PURITANS, INDIANS AND MANIFEST DESTINY by Charles M. & David C. Stineback--Eds. Segal


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The Book of Genesis instructs us to ""fulfill the earth and multiply,"" preached the Massachusetts divine John Cotton in 1630, but ""no nation is to drive out another."" This compact, stimulating selection of documents on 17th-century clashes and accommodations between Puritans and Indians shows the former stringently searching for justifications of their colonial impingement, chiefly through the doctrine that vacant lands are free to be occupied as, in John Winthrop's words, Abraham did among the Sodomites. The documents also show the New England Indians disposed toward peaceful trade, ""honest in defraying their debts,"" and fascinated by the settlers' technology. ""We do desire to reverence the God of the English because we see he doth better to the English than other gods do to others,"" pledged the Massachusetts Bay Indians in 1644, seeking to become Crown subjects with status equal to the Puritans. Some of the most notable documents show the Indians as pawns in Massachusetts' ambitions toward Connecticut and Rhode Island during the Pequot and King Philip's Wars; then the King asserted jurisdiction over the Puritans themselves on the basis of their brutality toward the natives. The editors admittedly stretch the ""Manifest Destiny"" parallel and sometimes give the impression that the Puritans never should have come at all. Nevertheless, the selections express diverse points of view, offering a fruitful access to a much-debated subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1977
Publisher: Putnam