NEW ENGLAND OUTPOST: War and Society in Colonial Deerfield by Richard I. Melvoin

NEW ENGLAND OUTPOST: War and Society in Colonial Deerfield

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A penetrating look at colonial Deerfield (Mass.) as a microcosm of stresses inherent in colonial New England. The author is Dean of Studies at Deerfield Academy. Melvoin details the settlements of Deerfield by Puritan farmers from Dedham, its ties to the rest of New England, and the successive European wars between England and France that threatened to break those ties. But, most interestingly, behind Melvoin's thesis lurks a strongly revisionist streak that marks a strong break with Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier theory. Turner's frontier was individualistic, democratic, impatient, and free; Melvoin asserts, however, that the Deerfield frontier, particularly in light of its being the site of 30 different Indian attacks in its first 50 years, was more inward-directed, closed, interdependent, and communal. Melvoin also offers some unique perspectives on the relations between colonists and Indians--demonstrating how more than a dozen Indian tribes shared in the balance of power in Deerfield along with French and English colonists. Indians were not averse to economic stimuli, and consequently there was often a cooperative approach between them and the colonists-a far cry from the traditional view of the tomahawk-clutching scalpers that put fear into colonists' hearts. A significant contribution to our understanding of the colonial development of New England.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1988
Publisher: Norton