The Secret History of America: Classic Writings on Our Nation's Unknown Past and Inner Purpose

The Secret History of America: Classic Writings on Our Nation's Unknown Past and Inner Purpose


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A compilation of rare works on the untold history and destiny of America by acclaimed occult writer Manly P. Hall.

Writer and scholar Manly P. Hall (1901-1990) is one of the most significant names in the study of the esoteric, symbolic, and occult. His legendary book The Secret Teachings of All Ages has been an underground classic since its publication in 1928. The Secret History of America expands on that legacy, offering a collection of Hall’s works—from books and journals to transcriptions of his lectures—all relating to the hidden past and unfolding future of our nation.

Hall believed that America was gifted with a unique purpose to explore and share principles of personal freedom, self-governance, and independent thought. PEN Award-winning historian, Mitch Horowitz has curated a powerful collection of Hall’s most influential and insightful works that capture and explore these ideas. Never before collected in one volume, the material in The Secret History of America explores the rich destiny, unseen history, and hidden meaning of America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250319289
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 217,702
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Manly P. Hall (1901-1990) founded the Philosophical Research Society, an organization dedicated to the dissemination of useful knowledge in a variety of philosophical fields. He is best known for his 1928 classic, The Secret Teachings of All Ages.

MITCH HOROWITZ is a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library and the PEN Award-winning author of Occult America and The Miracle Club. He hosts the shows Master Class and One Simple Idea on the New Thought Channel. Visit him on Facebook and Twitter.

Read an Excerpt


Ancient AmericaPRS Journal, Spring 1964

For purposes of convenience, it can be assumed that the native cultures of the three Americas were abruptly terminated at the end of the 15th century A.D. At this time, the New World came under the influence of European colonization, and the old way of life was destroyed forever. What was the actual condition of the Western hemisphere at the time of the voyages of Columbus? As we look into this now, we find some surprising and almost unbelievable facts.

The three Americas had an Indian population of between thirty- and forty million persons. They were distributed throughout the Western hemisphere, from the Eskimos on the northern part of the continent to the Araucanians on the southern most part. If the boundaries of the various cultural and national entities could be clearly distinguished geographically, the map would be far more complicated than it is today. In the 20th century, a hundred and twenty native languages have survived; but in the 15th century, there were probably twice that many. It would be wrong to assume that these languages were merely dialects. Actually, no common denominator has been found for them, and groups living in close proximity speak totally different languages.

We are now inclined to believe that the most advanced Amerindians inhabited the regions from Central Mexico southward to the Andes. We recognize three outstanding cultures in this vast area — the Aztec, the Mayan, and the Inca. Seeking a comparison with the more familiar European history, we may liken the Mayas to the Greeks, the Aztecs to the Romans, and the Incas to the Persians and Arabians. The Mayas were the most advanced in their institutions, having already developed sciences, philosophies, religions, arts, and crafts. They had the only written language in the Western hemisphere that had progressed beyond the pictographic stage. The Aztecs, like the Romans, had strengthened their military power and obviously had an instinct toward colonization. They had borrowed most of their culture from the Mayas, but were a more aggressive group, less mature in their ethical idealism. The Incas were exceptionally skilled in their arts and crafts, but were badly disrupted by internal strife. By the time the Spaniards arrived in these regions, only the Aztec empire was in a flourishing state.

Because of the domination of these major groups, we have been inclined to overlook the diversified achievements of the more northerly Amerindians. The truth is that the rise of the Iroquois League in what is now southeastern Canada and northeastern United States, consummated the ethical progress that developed on the American continent. In many respects, the Code Iroquois is a higher expression of political and social integrity than the Justinian Code or the Bill of Rights. Many of the smaller groups also developed unusual skills and specialized cultural patterns. Even though Indians might inhabit the same general areas, they preserved their own life ways with astonishing tenacity. It is entirely erroneous to assume that savagery prevailed. Some phases of civilized existence developed more rapidly than others, and growth, generally speaking, presented an uneven pattern.

