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    HIST 1151 American History to 1877 MORE Primary Source Readings: Unit 1 First Contact and British North America

    HIST 1151 American History to 1877 MORE Primary Source Readings:  Unit 1 First Contact and British North America


    A collection of primary source readings for American History to 1877.

    In Defense of the Indians (1550)

    This is a second set of primary sources by Jennifer Nardone to use in addition to, or instead of, the primary source set by Christianna Hurford.

    The primary source readings in this course align with CSCC's version of The American Yawp, Volume 1, which is derived from the The American Yawp open textbook by Stanford University Press.  While the original The American Yawp is accompanied by its own primary source reader called The American Yawp Reader, the selection of primary sources you will find in this course differ somewhat in that some of the text excerpts are from the same sources but might feature a different selection from the text. Some of the primary sources in this course are in addition to those found in The American Yawp Reader. 

    Microsoft Word and PDF downloads of these readings are available.

    To take this course for credit, register at Columbus State Community College.

    This work, except where otherwise indicated, by Jennifer Nardone at Columbus State Community College is licensed CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.

    In Defense of the Indians (1550)

    Bartolomé de las Casas


    In 1516, Charles I, King of the Spanish Empire, appointed Catholic friar Bartolomé de Las Casas Protector of the Indians in New Spain. De las Casas spent the next 50 years travelling back and forth between Mexico City and Spain reporting on the treatment of Native Americans as New Spain consolidated control over the Americas. As expansion in New Spain increased, a debate over Spanish treatment of the Indians grew stronger as well. Spanish colonizers believed the conquest of the Indians was justified by the expansion of civilization and Christianity. Many believed the Spanish had divine authority to wage war against “savage peoples,” and take them as slaves. Iberian scholar Gines de Sepúlveda[1] offered intellectual and religious authority to the argument that Indians were barbaric, thus violence in the name of civilization and Christianity was necessary.


    Starting in the 1520s, De Las Casas regularly sent letters to King Charles exposing the horrific violence and oppression inflicted on the Indians by Spanish colonists. He called on the Spanish Crown to impose stricter controls on the colonists of New Spain, and offered detailed accounts of the atrocities he witnessed over decades in Americas. His best-known tract, In Defense of the Indians, was written in 1550 in direct response to Sepúlveda’s recent letter to the Crown arguing once again that the barbarity of the Indians required violence and mass destruction.[2]




    Illustrious Prince:

    It is right that matters which concern the safety and peace of the great empire placed in your keeping by the divine goodness be reported to you, for you rule Spain and that marvelous New World in the name of the great Charles, your father, and you strive for immortal glory, not just with the imperial power but especially with the generous spirit and with the wisdom implanted in you by Christ.


    Therefore, I have thought it advisable to bring to the attention of Your Highness that there has come into my hands a certain brief synopsis in Spanish of a work that Gines de Sepulveda is reported to have written in Latin. In it he gives four reasons, each of which, in his opinion, proves beyond refutation that war against the Indians is justified, provided that it be waged properly and the laws of war be observed, just as, up to the present, the kings of Spain have commanded that it be waged and carried out. I hear that it is this man's intention to demonstrate the title by which the Kings of Spain possess the empire of the Indies and to bolster his position with arguments and laws, so that from now on no one will be able to slander you even tacitly on this point. I have read and reread this work carefully. And it is said that Sepulveda drives home various other points at greater length in his Latin work (which I have not yet had the chance to see). What impression it has made on others I do not know. I certainly have detected in it poisons disguised with honey. Under pretext of pleasing his prince, a man who is a theologian[3] offers honey-coated poison. In place of bread, he offers a stone.


    Great prince, unless this deadly poison is stopped by your wisdom, so that it will not become widespread, it will infect the minds of readers, deceive the unwary, and arm and incite tyrants to injustice. Believe me, that little book will bring ruin to the minds of many. In the first place, while claiming that he wants to vindicate your jurisdiction over the Indies[4], he tears to pieces and reduces your rights by presenting arguments that are partly foolish, partly false, partly of the kind that have the least force. Furthermore, if this man's judgment in this matter should be printed [and] sanctioned with the royal license and privilege, there can be no doubt that within a short time the empire of the Indies will be entirely overthrown and destroyed.


    Indeed, if so many laws already issued, so many decrees, so many harsh threats, and so many statutes conscientiously enacted by the Emperor Charles and his predecessors have been ineffective in preventing so many thousands of innocent men from perishing by sword, hunger, and all the misfortunes of total war, and extensive areas of their highly civilized kingdoms and most fertile provinces from being savagely devastated; if the fear of God and the dread of hell have not even moderated (I shall not say curbed) the utterly ruthless and cruel spirits of the Spaniards; if the outcries of preachers and holy men that they were barred from the sacraments of the Church and were not forgiven in sacramental confession were of no avail, what will happen when evil men (for whom, according to the old proverb, nothing is wanting except the opportunity) read that a scholar, a doctor of theology, and the royal historian has published books approving those criminal wars and hellish campaigns, and, by supporting arguments, confirms and defends the unheard-of crime whereby Christian men, forgetting Christian virtue, hold in slavery those people, the most unfortunate of all, who appear to have escaped the ferocity of that most cruel race by chance rather than by the mercy of the Spaniards? Furthermore [what will happen when they read] that he teaches that soldiers may lawfully keep everything they take in these wars, even though they undertook the campaign with the evil intention of looting, that is, of pillaging by fire, sword, murder, plunder and violence, upsetting, overturning, and throwing into confusion all laws, divine and human, and that they are not bound to restore such goods because the Spaniards who do these things and shed the blood of the innocent consecrate their hands to God (as I hear Sepulveda has written) and merit Christ's grace because they prevent the worship of idols?


    Whom will they spare? What blood will they not shed? What cruelty will they not commit, these brutal men who are hardened to seeing fields bathed in human blood, who make no distinction of sex or age, who do not spare infants at their mothers' breasts, pregnant women, the great, the lowly, or even men of feeble and gray old age for whom the weight of years usually awakens reverence or mercy? What will they not do if they hear that there is a man teaching that they are consecrating their hands to God when they crush the Indians with massacres, pillaging, and tyranny-that they are doing the same as those who killed the Children of Israel who were adoring the calf?[5] They will give more trust to him, as to someone who tells them what they want to hear, than they would to the son of God himself if he were face to face before us and teaching something different.


    If, then, the Indians are being brought to the point of extermination, if as many peoples are being destroyed as widespread kingdoms are being overthrown, what sane man would doubt that the most flourishing empire of the New World, once its native inhabitants have been destroyed, will become a wilderness, and nothing but dominion over tigers, lions, and wild beasts for the Kings of Spain?


    ... Therefore, when Sepúlveda, by word or in his published works, teaches that campaigns against the Indians are lawful, what does he do except encourage oppressors and provide an opportunity for as many crimes and lamentable evils as these [men] commit, more than anyone would find it possible to believe? In the meantime, with most certain harm to his own soul, he is the reason why countless human beings, suffering brutal massacres, perish forever, that is, men who, through the inhuman brutality of the Spaniards, breathe their last before they heard the word of God [or] are fed by Christ's gentle doctrine [or] are strengthened by the Christian sacraments. What more horrible or unjust occurrence can be imagined than this? Therefore, if Sepúlveda's opinion (that campaigns against the Indians are lawful) is approved, the most holy faith of Christ, to the reproach of the name Christian, will be hateful and detestable to all the peoples of the world to whom the word will come of the inhuman crimes that the Spaniards inflict on that unhappy race, so that neither in our lifetime nor in the future will they want to accept our faith under any condition, for they see that its first heralds are not pastors but plunderers, not fathers but tyrants, and that those who profess it are ungodly, cruel and without pity in their merciless savagery.


    From this it is clear that the basis for Sepúlveda's teaching that these people are uncivilized and ignorant is worse than false. Yet even if we were to grant that this race has no keenness of mind or artistic ability, certainly they are not, in consequence, obliged to submit themselves to those who are more intelligent and to adopt their ways, so that, if they refuse, they may be subdued by having war waged against them and be enslaved, as happens today. For men are obliged by the natural law to do many things they cannot be forced to do against their will. We are bound by the natural law to embrace virtue and imitate the uprightness of good men. No one, however, is punished for being bad unless he is guilty of rebellion. Where the Catholic faith has been preached in a Christian manner and as it ought to be, all men are bound by the natural law to accept it, yet no one is forced to accept the faith of Christ. No one is punished because he is sunk in vice, unless he is rebellious or harms the property and persons of others…


    Now if we shall have shown that among our Indians of the western and southern shores (granting that we call them barbarians and that they are barbarians) there are important kingdoms, large numbers of people who live settled lives in a society, great cities, kings, judges and laws, persons who engage in commerce, buying, selling, lending, and the other contracts of the law of nations, will it now stand proved that the Reverend Doctor Sepúlveda has spoken wrongly and viciously against peoples like these, either out of malice or ignorance of Aristotle's teaching, and, therefore, has falsely and perhaps irreparably slandered them before the entire world?[6]


    From the fact that the Indians are barbarians[7] it does not necessarily follow that they are incapable of government and have to be ruled by others, except to be taught about the Catholic faith and to be admitted to the holy sacraments. They are not ignorant, inhuman, or bestial. Rather, long before they had heard the word Spaniard they had properly organized states, wisely ordered by excellent laws, religion, and custom. They cultivated friendship and, bound together in common fellowship, lived in populous cities in which they wisely administered the affairs of both peace and war justly and equitably, truly governed by laws that at very many points surpass ours, and could have won the admiration of the sages of Athens[8]


    Now if they are to be subjugated by war because they are ignorant of polished literature, let Sepúlveda hear Trogus Pompey:


    Nor could the Spaniards submit to the yoke of a conquered province until Caesar Augustus, after he had conquered the world, turned his victorious armies against them and organized that barbaric and wild people as a province, once he had led them by law to a more civilized way of life. Now see how he called the Spanish people barbaric and wild. I would like to hear Sepúlveda, in his cleverness, answer this question: Does he think that the war of the Romans against the Spanish was justified in order to free them from barbarism? And this question also: Did the Spanish wage an unjust war when they vigorously defended themselves them?[9]


    Next, I call the Spaniards who plunder that unhappy people torturers. Do you think that the Romans, once they had subjugated the wild and barbaric peoples of Spain, could with secure right divide all of you among themselves, handing over so many head of both males and females as allotments to individuals? And do you then conclude that the Romans could have stripped your rulers of their authority and consigned all of you, after you had been deprived of your liberty, to wretched labors, especially in searching for gold and silver lodes and mining and refining the metals? And if the Romans finally did that, as is evident from Diodorus[10], [would you not judge] that you also have the right to defend your freedom, indeed your very life, by war? Sepúlveda, would you have permitted Saint James to evangelize your own people of Cordoba in that way?[11]  For God's sake and man's faith in him, is this the way to impose the yoke of Christ on Christian men? Is this the way to remove wild barbarism from the minds of barbarians? Is it not, rather, to act like thieves, cut-throats, and cruel plunderers and to drive the gentlest of people headlong into despair?


    The Indian race is not that barbaric, nor are they dull witted or stupid, but they are easy to teach and very talented in learning all the liberal arts[12], and very ready to accept, honor, and observe the Christian religion and correct their sins (as experience has taught) once priests have introduced them to the sacred mysteries and taught them the word of God. They have been endowed with excellent conduct, and before the coming of the Spaniards, as we have said, they had political states that were well founded on beneficial laws.


