“Journey” Teaser #1: Why did Benjamin Franklin wish the Native Americans were Muslim?

For a full answer to this and other questions, see Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

In the winter of 1763, a group of fifty American frontiersmen attacked a settlement of peaceful Christian Indians in present-day Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They had heard that Indians in the settlement were aiding Indians in the west in attacking settlements and accused one particular Indian of murdering whites.  The Governor of Pennsylvania, John Penn, ordered the 14 Native Americans who escaped slaughter to be put in protective custody. But, they too were found and massacred.

Upon hearing about this, Benjamin Franklin was outraged and wrote a scathing essay published in Philadelphia in 1764. Even if there was an Indian present who had attacked the Americans, Franklin asks, “ought he not to have been fairly tried?” He contrasted the brutality of the frontiersman with the compassion shown to prisoners in Islam. He wrote glowingly of the Prophet of Islam showing compassion and mercy with his enemies.

Franklin then went on to lament that had the Indians been living in a Muslim country, they would have been treated justly:

“They would have been safer, if they had submitted to the Turks [Franklin’s word for Muslim]… even the cruel Turks, never kill Prisoners in cold Blood. These were not even Prisoners”

Order Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

Next: What movie did John Wayne call “the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life”?


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