not originate with Anglo-Americans. Their first appearance in the modern west426 came,
fittingly enough, in relation to the Indians of the Western Hemisphere, more than two centuries
before the American Revolution, in the writings and activism of the Spanish priest Bartolemé de
Las Casas.427 He argued—most notably in his 1550 debates in Valladolid—against the
enslavement and brutality meted out by Spanish imperialists in the New World, and insisted that
Indians were equal human beings entitled to justice. “They are inferior to none,” he proclaimed.
“Those they equal are the Greeks and Romans.”428 Indians were rational beings, with a lively
civilization, fully as capable of arts and sciences as other people, and possessed of individual
rights that ought to be respected. “[T]here is no natural difference in the creation of men,” he
wrote—and thus no basis for according Indians lesser legal protections than those that apply to
It is the universality of the principles of individualism and equality that makes these ideas
so revolutionary. That is why these principles could be deployed in defense of women,430 of
African slaves,431 of Chinese and Japanese immigrants,432 and, of course, in defense of
Indians.433 And it is why enemies of human rights have so often tried to characterize these
426 The principle of universal human equality can, of course, be found in the Hebrew Bible, the writings of ancient
Roman philosophers, and even the Greeks. None of these were “Anglos.”
427 See generally LAWRENCE A. CLAYTON, BARTOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS: A BIOGRAPHY (2012); LEWIS HANKE, ALL
MANKIND IS ONE (1974).
428 INDIAN FREEDOM: THE CAUSE OF BARTOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS 203–04 (Francis Patrick Sullivan, S.J., trans.,
429 HANKE, supra note 433, at 96.
430 See Modern History Sourcebook: The Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Conference, 1848, FORDHAM
UNIV. (1997), http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/senecafalls.asp.
431 See, e.g., Frederick Douglass, The Meaning of The Fourth of July for The Negro (1852), in FREDERICK
DOUGLASS: SELECTED SPEECHES AND WRITINGS 188, 203 (Philip Foner & Yuval Taylor, eds., 1999).
432 See JOSEPH HAWLEY, Speech on the Chinese Exclusion Act , in RACE AND LIBERTY IN AMERICA: THE ESSENTIAL
READER 83 (Jonathan Bean, ed., 2009); Masuji Miyakawa, Rights of Aliens in America, in 1 N.Y. JAPAN REV. 91, 96
433 See, e.g., John Ross et al., Indian Lands in Georgia, NILES WEEKLY REGISTER, May 1, 1824, at 139 (“We appeal
to the magnanimity of the American congress for justice and the protection of the rights, liberties and lives of the
Cherokee people . . . and we expect it from them under that memorable declaration ‘that all mean are created