenient length & width—& on each one is portraied the likeness of a Bird—All the birds of Prey that came within their knowledge, have the honour of being represented on these peices of Parchment—on the other peices are portraied other Birds of different kinds—The whole number of the peices amount [1] to about sixty—These are promiscuously placed in a pack & dealt of to the company of Player [p. 96] whose number does not exceed six—The person then, who has the greatest number of carniverous Birds—by a dextrous managment, may catch the greatest number of the other Birds—& thus obtain the victory.—

During these enterviews of the different sexes—& even in their common intercourse with each other they are always very cheerful & socciable & often display that fondness & familiarity, which in Europe, would be considered as indicative of a lacivious character—but in this country are considered as harmless, as what good manners required—Nothing rude, nothing indecent or immodest according to their ideas of the meaning of these terms are admissible in company—& absolute laciviousness would meet the most severe reprehension.—

When a young man wishes to settle himself in a family State he proclaims it by wearing a red feather in his Cap. This is considered as an admonition to <the> young women who would not receive him for a husband to avoid his company—whereas those whose inclinations towards him are more favourable admit his attention—from this number he selects one as the object of his addresses—He obtains an enterview & proposes a a courtship—If the proposition accords with her wishes, they then agree on a time, when he shall make known the affair to her parents—whose approbation being obtained, he is then permited to viset her ten times in sixty days. At the expiration of this time, the bargain for matrimony must be finished. Otherwise there must be <a final termination or> a postponement of the courtship for the term of one year; or else a [—] The parties are [p. 97] at liberty during this postponement to

But if the parties are pleased with each other, the contract is made & the time for the eclibra performance of the nuptial cerimonies is appointed—An entertainment is made <provided>—friends are invited—& the Bridegroom & Bride present themselvs in their best apparal—The company form a circle & they take their stand in the center—The father of the Bride speaks, For what purpose do you present yourselvs—They answer, To join hands in wedlock, Our hearts are already joined & we have made a solem<n> contract <covenant> to be true & faithful to each other.—The Company then all exclaim—”Blessings will attend you, if ye fulfill—but Curses, if ye transgress.—They are then conducted to a Log round which, a Rope is tied—The Bridegroom takes hold of one end <of the rope> & the Bride the other—& being commanded to draw the Log into the house, they pull in opposite directions with all their might. Having worried themselvs for some <time> to no purpose, to the great diversion of the company, the parents of both parties step forward—& giving them a severe reprimand command them to draw in the same direction—They instantly obey—& the Log is easily drawn to its destined place.—The rest of the time is spent with great chearfulness & meriment.—They partake of the entertainment & conclude with customary amusements.—

[p. 98] The Bridegroom & Bride are now desirous to form a family by themselvs—If their parents are of sufficient ability they furnish them with a convenient house & such furniture as will be required for family use & such other property as they will need, to enable them to obtain a comfortable living. But if their parents are poor they receive assistance & contributions from relation & neighbours & are placed in such a situation that with <proper> industry & econimy, they can live <live above indigence &> enjoy life agreeably.

At the time they enter their new habitation, they are attended by a Priest & by their relation & friends—They kneel in the center of the Room—& the Priest places his right hand on the head of the Bridegroom & his left on the head of the Bride—After explaining & enjoining in the most solemn manner, the various duties of the mariage state he concludes his injunctions with these words—My dear Children, I conjure you, as you regard your own peace & felicity as you would wish to acquire wealth & respectibility—& set an example worthy of emitation, that as you are now yoked together to draw in the same direction.

They then rise & he presents each with a peice of Parchment on which is written—Draw in the same direction. All the duties of the conjucal state, in their opinion, are comprized in this injunction. Command.

As the Priests & the Censors were vigilent & careful to required to sec that parents restrained the vices of their children & instructed them in the knowledge of their religious principles—the effects were very conspicuous.—Parents

Having been early taught to restrain the govern their passions & to regard the practice of virtue as their greatest good, it was generally the case, that love, friendship & [p. 99] harmony existed in families. & when parents were treated by their children with great tenderness & respect.

Parents manifested an anxious sollicitude for the future welfare & respectability of their Children.—& in their turn, children treated their parents with respect & reverance.—Nor did they forsake them in old age—but paid provided liberally for their support—&

But we are not to suppose that in the most virtuous age of the nation, all were virtuous—Far from this. But with such punctual exactness were the laws executed, in the most prosperous state of the nation, that vice & impiety had but few advocates & the wicked were ashamed of their own characters.—Tho’ evry vice was prohibited by Law, yet the penalties were not severe—Murder alone was punished with death—with respect to other Laws, they were calculated to wound the pride & ambition of the transgressor, & produce shame & regret—

Adultery was- <is> punished by obliging the Culprit to were a pair <of> Elk-horns on his shoulders six days & to walk thro’ the City or vilage once each day, at which times the boys are [2] at liberty to pelt him with rotten eggs.—The theif is compeled to make ample restitution—For the third offence he is covered with tar & feathers & exhibited as a specticle for laughter & ridicule. Pugilists or boxers, if they are equally to blame for fighting are yoked together at least one day—& in this situation are presented to the view of the multitude. They must were the yoke until the quarrel is setled.