    Furthermore, they are so skilled in every mechanical art that with every right they should be set ahead of all the nations of the known world on this score, so very beautiful in their skill and artistry are the things this people produces in the grace of its architecture, its painting, and its needlework. But Sepúlveda despises these mechanical arts, as if these things do not reflect inventiveness, ingenuity, industry, and right reason. For a mechanical art is an operative habit of the intellect that is usually defined as "the right way to make things, directing the acts of the reason, through which the artisan proceeds in orderly fashion, easily, and unerringly in the very act of reason." So these men are not stupid, Reverend Doctor. Their skillfully fashioned works of superior refinement awaken the admiration of all nations


    In the liberal arts that they have been taught up to now, such as grammar and logic, they are remarkably adept. With every kind of music they charm the ears of their audience with wonderful sweetness. They write skillfully and quite elegantly, so that most often we are at a loss to know whether the characters are handwritten or printed


    Now if Sepúlveda had wanted, as a serious man should, to know the full truth before he sat down to write with his mind corrupted by the lies of tyrants, he should have consulted the honest religious who have lived among those peoples for many years and know their endowments of character and industry, as well as the progress they have made in religion and morality. Indeed, Rome is far from Spain, yet in that city the talent of these people and their aptitude and capacity for grasping the liberal arts have been recognized. Here is Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Nocera, in praise of those peoples whom you call dull witted and stupid. In his History of His Times he has left this testimony for later generations to read[13]:


    Hernán Cortés, hurrying overland to the kingdoms of Mexico after defeating the Indians, occupied the city of Tenochtitlân[14], after he had conquered in many battles, using boats which he had built, that city set upon a salt lagoon—wonderful like the city of Venice in its buildings and the size of its population. As you see, he declares that the Indian city is worthy of admiration because of its buildings, which are like those of Venice[15].


    Concerning the natural gifts of that people, what does he assert? "Thus it was not altogether difficult for Cortés to lead a gifted and teachable people, once they had abandoned their superstitious idolatry, to the worship of Christ. For they learn our writing with pleasure and with admiration, now that they have given up the hieroglyphics by which they used to record their annals, enshrining for posterity in various symbols the memory of their kings."


    This is what a man of such great scholarship should have done in ascertaining the truth, instead of writing, with the sharp edge of his pen poised for the whispers of irresponsible men, his little book that slanders the Indian inhabitants of such a large part of the earth...


    No one is forced to embrace virtue and show himself as a good man. One who receives a favor is bound by the natural law to return the favor by what we call antidotal obligation. Yet no one is forced to this, nor is he punished if he omits it, according to the common interpretation of the jurists. To relieve the need of a brother is a work of mercy to which nature inclines and obliges men, yet no one is forced to give alms…Therefore, not even a truly wise man may force an ignorant barbarian to submit to him, especially by yielding his liberty, without doing him an injustice. This the poor Indians suffer, with extreme injustice, against all the laws of God and of men and against the law of nature itself. For evil must not be done that good may come of it…




    [1] Spain and Portugal are located on the Iberian Peninsula (Iberia).  

    [2] This edited source draws from two other edited versions of In Defense of the Indians:

    Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, eds Voices of a People (New York City: Seven Stories Press, 2004). Second PDF here.

    [3]A theologian is a scholar of religion. During the sixteenth century, theologians were also high-ranking officials in the Catholic Church.

    [4] “Indies” refers to New Spain’s colonial claims in the Americas and across the Caribbean.

    [5] Reference to the biblical tale of Moses. During the 40 days and nights Moses spent on Mt. Sinai retrieving the Ten Commandments, the Children of Israel collected their gold and melted it into a “golden calf,” to worship instead of waiting for Moses’ return. When he did return, the Israelites were killed for their impatience, doubt, and greed. The parable of the “golden calf” generally refers to people who sacrifice their morality in pursuit of wealth and power.

    [6]Aristotle was an Ancient Greek philosopher during the fourth century BCE. One of his political treatises, later enshrined in Spanish law, gave “civilized peoples” the right to wage war against “uncivilized peoples” and enslave them. Sepúlveda used Artistole’s treatise as the basis of his argument that Indians were uncivilized and violent subjugation was justified.

    [7] “Barbarian” derives from a Greek word referring to anyone who was not Greek, and thus, not civilized.

    [8] Greek philosophers.

    [9] Trogus Pompey was a Roman philosopher and historian during the first century BCE. His 44-volume history of war and peace included several chapters about the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) during the third century BCE. For those of you who enjoy Ancient history, the conquest occurred during Julius Cesaer’s First Triumvirate of the Roman Republic.

    [10] Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who lived from 80–20 BCE. He wrote forty books of world history,

     called Library of History, in three parts: mythical history of peoples to the Trojan War (Greek and otherwise);     

     history to Alexander the Great’s death (323 BCE); and history to 54 BCE.

    [11]Saint James was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, and the first to evangelize the Iberian Peninsula. As a result, Saint James is the patron saint of Spain (Cordova is a region in Spain).

    [12]What does de las Casas mean by “liberal arts?” I suspect many of you are in the process of earning a Liberal Arts (now called Arts and Sciences) degree. What does it mean to have a “liberal arts” education?

    [13]Paolo Giovio was an Italian physician and Bishop in the Roman Catholic Church (Nocera is a diocese in southern Italy). Giovio never visited New Spain. He drew from the accounts of others for his book, History of His Times.

    [14]Aztec city destroyed by Cortés and Spanish colonizers in 1521. The Spanish built Mexico City from the ruins of Tenochtitlân.

    [15]Not sure if you need a footnote for Venice. Just in case, Venice is a city in northern Italy built entirely in a lagoon made up of over a hundred small islands. Instead of streets, Venice has canals that connect the small islands. From the eighth to sixteenth centuries, Venice was a center of trade, banking, art, and global political power. If you have never seen Venice, click here. 

    Richard Frethorne Letter Home to his Parents (1623)

    Tobacco Cultivation in Colonial Virginia
    Tobacco Cultivation in Colonial Virginia

    Richard Frethorne Letter Home to his Parents (1623)




    In the first two decades of its existence, the Virginia colony included a growing number of indentured servants, most of which were young men working on the plantations of wealthy planation owners. Indentured servants signed a legal contract (an indenture) that bound them to work for either an individual or Virginia Company, usually for seven years. In exchange for their labor, indentured servants earned their freedom from bondage and some type of “freedmen dues,” either in coin or land. The Virginia Company implemented laws to protect servants, although they were legally subject to the rule of their master. It wasn’t long before enslaved Africans outnumbered white indentured servants in the Virginia colony. At the same time, the population of freed indentured servants expecting land and opportunity increased as well.


    Richard Frethorne was about 12 or 13 years old when he arrived in Jamestown as indentured servant. Frethorne’s family was very poor and received relief from their parish church. In 1623, the parish clergy indentured him to the Virginia Company in exchange for continued poor relief for his family[1]. Frethorne wrote several letters to the parish clergy and his parents describing his conditions working on the tobacco plantation called Martin’s Hundred. The letter below was his second letter to his parents, just four months after he arrived. He begged his parents to bring him home even though they could never afford to pay off his indenture. Frethorne died in 1624, about a year after he arrived. Remember that this letter was written by a 12-year-old child sent across the world in exchange for food for his family home in England[2].


    Primary Source



    My most humble duty remembered to you, hoping in god of your good health, as I myself am at the making hereof. This is to let you understand that I your child am in a most heavy case by reason of the country, [which] is such that it causeth much sickness, [such] as the scurvy and the bloody flux and diverse other diseases, which maketh the body very poor and weak. And when we are sick there is nothing to comfort us; for since I came out of the ship I never ate anything but peas, and loblollie (that is, water gruel). As for deer or venison I never saw any since I came into this land. There is indeed some fowl, but we are not allowed to go and get it, but must work hard both early and late for a mess of water gruel and a mouthful of bread and beef. A mouthful of bread for a penny loaf[3] must serve for four men which is most pitiful. [You would be grieved] if you did know as much as I [do], when people cry out day and night – Oh! That they were in England without their limbs – and would not care to lose any limb to be in England again, yea, though they beg from door to door. For we live in fear of the enemy every hour, yet we have had a combat with them on the last Sunday before Shrovetyde[4] and we took two alive and made slaves of them[5]. But it was by policy, for we are in great danger; for our plantation is very weak by reason of the death and sickness of our company. For we came but twenty for the merchants, and they are half dead just; and we look every hour when two more should go. Yet there came some four other men yet to live with us, of which there is but one alive; and our Lieutenant is dead, and [also] his father and his brother. And there was some five or six of the last year’s twenty, of which there is but three left, so that we are fain to get other men to plant with us; and yet we are but 32 to fight against 3000 if they should come. And the nighest help that we have is ten mile of us, and when the rogues overcame this place [the] last [time] they slew 80 persons. How then shall we do, for we lie even in their teeth? They may easily take us, but [for the fact] that God is merciful and can save with few as well as with many, as he showed to Gilead[6]. And like Gilead’s soldiers, if they lapped water, we drink water which is but weak.

    And I have nothing to comfort me, nor is there nothing to be gotten here but sickness and death, except [in the event] that one had money to lay out in some things for profit. But I have nothing at all–no, not a shirt to my back but two rags (2), nor clothes but one poor suit, nor but one pair of shoes, but one pair of stockings, but one cap, [and] but two bands [collars]. My cloak is stolen by one of my fellows, and to his dying hour [he] would not tell me what he did with it; but some of my fellows saw him have butter and beef out of a ship, which my cloak, I doubt [not], paid for. So that I have not a penny, nor a penny worth, to help me too either spice or sugar or strong waters, without the which one cannot live here. For as strong beer in England doth fatten and strengthen them, so water here doth wash and weaken these here [and] only keeps [their] life and soul together. But I am not half [of] a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victuals[7]; for I do protest unto you that I have eaten more in [one] day at home than I have allowed me here for a week. You have given more than my day’s allowance to a beggar at the door; and if Mr. Jackson had not relieved me, I should be in a poor case. But he like a father and she like a loving mother doth still help me.

    For when we go to Jamestown (that is 10 miles of us) there lie all the ships that come to land, and there they must deliver their goods. And when we went up to town [we would go], as it may be, on Monday at noon, and come there by night, [and] then load the next day by noon, and go home in the afternoon, and unload, and then away again in the night, and [we would] be up about midnight. Then if it rained or blowed never so hard, we must lie in the boat on the water and have nothing but a little bread. For when we go into the boat we [would] have a loaf allowed to two men, and it is all [we would get] if we stayed there two days, which is hard; and [we] must lie all that while in the boat. But that Goodman Jackson pitied me and made me a cabin to lie in always when I [would] come up, and he would give me some poor jacks [fish] [to take] home with me, which comforted me more than peas or water gruel. Oh, they be very godly folks, and love me very well, and will do anything for me.

    And he much marvelled that you would send me a servant to the Company; he saith I had been better knocked on the head. And indeed so I find it now, to my great grief and misery; and [I] saith that if you love me you will redeem[8] me suddenly, for which I do entreat and beg. And if you cannot get the merchants to redeem me for some little money, then for God’s sake get a gathering or entreat some good folks to lay out some little sum of money in meal and cheese and butter and beef. Any eating meat will yield great profit. Oil and vinegar is very good; but, father, there is great loss in leaking. But for God’s sake send beef and cheese and butter, or the more of one sort and none of another. But if you send cheese, it must be very old cheese; and at the cheesemonger’s you may buy very food cheese for twopence farthing or halfpenny, that will be liked very well. But if you send cheese, you must have a care how you pack it in barrels; and you must put cooper’s chips between every cheese, or else the heat of the hold will rot them. And look whatsoever you send me – be in never so much–look, what[ever] I make of it, I will deal truly with you. I will send it over and beg the profit to redeem me; and if I die before it come, I have entreated Goodman Jackson to send you the worth of it, who hath promised he will. If you send, you must direct your letters to Goodman Jackson, at Jamestown, a gunsmith. (You must set down his freight, because there be more of his name there.) Good father, do not forget me, but have mercy and pity my miserable case. I know if you did but see me, you would weep to see me; for I have but one suit. (But [though] it is a strange one, it is very well guarded.) Wherefore, for God’s sake, pity me. I pray you to remember my love to all my friends and kindred. I hope all my brothers and sisters are in good health, and as for my part I have set down my resolution that certainly will be; that is, that the answer of this letter will be life or death to me. Therefore, good father, send as soon as you can; and if you send me any thing let this be the mark[9].






