Tuesday, November 17, 2015

1649 - The Iroquois War (part II)

Iroquois overrun Huronia

January 1st, 1649 – In New Amsterdam, Adriaen Van der Donck is elected president of the new Board of Nine Men.

Just elected, the new council wished to summon an assembly of the residents to deliberate needs for the colony, what Director Peter Stuyvesant regards as a threat to his own power. He forbids all gatherings and orders the Board to submit to him all debates before sending them to Holland.

Alleged portrait of
Adriaen van der Donck
Adriaen van der Donck (Breda, c.1618 – 1655) Born in well-to-do family of South Netherlands, Adriaen Van de Donck completed his law studies at the University of Leiden. He arrived in 1641 in New Netherlands to enter Killian Van Rensselaerwijk’ service as attorney general. He quickly came, however, in conflict with his patroon about the harsh laws dictated to the colonists by the Dutch West India Company in particular the ban for them on making trade. During his term, he took the opportunity to learn  the Natives language what allowed him to act as intermediary during the negotiations between Director Willem Kieft and Mohawks. He was granted in exchange a 24 000-acre land North of Manhattan (current Yonkers). Become the friend of Cornelis Melyn, chairman of the Board of Eight Men, he was with him the writer of the Remonstrance sent to the Dutch Parliament calling for the dismissal of Director Willem Kieft following his disastrous war against the Indians. After the arrival of Peter Stuyvesant, Van der Donck was appointed president of a new assembly, the Nine Men but he did not delay to be committed in an arm-wrestling match with the Director General because of his dictatorial ways. Arrested, he was soon released on court order and started again fighting Stuyvesant's despotism.

January 30, 1649 - Sentenced to death by the Parliament for high treason, King of England Charles 1st is executed at Whitehall. Upon learning the news, the General Assembly of Virginia decides to side with the Royalist partisans, stating that the judgment violates the laws of God and England.

King Charles 1's beheading at Whitehall
The colony will, throughout the year, welcome the ships carrying supporters of the late king. These will be about one thousand further called the Virginia Cavaliers.
An anonymous pamphlet published that year in London described Virginia as a country which had no need of anything, a country having " 15 000 settlers, 300 black slaves, 2 000 head of cattle, many species of wildlife, more than thirty types of fish, farm products, fruits and vegetables in large quantities. " If this document tried to attract people to Virginia, it was, to say the least, rather successful. The Cavaliers went there in number where they would form a very different class from the one that had founded the colony.

March 16, 1649 – After spending winter hidden in nearby forests, a party of more than 700 Iroquois warriors launches at dawn a surprise attack against the Wendat (Huron) town of St Ignace, next to Georgian Bay. They capture or kill about 400 inhabitants before burning their houses. Only 10 Iroquois are 
killed during assaults.
Iroquois attacking St Louis
The Iroquois later move to St Louis, a few miles away, to set fire to the village. Despite the defense of 80 Huron warriors, they throw into the flames old and sick people unable to escape and take prisoners Jesuit fathers Gabriel Lallemant and Jean de Brébeuf who tried vainly to defend. 30 Iroquois are killed during the attack.

Jesuit Fathers Jean de Brébeuf & Gabriel Lalemeant
tortured to death by Iroquois

It was an uneven battle since the Hurons had been weakened by a series of diseases brought by Europeans and owing to internal divisions arising from the willing or not to convert to Catholic religion. And if a significant problem came from the fact that the French always refused to sell them guns giving the Iroquois a final advantage, the evil was also elsewhere. Maybe doubting their own religious beliefs further to deadly epidemics, many of these fierce people had converted to Christianity, losing in an unsafe manner most of their markers notwithstanding an increasingly hostile context. The Huron nation would pay the highest price its appeal to the confusing teaching delivered by these tenacious men come from far away who, misleadingly seeing in Native culture only superstition and witchcraft, got into their heads to save them with the promise of a better afterlife.
Eventually, what to say about the evangelizing mission except that it had especially the effect of disturbing, through the concept of Genesis and first sinful woman, Indian societies based on a balance of the responsibilities falling to each sex. The missionaries taught among others the feeling of shame, of intrinsic inequality between men and women, of guilty relationship to people grown in some form of ingenuousness. They reached to make them fearful and timid, a foretaste of their own destruction.

