November 24, 2008

Thank God for killing Patuxets

WETZSTEIN:  Pilgrims thankful for Indians' helpSome 20 years ago, I was given a book called "The Light and the Glory," written by David Manuel and Peter Marshall, son of Christian author Catherine Marshall and Peter Marshall, the U.S. Senate chaplain for many years.

The book retells the story of the Pilgrims' arrival in what is now Plymouth, Mass., in November 1620 in a way that suggests God's hidden hand protected these devout people again and again from extinction.
How exactly did "God's hidden hand" help the Pilgrims?The land they were on once belonged to the fierce Patuxets, who killed any white people who came to their shores.

"But four years prior to the Pilgrims' arrival, a mysterious plague had broken out among them, killing every man, woman and child. So complete was the devastation that the neighboring tribes had shunned the area, convinced that some supernatural spirit had destroyed the Patuxets," Mr. Marshall and Mr. Manuel wrote. "Hence, the cleared land on which [the Pilgrims] had settled literally belonged to no one."
Comment:  This is a typical case of spinning Thanksgiving as a pro-American, pro-white, pro-Christian holiday. The Pilgrims prospered because they were true to God. And (the author implies but doesn't say) the Indians died because they weren't.

No mystery about it

Even talking about a "mysterious plague" is disingenuous. I don't think there was anything mysterious about it. Here's how it came about:

Nauset HistoryShortly after Columbus' voyage to the New World in 1492, a steady stream of European explorers, fishermen, and adventurers began regular visits to the coast of New England. Located on a landmark as obvious as Cape Cod, the Nauset had contact with Europeans at an early date, but these first meetings were not always friendly. European captains riding the Gulf Stream home from the Carribean were often tempted to increase profits by the last minute addition of some human cargo. The Nauset soon learned from sad experience that the white men from these strange ships frequently came ashore, not for trade, but to steal food and capture slaves. More so than the neighboring Wampanoag and other New England Algonquin, the Nauset were hostile to Europeans, and when the French expedition under Samuel de Champlain visited Cape Cod in 1606, the Nauset were not friendly.

Although the Nauset would usually abandon their villages and retreat inland at the approach of a European ship, they continued to be victimized by sailors of all nationalities. In 1614 Captain Thomas Hunt captured seven Nauset and twenty Patuxet (one of whom was Squanto who later gained fame as a friend of the Pilgrims in Plymouth) and later sold them as slaves in Spain. Kidnapping and enslaving 27 of their people was a minor offense compared to the other thing Thomas Hunt did to the New England Algonquin. It appears there was a terrible sickness among Hunt's crew that was inadvertently passed to the Nauset and Wampanoag in the course of his raid. Spreading quickly through the native population in three waves, it killed 75% of the original residents of New England and the Canadian maritimes between 1614 and 1617.
So the Englishmen passed on their illnesses while they were robbing and enslaving the Indians. Under the law, what happens when you kill someone "unintentionally" while committing a felony crime? You're guilty of murder or manslaughter, that's what.

Hence my argument that Europeans were responsible for the deaths caused by disease even when they didn't "intend" for the Indians to die. The fact is that they were going to kill, enslave, or decimate the Indians any way they could. Diseases merely made the work of genocide go faster than it would've otherwise.


dmarks said...

"But four years prior to the Pilgrims' arrival, a mysterious plague had broken out among them, killing every man, woman and child"

So much for a certain former frequent commenter's claim that pre-Columbian America was free of disease.

dmarks said...

Gen: Good point. Then the plague could have been the result of some Old World disease traveling north?