    [1] The Frethornes lived in one of the poorest neighborhoods in London, in-between the Tower of London and the London Bridge – now one of most expensive neighborhoods in the city. St. Dunston-in-the-East, the neighborhood (parish) church that sent Richard to the Virginia colony still exists. The church was built in 1100 and is a beautiful example of high Medieval church architecture.

    [2] Richard Frethorne, letter to his father and mother, March 20, April 2 & 3, 1623 Full source here. From: Susan Kingsbury, ed., The Records of the Virginia Company of London (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1935), 4: 58–62. Believed to be in the public domain.

    [3] Small loaf of bread, more like a roll or bun.

    [4] Shrovetyde refers to the week leading up to Lent, a period of fasting and devotion, traditionally associated with Catholicism. Lent begins roughly six weeks before Easter on Ash Wednesday. The three days prior have their own rituals and feasts, which is what Frethorne references here (the 3 days before Lent). Shrove Tuesday started as a small feast before six weeks of fasting. The French transformed the celebration into Marti Gras, which really doesn’t have much to do with Catholicism.

    [5] Just to be clear – the indentured servants caught and enslaved Powhatan Indians.

    [6] Gilead appears in the Old Testament of the Bible as both a place and person. The character of Gilead created one of the Israelite tribes called Gilead. 

    [7] Food and drink.

    [8] Bring me back home.

    [9] How you address the letter back to me.

    [10] Martin’s Hundred was an 80,000-acre tract of land granted by the Virginia Company to a small group of wealthy London businessmen. The land was divided among the businessmen, who started indenturing poor Englishmen en mass. The early plantations were spread out along the James River, and as Frethorne described, tended to be far away from the town centers.

    Image: Used with permission from Florida Center for Instructional Technology

    The Jesuit Relations (1640)

    The Jesuit Relations (1640)

    Paul LeJuene and Jerome Lalemant




    By the 1630s, New France stretched from the coast of Louisiana to Northern Canada, and remained sparsely populated outside of Montreal and New Orleans. Outside of the towns, New France was primarily populated by a wide-variety of Indian Nations, French colonists involved in the fur trade (mostly beaver), and Catholics Priests known as the Jesuits, sent throughout the Northern regions (north of the Ohio River) to live among the Native Americans with the intention of converting them to Catholicism. As the moved south and west from Quebec, Jesuit priests and nuns constructed small missions consisting of a church, hospital, and modest housing. The Catholic Diocese, located in Montreal, required each Jesuit mission to submit an annual report of the activities and events of the past year. The “Relation,” as the report was called, included individual journals kept by all of the priests in the mission detailing everything from the weather to detailed accounts of their interactions with local Native Americans.


    In the Relation of 1640, Father Paul Le Jeune reported from Quebec while Father Jerome Lalemant corresponded from the mission among the Hurons. Le Jeune founded the Notre Dame de Recouvrance in Angers, Quebec, 200 miles west of Montreal. Lalemant founded Sainte-Marie among the Hurons about 500 miles away in what is now Midland, Ontario. Both Jesuits learned the languages and gained an understanding of the cultures of the different Indian Nations as they lived among them and worked to convert them to Catholicism. In 1639/40, a smallpox epidemic spread throughout Canada and the Ohio River Valley. Some Native Americans fled to the Catholic missions in search of healing and protection. Others saw the French as responsible for the spread of illness and death and responded accordingly.[1]



    Primary Source


    Of the Hospital.

    The hospital Nuns arrived at Kébec[2] on the first day of the month of August of last year. Scarcely had they disembarked before they found themselves overwhelmed with patients[3]. The hall of the Hospital being too small, it was necessary to erect some cabins, fashioned like those of the Savages[4], in their garden. Not having enough furniture for so many people, they had to cut in two or three pieces part of the blankets and sheets they had brought for these poor sick people. In a word, instead of taking a little rest, and refreshing themselves after the great discomforts they had suffered upon the sea, they found themselves so burdened and occupied that we had fear of losing them and their hospital at its very birth. The sick came from all directions in such numbers, their stench was so insupportable, the heat so great, the fresh food so scarce and so poor, in a country so new and strange, that I do not know how these good sisters, who almost had not even leisure in which to take a little sleep, endured all these hardships. . . . All the French born in the country were attacked by this contagion, as well as the Savages...

    In brief, from the month of August until the month of May[5], more than one hundred patients entered the hospital, and more than two hundred poor Savages found relief there, either in temporary treatment or in sleeping there one or two nights, or more. There have been seen as many as ten, twelve, twenty, or thirty of them at a time. Twenty poor sick people have received holy Baptism there; and about twenty-four, quitting this house of mercy, have entered the regions of glory...


    Father Claude Pijard[6], who has had charge of the instruction of the poor of this house, during the entire winter, has given me a little relation, couched in these terms: "In the morning, we had the Savages say prayers, and, some time after, the holy Mass was celebrated, at which those who had been baptized were present; after dinner, we had them recite the catechism[7], and then gave them a little explanation of it, usually adding some pious story that one of the Savages repeated. In the evening, they made their examination of conscience; they confessed and received communion[8] every two weeks, and would have done so oftener if we had permitted them. They showed their devotion by often visiting the most holy Sacrament, by saying their rosary several times a day, by singing spiritual canticles, which have succeeded their barbarous songs, - in short, by fasting throughout the sacred forty days, for those who could do so[9]...

    "I have often wondered," says the Mother [Superior], "how these persons, so different in country, age, and sex, can agree so well. In France, a Nun has to be on her guard every day in our houses, to prevent disputes among our poor, or to quell them; and all winter we have not observed the least discord among our sick Savages, - not even a slight quarrel has arisen.


    "The remedies that we brought from Europe are very good for the Savages, who have no difficulty in taking our medicines, nor in having themselves bled[10]. The love of the mothers toward their children is very great, for they take in their own mouths the medicine intended for their children, and then pass it into the mouths of their little ones." Thus the good Mother wrote to me.


    The Savages who leave the hospital, and who come to see us again at St. Joseph, or at the three Rivers, say a thousand pleasant things about these good Nuns. They call them "the good," "the liberal," "the charitable." The Mother Superior[11] having fallen sick, these poor Savages were very sorry, the sick blaming themselves for it. "It is we who have made her sick," they said; "she loves us too much; why does she do so much for us?" When this good Mother, having recovered, entered the hall of the poor, they knew not how to welcome her enough. They have good reason to love these good Mothers: for I do not know that parents have so sweet, so strong, and so constant an affection for their children as these good women have for their patients. I have often seen them so overwhelmed that they were utterly exhausted; yet I have never heard them complain, either of the too great number of their patients, or of the infection, or of the trouble they gave them. They have hearts so loving and so tender towards these poor people that, if occasionally some little present were given them, one could be very certain that they would not taste it, however greatly they might need it, everything being dedicated and consecrated to their sick. This charity had to be moderated, and an order was given them to eat at least a part of the little gifts that were made to them, especially when they were not strong. I am not surprised if the Savages, who recognize very clearly this great charity, love, cherish, and honor them.


    Father Buteux wrote, some days ago, to the Reverend Father Superior that a woman who had remained a long time at the hospital did a great deal of good among the Savages of her nation, instructing them with much fervor. This is the common practice of those who have passed the winter in this holy house; they afterwards preach to their compatriots with great zeal.


    Of the Condition of the Country.


    Let us come to the disease which, having put everything in desolation, gave us much exercise, but was also an occasion of much consolation to us, - God having given us hardly any other harvest than from that quarter.


    It was upon the return from the journey which the Hurons had made to Kébec, that it started in the country, - our Hurons, while again on their way up here, having thoughtlessly mingled with the Algonquins, whom they met on the route, most of whom were infected with smallpox.[12] The first Huron who introduced it came ashore at the foot of our house, newly built on the bank of a lake, - whence being carried to his own village, about a league distant from us, he died straightway after. Without being a great prophet, one could assure one's self that the evil would soon be spread abroad through all these regions: for the Hurons - no matter what plague or contagion they may have - live in the midst of their sick, in the same indifference, and community of all things, as if they were in perfect health. In fact, in a few days, almost all those in the cabin of the deceased found themselves infected; then the evil spread from house to house, from village to village, and finally became scattered throughout the country.


    Of the Persecutions Excited Against Us.


    The villages nearer to our new house having been the first ones attacked, and most afflicted, the devil did not fail to seize his opportunity for reawakening all the old imaginations, and causing the former complaints of us, and of our sojourn in these quarters, to be renewed; as if it were the sole cause of all their misfortunes, and especially of the sick. They no longer speak of aught else, they cry aloud that the French must be massacred. These barbarians animate one another to that effect; the death of their nearest relatives takes away their reason, and increases their rage against us so strongly in each village that the best informed can hardly believe that we can survive so horrible a storm.


    They observed, with some sort of reason, that, since our arrival in these lands, those who had been the nearest to us, had happened to be the most ruined by the diseases, and that the whole villages of those who had received us now appeared utterly exterminated; and certainly, they said, the same would be the fate of all the others if the course of this misfortune were not stopped by the massacre of those who were the cause of it. This was a common opinion, not only in private conversation but in the general councils held on this account, where the plurality of the votes went for our death, - there being only a few elders who thought they greatly obliged us by resolving upon banishment.


    What powerfully confirmed this false imagination was that, at the same time, they saw us dispersed throughout the country, - seeking all sorts of ways to enter the cabins, instructing and baptizing those most ill with a care which they had never seen. No doubt, they said, it must needs be that we had a secret understanding with the disease (for they believe that it is a demon), since we alone were all full of life and health, although we constantly breathed nothing but a totally infected air, - staying whole days close by the side of the most foul smelling patients, for whom every one felt horror; no doubt we carried the trouble with us, since, wherever we set foot, either death or disease followed us.


    In consequence of all these sayings, many had us in abomination; they expelled us from their cabins, and did not allow us to approach their sick, and especially children: not even to lay eyes on them, - in a word, we were dreaded as the greatest sorcerers on earth.


    Wherein truly it must be acknowledged that these poor people are in some sense excusable. For it has happened very often, and has been remarked more than a hundred times, that where we were most welcome, where we baptized most people, there it was in fact where they died the most; and, on the contrary, in the cabins to which we were denied entrance, although they were sometimes sick to extremity, at the end of a few days one saw every person prosperously cured. We shall see in heaven the secret, but ever adorable, judgments of God therein...


    The reasons which we have thus far adduced, on account of which the barbarians suspect us of being the cause of their diseases, seem to have some foundation; but the devil did not stop there, - it would be a miracle if he did not build the worst of his calumnies.[13] on sheer lies. Robert le Coq, one of our domestics, had returned from Kébec in a state of sickness which caused as much horror as compassion to all those who had courage enough to examine the ulcers with which all his limbs were covered. Never would a Huron have believed that a body so filled with miseries could have returned to health; regarding him then as good as dead, there were found slanderers so assured in their falsehood that they publicly maintained that this young Frenchman had told them in confidence that the Jesuits alone were the authors and the cause of the diseases which from year to year kept depopulating the country...


