This prediction, uttered by the second general parent of mankind, Noah, was never fulfilled in any tolerable sense but in America. And in America its fulfillment has been glaringly accomplished for years, nay centuries, and is conspicuously to be seen in the actual condition of our population, yet has not, to my knowledge, been hitherto noticed. Indeed, I do not recollect to have read in any author, ancient or modern, divine or layman, a single attempt to unfold this prophecy, or note it's exemplification by referring to any historical occurrence whatever.
If we look into history, previous to the settlement of America by the Europeans, posterior in reference to the other parts of the earth, we discover nothing like the fulfillment of this prophecy,--we no where see Jephet dwelling in the tents of Shem, and at the same time Ham in servitude to the former. Or if, in other times and elsewhere, the descendents of Japhet have encroached upon Shem's descendants; it has been comparatively in small degrees; and the offspring of Shem have, for aught I know, encroached as much upon Japhet's. At any rate, Ham's posterity never was elsewhere, in any signal manner, in servitude to Japhet's offspring, when the latter dwelt in the tents of Shem.
But in America, a most conspicuous and literal accomplishment has been given to each part of this prediction, and we see it palpably with our eyes at this day.
It is an old opinion, supported by the scriptures and all ancient writings, that the three sons of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japhet disposed of themselves (or their offspring) in the following manner:--Shem went eastward in Asia, and was the common ancestor of the nations who have inhabited, or do inhabit, that region of the earth:--Ham went into Africa, and was the progenitor of the Negroes and all inhabiting that quarter. Japhet settled the isles and Europe, and was no other than the Japetus mentioned by the ancient poets and historians.
If we mark the direction and progress of these sons of Noah (or their offspring) we shall find them always diverging, and after, circumambulating the earth in different directions, meeting at last in a wonderful manner on this continent, and answering precisely to this prediction of their father concerning them. We find Japhet dwelling literally in the tents of Shem, and Ham emphatically his servant. Japhet truly has put up better houses where Shem's tents once stood, but this does not materially effect the prophecy.
That America was peopled originally from Asia, or that the Indians of our country are but branches of the Asiatic Indians or Tartars, and that they came across the northern straight divides the two continents, is now generally agreed, and admits indeed of little doubt. This is particularly enforced by the scriptural account of the origin of mankind, as no other hypothesis is plausible, short of supposing our Indians to have received their origin on this continent contrary to the doctrines, that Adam and Noah were the two common parents of the human race.
Our Indians the (coming from Asia) are no other than Shem. They are his offspring, who, after reaching the furthest confines of Asia, passed the dividing straight, came upon this continent and pitched their tents all over it.
The civilized settlers of America, being Europeans are no other than Japhet. We are his offspring, who after reaching the confines of Europe, came over the Atlantic and here meeting Shem in possession of the land, we drove him out of the tents he possessed, and are still driving him out. In a very extensive and signal manner has this been done, and it bids fair to be done still more extensively.—Even till Shem shall be driven out of all his tents and off the continent.
Behold too! While this remarkable fact takes place, Ham is brought over from Africa, and the slave of Japhet! This is done contemporaneously with Japhet's dwelling in the tents of Shem! When, or where were the Negroes in such servitude to Europeans, or no other the descendants of Europeans (which we are,) as in America?—Their servitude here is as signal and conspicuous as the expulsion of Shem from his tents.
Here then—in America—those three brothers have met and do exist very exactly in the condition prophetically pointed out by their father after the deluge, and before they separated. And this appears to have been brought about by an over-ruling providence, without any single or fixed concert on the part of man. No one set of men or generation has designedly produced this relative condition of the three brothers. Indeed it appears to be ever regretted by all. Yet so is the fact, and we behold it beyond a contradiction.
I shall not dictate the reflections or practical use, arising from this subject. I only wish it to be distinctly understood as my belief—that a prophecy does not justify the thing foretold, nor does its fulfillment make the thing right. The nature of right and wrong remains the same whether a thing be predicted or not.
-- A Descendant of Japhet.