King Philip's War and the Origin of American Identity", early English settlers were concerned with their identity; they wanted to clearly define themselves as separate from Englishmen, but worried about becoming too similar to Native Americans in the area. Through language, English settlers in North America were able to control their history and the development of a new American identity. Sep 26, Charlotte rated it really liked it. The Name of War is a fascinating account of King Philip's War, a violent and bloody affair in which the second generation New England Colonists were pitted against King Philip Metacom and various indigeous peoples of the area.
As each side fights this war to maintain their cultural identity, each group inevitably changes. These changes impact what later becomes a cultural identity unique to the United States. If you love history, Colonial American history, war history, or just enjoy reading ab The Name of War is a fascinating account of King Philip's War, a violent and bloody affair in which the second generation New England Colonists were pitted against King Philip Metacom and various indigeous peoples of the area. If you love history, Colonial American history, war history, or just enjoy reading about gory violence, this book is for you.
In The Name of War: Both factions erupted into the brutal conflict known King Philip's War, named after Philip, the leader of the Wampanoag Indians. Exclusive to Lepore's argumentative framework is her concentrated focus on war and memory. Indeed, her examination concerns the role of recollection in the field of historical analyses and wh In The Name of War: Indeed, her examination concerns the role of recollection in the field of historical analyses and what dangers such an approach presents. In the enduring dispute, language, as Lepore contests, became a critical factor in our understanding of perhaps one of the bloodiest American wars.
This line of enquiry drives Lepore's pursuit for the earliest expressions of "American identity. Her work encompasses both primary analysis and synthesis, utilizing materials from newspapers and personal correspondence to histories such as Frederick Jackson Turner's, The Significance of the Frontier in American History What is significant regarding her use of secondary material is the scarcity thereof from the past half-century.
Lepore is advantageous in her use of primary material.
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King Philip's War compelled a large number of English colonists to justify the war. Consequently, they penned their reasons for warfare, much to the historians' delight. What transpires, Lepore argues, is a feud embroiled in identity issues. On the battlefield, English, Native Americans, and European Americans struggled over such predicaments. She depicts the horrors of this conflict, from gruesome tortures to the massacre of women and children, so explicitly barbaric that the term "war" barely applies.
Evading a chronological narrative, Lepore divides her arguments into four main parts: Language, War, Bondage, and Memory. In Part One, she demonstrates how literacy played an active role in igniting the war. Moreover, she examines how only the English captured stories in writing. Lepore illustrates her points by focusing on the case of John Sassamon, a Native American convert to Christianity and "praying Indian", who played a key role as a "cultural mediator" p. Sassamon's literacy, she claims, came a price.
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It allowed him the opportunity to speak to both groups, which adversely caused suspicion. In June , English colonists charged and tried three Wampanoag Indians for the murder of Sassamon: Tobias, Wampapaquan, and Mattashunnamo. Although Historians have differed as to why the Wampanoags would have murdered Sassamon, Lepore suggests that "in a sense," it was literacy p.
In Part Two, Lepore demonstrates the necessity of the captivity narrative in comprehending war. A narrative genre also utilized by contemporary historians such as Linda Colley and Pauline Turner Strong, she examines how the English settlers detested the uncivility the Native Americans portrayed. Their destruction of English houses, farms, crops, livestock, clothing, and bodies threatened to eradicate the colonists 'Englishness.
The English considered writing about such action as a method to distinguish themselves from the uncivilized Native Americans. Rowlandson, a colonial American woman who was captured by Native Americans during the war wrote of her ideal in, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Here, Lepore portrays the complications and contradictions involved in such memoir writings. Whereas Rowlandson was later ransomed, others encountered a darker fate.
Those charged with treason were either executed or enslaved after the war.
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She argues that this popular play exemplifies how later generations of European Americans remembered and learned about the war. Furthermore, she contests that this particular play serves as a single figure in a larger equation. When placed alongside Andrew Jackson's announcement of his Indian removal policy and William Apess's public lecture Eulogy on King Philip , the play embodies the grander narrative involving the issue of sovereignty.
