Definition of a Savage

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Benjamin Franklin, Culture Pages: 2 (689 words) Published: February 27, 2013
Definition of a Savage
In “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”, Benjamin Franklin opens by saying “Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs” (Franklin, 2008, p. 226). When Franklin wrote this, he had no idea that our society would continue to complicate the differences between cultures to the extent they exist still today. Many of the colonists attempted to convert Native Americans to Christianity but failed because they could not accept another culture as being equal to their own. They saw the natives as an inferior group of people that must be saved and taught to live the same as the white man. The narrow minded views of these early settlers with all of their so called proper ways and education caused them to be the savages. Our modern day society is driven by wants versus needs. Many people feel a sense of entitlement to things whether they have earned them or not. Franklin describes the Indians as hunters and warriors, living off the land and taking only what they needed. They learned from each other. They listened to each other and gave someone speaking the full attention deserved. “Having few artificial wants, they have abundance of leisure for improvement by conversation” (Franklin, 2008, p. 226). The Indians did not possess the materialistic nature of the white man. They welcomed a stranger into their community, fed and clothed him, offered him a place to sleep and expected nothing in return but fellowship. The colonists would not have offered the same hospitality to an Indian that appeared as a stranger at their door. In trying to convert the Indians to Christianity, the colonists explained their church services as meeting “to hear and learn good things” (Franklin, 2008, p. 229) but upon hearing the Indians explain something from their beliefs, the colonists passed it off as “mere fable, fiction, and falsehood” (Franklin, 2008, p. 228). Franklin...

References: Franklin, B. (2008). The general history of virginia, new england, and the summer isles. In N. Baym, W. Franklin, P. Gura, J. Klinkowitz & A. Krupat (Eds.), The Norton Anthology Of American Literature (pp. 226-230). New York, NY: W W Norton & Co Inc.
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