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On balance, the European conquest of Native American lands was justified.

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ColeTrainColeTrain (PRO)
Firstly, I would like to thank RXR for accepting this debate and providing me a challenge well worthy of my time.

The resolution is worded to assume that the average European conquest (England, Spain, France, etc.) was justified, or *okay.* This resolution is generalized, and based on the overall effect rather than specific and individual events. Essentially, one could conclude that, all things considered and weighed, the net effect was not detrimental, but rather justified. That said, it is necessary to rationalize your reasoning utilizing factual evidence, as well as logical explanations.

Long before the United States became the powerhouse of the world, Natives lived their lives on the soil we today use as residential, commercial, and industrial property. A vast overhaul various economic, social, and political ideals are accredited with this massive transformation from a primitive society to arguably the most advanced the world has seen to date. However, as I will demonstrate throughout the course of this debate, justification is explictly present for the conquest of these lands that US citizens now call home.

Contention I: Primary Intent and Benefits of Intent
First of all, the intent of European society was not to "steal" Native lands. As it initially took place during the Renaissance Period [1], the primary driving force behind the exploration was solely economic. [2] By this token, the Europeans had little interest in harming the Natives in the first place. Because their primary purpose for exploring and attempting to colonize the Native lands, it is revealed that doing so was justified.

This is recognized by a variety of instances. For example, many people are persuaded to believe common misconception dubbed the "Black Legend." Essentially, this is the belief that Spaniards and other European nations solely wreaked havoc and destruction on Natives, without any form of compensation. However, this is historically false. Countless examples exist of the benefits the explorative and economic intentions of European nations. For example, not only did these European nations create formidable empires, but also crafted widely popular laws and culture. [3]

The unification and order which Europeans made the precedent were inherently beneficial. It instilled order and the bonding together of nations. In turn, this allowed nations within the Native lands to excel in a unified manner, rather than spuratic uprisings of obscure societies. In the past, these conflicting societies would hinder each others advancements by seeking power of their own. With the colonization help of Europeans, these ideas were merged into fewer and larger idealistic and advanced societies.

Contention II: Rights of Conquest and Inevitability
Another common misconception is that European nations "stole" the lands as a thief would. This is once again empirically false. To "steal" land would require that one body of people actually possess ownership of it in the first place. Instead, Natives simply occupied the land, with no internationally-recognized ownership. Thus, the conquest of land was not done in an illegitimate manner. Since there was no prior perception of property rights existing in the New World before Europeans came, Natives logically had no rights to the property themselves.

To further exemplify my point, I will provide a circumstantial anecdote. Let's say I go to a sporting event, specifically a football game. Law requires I buy a ticket for the seat in which I wish to sit. By doing so, I am not granted ownership of the seat, I merely access authorization to sit in that seat for the duration of the game. The same, Native Americans simply occupied the territory of land until a stronger or more advanced tribe came along and took it from them by means of conquest. This displacement of society was common and accepted in Native lands prior to European influence or entrance. There was no justification for the accepted practices to be altered when Western civilization came to the Native lands, especially considering the benefits provided by European impact on life.

Besides this, the Europeans didn't necessarily force Natives to give up their land anyways. Historian Stuart Banner elaborates on this idea, "At most times, and in most places, the Indians were not exactly
conquered, but they did not exactly choose to sell their land either.
The truth was somewhere in the middle." [10] Furthermore, there was documented kind treatment to Indians. Professor of Law Eric Kades notes, "Undoubtedly many easterners were sincerely benevolent, and this
sentiment motivated them to push (sometimes successfully) for laws intended
to safeguard Indian lands and rights." [11]

Moreover, philosopher John Locke explains, "Nobody has originally a private dominion exclusive of the rest
of mankind." [8] This referred to a principle commonly known as vacuum domicilium, which refers to the inviolable rights of land assured to whomever "taketh possession of it and bestoweth culture and husbandry upon it." [9] Because the Europeans were able to overpower and successfully bestow culture and cultivate the land, they are by this philosophy morally justified in the conquest of the lands.

Furthermore, eventual conquest was ultimately inevitable. The land would be found at one point or another, and the more advanced European society and civilization would have dominion over the primitive societies of Native America. There was no reason to prolong the process as it is natural tendency for civilizations and nations to seek power and economic superiority. In the scenario coined by the resolution, the Native lands were primed to be discovered, with the Renaissance taking place around the globe and nations such as Spain (whom had in 1492 defeated the Muslim Moors [5]) striving to maintain and extend economic power and sustainability.

