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ancestors, and to a perfectly natural impulse on the
part of the descendants of the empire builders of
three centuries ago to dwell upon the courage,
energy and devotion to principle of the sturdy men
who braved the terrors of the deep and the dangers


of an unknown land, to plant upon these shores a
government founded upon ideals which they had

And so, without attempting to write history or
even to essay the work of a compiler, the writer has
prepared the following brief sketches of character,
groups, tribes, and men in such a way that a care-
ful reading of the whole will present a living, mov-
ing panorama of the olden times, not a complete
picture in any sense, but simply a sketch, a glimpse
through the foliage that will reveal enough to lead
to a better appreciation of the services rendered by
the lost race in laying the foundations of our liberty.
If my effort assists, in only a small degree, in se-
curing a fair hearing before the tribunal of pubhc
opinion for a much maligned people, I shall feel
that my labor has not been in vain. So bitter has
been the arraignment of the red men by some of
the writers of the early days, as well as by many
who have followed them, that I have not hesitated
to use language in characterizing their writings, and
sometimes themselves, that may appear unneces-
sarily harsh; but there is such a perfectly apparent
spirit of unfairness running through their narratives
that they merit little sympathy.

One thing we cannot keep too constantly in mind,
and that is that the red men left no records. The
history of the events in which they participated was
written, for the most part, by their enemies; and
it is only by digging up a line here and a sentence
there, that one is enabled to get together anything
that will do justice to the character of the race they


exterminated, and then, to justify their treatment
of them, attempted, by their writings, to cover
with infamy.

We can afford to approach the subject without
passion or prejudice; and, reading between the
hnes, draw our own conclusions of the right and the
wrong of the struggle for supremacy waged between
the contending races. One is amazed to read from
^he pen of Schoolcraft, who wrote as late as 1849,
svch a sentiment as this concerning King PhiUp.
''We may lament that such energies were misapplied,
but we cannot withhold our respect for the man
who, though lacking the motives that lead Christian
martyrs to the stake and civilized heroes to the
'imminent deadly breach,' was yet capable of com-
bining all the military strength and political wis-
dom of his country and placing the colonists in
decidedly the greatest peril through which they had
ever passed." This is the same Philip of whom
Major Daniel Gookin, commander of the Middlesex
regiment in the war, wrote, "he was a person of good
understanding and knowledge of the best things,"
quoted with apparent approval by Schoolcraft.

Just what motives are referred to as leading
"civihzed heroes" to the "imminent deadly
breach," that were lacking in Philip is not entirely
clear, unless the author quoted means his readers
to infer that what is a virtue in civilized heroes is a
vice in those who are less civilized, or that the less
civilized are devoid of sentiment and incapable of
being moved by the law of self-preservation and
the motive of defence of family, home and native


land. ''We may lament that such energies were
misapplied/' In fact, it is one of the things that
ought to give us food for reflection and serious re-
gret, that our fathers thought it necessary by their
acts of oppression and wrong, to drive Phihp and his
followers to the misapplication of their energies, in-
stead of turning them to the advantage of both
races. We commend the ''civihzed heroes" of all
ages and of all nations who have sprung to the
''imminent deadly breach" in defence of all that
life holds dear; and the same historians who sing
their praises have illogically devoted their energies
for more than two centuries to an attempt to palliate
or excuse the crimes of the whites, by condemning
the simple natives who remained steadfast in the
defence of the same principles for which heroes have
died since history began.

Speaking of King Philip's war in general, School-
craft continues: "It is interesting to observe the
fate of this people who were the object of so much
benevolent care after the passage of an epoch of
little less than two centuries. The great blow to
the permanent success of this work was struck by
the unfortunate and general war which broke out
under the indomitable sachem called Metacom,
better known as King Philip. He drew all but the
Christian converts and the Mohigans into this
scheme. Even these were suspected. The cruel-
ties which were committed during this war pro-
duced the most bitter hatred and distrust between
the parties. The whole race of Indians was sus-
pected and from the advance of this unwise war on


the part of the natives, we must date the suspicion
and unkind feeUngs which were so prevalent and
which yet take up the American mind."