[p. 100] Such being the nature of their penal Laws & such the punctuality of executing the penalties on offenders, that crimes were far less freequent in this country, than in Europe where the Laws are more severe—& offenders more often escape punishment. Tho’ learning, civilization & refinement had not arived to that state of perfection in which they exist, in a great part of the Roman Empire—yet the two Empires of Sciota & Kentuck during their long period of peace & prosperity were not less happy. As luxiry & extravigance were scarcely known to exist, especially among the common people, an happy equality was hence there was a great simularity in their manner of living, their dress, their habbits & manners.—Pride was not bloated & puffed up with enormous wealth—Nor had envy fewel to influme her hatred & malice—As the two empires were not displeased with each others prosperity & happiness.—& the two goverments had no thirst nor jealous of <nor jealous of> each others power—& as the goverments were not infected with a thirst for conquest, peace <of consequence> waved her olive branch—& the malignant passions lay dormant—

As avarice & corruption did not contaminate the ruling powers nor bribery infect the seats of justice the people felt secure in the enjoyment of their rights, & desirous to raise up families to partake of the same blessings which they enjoyed.—

We can now trace the causes of their increase & prosperity. [p. 101] Such To a religion, which presented powerful motives to restrain vice & impiety & encourage virtue—To the defusion of a competant share of learning & knowlege to enable the people to understand their rights & enjoy the pleasures of social intercourse—To the establishment of political institutions, which garded property & life against oppression injustice & tyranny—to the knowledge which the people obtained of <agriculture &> the mechanical arts & their habits of industry & econimy—To the mild nature of their laws & the certainty of executing the penalties upon transgressors—& to such an equality of property as to prevent the pride of wealth & the extravagance of Luxury—To such causes may be asscribed the rapid encrease of population & the <apparent> contentment & felicity which extended thro evry part of the Country. <of both Empires>—We might add likewise the long peace that continued & the friendly entercourse that existed betwen the two rival Empires—A peace which had no interruption for the term of near five hundred years—During this time their vilages & cities were greatly enlarged—new settlements were formed in evry part of the country which had not been inhabited—& towns a vast number of towns were built—which rivaled as to number of inhabitants, those which existed, at <the time> their imperial goverments were founded.—Their settlements extended the whole length of the great River <Ohio> to its confluence with the Missisippi, & over the whole country on both sides of the

Ohio River, which are watered by streams which empty into it.—And also along the great Lakes of Eri & Meshigan [p. 10 . . .] & even some settlements were formed in some part of the country which borders on Lake Ontario.—Such was the vast extent of the country which they inhabited—& such the fertility of the soil that many milions were easily fed & supported with such a plenty & competence of provision, as was necessary for their comfort and happiness—

During the time of their rising greatness & tranquility, their policy led them to fortify the country in evry part, the interior as well as the frontiers this they did partly for their own safety, provided a war should take place & they should be invaded by an enimy—& partly to keep alive a military & improve a warlike spirit & the knowledge of military Tacticks. Near every vilage or City they constructed forts or fortifications—These were generally of an oval form & of different dementions according to the number of inhabitants who lived in the Town.—The Ramparts or walls, were formed of dirt which was taken in front of the fort. A deep canal or trench would likewise be formed—This would still encrease the difficulty of surmounting the walls in front.—In addition to this they inserted sticks <peices> of Timber on the top of the Ramparts—These peices were about seven feet in length from the ground to top which was sharpned—The distance betwen each peice was about six inches—thro which they could shoot their arrows against an Enimy. Some of their fortifications [p. 103] have two Ramparts, which run paralel with each other built in the same manner, with a distance betwen of about two or three perches—Their gates are strong & well constructed for defence—Within these forts are likewise a number of small houses—for the accomidation of the army & inhabitants in case of an invasion—& likewise a storehouse for the reception of provision & arms.

A country thus fortified—containing so many milion of inhabitants, hardy & robust & with habits formed for war—might well be supposed as able to defend themselvs against an invading Enimy—If they were beat from the frontier, they could still retreat back to the fortifications in the interior & their make a succesful stand—But <what> avails all the wisdom, the art & the works of men—what avails their valour, their strength & numbers when the Almighty is provoked to chastise them & to execute his vengence in their overthow & destrucition—


[1] The letters “am” have been erased before “amount.”

[2] The word “are” is written over “were.”