Definition of a Savage Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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Category: Native Americans

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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 (2008) wrote about an event that occurred at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. The Indians were offered a chance to send six of their young men to college to receive an education.

Their response was they preferred to teach the Indian values and customs because it would ensure their young men would become valuable members of their own culture. The Indians did reciprocate by offering to take twelve young white men, educate them and make men of them (p. 227). The colonists clearly believed their way to be better because they felt their society to be more civilized. In comparison of the British House of Commons and an Indian council, Franklin (2008) discussed how the English have to speak very quickly to get their words out before being interrupted and that often a call to order was issued because of the arguments that frequently occurred. In contrast, the Indian council was held with order and great respect for others when it was their turn to speak (p. 227). The Indian culture was strange to the colonists and they perceived anything contradictory from their way of life to be uncivilized.

This close minded view was apparent in how quickly the colonists dismissed the Indians religious beliefs. They felt the white mans education was superior to those of the Indian ways. By not being accepting, the colonists showed great bias toward the Indians they called savages. This behavior toward the Indians ultimately resulted in destroying much of their culture. Many Indians were attacked and killed and the survivors were forced to leave their lands. The savages were not the Indians but the colonists that came to America and destroyed the Native American culture. Our society still struggles with the point Franklin was trying to convey. A difference in beliefs and cultures does not make any particular group of people superior over another.

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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