In short, Lepore's work is a success. Whilst recapturing the ongoing struggles faced by Native Americans and colonists residing in New England, she also reminds the reader of the vulnerabilities involved in truly understanding past wars. Reconstruction is no easy feat. It is susceptible to many weaknesses evoked by what is considered 'fact' and 'fiction. Additionally, it is essential one considers sources from both Native Americans and Colonists.
Although the lack of primary evidence can often yield the historians pen, she contends that other methodologies can bring about results. Indeed, placing the feud into the larger framework of American sovereignty and identity, Lepore encapsulates a masterful narrative. She convincingly posits that history is written by the victors, but that should not compel one to neglect those overpowered. Aug 17, Frederick Channell rated it did not like it.
Had to read this for a Colonial History class in college. Three other classmates did also. We all hated it. As dated as Flintlocks and Tomahawks is, it is a far better book on the war. Jan 10, Myles rated it it was amazing Shelves: I wish Jill Lepore could write the history of everything! She is obsessed with how we create and alter cultural identities through storytelling, memory keeping, adaptations, religious doctrine, political exploitation, and all the self-preserving behaviors we adopt when we're uncomfortable confron I wish Jill Lepore could write the history of everything!
She is obsessed with how we create and alter cultural identities through storytelling, memory keeping, adaptations, religious doctrine, political exploitation, and all the self-preserving behaviors we adopt when we're uncomfortable confronting how similar we are to the people we've chosen to hate.
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This was a slow read not because it ever fails to captivate-- vivid accounts of brutality and prejudice rarely put me to sleep-- but because it's so incisive and the depths of its research are so marvelous that you dread the day when you've run out of pages. Apr 11, Alex rated it really liked it. Whether you agree with her theoretical framework or not, there's a massive amount of interesting primary sources that she deftly uses in her research, and the writing is fantastic.
Yes, she's a bit callous towards the plights of the colonists. But they were an invading force, who clearly were bent on Christianizing the natives before wiping them out altogether. Lapore's look into the creation, production, and reception of the texts of the time and those that followed the 'war' Whether you agree with her theoretical framework or not, there's a massive amount of interesting primary sources that she deftly uses in her research, and the writing is fantastic. Lapore's look into the creation, production, and reception of the texts of the time and those that followed the 'war' is especially fascinating and seems to paint an accurate portrayal of not only the 'war' itself but how people mostly whites used writing and speaking to affect history in a particular, ideologically bent way.
Dec 06, Shaheer rated it really liked it Shelves: The Name of War isn't a narrative history, and doesn't care if you know what actually happened during King Philip's War. Instead, Lepore explores questions of identity and memory. In the process, she reveals a war that, despite being famously brutal, was surprisingly sophisticated.
The Algonquians understood what made the English tick and, fed up with attempts to enforce Englishness, begin a campaign to destroy the colonists' sense of self and reclaim their own. My one frustration with this book The Name of War isn't a narrative history, and doesn't care if you know what actually happened during King Philip's War. My one frustration with this book is that Lepore repeats herself a lot. First she'll imply, then she'll state, and then she'll literally just quote herself over and over until you're like jesus I get it. Jan 19, Amy rated it did not like it Shelves: Can I halfway review a book that I half-read?
I guess I'm used to Lepore using story to tell a history - weaving together events and people and making a lot of interesting connections that really add to understanding a person or moment in time, in context. This book ju Can I halfway review a book that I half-read? This book just didn't have it and I gave up halfway through. Oct 15, Ajk rated it really liked it Shelves: I was very, very excited for this book. That epilogue is fascinating, and great. Unfortunately, a lot of the buildup to it was a bit of a slog. Lepore or her editors made the odd choice not to modernize the syntax and spelling of any of her 17th-century sources, which makes them tough to read th I was very, very excited for this book.
