Horrors of History Part Five New England Impurity
Don’t Turn Evil, Part Nine - New England
Copyright 2010 M. A. Golding
In 1628 the first Puritan settlers came to New England under the authority of the Massachusetts Company. By 1630, there were about three hundred surviving Puritans in New England. The Great Migration began in 1630. Thousands of Puritans and English of other religious beliefs came to New England each year until 1640.
Because most of them stayed alive the Puritan population grew and grew. Despite the harsher climate, the leaders in New England were far more successful at keeping their followers alive than most Virginia leaders. Perhaps that was because they actually cared at least a little bit about what was good for their followers.
The futile, useless, destructive Second Anglo-Powhatan War ended with a peace treaty in September, 1632. The Powhatans and the English colonists became bad neighbors to each other, treating each other badly but much better than they had for ten years of war.
The new English colony of Maryland was founded in 1634. Meanwhile, the population of New England grew to ten or twenty thousand by 1640. Spain and Portugal had tens of millions of European, Indian, African, and mixed-race subjects in South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico in 1640.
But in 1640, in what is now the United States and Canada, north of the Rio Grande, the only other Europeans were a few hundred in New France, about two thousand in New Netherlands, a few hundred in New Sweden on the Delaware River, a few hundred in Maryland, three or four thousand in Virginia, and probably a few hundred each in Florida and New Mexico.
It is no wonder that many people believe that the history of the United States began in New England and not in Virginia. In 1640 the New England colonists numbered far more than all other Europeans north of the Rio Grande and seemed certain to be the major element in the ancestry of whatever vast civilized populations flourished in northern North America in the next few centuries.
But the English Civil War began in 1640 and many English Puritans preferred to stay and fight to make a society of their liking in old England instead of sailing to New England. English colonies founded in later decades attracted hordes of new settlers, until New Englanders were merely a minority in English America. And the New Englanders made big mistakes dealing with the Indians.
[center]Don’t Turn Evil, Part Ten – Puritan Impurity[/center]
[center]Copyright 2010 M. A. Golding [/center]
Tens of thousands of Puritans and other English settled in New England after the Virginia Massacre of 1622, and after English writers began to depict North American Indians in a more negative, even demonic wary.
The Puritans believed that they and they alone were God’s elect, destined for salvation, and that the Devil would do anything to destroy them. But they would defeat the Devil’s evil hordes and triumph over them.
So the Puritans who migrated to New England believed that their destiny might be to be attacked by and defeat French, or Spanish, or Dutch, or even other English, but more probably to be treacherously attacked by the local Indians and utterly defeat them. And of course even the most secular Puritans also worried that the local Indians might copy the Virginia Massacre of March 22, 1622.
When thousands of newcomers acquire land from the inhabitants of an area and began to live near them, it will not be good for anyone if members of one group think members of the other group are evil and without rights to the land and even puppets of the Devil waiting for his order to treacherously attack them. The Puritans dealt realistically with the Indians for years, treating them as people with rights who would be angered if their rights were violated -- but there was always the danger that sooner or later the Puritans would follow their ideology instead of the facts.
The Puritans in New England were worse than average colonial leaders in their Indian relations. Their theology and their religious ritual practices may have been pure, but their ethics were not very pure.
The North American Indian populations declined from about 1600 AD to 1900 AD. Epidemic after epidemic of European diseases devastated their populations. Thus the Indians needed less and less land when Europeans coming to North America needed more and more land. Thus there could have been peaceful and mutually profitable land deals instead of the many bloody wars which resulted from Human folly and evil.
The European image of North American Indians as primitive hunter-gatherers with tiny populations was no longer true for the Eastern Indian groups. For centuries or millennia they had been expanding their populations and clearing more land for planting. They would have cleared and cultivated much more land in the next few centuries and millennia than they did at the time of European contact
Eventually Eastern North America would have been as densely populated as Europe or Asia. But in 1600 AD most of it looked deceptively like a forested wilderness to Europeans.
The tribes never willingly gave up any of their territory when they stopped being hunter gatherers and became farmers who could feed themselves in far less land than before. Since they had no domestic animals except dogs, they still needed to hunt for animal protein. And thus each tribe still owned vast lands reserved for hunting. I have heard that in the 1700s what is now Kentucky was a vast hunting preserve for the tribes north of the Ohio River.
To me it seems impractical to hunt for food so far from home. I suspect the hunters simply liked long hunting trips and pretended that the meat they brought back was vital for their people. This may have forced them to fight unnecessary wars against the first Europeans to settle in Kentucky.
And the other Eastern tribes kept and fiercely defended hunting grounds which may have been small compared to Kentucky but still seem far vaster than they actually ne