”For a time Europeans had invented an AMERICA peopled by noble savages, men uncorrupted by civilization; as Montaigne wrote, quoting Seneca, they were “fresh from the gods”. But Europe has never stopped reinventing the New World. The eighteenth-century debate took off when the Comte de Buffon, the famous French naturalist, proposed a thesis of American biological inferiority, producing an array of quasi-scientific reasons to explain “why the reptiles and insects are so large, the quadrupeds so small, and the men so cold, in the New World.” The idea quickly spread. In Britain, Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village portrayed a dank and gloomy land where no birds sang and no dogs barked.
Soon the philosophe the Abbe Corneille de Pauw described America as “so ill-favored by nature that all it contains is either degenerate of monstrous” and Americans as “degenerate species of the human race, cowardly, impotent, without physical strength, without vitality, without elevation of mind”. As for the conquest of the New World, this, De Pauw concluded, “has been the greatest of all misfortunes to befall mankind”. ( Arthur Schlesinger Jr. )
And to what purpose was the ”New World”, The eighteenth century and the colonizing efforts in the America’s that drained Europe of her population and plunged almost every European nation into interminable wars seemed to have no purpose and assumed a life of its own.
It was gold and silver that lured the conquistadors into Mexico and Peru, and wherever rumor told of the ”Seven Cities of Cibola” . They found the gold and silver, but the result was not wealth but inflation and impoverishment. Moreover, the New World, the world of the East as well as the West Indies, flooded the Old with articles that were useless and pernicious. What use was that noxious weed, tobacco? What use were furs and silks, the precious stones and the precious metals, and all the luxuries that distracted Christian men and women from the simple life enjoined alike by moralists and economists?
In addition, the New World took revenge upon the conquerors by afflicting them with the most terible of diseases, which they brought back to the Old World. For it was America that infected Europe with venereal disease; that was an article of faith, and of science, of course. But the worst was yet to come, the worst and most indisputable: slavery. How the critics rang the changes on that evil. First the conquistadors had killed off the gentle natives of the islands; then they had stolen hapless Africans from the coasts and sold them into slavery. And remember that slavery was dying out in the Old World when America revived it; in the eyes of history it was America that must bear the responsibility.
”The American genius for showmanship and spectacle began with the Revolution and has never abated. After its splendid introduction, Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence descended swiftly into a blood libel on the American Indian, and an excoriation worthy of the Nuremberg prosecutors, of King George III, the awkward, unstable, but likeable “Farmer George.”
Jefferson even included in his original arraignment of the British monarchy the shameful importation of slavery into America. It was suggested that given his status as a slaveholder, this was hardly appropriate. The later notorious fact of his dalliances with comely female slaves, who provided six of his nine progeny, and his failure to emancipate them in the 50 (to the day) years that he lived on from July 4, 1776, would have made such an allegation especially hollow. (If the Americans had delayed their revolution until a few years after Jefferson’s death, the British abolition of slavery would have applied to them and it would have been disposed of a good deal less painfully than with the death of 700,000 Americans in the Civil War.)” ( Conrad Black )