Lepore or her editors made the odd choice not to modernize the syntax and spelling of any of her 17th-century sources, which makes them tough to read through. For an end-noted history book, this seems like a weird choice. In general, I found myself trying to piece things together and trusting Lepore to make the arguments much more then I was able to really follow along. I had to put a lot of myself into reading this, which I just was not really able to do all the time because of how I chose to read this book not as a text, but as a book to read before falling asleep at night.
The book delivers everything it says it will, and I am very glad I read it. I just needed a lot more time and heart to read it than I expected. That's four stars on me, as much as it is on Lepore. Aug 24, Charlotte rated it really liked it. Tons of primary sources integrated into the analysis, which was really cool, since I didn't even know there were so many early colonial records.
A bit dense in the middle. Jun 28, Anna rated it really liked it Shelves: One of the best books I've read about war, and a war I knew nothing of beforehand. It stressed the importance of words, the cultural value of words and literacy, as a weapon of war, which is applicable to the telling and retelling of every conflict. Oct 31, Maddy Friese rated it liked it. Interesting history on the Seven Year War. Insightful, and very detailed. More succinct than James Fenimore Cooper, but not as entertaining as his series.
Aug 04, Joseph Stieb rated it really liked it Shelves: This is a study of war, culture, language, and memory in regards to King Philip's War. Those who complain that it isn't really a history of the war itself probably should have looked at a review before they read this book. It's also not really about the Origins of American Identity because most of the colonists she focuses on considered themselves English and fought to retain that identity. So we are left with a vague title and a book that is really more like a set of loosely connected essays, ea This is a study of war, culture, language, and memory in regards to King Philip's War.
So we are left with a vague title and a book that is really more like a set of loosely connected essays, each pursuing a theme. Some of these sections are totally overwrought and kind of silly. The chapter on "Habitations of Cruelty" argues that the British thought of houses as metaphorical bodies and representations of their culture and civilization.
The destruction of these houses and other aspects of British civilization became an assault on their Englishness and civilized status. Of course, anyone would be pissed if Indians destroyed their houses, crops, and farm animals, so this chapter doesn't really help us understand the conflict any better. Also, I imagine that virtually every culture considers their houses to be representative of their civilizations in some manner.
I can't really envision a bunch of colonists running away from their burning villages exclaiming "Dang it! There go the representations of our bodies and culture up in flames! This is a good example of what happens in academia when a subject has been studied to death and scholars scrape together new ways of looking at phenomena that get them published but don't add much to the field while turning off non-experts.
However, there were many parts of this book I found fascinating.
The Name of War
She does some interesting detective work on the murders and executions that sparked the conflict. The section about captivity and the suspicion placed on Christian Indians who went into captivity and then returned to colonial society was very illuminating. Both of these societies were thoroughly pre-modern in their mindsets, and it's hard to imagine how the grandsons and granddaughters of these Puritans were the enlightened more or less founders of our nation. For example, when the colonists executed Metacom, they took his son into captivity.
The debate about what to do with him revolved around Biblical passages. Some argued that the Puritans could not punish the son for the sins of the father even though God does this in Egypt, Sodom, Gomorrah, etc etc. Ultimately they decided to sell him and hundreds of Indian captives into slavery, which no one in this time period batted an eye at morally.
Although they insist that the Narragansett man is tortured simply to humor the Mohegans, his suffering seems sublimely satisfying to the English as well. They never look away; this is the "occular Demonstration" they've been waiting for. In many ways, theirs is a safe pleasure. Their enemy is killed, yet they do not have to kill him. They are allowed to witness torture, yet they need not inflict it. Nor are they themselves physically threatened--it is not their legs that are being broken.
Still, there is danger here. And protecting that identity--as Christians and, most fundamentally, as Englishmen--is why they are fighting the war in the first place.
