American Democracy Contact Between Europeans Essay

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Given the very nature of colonialism and imperialism, it is doubtful that the Europeans would have wanted to give any credit to the Native Americans for their contributions to the development of democracy in the United States. As Johansen points out, the settlers in the Northeast must have gleaned some information about how Enlightenment principles can be put into practice. However, the indigenous peoples of North America were incredibly diverse, as were the settlers and their settlement patterns. Influences of Native Americans on Europeans varied, and in many cases the interactions were totally unlike the ones described by Johansen.

Although Johansen overestimates the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy government and social structure on the development of democracy in the United States, the role of Native Americans in the development of the United
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States should not be discounted. The very fact that Europeans encountered diverse indigenous peoples became a major factor in colonization and settlement patterns. The Native Americans presented cultural curiosities for the Europeans; in some cases idealized and romanticized accounts of indigenous culture lured prospective settlers (Fagan). As investment in the Americas was crucial to the success of the settlement venture, such marketing campaigns did depend on the cooperation of Native Americans. Indigenous peoples also presented opportunities for strategic military and political alliances that resulted in key British victories over the French (Johansen). However nefarious the alliances between Europeans and indigenous peoples were, the development of the United States did not take place in a European vacuum. Aboriginal peoples of North America enabled cross-Atlantic trade by fostering healthy relationships with the French and English, influencing economic and geo-political realities.

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