The Iroquois’ plan to destroy the Hurons resulted in an overwhelming success. They had lost less than 100 warriors during the assaults while they've killed about twenty French colonists and hundreds of Hurons, men, women or children. 

What happened next to Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lallemant belongs unfortunately to the gallery of the worst atrocities involving Indians in their wars against Europeans. There is no doubt that Iroquois disliked Jesuits with their cleaver ways of despising their beliefs and uses to teach them a morality they considered too contemptuous with their own values but series of dreadful tortures they made suffer to the priests remain however extremely disturbing even unbearable by their barbarism.
Nearly beaten to death, Jean de Brébeuf had his fingernails pulled out, his arms and legs flayed up to the bone and scalded, his nose cut off, his lips torn away for not stopping praying God aloud, his body stabbed with white-hot irons and finally thrown alive in flames. Father Gabriel Lalemantin turn endured the same torture. His agony lasted all night, and horror of horrors, they tore out his eyes and put him embers in the orbits.
Such a testing did not belong to the usual Iroquois war culture, quicker to get rid of its enemies than to waste time to make them suffer. On the contrary, Iroquois tortured their captives only if they opposed a wild resistance and it appears that the two Jesuits' behavior seemingly ignoring these abuses only boosted to the highest level the hatred of their tormentors who saw rather through it a superhuman challenge.

On the other side, the Dutch could rightly rub their hands. Having armed Mohawks with guns had given to these an indisputable advantage. They killed two birds with one stone by making thanks to Iroquois off with lands able to boost pelt’s trade endangered since a few years but the defeat imposed on the Jesuit missionaries and thus on the Catholics could only delight the defenders of the Reformed Church facing the converting commitment of their main enemies, the French.

Mohawk armed with Dutch guns
(painting by Robert Griffing)
March 17, 1649 - The Iroquois head 4 miles further towards Sainte Marie, an important Jesuit mission where live about 40 French settlers and missionaries as well as 300 Hurons come to seek shelter. 
But unexpectedly, the Iroquois withdraw soon after launching the attack, maybe tired of fighting or realizing they’re now opposed a strong resistance. 20 French are killed in the battle.
After leaving Sainte Marie, the Iroquois eventually ransack and burn to the ground Huron villages in the area, killing most captives while few survivors flee to join the Petuns, the Neutrals and other Algonquin tribes living on the northwestern bank of Lake Ontario.

Undisputably, the Iroquois preferred to turn back once past the surprise effect, given the resistance of the enemy. Whereas the Hurons took the opportunity to embark on their heels, they waived to fight, exhausted by the two days of horror they have just lived and having constantly in mind to join their bruised villages. Most of these were totally destroyed and the fields wasted. Many people had to seek refuge in neighboring tribes as the Neutrals noting bitterly that it took less than a month to destroy their own nation.

March 23, 1649 - The Plymouth settlers buy to Sachem Massasoit Ousamequin a land which will later be named Bridgewater.

John Winthrop (1587-1649)
emblematic governor of Massachusetts
March 26, 1649
- Governor of Massachusetts John Winthrop dies in Boston at 61 years old. John Endecott is chosen to succeed him.

For many, John Winthrop embodied the soul of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Since his arrival in 1630, he had been governor for nearly 15 years and the sermon in which he displayed that the settlers of the New World had concluded with God a pact to create a holy community, gave to this colonial adventure an exceptional spiritual dimension. He hated on the other hand democracy just because the Bible made no reference of it and considered that the epidemics having decimated the Indian populations brought a message from God to those who did not believe in Him.

