2/14/11 - Casey Ward
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The Two View of the Indians:
Juan Gines de Sepulveda was a Spanish priest, theologian, and philosopher who wrote “A Second Democritus: on the just causes of the war with the Indians”. Sepulveda is most widely known for his involvement with Bartolome de la Casas in the debate at Valladolid in 1550 where he defended the position of the colonists by arguing that the Native Americans were barbaric, inferior, and incapable of self-governance. He believed that the Indians should be “natural slaves” and that violence was needed to make them be amendable to conversion. Sepulveda stated that, "Those whose condition is such that their function is the use of their bodies and nothing better can be expected of them, those, I say, are slaves of nature. It is better for them to be ruled thus." Juan Sepulveda is known as the ‘father of modern racism’ and the adversary of Bartolome de las Casas. On the other side of the debate at Valladolid was Bartolome de las Casas who was a Spanish priest, historian, and a 16th century human rights advocate who formerly participated in the enslavement of the Native Americans prior to 1515. He later changed his ways, gave up his slaves, and started to defend the rights and treatment of the Indians to King Charles. In the debate at Valladolid, he defended the treatment of the Native Americans and believed they should be treated like any other people in Spain. He based much of his defense from his faith and of the teaching of the Bible, but a large part was due to his realization through his own involvement in Indian slavery that it was unjust and abusive. We can see where Sepulveda and Bartolome get their points of view because of their positions in society. Sepulveda on one hand was a Spanish humanist and theologian who defended the Spanish Empire’s conquest and evangelical conversion of the New World. He was very much a “Pro-Spanish” philosopher who believed natural law. Bartolome on...
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