Bartolome de las Casas :his position in regard to slavery



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Purpose: It is the purpose of this thesis to show Bartolomé de Las Casas' position in regard to slavery during and after the Spanish Conquest in the New World. Since the enslavement of both the American Indian and the African Negro soon became one of the principal issues of the Conquest, the purpose of this thesis is to show that Las Casas, who at one time was a slave owner, completely changed his position in regard to slavery and spent many years fighting for his beliefs. Methods: In this study, the writer has read as much of the available material as possible as a preliminary to setting forth his own view. The writer has read a number of Las Casas' works, has made a study of books written by writers who have done extensive research pertaining to Las Casas and to slavery, and finally has read a portion of the works of persons who bitterly opposed Las Casas. Findings: That Bartolomé de Las Casas was guilty of owning slaves is very true. What is completely out of the ordinary, however, is that he made such a radical change in his thinking. This thesis shows that the best years of his life were spent proclaiming the inherent and inalienable right of all men to liberty. Many of Las Casas' ideas and plans were criticized as being acts of madness. His adversaries denounced him as a lunatic, a religious fanatic and a hypocrite. This study shows, however, that Bartolomé de Las Casas never abandoned a strong desire to liberate the enslaved from the cruelties of the Conquest and, at the same time, to liberate Spain from her sins.



Indians, Treatment of--Latin America., Slavery--Latin America.