The American Indians' fight for the right to live their own way of life amid laws serving White European values has been waged from the beginning against the worst of human weaknesses: greed and self-serving misperception.
Indigenous to the land where oppressed Europeans sought to govern themselves according to man's "inalienable rights" to religious freedom, equality and the pursuit of happiness, Native Americans first welcomed the Europeans to their land. But the Indians soon found, as would other men of color later on, that they were not to be part of this new government. The inalienable rights so cherished by these Europeans would not be accorded the Indians in peaceful co-habitation, simply because to the Europeans, Indians could not be looked upon as men.
In the 18th century, certain influential European men of letters took it upon themselves to recount in vivid detail their incredible observations concerning the native people in "discovered America." In 1768 and 69 one such man, the Abbé Corneille de Pauw -- an early favorite of none other than Frederick the Great -- wrote two volumes titled Philosophical Investigations of the Americans, and a subsequent third volume in which he described his horror at the Pope's acceptance of the Indians as men. The Indians' "constitution is weak," he said. "Their stature is smaller than that of Europeans. At first they were taken not for men, but for orangutans, or big monkeys, that could be destroyed without remorse or reproach. Then, to add ridicule to calamity, a Pope issued a Papal Bull in which he declared that, as he wished to establish Bishoprics in the richest countries of America it pleased him and the Holy Spirit to recognize Americans as 'true men. . . .' Without this decision . . . the inhabitants of the New World would still today be, in the eyes of the faithful, a race of dubious animals."
In their book Was America A Mistake? historians Henry Steele Commager and Elmo Giordanetti cite these passages as well as others from European scholars during the same period, including the Abbé Guillaume Thomas François Raynal,