    But let us return to our Savages, excited against us on account of the disease, and to those impostors who had maintained that Robert le Coq had so confidentially informed them of the black magic arts and the execrable spells with which we were causing them all to die. It was not very difficult to refute these calumnies, since he who was said to have been the sole source of all these rumors, - not being dead, as they had supposed, but having recovered perfect health - could belie all those who previously maintained they had heard the thing from his lips. But what? falsehood gets the better of the truth; the slanderers find more credit than the one who justifies us but the demons are like thunders, which make more noise than they do harm, - for all these threats have had but little effect. We are alive, thank God, all full of life and health. It is indeed true that the crosses have been stricken down from above our houses; that people have entered our cabins, hatchet in hand, in order to deal some evil blow there; they have, it is said, awaited some of ours on the roads, with the intention of killing them; the hatchet has been lifted above others, and the blow brought within a finger-length of their bare heads; the Crucifixes which were carried to the sick have been violently snatched from us; blows with a club have been mightily inflicted upon one of our missionaries, to prevent him from conferring some baptism. Sed nondum usque ad sanguinem restitimus[14]; our blood and our lives have not yet been poured out for him to whom we owe all our hearts. Our soul is in our hands, and this is the greatest favor that we hope to receive from the great Master who employs us, - namely, to die for his holy name, after having suffered much.


    Not that I do not forever praise this great God of goodness, for having thus far protected us with so much love: for it is truly an unspeakable happiness for us, in the midst of this barbarism, to hear the roarings of the demons, and to see all hell and almost all men animated and filled with fury against a little handful of people who would not defend themselves; to see ourselves shut up in a place fifteen hundred leagues from our native land, where all the powers of the earth could not warrant us against the anger of the weakest man who might have designs on our lives, and where we have not even a bag of corn which has not been furnished us by those who incessantly parley about killing us; and to feel at the same time so special a confidence in the goodness of God, so firm an assurance in the midst of dangers, a zeal so active, and a courage so resolute to do all and to suffer all for the glory of our Master, so indefatigable a constancy in the labors which increase from day to day. So that it is easy to conceive that God is the one who espouses our cause; that it is he alone who protects us, and that his providence takes pleasure in manifesting itself where we see least of the human


    [1] The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791. Full source is believed to be in the public domain.

    [2] Quebec, a providence in Canada. Quebec and its capital, Montreal, served as the commercial and political center of the New France. French remains the primary (and official) language in Quebec and every so often they vote on seceding from Canada. No luck so far, though. 

    [3] In 1639, a group of Ursuline Nuns arrived in New France. The Ursuline Order was founded with the mission of educating young girls and caring for the sick and needy. The three nuns who came to New France learned the language of the local Indians so they could convert and education their children. The Nuns arrived during the smallpox epidemic and also ran a hospital to serve the sick and dying. Sister Marie of the Incarnation led the Ursuline Order of Nuns in New France until her death in 1762. She was later canonized by the Catholic Church, meaning the Church made her a Saint (she is now known as Saint Marie of the Incarnation). 

    [4] Le Juene and Lalemant refer to Native Americans as “Savages” throughout the source. You should not do the same when writing in your own voice in 2019. A direct quote requires exact language but otherwise, please use the appropriate contemporary terms for race and ethnicity. The Guidelines have more information about terms for race. 

    [5] 1649. The Spanish have been in Mexico and the Southwest for over 100 years. The Dutch arrived around the same time as the French. British colonists arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1609 and Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. By 1649, enslaved Africans were being bought and sold throughout all of the colonies, including the French city of New Orleans, located in the southernmost region of New France. Things are happening. 

    [6] Jesuit priest working with LeJuene and Lalament.

    [7] Catechism generally means instruction in the principles of a religious faith. In the Catholic Church, Catechism takes eight years of study before Confirmation in the Church. Catholic Sunday School is also called Catechism or CCD, referring to the church association responsible for Catholic education.

    [8] Two of the seven Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church include Confession (called Penance and Reconciliation) and Holy Communion (called Eucharist). Catholics confess their sins to the Priest who then confers penance, usually consisting of prayers and devotionals intended to renew your faith in God without your previous sins. Catholic communion requires the priest to bless the Eucharist – a holy wafer and goblet of wine (now it’s water) – thus transforming it into the body and blood of Christ in a religious ceremony known as transubstantiation. For Catholics, Holy Communion is the third of seven sacraments received. It occurs only after receiving Baptism, and once the person has reached the “age of reason” (around 8 years old). In short: the Jesuit Priests required a lot of ritual devotion from the Native Americans at the hospital. It’s unclear how many Indians fully understood the intention of the rituals. .  

    [9]  The Rosary is a Roman Catholic devotion (daily prayer) for the Virgin Mary. The Rosary is usually practiced with a string of 5 or 15 beads significant to the progression of the prayer cycle. “The most holy Sacrament” refers to a  period of spiritual cleansing. Catholics attend mass every day, sometimes more than once, and generally dedicate their time to devotion and prayer. The Priests clearly wanted newly converted Indians to practice this ritual cleansing. 

    [10] ““Bloodletting” refers to the “medical” practice of draining a person of blood to keep their body in balance and ward off disease and death. It is as bad as it sounds. Bloodletting persists today in the religious practices of some churches. 

    [11] Sister Marie of the Incarnation.

    [12] The Algonquin Indians lived primarily in New England. The Hurons, also known as the Wyandots, were an Iroquois Nation near Quebec. The Algonquin and Huron Nations were trade partners, but remember they reside in different European Nations – the New England colonies were British, the Canadian colonies were French

    [13] Derogatory statements about a person.

    [14]In Latin: the shedding of our blood. 

    Image credit:  "Nouvelle decouverte de plusieurs nations dans la Nouvelle France en l'année 1673 et 1674." Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, Louisiana: European Explorations and the Louisiana Purchase. 

    John Winthrop's Speech to the General Court, July 3, 1645

    Drawing of Governor John Winthrop
    Governor John Winthrop

    Speech to the General Court, July 3, 1645

    John Winthrop


    John Winthrop (1587-1649) was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Company, the second British colony in New England. Winthrop, a lawyer and leader of the Puritan Church, arrived in Boston in 1630, as part of the Great Migration of Puritans from England to the New England colonies. Winthrop was instrumental to the creation of political, economic, and religious life in Massachusetts and the neighboring colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut. He sat on the Governor’s Council (and served three terms as Governor) and General Court, and was a leader in the Puritan Church.


    As colonists established towns beyond Boston, some colonists challenged the authority of magistrates[1] like Winthrop. In 1645, Peter Hobart, minister in neighboring Hingham, charged Winthrop with abuse of power after he intervened in local matters (Winthrop was Deputy Governor in 1645). After being acquitted of all charges, Winthrop addressed the issue of authority and the state.[2]



    Then was the deputy governour desired by the court to go up and take his place again upon the bench, which he did accordingly, and the court being about to arise, he desired leave for a little speech, which was to this effect[3]. “I suppose something may be expected from me, upon this charge that is befallen me which moves me to speak now to you; yet I intend not to intermeddle in the proceedings of the court or with any of the persons concerned therein. Only I bless God that I see an issue of this troublesome business. I also acknowledge the justice of the court, and, for mine own part, I am well satisfied, I was publicly charged, and I am publicly and legally acquitted, which is all I did expect or desire. And though this be sufficient for my justification before men, yet not so before the God, who hath seen so much amiss in my dispensations (and even in this affair) as calls me to be humble. For to be publicly and criminally charged in this court is matter of humiliation (and I desire to make a right use of it), notwithstanding I be thus acquitted…I am unwilling to stay you from your urgent affairs, yet give me leave (upon this special occasion) to speak a little more to this assembly. It may be of some good use, to inform and rectify the judgments of some of the people, and may prevent such distempers as have arisen amongst us.


    The great questions that have troubled the country are about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people. It is yourselves who have called us to this office, and, being called by you, we have our authority from God, in way of an ordinance, such as hath the image of God eminently stamped upon it, the contempt and violation whereof hath been vindicated with examples of divine vengeance. I entreat you to consider that, when you choose magistrates, you take them from among yourselves, men subject to like passions as you are. Therefore, when you see infirmities in us, you should reflect upon your own, and that would make you bear the more with us, and not be severe censurers of the failings of your magistrates, when you have continual experience of the like infirmities[4] in yourselves and others[5]. We account him a good servant who breaks not his covenant. The covenant between you and us is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose: that we shall govern you and judge your causes by the rules of God's laws and our own, according to our best skill.


    When you agree with a workman to build you a ship or house, etc., he undertakes as well for his skill as for his faithfulness, for it is his profession, and you pay him for both. But when you call one to be a magistrate, he doth not profess nor undertake to have sufficient skill for that office, nor can you furnish him with gifts, etc., therefore you must run the hazard of his skill and ability. But if he fail in faithfulness, which by his oath he is bound unto, that he must answer for. If it fall out that the case be clear to common apprehension, and the rule clear also, if he transgress here, the error is not in the skill, but in the evil of the will: it must be required of him. But if the case be doubtful, or the rule doubtful, to men of such understanding and parts as your magistrates are, if your magistrates should err here, yourselves must bear it[6].


    For the other point concerning liberty, I observe a great mistake in the country about that. There is a twofold liberty, natural (I mean as our nature is now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to man with beasts and other creatures. By this, man, as he stands in relation to man simply, hath liberty to do what he lists; it is a liberty to evil as well as to good. This liberty is incompatible and inconsistent with authority, and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority. The exercise and maintaining of this liberty makes men grow more evil, and in time to be worse than brute beasts: omnes sumus licentia deteriores[7]. This is that great enemy of truth and peace, that wild beast, which all of the ordinances of God are bent against, to restrain and subdue it.


    The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal; it may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions amongst men themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority and cannot subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your goods, but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority but a distemper thereof.


    This liberty is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority; it is of the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The women's own choice makes such a man her husband; yet, being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage; and a true wife accounts her subjection her honor and freedom and would not think her condition safe and free but in her subjection to her husband's authority. Such is the liberty of the church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband; his yoke is so easy and sweet to her as a bride's ornaments; and if through forwardness or wantonness, etc., she shake it off, at any time, she is at no rest in her spirit, until she take it up again; and whether her lord smiles upon her and embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her, she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported, and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her.


     On the other side, ye know who they are that complain of this yoke and say, Let us break their bands, etc.; we will not have this man to rule over us. Even so, brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates. If you want to stand for your natural corrupt liberties, and will do what is good in your own eyes, you will not endure the least weight of authority, but will murmur, and oppose, and be always striving to shake off that yoke; but if you will be satisfied to enjoy such civil and lawful liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the administrations of it, for your good. Wherein, if we fail at any time, we hope we shall be willing (by God's assistance) to hearken to good advice from any of you, or in any other way of God; so shall your liberties be preserved in upholding the honor and power of authority amongst you.


    [1] Magistrate is a civil officer who administers the law, i.e., a judge who renders decisions without a jury.

    [2] John Winthrop, Speech to the Massachusetts General Court. Full source here

    [3] Winthrop refers to himself in third person – “the deputy governour” is he, John Winthrop.

    [4] Deficiencies.

    [5] Read the last couple of sentences and think about what Winthrop advises the magistrates to do when choosing new officials.

    [6] Why does Winthrop compare magistrates to a craftsman? What is different about being chosen as a magistrate?

    [7] In Latin: “Too much freedom debases us.”

