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 Anthology American Lit. p. 468). He suggests that the Native Americans should not have been treated so badly because they did not practice the same civility as others.
Ben Franklin also thought that the Native Americans should have been welcomed instead of made fun and treated like circus clowns. He also treated them in a favorable light by opening his mind to their culture. In all these four men had varying views of the Native Americans, some imilar and some indifferent. The belief system and cultures of these men were very eclectic ultimately shaping their outlooks. Thomas Paine’s Beliefs The issue of Faith versus Reason and the relationship between them has been discussed throughout civilization. A prime figure in this discussion during the recent past, the mid 18’Th to the early 19’Th centuries, was Thomas Paine. Paine’s writings during both the United States and French revolutions helped to spearhead the respective countries into revolution and eventually freedom.
As such, Paine is certainly seen as an influential figure during this time period for practical reasons. But Paine is equally important because of the way in which he influenced entire countries and helped to bring about change. Paine’s approach to doing this shows the distinction between faith and reason as well as how the two can coexist together and accomplish a great many things. To adequately see this relationship it is necessary to look at the way Thomas Paine lived as well as his writings and then to compare how these two things relate and affected the world as a whole.
In this way it is possible to get a clear view of the relationship between faith and reason and how it relates to a time period and a man. One of the ways in which Thomas Paine was able to elicit such a strong reaction from what was to become the citizens of the United States of America was through pointing out the utter wrongs of Great Britain’s’ actions against the united states. In doing this Paine effectively set up the Colonies as being right in the eyes of god and thus having a moral cause to fight.
Paine’s writings were written with the intent to inspire and did not rely on logic and reason, but were in truth closer to simple, if well written war propaganda. In this way Paine most definitely appeals to and uses the idea of faith rather than reason and does so well. There simply were not enough logical reasons to either enter into or sustain a war with the most powerful empire in the world at the time. If Paine had tried to write such a paper, the American Revolution might never have occurred.
What makes it interesting that he used this approach is that personally, Paine did not believe in organized religion at all, and was later seen as and believed to be, an atheist. In truth, Paine was a deist who believed in reason and logic rather than organized religion but still believed in the existence of some supreme being. These controversial beliefs where part of what kept him from gaining acceptance at any one place. “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, nor by any church that I know of.
My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit” (Paine The Norton Anthology American Lit. p. 643). In a way though it seems only appropriate that Paine is consistent with his inconsistency though. His greatest achievements and most respected works were basically in contrast or conflict with his own personal belief system. Thomas Paine’s effect upon the world in general, and upon the United States specifically, can not be disputed.
Without his writing to both gain and keep support for revolution and equality the world’s history would most likely be far different. It is interesting though that the way the man lived his life and the belief system which he lived by was largely in contrast with the instruments he used to make his works successful. Paine appealed to the individual citizenry’s concepts of good and evil and morality in the eyes of god and manipulated them brilliantly to believe in a cause that in truth was not very hopeful or necessarily logical.
This usage of Faith by a man who was a proponent of logic and reason shows that there does not necessarily have to be a separation between the two schools or methods of thought and that one can be used to advance the other. Unfortunately it is unclear, because of the unstable nature of the man himself, whether or not Paine was even ever conscious of his own inconsistencies or of the conflict between his own writings and belief system.