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The Yamasee War

A Study of Culture, Economy, and Conflict in the Colonial South

William L. Ramsey

Publication Year: 2008

William L. Ramsey provides a thorough reappraisal of the Yamasee War, an event that stands alongside King Philip’s War in New England and Pontiac’s Rebellion as one of the three major “Indian wars” of the colonial era. By arguing that the Yamasee War may be the definitive watershed in the formation of the Old South, Ramsey challenges traditional arguments about the war’s origins and positions the prewar concerns of Native Americans within the context of recent studies of the Indian slave trade and the Atlantic economy.
The Yamasee War was a violent and bloody conflict between southeastern American Indian tribes and English colonists in South Carolina from 1715 to 1718. Ramsey’s discussion of the war itself goes far beyond the coastal conflicts between Yamasees and Carolinians, however, and evaluates the regional diplomatic issues that drew Indian nations as far distant as the Choctaws in modern-day Mississippi into a far-flung anti-English alliance. In tracing the decline of Indian slavery within South Carolina during and after the war, the book reveals the shift in white racial ideology that responded to wartime concerns, including anxieties about a “black majority,” which shaped efforts to revive Anglo-Indian trade relations, control the slave population, and defend the southern frontier. In assessing the causes and consequences of this pivotal conflict, The Yamasee War situates it in the broader context of southern history.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Indians of the Southeast


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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii


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pp. ix-x

Series Editors’ Introduction

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pp. xi

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Introduction: The Problems

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pp. 1-10

On April 14, 1715, the Yamasee Indians welcomed a group of South Carolinians in their principal town of Pocotaligo, south of Charles Town (now Charleston) by about sixty miles. Alarmed at reports of...

Part 1: Tinder

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1. Carolinians in Indian Country

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pp. 13-33

The fire kindled at the Yamasee town of Pocotaligo in April 1715 might be attributed to localized disaffection had it not spread in time to engulf the entire indigenous South. That it found ready fuel...

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2. Indian Slaves in the Carolina Low Country

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pp. 34-54

When John Norris wrote a promotional tract in 1712 encouraging British settlers to make their way to South Carolina, he emphasized the ease with which a profitable plantation could be established. All...

Part 2: Spark

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3. Market Influence

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pp. 57-78

Prior to the war, Cuffy undoubtedly walked the dozen or so miles separating the Yamasee settlements and the slave quarters of Edmund Bellinger's plantation on a regular basis to visit his wife, Phillis...

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4. Trade Regulation and the Breakdown of Diplomacy

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pp. 79-98

In the early years of the eighteenth-century South, Anglo-Indian trade drew many new voices into it, not all of them harmonious. Southeastern Indians who purchased goods from Carolina traders...

Part 3: Fire

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5. The Heart of the Alliance

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pp. 101-126

The fire kindled at Pocotaligo eventually spread from the Carolina coast to the Mississippi River. Its rate of progress was not uniform, however, and the damage it inflicted was not indiscriminate. The...

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6. Auxiliary Confederates

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pp. 127-156

The core combatants were flanked on two sides by less enthusiastic "confederates" as Carolinians sometimes referred to them. To the west were the Upper Creeks (including Alabamas, Abhikas...

Part 4: Ash

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7. Monsters and Men

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pp. 159-182

In August 1715 Governor Charles Craven appeared before the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly to discuss the Indian war that had set the colony's plantation districts ablaze in mid-April....

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8. New Patterns of Exchange and Diplomacy

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pp. 183-218

The apprehension that white South Carolinians felt with respect to their minority status within the colony as well as in the greater Southeast was not immediately apparent to Native Americans as...

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Conclusion: New Problems

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pp. 219-226

On February 1, 1733, nearly half a century after the inland Yamasees had arrived at the same location to commence their troubled relationship with South Carolina, James Edward Oglethorpe and...

Appendix: The Huspah King's Letter to Charles Craven

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pp. 227-228


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pp. 229-278


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pp. 279-298


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pp. 299-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780803237445
E-ISBN-10: 0803237448

Page Count: 481
Illustrations: 2 maps, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Indians of the Southeast