Savagism And Civility. This Is A Book Review On The Book Savagism And Civility By Bernard Sheehan. It Was For My American History I Class.

969 words - 4 pages

Bernard Sheehan, Savagism & Civility (32 East 57th St., N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 1980).U.S. History IThe book Savagism & Civility is a book by Bernard Sheehan that explains the tension between the Native Americans and the English colonists in Virginia. His book is an explanation of why there was mistrust and eventually violence between the natives and English colonists. He has taken many quotes from known English colonist and molded them together explain his theory. This book deals with the early colonist's perceptions of the Native Americans, and how their idea of "savagism" made them oblivious to the reality of their situation.The book begins with the discovery of the new world. The new world was looked upon as paradise by the first explorers. Explorers noted the smells of the new world, made reports of huge cities, and heavily populated with buildings many stories high. Also, the Spanish successes of extracting gold were widely publicized in England. There were records that the Spanish had taken four to five hundred ducats of gold from the new world yearly. There were also many other stories. Jamestown adventurers had been instructed to dig mines for gold, silver, and copper. One explorer made a justification that gold was placed in the new world to feed men's desires and therefore attracted him to this new land to spread Christianity.The colonists quickly drew a line between the inhabitants and themselves. The colonists were civil and the Indians were the complete opposite. The colonists had two possible opinions; the natives were either noble or ignoble savages. When the colonists saw the new world as "paradise" full of abundance, the Indians were thought to be noble savages. Noble savages were free from the ridicule of the European society. However, when resources began the get scarce, and there was more knowledge of the natives, the colonists view shifted to ignoble savagism. Ignoble savagism crossed the line of humanity, which characterized then as being violent, and treacherous. Most Europeans viewed these Indians as beasts. There were many stories of the native inhabitants accumulating. There were stories of cannibalism and devil worshipping in the new world. Natives were said to have sacrificed their own children to their gods. There were reports from explorers that their temples were filled with dead bodies. They found carcasses' hanging from the ceilings and blood stains covering the walls.The irony is that at the same time that the colonists saw the Indians as beasts they were depending on them. The first settlers depended greatly on the Indian's plantations for survival. Even after the massacre in 1622, the colonists still depended somewhat on the Indians for survival.The colonists tried to convert the savage Indians to civility and Christianity, but most of them refused to give up their culture. This...

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