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Brothers Born of One Mother

British-Native American Relations in the Colonial Southeast

Michelle LeMaster

Publication Year: 2012

The arrival of English settlers in the American Southeast in 1670 brought the British and the Native Americans into contact both with foreign peoples and with unfamiliar gender systems. In a region in which the balance of power between multiple players remained uncertain for many decades, British and Native leaders turned to concepts of gender and family to create new diplomatic norms to govern interactions as they sought to construct and maintain working relationships. In Brothers Born of One Mother, Michelle LeMaster addresses the question of how differing cultural attitudes toward gender influenced Anglo-Indian relations in the colonial Southeast.

As one of the most fundamental aspects of culture, gender had significant implications for military and diplomatic relations. Understood differently by each side, notions of kinship and proper masculine and feminine behavior wielded during negotiations had the power to either strengthen or disrupt alliances. The collision of different cultural expectations of masculine behavior and men's relationships to and responsibilities for women and children became significant areas of discussion and contention. Native American and British leaders frequently discussed issues of manhood (especially in the context of warfare), the treatment of women and children, and intermarriage. Women themselves could either enhance or upset relations through their active participation in diplomacy, war, and trade.

Leaders invoked gendered metaphors and fictive kinship relations in their discussions, and by evaluating their rhetoric, Brothers Born of One Mother investigates the intercultural conversations about gender that shaped Anglo-Indian diplomacy. LeMaster's study contributes importantly to historians’ understanding of the role of cultural differences in intergroup contact and investigates how gender became part of the ideology of European conquest in North America, providing a unique window into the process of colonization in America.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Series: Early American Histories

Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

In the course of any research project, one incurs a significant number of debts. Although my thanks seem inadequate, I wish to acknowledge those who have helped me so substantially along the way. Th is work could not have been completed without the direction...

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pp. 1-13

On April 12, 1715, a Yamasee Indian approached the wife of prominent Port Royal planter and sometime trader William Bray “and told her he had a great Matter to tell her, which was that the Creek Indians had a Design to cut of[f ] the Traders first and then to fall...

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1. A “Friend” and a “Brother”: Gender, Family, and Diplomacy

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pp. 15-50

Formal diplomatic meetings, often held in the colonial capitals or less often in leading native villages, provided the forum for British and southeastern Indian leaders to seek to manage their relationships and resolve disagreements. Here, officials and headmen...

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2. “I Am a Man and a Warrior”: Native and British Rhetorics of Manhood and Warfare

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pp. 51-83

Although British and native diplomats regularly strove to avoid hostilities, the constant threat of conflict hung over the Southeast. As a result, discussions about warfare (both real and potential) took up a disproportionate amount of time in formal...

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3. “To Protect Them and Their Wives and Children”: Women and War

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pp. 84-117

Although men most often conducted military campaigns, warfare affected all members of society: male and female, young and old. Yet most portrayals of Anglo- Indian conflict, scholarly and otherwise, focus narrowly on diplomatic or strategic considerations....

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4. Guns and Garters: Men, Women, and the Trade

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pp. 118-148

A key motivator leading British officials and native headmen to avoid the open hostilities of war was the deerskin trade. Introduced on a limited scale by explorers and a few itinerant peddlers, commerce soon became essential to the lifestyle of most southeastern nations, as well as a profitable...

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5. “To Stay amongst Them by a Marriage”: The Politics and Domestics of Intermarriage

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pp. 149-184

Trade brought a significant number of European men into Indian communities. Most traders took up residence in native towns and married native women, integrating themselves, to varying degrees, into local society. The importance of...

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pp. 185-191

In January 1782, the patriot governor of Georgia, John Martin, wrote a letter to the Upper and Lower Creek headmen in hope of establishing peace between the new United States and that nation. He addressed his letter to his “Friends and Brothers” in the nation...


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pp. 193-198


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pp. 199-252


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pp. 253-283


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pp. 285-292

E-ISBN-13: 9780813932422
E-ISBN-10: 0813932424
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813932415
Print-ISBN-10: 0813932416

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 5 maps
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Early American Histories
Series Editor Byline: John Coombs, Douglas Bradburn, Max Edelson See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 796999184
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Brothers Born of One Mother