The general state of the Americas, if we allow the best levels of each culture to indicate the trend, can be summarized as follows. Basket making, one of the earliest evidences of human skill and ingenuity, was widely diffused. The three principal types of manufacture recognized in other parts of the world were all present in America. A number of groups advanced this artistry independently, achieving remarkable excellence. Incidentally, some of the best baskets were made in California. Ceramics flourished in numerous areas. Magnificent pottery, well fired and beautifully decorated, is found throughout the three Americas. The designs are especially interesting, and are equal to anything produced by modern ceramicists. There is definite indication that some of the designs belong to what is called the Pacific Culture, but other types have no origin in the surviving arts of Asia. Many pieces suggest the Greek amphorae, and the key pattern found in southeastern Europe is commonly met with. Portrait ceramics occurred in large numbers among the Peruvians, and mortuary urns and anthropomorphic jars abounded in the Central Mexican area. Weaving was most advanced, and of many types. Even the most primitive examples have great charm and distinction. Examinations of pre-Columbian fabrics give some indication of the skill which these peoples had attained. In one square inch of fabric, there were as many as seventy threads on the warp and two hundred threads on the web. It is believed that this equals or surpasses anything produced in Egypt, either during the classical period or in the later Coptic material. Excellent dyeing and tie-dyeing is known, and the Incas were able to make a type of velvet that was extremely beautiful. Some tribes involved feather work in both their weaving and their basket work.

Metallurgy was well advanced. With the exception of the Plains Indians, the Western hemisphere had entered the Bronze Age. Good hardened tools were available, and alloys had appeared. Gold and silver were skillfully worked. Gold thread was drawn with amazing delicacy, and objects were gold-plated almost as effectively as among us. Gem cutting, including work with crystal, onyx, obsidian and jade, shows a mature artistry, great inventive genius, and excellent finishing in quality. As a sideline to metallurgy, dentistry had progressed far, including the inlaying of semiprecious stones into cavities in teeth. Also, metallurgy provided excellent surgical instruments and many devices necessary to the building trade.

It is hardly necessary to mention the architectural achievements of the Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas, for their buildings are among the wonders of the world. They had great skill in the orienting of their structures, and wonderful taste in both design and decoration. Although they did not have a true arch, they compensated for this with astonishing skill. Many of the structures were of vast size, and entire cities have been discovered in the jungles. Paved roads also indicate the expansion of groups into surrounding territory. In artistic sculpture, there was a wide distribution of abilities. Portraiture was certainly known, and heroic figures abounded. Much of the imagery was religious, and some of the better examples show a degree of insight and control equal to that of the Greeks and Romans. Sculpture was already involved in the social life of the people, and communities were adorned with excellent works of art. Until recently, we knew comparatively little of ancient American painting. In most areas, conditions were unfavorable for the survival of comparatively fragile pictures, but we know, of course, that many buildings with images were originally brightly colored. The discovery of the murals on the walls of buildings at Bonampak, in the tropical forests of Chiapas in southern Mexico, has forced a new attitude toward Mayan painting. These frescoes, which were done between the 6th and 8th centuries A.D., are of astonishing beauty, grandeur and sophistication. They are far more dynamic than those found among the Egyptians, and the costuming of the figures is so brilliant, daring, and diversified, that it suggests the Japanese costuming of the Kabuki Theater, which, however, did not arise until a thousand years later.

Surveying the situation generally, we can hardly accept the popular belief that Quetzalcoatl, the culture hero of the Aztecs, could have lived as late as the 11th to 12th century A.D. Had the Americans received a powerful foreign influence at this time, it would certainly have included the elements of an adequate written language. The belief that Quetzalcoatl was a Mongolian would mean that he came from a people already well advanced in writing, woodblock printing, and systematic chronology. If the peoples of the Americas derived their glyphs from Asia, the nearest equivalent would be the Chinese forms of the second millenium B.C. If, as some have held, the impulse to civilization was derived from contact with Mediterranean Europe or North Africa, the period must have been before the development of alphabets as we know them — again, probably two thousand years or more before the beginning of the Christian era.

