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Justice in a New WorldNegotiating Legal Intelligibility in British, Iberian, and Indigenous America$
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Brian P. Owensby and Richard J. Ross

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479850129

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479850129.001.0001

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“Darling Indians” and “Natural Lords”

“Darling Indians” and “Natural Lords”

Virginia’s Tributary Regime and Florida’s Republic of Indians in the Seventeenth Century

(p.183) 6 “Darling Indians” and “Natural Lords”
Justice in a New World

Bradley Dixon

NYU Press

Dixon contends that between the 1640s and Bacon’s Rebellion (1676), Virginia went far in following the Spanish policy of incorporating Natives into the polity. Reminiscent of the Spanish empire’s “republic of Indians,” the tributary Natives lived in semiautonomous communities. Virginia law granted tributary kings and queens a privileged standing to enhance their rule over potentially dangerous Indians. The colony (in theory) viewed Indians, particularly poorer ones, as having a special claim upon English justice. Indeed, comparing Virginia’s to Spanish America’s (more elaborate and theoretically developed) notions of corporate Indian rights suggests a model for grouping together early Virginia initiatives whose collective significance might otherwise be overlooked. The Spanish experience also highlights how Virginia’s tributary system, like the “republic of Indians,” claimed to uphold a particular vision of justice—one that purported to safeguard Natives against the worst abuses of colonists in return for loyalty to the king.

Keywords:   English justice, Virginia law, Bacon’s Rebellion, Spanish policy, tributary system, Indian rights

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