Indography pp 57-70 | Cite as

From First Encounter to “Fiery Oven”

The Effacement of the New England Indian in Mourt’s Relation and Histories of the Pequot War
  • Thomas Cartelli
Part of the Signs of Race book series (SOR)


Much has been written on the evolution of Puritan relations with native Americans from the comparatively pacific “first encounters” on Cape Cod to the arguably genocidal approach taken to the Pequots of Connecticut in 1637, and some time later, to a larger mass of New England Indians in King Philip’s War. This change has been charted in paradigmatic terms by the literary scholar John Seelye, who in Prophetic Waters speaks of “the peaceful message of the Gospels giving way increasingly to the militant burden of the Pentateuch” and of “the prophet becoming the soldier of God as the wilderness becomes the threshold to Canaan.”1 Seelye effectively depicts a shift from pastoral to polemic in the first 20 years of Puritan writing on the colonization of New England, with the collectively authored Mourt’s Relation (1622) displaying a “distinctly Hesiodic strain” that would soon yield to the martial beat of Puritan militancy recorded in John Mason’s Brief History of the Pequot War (1656) and other accounts of that conflict published by Lion Gardener (1660), John Underhill (1638), and Philip Vincent (1638), the latter two in the immediate aftermath of the war.2


Native Inhabitant Material Shape Militant Burden Weak Entity Unfulfillable Demand 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    John Seelye, Prophetic Waters: The River in Early American Life and Literature (New York: Oxford UP, 1977), 121, 123.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    John Mason, A Brief History of the Pequot War (Boston, 1736 [1656]); Lion Gardener, “Gardener’s Narrative,” originally in Massachusetts Historical Collections III (1833), 131–160, repr. in Charles Orr, History of the Pequot War: the Contemporary Accounts of Mason, Underhill, Vincent and Gardener (Cleveland: Helman-Taylor, 1897), 112–149; John Underhill, Newes from America; or, A New and Experimentall Discoverie of New England; containing a True Relation of Their War-like proceedings these two yeares last past, with a Figure of the Indian Fort, or Palisado (London, 1638); and Philip Vincent, A True Relation of the Late Battell Fought in New-England between the English and the Pequot Salvages (London, 1638).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), 42.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Letter of October 11, 1492 in Oliver and James E. Kelley Jr., eds, The Diario of Christopher Columbus’s First Voyage to America, 1492–1493 (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989), 67–68.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    Ronald Dale Karr, “‘Why Should You Be So Furious?’ The Violence of the Pequot War.” Journal of American History 85, no. 3 (1998): 876–909, especially 877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Jonathan Gil Harris 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Cartelli

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations