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“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”: Franklin’s Argument on Tolerance

In “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”, Benjamin Franklin mocks the manner in which colonists assumed that their culture was better than Indians’, and argues that people should be tolerant. The satire aims at educating the society on the need for the appreciation of everybody’s culture and lifestyle. Tolerance is a virtue that many people have a problem exercising, since it is natural to believe that one’s way of doing things is always the best (Gaudio, 2008). As such, Franklin derived examples from the way the colonists were treating the Indians, given that they (colonists) were imposing their culture on the latter. These examples were used to explain his argument and drive the point home.

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Benjamin Franklin used the literary style of satire in writing “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”, in order to create the greatest impact on society. Notably, the title of the work itself amounts to satire. This is because the work talks about how the people in North America were more civilized than their colonial masters, yet its title implies that the people in the North were savages. The use of satire was intentional, since it would encourage the colonists to read the argument, only to later realize that it had a message for them (Gerbi, 2010). Therefore, Franklin uses a number of satirical examples to explain his argument.

To begin with, he talks about an incident that occurred during a Treaty of Lancaster in 1744, that was held in Pennsylvania. After the main agenda of the gathering was done, commissioners from Virginia decided to brag about how established their education system was. In what amounted to intolerance, they went ahead to discredit the education system of India, and invited the Indian leaders in the meeting to send some of their people to study in Virginia (Colbert, 2009). Besides, they also showed intolerance by expecting the Indians to give their response immediately, yet Indians believe that such issues should not be replied to instantly. Satirically, the Indians agreed with them, but still went ahead to reject the offer and extend the same invitation to the commissioners.

Another example of intolerance used by Franklin was the manner in which the colonists sought to impose their religious beliefs on the Indians. According to Colbert (2009), some Christians went to the Indians and told them about God’s creation of the first people, Adam and Eve. They further asked them not to eat apples, since it was the fruit that had caused the first people to sin (Colbert, 2009). The Indians were annoyed by their intolerance towards other peoples’ religious beliefs. They satirically told them that they had understood the sermon, and went ahead to narrate their own creation story. The Christians dismissed the story as baseless, hence another sign of intolerance.

In conclusion, Franklin uses the satire “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America” to express his argument that the colonists were intolerable to the culture of the Indians. He uses a number of examples of their acts of intolerance to drive his point home. All in all, the satire attempts to explain the value of accepting other people’s cultures and beliefs.

References

Colbert, D. (2009). Benjamin Franklin. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Gaudio, M. (2008). Engraving the savage: The New World and techniques of civilization. United States: University of Minnesota Press.

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Gerbi, A. (2010). The dispute of the New World. United States: University of Pittsburgh Press.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 30). “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”: Franklin’s Argument on Tolerance. https://studycorgi.com/remarks-concerning-the-savages-of-north-america-franklins-argument-on-tolerance/

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"“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”: Franklin’s Argument on Tolerance." StudyCorgi, 30 Dec. 2021, studycorgi.com/remarks-concerning-the-savages-of-north-america-franklins-argument-on-tolerance/.

1. StudyCorgi. "“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”: Franklin’s Argument on Tolerance." December 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/remarks-concerning-the-savages-of-north-america-franklins-argument-on-tolerance/.


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StudyCorgi. "“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”: Franklin’s Argument on Tolerance." December 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/remarks-concerning-the-savages-of-north-america-franklins-argument-on-tolerance/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”: Franklin’s Argument on Tolerance." December 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/remarks-concerning-the-savages-of-north-america-franklins-argument-on-tolerance/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”: Franklin’s Argument on Tolerance'. 30 December.

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