John Endicott (c. 1601-1665)

John Endecott had been the very first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the founder of the city of Salem in 1628. An uncomprimising even extremist Puritan, the Elders and  members of the churches adopted under his government a Platform of Discipline in conclusion of the Synod of Cambridge. It was from now forbidden to wear long hair in the Indian style and the ministers received the order to show the example by keeping their ears clear.

April 8, 1649 - John Haynes succeeds Edward Hopkins as Governor of Connecticut. Both men have held this office in turns since almost ten years.

April 21, 1649 - Maryland adopts the Religious Toleration Act.

As founders of Maryland, the Calverts tried to attract new settlers by making their move profitable while keeping protection to the Catholics to cope with the increasing number of Puritans. This act which established the freedom of worship was supposed to preserve the rights of the Protestants and the Catholics but did not affect other religions.

May, 1649 - John Smith is elected for one year a president of Rhode Island.

John Smith (c.1600 - 1664) - He had arrived at Salem in 1632 where he had made Roger Williams’ acquaintance. Banned by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1635, he had moved to settle in Providence and in Warwick where he had become a judge in 1648.

June, 1649 - William Bradford keeps his position as governor of Plymouth. The free men of the colony suspend the elections in the colony further to the state of tension prevailing in England.

July 4, 1649 - Captain Thomas Willett is entrusted by the Plymouth colony with organizing trade in the Kennebec area. He already knows this part of Maine to have been in office on the Penobscot during the 1630s.

July, 1649 – After the death of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, former owner of Maine, his cousin Thomas Gorges and the representatives of Gorgeana, Welles and Kittery, three villages settled in the mouth of Piscataqua on the other side of Strawberry Banke, declare themselves independent Province. 
They choose as governor Edward Godfrey (Wilmington (Eng.) c. 1584 – London after 1663), known to have been among the loaners of The Mayflower Pilgrims and established Kittery fisheries in 1632.

July 26, 1649 - Adriaen van der Donck with 11 former and current members of the Board of Nine sign the Petition of the Commonality of New Netherland requiring the Dutch authorities to soften restrictions that are a burden to the colony and hinder its development.

July 27, 1649 – In order to respond to John Eliot’s missionary work, the English Parliament charters the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England designed for preaching and setting schools for the education of the children. It is given significant financial means about which some already wonder if they all will serve to Christianize the Indians

Peter Stuyvesant
July 29, 1649
– Members of the Board of Nine Men set up in New Amsterdam send representatives Adriaen van der Donck, Jacob van Cowenhouven and Jan Evertsen Bout to Holland to lay before the authorities in The Hague several petitions complaining against the dictatorial ways and means used by the Dutch West India Company and Director General Peter Stuyvesant.

August, 1649 – the Katt, a ship from Gothenburg loaded with supplies to the colony of New Sweden wrecks off the West Indies coast. Its passengers are captured and tortured by French and Spanish pirates. among 70 people, only 19 survivors reach to sail back to Europe after a few months of a dreadful trip.
Governor Johan Printz finds increasingly stranded.

October, 1649 - William Coddington, who opposes the union of four cities of Rhode Island, Newport, Warwick, Portsmouth and Providence under the charter granted to Roger Williams, leaves for England to get his own charter for Aquidneck Island. For several years, 
he tried unsuccessfully to be allowed among the United Colonies of New England.

October 16, 1649 - The government of Maine enacts a law that guarantees the freedom of religion to all its citizens.

October 13, 1649 - Cornelis Van Tienhoven, the agent of Director General Peter Stuyvesant and two former chairmen of the Board of Nine Men, Adriaen Van der Donck and Cornelis Melyn present the complaints of the New Netherlands settlers to the States General of Holland.

