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Vulcans have been assisting humans since before the formation of United Federation of Planets. Between first contact and mankind's first deep space mission, they provided mankind with substantial assistance in the development of warp drive and several other things (Archer's father told this to Archer in the very beginning of Star Trek: Enterprise TV series).

But, in the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series, we also learned that Vulcans were holding back information from humans. They also didn't like it when humans started their deep space missions. They also killed Admiral Forest on Vulcan.

It was Archer's efforts and a Romulan conspiracy which really united Humans and Vulcans. But, before that, why did Vulcans assist humans at all for a century? They even appointed an Earth ambassador here. Why? What were the benefits from an inferior race? Definitely, there are always mutual benefits in such cases and Vulcans were bad guys too (not to forget logical too).

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    Are you ignoring the mutual self-interest aspect of not having us turn up at their border a few decades later wondering why they didn't help us out? – Valorum Dec 17 '14 at 11:35
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    It's better to have a inferior ally than an inferior enemy, I guess. Imagine the Andorians "found" us first: They might have equipped us with far better weapons and ships and we would have gone to war with Vulcan. But if the Vulcans "tame" us... Way better! – Einer Dec 17 '14 at 11:37
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    Any good overlord species needs a lackey race to lord over. – Omegacron Aug 13 '15 at 18:27
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The canon answer (courtesy of The Star Trek Book factbook) is that the Vulcan's interest in Earth was in fostering a relationship with Earth that was to Vulcan's advantage. This included encouraging Earth to progress out into the galaxy at a much slower rate than if they'd supported Earth's technological progress or if they'd gotten out of the way, forcing Earth to seek other relationships with neighbouring species such as the Andorians or Tellerites who were broadly antagonistic toward the Vulcans.

However, the path to interstellar alliances is not always an easy one. The relationship Vulcans fostered with Humanity was marginally better than the one it shared with the Andorians, but initially the Vulcans did not trust the people of Earth to deal with the challenges that lay beyond their own borders. Under the guise of helping Humans prepare for deep-space travel, the Vulcans instead slowed Earth’s progress wherever possible.

18

At the time of first contact, Humanity was still struggling in the aftermath of WWIII and the Eugenics Wars, as well as dealing with the environmental and resource issues that led to those wars. The Vulcans helped us get back on our feet and establish a world government that could be both rational and compassionate.
Vulcan's motives for doing this have never been fully explained in the TV shows or the movies, AFAIK. Their official reason was that they were acting out of pure altruism. But there have been some hints that they hoped to learn from us how to balance reason and emotion without having to rely exclusively one one and totally suppress the other. Why Humans instead of some other species? Physically and socially Humans and Vulcans are more alike than most other species. We even have similar histories - we both almost destroyed ourselves. But we got through it without having to lose our basic nature.

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    I like this answer. I always felt that Spock, as a half-breed, was supposed to portray the ideal rationalist side of a future human race. – Polynomial Dec 19 '14 at 18:02
  • In addition to their officially altruistic motivations, I think that they may have been interested in Earth as an oil-rich planet. By keeping people on the ground on Earth and keeping us dependent on their foreign aid, their oil supply was safe. – user60653 Mar 4 '16 at 2:51
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    "pure altruism" doesn't sound like Vulcan logic to me – LevenTrek Jun 30 at 5:29
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The humans were not unique in being helped by the Vulcans; they had ships exploring space monitoring civilizations around the quadrant, looking to find species who had attained warp tech. Once warp flight had been done on a given planet the Vulcans would send a party to greet and basically welcome new races to the universe. This is what we witness in the movie First Contact, and also what T'Pol says in the episode of Enterprise called Carbon Creek (where vulcans crashed on earth after examining the planet back in the 50s).

Their goals were a little unclear, but essentially they would help the new races along providing assistance in medical, science, and tech, and helping these races make contact with other warp races. Obviously this could lead to the Vulcans benefiting from things such as trade, new allies, etc. But we can tell that it was mostly done altruistically since they had no concern offending the new races, this is what we witness in enterprise, the humans increased frustration of the Vulcans for holding back information.

Though truthfully they only held back warp 5 information not to not give us the tech, but instead because they thought humans were not ready to explore deep space and because of our hostile, and emotional behaviors, would not react well when encountering races such as the Klingons, or Romulans.

  • For the record, her story about Carbon Creek was (probably) a "tall tale" rather than something that actually happened. – Valorum Dec 17 '14 at 14:24
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    @Richard at the end of the episode she has the purse(from earth) from her ancestor that was in carbon creek, so i assumed that it was in fact true because of that. – Himarm Dec 17 '14 at 14:27
  • It's left to the viewer's imagination whether it's real or not. – Valorum Dec 17 '14 at 14:43
  • The character Mestral is mentioned in books. memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Mestral – Daniel Ryan Apr 6 at 1:30
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Perhaps None.

The goal of First Contact is not necessarily to gain anything, but to avoid the chaos that an accidental encounter could lead to.

In the "modern" Star Trek times, the Federation initiates First Contact with any civilization that is about to develop Warp Drive. There doesn't seem to be any question of "benefit" to the Federation.

The Federation (and the Vulcans before them) are reasonably concerned about the misunderstandings that could occur if a new warp-capable civilization were to encounter them accidentally.

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As pointed out by @Joe L, there is no 'canon' on this. I assumed they did this in order to make humanity's interstellar expansion progress more smoothly and prudently than it might have with no guidance, and they did this out of enlightened self-interest - essentially, so that, for example, humans wouldn't give them grief the way Andorians had.

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