Benjamin Franklin on the savage American Indians in the 18th century

The writer, who often writes Judaism articles for Arutz Sheva, is a great uncle of 13 year old Hallel Ariel, murdered in her bed in Kiryat Arba by a terrorist from a nearby Arab town.

Professor Gerald Aranoff,

OpEds Prof. G. Aranoff
Prof. G. Aranoff
INN:GA

America had an Indian Savage problem.  Before July 4, 1776, the day the USA declared its independence, savage Indians, history records, would sneak into homes of new immigrants from Europe, and brutally stab to death sleeping men, women and children, who never did the least harm to the Indians.  

History records that these Indians would boast of their heinous cruelties at night-long campfire celebrations.  This was Amalek in America.  The Amelek that attacked the Israelites after the Exodus were a true horror. The Indians attacked defenseless women and children without mercy, and scalped their victims in battles.

The Hertz Chumash writes, (p. 279):

“The Battle with the Amalekites.  The Amalekites were a predatory tribe, who are spoken of has having their home in the desert of Palestine.   At the same time, a nomad tribe is quite capable of raids at a distance from its usual home…”

Benjamin Franklin commented on the barbarity and savagery of the American Indians who lived among early Americans before the founding of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) is widely regarded as the leading founding father of the United States. A friend gave me a gift, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, copyright 1901. 

Benjamin Franklin writes:

“…my father having, among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, 'Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men' . I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged me, tho' I did not think that I should ever literally stand before kings, which, however, has since happened; for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner.”

Woodrow Wilson writes in an Introduction to The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: “Half peasant, only half man of the world, and yet a statesman, philanthropist, scientist, man of letters, his broad, plain, sunny nature fertile in every part of whatsoever is fit to nourish or he serviceable to the race, his thought running always upon conduct or upon affairs or upon the forces of the physical universe, the door is hardly shut upon him before we fail to comment and comparison, praise and thoughtful assessment.”

Benjamin Franklin had no sympathy for the Indians, calling them savages, despite their claim to the land. 

“The year following, a treaty being to be held with the Indians at Carlisle, the governor sent a message to the House, proposing that they should nominate some of their members, to be join'd with some members of council, as commissioners for that purpose. The House named the speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself; and, being commission'd, we went to Carlisle, and met the Indians accordingly.

"As those people are extremely apt to get drunk, and, when so, are very quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly forbade the selling any liquor to them; and when they complain'd of this restriction, we told them that if they would continue sober during the treaty, we would give them plenty of rum when business was over. They promis'd this, and they kept their promise, because they could get no liquor, and the treaty was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual satisfaction.

"They then claim'd and received the rum; this was in the afternoon: they were near one hundred men, women, and children, and were lodg'd in temporary cabins, built in the form of a square, just without the town. In the evening, hearing a great noise among them, the commissioners walk'd out to see what was the matter. We found they had made a great bonfire in the middle of the square; they were all drunk, men and women, quarreling and fighting. Their dark-colour'd bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy light of the bonfire, running after and beating one another with firebrands, accompanied by their horrid yellings, form'd a scene the most resembling our ideas of hell that could well be imagin'd; there was no appeasing the tumult, and we retired to our lodging.

"At midnight a number of them came thundering at our door, demanding more rum, of which we took no notice. The next day, sensible they had misbehav'd in giving us that disturbance, they sent three of their old counselors to make their apology. The orator acknowledg'd the fault, but laid it upon the rum; and then endeavoured to excuse the rum by saying, 'The Great Spirit, who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he design'd anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum,' he said, 'Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with,' and it must be so.

"And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.”

Benjamin Franklin knew well how murderous and barbaric the American Indians were:

“He smil'd at my ignorance, and reply'd, 'These savages may, indeed, be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia, but upon the king's regular and disciplin'd troops, sir, it is impossible they should make any impression.'I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing with a military man in matters of his profession, and said no more.

"The enemy, however, did not take the advantage of his army which I apprehended its long line of march expos'd it to, but let it advance without interruption till within nine miles of the place; and then, when more in a body (for it had just passed a river, where the front had halted till all were come over), and in a more open part of the woods than any it had pass'd, attack'd its advanced guard by heavy fire from behind trees and bushes, which was the first intelligence the general had of an enemy's being near him.

"This guard being disordered, the general hurried the troops up to their assistance, which was done in great confusion, thro' wagons, baggage, and cattle; and presently the fire came upon their flank: the officers, being on horseback, were more easily distinguish'd, pick'd out as marks, and fell very fast; and the soldiers were crowded together in a huddle, having or hearing no orders, and standing to be shot at till two-thirds of them were killed; and then, being seiz'd with a panic, the whole fled with precipitation.” 

Benjamin Franklin writing of the barbarity of the American Indian:

“At length the fleet sail'd, the general and all his army on board, bound to Louisburg, with the intent to besiege and take that fortress; all the packet-boats in company ordered to attend the general's ship, ready to receive his dispatches when they should be ready. We were out five days before we got a letter with leave to part, and then our ship quitted the fleet and steered for England.

"The other two packets he still detained, carried them with him to Halifax, where he stayed some time to exercise the men in sham attacks upon sham forts, then altered his mind as to besieging Louisburg, and returned to New York, with all his troops, together with the two packets above mentioned, and all their passengers! During his absence the French and savages had taken Fort George, on the frontier of that province, and the savages had massacred many of the garrison after capitulation.”

Benjamin Franklin, at one time, a general fighting the American Indians, also writes:

“Just before we left Bethlehem, eleven farmers, who had been driven from their plantations by the Indians, came to me requesting a supply of firearms, that they might go back and fetch off their cattle. I gave them each a gun with suitable ammunition. We had not march'd many miles before it began to rain, and it continued raining all day; there were no habitations on the road to shelter us, till we arriv'd near night at the house of a German, where, and in his barn, we were all huddled together, as wet as water could make us. It was well we were not attack'd in our march, for our arms were of the most ordinary sort, and our men could not keep their gun locks dry. The Indians are dexterous in contrivances for that purpose, which we had not. They met that day the eleven poor farmers above mentioned, and killed ten of them. The one who escap'd inform'd that his and his companions' guns would not go off, the priming being wet with the rain.”

We today face a barbaric and cruel enemy, similar in its savagery to the one Benjamin Franklin faced.  As with the Palestinian Arabs, there has been a politically correct romanticizing of American Indian culture, causing it to become acceptable to blame the white man for all their ills and play down their brutality.  

Benjamin Franklin knew well how to talk and how to compromise with all the leading powers of his day, but hardly with the savage American Indian.   Surely Benjamin Franklin did right in how he dealt with his American Indian problem.  It should nevertheless be recalled that the Indians were in America before the white man, their anger was at being duped and driven off the land they had reached before he arrived, even though America was a vast and uncharted continent.  And eventually, they made their peace with the white man.

The Jews are similar to the Indians as far as historic rights are concerned, but the Palestinian Arabs resemble the Indians in savagery. The Jews, after all, are indigenous to Israel, they were driven out of their land after governing it for over a thousand years, and their historic rights  to return to an all too small part of it were ratified by the international community. Can we note this but learn from Benjamin Franklin how we should deal with our cruel and barbaric Arab enemies - who only arrived in the 7th century as Islam swept violently across the Middle East? 




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