Thomas Paine's Beliefs

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Toby Glover
Midterm S11
Foltz-Gray D.
The Native American effect
It is clear that throughout many years there has been an exemption of treatment when talking about the Native Americans in the United States. Supposedly every individual is endowed with the right of freedom, equality, and of seeking for happiness, but Native Americans were treated irrationally. From the discovery of America, to the founding fathers and settlers, the treatment and attitude towards Native Americans has been unsettling at best. The colonial policies toward the Native Americans affected the Indians in ways that changed their relationship between their tribes and the new nation. Cabeza de Vaca, Roger Williams, Cotton Mather, and Benjamin Franklin all had certain views and preconceived notions when it came to the Native Americans. Amazingly enough the varying degree of each mans perspective is the basis on which we not only view the Native Americans today, but ultimately became the thesis on diversifying cultures and how we view them in society.

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca is best known as the first Spaniard to explore what we now consider to be southwestern United States. His accounts are considered especially interesting because it is one of the very first documents that illustrates interactions between American natives and explorers. Throughout de Vaca’s experiences with the Native Americans his attitude towards them grew increasingly sympathetic. Cabeza de Vaca seems to be in favor of this exploration by outwardly expressing superiority and pity towards the Indians while secretly appreciating their accommodating nature throughout the conquest in order to justify his entitlement to their land. “When the Indians took their leave of us they said they would do so as we commanded and rebuild their towns, if the Christians let them. And I solemnly swear that if they have not done so it is the fault of the Christians” (De Vaca The Norton Anthology American Lit. p.46). Cabeza de Vaca ultimately felt sympathetic towards the natives, he journeys out to claim land that is clearly in possession of the Indians, him and the other Spanish noblemen essentially steal the Indians' fortune.

Roger Williams was an American Protestant theologian, and the first American proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. He was a student of Native American languages and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans. Having learned their language and customs, Williams gave up the idea of being a missionary and never baptized a single Indian. Having established a rapport with and understanding off the Native Americans, Williams became a “keen and sympathetic observer” of the native people. He called on Puritans to deal fairly with the Native Americans. “Williams nevertheless saw that the American Indians were no better or worse that the “rogues” who dealt with them, and that in fact they possessed a marked degree of civility” (Williams The Norton Anthology American Literature p.174).

During the late years of the 17th century, the Native Americans and Puritan settlers had struggled to get along. Due to their clashing views on political and cultural issues, neither faction regarded the other as a respectable group. Cotton Mather displays a totally antagonistic view towards the Native Americans. Mather proves a negative relationship between the natives and the settlers by displaying the barbarous behavior or violent actions of those whom they consider to be culpable of wickedness. I believe when Benjamin Franklin was writing about the Native Americans it was for people to read and see that they were being treated unfairly. At first glimpse he makes it seem like he agrees with what the "white people" were saying about the Indians, but that was not the case. “Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs” (Franklin The Norton...
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