THE RED KING'S REBELLION: Racial Politics in New England, 1675-1677 by Russell Bourne

THE RED KING'S REBELLION: Racial Politics in New England, 1675-1677

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Here, Bourne, former editor and publisher of American Heritage Books, recounts the Algonquin Indians' attempt to reverse the tide of white settlement and drive the white man out of New England. Known as King Philip's War, the Indian rebellion has suffered a mixed reputation, first portrayed as a classic victory for the embryonic American nation, then, as in Francis Jennings' The Invasion of America (1975), as a malignant consequence of the Puritans' neuroses and aggressiveness. In the latter view, Philip (who was the son of the famed Indian leader Massasoit, and who adopted the English name in an earlier period of racial harmony, casting off his given Indian name, Metacom) was the innocent victim of the Puritans. More recent scholarship, such as that of William Simmons' The Spirit of the New England Tribes (1986), seeks to absolve both sides of blame, finding the root cause to lie in socioeconomic stresses. Bourne takes a middle-of-the-road view, finding mutual suspicions to have fed the flames, but finding also a major shift in the value of beavers that destroyed the ""golden age of the fur-and-wampum prince."" As a result, the only resource left to the Indians was land--land that they increasingly saw being taken from them by the immigrants from across the sea, and land that they almost won back by nearly driving the white man to the sea before faltering. The war itself was as bloody as any fought on this continent (of 80,000 Indians and English settlers, nearly 9,000 were killed--one-third English, the rest Indians). And no area was safe: out of 90 colonial towns, 52 were attacked. As for Philip, upon being captured, he suffered the humiliation of being not only executed but mutilated--his severed head, placed on a spike in Plymouth, became an attraction to passers-by for decades. A detailed look at both sides of this conflict in the colorful manner familiar to readers of the American Heritage series.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1990
Publisher: Atheneum