    Image: Used with permission from Florida Center for Instructional Technology

    Edward Randolph's Description of King Philip's War (1676)

    King Philip, Wampanoag Leader
    Metacom or King Philip (1639-1676) Wampanoag Leader

    Edward Randolph's Description of King Philip's War (1676)


    A decade after Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia, the New England colonies experienced a similar conflict with the Algonquins living in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Following the massacre at Mystic in 1637, the Indian population declined dramatically – from 140,000 to less than 10,000. At the same time, Puritan Church leadership launched a concerted campaign to convert the Indians to Protestantism. Puritan minister and missionary, John Eliot, convinced about 2,000 Algonquins to relocate to “Praying Towns,” where they were taught the Bible and expected to adopt white customs. Eliot’s hoped the “Praying Indians,” as they were called, would return to their villages and convert other Native Americans. Meanwhile, colonial leadership declared legal authority over all Indians in New England while also forcibly taking more and more land from the Algonquins for white settlement.


    Forced with death, disease, forced conversion, and removal, many of the Algonquin nations, starting with the Wampanoags, began organizing a resistance movement. John Sassamon, one of the Praying Indians personally mentor by Eliot, informed the colonial Governor of Plymouth, MA about the growing resistance. The Chief Sachem of the Wampanoags, Metacom -called King Philip by the colonists - was brought before the public court. Lacking any evidence of impending rebellion, Metacom was released with a warning that the Wampanoag would be disarmed and physically removed if colonists heard any more talk about rebellion. A few weeks after Metacom’s trial, Sassamon’s murdered body was found in Assawompset Pond, outside of Plymouth. Colonial leaders in Massachusetts arrested and tried three Wampanoag men for Sassamon’s murder. The three men were found guilty and publicly hanged on June 8, 1675.


    Following his own trial, Metacom organized a military alliance consisting of two-thirds of the Algonquin communities throughout the colonies. On June 27, the Pokanokets (a band of Wampanoags) attacked a colonial village outside of Plymouth. Within weeks, full-scale war was underway throughout New England. King Phillip’s Confederacy burned villages throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Twelve out of 90 New England towns were destroyed and hundreds of colonists killed. Indian casualties were much higher, about 40 percent of the total population. Indians captured during the war were sold into slavery and sent to the Caribbean or South America, including many of the Praying Indians who were promised protection by the Puritan Church. Following the war, small number of New England Algonquins, particularly the Wampanoags, lived in small communities scattered throughout the colonies. Most served as servants, slaves, or tenants of the colonists.


    The same year the war broke out, King Charles II sent Edward Randolph to Boston to assess the state of the colonies. Randolph sent a series of reports back to the King and Parliament about King Philip’s War as well as the governance of the colonies in general. Randolph described the colonies as disorganized and unconcerned with following British colonial policy. As a result, King Charles made Randolph a permanent administrator of the New England colonies tasked with making sure colonists were paying their taxes and following trade regulations put in place by the Navigation Acts. Below is Randolph’s report to King Charles about the war he just witnessed in the New England colonies[1].




    Eighth Enquiry.

    What hath been the original cause of the present war with the natives. What are the advantages or disadvantages arising thereby and will probably be the End? Various are the reports and conjectures of the causes of the present Indian war. Some impute it to an imprudent zeal in the magistrates of Boston to christianize those heathen before they were civilized and enjoining them the strict observation of their laws, which, to a people so rude and licentious, hath proved even intolerable, and that the more, for that while the magistrates, for their profit, put the laws severely in execution against the Indians, the people, on the other side, for lucre and gain, entice and provoke the Indians to the breach thereof, especially to drunkenness, to which those people are so generally addicted that they will strip themselves to their skin to have their fill of rum and brandy, the Massachusetts having made a law that every Indian drunk should pay 10s. or be whipped, according to the discretion of the magistrate. Many of these poor people willingly offered their backs to the lash to save their money; whereupon, the magistrates finding much trouble and no profit to arise to the government by whipping, did change that punishment into 10 days work for such as could not or would not pay the fine of 10s. which did highly incense the Indians.


    Some believe there have been vagrant and Jesuitical priests[2], who have made it their business, for some years past, to go from Sachem to Sachem, to exasperate the Indians against the English and to bring them into a confederacy, and that they were promised supplies from France and other parts to extirpate the English nation out of the continent of America. Others impute the cause to some injuries offered to the Sachem Philip; for he being possessed of a tract of land called Mount Hope[3], a very fertile, pleasant and rich soil, some English had a mind to dispossess him thereof, who never wanting one pretense or other to attain their end, complained of injuries done by Philip and his Indians to their stock and cattle, whereupon Philip was often summoned before the magistrate, sometimes imprisoned, and never released but upon parting with a considerable part of his land.


    But the government of the Massachusetts (to give it in their own words) do declare these are the great evils for which God hath given the heathen commission to rise against them: The woeful breach of the 5th commandment[4], in contempt of their authority, which is a sin highly provoking to the Lord: For men wearing long hair and periwigs[5] made of women's hair ; for women wearing borders of hair and for cutting, curling and laying out the hair, and disguising themselves by following strange fashions in their apparel: For profaneness in the people not frequenting their meetings, and others going away before the blessing be pronounced: For suffering the Quakers[6] to live amongst them and to set up their thresholds by Gods thresholds, contrary to their old laws and resolutions.


    With many such reasons, but whatever be the cause, the English have contributed much to their misfortunes, for they first taught the Indians the use of arms, and admitted them to be present at all their musters and trainings, and shewed them how to handle, mend and fix their muskets, and have been furnished with all sorts of arms by permission of the government, so that the Indians are become excellent firemen. And at Natick[7] there was a gathered church of praying Indians, who were exercised as trained bands, under officers of their own; these have been the most barbarous and cruel enemies to the English of any others. Capt. Tom, their leader, being lately taken and hanged at Boston, with one other of their chiefs.


    That notwithstanding the ancient law of the country, made in the year 1633, that no person should sell any arms or ammunition to any Indian upon penalty of £10 for every gun, £5 for a pound of powder, and 40s. for a pound of shot, yet the government of the Massachusetts in the year 1657, upon design to monopolize the whole Indian trade did publish and declare that the trade of furs and peltry with the Indians in their jurisdiction did solely and properly belong to their commonwealth and not to every indifferent person, and did enact that no person should trade with the Indians for any sort of peltry, except such as were authorized by that court, under the penalty of £100 for every offence, giving liberty to all such as should have license from them to sell, unto any Indian, guns, swords, powder and shot, paying to the treasurer 3d. for each gun and for each dozen of swords; 6d. for a pound of powder and for every ten pounds of shot, by which means the Indians have been abundantly furnished with great store of arms and ammunition to the utter ruin and undoing of many families in the neighboring colonies to enrich some few of their relations and church members[8].


    No advantage but many disadvantages have arisen to the English by the war, for about 600 men have been slain, and 12 captains, most of them brave and stout persons and of loyal principles, whilst the church members had liberty to stay at home and not hazard their persons in the wilderness.


    The loss to the English in the several colonies, in their habitations and stock, is reckoned to amount to £150,000 there having been about 1200 houses burned, 8000 head of cattle, great and small, killed, and many thousand bushels of wheat, peas and other grain burned (of which the Massachusetts colony hath not been damnifyed one third part, the great loss falling upon New Plymouth and Connecticut colonies) and upward of 3000 Indians men women and children destroyed, who if well managed would have been very serviceable to the English, which makes all manner of labour dear.


    The war at present is near an end. In Plymouth colony the Indians surrender themselves to Gov. Winslow, upon mercy, and bring in all their arms, are wholly at his disposal, except life and transportation; but for all such as have been notoriously cruel to women and children, so soon as discovered they are to be executed in the sight of their fellow Indians.


    The government of Boston have concluded a peace upon these terms.


    1. That there be henceforward a firm peace between the Indians and English.


    1. That after publication of the articles of peace by the general court, if any English shall willfully kill an Indian, upon due proof, he shall dye, and if an Indian kill an Englishman and escape, the Indians are to produce him, and lie to pass trial by the English laws.


    1. That the Indians shall not conceal any known enemies to the English, but shall discover them and bring them to the English.


    1. That upon all occasions the Indians are to aid and assist the English against their enemies, and to be under English command.


    1. That all Indians have liberty to sit down at their former habitations without let[9]...



    [1] Edward Randolph Letter to King Charles II. Full source here.

    [2] Remember Le Jeune and Lalemant’s Jesuit Relations – Jesuits were French or Spanish Catholic. Puritans were English Protestant.

    [3] Mount Hope is a town in Rhode Island, closer to Narragansett than Providence.

    [4] The fifth commandment is “honor they mother and father.”

    [5] A Periwig is a stylish wig worn by men during the seventeenth century. Here are some examples, if you’re interested. Not really an accurate word to describe the hairstyle and head dress of Indian men, but Randolph uses the closest term he knows.

    [6] The Quakers, or Society of Friends, broke with the Church of England during the 1650s, and preached the importance of “inner light,” meaning every person has an inner connection with the divine spirit. Salvation was available to all and required no deference to authorities. Quakers challenged the government by refusing to pay taxes or take an oath in court, and by advancing ideas of human equality that threatened established divisions based on wealth, social rank, and gender. They were also pacifists who refused to take sides in any conflict, and the only colonists to arrive in North America unarmed. Both Puritan church and government officials targeted Quaker Meeting Houses and arrested and jailed many Friends (Quakers).  Groups of Quakers started emigrating to Boston in 1656, where they were not welcomed by Puritan leadership. Despite the fact that the Puritans were also a dissenter church forced to flee England because of persecution, Puritans also distrusted all other religions, even fellow dissenter churches. Quakers were immediately banned from Massachusetts colony, and several were publicly executed in Boston. As Randolph references here, many Quakers found shelter with the Algonquin Indians.

    [7] Village outside of Boston.

    [8] While it was very common during the seventeenth century to string together clauses like this sentence, you should never write a sentence like this in the twenty-first century. Just FYI. Here’s the gist of Randolph’s point: colonists were not allowed to trade guns and ammunition with the Indians or else face punitive fines. In the 1650s, New England colonial leadership started issuing licenses to trade with the Indians. The license also allowed colonists to trade weapons and ammunition with the Indians as long as they paid the colonial government its due. Who benefits from this, according to Randolph?

    [9] delay.

    Accounts of the Salem Witch Trials (1692)

    Woman seated in a courtyard pointing with her left hand.
    Woman on trial for witchcraft

    Accounts of the Salem Witch Trials (1692)

    Cotton Mather


    During the seventeenth century, many practicing Christians believe the Devil could possess a person with the power to harm others and alter reality. Between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, tens of thousands of people – almost all women – were executed for witchcraft. Just as accusations of witchcraft declined in Europe, hysteria was on the rise in the New England colonies. The Salem Witch Trials took place in 1692-93 in Essex County, about 30 miles northeast of Boston. At least 25 people died: 19 were executed by hanging, one was tortured to death, and at least five died in jail awaiting trial. Over 160 people were accused of witchcraft in Salem, the vast majority women. The “hysteria” in Salem happened as the result of several factors. A brief war between the British and French (King William’s War) destroyed regions of upstate New York, Novia Scotia, and Quebec, sending refugees into Essex County -specifically Salem Village. Many of the refugees believed Indians – who fought for both the French and English – were possessed by the devil. Many residents of Salem believed the same about growing tensions within their community – people were possessed by the devil.


    The residents of Salem did not welcome the displaced colonists from New France. The strain on resources escalated already existing tensions between local farmers and the merchants who controlled the Port of Salem. In 1689, Reverend Samuel Parris became Salem Village’s first ordained Puritan minister. Many parishioners disliked Parris and divisions in the Church exacerbated tensions over French refugees and land and other resources.