They explained in a document entitled Remonstrance of New Netherland, the poor living conditions of the settlers, the lack of exemptions, the expensive taxes and the many abuses, the disastrous effects of the war, the loss of their ship Princess Amelia, the high mortality rate and the arrogance of the Indians incited by the small number of colonists. The Nine asked that the colony is exempt from taxes until it reaches a certain level of prosperity, that trade is free, fishing is developed and that more farmers are allowed to settle near the border with New England. They also wished to have lightened the proceedings of the Company, to have their own government, that a public school and an orphanage are open. The Remonstrance finally expressed gratitude for the Indians and their generosity regretting that they are not  better 

Van der Donck wrote in his diary that the Directors of the New Netherlands had all been so bad as the Company, especially Kieft, and that Stuyvesant was not much better.

Cornelis Van Tienhoven (Utrecht c. 1601-Manhattan 1656) 
He was the secretary of New Netherlands from 1638 till 1655 and one of the most influential characters of New Amsterdam. He is especially remembered as a cruel and corrupt man whose actions had heavy consequences for the settlers as much as Native Indians.
He had arrived in 1633 in New Amsterdam as an accountant of the Dutch West India Company and had travelled on the same ship as the new governor at the time Wouter Van Twiller. Promoted secretary with the arrival of Willem Kieft, he was confirmed to the post by Peter Stuyvesant in 1647. He accompanied in Holland the two delegates of the Council of Nine to defend above all the Director's interests.

November, 1649 - William Cheseborough who moved during summer to Wequetock (current Stonington) with his family and some friends is being reproached by the Connecticut authorities to sell weapons to Indians.
He must explain his actions to Major John Mason of Saybrook but saves time on pretext he falls within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.

Renowned as gunsmith, Cheseborough arrived in New England in 1630 and settled directly in Boston. He became the following year member of the first church of the city and therefore took part in public affairs. He subsequently moved to Braintree where he became deputy to the General Court before leaving to Rehoboth founding a plantation. He did not however meet the welcome he expected from the Plymouth authorities and turned to John Winthrop, Jr. who suggested him to move to New London, a city he had just founded. He lived there some time but, not finding the place quite to his liking, he chose to locate his own colony and went to live in the wilderness. Like many planters, Cheseborough had used to trade with Indians but the General Assembly of Connecticut did not agree that they provide them with metal or steel items without being granted a prior license.

Ambushed Iroquois warriors
December 7, 1649 – The Iroquois conduct a deadly raid against the Petun village Etharita (St Jean), south of Georgian Bay where many Hurons took refuge since the spring attacks. They kill men, women and children as well as the Jesuit father Charles Garnier attempting to organize the resistance. Another Jesuit missionary Noël Chabanel, left shortly before, escapes the massacre. The next day however, the Huron who accompanies him in canoe robs and kills him with his hatchet before throwing his body into the river.

Forced to flee their lands, the Huron survivors had taken refuge with Petuns and Nipissing, two tribes living northwest of Lake Ontario which recovered hardly from the terrible disease of 1634 that killed nearly two thirds of their population. The arrival of  Hurons only weakened them further, under the threat of starvation after the destruction of their crops. After the Iroquois attacks, the few Hurons and Petuns who had reached to escape began a long wandering through the Great Lakes and Midwest.

1649 - Young minister Thomas Mayhew,Jr., settled since 1642 on the island Martha's Vineyard south of Cape Cod converts to Christianity Indians of the local Wampanoag tribe of which one sachem is Hiacoomes

The Indians were about 3000 on this island and Thomas Mayhew, Jr. found it necessary to maintain with them friendly relationship. But as a pastor, he was especially concerned with spiritual motives and preferred to leave to the governor his father and to the settlers the care of farming the land in order to devote himself to religious teaching.
Sachem Hiacoomes had converted to Christianity as early as 1639 but had long collided with people of his nation who blamed him for having given up his values to become an Englishman. Yet, the last two diseases which had saddened Wampanoag in 1643 and 1646 while they had strangely spared Hiacoomes and his family had raised questions within the Indians come to doubt the powers of their traditional shamanism. In 1649, he and minister Mayhew could boast having triumphed over the shamans with their magic to greet new converts every day.

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