The Pequot War

Published: 2021-08-07 15:45:05
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Furthermore, an alternative hypothesis is given in which English authorities’ eagerness was the chief cause for intertribal warfare. |(no detected biases) | |Puritans and Pequots: The Question Of Genocide ( Primary Source: The New England Quarterly, Volume 68, No2, page 278-293 ) (Paper) |Michael Freeman |Feb 4, 2005 |The paper is author’s “genocide” concept analysis and a interpretive concern whether Puritans committed genocide against the Pequots or not. (no detected biases) | |A True Relation Of The Late Battell Fought In New England, Between The English And The Salvages: With The Present State Of Things There (Book) |Philip Vincent |unknown |The book is a synopsis account of the crucial engagement of the Pequot war, which occurred 6 months after the Mystic Massacre. |He proudly indicated that English was the first “discoverers” of the New World, which was settled by Native Americans thousands of years ago. Another “superior race” biased ideology.
He claimed New England’s land could only be fertile by “industrious hands. ” | |Battle Of Mystic Fort (Woodcut) |John Underhill |unknown |The wood cut is a bird-eye, general view depiction of the Battle of Mystic Fort in 1637. |(no detected biases) | | SOURCE ANALYSIS First of all, Michael Freeman’s “Puritans and Pequots: The Question of Genocide” is examined as an informative source for this aspect of United States history. There are two crucial themes the author pointed out in the article: conflict’s importance and how it’s related to the term “genocide”.
Firstly, there were four fundamental reasons for the conflict between European settlers and native people. The first large-scale chief cause for its cruciality is the first violent confrontation between the English colonists in New England against indigenous people. Additionally, this is also considered as the first violent encounter between the Puritans and native Americans. Moreover, the mentioned incident could be seen as an episode in the history of United States of America’s establishment.
Ultimately, the Pequot event is a typical instance of inter-ethnic violence between colonial settlers and autochthonous people. Furthermore, the term genocide ( which was coined in the World War II period of time by Raphael Lemkin, ) means a political crime for deliberately devastating an ethnic group or a nation in large-scale circumstances, which was proclaimed by Freeman to determine the comparison between the Puritans’ Pequot campaign to attack Indians’ village and the concept genocide nowadays. Now, lets take a look at Cramer’s “The Pequot War – Another View”.
The author provided us with a reliable history detail that there was a serious disadvantage in identifying the truth for the Pequot war, that is, we are all dependent on English and Dutch written records. And obviously, this one-side incident documentaries from these parties could be possibly interest in their action justification. Furthermore, we could not also eliminate these remnants and rely only on archeological evidences, which are inadequate and inaccurate. This handicapped fact plays an essential role in Pequot war analysis process as well as hypothesis to explain.
As an overview, Cramer’s paper did a good job on providing vital theories to explain the incident then and now, which is a complement to Freeman’s article about the conflict importances we discussed before. The first most popular theory for Pequot war’s motivation is “just war” ideology by the Puritans. More specifically, by assertion of “fierce, cruel, and warlike People than the Rest of the Indians” and the death of Captain John Stone by a Pequot warrior, it was a serious necessity for European colonists to assault Pequot stronghold at all cost.
The later theory in mid nineteenth theory was aimed to claim that it was a savagely, aggressive action of English colonists to fight back the Pequot Indians. In addition, the colonists had already taken advantages of the hostilities and conflicts between Indians tribes to start out the war. The most recently theory was given in 1960s pointed out that the profoundly cause for the assault due to the desire of English authorities, especially Massachusetts, to expand their trade routes with Indians tribes. The last useful information about Pequot war Cramer brought into his paper was the cast of Pequot drama.
On the side of colonists’ governments, we had Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colony, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. On the indigenous’ side, there were also four significant Indians tribes, namely, Narragansett, Niantic, Mohegan, and the Block Islanders. The third sources i would like to mention is the popular book by John Mason – A Brief History Of The Pequot War and “A True Relation Of The Late Battell Fought In New England, Between The English And The Salvages: With The Present State Of Things There” by Philip Vincent.
Both were literally books that were written by the contemporary period of time. The first thing that surprised the readers was the old English writing style and aged english words by the authors, which could be somehow a barrier for spectators to understand and follow the flows of story-telling style. The information was mostly the authors’ feelings and tellings about the events from stem to stern: from New England depicting to the inside causes of Pequot war. PAPER “It was a great ball game and everybody participated. Pequot is a good ball club and they beat us earlier.
