Red, White, and Black The Peoples of Early North America
Gary B. Nash
University of California, Los Angeles
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Nash, Gary B. Red, white, and black : the peoples of early North America / Gary B. Nash, University of California, Los Angeles. —Seventh edition. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-205-88759-0 — ISBN 0-205-88759-7 1. United States—History—Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775. 2. America—Discovery and exploration. 3. United States—Race relations. I. Title. E188.N37 2014 973.2—dc23 2014009616
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
ISBN 10: 0-205-88759-7 ISBN 13: 978-0-205-88759-0
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1 Before Columbus 1 Cultural Evolution 2
Regional Cultures 4
The Iroquois 9
Pre-Columbian Population 13
The Native American Worldview 13
2 Europeans Reach North America 17 Spanish and Portuguese Expansion into the Americas 18
England Enters the Colonial Race 24
Early Spanish Incursions in North America 27
The French Penetration of North America 31
Imagining Native Americans 37
3 Cultures Meet on the Chesapeake 43 The Failed Colony at Roanoke 43
Reestablishing Virginia 45
Reorganization and Tobacco 48
English-Indian Relations 51
The War of 1622 and its Aftermath 57
4 Cultures Meet in the Northeast 63 The Dutch in the Northeast 63
The Elusive Utopia 71
Puritans and Indians 73
The Question of Land 77
The Pequot War 79
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5 The Coastal Societies: Resistance, Accommodation, and Defeat 85
Metacom’s War 86
Bacon’s Rebellion 90
Colonizing South Carolina 94
Carolina-Indian Relations 95
The Tuscarora and Yamasee Wars 99
Penn’s “Holy Experiment” and Quaker-Indian Relations 103
6 Europe, Africa, and the Americas 113 The Atlantic Slave System 114
Capture and Transport of Slaves 118
Slavery in the North American Colonies 123
Slavery in North and South America 127
7 The African Ordeal Under Slavery 137 Coping with Enslavement 137
Regional Variations of North American Slavery 139
Resistance and Rebellion 145
Black Culture in Colonial America 150
8 The Transformation of Euro-American Society 162 Eighteenth-Century European Immigrants 162
Land, Growth, and Changing Values 166
The Cities 169
Changing Social Structure 172
The Great Awakening 175
9 Wars for Empire and Indian Strategies for Survival 181 Iroquois Diplomacy 182
Creek Diplomacy 186
Cherokee Diplomacy 189
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Transformations in Indian Society 190
Cultural Persistence 199
10 The Seven Years’ War and Its Aftermath 202 Population Increase 203
The Seven Years’ War 203
Indian Strategies in the Seven Years’ War 206
Indian-White Relations after 1763 212
The Colonizers’ Society after 1763 217
11 The Tricolored American Revolution 221 The Abolitionist Impulse 222
Struggling for Liberty 224
Exodus of Pro-British Slaves 228
The War Comes to an End 229
Free Black Leaders 230
The Indians’ Revolution 233
12 The Mixing of Peoples 243 Indian-European Engagement 245
Across the Color Line 251
Between African and Indian 254
Blending and Bleeding: The Mixing of Red, White, and Black 258
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The pages that follow began to take form in my mind several decades ago when I par- ticipated in redesigning the introductory course in American history at the University of California, Los Angeles. This effort was directed at making American history more understandable to an ethnically, a socially, and an intellectually diverse undergraduate audience by studying it as the process of change that occurred when people of widely varying cultural backgrounds interacted over a period of four centuries. Although this does not sound like a startling innovation, I discovered that it required me to read broadly in areas that had largely escaped my notice during fifteen years of studying and teaching colonial American history—anthropology, ethnohistory, African history, and Latin American history. To say that they “escaped my notice” is to put the point obliquely, for one of the thrusts of this book is that we read, think, and write selec- tively and in ways that reflect our cultural biases. Nothing more than changing my “angle of vision” was required to make it apparent that early American history and the early history of the American peoples were two different subjects and that the lat- ter was comprehensible only by vastly widening the scope of my reading and thinking about the subject.
In revising Red, White, and Black for this seventh edition, I am indebted to review- ers of the sixth edition, whose comments and suggestions have helped me make important changes, I gratefully acknowledge. The explosion of scholarly work in early American history, especially on the roles and experiences of Native Americans and African Americans, has required me to rethink and rewrite many passages in the chapters that follow. One could not have imagined a few decades ago how much it has been possible to learn about the interaction of the diverse peoples who encountered each other in North America in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. History is a never-ending search for a durable rendition of the past, and this edition owes a debt especially to the young historians who are contributing so much to the vibrancy of the colonial and revolutionary eras of the American past. This continu- ing quest for a more inclusive and nuanced history is reflected in the revisions to the chapters and in the Further Reading at the end of each chapter.
What’s New in This edition? In this edition of Red, White, and Black, I have made many changes to keep abreast of the latest scholarship on African American and Native American history. The extraor- dinary interest in these two subfields of early American history continues to flourish, adding richness and subtlety to what was known only sketchily not so many years ago.
O New archaeological studies, combined with DNA analysis, continue to refine what we know about the timing and sources of the first migration of people from Asia to the Americas thousands of years ago, helping me bring Chapter 1 up to date on this fascinating case of humans in search of new lands.
O In Chapters 1 and 2 I have also fleshed out how climate change, from about 900 a.d. through the late 1400s when Europeans first reached the Americas, helps us
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understand the rise and collapse of some early indigenous societies in North Amer- ica while facilitating the advent of the agricultural revolution that swept over most parts of the Americas.
O Likewise, in these first two chapters, readers will learn more than in previous edi- tions about how European pandemic diseases staggered Native societies while paving the way for European colonization. How the vectors of disease affected Native peoples in their engagement with European colonizers also figures in revi- sions in later chapters.
O Recent studies of almost every Indian society in North America has added im- mensely to our understanding of the complex interactions—economic, political, and cultural—between Native peoples and colonizing Europeans from the late six- teenth to early nineteenth centuries. This has allowed me to add new information and refine the analyses in Chapters 3, 4, 5, 9, and 10. Many of these new studies are included in Further Reading at the end of each chapter.
O Of great importance in revising Chapters 6 and 7 is the publication of the Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (2010). In essays that capture a wealth of new scholarship and in a magnificent array of maps and charts that graphically display the analysis of some 27,000 slave voyages, we now have at hand important new information on every aspect of the slave trade, from the changing participation of various European maritime nations to the ages and gender of people captured in different parts of West and Central Africa, to their destinations in the Americas, to mutinies on slave ships, and much more. Especially of note is how this astounding bank of data puts the relatively small flow of captive Africans to the British Ameri- can colonies in an Atlantic-wide context. New scholarship in African history has also allowed me to give greater texture to the experience of enslaved Africans in the Americas and also their cultural contributions to the lifeways of the European colonizers.
O Women’s history is another sector of abundant new scholarship, and here too I have stitched new insights and research results into the narrative, as well as adding important new works of scholarship to the Further Reading section.
O In Chapter 11 readers will find a considerable expansion of how African Ameri- cans and Native Americans figured in the epochal upheaval, as it related both to the war for independence with England and to the internal struggle to revital- ize and reform the old colonial order. I hope students will find much to ponder in the enlarged discussion of how revolutionary agendas for change necessarily broached the abolition of slavery in a new nation dedicated to “unalienable rights” and grappled with the fraught question of how Native people would be included in, or excluded from, the democratically conceived new republic.
O In Chapter 12 I have drawn upon a ballooning number of DNA analyses that show a degree of racial boundary crossing never imagined by historians and other social science scholars. It is becoming clear through this probing of the human genome that many decades of denying racial intermingling and even erasing ex- amples of it from the historical record have stood in the way of appreciating how the strenuous efforts of white legislators and cultural leaders were never able to patrol the racial boundaries as effectively as they wished.
O A final new feature of this edition is the addition to each chapter of Learning Ob- jectives, Summary, and Critical Thinking Questions.
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“God is English.” Thus John Aylmer, a pious English clergyman, exhorted his parishio- ners in 1558, attempting to fill them with piety and patriotism.1 That thought, though never stated so directly, has echoed ever since through our history books. As school children, as college students, and as presumably informed citizens, most of us have been brought up on what has passed for the greatest success story of human history, the epic tale of how a proud, brave offshoot of the English-speaking people tried to reverse the laws of history by demonstrating what the human spirit, liberated from the shackles of tradition, myth, and oppressive authority, could do in a newly discov- ered corner of the earth. For most Americans, colonial history begins with Sir Walter Ralegh and John Smith, and proceeds through William Bradford and John Winthrop to Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin. It ends with the Revolution, during which wilderness-conquering settlers pitted themselves against a mother country that had grown tyrannical and won their independence against the odds.
This is ethnocentric history, as has been charged frequently and vociferously in recent decades, both by revisionist white historians and by those whose citizenship is American but whose ancestral roots are in Africa, Asia, Mexico, or the native cultures of North America. Just as Eurocentrism made it difficult for the early colonizers and explorers to believe that a continental land mass as large as North America could exist in the oceans between Europe and Asia, historians in this country have found it dif- ficult to understand that the colonial period of our history is the story of a minority of English colonizers interacting with a majority of Iroquois, Delawares, Narragan- setts, Pequots, Mahicans, Catawbas, Tuscaroras, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, Ibos, Mandingos, Fulas, Yorubas, Ashantis, Germans, French, Spaniards, Swedes, Welsh, and Scots-Irish, to mention only some of the cultural strains present on the continent.
In recent years, American historians have provided correctives to white-oriented, male-dominated, hero-worshipping history. At first, they devoted their efforts to restocking the pantheon of national heroes with new figures whose skin is not so pale. Pedestals, for example, were erected for Crispus Attucks, the half-Wampanoag, half- black fisherman of Boston who fell first at the Boston massacre; for Ely Parker, the Seneca general who helped the North win the Civil War and later served his friend, Ulysses Grant, when the latter attained the presidency; and for Cesar Chávez, the leader of the United Farm Workers, who brought major wage benefits and working conditions to the agricultural workers in this country.
Historical revisionism often begins in this tentative way, turning a monochromatic cast of characters into a polychromatic one with the story line unchanged. More than forty years ago, Vine Deloria, Jr., an outspoken Indian leader, charged that much of the “new” history “takes a basic ‘manifest destiny’ white interpretation of history and lov- ingly plugs a few feathers, woolly heads, and sombreros into the famous events of Ameri- can history.”2 But historians have moved beyond this crude form of multicultural history.
1Quoted in Carl Bridenbaugh, Vexed and Troubled Englishmen, 1590–1642 (New York, 1968), p. 13. 2Vine Deloria, Jr., We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf (New York, 1970), p. 39.
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When first drafting this book in 1972, I took Deloria’s criticism to heart, believ- ing that a fuller and deeper understanding of the colonial underpinnings of American history must examine the interaction of many peoples, at all levels of society, from a wide range of cultural backgrounds over a period of several centuries. For the colonial and Revolutionary period, this means exploring not only how the English and other Europeans “discovered” North America and transplanted their cultures there, but also how societies that had been in North America and Africa for thousands of years were actively and intimately involved in the process of forging a new, multistranded culture in what would become the United States. Africans were not merely enslaved. Native Americans were not merely driven from the land. As Ralph Ellison, the African Ameri- can writer, has reasoned: “Can a people . . . live and develop for over three hundred years by simply reacting? Are American Negroes simply the creation of white men, or have they at least helped to create themselves out of what they found around them?”3 To include Africans and Indians in our history in this way, simply as victims of the more powerful Europeans, is hardly better than excluding them altogether. Rather, it renders voiceless, nameless, and faceless people who powerfully affected the course of our historical development as a society and as a nation.