    In January 1692, Reverend Parris’ daughter Elizabeth, age 9, and niece Abigail Williams, age 11, started having “fits.” They screamed, writhed around on the floor, threw things, and uttered nonsense. A local doctor blamed the supernatural. The girls were questioned by local magistrates. During their interrogation, the girls blamed three women for afflicting them: their father’s Caribbean slave, Tituba; Sarah Goode, a homeless beggar; and Sarah Osborne, an elderly impoverished women. Accusations abound, most against older women, widows and unmarried women, women without children, women who owned property, and women considered a burden to society.


    Hundreds of people in Salem and in two dozen other towns in eastern Massachusetts were accused and tried for witchcraft between 1688-1692. Nearly fifty people confessed to witchcraft, most to save themselves from imprisonment for the same crime. Hundreds more accused their neighbors, relatives, and parishioners of witchcraft.


    Cotton Mather descended from one of the most prominent families in New England, rivaled only by the Winthrops. Both of his grandfathers – John Cotton and Richard Mather – were Puritan ministers integral to the establishment of the Puritan Church in the colonies. In 1685, (seven years before he recorded the Salem Trials) Cotton Mather joined his father, Increase Mather, as assistant pastor of North Church (not to be confused with Old North Church of Paul Revere fame), a powerful position in New England.

    In 1689, Mather gathered and published the accounts of those who claimed they were victims of witchcraft in Boston. Hysteria ensued and the Salem trials began in February, 1692, partially inspired by Mather’s account of what happened in Boston a few years earlier. Below are transcripts from three trials: Susanna Martin, Ann Glover, and Ann Foster.[1]



    The Trial of Susanna Martin, at the Court of Oyer and Terminer[2], Held by Adjournment at Salem, June 29, 1692[3].


    1. Susanna Martin, pleading Not Guilty to the Indictment of Witchcraft brought in against her, there were produced the evidences of many persons very sensibly and grievously Bewitched; who all complaned of the prisoner at the Bar[4], as the person whom they Believed the cause of their Miseries. And now, as well as in the other Trials, there was an extraordinary endeavour by Witchcrafts, with Cruel and Frequent Fits, to hinder the poor sufferers from giving in their complaints; which the Court was forced with much patience to obtain, by much waiting and watching for it.


    1. There was now also an Account given, of what passed at her first examination before the Magistrates. The cast of her eye then striking the Afflicted People to the ground, whether they saw that Cast or no; there were these among other passages between the Magistrates and the Examinate…


    It was then also noted in her, as in others like her, that if the Afflicted went to approach her, they were flung down to the Ground. And, when she was asked the Reason of it, she said, " I cannot tell; it may be, the Devil bears me more Malice than another."


    1. The Court accounted themselves Alarum'd by these things, to Enquire further into the Conversation of the Prisoner; and see what there might occur, to render these Accusations further credible. Whereupon, John Allen, of Salisbury, testify'd, That he refusing, because of the weakness of his Oxen, to Cart some Staves, at the request of this Martin, she was displeased at it; and said, "It had been as good that he had; for his Oxen should never do him much more Service." Whereupon this Deponent said, " Dost thou threaten me, thou old Witch? I'll throw thee into the Brook": Which to avoid, she flew over the Bridge, and escaped…


    He then put his Oxen, with many more, upon Salisbury Beach, where Cattle did use to get Flesh. In a few days, all the Oxen upon the Beach were found by their Tracks, to have run unto the mouth of Merrimack River, and not returned; but the next day they were found come ashore upon Plum Island[5]. They that sought them used all imaginable gentleness, but they would still run away with a violence that seemed wholly Diabolical, till they came near the mouth of Merrimack River; when they ran right into the Sea, swimming as far as they could be seen. One of them then swam back again, with a swiftness amazing to the Beholders, who stood ready to receive him, and help up his Tired Carcass: But the Beast ran furiously up into the Island, and from thence, through the Marshes, up into Newbury Town, and so up into the Woods; and there after a while found near Amesbury. So that, of Fourteen good Oxen, there was only this saved: the rest were all cast up, some in one place, and some in another, Drowned.


    1. John Atkinson Testify'd, That he Exchanged a Cow with a Son of Susanna Martins, whereat she muttered, and was unwilling he should have it. Going to Receive this Cow, tho' he Hamstring'd her, and Halter'd her, she of a Tame Creature grew so mad, that they could scarce get her along. She broke all the Ropes that were fastned unto her, and though she were Ty'd fast unto a Tree, yet she made her Escape, and gave them such further Trouble, as they could ascribe to no Cause but Witchcraft.


    1. Bernard Peache testify'd, That being in Bed on a Lords-day Night[6], he heard a scrabbling at the Window, whereat he then saw Susanna Martin come in, and jump down upon the Floor. She took hold of this Deponents Feet, and drawing his Body up into an Heap, she lay upon him near Two Hours; in all which time he could neither speak nor stirr. At length, when he could begin to move, he laid hold on her Hand, and pulling it up to his mouth, he bit three of her Fingers, as he judged, unto the Bone. Whereupon she went from the Chamber, down the Stairs, out at the Door. This Deponent thereupon called unto the people of the House, to advise them of what passed; and he himself did follow her. The people saw her not; but there being a Bucket at the Left-hand of the Door, there was a drop of Blood found on it; and several more drops of Blood upon the Snow newly fallen abroad. There was likewise the print of her two Feet just without the Threshold; but no more sign of any Footing further off…The said Peache also testify'd the Bewitching of Cattle to Death, upon Martin's Discontents.


    1. Robert Downer testifyed, That this Prisoner being some years ago prosecuted at Court for a Witch[7], he then said unto her, He believed she was a Witch. Whereat she being dissatisfied, said, That some Shee-Devil would Shortly fetch him away! Which words were heard by others, as well as himself. The Night following, as he lay in his Bed, there came in at the Window the likeness of a Cat, which Flew upon him, took fast hold of his Throat, lay on him a considerable while, and almost killed him[8]. At length he remembred what Susanna Martin had threatned the Day before; and with much striving he cryed out, "Avoid, thou Shee-Devil! In the Name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Avoid![9] "Whereupon it left him, leap'd on the Floor, and Flew out at the Window…


    William Brown testify'd, that Heaven having blessed him with a most Pious and prudent wife, this wife of his one day mett with Susanna Martin; but when she approch'd just unto her, Martin vanished out of sight, and left her extremely affrighted. After which time, the said Martin often appear'd unto her, giving her no little trouble; and when she did come, she was visited with Birds that sorely peck't and Prick'd her; and sometimes a Bunch, like a pullets egg, would Rise in her throat, ready to Choak her, till she cry'd out, "Witch, you shan't choak me!" While this good Woman was in this Extremity, the Church appointed a Day of Prayer, on her behalf; whereupon her Trouble ceas'd; she saw not Martin as formerly; and the Church, instead of their Past, gave Thanks for her Deliverance.


    But a considerable while after, she being Summoned to give in some Evidence at the Court, against this Martin, quickly thereupon this Martin came behind her, while she was milking her Cow, and said unto her, "For thy defaming me at Court, I'l make thee the miserablest Creature in the World." Soon after which, she fell into a strange kind of Distemper, and became horribly Frantick, and uncapable of any Reasonable Action; the Physicians declaring, that her Distemper was preternatural, and that some Devil had certainly Bewitched her; and in that Condition she now remained[10]


    (Note, This Woman was one of the most Impudent, Scurrilous, wicked creatures in the world[11]; and she did now throughout her whole Trial discover herself to be such an one. Yet when she was asked, what she had to say for her self? her Cheef Plea was, That she had Led a most virtuous and Holy Life! – Winthrop)


    Ann Glover, accused of witchcraft by her employer, John Goodwin and his wife and six children, from the south part of Boston in 1688.[12]


    1. It was a Religious Family that these Afflictions happened unto; and none but a Religious Contrivance to obtain Releef, would have been welcome to them. Many superstitious proposals were made unto them . . . but the distressed Parents rejected all such counsils, with a gracious Resolution, to oppose Devils with no other weapons but Prayers and Tears, . . . Accordingly they requested the four Ministers of Boston, with the Minister of Charlstown, to keep a Day of Prayer at their thus haunted house; which they did In the Company of some devout people there. Immediately upon this Day, the youngest of the four children was delivered, and never felt any trouble as afore. But there was yet a greater Effect of these our Applications unto our God!


    1. VII. The Report of the Calamities of the Family for which we were thus concerned, arrived now unto the ears of the Magistrates, who presently and prudently apply'd themselves, with a just vigour, to enquire into the story. The Father of the Children complained of his Neighbour, the suspected ill woman, whose name was Glover; and she being sent for by the Justices, gave such a wretched Account of her self, that they saw cause to commit her unto the Gaolers[13] Custody. Goodwin had no proof that could have done her any Hurt; but the Hag[14] had not power to deny her interest in the Enchantment of the Children; and when she was asked, Whether she believed there was a God? her Answer was too blasphemous and horrible for any Pen of mine to mention. An Experiment was made, Whether she could recite the Lords Prayer; and it was found, that tho clause after clause was most carefully repeated unto her, yet when she said it after them that prompted her, she could not possibly avoid making Nonsense of it, with some ridiculous Depravations. This Experiment I had the curiosity since to see made upon two more, and it had the same Event. Upon the Commitment of this extraordinary Woman, all the Children had some present ease; until one (related unto her) accidentally meeting one or two he of them, entertain'd them with her Blessing, that is, Railing[15]; upon which Three of them fell ill again, as they were before.


    1. It was not long before the Witch thus in the Trap' was brought upon her Tryal; at which, thro' the Efficacy of a Charm[16], I suppose, used upon her, by one or some of her Crew, the Court could receive Answers from her in none but the Irish, which was her Native Language[17]; . . . . It was long before she could with any direct Answers plead unto her Indictment; and when she did plead, it was with Confession rather than Denial of her Guilt. Order was given to search the old woman's house, from whence there were brought into the Court, several small Images, or Puppets, or Babies, made of Raggs, and stuff't with Goat's hair, and other such Ingredients. When these were produced, the vile Woman acknowledged, that her way to torment the Objects of her malice, was by wetting of her Finger with her Spittle, and stroaking of those little Images. The abused Children were then present, and the Woman still kept stooping and shrinking as one that was almost prest to Death with a mighty Weight upon her. But one of the Images being brought unto her, immediately she started up after an odd manner, and took it into her hand; but she had no sooner taken it, than one of the Children fell into sad Fits, before the whole Assembly. This the Judges had their just Apprehensions at; and carefully causing the Repetition of the Experiment, found again the same event of it…


    the night after, she was heard expostulating with a Devil, for his thus deserting her; telling him that Because he had served her so basely and falsely, she had confessed all. However to make all clear, The Court appointed five or six Physicians one evening to examine her very strictly, whether she were not craz'd in her Intellectuals, and had not procured to her self by Folly and Madness the Reputation of a Witch. Diverse hours did they spend with her; and in all that while no Discourse came from her, but what was pertinent and agreeable: particularly, when they asked her, What she thought would become of her soul? she reply'd "You ask me a very solemn Question, and I cannot well tell what to say to it." She own'd her self a Roman Catholick; and could recite her Pater Noster[18] in Latin very readily; but there was one Clause or two always too hard for her, whereof she said, "She could not repeat it, if she might have all the world." In the up-shot, the Doctors returned her Compos Mentis[19];1 and Sentence of Death was pass'd upon her.


