Sample Essay

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This characterization of colonized lands as formerly being un-peopled ‘terra nullius’ was used in every subsequent European colonization effort from America to Australia to Africa and the Middle East.

The classification of the Irish as savages meant that there was no sin or guilt if they were driven off their lands. Driving the Irish off their lands was no different than driving wild animals off a piece of the forest in order to settle human beings there.

Classifying the Irish as savages also meant that the Irish tribes that threatened the settlement could be exterminated completely including woman and children, without any moral penalty just like one would destroy a pack of wild animals that threatened a human habitation.

Lands in the Munster and Ulster provinces of Ireland, especially, were cleared of the Irish and settled with Scottish ‘plantations’ in this manner.  (Noonan)

This model of colonist-native interaction was used in the subsequent colonization effort in the New World as well. The English colonists found themselves in dire straits, when they ran out of supplies they attacked and set fire to Native American villages to extort food supplies from them.  (Takaki, The Tempest in the Wilderness: The Racialization of Savagery).

Proponents of the colonization of Ireland had claimed that since the Irish were pastoralists, their land was being wasted, while under the English colonists, its agricultural capacity could be brought to use.

The same argument was applied to the Native Americans, even though the Native Americans used to practice agriculture, planting corn on a large scale. Sir Thomas Moore argued that since the natives did not utilize the soil and left it to go waste, it was not wrong for the English to appropriate some of it for their purposes.  (Takaki, The Tempest in the Wilderness: The Racialization of Savagery)

The English also enslaved some of the Native Americans and forced them to perform labor on their plantations. Armed conflict with the Native Americans usually followed failed attempts to subjugate them (Morgan). The slave trade of Native Americans was gradually abandoned as the Native Americans succumbed to old world diseases and tribal remnants banded together in large confederacies. The slave trade also sparked the Yamasee War which threatened the very existence of the South Carolina colony for a time. These factors convinced the European colonists that it was an unwise an uneconomical strategy to try to use the Native Americans as slave labor (Morgan).

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