Contention III: Consequences of Conquest
Though widely interpreted as the contrary, the consequences of European conquest were largely beneficial. Though it's simply false to believe that no injustice was served to Natives as a result of conquest, it is imperative, based on the resolution, to look at the overall and balanced effect. As per the resolution, we are obligated to recognize its justification, for a variety of consequential reasons.

For example, one of the results of conquest was some of the world's most stable democracies. [4] The United States is a prime nation to measure the long-term effects of the conquest, and justify its aftermath. The US not only provides a relatively stable and successful environment in which Natives can work, but also provides them with benefits because of harm caused in the past. [6] These include the following: "education, social services, law enforcement, courts, real estate services, agriculture and range management, and resource protection." Beyond those benefits, the conquest ultimately allowed an enhanced quality of life for Natives, allowing them to participate in an active and successful economy and ensure security from the biggest military superpower in the world. [7]

Essentially, there are economic, social, and political reasons that the conquest of Native lands by Europeans was justified. Economically, Europeans crafted society that improved economy and quality of life. Socially, this society influenced religion and other social aspects that were an improvement to primitive society. Politically, there was no right to ownership prior to Europeans coming over. By Locke's reasoning, Europeans gained legitimate access to the land because they were able to fulfill the two aspects he deemed imperative: bestowing culture and husbandry. Also, the land was simply repossessed as Native culture was acceptant of in the past. Conclusively, there are plenty of logical and supported reasons as to why the conquest of land was justified.

The resolution is affirmed.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-09-21 09:57:37
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@RXR. This is your chance to prove them wrong! Don't you see? This is a prime opportunity... Come on. I came here for a good debate, wrote a lengthy case, and I don't want it to be wasted. Prove them wrong to benefit not only yourself, but the site, admin, and even me. Please...
Posted 2015-09-23 14:50:03
@ColeTrain I don't know if i want to, since those bonzo's below keep telling me that i keep forfeiting debates. Which is discouraging me from coming to this site.


''something you've frequently used to your advantage.'' lol..
Posted 2015-09-23 14:23:41
If both people forfeit, it's not an auto-win - the debate merely ends. Every double forfeit you had you lost for other reasons (generally, voted against). The only auto-win condition is if one side forfeits and they select the option to have a forfeit count as a loss enabled, something you've frequently used to your advantage. If you think there's a glitch in the system, report. If you want to remove the double forfeit feature (and yes, it is by design), add that to the tracker too.
Posted 2015-09-23 14:13:45
@admin Ya and those loses are caused by a broken system where if both people forfeit. One automatically becomes the winner, instead of being a draw. Fix that asap. Instead of arguing with me, how about you fix the glitches in this un-polished site.
Posted 2015-09-23 14:09:25
All your losses have been incurred when you refused to debate, despite you thinking you were "going to win anyways".
Posted 2015-09-23 13:55:08
@admin Explain..
Posted 2015-09-23 13:53:48
@RXR. Will you please debate me, since I am going to debate?
Posted 2015-09-23 03:01:22
I think every single debate that you've ever lost answers that question @RxR.
Posted 2015-09-23 01:34:19
@admin Because what's the point of arguing when i'm going to win anyways ? Am i suppose to waste my time on someone who's not going to finish the debate ?
Posted 2015-09-23 01:32:24
@RXR. Then why do you FF so frequently?
Posted 2015-09-22 14:51:36
RXR, will you finish our debate? Hopefully.
Posted 2015-09-22 14:50:21
It's not my fault that this website is as empty as the Sahara Desert. If you feel as though ''I take debates against people who i think i forfeit'' than challenge me to a debate any time.
Posted 2015-09-22 14:48:55
Unfortunately, RXR's MO is to take debates against people he thinks will forfeit. Hopefully this is an exception and he actually argues this case, but if not, I'd be happy to take this topic against you. I'll be available in about two weeks.
Posted 2015-09-22 05:35:02
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Full Resolution:
Resolved: On balance, the European conquest of Native American lands was justified.

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Round Structure:
R1: Pro's Case, Con's Case
R2: Pro's rebuttals, Con's rebuttals
R3: Pro's defense, Con's defense - Closing statements