Queen Anne’s War
“The Indians will often travel thus three or four hundred miles singly, or two or three in company, and lurk about their enemy’s borders for several weeks, in hopes to revenge the death of a near relation or dear friend. Indeed they give themselves so very much up to revenge, that this passion seems to gnaw their souls, and gives them no rest till they satisfy it. It is this delight in revenge, that makes all barbarous nations cruel; and the curbing such passions is one of the happy effects of being civilized.”
– Cadwallader Colden
The HISTORY of the FIVE INDIAN NATIONS Of Canada ( LONDON: T. Osborne 1747 )
1704, the North American colonies of New England and New France are a hotbed of religious zeal and vitriolic hatred. (The sparsely populated French colonies of Canada from Hudson’s Bay to the Gulf of Mexico and the settlements along the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes to New Orleans are called New France. The English colonies along the Atlantic coastline from Maine to Georgia are called New England; Florida is part of New Spain) It is a time of hand to hand combat with hatchet, knife and club, and a time when heroic incursions into primeval forests are daily occurrences. A time when two ancient and very conservative cultures - Stone Age Amerind and aristocratic European - come into contact, clashing incessantly as they mingle in a kind of human chemistry that will become a wholly new civilization; and while immersed in the violent agitation of continuous warfare, the robust trade and social intercourse between the combatants never stops for an instant. The strong pull of mutual dependency draws them ever together, and the uncomfortable closeness sparks flashpoints. At the core of this all encompassing love-hate relationship, an astonishing variety of new cultural strains congeal. Three centuries later, the Space Age American civilization is hardly aware of the tumultuous process from which it springs.
1704 New England, a widening vortex of vengeance feeds on the mounting toll of injustices in all quarters: the Indians, without any concept of private property, want revenge for the fertile lands taken from them. Indian women grow tens of millions of bushels of corn annually while the men hunt fresh meat daily. The corn crop quickly exhausts the soil, so every few years, Indian villages move to alternate fertile areas, leaving the old corn fields fallow for the soil to regenerate. They intend to return to the regenerated corn fields in several years, and take up where they left off - a system of farming so ancient its origins are obscured by time. European settlers, seeing empty farmland, simply take it, the land now becomes their private property, and lost to the Indians forever - gone but not forgotten. Added to their use-it-or-lose-it land problems, the Indians have other insurmountable barriers barring the way to equity with the technically superior foreigners. Indians have no written language or business lexicon whatsoever, so every deal or trade must by necessity be a handshake agreement - no problem for an Indian doing business in this fashion for thousands of years, but the urbane Europeans, who are even at this early date producing prodigious numbers of lawyers, take oral contracts as a licence to steal. (Which is not too different today.) Also considering that very, very few Indians of the time speak English - every oral transaction requires a multilingual translator - it is easy to see how the Indians, who legally own the entire country from ocean to ocean, are easily cheated with every transaction. The very term, “LAWYER” is an incomprehensible concept for Stone Age aborigines to absorb.
1704 France, a time of gorgeous aristocrats in silks and satins as barbarous as naked woodland savages. Once again the European continent groans under the calamities of a world war now in its third year. The King of Spain has died without issue, and Louis XIV, seated on the Catholic throne of France for the past 61 years, wants to secure the Catholic throne of Spain for his grandson. King Louie, beside being a model Christian in public, is privately just another fallen sinner - a lothario and con man who loves three things, money, women and New France (and power too, without which he could not keep any one of the three.) In his ardor for these worldly tokens, he devises a nefarious scheme. When a Spanish treasure ship is taken, the gold ingots are displayed in Paris shop windows. Hirelings spread the rumor that rich gold deposits have been found in New France, and New France will yield as much gold as New Spain (Mexico, Central and South America.) Of course, Louie is technically right! Canada has plenty of gold, only no one knows that in the Eighteenth Century. Louie’s finance minister creates a stock company to exploit the newly found riches of New France, and the government works tirelessly to pump up the stock price. Gilding the lily even further, Louie asks the women of France to patriotically volunteer to go to New France and marry the lonely gold miners. (People are not immigrating to frigid Canada and disease ridden Louisiana unless Louie sends them in chains or pays dearly for them to go. To Louie’s consternation, Europeans are flocking in ever increasing numbers to the English Colonies - even Frenchmen. He is now implying that everyone in New France will soon be fabulously wealthy. The women of France rise to the occasion, and in 1704, after a long, harrowing sea journey, the first boat load of French women sails into Mobile harbor. The women rush ashore to discover there are no millionaire gold miners, only a motley group of derelicts living in abject poverty. But Louisiana is a Venus flytrap, once inside, victims are immured. No one can leave without express permission from Versailles. When word about the phantom gold mines eventually drifts back to France, the bubble bursts and all the stockholders are ruined. Louie and his mistresses laugh all the way to the bank.
