Classics English Literature

Benjamin Franklin and Mary Rowlandson

Benjamin Franklin

The Indian tribe formed the group that was termed as the North American savages upon the discovery of the American continent by the Europeans. Upon entry, the whites viewed the Indians as savages lacking any form of civilization and they therefore attempted to change or rather ‘merge’ their cultures between the periods 1790-1920. President George Washington initiated the Cultural Revolution process aimed at civilizing the natives. Policies were instituted to govern the process and education was proposed as the central way that the savages would be civilized. The Indian tribes’ government, religious and cultural practices, and social organizations were also affected especially with the introduction of the Dawes Act that awarded settlement land and citizenship to the Indians if they gave up the named factors. Benjamin Franklin in his publication gives agreements opposing the whites’ moves and views on the Indians.

The Indian tribe was highly structured and segmented for the proper performance of gender duties. The men dealt with security and governing issues while the women took care of the families and farming activities. The Counsel headed by the wise old men acted as the law enforcers. During public Council meeting, the elderly sat at the front rows, followed by the warriors and then the women and their children took the rear position. The women were not allowed to talk in such forums, as their duty was to note the proceedings and record them in their memoires. The speaker was given ample time to relay his views and upon the completion an additional five minutes for him to review whether he has forgotten anything. No interruptions were allowed. If a matter was to be discussed between the community and other tribes, the verdict on matters arising had to be delayed for a day for the matter to be thoroughly examined. Each tribe member held their respective duties highly and their worked towards performing them as it was considered honorable.

From his discussion on the Indian practices, Franklin held that the natives’ practices would rather be promoted than abolished as they provided more civility in the manner that their duties and Counsel were carried out with politeness. He compared the unorganized way the House of Commons carried out their discussions and debates or the way in which business was conducted in a rude manner in the European Companies. The Indian politeness was also extended to white travelers where they were given boarding and food facilities while on Indian Territory yet the Indians would not be served in white territory unless they had money. The Indians therefore according to Franklin were noble and more civilized (humane) than the whites.

Mary Rowlandson

Mary Rowlandson was born in 1637 and her family moved in England two years later. She was the wife of a preacher, Joseph Rowlandson, whom she got married to at the age of nineteen. She bore four children and one died at infancy. During the Indian and European clashes in 1676, her country town was razed and the white inhabitants were killed or taken captive. Having been wounded with her six-year-old daughter, they were taken as captives. At this time, her husband was away travelling to Boston and the Indians promised Mary that they would kill him upon his return. The other two children were separated for their mother during the raid and she was not allowed to contact them. Nine days into captivity, little Sarah succumbed to her injuries and passed away quietly in the deep of the night. She was buried in the wilderness. Mary attributes her survival and strength to endure the three months captivity to God.

Her legacy was her relationship with God whom she declares was with her when her world was overturned. Her husband was nowhere near her side, she had lost her youngest child and pregnant sister to death during the raid, her other two children were not allowed to make contact with her and her Christian friends were gone, either dead or taken into captivity too. As she stayed with the Indians, she confesses that she first viewed them as heathen and inhumane beings whose practices were weird but with time, her view changed to admiration for the survival stints they had in the harshest of conditions. The Indians always fed her but disregarded her Christian practices. With Mary skilled at making clothing, she sews clothes for the Indians who pay her money that she uses to buy food. With the use of kind gestures from both teams, Mary and the Indians develop a mutual respect for each other and her master promises to let her return to her husband on ransom.

After the Counsel meets, Mary is let free to return to Mr. Rowlandson for a price of twenty pounds. Her two children are also released shortly after her. Upon her return home, Mary’s perspectives towards the Indians have changed greatly and she praises God for the experience as it helps her see them as human beings who hurt and have joys in their lives. She therefore makes efforts of befriending them as a way of creating and maintaining healthy relations with them, is grateful for the effort they make to adopt white culture, and practices like the adoption of Christianity as seen through Tom and Peter. Mary’s accomplishment was that she lived to see her freedom and she made efforts to bond with the Indians on a friendly level. Her publication of the book A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson was a major accomplishment too.




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