In this historical and culturally divided book, Jill Lepore examines and tries to define the King Philips War and how people wrote about it. At the beginning of the colonies it was a start of a ?New England and after the King Philip’s War with all of the religious conflicts and war stories, a new American identity was born. Throughout this book she tells gruesome tales about murders, massacres, and battles. Even thought his book jumps a lot in chronically order she successfully tells the tales for both sides pretty accurately. I enjoyed reading some parts of this book. Especially the beginning and the middle because I thought the End dropped off and slowed down.
Starting even before the war begins, she tells the tale of John Sassamon which she uses as the basis of ideas. This is a center point of the first part of her book. Why Sassamon was either killed for no reason or assassinated? New England Indians at the time were to become accustom to English goods and some were even converting to Christianity. Soon after the war begins she shows how the Indians use Christianity as a part of their war. Also after the war begins she writes about how many writers try to capture the war in words so that the colonies don’t loose their Englishness. This is ironic because by trying not to loose their Englishness they form an American identity.
Inside the John Sassamon story lays the true reason why he was killed. Sassamon was an educated man, which was very rare considering he was a Native American. Even though he was growing apart from some of his friends in the colonies he still had strong ties with them. There are many reasons why he would be killed but none as strong as turning on your own people. Treason is considered a great offence to our country, imagine the offence taken by the Native Americans. Reading this book I found great similarities with the Native American culture and one with a gang or a mob family. All of them seem to have great penalties for one of their own turning against them. The major difference would be that the Native Americans religion was also a great deal of their culture. A mob family’s religion (catholic or instance) would conflict with the killing of another human. But the Native Americans were not that way, if one was killed and they took hostages then the one killed could be revenged by killing a hostage.
John Sassamon was not only killed because he turned against his people when he tried to warn the colonists. He also represented something that King Philip didn’t like, a Native American turned English. In the book it says The first casualty may have been the Pequot man whom an Indian interpreter, possibly Sassamon himself: ‘What are you, an Indian or an Englishman?’ The answerableness of this question would eventually kill Sassamon too. pg 47.
The killing of John Sassamon was with out a doubt the beginning of the war. Even though that no shots were fired at any colonists war was declared by killing the only person that could stop it. Many people believed that the way to stopping King Philip was to convert him to Christianity, but this proved to be harder than it seemed. King Philip saw this feudal attempt to change him and saw a weakness in the colonists. He saw that religion played a big part in the colonies as seen on page 105 as one colonist aptly put it, ‘Our Enemies proudly exalt over us and Blaspheme the name of our Blessed God; Saying, Where is your O God?’
Religion played the largest part in the war because both sides believed strongly in their religion and were willing to die for them. On the colonist side they used religious ideas to justify the war. They believed it to be a holy war, page 109 And, as Pope Innocent IV had pronounced in the thirteenth century, Christians could wage wars agains infidels soley on the basis of their nonbelief in God. To believe that God is on your side when you are fighting to the death is a very honorable thing. It means that you don’t die for some petty cause but you die for the divine right of God.
Also on page 105 a Native American stated We will first take away your shelter, then your beliefs, and only then will we take your lives, leaving you, not as men, but as bare, butchered flesh. This is exactly was the Native Americans tried to do. They first raided towns and houses, taking not only the shelter away from the colonist but their lives. Then they started to chip away at their beliefs, by provoking them like the in the passage in the paragraph above. This tactic was very successful at the beginning and proved that the colonist had doubts about the war.
Most colonists had doubts about the war from the start but some found a way to escape and justify it. They wrote stories and self-experiences about the war. Many writings came out of that time about the war. Most of them were embellished stories from people that hadn’t even been there. They made a point to write about it as if they were very civilized people like the English and the Indians were beast not men seen on page 64 The Impious actts off thes Infernal bests; actted abroad & in ther helish nests; would swell a volum to a magnitud. The author Philip Walker made sure to incorporate as much about a beast as possible. Jill Lepore put this in her book not just to show the way that New England writers wrote about the Native Americans because there are many other instances she could have used but this one showed hatred and disgust. He had a pure hatred for them that shown through his writing.
Other writings as in the first part of the book, the Circle, were about the Indian brutality and how they tried to separate themselves from the barbarism that the Indians exposed. After the story of a young Indian being tortured by another group of Indians Lepore writes ?But if both the sufferer and his tormentors are Indians, where, in this scene are the English?? (pg 4). She writes that to prove a very important point, as long as the English are not doing any of the torturing and only watching they don’t loose their ties with the mother land. This was completely wrong, the Colonists were there not the English. The English might have read about it somewhere in a newspaper or a book but the Colonists had to live through it. This is the reason why the Colonists lost their Englishness and began a new American identity.
Lepore also used writers of that time to distinguish between how they told their truth and what she thought was the truth. This was a very useful part of the book, it showed to us the reader, that not all the stories that we read about the in history books or books from that time are entirely correct. That in every writing there is some type of biases ness. She did a very good job on representing both sides very well.
This book was the study of war and how people wrote about it. But also the book makes it apparently clear that this was the start of a new American identity. Throughout the writings, stories, and all of the religious battles that were fought one true thing remained the colonist’s Englishness was gone. This was not New England any more this was something new. This was a ?New? New England