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Experience Mayhew's Indian Converts

A Cultural Edition

edited by Laura Arnold Leibman

Publication Year: 2008

First published in 1727 under the title Indian Converts, or Some account of the lives and dying speeches of a considerable number of the Christianized Indians of Martha's Vineyard, in New-England, Experience Mayhew's history of the Wampanoag Indians on Martha's Vineyard provides a rare look at the lives and culture of four generations of Native Americans in colonial America. Dividing his treatment into four sections—Indian Ministers, Good Men, Religious Women, and Pious Children—Mayhew details the books that different age groups were reading, provides insights into early New England pedagogy and childrearing practices, and describes each individual in terms of genealogy, religious practice, way of life, and place of residence. In addition to drawing on his own firsthand knowledge of the community and transcriptions of oral testimony he and others collected, Mayhew inserts translations of Wampanoag texts that have since been lost. Although the book has been out of print since the early nineteenth century, scholars have long recognized its importance for understanding the history of New England's Native communities. In an extensive introduction to this new scholarly edition, Laura Arnold Leibman places Indian Converts in a broader cultural context and explores its significance. She shows how Mayhew's biographies illuminate the theological upheavals that rocked early eighteenth-century New England on the eve of the Great Awakening, shifts that altered not only the character of Puritanism but also the landscape of Wampanoag religious and cultural life. An accompanying online archive that includes over 600 images and documents further contextualizes Mayhew's work and provide suggestions for students' investigations of the text.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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Title Page

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pp. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-vii

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pp. ix-ix

No work of scholarship is possible without the hard work of other scholars. This edition was feasible only because of the prior perseverance of David Silverman, Jerome Segel, Andrew Pierce, Charles Edward Banks, and of course Experience Mayhew. I am also profoundly indebted to Michael Colacurio: almost every useful idea I have about the Puritans can be traced ...


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pp. xi-xii

Experience Mayhew Timeline

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pp. xv-xvii

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pp. 1-76

A little over a hundred years after the first English interactions with the Wampanoags at Plymouth Plantation, Puritan missionary Experience Mayhew published the life stories of four generations of Wampanoag men, women, and children who had lived on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The history was unprecedented in scope and content. Although written in...

Indian Converts

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pp. 77-77


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pp. 79-80

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The Author’s Preface to the Reader

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pp. 81-84

THERE are more especially two Things requisite, to render any History acceptable and entertaining to judicious Readers; namely, first, That the Matters of Fact related, be worthy to be observed and recorded. The other is, that the Things reported be well attested and worthy of Credit.The former of these will, I hope, be granted, with respect to my...

An Attestation by The United Ministers of Boston

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pp. 85-90

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The Introduction

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pp. 91-94

The Design of the ensuing Historical Essay, is to make it evident that the Preaching of the Gospel to the Aboriginal Natives of this Land, has not not been in vain; but that there has been some desirable Fruit and Effect thereof. Some may perhaps think, that a Performance of this nature is now become wholly unnecessary, since so many Accounts have been...

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Chapter. I. Containing an Account of several Indian MINISTERS, both Pastors, Ruling Elders, and Deacons, who have been justly esteem’d godly Persons.

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pp. 95-169

GENERALLY where the Word of GOD has been preached by godly Ministers, there have been Some godly People. Being therefore now to shew, that there have been several pious People among our Christian Indians; and that by instancing in particular Persons that have been so, it will be very proper that I begin this Introduction of Instances with mentioning sundry Ministers among them, that have...

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Chapter. II. Containing an Account of several Indian MEN, not in any Church Office, who have appeared to be truly good Men.

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pp. 170-226

WHENEVER God raiseth up a godly Ministry, and setteth them to Work among any People, it seemeth more than probable that he hath some Elect Souls, that he designs to extend his special saving Grace to, and will by such a Ministry effectually call, and bring savingly home to himself: But now, that God has raised up such a Ministry among our...

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Chapter III. Containing an Account of several Indian WOMEN that have been justly esteemed Religious.

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pp. 227-304

The number of Women truly fearing God, has by some been thought to exceed that of Men so doing: but whether the Observation will generally hold true or not, I shall not now inquire; or if it will, stay to consider the Reasons of it.456 However, it seems to be a Truth with respect to our Indians, so far as my Knowledge of them extends, that there have been...

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Chap. IV. Early Piety exemplified, in an Account of several Young Men, Maids, and Children, that have appeared to be truly pious.

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pp. 305-354

I Doubt not but that where there is any thing considerable of true Piety and Religion among a People, God does extend his special and saving Grace to some of every Age, whether elder or younger among them.646 As therefore it appears by what has been already said, that there have been many grown Persons who have been converted and saved among our poor...

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pp. 355-382

THE worthy Collector of the foregoing Instances having very well expressed his Concern that GOD may have the Glory of his Works of Grace upon that People, it must needs be very fitting there should now be some Account of those more principal English Instruments, which Heaven has been pleased to qualify, and inspire with Zeal for this difficult Employment, and then to crown and honour with such remarkable...

Appendix: A Brief Account of the State of the Indians on Martha’s Vineyard, and the small Islands Adjacent in Duke’s-Country, from the Year 1694 to 1720

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pp. 383-389


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pp. 391-404


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pp. 405-424

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761205
E-ISBN-10: 1613761201
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558496606
Print-ISBN-10: 1558496602

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 681491054
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Experience Mayhew's Indian Converts

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Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Biography.
  • Indians of North America -- Massachusetts -- Martha's Vineyard.
  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) -- History.
  • Wampanoag Indians -- Missions.
  • Mayhew family.
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