1704 England, Queen Anne, last monarch of the Stuart line, is seated on the Protestant throne of England. Both her father (King James II) and brother (James the Pretender) are renowned for the huge stables of mistresses they keep. Small wonder any European ruler hops out of bed long enough to go to the bathroom, never mind attend to state business. Anne is a chip off the old block, pregnant 18 times. None of her children survive infancy. Historians do not call her a dunce flat-out, instead words like “her intellectual limitations” and “easy to influence” creep into descriptions of her. She detests Roman Catholics with all the vehemence of a convert. Protestant zeal is stoked up and England rushes headlong into the tired old Catholic-Protestant “I hate you ... No I hate you more .. I double hate you ...” war raging in Europe on and off since the Reformation (with embers still aglow in Twenty-first Century Ireland.) These wars all drift across the Atlantic where the buckskin clad woodsmen drop the high sounding European labels and simply call a spade a spade. Europe’s War of the League of Augsburg, 1689-1697, is dubbed, King William’s War when it reaches America. War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-1714, becomes Queen Anne’s War. The War of the Austrian Succession, 1739-1748, is changed to King George’s War. The Seven Years’ War, yet another cataclysmic European World War, drifts over from Europe and becomes a pivotal moment in American history; the matter-of-fact colonial label says it all, The French and Indian War.
As the so called Age of Enlightenment climbs to its apex in Europe, government by birthright shows itself threadbare in the seat. The Bourbons and Stuarts, blood relatives, are incapable of sharing the vast North American continent thirty times the area of France and Great Britain combined, and feud like the Hatfields and McCoys. The European system of government by privilege is morally, intellectually, and physically bankrupt. It will came crashing down by the end of the century, as America, the richest prize in the history of mankind, slips forever away from European control. France and England, will have little to show for their three centuries of New World follies except sweet revenge, mountains of war debt and countless corpses. The unrestrained passion for revenge seething in French blood will help wrest the American colonies from English hegemony. The loss to France of Quebec, Montreal, Acadia and Hudson’s Bay is repaid in kind by England’s loss of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston. In the end, America is free. And what of the rotting, stinking carcass of Europe’s government by privilege? From the start of Queen Anne’s War in 1702, four score and seven years must pass before a new birth of freedom is brought forth on the European continent.
The rustic settlers of New France and New England had been slashing at each other’s throats for almost the entire 1600s, and they open the 1700s with more of the same. The demonized rivals - “idolaters” of New France and “heretics” of New England - clash in horrific, gory massacres; they exercise their Indian allies into a murderous frenzy and turn them lose on the rival colony. The first full-scale engagement of Queen Anne’s War comes at Wells on the seacoast of Maine, August 1703. Babies are swung by the feet into trees and brained, women chopped to pieces with hatchets and scalped, men skewered and roasted alive like deer meat; one hundred and sixty people of both sexes and all ages, from octogenarians to new-born infants are killed or carried off as captives in the attack. The spark to ignite the revolting atrocity is religious intolerance, although, here the word “religious” is used somewhat ambiguously. The contorting of religion to spur a reign of terror comes closer to the truth. Both Louis XIV of France and Queen Anne of England are depleting their armies and treasuries fighting European battles, and have scant resources to send to the New World to widen the conflict. The expeditious plan is to raise, equip and motivate armies of Indian natives to fight on their behalf. French Jesuits and Anglican ministers are expected to accomplish this task. Calling themselves “missionaries” but in reality, they are political operatives of their respective governments, black robed priests engage bible toting ministers in a heated war of words, using the same venomous rhetoric keeping Europe embroiled in religious conflict for generations. The French ply their natives with hate messages and brandy, the English prime theirs with hate messages and rum. Guns and gunpowder stream into the dark forbidding forests of America. The stage is set for catastrophe.
