Windham Life and Times – August 16, 2019

Nutfield 300

Indian Signatures

Samuel Penhallow’s Indian Wars |Events up to 1717

Well if you have been paying attention, you will have begun to understand that this was a clash of totally incompatible civilizations, that was dominated by the beliefs and folkways of each, in which both totally misunderstood the other and their actions. And of course as often happens, there was a third party, France, working against an accord because it was not in their interest. This is very similar to today with the western viewpoint of this country as it seeks to interact with the Occidental and Asian cultures with ideas and beliefs that are totally divergent from each other. Queen Anne’s War ended in 1704 with a peace treaty duly signed by the Indian Sachems pledging loyalty to the sovereign of England and apologizing for their actions. What follows highlights the prejudices and views of the times from those that lived in the middle of the conflict and saw friends and family members killed and tortured in the most awful manner.
Penhallow states that, “The keeping of a Register of Memorable Occurrences, as it has been the practice of former Ages, so it ought to be continues for the advantage of posterity: And in as much that the Divine Providence has placed me near the Seat of Action, where I have had greater Opportunities than many others of remarking the Cruelty and Perfidy of the Indian Enemy, I thought it my Duty to keep a Record thereof…I might with Orosius very justly entitle this History De miseria hominum, being no other than a Narrative of Tragical Incursions perpetrated by Bloody Pagans, who are Monsters of such Cruelty, that the words of Virgil may not unaptly be apply’d to them…Who are as implacable in their Revenge, as they are terrible in the Execution of it; and will convey it down to the third and fourth Generation. No Courtesy will ever oblige them to gratitude; for their greatest Benefactors have frequently fallen as victims to their fury.”

“…God has made them a terrible Scourge for the punishment of our Sins. And probably that very Sin in neglecting the welfare of their Souls. For we have not expressed the like laudable Care for them, as hath been done in the Southern and Western parts of the country.” (Probably because New England was dominated by the Puritans whose precept of controlling others still plagues American culture to this day.) “But indeed we have rather aimed to advance private Trade, then to instruct them in the Principles of True Religion. This brings to my remembrance a remarkable saying of one of their Chief sachems, whom (a little before the war broke out) I asked, Wherefore it was they were so much bigoted to the French? Considering their Traffick with them was not so advantageous as with the English. He gravely reply’d, That the Friars taught them to Pray, but the English never did.”

Throughout the early eighteenth century Indian attacks continued on New England settlements, even after the peace of Queen Anne’s War. Here we jump ahead to the period just prior to the arrival of the Scotch-Irish in large numbers in New England. The Treaty of Portsmouth was signed in July of 1713, in which the Indian Sachems, swore loyalty to the English sovereign and pledged to keep the peace. Penhallow says, The Peace thus concluded and so firmly ratified, gave matter of Encouragement to the Eastern Inhabitants for re-settling their former Habitations; who were also countenanced and assisted by the Government, even from Cape-Porpas to the Kenebeck River, where several gentlemen who had large tracts of of Land, granted a hundred acres to every one for Encouragement that would go and Settle; supporting a Minister besides (For some time) and employ’d a Sloop at their own Charge for carrying and re-carrying the Inhabitants, with their Stock; which gave so great Encouragement, that several Towns began to be settled, such as Brunswick, Topsham, Augusta, George Town, etc. In which a great many fine Buildings were erected, with several saw-mills.”

“The French Millionaires perceiving the Growth of the Plantations, soon animated the Indians to disrespect them, by insinuating that the Land was theirs and that the English invaded their Properties; which was a vile and wrong Suggestion, for their Conveyance were from the Ancient Sagamores, at least seventy Years before; and the Proprietors did not settle so high up by several Miles as was formerly possessed by their Predecessors…However the Indians could not be satisfied, but so threatened the Inhabitants, that many withdrew, and others were discouraged from going to Settle. Soon after they killed many of their cattle and committed many outrages.” What followed was the congress between the English and Indians at Arowsick in 1717 which was discussed earlier. “After this they drank to the King’s Health and promised allegiance to the Crown of Great Britain; so everything had now the promising Aspect of a lasting peace…” This was the condition of Eastward settlements at the arrival of the Scotch-Irish.

Penhallow follows with this interesting observation, “One thing I cannot here omit; three days after our departure, a number of Indians went a duck hunting, which was a season of the year that the old ones generally shed their Feathers in, and the young are not so well flusht as to be able to fly; they drove them like a flock of Sheep before them into the Creeks, where without either Powder or Shot kill’d at one time four thousand and six hundred; for they followed them so close that they knocked them down with Billets and Paddles, and sold a great number of them to the English for a penny a dozen, which is their practice yearly, tho’ they seldom make so great a Slaughter at once. (So much for the “living in harmony with nature myth.”) But before two years were expired, they again began to insult the Inhabitants, being spur’d on by the Jesuits, which occasioned a scout and fifty or sixty Men to be sent out, who kept them in awe…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.