^'Benevolent care!" One knows not whether to
laugh in derision or to weep in pity at the utter lack
of discernment of the man who sees ''benevolent
care" in systematic robbery and oppression, coupled
with wholesale degradation through the sale of rum.
This was the colonists' "benevolent care."

"The cruelties which were committed during this
war" were not confined to the period of the war.
They were begun by the English and systematically
carried out for thirty years before the natives saw
the doom of their people in their continuation and
rose in revolt; and during the war the balance is
on the wrong side of the ledger for the whites to

"The whole race of Indians was suspected," and
for a long time before, had been suspected of a de-
sire to live in freedom; and "the suspicion and un-
kind feelings which were so prevalent and which yet
take up the American mind," have resulted from the
reading of the histories of prejudiced writers like
Hubbard, Mather, Schoolcraft and scores of others,
who, through prejudice, or a desire to cover the sins
of the fathers by raising such a storm of slander and
disparagement of the men whom they were bent to
destroy, as to becloud the vision, present only one
side of the case and appeal to their readers to pass
judgment on the merits of the whole cause from the
evidence thus adduced; or rather to accept their
judgment without looking at the other side.


Unfortunately for the memory of the vanished
race, too many men are content to accept the dic-
tum of such historians without question; but, on the
other hand, fortunately for the cause of truth, the
white man has, perhaps inadvertently, allowed
enough to get into the records to enable the discern-
ing and discriminating reader to reverse the judg-
ment. The modern tendency to *'hew to the line,
let the chips fall where they may," is leading to a
better understanding and a more favorable con-
sideration of Indian character. A careful analysis of
the history of the early colonies is bound to result in
the shattering of many idols; but desperate indeed
is the situation of any people whose past and present
cannot stand the full glare of the searchlight of truth.

Our fathers have builded well, better perhaps
than they dreamed; upon the foundations they laid,
their sons have reared the superstructure of per-
fect liberty and equality before the law. Enough of
credit and glory attaches to them, without attempt-
ing to cast a glamor of sanctity about them and their
acts, to the discredit and infamy of the race they
conquered and destroyed under a mistaken belief
that its annihilation was necessary to make their
own position secure.

This book is not written for savants. There is
nothing in it that they do not know, although they
may not agree with some of the writer's conclu-
sions; but to the busy man who has not had the
time or the inclination to make the little side trips
into the realm of historical research that would en-
able him to discern what is true and what is false.


we extend the invitation to come with us along the
trails our fathers blazed, to go back in fancy over
the ground they traversed, to take an account of the
conditions they encountered; and to draw his own
inferences and conclusions.

If the perusal of this series of little sketches
presents nothing that has hitherto escaped your at-
tention, let it, at least, refresh your recollection of
the story of the olden times. Let it recall the hard-
ships endured by the pioneers, the perils they faced
to plant upon these new found shores the tree of
Hberty, and to nourish and sustain it in the early
days of its growth, ere it had attained sufficient
strength to withstand the blasts of adversity. Let
it impress upon you the duty we owe to the memory
of a vanished race to give it the full measure of
credit to which it is entitled, as one of the agencies
that contributed to the early growth and develop-
ment of the colonies which gave us a nation. With-
out the friendship of that race, the history of New
England would be written in different characters
than it is today, and without New England, what
would have been the history of America?

As we look back upon the past, comparing it as
it was with what it might have been but for the
friendship of Massasoit, and the beneficent effects
of that friendship, as a bulwark of protection for
that feeble band who laid the foundation of our free
institutions, we shudder to think, "how weak a hand
may turn the iron helm of fate"; by how slender a
hair the sword of destiny hangs suspended above
the heads of men and nations.