    1. Diverse dayes were passed between her being Arraigned and Condemned. In this time one of her Neighbours had been giving in her Testimony…concerning her. It seems one Howen[20] about Six years before, had been cruelly bewitched to Death; but before she died, she called one Hughes unto her, Telling her that she laid her Death to the charge of Glover; That she had seen Glover sometimes come down her Chimney; That she should remember this, for within this Six years she might have Occasion to declare it. This Hughes now preparing her Testimony, immediately one of her children, a fine boy, well grown towards Youth, was taken ill, just in the same woful and surprising manner that Goodwins children were. One night particularly, The Boy said he saw a Black thing with a Blue Cap in the Room, Tormenting of him; and he complained most bitterly of a Hand put into the Bed, to pull out his Bowels. The next day the mother of the boy went unto Glover, in the Prison, and asked her, Why she tortured her poor lad at such a wicked rate? This Witch replied, that she did it because of wrong done to her self and her daughter. Hughes denied (as well she might) that she had done her any wrong. "Well then," says Glover, "Let me see your child and he shall be well again." Glover went on, and told her of her own accord, " I was at your house last night." Says Hughes, "In what shape?" Says Glover, "As a black thing with a blue Cap." Says Hughes, "What did you do there? " Says Glover, " with my hand in the Bed I tryed to pull out the boy's Bowels, but I could not." They parted; but the next day Hughes appearing at Court, had her Boy with her; and Glover passing by the Boy, expressed her good wishes for him; tho' I suppose, his Parent had no design of any mighty Respect unto the Hag, by having him with her there. But the Boy had no more Indispositions after the Condemnation of the Woman.


    1. While the miserable old Woman was under Condemnation, I[21] did my self twice give a visit unto her. She never denyed the guilt of the Witchcraft charg'd upon her; but she confessed very little about the Circumstances of her Confederacies with the Devils; only, she said, That she us'd to be at meetings, which her Prince[22] and Four more were present at. As for those Four, She told who they were; and for her Prince, her account plainly was, that he was the Devil…


    I Sett before her the Necessity and Equity of her breaking her Covenant with Hell, and giving her self to the Lord Jesus Christ, by an everlasting Covenant; To which her Answer was, that I spoke a very Reasonable thing, but she could not do it. I asked her whether she would consent or desire to be pray'd for; To that she said, If Prayer would do her any good, shee could pray for her self. And when it was again propounded, she said, She could not unless her spirits (or angels) would give her leave. However, against her will I pray'd with her, which if it were a Fault it was in excess of Pitty. When I had done, shee thank'd me with many good Words; but I was no sooner out of her sight, than she took a stone, a long and slender stone, and with her Finger and Spittle fell to tormenting it; though whom or what she meant, I had the mercy never to understand.


    16 July 1692 Ann Foster Examined Before Major Gidney, Mr. Hawthorne, Mr. Corwin and Capt. Higginson.[23]



    1. Ann Foster Examined confessed that it was Goody Carrier[24] that made her a witch that she came to her in person about Six years ago & told her if she would not be a witch ye devil should tear her in pieces & carry her away. At which time she promised to Serve the devil that she had bewitched a hog of John Lovejoy's to death & that she had hurt some persons in Salem Village. Goody Carrier came to her & would have her bewitch two children of Andrew Allins & that she had then two puppets made. She stuck pins in them to bewitch ye said children by which one of them died [the] other very sick. That she was at the meting of the witches at Salem Village, that Goody Camer came & told her of the meeting and would have her go. So they got upon Sticks & went said Jorny & there did see Mr. Buroughs ye minister who spake to them all. This was & out two months ago that there was then twenty five persons meet together, that she tied a knot in a Rage & threw it into the fire to hurt Tim Swan. She did hurt the rest that complained of her by Squeezing puppets like them & so almost choked them.


    1. 18 July 1692 Ann Foster Examined confessed that the devil in shape of a man appeared to her with Goody Carrier about six year since when they made her a witch & that she promised to serve the devil two years. Upon which, the devil promised her prosperity and many things but never performed it. She & Martha Camer did both ride on a stick or pole when they went to the witch meeting at Salem Village & that the stick broke. As they were carried in the air above the tops of the trees, & they fell but she did hang fast about the neck of Goody Carrier & were presently at the village, that she was then much hurt of her Leg. She further saith that she heard some of the witches say there was three hundred & five in the whole Country & that they would ruin that place the Village. They also said there was present at that meeting two men besides Mr. Burroughs the minister. One of them had gray hair, she saith that she formerly frequented the public meeting to worship god. But the devil had such power over her that she could not profit there & that was her undoing. She saith that about three or four years ago Martha Carrier told her she would bewitch James Hobbs child to death & the child died in twenty four hours.


    1. 10th September 1692. Ann Foster Examined Owned her former confession being read to her and further confessed that the discourse amongst the witches at the meeting at Salem village was that they would afflict there to set up the Devil's Kingdome. This confession is true as witness my hand.



    [1] The University of Virginia maintains a comprehensive collection of the transcripts and other documents from the Salem Witch Trials.

    [2] “Oyer and Terminer” is an old French phrase meaning “to hear and determine.” By the 1690s, Oyer and Terminer referred to a Court convened to hear a particular set of cases. The Oyer and Terminer Court for the Witch Trials was called by Massachusetts Governor William Philips in 1692 to hear testimony and determine judgments against the accused women. Interesting fact – Governor Philips shut down the Oyer and Terminer Court and put an end to the trials in Salem after his wife was accused of being a witch.

    [3] Susanna Martin was born in England in 1621 and emigrated to Massachusetts with her family in 1639, when she was about 18 years old. She married widower George Martin when she was 25 (quite old for the era), and they had eight children over the next few decades. During that same period, Susanna “Goody” Martin (generic term for wife) ended up in front of the court on many occasions. She sued six times, unsuccessfully, to get her share of her father’s estate. She appeared in court as a defendant numerous times for a variety of offenses, including calling one (male) neighbor a liar and thief. She was accused of witchcraft on two previous occasions. In both cases her husband managed to get the charges dropped. George Martin died in 1686. Six years later, at the height of the witch craze, Martin was again accused of witchcraft. Twenty-four of her neighbors and friends lined up to testify against her. None of her children attended her trial. Susanna Martin was 70 years old when she was hanged on Gallows Hill for witchcraft and sorcery. Her land was sold at auction after her death.

    [4] The Court.


    [5] The Merrimack River runs from New Hampshire to Massachusetts. During the early nineteenth century, textile towns like Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Concord, New Hampshire, and most importantly, Lowell, Massachusetts powered their textile factories from the Merrimack. Later in the semester, we will read a memoir by Harriet Robinson who worked in the textile mills in Lowell during the 1840s and 50s. Plum Island sits about 11 miles east of the mouth of the Merrimack, just south of Cape Ann.

    [6] Sunday night.

    [7] Martin was accused of being a Witch in 1669 and had been involved in numerous court cases before 1692.

    [8] Two things: Cats have always been associated with supernatural power and with women’s power. Ancient Egypt famously worshipped cats, literally - many Egyptian Goddesses were depicted as partially feline (cat with the head of a woman, woman with the head of a cat). Black cats were (are still) considered particularly powerful mystical creatures. 2) Robert Downer absolutely understood that conjuring the image of a cat possessed by Susanna Martin was credible evidence. It was already a cliché in 1692: “the witch took the form of a black cat.”

    [9] Notice how the Devil is a woman and God is a man. These guys are on message.

    [10] Let’s just pause for a minute and remind ourselves that while these charges seem absurd to us today, they were deadly serious during the 1690s. On the other hand, women are still referred as “witches,” and not as a euphemism for more offensive terms. I mean, last February a conservative radio talk show host explained on air that New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was head of a coven of witches operating out of Queens who are cursing the President. Story here. Representative Cortez is Latinx and Catholic. Women who men find threatening are often treated as supernatural creatures rather than powerful persons.

    [11] Impudent – disrespectful. Scurrilous – vulgar and untrustworthy. Creature – not human.

    [12] Ann Glover was an Irish indentured servant working in John Goodwin’s home in Boston when she was accused of bewitching his young daughter, who had taken to falling on the ground in fits and convulsions. Glover fled Ireland after the British conquest in 1653 and ended up in Boston by 1680. Ann’s daughter, Mary, also worked for the Goodwins. In addition to afflicting his daughters with witchcraft, John Goodwin accused Mary of stealing from him and cursing his horse. Glover was tried and hanged for witchcraft in 1688. Cotton Mather’s account of her trial partially inspired the hysteria in Salem four years later (Mather recorded the Salem trials as well). Please take note: Ann Glover was an immigrant – Irish, no less. She was Catholic. She spoke Gaelic. According to Mather, she was “old.” She was unwed with a teenage daughter (probably born out of wedlock, although the historical record is vague). Mather claimed Glover was “a scandalous old Irishwoman, very poor, a Roman Catholic and obstinate in idolatry." The historical record does tell us that when Ann Glover marched to the gallows in Boston Commons, she did so to jeers and screams of “kill the witch!” Her daughter Mary watched her mother’s execution from the crowd.  

    [13] Jailers.

    [14] Hag is an old Germanic word for “witch,” although it has more specific connotations. Hags are usually older, unattractive (????), and unmarried women with allegedly supernatural powers.

    [15] In Old English “railing” means to tease or joke around.

    [16] Do you know what “efficacy means?” It will take less than a minute to look it up.

    [17] Gaelic.

    [18] Our Father.

    [19] Sane.

    [20] Young man named Howen.

    [21] Remember this is Cotton Mather’s account.

    [22] Prince of Darkness, or, the Devil.

    [23] Ann Foster had been a widow for seven years when a woman in her hometown of Andover fell sick and started having fits. Doctors brought the two young girls who accused the Caribbean servant Tituba of sorcery a few months earlier to assess whether Foster was possessed. The magistrates would take the young girls (four total, two were Reverend Parris’ daughter and niece) who made the original accusations against Tituba around to other women accused of witchcraft and observe what happened. If the girls fell out, the accused must be a witch. It depended on how the young girls responded to the accused person. When the girls saw Foster, they collapsed on the floor in fits, claiming they saw the devil next to her. Foster was arrested. So was her daughter, and shortly after, her granddaughter (both named Mary Lacey). All three Foster women were tortured in jail (or “put to the question,” as it was called). Eventually, Foster’s daughter and granddaughter accused each other and their mother/grandmother of witchcraft. Ann Foster confessed, probably to save her daughter and granddaughter, who were released from custody. Ann Foster died in jail in December, 1692. She was 75 years old.

    [24] “Goody” is short for “goodwife,” a generic term for a married women. All of the married women mentioned here were known as “Goody.” In other words, married women were known as “goodwife of (insert husband’s last name here),” rather than their actual names.

    Martha “Goody” Carrier was another woman tried and hanged for witchcraft in 1692. Many people, including other women accused of witchcraft, claimed Carrier was a powerful witch. While Carrier was from one of the founding families in Andover, she married a Welsh indentured servant, making her immediately suspect to neighbors. Welsh immigrants were despised almost as much as the Irish and they, too, were Catholic. Also suspect - the couple had a child before they were married. Many people thought the Carriers caused the brief outbreak of smallpox a few years earlier; their family survived, many believed, as a result of Martha’s supernatural powers (something we heard before in the Jesuit Relations). The same girls who accused Tituba and Ann Foster accused Martha Carrier and her sister of witchcraft. Both were arrested, only Martha was found guilty. She was hanged on gallows hill in August, 1692. Mather observed her execution, later writing that Carrier was a “rampant hag,” and possible “Queen of Hell.” By all accounts, Carrier refused to cooperate with any of the proceedings. She wouldn’t answer questions, laughed hysterically when Mather questioned her, spit on the floor on her way out of court, and loudly proclaimed her innocence just before she was hanged from the gallows. Her five children, all under the age of 18, watched their mother’s execution from the crowd. Martha Carrier was 33 years old.