Actually, we are faced with a diversity of talents that seem to have arisen independently throughout the three Americas. The broad trend was toward unification rather than diversification. Instead of arising from a common origin, these arts, sciences, and crafts were merging toward a common end. Just at the time when the Amerindians might have made the next great step toward cultural maturity, the program of colonization wiped out not only the progress that had been achieved, but even the traditions that had vitalized the older developments. Many areas were reduced to a primitive state; whereas previously they had achieved comparatively high cultural platforms. It is a long and confused story, and as yet comparatively little is known. There is no doubt, however, that the story of America is just as dramatic as that of other continents, where apparently higher civilizations arose at about the same time.


Traces of Freemasonry in Ancient AmericaHorizon, Spring 1956

Three important culture groups flourished on the Western hemisphere prior to the period of Spanish explorations. In North America, a number of civilized or semi-civilized Amerindian tribes were scattered over that vast area now including Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. Some of these tribes were nomadic, and others had established communal existence. Among them a number of religious institutions arose, and these for the most part were similar in essential content with those ancient cults which flourished in the Valley of the Euphrates. Although these parallels have never been fully explained, it is assumed that at some remote time, a contact was established between the old and the new worlds. Legends of landbridges are to be found among several tribes inhabiting the Atlantic seaboard.

The Central American region, from the plateau of Mexico southward almost to the Isthmus of Panama, was populated by a highly advanced social group, including the Mayas, the hypothetical Toltecs, and the Aztecs. While we consider them under one heading, we fully realize that they were an involved pattern of cultural structures, largely influenced, however, by the philosophy and psychology of the Old Maya Empire. These peoples were builders of cities, exponents of various arts and sciences, and highly advanced and skilled in numerous arts and crafts. They evolved a broad and adequate political program, and lived under good laws duly enforced. Their civilization can be compared favorably with the contemporary attainments in Europe and Asia. Although many questions about these people, especially affecting their religions and languages, still remain unanswered, our knowledge of them is constantly increasing.

In South America, especially in the area which is now Peru, the dynasty of the Incas sustained a broad program involving both spiritual and material things. These people had a noble religious concept, and the magnificent ruins of their palaces, monuments, and roads, are among the wonders of the world. It should be noted, however, that this group had passed its zenith and was sorely afflicted with internal strife even before its conquest by Pizarro. There is indication of contact between the early Peruvians and Asia, and it is quite possible that their culture was influenced by China and Japan. Contrary to general belief, the ancient Amerindians of all three culture areas were basically peace-loving and industrious. Strife existed among them, but was largely defensive. It was not until after their social structures showed considerable evidence of decline that they became addicted to war-like pursuits. The reputation of these several peoples suffered severely from the reports of the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries.

Freemasonry is traditionally an association of architects and artisans, and its symbolism is derived mostly from the language of architectural forms. Traces of Masonic philosophy are to be found wherever the building arts have flourished and men's lives have come to be influenced by the concept of monumental construction. We may therefore be justified, when contemplating the ruined cities scattered through the great Mayan Aztec area in particular, in suspecting that this vast program of building was sustained and inspired by the same incentives which dominated the cathedral builders of Europe and the architectural programs of the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

Wherever Masonry as a guild of dedicated men has flourished, it has left its mark — symbols, figures and designs — upon the buildings it has erected, and it has also left invisible but very tangible marks upon the moral and ethical lives of peoples.

Masonry as a secret society flourished among all of the civilized groups of antiquity, and in various nations it involved its symbolism with the dominant spiritual convictions then and there prevalent. Thus in China, the Hung Society based its rituals upon the doctrines of Buddhism, and in Greece, the Dionysian Artificers unfolded their secret teachings through the legends and fables of classic mythology. In many instances, the Masonic interpretation finally came to be recognized as a deeper and more valuable key to sacred teachings, and contributed in many ways to the advancements of arts and sciences, especially as these pertain to the noble destiny of man. Thus civilization was advanced by the application of the mysteries of geometry and the symbolic languages of the guilds, to the end that democratic institutions came into being on a political level. The foundations of education were broadened, and human relationships in social and family life strengthened and enlightened. It is from such landmarks, although they may at first seem circumstantial, that we gain an insight into the activities of secret societies in the growth of human institutions.