February 29th 1704, Deerfield Massachusetts, two hours before dawn. The Reverend John Williams, his wife Eunice, their eight children and two household servants are about to prominently enter the pages of American history. Deerfield, a small hamlet of forty-one houses was once Abenakis tribal farm land. Now a band of two-hundred Abenakis, missionary Mohawks and fifty French Canadians lie shivering in the snow waiting to attack the village. It’s obvious why the Indians are there, however the French Canadians want to capture an important prisoner that they can trade for a French sea captain sitting in a Boston jail - the French want John Williams. The winter of 1704 has been harsh, and the snow drifts reach to the top of the town’s defensive palisade. The marauders scale the wall, leap into the town square, and issue blood-curdling war whoops. They move quickly, chop down doors and indiscriminately murder the town’s inhabitants. At the Williams house:
“... in the first fury of their attack they dragged to the door and murdered two of the children and a negro woman called Parthena, who was probably their nurse.... They kept Williams shivering in his shirt for an hour while a frightful uproar of yells, shrieks, and gunshots sounded from without. At length they permitted him, his wife, and five remaining children to dress themselves. Meanwhile the Indians and their allies burst into most of the houses, killed such of the men as resisted, butchered some of the women and children, and seized and bound the rest.”
Francis Parkman –Deerfield
The three-hundred mile march northward to Canada over mid-winter ice and snow begins almost immediately for the one hundred ten or so captives. Women and children are routinely tomahawked when they lag behind the group. Williams’ wife is murdered the next day. Seven year old Eunice Williams, her murdered mother’s namesake, is separated from her father. When the seven year old lags behind, instead of being dispatched by a quick tomahawk blow, an Indian flips her onto his back and she rides him like a pony. Days latter, her new Indian friend finds room for her on a sled, and while John Williams groans like a beast of burden under the weight of the heavy pack he is made to carry, little Eunice rides all the way to Canada like a Russian Czarevna, an imaginary play horse pulling her sled through the snow. At their arrival in Canada, John Williams is permanently separated from his daughter Eunice. She goes to live with a Mohawk family until all the ransoms are paid and the French sea captain is released from jail. It is time for the captives to return to Deerfield. Eunice refuses to go with them. Nothing anyone can say or do will change her mind. Confronted by her father. Eunice stands firm. She will not go back to Deerfield. John Williams returns home without Eunice. The machinery of government now turns on her behalf. The governors of New York and Massachusetts treat with the governor of Canada - send Eunice home. No, she is free to choose, and she chooses to stay in Canada. This is the Cold War three centuries too early, Eunice wants to defect. She is not alone, other young captives choose to stay in Canada with the Indians. At a time when Massachusetts women are being burned at the stake for heresy to keep them obedient, Indian women have equal footing with men. In Indian society, the women vote in elections - not men; women own all the property - not men. In Indian society women have as much freedom of choice as do men. Eunice is not going back to Massachusetts. She wants to stay an Indian. Life comes without a rule book, the rules are man-made. Every young generation must make sense of what is handed to them. The young generations of every age are driven to reshape the world in their own image. John Williams prays for his daughter, his congregation prays for his daughter, all the English colonies pray for Eunice; they ask the maker of all things for a small miracle. Of course, their prayers are answered - they received a big miracle; only nobody knows that in 1704. George Washington and his generation are not born for three more decades. They will have the same New World streak of stubbornness as Eunice, and say “NO” to all the machinery of government. When their father across the sea wants them to return to their English roots, they choose to stay part Indian - freedom suits them. The young generation melts life down to essentials and pours the mix into a mold of their own making. Three centuries after Eunice became an Indian, there is no longer such a thing as a “full blooded Indian.” They have all melted into the mold that is America.
For recalcitrant 7 year olds everywhere.
joseph tiraco, Leap Day Eve 2004