This was probably the best game we played all year. I’m proud of the girls … really proud of them. ” (Harold Chitwood) Pequot war was a violent conflict between English colonists and their Native American allies against another indigenous tribe called Pequot, which occurred in the years from 1637 to 1638. For the most considerings, the Pequot war was described as one of the most first sanguinary warfare that took place in America. Additionally, this bloody conflict could be considered as an essential episode in United States of America’s history.
This paper is aimed to break down the Pequot war from soup to nuts, which starts with the Pequot tribe’s origin, the battle’s causes, participants, battle development process, and eventually the aftermath of the incident. Foremost, a closer look at Pequot people and their dawn of settlement are analyzed in order to understand more insightful about the Pequot war. Pequot people were a Native American ethnic group , who occupied in American eastern region – nowadays called Connecticut, in roughly 17th century.
While many historians believed that the Pequots migrated to central and south Connecticut from upper Hudson River in early 16th century, some debated that they were Connecticut indigenous residents for thousands of years. They were considerably dominant in economics, military as well as political establishment; their population varied around 16,000, which was the most densely inhabitance tribe in New England. After the dreadful epidemic in 1633, came along with the Pequot war, their population significantly decreased to only approximately 3,000 people.
Nowadays, there are only two Pequot communities in Connecticut, which are legally acknowledged by the United States, namely, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe Of Connecticut and Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation. (1) Before interpreting the Pequot war, lets remind ourselves the era of conquest to New World of Europeans. By the late 15th century, with advantages in new technologies as well as population growth and government supports, many European superior nations includes England, Netherlands, Spain, and French started their voyages across Atlantic to New World.
They made contact with indigenous people for mutual beneficial relationships through trading. Time by time, trading with europeans had become a crucial role in many Native American tribes, Pequot was not an exception. Before the inception of the war, the effort to dominate fur trade with europeans, a political division between Pequot and Mohegan occurred, which resulted in different trading alliance: Mohegan with the English and Pequot with the Dutch.
Tensions were sparked between the Pequots and other Indians tribes due to a series of fur trading-related contemporary incidents. (2) Next, the causes for Pequot war are broke down. There is a large pool of assumptions and ideas for the causes of Pequot war, some are biases, others may not be reliable. Regarding to many historians and documentaries, there are three fundamental theories for the Pequot war to broke out by Clayton E. Cramer’s The Pequot War – Another View article.
First of all, the oldest theory claimed that Pequot’s actions was the chief motivation for the conflict. As mentioned before, the Dutch was primary trade subject of Pequot tribe, as an retaliation for the death of their sachem, Tatobem, who was kidnapped for ransom by the Dutch during a vessel trade, the Pequot assaulted and murdered an English captain, John Stone and seven of his crew with unawareness about the nationality of John Stone, mistook him with an Dutch businessman.
By the assertion of Pequot people, who were fierce, cruel, and warlike, the death of Captain John Stone was a pedal for English colonists to burn down their fortification at Mystic, which will be discussed later in this paper. In 1856, a contrary theory was given by many historians, which asserted that the English colonists’ authorities was driving force for the violent encounter. More specifically, the English took advantages of profoundly tensions between the Pequots and other Indians’ tribes to deploy the raid campaign.
Nonetheless, Europeans’ Native American tribes alliance was basically an passive factor. Ultimately, the most recently hypothesis as well as the most modern one believed that the English colonists desired to occupy Pequot land to expand their favorable trading process and political domination over New England. As easily observation, we can see all above three debated theories both have a acceleration force by the English colonizers, the authorities wanted to show off their civilization dominance over the Indians, as a proof for the biassed expression: “superior race” at the first days they came to New World. 3) Furthermore, participants in the drama of Pequot war also played a significant role in the battle as a general view. First of all, on the side of the English settlers, we have Massachusetts Bay colony, which was run by John Winthrop and Sir Henry Vane in separated intervals; Plymouth colony whose governors Edward Winslow and William Bradford; Thomas Hooker in Connecticut and finally Roger Williams’ Rhode Island. In addition, Captain John Mason and John Underhill, who were military commanders were also important figures on the assault of Fort Mystic.