Breaking through the notion of Indians and Africans being kneaded like dough according to the whims of the invading Europeans was one of the main goals of this book from the start. During the last four decades, as I have revised this book for new editions, a host of resourceful and talented archaeologists, anthropologists, climatolo- gists, evolutionary biologists, linguists, and historians have provided rich studies that add depth and complexity to this initial formulation. A body of historical literature now shows irrefutably how Africans and Native Americans were critically important participants in the making of American history. Wherever has fallen the focus of these scholarly inquiries—the French penetration of the Great Lakes region, the Spanish occupation of Florida and New Mexico, the English interaction with the Iroquois or Catawba, the English enslavement of Africans in South Carolina, Virginia, Barbados, and Jamaica—a consistent picture has emerged of the complex, intercultural birthing of the “New World.” It was a new world for conquerors and conquered alike. It is the story of transformation for all involved, regardless of enormous inequalities in status and power, where European and Native worlds blurred at the edges of contact and merged at the heart of colonial existence, where Africans and Europeans made a new world together.
Every historian and anthropologist engaged in breaking old molds in the service of a more faithful recounting of how North American societies emerged has had to aban- don the old master narrative of “primitive” and “civilized” peoples careening toward each other after 1492 on a collision course, surely one of the greatest cultural engage- ments of human history. Much utility still remains in pointing out differences in tech- nological levels—for example, the Europeans’ ability to navigate across the Atlantic and to process iron and thereby to manufacture guns and sharp-edged tools. But plac- ing too much emphasis on technological advancement creates a mental trap in which Europeans are imagined as the principal agents of history, the African and Native peo- ples as the passive victims, and the outcomes as seemingly inevitable. Inevitability is a
3Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (New York, 1964), p. 301.
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victor’s story, one that robs history of its contingency and unexpected outcomes. This book presents historical outcomes as part of a tangled and an unpredictable human process where little is inexorable or foreordained.
Africans, Indians, and Europeans all developed various societies that functioned, for better or worse, in their respective environments. None thought of themselves as inferior people. “Savages we call them,” wrote Benjamin Franklin more than two cen- turies ago, “because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs.”4 To imagine Indians simply as victims of European aggression is to bury from sight the rich and instructive story of how people who came to be known as Narragansetts, Iroquois, Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, and many others, which had been forming and changing for centuries before Europeans touched foot on the continent, responded creatively and powerfully to the newcom- ers from across the ocean. In this way, the Native people reshaped themselves while reshaping the course of European settlement.
This book adopts a cultural approach to our early history. It looks at the landmass we know as “North America” as a place where a number of different societies converged during a particular period of history—between about 1550 and 1790, to use the Euro- pean system of measuring time. In the most general terms, we can define these cultural groups as Indian, African, and European, though, as we will see, this oversimplification is itself a Eurocentric device for classifying cultures. In other words, this book is not about early American history as usually defined—as the English colonization of thirteen colonies along the continent’s eastern seaboard—but about the history of the peoples of North America during the two centuries leading toward the American Revolution.
Each of these three cultural groups was exceedingly diverse. In their cultural char- acteristics, Iroquois were as different from Natchez as English from Egyptians; Hausas and Yorubas were as distinct as Pequots and Creeks. Nor did the subgroups in each of these cultural blocs act in concert. The French, English, Dutch, and Spanish fought wars with each other, contending for power and advantage in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, just as Hurons and Iroquois or Creeks and Cherokees sought the upper hand in their respective regions. Our task is to discover what happened when peoples from different continents, diverse among themselves, came into contact with each other at particular points in history. Social and cultural process and change are of primary concern: how societies were affected and how their destinies changed by the experience of engagement with other societies. Anthropologists call this process “transculturation”; historians call it “social change.” Whatever the terms, this book explores a dynamic process of interaction that shaped the history of American Indians, Europeans, and Africans in North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
It is important to consider that when scholars speak of “cultural groups” or “soci- eties,” they are referring to abstractions. A society is a group of people organized together so that their needs—the sustaining of life at the most basic level—can be met. Culture is a broad term that embraces all the specific characteristics of a society as they are functionally related to each other—technology; modes of dress and diet; economic, social, and political organization; religion; language; art; values; methods of child- rearing; and so forth. Simply stated, “culture” means a way of life, the framework
4“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America” (1784), in Albert H. Smyth, ed., The Writings of Ben- jamin Franklin (New York, 1907), X: 97.