SO much has been said and written about the
character of the aborigines that the subject
may be thought to have been exhausted long ago;
and so it is, except as individual thought and indi-
vidual analysis of the various appraisals of Indian
character may contribute to a better understanding
of it; for, notwithstanding the various estimates
that have been made, or rather in consequence of the
apparent contradictions in them, it may be worth
while to compare a few of them for the purpose of
ascertaining the cause of the contradictions, and de-
termining whether there is any real conflict, or only
an apparent one resulting from the changes wrought
by time and circumstances. No value would attach
to such an attempt, but for the fact that we are too
prone to form our opinions from too limited reading,
in which we may see but one side of a matter; and
even if we have read both sides, the way in which
one writer has arrayed his facts, the language used,
in a word, the picture he presents, may make a more
lasting impression than that of any other, and so
we unconsciously form our opinion from that which
has thus appealed to us and written itself upon the
tablets of our memory most ineffaceably.



The principal difficulty with most of the later
portrayals of Indian types and character that have
been presented to us has been that they have
painted the Indian as he was after generations of
demoralizing contact with the white man and his
civilization, demoralizing because first attempts to
engraft civilization upon the natural stock inevita-
bly result in the absorption by the children of
nature of all the evils of civilization and the rejection
of the good, just as children acquire evil habits more
readily than correct ones, even when most zealously
watched and guarded. The result of the early at-
tempts to teach the aborigines of this continent the
arts of civilization has been the creation of a charac-
ter so immeasurably worse than that of the natives
in their primitive state that one shudders to think
of the monstrosity that grew out of the attempt.
There is enough of evil in the best of men, and if
only the good that has come to the advanced races,
without its attendant evils, could be impressed upon
the plastic minds of men in their natural state, thus
leading them httle by little away from the vices of
barbarism without leading them into the vices of
civilization, the history of the world would be written
in different characters than it is. For no one will
attempt to gainsay the fact that the enlightenment
of ages has resulted, not only in the production of
much that is of real value to the cause of progress
and of humanity, but also of as much that has
been a stumbling block to trip the unwary. Science
has produced as much evil as good, and yet we
would not descry science on that account, because


the path is open before us to choose the good and
reject the evil in so far as it affects our own most
intimate Hfe; so we would not destroy the good be-
cause it is accompanied by evil, but rather avoid,
and assist those who grope in darkness to avoid,
the pitfalls that science has dug for unwary feet.
Had our fathers pursued this course, much that
has been written concerning Indan character would
not have found a place upon the pages of history.

Francis Parkman, Jr., from whose writings I shall
have occasion to quote from time to time, although
a man of painstaking research, and a vivid painter
of word pictures, seems to have fallen into this gen-
eral error of delineating the character of the red
man as it was after he had fallen a victim to too
many of the demoralizing vices introduced by con-
tact with the white man's civilization, which have
had a tendency to exaggerate many of the charac-
teristics to which Parkman calls attention to such an
extent that, in reading his description, we are con-
stantly under the necessity of keeping this fact in
mind and of using it as a pruning knife with which
to lop off the artificial growths and reduce condi-
tions he describes to their normal state.

His description, however, is so vivid and contains
so much of truth as established by the incontro-
vertible facts disclosed by history, and such a re-
markable commentary on the workings of the
human mind, that I am taking the liberty of lifting
it bodily from the introductory chapter of his story
of the Conspiracy of Pontiac, making such comments
as seem to me to be warranted; and asking the


reader to consider it in the light of the facts to
which I have called attention. He says:

''Of the Indian character much has been written
foolishly, and credulously believed. By the rhap-
sodies of poets, the cant of sentimentalists, and the
extravagance of some who should have known
better, a counterfeit image has been tricked out,
which might seek in vain for its likeness through
every corner of the habitable earth; an image
bearing no more resemblanc 3 to its original than the
monarch of the tragedy a. id the hero of the epic
poem bear to their living prototypes in the palace
and the camp. The shadows of his wilderness home,
and the darker mantle of his own inscrutable re-
serve, have made the Indian warrior a wonder and
a mystery. Yet to the eye of rational observation,
there is nothing unintelligible in him. He is full, it
is true, of contradiction. He deems himself the
centre of greatness and renown; his pride is proof
against the fiercest torments of fire and steel; and
yet the same man would beg for a dram of whiskey
or pick up a crust of bread thrown to him like a dog
from the tent door of a traveler. At one moment
he is wary and cautious to the verge of cowardice;
at the next he abandons himself to the very insanity
of recklessness, and the habitual self-restraint which
throws an impenetrable veil over emotion is joined
to the wild, impetuous passions of a beast or a mad
man. Such inconsistencies, strange as they seem
in our eyes, when viewed under a novel aspect,
are but the ordinary instincts of humanity. The
qualities of the mind are not uniform in their ac-


tion through all the relations of life. With different
men and different races of men, pride, valor, pru-
dence, have different forms of manifestation, and
where in one instance, they lie dormant, in another
they are keenly awake. The conjunction of great-
ness and littleness, meanness and pride, is older
than the days of the patriarchs; and such anti-
quated phenomena, displayed under a new form in
the unreflecting, undiscipHned mind of a savage,
call for no special wonder, but should rather be
classed with the other enigmas of the fathomless

I have been constrained to quote thus freely, be-
cause it illustrates what I have already said concern-
ing the mongrel produced by crossing the native
barbarism with the evils of civilization. Parkman
has given us in some respects a perfect picture of the
child of the forest; but in parts of his characteriza-
tion he has portrayed him as he was after he had
been robbed of his lands, driven from his hunting
grounds, defrauded of his petty substance and re-
duced to starvation by the ruthless destroyers of
his race; his savage nature rendered a thousand
times more savage by the white man's outrages and
the white man's rum. Before contact with the
white race had reduced him to the condition de-
scribed by Parkman in some of these passages, Gos-
nold, Rofier and Smith met him, and their testi-
mony establishes his character in his original state.

Continuing Parkman says: вАФ "Some races of
men seem moulded in wax, soft and melting, at
once plastic and feeble. Some races, like some


metals, combine the greatest flexibility with the
greatest strength. But the Indian is hewn out of
rock. You cannot change the form without de-
stroying the substance. He will not learn the arts
of civilization and he and his forest must perish
together." This was written in 1851, and the last
sentence has since been so completely refuted by the
experience of the past quarter century that it almost
leads us to doubt the accuracy of the entire ap-
praisal. Some parts of it however, so perfectly
accord with what we have learned from other
sources that we may safely accept the whole, mak-
ing due allowance for what are simply conclusions,
and for the demoralizing effects of the agencies to
which I have already called attention.

In conclusion Parkman says, ''He has a hand
bountiful to bestow as it is rapacious to seize, and
even in extremest famine, imparting its last morsel
to a feUow sufferer, a heart which, strong in friend-
ship as in hate, thinks it not too much to lay down
life for its chosen comrade; a soul true to its own
idea of honor, and burning with an unquenchable
thirst for greatness and renown." All of which
leads us back to his reflection that these are ''but
the ordinary instincts of humanity," and "should
be classed with the other enigmas of the fathomless

Far out on the western plains or in the foot hills
of the Rocky Mountains during the life and death
struggle between the ever receding wave of red
men and the restless ever advancing wave of invad-
ing whites, originated a saying which has been so