Secondly, notable Indians tribe were the Pequots, the Mohegan, the Niantics, and the Narragansett came along with many indispensable Indians characters, namely, Sassacus, Pequot’ sachem, Uncas, the sachem of the Mohegan, Miantonomo – Narragansett’s prominent sachem, and Wequash, sagamore of the Niantics. Above listed participants are divided into two sides, the first side is English colonists with their allies – the Mohegan and the Narragansett.
On the opposite party, the Pequot allied with the Niantics to fight against the colonists and their traditional enemies. (4) Now, lets examine step-by-step development of the Pequot war, which is divided into three important stages: Block Island incident, the Pequot’s raid, and the Mystic Massacre. Afterwards the incident of John Stone’s death, the dead-alone case of John Oldham in his pinnace, Block Island, was considerably a accelerator for the inception of Pequot war.
By the founded evidence, Narragansett and Block Island native people were accused for the death of Mr. Oldham. Subsequently, Miantomono – the supreme sachem of Narragansett – returned Oldham’s two sons and his properties as appeasement and raised an army of roughly two hundred warriors to Block Island for vengeance on behalf of Massachusetts. To seek for their own revenge, John Endicott and approximately ninety men were commissioned by Massachusetts’ authorities to strike Block Island, burned down their enemies’ crops, canoes, and shelters.
Later on, Commander John Edicott decided to chase down the Pequots to retaliate for the death of Captain John Stone and John Oldham but he failed to engage and sailed back home to Boston. (5) “They had commission to put to death the men of Block Island, but to spare the women and children, and to bring them away, and to take possession of the island, and from then to go to the Pequots to demand the murderers of Captain Stone and other English… ” (John Winthrop, Massachusetts’ governor) The second stage of the war was the wrath of the Pequots and their raids.
While Massachusetts cooperated with Mohegan and Narragansett as there allies to fight against the Pequots, who were in a preparation to enhance their military strength by recruiting 36 tributary villages and western Niantics. On April, 1637, the Pequots stroke Wethersfield as an recrimination, which was asked by Sowheag – who was dispossessed sachem by the settlers of Wethersfield. Six men and three women were murdered, two young girls were kidnapped, possessions were destroyed. As a climax, general Court of Connecticut claimed war against the Pequots a week after the raid event.
The governor of Connecticut summoned Captain John Mason and ninety English militia, who were supported by seventy Mohegan’ soldiers under the command of their paramount sachem, Uncas. At Fort Saybrook, Captain John Mason’s army joined with Captain John Underhill and his twenty men. The plan of the troop was to sail from Fort Saybrook to Narragansett Bay and then land at Fort Mystic to prepare for a surprise attack on the Pequots’ village before dawn. (6) “We had formerly concluded to destroy them by the sword and save the plunder. ” (Captain John Mason)
The last stage of the warfare was the bloody Mystic Massacre. Sassacus, Pequot’ sachem, believed English sailed back to Boston, recruited a army of hundreds of men in order to strike Hartford. Thus, the remaining of the Pequots’ villagers were mostly women, children, and elders. The attack took place in 26 May, 1637, with an altogether ground forces of more than 400 men, Captain John Mason commanded English militia to attack the interior of the village, set the wigwams on fire, their Native Americans’ allies supported the English by the exterior.
Roughly 600 to 700 Pequots inhabitants were killed, everyone who tried to climb over the palisade were murdered by the English militia or Indians allies, a small number of Pequots escaped to the woods or were captured as prisoners. Later on, after witnessing the terrifying destructions of their homeland in Mystic, group of Pequots’ men attempted to chase down the English, who had already returned to their home with their Indians’ allies, but failed to do so. The mission was accomplished by Captain John Mason, who justified his missions by the desire of God to punish a fierce, cruel, aggressive race. 7) As an aftermath of the Pequot war, the Treaty of Hartford was considered as a disposition agreement on Pequots’ lands between Indians’ tribes – the Mohegans and Narragansetts – and English’s Connecticut General Court. On the Pequots’ survivors side, many of them failed to find new shelters in neighborhood Indians’ tribe and eventually gave up their hope by selling themselves as slaves to Bermuda or West Indies, others were offered as households servants for English in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Since the Mystics Massacre, a long-term peace lasted between Indians and colonists because many indigenous people were too frightened to fight against the foreign settlers. (8) In conclusion, it’s not excessive to claim that Pequot war was one of the most dreadful battle inn the early history page of the United States of America, the first violent encounter between Puritans and Native American, it was also considered as an inter-ethnic violence, which was related by the term “genocide” by Michael Freeman’s book.

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