When the English began to colonize America they faced many obstacles and difficulties. In the middle of the 17th century, the authorities of the Virginia Company established the Jamestown settlement. At first they supposed that they would be able to make the Indians work for them, but instead they encountered the Indian war chief, Powhatan, who ruled a vast number of Indians, and he resisted the European enforcements.
We will write a custom Essay on Indians and Colonists Relations and Conflicts specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The colonists suffered from multiple diseases. The food and crops were not sufficient, and the natural conditions were harsh. The situation improved with the help of Captain John Smith, who became a leader of Jamestown. He maintained a good relationship with Powhatan and bought corn from him for the settlers of Jamestown. The friendliness allowed Smith to avoid war.
Nevertheless, after Smith’s leaving to England, the first Indian War started. It began when the settlers provoked the conflicts by “wearing Powhatan with their endless demands for corn during a drought” (Fahs et al. 38). Both parties suffered from human losses. But the colony prospered despite the war when the tobacco was imported.
In England it was sold for an excellent price, and inspired by this success, the company had diversified the manufacturing: they started planting grapevines and raising silkworms. Unfortunately, after a span of time, the new manufacturings had failed, and only tobacco remained on the market. The tobacco plantations attracted the indentured servants, who worked for bed and food. They could obtain freedom by the end of the working term. Usually, the servants were mature and had the skills needed for work, unlike the slaves who didn’t have indenture.
The economic development provoked the migration to the settlement. The increase of the colonist population provoked conflicts with the Indians. In 1622, the colony was attacked by the Indian warriors. The settlements were destroyed, and those who stayed alive had no place to go.
The war continued for ten years. The peace was made in 1632, by this time “all Indians had been expelled from the peninsula between the James and York rivers below Jamestown” due to the continuous attacks and destroying of crops and villages by the colonists (Fahs et al. 40).
In 1629, the group of Puritans sailed to New England. The Puritans were very pious, and they believed that they have a higher purpose of purifying Christianity. They believed that they had a special mission that was sent down to them by God. Religion was a political and social basis for the establishment of the first New England colonies in America. Over and above, the Puritans were very intolerant towards the people of the other belief systems and ways of life. They avoided outsiders and were suspicious of the strangers who could contaminate their religion.
The Massachusetts Bay colony was established near the Pequot settlement. The Pequot tribe was the most politically powerful and the most populous among the other Indian tribes in the 17th century. Their location was in the Thames River valley in the eastern Connecticut. The Pequot lifestyle and customs were significantly different from the Puritans. Unlike the Puritan tradition, most of the time food was provided by women. The Indian women were also engaged in raising crops while the men spent most of the days in the forests. The architecture in the Indian villages was simple, and the lack of churches made the Puritans confused. The Indians believed in the possibility of contacts with the divine through trance and rituals.
At first, the Puritans had trade relations with the Pequot Indians. The European goods were exchanged for furs and jewelry. Nevertheless, the Indian way of life, and especially its religious aspect, was hard for the Puritans to comprehend. For the pious Puritans, all the Indian religious rituals were perceived as worship to Devil. The unlikeness caused many conflicts.
The Europeans brought the diseases to New England, to which the Indians didn’t have immunity. In the short time, the Pequot population decreased from thirty thousand to four thousand. The population reduction caused the decline in Pequot influence on the other Indian tribes, and it gave an idea to the Puritan colonists to plan Pequot massacre, which they had fulfilled with the assistance of the allying Indian tribes. The Pequot slaughtering took place in May 1637. The village was attacked by Puritans in the night when everyone was asleep. In an hour, they managed to kill everyone in the village. Afterward, the Puritans made everything to separate the Pequot tribe members.
The Pequot massacre can also be explained not just by “religious idealism” but also by “quest for land that threatened neighboring Indians” (Fahs et al. 47). The population increase induced the need for obtaining new territories. The Thames River banks were controlled by Pequot Indians. The lands by the river were very fertile and made an advantageous location. Along with the religious exclusion, the purpose of the Pequot village attack was the strengthening of New England position.
Fahs, Alice, Gary Gerstle, Paul Johnson, John Murrin, James McPherson, Emily Rosenberg and Norman Rosenberg. Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning. 2014. Print.