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Las Casas, Bartolomé De (1474–1566)

Bartolomé de Las Casas, a historian and strong advocate of human rights, was born in Seville, Spain. He studied in Seville and at the University of Salamanca, and in 1502 he went to America. For a decade, he developed a large mining and agricultural operation in Hispaniola (the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic) with labor from Indian slaves. He also was involved in the conquest of Cuba, for which he was awarded a large land grant. In 1512, he became a priest, but it was not until 1514, while he was preparing a sermon, that he changed his views. He decided to return his slaves and devote his life to the justice of the Indians.

Las Casas became the most famous propagandist of ...

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