often repeated that most of us have come to accept
it as a truism, without stopping to consider all the
facts that have contributed to the condition which
gave rise to the expression. "There is no good In-
dian but a dead Indian," said some one of the men
who had been sent either to quell some uprising
among the natives, or to remove them from the
lands their fathers had hunted and fished for genera-
tions, or that had been allotted to them at some
earlier period when the cupidity of the whites,
coveting their former abode, even as they now
coveted the later, impelled them to press the red
skins farther and farther towards the setting sun.
Error, oft repeated, sometimes assumes the appear-
ance of truth, and acts of cruelty often lent color to
the maxim. Before accepting this judgment as
final, however, it will be well to look into the char-
acteristics of the race; compare them with other
races that have not attained the topmost round of
the ladder of civilization and consider the treatment
accorded them by the whites. In this way, and
only in this way, will we be able to determine
whether the author of the expression has made an
accurate appraisal of the Indian character. If we
look upon the Indian as a child, and regard that
child as a good child or otherwise in proportion to
his promptness in doing as he is told, it will be diffi-
cult to deny the truth of the saying. If by good
Indian, we mean the Indian who is willing to sub-
mit to every indignity and insult that the ingenuity
of civilization can devise, who will permit himself
to be kicked from pillar to post without protesting


in the most forcible manner known to him, who is
wiUing to give up to others the lands of his fathers,
who kisses the hand that smites him, and grovels
in the dust before the people who would rob him
and reduce him to virtual slavery, it is useless to
attempt to gainsay the maxim; and, by the same
standard, there is no good man, whether his skin
be red, or white, black, brown or yellow, but a dead
man, for a careful study of history inevitably leads
to the conclusion that human nature is very much
the same regardless of the color of a man's skin;
and that any man with red blood in his veins will
fight with such weapons as he possesses, and accord-
ing to his light, for much the same ideals, foremost
among which is the protection of his home and
family and the graves of his fathers, for

" How can man die better than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods,
And for the tender mother that dawdled him to rest,
And the gentle wife that fondles his children to her
breast ? "

To form a correct estimate of Indian character,
it will be necessary to look into their life before it
had been influenced by contact with the whites, and
to inquire how their life and character have been
affected by that contact.

Every student of American history knows of the
reception of Columbus by the untutored children of
the islands, and of the homage they paid to the
wonderful strangers who had come from the land of
the rising sun in great canoes with the wings of a
bird; of the courtesy and kindness of the natives


to them, the treasures they freely bestowed upon
them; and of the way in which the whites repaid
their courtesy and kindness, by seizing their people
and carrying them unwilhng captives to Spain.
This same kindness and courtesy were extended to
nearly all the early explorers, and repaid in nearly
all instances in the same way. Following the ex-
ample of Columbus, and the early Spanish explorers,
John and Sebastian Cabot in 1497 seized and carried
away three natives to be exhibited as curiosities at
the court of Henry VII. Caspar Cortereal, a Por-
tuguese navigator, in 1500 captm-ed a number and
sold them into slavery. These are only two con-
crete examples of what was undoubtedly the general
practice among the adventurers who crossed the
ocean in those early days in search of the treasures
of the Indies. In spite of this, Bartholomew Gos-
nold in 1602, after more than a century of such out-
rages, says of them, ''These people are exceeding
courteous, gentle of disposition, and well condi-
tioned." In 1605, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who was
at that time the commander of the Port of Ply-
mouth, England, sent Captain George Waymouth
to the New England coast on a trading expedition.
There is some disagreement among historians as to
the exact place of the episode of which James
Rofier, a member of his crew, and apparently the
official secretary of the expedition, wrote, some
placing it in the Narragansett country and others
at Pemaquid on the Maine coast. Rofier writes,
''When we came on shore, they most kindly enter-
tained us, taking us by the hand and brought us to


sit down by their fire; they filled their pipes and
gave us of their excellent tobacco as much as we
would." This kind entertainment was repaid as re-
lated by Rofier in a communication dated June 14,
1605. ''About eight o'clock this day, we went on
shore with our boats to fetch aboard water and wood.
Our captain, leaving word with the gunner in the
ship, by discharging a musket, to give notice if they
espied any canoe coming and which they did about
ten o'clock. He therefore, being careful they should
be kindly treated, requested me to go aboard, in-
tending with dispatch to make what haste after he

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Online LibraryAlvin Gardner WeeksMassasoit of the Wampanoags; (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 18)