Doctrine of Discovery

“…invade, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans…to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery and to take away all their possessions and property.” 1452 from Pope Nicholas V to King Alfonso V of Portugal.

Europeans in the 1400s were focused on establishing a Christian Kingdom—Christendom—that would be ruled by the Pope in Rome and backed by Christian Kings and Queens. At this time, Christianity was organized into a hierarchy where the Pope and Monarchs were above all other living beings in the world. In following with this practice a series of Popes instructed their subjects to take whatever riches they could from non-Christian people. This issued in the Age of Discovery.

The “Doctrine of Discovery” originated with Papal Bulls (letters from the Pope) issued in the late 1400s. In particular, two bulls from 1452 and 1493 (written only a few short months after Columbus’ return to Spain), authorized the Kings of Portugal and Spain to exploit Africa and the Americas for slaves and lands to enrich the Catholic Church. The Jesuits that came to Onondaga Lake in the 1650s to convert the Onondaga Nation were acting both as missionaries for the Catholic Church (headed by the Pope) and the colonial government of France (headed by the King).

The Doctrine of Discovery justified the taking of land from Native Americans long after the colonial era and during the early formation of the United States. Writing in 1823 for the Supreme Court ruling in Johnson v. McIntosh, Chief Justice John Marshall said the doctrine meant that “unoccupied lands” were those “lands occupied by Indians, but unoccupied by Christians.” The concept of owning land, in United States’ property law, rests on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” Since then the “Doctrine of Discovery” has been regularly cited by legal scholars and in court decisions including the Supreme Court decision Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation (March 29, 2005).


In 1453 the King of Portugal convinced Pope Nicholas of the Catholic Church to issue an edict that bcame known as the Doctrine of Discovery.

The truth is often very painful to accept, but iti is a fact that that a Papal Bull by Pope Nicholas of the Catholic Church proclaimed that the European Christian Monarchs had authority from God to seize the land and enslave the non-Christian people that possessed the lands they discovered.

This doctrine justified slavery and was responsible for the death of millions of the Native Americans. The Christian Churches support of slavery in America violated the principles of the God they professed to believe in.

Without the support of the Christian Churches slavery in the United States would never had been tolerated. Rather than promoting liberty, equality and justice, the Christian Churches promoted inequality and the superiority of the white race.

Seeking the truth can be a very painful experience. Many of the things we have been taught are not true. The founding founders claimed to believe that all men were created equal, but their willingness to accept the Doctrine of Discover tells a totally different story.

Pope Nicholas of the Catholic Church planted the seeds of White Supremacy when he issued a Papal Bull in 1453 that authorized European Monarchs to to steal the land, they discovered that were already occupied by non-Christian inhabitants.

This policy of the Catholic Church was later adopted by the Protestant Churches and was transported to the North American continent by the British Colonies .

The Doctrine of Discovery assumed that European Christians were superior and had a right to
to vanquish and enslave the non-Christians that occupied the land they had stolen.
The racism in the United States can be traced back to the racist policy endorsed by the Catholic and Christian Churches support of the Doctrine of Discovery.

For hundreds of years the Christian Churches in America have taught that white European male Christians were superior to the women, Native Americans and Non-Christians. The Doctrine Of Discovery was the foundation upon which the Christian churches used to justify Slavery in the United States.