Compare and contrast the settlers' relations with Indians in early Virginia and New England

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In both areas, relationships with the Indians started out well enough but soon became disastrous because of abuses by the Europeans. In Virginia, the Indians showed the colonists how to plant corn and traded with them for hatchets, guns, etc. Things changed during the "starving time" when John Smith was forced to return to England. When their own food supplies ran out, the colonists stole Indian food supplies and destroyed that which they could not steal. One colonist claimed to have captured an Indian queen and several children, forced them to march to the river where he forced the children into the river and then shot them to death. The marriage between John Rolfe and Pocahontas was only to prevent an imminent Indian massacre after colonists stole Indian corn and kidnapped Pocahontas. When more land was needed to plant tobacco, the colonists simply stole it. When the Indians resisted, they claimed the entire resulting war was all the Indians fault:

That all men may see the impartial ingenuity of this discourse, we freely confess, that the country is not so good, as the natives are bad, whose barbarous selves need more cultivation than the ground itself, being more overspread with incivility and treachery, than that with briars. For the land, being tilled and used well by us, deceive not our expectation but rather exceeded it far, being so thankful as to return a hundred for one. But the savage, though never a notion used so kindly upon so small desert, have instead of that harvest which our pains merited, returned nothing nut briars and thorns, pricking even to death many of their benefactors. Yet doubt we not, but that as all wickedness is crafty to undo itself, so these also have more wounded themselves than us, God Almighty making way for severity there, where a fair gentleness would not take place.

In New England, the Indians were originally helpful in showing the colonists how to plant corn; but the colonists persisted in stealing land the Indians had already cleared and keeping for themselves. When the Indians resisted, they also blamed the Indians. In the Pequot War, resulting from unfair treatment of the Indians, the colonists said God punished the Indians by allowing them to be slaughtered wholesale:

And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished. And when the Fort was thoroughly Fired, Command was given, that all should fall off and surround the Fort; which was readily attended by all; only one Arthur Smith being so wounded that he could not move out of the Place, who was happily espied by Lieutenant Bull, and by him rescued. The Fire was kindled on the North East Side to windward; which did swiftly over-run the Fort, to the extream Amazement of the Enemy, and great Rejoycing of our selves. Some of them climbing to the Top of the Palisade; others of them running into the very Flames; many of them gathering to windward, lay pelting at us with their Arrows; and we repayed them with our small shot


 

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