Native Americans Epidemics in New England
Crosby decided that the epidemic that affected Native tribes was typhus because of the disease’s spreading patterns, which implied that it was carried by lice or fleas. Besides, one of the main symptoms of the disease were spots, which is a sign of typhus. The other disease that could have affected the Natives was plague.
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Indians viewed pilgrims as people that possessed the power much bigger than any Indians had. This was due to the technological advantage of the settlers such as their weapons.
The inability of Indian healers to cure the disease caused a massive shift in their belief system. Indians used to admire the healers for their ability to find cures for diseases. When the healers did not succeed, the tribes’ reaction was violent, they attacked the healers.
Pilgrims regarded Indians as savages that were punished by God and eliminated.
The Indian custom to visit the sick, stay in small and very hot huts with them increased the contagion. Besides, their habit of visiting very humid and hot rooms and then diving into very cold rivers to heal diseases worsened the state of people with high fever.
Samoset was the Native man that first came to establish contact between the Indians and pilgrims in 1621. He brought Squanto, a man that escaped to Spain and then came back to America. He acted as a middle man between both sides. Massasoit was the leader of the tribe, he offered his help to the pilgrims and their war with another Indian tribe.
The plan to eliminate the settlers never came into practice because Massasoit fell ill and was healed by the English doctor. He was grateful and uncovered the plan to the people of Plymouth.
Witchcraft Trials in New England
In the late seventeenth century the society of Salem village faced a number of political, economic and social divisions. They experienced fights for land, political influence and religious privileges. As a result self-identification of the people weakened, they lost the idea of a mission, under the influence of general depression the next crisis that occurred was recognized as the influence of Satan that bewitched some girls in the village.
There were five kinds of evidences for the trials. First one was the assumption that a witch would be unable to say a prayer, or be able to cute fits of the accusers through touch. Second was the testimony of people accusing their neighbors, third and fourth were physical imperfections on people’s bodies and faces. The last evidence was the confession of the accused individual.
The Puritan ministers promoted the witchcraft hysteria announcing that it was a challenge coming from Satan and this ay motivating the villagers to actively participate in the elimination of the accused witches demonstrating their strong faith.
The concept of wilderness was what kept the settlers together because they initially used to be surrounded by unknown territories, wild animals and unfriendly natives. Over time, the conquered territories grew larger and the dangers went away, the fear of wilderness lessened.
The Puritan settlers that arrived to America were sure that they had a mission and were sent by God. As time passed the generations lost this idea and gradually the belief of special religious mission faded away. The transformation of Puritans to Yankees happened with the change of generations, when people stopped identifying themselves as English.