Rediscovering India by Dharampal

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Killing Local Americans      

From about 1500, Europe was expanding not only in the west but towards the east as well. In the west, its targets were the vast lands of the Americas, and their mineral and forest wealth. This led to the increasing settlement of the people of Europe on the islands near the America as well as on the eastern mainland of north, central and South America. The indigenous people, who inhabited the Americas at the time of its European discovery in 1492, are estimated to have numbered around 90 to 112 million. The population of Europe then was around 60 to 70 million.

Innumerable wars were waged on the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas over some 400 years, till practically all of them were physically annihilated. Attempts were made to enslave them and to use them as labor in mining, on the newly started plantations, and in similar other occupations. But this did not work out Practically; all of them seemed to have preferred annihilation to slavery.

Even more than the wars with the newcomers of Europe, it was the diseases of Europe, carried to the Americas by European men and their accompaniments that were fatal to the people of America. The populations of whole regions were wiped out after they were visited by the newcomers. For instance, there was a major plague in New England in North America, around 1618. Before the contact with Europe the people of the Americas were not exposed to and therefore had no immunity against, many of the malignant diseases which had ravaged the European world: smallpox and measles, and very likely, tuberculosis, malaria yellow fever, typhoid, typhus and various venereal infections.

To one Englishman who arrived in New England in 1625, “…the large scale elimination of the original inhabitants appeared to be the work of Providence He thought that such elimination made the region, “….so much more fit for the English nation to inhabit it, and erect in it temples to the Glory of God.” Around the same time another Englishman reported, “God had laid open this country for us, and slain the most parts of the inhabitants by cruel wars and a mortal disease.” Fifty years later a description of New York stated, “It hath been generally observed that where the English come to settle, a Divine Hand makes way for them, by removing or cutting off the Indians either by Wars one with the other, or by some raging mortal Disease.” And the writer added that, “…it is to be admired, how strangely they have decreased by the Hand of God, since the English first settling of those parts; for since my time, where there were six towns, they are reduced to two small villages…”

By the mid-eighteenth, perhaps from a much earlier date, some of the European diseases, like smallpox and a variety of plagues, seem to have been consciously and deliberately introduced by the newcomers amongst the indigenous American people. In 1763, at any rate, small-pox was consciously and deliberately introduced in North America by the British military commander when he gave orders that he “wished to hear of no prisoners should any of the villains be met with in arms”, and added that “he had heard that smallpox and broken out at Fort Pitt and wondered whether the disease could not be spread to good advantage.” To this one of his military colonels replied, “I will try to inoculate the bastards with some blankets that may fall in their hands, and take care not to get the disease myself…” The twentieth century practice of introducing fatal human, animal and plant diseases amongst the enemy seems to have fairly old European precedents.

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