Benjamin Franklin: Respect in political discourse is good Native value
By José Barreiro
Franklin’s exhortation to gather American political forces is equally relevant today, when the unity of the American Republic appears in peril and in need of re-energized dialogue. The manner of its historically successful undertaking--by the value of careful, diplomatic and deliberate discussion--he attributes to American Indians, of whom he writes that, “having frequent occasions to hold public councils, they have acquired great order and decency in conducting them.”
Wrote Franklin: “He that would speak, rises. The rest observe a profound silence. When he has finished and sits down, they leave him five or six minutes to recollect, that if he has omitted anything he intended to say or has anything to add, he may rise again and deliver it. To interrupt another, even in common conversation is reckoned highly indecent.”
This important observation of an American Indian value, which sustains in most contemporary tribal councils and arguably proposed for American political discourse, is vintage Franklin.
I don't know how ironic Franklin intended the phrase "ignorant savages" to be. It's pretty ironic considering the Haudenosaunee tribes were more united than the British colonies. Wasn't that unity one mark of their civilized, stately nature?
For more on the Founding Fathers and Indians, see Fun 4th of July Facts.