Frontier Quarrels

Was Hannah Dustin a hero?  Let’s add some context to the first line of that Hannah Dustin marker, and see what a contemporary account tells us about relations between natives and colonists:

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1697-hannahdustin-01-indianreasons-01-www_marekbennett_com 1697-hannahdustin-01-indianreasons-02-www_marekbennett_com

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This text comes from Cotton Mather’s Decennium Luctuosum (1699), and runs like so:

One Account, I have now lying by me, Written by a Gentleman of Dover; in these Terms.

The Eastern Indians, and especially those of Saco, and Ammonos[co]ggin, pretend many Reasons, for the late Quarrel against the English, which began this long and bloody War.

1. Because the English refused to pay that yearly Tribute of Corn, agreed upon, in the Articles of Peace▪ formerly concluded with them, by the English Commissioners.

2. Because they were Invaded in their Fishery, at Saco River, by certain Gentlemen, who stop’d the Fish, from coming up the River, with, their Nets, and Sains. This they were greatly Affronted at; saying, They thought (though the English had got away their Lands as they had, yet) the Fishery of the Rivers had been a priviledge Reserved Entire unto themselves.

3. Because they were Abused by the English, in Suffering, if not Turning, their Cattel over to a crtain Island to destroy their Corn.

4. But the Fourth, and Main, provocation was, the Granting, or Pattenting of their Lands, to 〈◊〉 English; at which they were greatly Enraged; threatning the Surveyor, to knock him on the Head, if he came to lay out any Lands there.  To these may be added, the Common Abuses, in Trading; viz. Drunkenness, mean|ing, &c. which such as Trade much with are seldom Innocent of.

Doubtless, these Indian Allegations may be answered with many English Vindications. But I shall at present Intermeddle no further…

— Mather, Cotton: Decennium luctuosum. An history of remarkable occurrences, in the long war, which New-England hath had with the Indian savages, from the year, 1688. To the year 1698. … (1699) [page 15]

Mather was something of an Indian hater, so this is an amazing list to discover in his writings.  It gives us a hint of some of the disputes between native peoples and the Massachusetts Bay colonists in the years preceding the 1697 raid at Haverhill.

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