We know that throughout the three Americas religious institutions arose, taking the form of secret associations, or bodies of initiated persons, to whom the deeper and more vital knowledge pertaining to the life of the tribe or nation was entrusted, circumscribed with certain obligations of secrecy and prudence. We also know that those who, after due trial and testing, were entrusted with this superior kind of learning, also assumed definite responsibilities toward their brother men, and endeavored in every way possible to advance the spiritual, moral, and ethical lives of their communities. We further know that these initiates or participators in sacred rites were accorded peculiar honor and veneration; were regarded as prophets, seers, and sages. To their keeping was given the sacred lore. They were healers, mystics, and, to a degree, the historians and interpreters of that ancient knowledge which was believed to have descended from superior beings inhabiting a spiritual realm above and beyond the earth.

Wherever such a concept has been prevalent, we are obliged to recognize the presence of that Mystery System of instruction which is identified with the deeper implications of Freemasonry. This is especially true when we observe that initiation into these ancient rites was a progressive procedure, and that the degrees, or parts, of the sacred order were usually three in number, the third and highest part dealing with the spiritual truths of man's redemption. Thus the Mysteries constituted advanced schools of living, suitable to inspire personal nobility and virtue, and leading to a conscious dedication on the part of the initiate to the eternal principles of justice and equity. It is only necessary to examine superficially the cultures of the three Americas to become strongly aware that sacred institutions of this kind flourished on the Western hemisphere more than two thousand years ago, probably much longer. We find here not only broad implications, but detailed evidence that the same symbols, allegories, and fables associated with the secret rites of other nations existed in the Americas, and that the interpretations given to them were in no way contrary to those found in modern Masonry.

One of the outstanding evidences of the presence of initiate orders in ancient America involves the rights of citizenship. The young man or woman was not born into his tribe as a citizen; he or she was required to pass through certain tests and trials and assume real and deep obligations, especially affecting conduct, before citizenship was bestowed. An elaborate ceremony presented symbolically the implications of maturity, and when the candidate had successfully endured the hardships and trials of the initiation rituals, he was then entrusted with the traditional knowledge of his group, and was sanctified to his duties as a responsible member of his tribe or nation. This is essentially the intangible, but very real, ground of Masonic procedure. It was accompanied by religious rites and, among most primitive peoples, by fasting and vigil. The presence of divine power was solicited for the benefit of the candidate, and he was assured that his obligation was given in the presence not only of the members of his own community, but also of unseen powers.


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Table of Contents

Preface: Preserving the Legacy; by Greg Salyer, President of the University of Philosophical Research

Manly P. Hall's America--And Ours; by Mitch Horowitz

1. Ancient America
2. Traces of Freemasonry in Ancient America
3. Did the Chinese Discover America?
4. The Great League of the Iroquois
5. American Indian Ritualism
6. American Indian Symbolism

7. The Secret Destiny of America, Part I
8. Ours Is the Blessed Land, The Secret Destiny of America, Part II
9. Mysticism of Colonial America, Part I: Society of the Mustard Seed
10. Mysticism of Colonial America, Part II: Transcendentalists of Alexandria, Athens, and Boston
11. Episodes from American History

12. Washington's Vision at Valley Forge
13. Benjamin Franklin, The Diplomatic American
14. Andrew Jackson Davis, Great American Spiritualist
15. Albert Pike, The Plato of Freemasonry
16. New England Brahmin, Ralph Waldo Emerson

America's Timeless Philosopher, A Portrait of Manly P. Hall; by Basanta Koomar Roy, author of Rabindranath Tagore

About Manly P. Hall and UPR
About the Editor

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