Just as Americans were preparing to celebrate Independence Day, historian Kathleen DuVal, author of The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent, shared her perspective on the path to U.S. democracy in a New York Times op-ed. Here's a quote from "Life, Liberty and Benign Monarchy?":
. . . republican government was a risky choice at the time of the
Revolution, and democracy was almost out of the question. There were
more proven alternatives for running a society fairly. A look at two
other contenders for control of the continent in 1776 — American
Indians and Spaniards — reveals that democracy’s supremacy in promoting
human rights was far from inevitable.
DuVal goes on to describe Spanish and Native American political systems and their influence on America's founding fathers. She argues that Thomas Jefferson and the like had little regard for Spain's monarchy and little knowledge of American Indian political history.
Who knows what might have happened if Jefferson understood the legacy of Mississippian chiefdoms and Indian consensus-style government? Perhaps in some parallel universe, patriots of the North American continent light fireworks in honor of the founding Council of Elders.
Read Kathleen DuVal's editorial online at www.nytimes.com.