Acquiring Wealth: The Spheres of Two Different Worlds Imagine an unsettled land where the animals roamed free and the plants grew wild and undisturbed. This state of nature remained essentially the same even after the Northeastern Indians first inhabited the new land. They had a set of beliefs on how they were to go about living their lives and surviving in this area. When the English discovered the land, they had their own opinions about the land that differed greatly from those of the Indians. Once these two worlds collided, problems arose. Cronon’s Changes in the Land and Franklin’s writings, including his autobiography, “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain,” “Advice to a Young Tradesman,” and “The Way to Wealth” exemplify different views of life. The differing lifestyles and cultures of the Northeastern Indians and the American English colonists resulted in various acquisitions of wealth. Ultimately, the two groups held both distinct and overlapping views on the purpose of land and the definition of property, and how each of these concepts lead to economic success.
One form of developing wealth for both the Indians and English involved land. However, their ideas of physical capital and its purpose conflicted. Instead of settling in one location, the Northeastern Indians were nomads moving from place to place. They would move “according to the richness of the site and the season” (Cronon 53). However, the English saw the Indians’ nomadic tendencies as an unwillingness to work and improve their homes, while in actuality, they were trying to minimize the use of land and overkilling of animals. Still, the English considered the Indians land “underused.” The Indians did not consider their usage or lack thereof in this way. They knew that all they needed could be provided by nature as long as they did not remain stationary. The only way to access all the diverse species and resources they needed was to move around the area. Because the Indians were not fixed in one settlement, they dealt with land in terms of usufruct rights, “acknowledgements by one group that another might use an area for planting or hunting or gathering” (Cronon 62). It is made clear by the Indians that “A village’s right to territory…had to be at least tactically accepted by other villages…” (Cronon 59). These rights proved extremely useful to the Indians since they could not very well pack a plot of land with them as they journeyed to a new destination. When the Indians did make transactions between other villages with usufruct rights, they were considered “a diplomatic exchange” (Cronon 61). It was not necessarily for the economic aspect of profit but to foster better relations among other Indian villages. The Indians held high value on their relations with others. That was a central purpose for trading the use of land across the villages. The leaders of each village, sachems knew the boundaries of their land and “had no intention of conducting a market in real estate” (Cronon 61).
On the other hand, the English preferred permanent settlements and fostering the land they were on. They believed that if one was not improving land or using it, then it did not belong to said person, but was up for the taking of someone who would “bestoweth culture and husbandry upon it…” (Cronon 57). The English did not understand the concept of the Indians’ usufruct rights, which led to much confusion when transactions were made between the two groups. In fact, at some times, “[Indians] thought they were selling one thing and the English thought they were buying another” (Cronon 70). These differing views and confusions continually allowed for the English to poorly justify taking the Indians’ land to trade and make transactions for a profit. In the minds of the English, the only lands that the Indians owned were the “fields planted by Indian women…” (Cronon 56). This was merely one of the faulty