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From the time of their first arrival, in the s and s, the settlers had worried about losing their Englishness. However much they wanted to escape England and its corruptions, they still clung to their English ways--ways of walking, talking, dressing, thinking, eating, and drinking. Being away from England meant religious freedom, but it also meant cultural isolation. Even while in Holland they had complained that it was "grievous to live from under the protection of the State of England," likely "to lose our language, and our name of English.
Strange languages, strange people, strange land. Building a "city on a hill" in the American wilderness provided a powerful religious rationale, but on certain days, in many ways, it must have fallen short of making perfect sense. When the corn didn't grow, when the weather turned wild, when the wolves howled, when the Indians laughed at God, these are the times when the colonists might have wondered, What are we doing here?
Discouraged and afraid, thousands of colonists simply left--as many as one in six sailed home to England in the s and s, eager to return to a world they knew and understood. But those who stayed eventually learned to grow corn, predict the weather, shoot wolves, and ignore Indian blasphemies. And then they might have wondered, Who have we become? The colonists' doubts about their own identity were magnified both by their distance from England and by their nearness to the Indians. Most especially, they worried about the Indians' origins and the reason for their barbarity.
Either the Indians were native to America and more like an elm tree than an Englishman , or else they were migrants from Europe or Asia and then very much like the English, who were simply more recent migrants. If native, the Indians were one with the wilderness and had always been as savage as their surroundings. As Roger Williams reported, "They say themselves, that they have sprung and growne up in that very place, like the very trees of the Wildernesse.
If this were the case, as many believed, then the English could expect to degenerate, too. Urging the conversion of the Indians to Christianity, Daniel Gookin had warned, "Here we may see, as in a mirror, or looking glass, the woful, miserable, and deplorable estate, that sin hath reduced mankind unto naturally. Instead of becoming "visible saints" for all of Europe to see, the English might expect to become more savage with each passing year, not only less religious but also less and less like Englishmen.
And more and more like Indians. By the s, in the years before King Philip's War broke out, there were many signs that the English had degenerated. Church membership and church attendance had declined. People were settling farther and farther from the coast, nearer to the Indians, and farther from the civilizing influence of English neighbors.
King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity
Trade and contact with the Indians were increasing, though little of this contact involved sharing the good news of the gospel. In , just a year before the war began, the Puritan minister Increase Mather published a sermon called The Day of Trouble is Near, in which he bemoaned the profligacy of his parishioners and the "great decay as to the power of godliness amongst us.
Mather's themes of decay and confusion were common concerns. At the farthest extreme, New Englanders worried that they might degenerate so much as to become indistinguishable from beasts.
The same year that Mather published his Day of Trouble, Samuel Danforth printed a sermon on bestiality occasioned by a young boy's confession of copulating with a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves, and a turkey in which he condemned the practice as a "monstrous and horrible Confusion" that "turneth man into a bruit Beast. Earlier English colonizers in Ireland had shared the same concerns, worrying, as Edmund Spenser did, that the English there might follow the fate of the original Norman invaders who "degenerated and growen allmoste meare Irishe yea and more malitious to the Englishe than the verye Irishe themselves.
Nearby, in New France, Frenchmen seemingly "became Savage simply because they lived with them. Meanwhile, many Algonquians had come to suspect the reverse, worrying that they themselves had become too much like their new European neighbors. Not only had the English taken Indian lands and disrupted traditional systems of trade and agriculture, but they also had corrupted the power of native rulers, or sachems, and attempted to eradicate the influence of powwaws, native religious leaders. When coastal populations became decimated by European diseases, many Indians had even decided to convert to Christianity and to live among the English.
Those who resisted the influence of the English commonly attributed all of their people's problems "to the Departure of some of them from their own heathenish Ways and Customs. During negotiations with several colonists from Rhode Island, Philip and his counselors claimed "that thay had a great fear to have ani of their indians should be Caled or forsed to be Christian indians.
