Thursday, February 16, 2012
Benjamin Franklin on Native Americans:
"Having few Artificial Wants, they have abundance of Leisure for Improvement by Conversation. Our laborious manner of Life, compared with theirs, they esteem slavish and base; and the Learning, on which we value ourselves, they regard as frivolous and useless. . . the commissioners from Virginia acquainted the Indians by a Speech, that there was at Williamsburg a College, with a Fund for Educating Indian Youth; and that, if the Six Nations would send down half a dozen of their sons to that College, the government would take Care that they should be well provided for, and instructed in all the Learning of the white People. They . . . deferred their Answer till the day following;
"We are convinced . . .that you mean to do us good by your Proposal, and we thank you heartily. But who are wise, must know that different Nations have different Conceptions of things; and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our Ideas of this Kind of Education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some Experience of it: Several of our Young People were formerly brought up at the Colleges of the Northern Provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the Woods, unable to bear either Cold or Hunger, knew neither how to build a Cabin, take a Deer, or kill an Enemy, spoke our Language imperfectly; were therefore neither fit for Hunters, Warriors, or Counselors; they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by your kind Offer, though we decline accepting it; and to show our grateful Sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their Sons, we will take great Care of their Education, instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them."
- Benjamin Franklin, "REMARKS CONCERNING THE SAVAGES OF NORTH-AMERICA " In Franklin, Benjamin. The Bagatelles from Passy. Ed. Lopez, Claude A. New York: Eakins Press. 1967
Posted by Don Freiday at 11:59 AM