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Sound Bites -- Provocative excerpts from primary and secondary sources (some with audio commentary)


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61) It was difficult to inculcate habits of honesty and sobriety, stated Juan de Ampies, because when Spaniards beat them [Indians] or cut off their ears as punishment, the guilty ones were not held in less repute by their fellows. (Lewis Hanke, The First Social Experiments in America: A Study in the Development of Spanish Indian Policy in the Sixteenth Century.  Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1935: 30. )

62) For those are frankly called barbarians, as Thomas maintains, "who are lacking in rational power either on account of an environment from which dullness for the most part is found or due to some evil habit by which men become like brutes," and furthermore races of this sort by right of nature ought to obey those who are more civilized, prudent, and outstanding so that they may be governed by better customs and usages.  (Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, Apology for the Book On the Just Causes of War.  Trans. and ed. Lewis D. Epstein.  Bowdoin College: 1973: 9. )

63) This textual slippage [the vagueness of whether or not the land is inhabited in the Madoc story] thus occludes the larger story of the legal difficulties arising from the presences of an indigenous population in the land to be settled.  It signals the desire to suppress any reference to native inhabitants. (Gesa Mackenthun, Metaphors of Dispossession: American Beginnings and the Translation of Empire, 1492-1637.  Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1997: 28-29. )

64) In entering upon a newly discovered, uncultivated country therefore, the new comers were but taking possession of what, according to the aforesaid doctrine, was their own property -- therefore, in opposing them, the savages were invading their just rights, infringing the immutable laws of nature and counteracting the will of heaven -- therefore, they were guilty of impiety, burglary and trespass on the case, -- therefore they were hardened offenders against God and man -- therefore they ought to be exterminated. (Washington Irving, History of New York.  New York: 1809 [Book I, chap v]. )

65) God created these simple people without evil and without guile. They are most obedient and faithful to their natural lords and to the Christians whom they serve. They are most submissive, patient, peaceful and virtuous. Nor are they quarrelsome, rancorous, querulous, or vengeful. Moreover they are more delicate than princes and die easily from work or illness. They neither possess nor desire to possess worldly wealth. Surely these people would be the most blessed in the world if only they worshipped the true God. (Bartolome de Las Casas, qtd. in Lewis Hanke, The First Social Experiments in America: A Study in the Development of Spanish Indian Policy in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1935: 20. )

66) Vitoria's influence was widespread; it swept the universities and even affected the councils.  It has been estimated that 5,000 students passed through his lecture-rooms; twenty-four of his pupils held chairs of arts or theology at Salamanca; in 1548 two also held the chairs of St. Thomas at Alcalá, which may help to explain the condemnation of Sepúlveda's book on the Indians. (Bernice Hamilton, Political Thought in Sixteenth-Century Spain: A Study of the Political Ideas of Vitoria, DeSoto, Suárez, and Molina. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1963: 175. )

67) Hanke's work defended the Spanish from many of the charges against them that stemmed from the "Black Legend," leading to the charge that he was in turn countering the Black Legend with a White Legend that provided too favorable an evaluation of the Spanish efforts to limit, if not to end, the exploitation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. (James Muldoon, The Americas in the Spanish World Order: The Justification for Conquest in the Seventeenth Century.  Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1994: 5. )

68) The Jeffersonian state was not an empire; it was egalitarian, democratic, and ethnically exclusive. (Anthony F.C. Wallace, Jefferson and the Indians: The Tragic Fate of the First Americans. Belknap Press of the Harvard UP, 1999: 18.)

69) We are too effeminate in our longings, and too impatient of delaies.  Gods al-disposing prouidence; is not compellable by mans violence: Let any wisedome giue a solide reason, why his purpose should be changed, when those grounds which gaue life to his first purpose, are not changed.  It is but a golden slumber, that dreameth of any humane felicity, which is not sauced with some contingent miserie.  Dolor & voluptas, inuicem cedunt, Griefe and pleasure are the crosse sailes of the worlds euer-turning-windmill.  Let no man therefore be ouer wise, to cast beyond the moone and to multiplie needlesse doubts and questions.  Hannibal by too much wisedome, lost opportunity to haue sacked Rome.  Charles the eighth of Fraunce, by temporising, lost the Kingdome of Naples, and the gouernement of Florence: Henry the seuenth by too much ouer-warines, lost the riches of the golden Indies.  Occasion is pretious, but when it is occasion.  Some of our neighbours would ioine in the action, if they might be ioynt inheritors in the Plantation; which is an euident proofe, that Virginia shall no sooner be quitted by vs, then it will be reinhabited by them.  A dishonor of that nature, that will eternally blemish our Nation. (A True Declaration of the Estate in Virginia, 1610)

70) Certainly anyone who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not paid heed to the words of the Lord. . . . Both then are in the power of the Church, the material sword and the spiritual.  But the one is exercised for the church, the other by the church, the one by the hand of the priest, the other by the hand of kings and soldiers, though at the will and sufferance of the priest.  One sword ought to be under the other and the temporal authority subject to the spiritual. (Pope Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctum: Robert A. Williams, Jr., The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest.  New York: Oxford UP, 1990: 29.)