War with Native Americans
The war between Native Americans and English settlers has been written about on many accounts. Those who voiced their opinions in the course of military operations have a biased view as the times were very religious and one-sided. The modern world has brought about another perspective, so a comparison between the older writings and modern understanding will help shed light on how Phillip’s War writers viewed colonization and how the English and Indian identities were forming under the influence of those events.
William Hubbard, in his book A Narrative of the Indian Wars in New-England: From the First Planting thereof in the Year 1607, to the Year 1677: Containing a Relation of the Occasion, Rise and Progress of the War with the Indians, in the Southern, Western, Eastern and Northern Parts of Said Country, describes events from the point of view of English settlers actions of which he certainly approves.. As there was a lack of knowledge regarding the culture and ways of Native Americans, the author was inclined to favor English colonizers. He begins by advancing a hypothesis that it is the native population which was the attacker. According to Hubbard, the English came to a new land to find peace and prosperity. They have offered their religion and neighboring services, but instead were attacked with the unwillingness to communicate or cooperate. The author also denotes the fact that Native Americans have a great knowledge of the land, so they can use it to their advantage. Moreover, while describing their appearance, clothing and armament he mentions that they attack with a weapon in one hand and their labor tools in the other (Hubbard, 1803). He continues by emphasizing that the English have found a nice place near the sea and thought of it as utopia, while Native Americans want to kill them and all this destruction seems to have increased their want of more blood (Hubbard, 1803). William Hubbard also brings up an example of natives’ cruelty and English friendliness by an agreement that was drafted between the two sides. The English wanted the delivery of people who were guilty of killing English soldiers and that trading should be established between the two opposing parties. In response to this agreement, Hubbard states that Native Americans were very sly and deceitful, denying any guilt of the murders of English soldiers, but being ready to trade. The author considers the natives highly unethical and untruthful nation who pursue only their own ends.
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A contrast can be seen in the writings of Mary Rowlandson in her book The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. She starts out with the comparison between the settlers and natives as those who have civilization and others who are savages. The clothes and food of Native Americans is unacceptable for people of her world. As she is extremely religious, she views natives as a punishment from God since they represent evil and all that seems to be cruel in life. However, as she gets captured by natives, her experience is changing while she lives in their village. When she eats the food and enjoys it, she understands that natives are not so savage (Rowlandson, 2008). Even her views about civilization become more progressive. The experiment allows her to compare the two worlds, and she realizes that English settlers may have made a huge mistake treating the natives as fierce cavemen. She starts noting that the gulf between civilization and savagery is merging that makes her overview her ideas of identities. Rowlandson contemplates her life and sees how fragile it is since all the possession and well being can be taken away at any moment (Rowlandson, 2008). This would mean that people who were previously civilized would become savages in order to survive, and this is her final conclusion.
By comparing the two writers, it can be said that people’s understanding was extremely stereotypical and one-sided. The contrast between two writers is that Hubbard expresses anger and hate towards the natives while Rowlandson has another opinion. He cannot believe and comprehend their cruelty, even though he is a religious man. This can be explained by the fact that English culture was very much segregated and based it principles on seemingly highest morals. People thought that their way of life was superior, and everyone else must follow it in order to be civilized and worthy of existence. Therein lay the true identity of the Englishmen. The scales are tipped so much that Hubbard says that they are the rightful owners of the prosperous land as it was God-given, but these natives would not share their land. Mary Rowlandson does not show any hate towards these people, only lack of understanding. She believes that this is a nation that has not evolved since they have not seen “better life”. But in the end, she is able to change her views because she lives amongst them and experiences life “through their eyes”. In the modern times, people accept that events of the past are not as clear cut as they were previously described. It is fair to admit that each side fought for what it believed was right and cruelty was common, but bias will not help to discern the truth.
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In conclusion, these historical documents are of great use today because they provide a glimpse into the lives of people in the beginning of the “Western World”. Their opinions and fears were formulated by cultural pressure, permanent domination. Some would not stop for any reason in order to acquire their goal while others were willing to compromise. Even though a lot has changed since the times of Phillip’s War, there is still much prejudice and discrimination that must be rooted out, but not forgotten.