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Paper Sovereigns

Anglo-Native Treaties and the Law of Nations, 1604-1664

By Jeffrey Glover

Publication Year: 2014

In many accounts of Native American history, treaties are synonymous with tragedy. From the beginnings of settlement, Europeans made and broke treaties, often exploiting Native American lack of alphabetic literacy to manipulate political negotiation. But while colonial dealings had devastating results for Native people, treaty making and breaking involved struggles more complex than any simple contest between invaders and victims. The early colonists were often compelled to negotiate on Indian terms, and treaties took a bewildering array of shapes ranging from rituals to gestures to pictographs. At the same time, Jeffrey Glover demonstrates, treaties were international events, scrutinized by faraway European audiences and framed against a background of English, Spanish, French, and Dutch imperial rivalries.

To establish the meaning of their agreements, colonists and Natives adapted and invented many new kinds of political representation, combining rituals from tribal, national, and religious traditions. Drawing on an archive that includes written documents, printed books, orations, landscape markings, wampum beads, tally sticks, and other technologies of political accounting, Glover examines the powerful influence of treaty making along the vibrant and multicultural Atlantic coast of the seventeenth century.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page, Copyright, Quote

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

A Note on Naming and Spelling

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-26

The Indian guide was trying to get the sailors’ attention before it was too late. They were docked by a waterfall, waiting for the Indian king to arrive. The sailors were confident. They had feasted with the king the day before, and their captain, Christopher Newport, had “kyndly imbraced” him, confirming “a leauge of fryndship.”1 This next meeting would go well, they were sure. But the Indian guide was worried. The night before, the sailors had departed without offering...

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1. Heavy Heads: Crowning Kings in Early Virginia

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pp. 27-70

On a placid morning in October 1608, Christopher Newport pushed off from the shore of the York River and pointed his boat toward Werowocomoco, the seat of the Powhatan chiefdom. It had been more than a year since his first journey inland, the one that had culminated in the great shout and the treaty with the river king. Since that time, much had happened. The English had traded with some Indians, fought with others, and established diplomatic relations with...

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2. The Ransom of Pocahontas: Kidnapping and Dynastic Marriage in Jamestown and London

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pp. 71-117

“[M]uch a doe there was to perswade her to be patient, which with extraordinary curteous usage, by little and little was wrought in her, and so to James towne she was brought.”1 This is how Ralph Hamor describes the kidnapping of Pocahontas in his pamphlet, A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia (1615). Hamor’s emphasis on “extraordinary curteous usage” seems out of place in a story of deception and abduction. Hamor relates how Samuel Argall, an English...

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3. Gunpowder Diplomacy: Arms and Alliance in Plymouth and Patuxet

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pp. 118-157

The English governors and their Native allies gathered around the strange-looking thing that had appeared in Plymouth town. A messenger from the Narragansetts had delivered it that morning to Squanto, a Patuxet interpreter living there with the English. It was easy enough to describe what it was: “arrowes lapped in a rattle Snakes skin,” as Edward Winslow, the colony’s diplomat, later put it.1 But what did it mean? It wasn’t a friendly sign...

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4. Trading Sovereignty: The Fur Trade and the Freedom of the Seas

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pp. 158-186

In early summer 1632, the Dutch commercial trader Eendracht sailed cautiously into the harbor at Plymouth Sound after being blown off course in the English Channel. The ship, whose name, meaning “harmony,” would later prove ironic, was not the first vessel to seek refuge in the harbor. Ships under many flags had retreated there for protection from the chaotic weather of the narrow passage. But the atmosphere aboard the Eendracht was even tenser than might be expected..

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5. Gift of an Empire: The Land Market and the Law of Nations in Narragansett Bay

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pp. 187-226

In early 1638, John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, wrote to Roger Williams to ask about some recent news from Narragansett Bay. The letter had to be carefully worded. Winthrop had heard that Narragansett Indians were selling land to religious dissenters who had been banished from Massachusetts. The irony, not lost on either man, was that a few years prior Williams himself had been exiled for preaching “dyvers newe & dangerous opinions,” ...

Notes

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pp. 227-268

Bibliography

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pp. 269-300

Index

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pp. 301-310

Acknowledgments

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pp. 311-312


E-ISBN-13: 9780812209662
E-ISBN-10: 0812209664
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812245967

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 14 illus.
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- 1603-1688 -- Treaties.
  • United States -- Ethnic relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 17th century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- To 1775.
  • Indians of North America -- Treaties -- History -- 17th century.
  • Indians of North America -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- History -- 17th century.
  • Indians of North America -- Government relations -- To 1789.
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