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Re-Evaulating the Pequot War

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Abstract:

The Pequot War was not an Indian war fought for English settler expansion; in key ways, it was an extension of the Thirty Years’ War to North America.
The traditional view of the Pequot war of 1637 is that the New England Puritans were eager to fight the “savages”, and created an opportunity to do so by demonizing the Pequots as a vicious threat. I will show that the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not eager to fight an Indian war in 1637 and were far less concerned with native foes than with European. I will also show that their battle strategies were not a response to fighting “Indians” but standard tactics of the Thirty Years’ War in which they believed they were fighting.
By 1637 the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in particular were on extremely heightened alert for an attack from one of four outside sources: the Catholic French in Canada and Maine; the Dutch in Manhattan (and encroaching into Connecticut); the Catholic Spanish, who would take over Dutch lands if the Dutch Netherlands lost the Thirty Years’ War; and, most critically, the English crown. The MBC was on a war footing, and I will show that it was a mixture of chance and the concerted efforts of the Narragansetts that triggered the Pequot War.
The war in fact strikes one almost as a simple switch of focus from Parliament to Pequots. The people of MBC had been calling emergency watches since 1632 to prepare for an attempt to impose a royal governor; canon had been trained on the harbor for years. Now the watches turned from east to south. The Pequot War was fought generally reluctantly by the MBC, with as few men as possible, and reaction to the victory was matter-of-fact and brief. All these signs point to a people not lusting for Indian blood so much as dealing with the first foe of many that had actually made a move.
When fighting heathens, whether Catholics in Germany or Pequots in Connecticut, no holds were barred. Civilian massacre was the calling card of European religious war; burning cities and slaughtering civilians indiscriminately
Insisting that the Pequot War was not a defensive war is to force a 21st-century worldview onto the Puritans of the 17th century. To them, as I will show, it was a defensive battle, against one of many foes, to preserve a colony that seemed on the verge of annihilation. When it had to be fought, it was fought in the tradition of religious warfare, and when it was over it was completely forgotten. It was not kept alive in Puritan memory as a great victory to be savored and enjoyed. It would not be until 1676 that a real Indian war was fought, for no other reason than to expand white colonization and remove Americans from their lands.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509050_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Rogers-Stokes, Lori. "Re-Evaulating the Pequot War" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509050_index.html>

APA Citation:

Rogers-Stokes, L. "Re-Evaulating the Pequot War" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509050_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: The Pequot War was not an Indian war fought for English settler expansion; in key ways, it was an extension of the Thirty Years’ War to North America.
The traditional view of the Pequot war of 1637 is that the New England Puritans were eager to fight the “savages”, and created an opportunity to do so by demonizing the Pequots as a vicious threat. I will show that the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not eager to fight an Indian war in 1637 and were far less concerned with native foes than with European. I will also show that their battle strategies were not a response to fighting “Indians” but standard tactics of the Thirty Years’ War in which they believed they were fighting.
By 1637 the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in particular were on extremely heightened alert for an attack from one of four outside sources: the Catholic French in Canada and Maine; the Dutch in Manhattan (and encroaching into Connecticut); the Catholic Spanish, who would take over Dutch lands if the Dutch Netherlands lost the Thirty Years’ War; and, most critically, the English crown. The MBC was on a war footing, and I will show that it was a mixture of chance and the concerted efforts of the Narragansetts that triggered the Pequot War.
The war in fact strikes one almost as a simple switch of focus from Parliament to Pequots. The people of MBC had been calling emergency watches since 1632 to prepare for an attempt to impose a royal governor; canon had been trained on the harbor for years. Now the watches turned from east to south. The Pequot War was fought generally reluctantly by the MBC, with as few men as possible, and reaction to the victory was matter-of-fact and brief. All these signs point to a people not lusting for Indian blood so much as dealing with the first foe of many that had actually made a move.
When fighting heathens, whether Catholics in Germany or Pequots in Connecticut, no holds were barred. Civilian massacre was the calling card of European religious war; burning cities and slaughtering civilians indiscriminately
Insisting that the Pequot War was not a defensive war is to force a 21st-century worldview onto the Puritans of the 17th century. To them, as I will show, it was a defensive battle, against one of many foes, to preserve a colony that seemed on the verge of annihilation. When it had to be fought, it was fought in the tradition of religious warfare, and when it was over it was completely forgotten. It was not kept alive in Puritan memory as a great victory to be savored and enjoyed. It would not be until 1676 that a real Indian war was fought, for no other reason than to expand white colonization and remove Americans from their lands.


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