Written as a travel memoir, Aztec Land provides readers with a descriptive account of Aztec ruins and artifacts and the history of the Aztec Empire's economy. According to legends, the Aztec Empire had one of the most booming economies of any community in Mesoamerica. The nobles and kings controlled the land and labor of the people. Nobles owned all of the land, and workers labored as part of a sharecropping system. These workers were excellent craftspeople and often made extravagant products for the nobles, including featherwork, sculptures and jewelry. Other goods in abundance were chocolate and cotton. Exchanges were made using cacao beans. Surprisingly, because of the abundance of gold in the empire, Aztec commoners could purchase gold statues for gods' temples for around 250 beans, less than the cost of some cotton cloths.
About five years ago, the Author, having then just returned from circumnavigating the globe, was induced to record his experiences of the long journey, which were published in a volume entitled "Due West; or, Round the World in Ten Months." The public favor accorded to this work led, a couple of years later, to the issuing of a second volume of travels, upon the Author's return from the West Indies, entitled "Due South; or, Cuba, Past and Present." The popular success of both books and the flattering comments of the critics have caused the undersigned to believe that a certain portion of the public is pleased to see foreign lands and people through his eyes; and hence the publication of the volume now in hand. These pages describing the far North, from which the Author has just returned, -including Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Russian Poland, -seem naturally to suggest the title of "Due North." Without [Pg vi] permitting prejudice to circumscribe judgment in treating of Russia, the effort has been to represent the condition of that country and its Polish province truthfully, and to draw only reasonable deductions. This special reference is made to the pages relating to the Tzar's government, as it will be found that the Author does not accord with the popularly expressed opinion upon this subject.