Religious Freedom in Colonial America Essay

Religious freedom was the driving force that led the first settlers that arrived on America’s shores in the 1500’s. They wanted to be free from the religious intolerance and forget the past. They were greeted by something that they couldn’t have expected in their wildest dreams, people living there already, and people that had lived on the land for centuries before. These Native Americans were not ready to assimilate and saw these settlers as gods, and began to worship them. The settlers believed that the natives were inferior to them due to their lack of technology, economy, and anything beyond a simple form of government.

They used this to their advantage when they exploited the natives by trading unfairly. As the 1500’s moved into he 1600’s the natives communicated with the settlers more. The settlers considered the natives to be the inferior people, due to lack of technology and the fact that they didn’t realize that they were getting cheated with every trade. The Native Americans even sold off their land without realizing that the land had changed hands. This action caused the settlers to believe that the natives lacked the intelligence necessary to speak to the settlers. The language gap was the cause for this, even of the settlers didn’t see it.

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The settlers and natives are equal in my opinion, despite the settlers’ thoughts that they were inferior. Although the settlers could and did easily win on the battlefield, the natives had a strong connection to nature and knew the surroundings. The Native Americans also had an entirely different culture and religion than the settlers; they were earthy and at peace with nature while the settlers were just trying to grab gold with their greedy fingers. The fact that they couldn’t communicate did not make one any more intelligent than the next; it just meant that there was a language gap that proved to be too big to cross.

Because the settlers considered themselves superior, and the natives looked at the settlers as if they were gods, the natives were taken advantage of. The settlers saw it as okay due to their superiority, this idea is similar to one called Social Darwinism because it has the settlers believing they are better than the next group (the natives) even if they didn’t consider themselves more evolved. To give an example that fueled the settlers’ beliefs of superiority, the natives were taken advantage of again, but this time on a larger scale. The settlers bought Manhattan from the Native Americans, but they were unaware of it at the time.

Manhattan was given to the settlers for the small price of $24. The treatment of the Native Americans was unfair. The settlers simply believed that due to their superiority they could simply take advantage of the natives. This was wrong because the Native Americans were so culturally advanced. The natives only trusted them so much because they were people like they had never seen before and were looked at as if they were gods. The settlers took away the natives material items, as well as large parts of their culture. It is sad because the settlers just couldn’t see how brilliant the Native Americans really were.


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