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within which any group of people—a society—comprehends the world around it. But “culture” and “society” are also terms that imply standards or norms of behavior. This is what is meant by “cultural traits” or “group behavior.”
Employing such terms runs the danger of losing sight of the individual human beings, none of them exactly alike, who make up a society. Culture is a mental con- struct that scholars employ for the sake of convenience, so that highly varied and complex individual behavior can be broadly classified and compared. Because we are Americans, belonging to the same nation, speaking (or learning to speak) the same language, living under the same laws, participating in the same economic and politi- cal system, does not mean that we are all alike. Otherwise there would be no gen- eration gap, no differences in aesthetic taste, no gendered values, no racial tension, and no political conflict. Nonetheless, taken collectively, Americans typically organize their lives differently than do people in other parts of the world. Although we must be aware of the problems of a cultural approach to history, it at least provides a way of understanding the interaction of the great mass of individuals of widely varying backgrounds who found themselves cohabiting one part of the “New World” several centuries ago.
One other cautionary note is necessary. Though I often speak of racial groups and racial interaction, these terms do not refer to genetically different groups of people. For more than a century, anthropologists poured their intellect and energy into attempts to classify all the peoples of the world, from the pygmies of Borneo to the Aleuts in Alaska, according to genetic differences. Noses were measured, cranial cavities exam- ined, body hair noted, lips described, and hair and eye color classified in an attempt to define scientifically the various physiological types of humankind. Much was at stake in this effort. If physiological characteristics, with skin color prominent among them, could be “scientifically” determined, it would be possible to rank degrees of “cultural development” or achievement on a scale reaching from “savagery” to “civilization.” It comes as no surprise that this massive effort of Western white anthropologists resulted in the conclusion that the superiority of the Caucasian peoples of the world could be “scientifically” proven.
Today, genetic sciences, and particularly the DNA breakthroughs from molecu- lar biologists, have wiped away this long effort to establish a hierarchy of human types. Modern science finds that race is not biologically determined. Rather, it is socially and historically constructed. No objective foundation exists for the idea that a person belongs to one biological “race” or another or that a particular number of distinct races exist. It is now apparent that Europeans in the Americas fashioned different codes of race relations based on their own needs and attitudes concern- ing how people should be classified, treated, and separated. “Negro” in Brazil and in the United States, for example, came to have different meanings that reflected conditions and values, as well as degrees of social mingling, not genetic differences. As Sidney Mintz wisely reminds us, “The ‘reality’ of race is thus as much a social as a biological reality, the inheritance of physical traits serving as the raw material for social sorting devices, by which both stigmata and privileges may be systemati- cally allocated.”5 This social sorting is highly arbitrary—down to the present day
5Sidney Mintz, “Toward an Afro-American History,” Journal of World History (published in Switzerland), 13 (1971): 318.
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when, for example, the U.S. Census Bureau for many decades obliged every resident to choose one racial category as if no people whatsoever existed with mixed genetic and cultural inheritances.
Thus, we gain little insight into the historical process by distinguishing cultural groups at the biological or physiological level. In this book, we are not considering genetically different groups but human populations from different parts of the world, groups of people with cultural differences. Most of all, we will be inquiring into the way these peoples, brought into contact with each other, changed over the course of several centuries—and changed in a manner that would shape the course of American history for generations to come.
A Word about Words Readers of this book should understand that our choice of words—all language—is tied up with cultural attitudes and ideological stances. That Columbus “discovered America” in 1492 is a bold example of compromised language and yet what young students learned for many generations. Of course, Columbus reached the Americas in 1492, but he didn’t discover what millions of humans already knew about because they had lived for many millennia on the western side of the Atlantic. That is an easy phrase of eurocentric phrasing to fix. But the problem runs deeper. As James Merrell, a …
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