Thay saied that such wer in everi thing more mischivous, only disemblers, and then the English made them not subject to their kings, and by ther lying to rong their kings. A day of trouble was indeed near, as Increase Mather had warned. Calamities showing God's judgment were almost always at hand in Mather's mind, but this time, in , he had a point. It is not entirely clear just exactly how or why the war started when it did, in June , but from the firing of the first shots, both sides pursued the war with viciousness, and almost without mercy.
And the English, with occasional help from Mohegan, Pequot, Mohawk, and Christian Indians, burned wigwams, killed women and children, and sold prisoners into slavery.
Both sides practiced torture and mutilation of the dead. New England's Algonquians waged war against the English settlers in response to incursions on their cultural, political, and economic autonomy and, at least in part, they fought to maintain their Indianness. Meanwhile, New England colonists waged war to gain Indian lands, to erase Indians from the landscape, and to free themselves of doubts about their own Englishness. For many colonists this was a struggle ordained by God, in which He "in wisdom most devine" would "purg ther dros from purer Coyne.
And to behave as the Spanish had would again jeopardize the colonists' identity as Englishmen. Spain's brutal conquest of Mexico was widely known in both Old and New England, largely through a work titled The Tears of the Indians and commonly referred to as "Spanish Cruelties," but actually a translation of the Spanish friar Bartolome de Las Casas' sixteenth-century treatise "In Defense of the Indians. In the seventeenth century, the widespread printing and distribution of works such as "Spanish Cruelties" fueled the growth of nationalism in Europe, a development that was predicated on the invention of the printing press.
As one New England colonist wrote in , "all men of reading condemne the Spaniard for cruelty When Richard Hakluyt listed for Queen Elizabeth the reasons for planting American colonies, he suggested that the English might easily win the favor of Indians desperate for liberation from Spain's cruelties: The Spaniards governe in the Indies with all pride and tyranie; and like as when people of contrarie nature at the sea enter into Gallies, where men are tied as slaves, all yell and crye with one voice Liberta, liberta, as desirous of libertie or freedome, so no doubt whensoever the Queene of England Sir Walter Ralegh even planned to bring Las Casas' "booke of the Spanish crueltyes with fayr pictures" on his voyage to Guiana in the s, hoping to show it to the natives and impress them with the wisdom of welcoming the kinder, gentler English.
Part of the mission of New England's "city on a hill," then, was to advertise the civility of the English colonists and to hold it in stark contrast with the barbarous cruelty of Spain's conquistadors and the false and blasphemous impiety of France's Jesuit missionaries. Books not only about the Spanish conquest but also about the Spanish Inquisition, both of which illustrated the depravity and cruelty of Spaniards, and of papists in general, were printed and made widely available to English readers "Spanish Cruelties" was even subtitled "Inquisition for Blood," to make the connection more explicit.
The French, on the other hand, were derided not so much for cruelty as for hypocrisy and sacrilege in their meaningless baptisms of Indians ignorant of the gospel. A popular English joke told of a Jesuit missionary who, having lived in New France for a quarter century, wrote to a friend in Europe to ask him "to send him a Book called the Bible, for he heard there was such a Book in Europe; which might be of some use to him. New Englanders' fame as missionaries to the Indians was so well publicized that by Roger Williams was able to dissuade his fellow colonists from waging war against the Narragansetts by pointing out that their reputation was at stake: You know how many bookes are dispersed throughout the Nation of that Subject In a prefatory address "To all true English-men," the translator of a English edition of "Spanish Cruelties" asked his readers to imagine watching the horrors of the conquest, to imagine, in a sense, standing in a circle of spectators to that event: In , when this "Spanish Cruelties" was printed, these were the only proper responses of "true English-men" to the torture and slaughter of Indians.
Twenty years later, those "true English-men" who lived in New England found themselves in a very tricky spot. Barbarism threatened them from every direction: Inspired by Your Browsing History. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first.
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