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Trade, Land, Power

The Struggle for Eastern North America

By Daniel K. Richter

Publication Year: 2013

In this sweeping collection of essays, one of America's leading colonial historians reinterprets the struggle between Native peoples and Europeans in terms of how each understood the material basis of power.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in eastern North America, Natives and newcomers alike understood the close relationship between political power and control of trade and land, but they did so in very different ways. For Native Americans, trade was a collective act. The alliances that made a people powerful became visible through material exchanges that forged connections among kin groups, villages, and the spirit world. The land itself was often conceived as a participant in these transactions through the blessings it bestowed on those who gave in return. For colonizers, by contrast, power tended to grow from the individual accumulation of goods and landed property more than from collective exchange—from domination more than from alliance. For many decades, an uneasy balance between the two systems of power prevailed.

Tracing the messy process by which global empires and their colonial populations could finally abandon compromise and impose their definitions on the continent, Daniel K. Richter casts penetrating light on the nature of European colonization, the character of Native resistance, and the formative roles that each played in the origins of the United States.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. c-ii


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pp. iii-iii


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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-10

I have long suspected, despite some fine examples to the contrary, that anyone who compiles a volume of his or her own essays is either afflicted by egotism, cursed with hubris, or excused by scholarly venerability.1 I prefer to believe that none of these conditions apply to me. With respect to the last, however, I must confess to having been at this business for three decades and to turn‑...

Part I: Native Power and European Trade

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Chapter 1 Tsenacomoco and the Atlantic World: Stories of Goods and Power

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pp. 13-41

In what might be the only surviving early seventeenth‑ century example of the genre, William Strachey, secretary of the Virginia Company of London, did his best to reduce to Roman letters a “scornefull song” that victorious Powhatan warriors chanted after they killed three or four Englishmen “and tooke one Symon Score a saylor and one Cob a boy prisoners” in 1611:...

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Chapter 2 Brothers, Scoundrels, Metal-Makers: Dutch Constructions of Native American Constructions of the Dutch

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pp. 42-52

Dutch traders had come to North American shores at almost exactly the same time that English people arrived in Tsenacomoco. In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up what later became his eponymous stream, which the Dutch simply called in their language the “North River.” By 1614, one hundred and fifty miles upstream on that river at the future site of Albany, European traders ...

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Chapter 3 "That Europe be not Proud, nor America Discouraged": Native People and the Enduring Politics of Trade

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pp. 53-68

Like the writings of Harmen Meyndersz van den Bogaert or John Smith, the works of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, constructed complicated images of Native people. And like those of the others, his images conveyed real, if convoluted, insights. “O the infinite wisedome of the most holy wise God, who hath so advanced Europe above America, that there is not a ...

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Chapter 4 War and Culture: The Iroquois Experience

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pp. 69-96

“The character of all these [Iroquois] Nations is warlike and cruel,” wrote Jesuit missionary Paul Le Jeune in 1657. “The chief virtue of these poor Pagans being cruelty, just as mildness is that of Christians, they teach it to their children from their very cradles, and accustom them to the most atrocious carnage and the most barbarous spectacles.”1 Like most Europeans of his day, Le Jeune ignored ...

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Chapter 5 Dutch Dominos: The Fall of New Netherland and the Reshaping of Eastern North America

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pp. 97-112

At the height of the seventeenth‑ century Iroquois wars, Jesuit missionaries in New France attributed much of the violence to unscrupulous Dutch firearms traders.1 Yet, despite such firsthand testimony to New Netherland’s impact on power relationships in mid‑ seventeenth‑ century North America, historians have remained unimpressed with the colony’s role. Its most thorough and ...

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Chapter 6 Brokers and Politics: Iroquois and New Yorkers

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pp. 113-132

Building on the wreckage left by the departure of the Dutch West India Company from North America in the late 1670s and early 1680s, English governors of New York and Haudenosaunee leaders of the Five Nations forged what was known as the Covenant Chain, an alliance that became the centerpiece of diplomatic relationships across much of eastern North America. Relying on ...

Part II: European Power and Native Land

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Chapter 7 Land and Words: William Penn's Letter to the Kings of the Indians

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pp. 135-154

Among the major figures in seventeenth‑ century European‑ Indian relations, one is usually portrayed standing alone above the messy everyday business of politics, brokers, and deal‑ making, somehow exempt from the matrix of trade, land, and power. “William Penn told the Indians that he loved them all; their Men, Women and Children, and that he held Councils with them to ...

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Chapter 8 "No Savage Should Inherit": Native Peoples, Pennsylvanians, and the Origins and Legacies of the Seven Years War

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pp. 155-176

The global war that began nearly three‑ quarters of a century after William Penn wrote his letter— the war whose origins the Delaware leader Teedyuscung struggled both to explain and bring to an end when he negotiated with Pennsylvanians in the 1750s— has usually been called the “French and Indian War.” Native peoples certainly would not have used that term. How could ...

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Chapter 9 The Plan of 1764: Native Americans and a British Empire That Never Was

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pp. 177-201

For a brief moment after the Seven Years War, a handful of British officials on both sides of the Atlantic struggled to imagine an empire where Native Americans and Europeans might coexist. Their ideas spawned an ill‑ starred document known as the “Plan for the future Management of Indian Affairs,” which the British ministry circulated for transatlantic comment in 1764. To ...

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Chapter 10 Onas, the Long Knife: Pennsylvanians and Indians After Independence

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pp. 202-226

In April 1792 the war chief Red Jacket led a delegation of Seneca Iroquois to the Federal capital at Philadelphia. Their main business was with the President and Congress, but the Native leaders also paid a courtesy call on Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin. Standing beneath Benjamin West’s portrait of Penn’s Treaty in the statehouse council chamber, Red Jacket ad‑...

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Chapter 11 "Believing that Many of the Red People Suffer Much for the Want of Food": A Quaker View of Indians in the Early U.S. Republic

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pp. 227-250

In the spring of 1804, Gerard T. Hopkins traveled from Baltimore to Fort Wayne, in Indian country. As secretary of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends and a member of its Committee on Indian Affairs, he carefully kept a journal, which he later edited to “convey inteligibly, both the route we took and the various circumstances attendant upon our Journey”; his traveling ...


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pp. 251-306


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pp. 307-314


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pp. 315-315

E-ISBN-13: 9780812208306
E-ISBN-10: 0812208307
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812245004
Print-ISBN-10: 0812245008

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 35 illus.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 859161093
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Trade, Land, Power

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Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- First contact with Europeans.
  • Indians of North America -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
  • Indians, Treament of -- North America -- History.
  • Indians of North America -- Government relations.
  • North America -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
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