The Puritans and the Indians

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    Mr. Woods pointed out that the Puritans did not steal land from the Indians. What about the Celts, Quakers and so on? Did they and/or other Brits steal indian land? Thanks


    How do you define steal? That is a loaded term with politically correct connotations.


    In this case I would define stealing as chasing the indian tribes out of a particular territory or killing them in order to acquire their land.


    If you define “steal” in that way, then any acquisition of land throughout human history without the benefit of a modern contract would be defined as stealing. Many early Europeans purchased Indian land through contract, meaning a treaty or mutual agreement, Sometimes one or neither party honored the contract, which resulted in bloodshed, and sometimes Europeans were rebuffed by violence before being offered a “contract” which of course resulted in retribution. Many Celtic peoples squatted on land, owned by Europeans or otherwise, and in the process acquired it de facto. They also faced the prospect of violence. David Crockett’s family was slaughtered by marauding Indians, for example. I think one of the “myths” that needs to be challenged in the notion of the peaceful Indian only made hostile by land hungry Europeans. Tribal warfare was brutal business and the practice of indiscriminate killing (men, women, and children) was evident before the English arrived in the 17th century.


    Good Lecture.

    Dr. Woods mentioned that the Puritans were not racists towards the Indians because they thought of them as ‘tanned’ whites. Does this part of the Puritan culture filter through the American culture over time to influence abolitionists? The fact that color is irrelevant should logically apply to Africans.


    The abolitionists held a broad spectrum of opinions on race. The Puritans’ view on the Indians does not appear to have informed abolitionists’ views of Africans, at least not in all cases.


    Great lecture,

    Dr. Woods did a wonderful job dispelling the myth of land being “stolen” by citing primary sources. My question is though, where does the opposing view have its foundation? If source documents claim there was a mutual trade in land, than where does the “theft” gain traction? Are there source documents that hold here?


    I take it that the fact that the Puritans were not racists and saw the Indians as primitive, tanned whites comes from Vaughan’s book. Is that correct? Are there other sources that discuss this?

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