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Short Paper: Analyzing Sources - Essay Example

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Rogel described how he and his crew rescued the Spanish young boy Alonso, who survived the Indian Massacre at Ajacàn.1 The letter also illustrated how the Spaniards took revenge and killed many Indians. This…
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Short Paper: Analyzing Sources
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9 September Source Analysis of the “Letter of Juan Rogel to Francis Borgia, 1572” On August 28, 1572, Father Juan Rogel wrote to Father Francis Borgia. Rogel described how he and his crew rescued the Spanish young boy Alonso, who survived the Indian Massacre at Ajacàn.1 The letter also illustrated how the Spaniards took revenge and killed many Indians. This paper analyzes the content, evidence, and inquiries of this primary document.
The context of the document is the colonization of the New World, or the Americas. During this time, Europeans travelled to the Americas to establish new colonies. The white settlers believed that they had the noble goals of civilizing the Indians by assimilating them and teaching them European culture and religion.2 When Rogel wrote to Francis Borgia, the Spaniards were still in the process of establishing contacts in the Indian villages, while building early settlements. Father Juan Rogel was a Jesuit priest from Pamplona, Spain. On August 28, 1572, he wrote a letter to Father Francis Borgia, who was the third Father General of the Jesuit Order because he wanted to update the latter of their developments in retrieving a young boy from the Indians. The viewpoint of Rogel was important because he served as the emissary of the Church in the Spanish colonies. He also acted as the Christian missionary in the land of the Indians.
The evidence in the document that proves its purpose can be seen from the account of their pursuit of Alonso. Rogel wrote about the mission of saving the young boy: “Reaching this bay, the Governor immediately ordered us to search for Alonso…He has not died, according to what we heard from one of the Indians of this region...”3 Rogel included the specific instructions from the governor: “The order of the Governor was to take the uncle of Don Luis, a principal chief of that region, as well as some leading Indians. On taking them, we were to ask them to give us the boy and we would let them go.”4 He also provided some details on how they killed many Indians to retrieve Alonso: “By way of farewell, the pilot steered the ship towards land with the excuse that he wanted to speak to them, and then he ordered a blast from the arquebuses into the group of Indians who were standing crowded together on the shore.”5 Thus, Rogel revealed that the expedition aimed to save the boy and to kill the Indians, because this taught the natives a lesson about the power of the Spaniards over them.
The questions that may be left unanswered by the document are: Why did the Indian Don Luís de Velasco (Paquiquineo) killed the priests and other Spaniard settlers? What did these people to the Indians that they deserved such brutal deaths? What happened to other Indian settlements after these massacres? It seemed that Rogel did not want to talk about investigating why Don Luis killed the Spaniards. He was more interested in seeking justice for the murdered Spaniards and ensuring that they took a fitting revenge on the natives.
What inferences would a reader of this article draw based upon this content? Why?
The inferences that the reader can make of this article are: 1) The Spaniards violently handled and responded to the Indians; and 2) The Indians resisted Spanish colonization through waging wars too. Based on this letter, the Spaniards did not think twice in attacking the Indians. They did not bother to investigate what happened. Moreover, the Indians resisted Spanish colonization through violence. They already lost their passive nature because of how the Spaniards treated them. It is likely that the Spanish also conducted numerous massacres on Indian villages and so the Indians took retribution. This does not mean that the writer of this paper supports violence, but it is clear that Rogel had little hesitation in killing the Indians too. For these white people, the natives were inferior to them as a race, and so to exterminate them had little consequence. Nevertheless, Rogel did express wishes for converting the Indians and attaining economic progress in the colonies. Still, his emphasis on bloodshed marks the beginning of centuries of oppression and marginalization of the original owners of the New World.
Bibliography
Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. “Indians and English Meet on the James.” Virtual Jamestown. http://www.virtualjamestown.org/essays/kupperman_essay.html (accessed September 9, 2012).
Virtual Jamestown. “Letter of Juan Rogel to Francis Borgia, 1572.” Virtual Jamestown: First-Hand Accounts -By Date. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/jamestown-browse?id=J1038 accessed September 9, 2012). Read More
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