The belief in the superiority of the White race and English civilization to other races and civilizations can also be seen in the manner in which Jefferson refers to the Native Americans. He characterizes them as the “merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions” (Jefferson). In fact, in the traditional Native American rules of warfare, killing or exterminating an enemy was never an objective and casualties were few, it was only after English colonialists started burning Native American villages and setting fire to their crops, that the Native Americans learned the concept of ‘total war’ (Hirsch).
Classifying the Native Americans as savages had important repercussions for the White Americans. Savages or ‘wild men’ could be seen as a part of the natural vegetation and wild life of an area. According to the beliefs of the White colonists, the lands of the Native Americans were ‘wild lands’ empty of people, any White man who cleared an area of the ‘Wild lands’ for settlement, owned the land.
By the time of the writing of the ‘Declaration of Independence’, much of America had been settled in this manner. One of the new frontiers for settlement was the Ohio valley. The Ohio valley was heavily populated by Native American tribes, some of them refugees from other areas (Sultzman).
The British government did not wish to see White people settle in the Ohio valley, displacing the Natives who lived there, as they had done in other areas. In order prevent White settlement in Ohio the British government passed the Quebec Act in 1774. This act inflamed the upper-class White people including many of the founding fathers who had expected to make a lot of money by engaging in land speculation in the Ohio valley. The annexation of the valley to Quebec meant that their hopes were all crushed; this was one of the biggest motivations for them to break their ties to the British government and declare independence (Schofield).
The Quebec Act was also aimed at assuring freedom of religion for the newly conquered Francophone, Catholic people. It allowed the Catholic Churches to charge tithes on the income of the members of the congregation. Taking advantage of the prevalent anti-Catholic feeling, this was presented as an attempt to establish the Catholic Church, “abolishing the free system of English Laws” (Jefferson) in the Colonies and as an attempt to take away religious freedom of the mostly Protestant colonists of America rather than an attempt to affirm religious freedom for all (Murrin)(Lardner).
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