Early relations between the Settlers and the Indigenous Population

“Puritans, Indians, and the Concept of Race” by G. E. Thomas, The New England Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1, March 1975.

“At Wessagusset in 1621, a group of ne’er-do-well Englishmen led by one Thomas Weston settled with no proper allowance for the winter months. When their food supplies ran low they robbed the local Indians. In spite of repeated complaints from the Indians, the Plymouth authorities, although exasperated with Weston and contemptuous of his group, took no action to stop the depredations by the Wessagusset whites. On the contrary, in what was to become a recurring pattern, Plymouth officials interpreted the Indians’ just complaints as an implicit threat to the Plymouth colony. Decreeing unilaterally that “there was no dealing with the Indians above board,” the leaders of Plymouth felt justified in sending Myles Standish in March 1623 to “catch them unaware.”

“Standish and his men carried out their instructions. They murdered several of the complaining Indians without warning, hanged one, and ran down and killed several others. The Wessagusset incident established the standard English response to any Indian resistance or complaint. No Indian dared raise his hand or even his voice against a white, even in defence of his life, family, or property. No matter if his opponent were an exile or outcast from white society, even the suspicion of opposition called for violent Puritan retribution.”

Good News From New England by Edward Winslow, London, 1624.

“because … it is impossible to deal with them in open defiance, but to take them in such traps as they lay for others, therefore (Standish) … pretended to trade This sudden and unexpected execution … of God upon their guilty consciences, hath so terrified and amazed them as, in like manner they forsook their houses running to and fro like men distracted, being in swamps and other desert places, and so brought diseases amongst themselves where very many are dead.”