    Image: Used with permission from Florida Center for Instructional Technology

    Virginia Slave Codes (1661-1705)

    A colonial slave market in the seventeenth century.
    A colonial slave market

    Virginia Slave Codes (1661-1705)


    For many decades, historians believed Dutch slave traders brought the first “20. And odd Negroes” to Jamestown Colony in 1619. New research tells a different story: The Africans who came to Virginia were captured by Portuguese soldiers/enslavers as part of ongoing warfare between the Portuguese and African Kingdoms of Kongo and Ndongo kingdoms. The captives were then marched 100-200 miles to Elmira Castle on the coast of Ghana. The Portuguese were en route to the coastal port of Vera Cruz in New Spain when they were attacked by English pirates sailing under a Dutch flag. The English then went to the British colony of Jamestown rather than New Spain, where the enslaved Africans were sold to wealthy planters like John Rolfe (whose first wife, Pocahontas, died two years earlier). Africans worked alongside indentured servants from England, Ireland, and Scotland during the first decades of the Virginia colony. Servants were usually indentured for five to seven years, after which they received “freedom dues,” consisting of a small parcel of land and modest supplies. Initially, British colonists did not see themselves as “white,” but rather English or Irish, Christian or non-Christian, nobility, gentry, or servant class. By the 1640s, indentured servants (both black and white), especially once freed, began to pose a threat to the property-owning elite. The colonial government placed restrictions on available lands, creating unrest among the newly freed indentured servants.


    The wealthy landowners and political leaders (same men) were increasingly alarmed at the solidarity among the lower-class colonists, and especially upset about black and white servants challenging their servitude (running away together, for example). The disorder of the indentured servitude system made racial slavery that much more attractive to southern slaveholders. Enslaved Africans were a permanent labor force who could be defined as a people set apart in both physical appearance and status. Slaves were not white and they were not free. White men, regardless of rank, could always claim freedom by virtue of their race[1].


    Colonial law reflected the growing concern of elite landowners over the rising number of freed servants both black and white. By the 1660s, white indentured servants were rapidly being replaced by enslaved Africans. The Virginia Slave Codes were crucial in enforcing white freedom and black slavery. It was, as eminent historian Peter Wood apocryphally called it - “the terrible transformation.” Pay attention to the sequence of Codes here. The laws become increasingly specific and severe as time goes by. The laws were the basis of Slave Codes throughout the United States after 1783 as well as Jim Crow segregation laws following the Civil War. In other words, the colonial Slave Codes are a foundational piece of law and law enforcement in the United States[2].



    March 1661/62. Act VII: Run-aways.

    Whereas there are diverse loitering runaways in this country who very often absent themselves from their masters service and sometimes in a long time cannot be found, that loss of the time and the charge in the seeking them often exceeding the value of their labor: Bee it therefore enacted that all runaways that shall absent themselves from their said masters service, shall be liable to make satisfaction by service after the times by custom or indenture is expired double their times of service so neglected, and if the time of their running away was in the crop or the charge of recovering them extraordinary the court shall limit a longer time of service proportional to the damage the master shall make appear he hath sustained...; and in case any English servant shall run away in company of any negroes who are incapable of making satisfaction by addition of a time, it is enacted that the English so running away in the company with them shall at the time of service to their own masters expired, serve the masters of the said negroes for their absence so long as they should have done by this act if they had not been slaves, every Christian in company serving his proportion; and if the negroes be lost or dye in such time of their being run away, the Christian servants in company with them shall by proportion among them, either pay four thousand five hundred pounds of tobacco of tobacco and cask or four years service for every negroe so lost or dead.



    December, 1662. Act VI: Women servants got with child by their masters after their time expired to be sold by the Churchwardens for two years for the good of the parish.

    Whereas by act of Assembly every woman servant having a bastard is to serve two years, and late experience show that some dissolute masters have gotten their maids with child, and yet claim the benefit of their service, and on the contrary if a woman got with child by her master should be freed from that service it might probably induce such loose persons to lay all their bastards to their masters; it is therefore thought fit and accordingly enacted and be it enacted henceforward that each woman servant got with child by her master shall after her time by indenture or custom is expired be by the churchwardens of the parish where she lived when she was brought to bed of such a bastard, sold for two years, and the tobacco to be employed by the vestry for the use of the parish.



    December, 1662. Act XII: Negro women’s children to serve according to the condition of the mother. 

    Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a negro man or woman, he or she so offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act.



    September, 1667. Act III: An act declaring that baptism of slaves doth not exempt them from bondage.

    Whereas some doubts have risen whether children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of their owners made pertakers of the blessed sacrament of baptism, should by virtue of their baptism be made free; It is enacted and declared by this grand assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of baptism doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom; that diverse masters, freed from this doubt, may more carefully endeavour the propagation of Christianity by permitting children, though slaves, or those of greater growth if capable to be admitted to the sacrament.



    October, 1669. Act I: An act about the casual killing of slaves. 

    Whereas the only law in force for the punishment of refractory[3] servants resisting their master, mistress or overseer cannot be inflicted upon negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them by other than violent means suppressed, Be it enacted and declared by this grand assembly, if any slave resist his master (or others by his masters order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be considered a felony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquit from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that malice existed(which alone makes murder a felony) [or that anything] should induce any man to destroy his own estate.



    June, 1680. Act X: An act for preventing Negroes Insurrections. 

    Whereas the frequent meeting of considerable numbers of negroe slaves under pretence of feasts and burials is judged of dangerous consequence; for prevention whereof for the future, Bee it enacted by the kings most excellent majesty and with the consent of the general assembly ... that from and after the publication of this law, it shall not be lawful for any negroe or other slave to carry or arm himself with any club, staff, gun, sword or any other weapon of defense or offence, nor to go or depart from of his masters ground without a certificate from his master, mistress, or overseer, and such permission not to be granted but upon particular and necessary occasions; and every negroe or slave so offending not having a certificate as aforesaid shall be sent to the next constable, who is hereby enjoined and required to give the said negroe twenty lashes on his bare back well laid on, and so sent home to his said master, mistress or overseer. And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave shall presume to lift up his hand in opposition against any Christian, shall for every such offence, upon due proof made thereof by the oath of the party before a magistrate, have and receive thirty lashes on his bare back well laid on. 


    And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave shall absent himself from his masters service and lye hid and lurking in obscure places, committing injuries to the inhabitants, and shall resist any person or persons that shall by any lawful authority be employed to apprehend and take the said negroe, that then in case of such resistance, it shall be lawful for such person or persons to kill the said negroe or slave so lying out and resisting, and that this law be once every six months published at the respective county courts and parish churches within this colony. 

    (By 1682 the law "hath not had its intended effect for want of due notice thereof being taken," so it was ordered read aloud in church twice a year, and masters were fined 200 lbs tobacco if another master's slaves stayed on their plantation more than 4 hours without owner's permission.)


    April, 1691. Act XVI: An act for suppressing outlying slaves.

    Whereas many times negroes, mulattoes, and other slaves unlawfully absent themselves from their masters and mistresses service, and lie hid and lurk in obscure places killing hoggs and committing other injuries to the inhabitants of this dominion, for remedy whereof for the future, Be it enacted by their majesties lieutenant governour, council, and burgesses[4] of this present general assembly, and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted, that in all such cases upon intelligence of any such negroes, mulattoes, or other slaves lying out, two of their majesties justices of the peace of that country...shall be empowered and commanded (to issue warrants to the sheriffs to summon as many men as he needs to arrest the runaways) and in case any negroes, mulattoes or other slave or slaves lying out as aforesaid shall resist, runaway, or refuse to deliver and surrender him or themselves ... in such cases it shall and may be lawful ... to kill and destroy such negroes, mulattoes, and other slave or slaves by gun or any other ways whatsoever.  Provided that where any negroe or mulattoe slave shall be killed in pursuance of this act, the owner or owners of such negro or mulatto slave shall be paid for such negro or mulatto slave four thousand pounds of tobacco by the public. 


    And for the prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue which hereafter may increase in this dominion, as well as by negroes, mulattoes, and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women, as by their unlawful accompanying with one another, Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that for the time to come, whatsoever English or other white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a negroe, mulatto, or Indian man or woman bond or free shall within three months after such marriage be banished and removed from this dominion forever. 


    And forasmuch as great inconveniences may happen to this country by the setting of negroes and mulattoes free, by their either entertaining negroe slaves from their masters service, or receiving stolen goods, or being grown old bring a charge upon the country; for prevention thereof, Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no negro or mulattoe be after the end of this present session of assembly set free by any person or persons whatsoever, unless such person or persons, their heirs, executors or administrators pay for the transportation of such negro or negroes out of the country within six months after such setting them free, upon penalty of paying ten pounds sterling to the Church wardens of the parish where such person shall dwell with, which money, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, the said Church wardens are to cause the said negro or mulatto to be transported out of the country, and the remainder of the said money to employ to the use of the poor of the parish.



    October, 1705. Chap. XLIX: An act concerning servants and slaves.

    …And also be it enacted ... That all servants imported and brought into this country, by sea or land, who were not Christians in their native country, (except Turks and Moors[5] in amity with her majesty, and others that can make due proof of their being free in England, or any other Christian country, before they were shipped, in order to transportation hither) shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to Christianity afterwards.


    …And also be it enacted … That all masters and owners of servants, shall find and provide for their servants, wholesome and competent diet, clothing, and lodging, by the discretion of the county court; and shall not, at any time, give immoderate correction; neither shall, at any time, whip a Christian white servant naked, without an order from a justice of the peace: And if any, notwithstanding this act, shall presume to whip a Christian white servant naked, without such order, the person so offending, shall forfeit and pay for the same, forty shillings sterling, to the party injured…


    And for a further Christian care and usage of all Christian servants, Be it also enacted … That no negros, mullatos, or Indians, although Christians, or Jews, Moors, Mahometans[6], or other infidels, shall, at any time, purchase any Christian servant, nor any other, except of their own complexion, or such as are declared slaves by this act: And if any negro, mulatto, or Indian, Jew, Moor, Mahometan, or other infidel, or such as are declared slaves by this act, shall, notwithstanding, purchase any Christian white servant, the said servant shall, ipso facto[7], become free and acquit from any service then due, and shall be so held, deemed, and taken.


    And be it further enacted, That no minister of the church of England, or other minister, or person whatsoever, within this colony and dominion, shall hereafter wittingly presume to marry a white man with a negro or mulatto woman; or to marry a white woman with a negro or mulatto man, upon pain of forfeiting and paying, for every such marriage the sum of ten thousand pounds of tobacco.




    [1] Full disclosure: This paragraph paraphrases a section from historian David Blight’s book, Race and      Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001). Dr. Blight won the Pulitzer Prize for History this year for his new biography of Frederick Douglass, who we will read later this semester.

    [2] The Virginia Slave Codes are widely available online. I used these sites: National Humanities Center, Encyclopedia of Virginia, Sam Houston State University History Department.

    [3] Stubborn person, troublemaker

    [4] British term for member of Parliament.

    [5] “Turk” refers to a person from Turkey, although Turkey didn’t exist yet. In this context, Turk means someone from the Ottoman Empire (a Muslim Empire). “Moor” is the term for North African Muslims who lived in Southern Europe – Spain and Italy in particular. This is interesting. Turks and Moors were not considered Europeans, partially because they were Muslim, but also because they were dark-skinned. The British Empire (“Her Majesty,” refers to Queen Anne). Why all this specificity about race and religion?

    [6] Mahometans means “follower of Mohammed,” or Muslims.

    [7] Latin for “by the very fact”

    Image: Used with permission from Florida Center for Instructional Technology