Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
(1706 - 1790)

Benjamin Franklin wrote the following enlightened piece in 1763, which recounts how whites had massacred Indians in the Pennsylvania colony just because they were Indians, and condemns it. It’s one of the best explanations by a white man of how white supremacist notions prevented the vast majority of whites from differentiating between friendly and unfriendly Indian Nations. To them, Indians were Indians, and, as such were not entitled to any human consideration whatsoever.

The Writings of Benjamin Franklin: London, 1757 - 1775

“If an Indian injures me, does it follow that I may revenge that Injury on all Indians? It is well known that Indians are of different Tribes, Nations and Languages, as well as the White People. In Europe, if the French, who are White People, should injure the Dutch, are they to revenge it on the English, because they too are White People? The only Crime of these poor Wretches seems to have been, that they had a reddish brown Skin, and black Hair; and some People of that Sort, it seems, had murdered some of our Relations. If it be right to kill Men for such a Reason, then, should any Man, with a freckled Face and red Hair, kill a Wife or Child of mine, it would be right for me to revenge it, by killing all the freckled red-haired Men, Women and Children, I could afterwards any where meet with.

“But it seems these People think they have a better Justification; nothing less than the Word of God. With the Scriptures in their Hands and Mouths, they can set at nought that express Command, Thou shalt do no Murder; and justify their Wickedness, by the Command given Joshua to destroy the Heathen. Horrid Perversion of Scripture and of Religion! to father the worst of Crimes on the God of Peace and Love! -- Even the Jews, to whom that particular Commission was directed, spared the Gibeonites, on Account of their Faith once given. The Faith of this Government has been frequently given to those Indians; -- but that did not avail them with People who despise Government.

“We pretend to be Christians, and, from the superior Light we enjoy, ought to exceed Heathens, Turks, Saracens, Moors, Negroes and Indians, in the Knowledge and Practice of what is right. I will endeavour to show, by a few Examples from Books and History, the Sense those People have had of such Actions.

“HOMER wrote his Poem, called the Odyssey, some Hundred Years before the Birth of Christ. He frequently speaks of what he calls not only the Duties, but the sacred Rites of Hospitality, (exercised towards Strangers, while in our House or Territory) as including, besides all the common Circumstances of Entertainment, full Safety and Protection of Person, from all Danger of Life, from all Injuries, and even Insults. The Rites of Hospitality were called sacred, because the Stranger, the Poor and the Weak, when they applied for Protection and Relief, were, from the Religion of those Times, supposed to be sent by the Deity to try the Goodness of Men, and that he would avenge the Injuries they might receive, where they ought to have been protected. -- These Sentiments therefore influenced the Manners of all Ranks of People, even the meanest; for we find that when Ulysses came, as a poor Stranger, to the Hut of Eumaeus, the Swineherd, and his great Dogs ran out to tear the ragged Man, Eumaeus drave them away with Stones;...”

"Mercy still sways the Brave"
Philadelphia, 1764

Quoted from: The Writings of Benjamin Franklin: London, 1757 - 1775 http://www.historycarper.com/resources/twobf3/massacre.htm

For more infromation about Franklin visit The Robinson Library: http://www.robinsonlibrary.com/america/unitedstates/1783/biography/franklin.htm

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