Bloody Minds and Peoples Undone: Emotion, Family, and Political Order in the Susquehannock-Virginia War
- The William and Mary Quarterly
- Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
- Volume 74, Number 3, July 2017, 3rd series
- pp. 401-436
- Additional Information
Susquehannock Indians and Virginia colonists had a long history of friendship and alliance, but they unexpectedly went to war in 1675 over a misunderstanding about stolen pigs. That war, which has seldom attracted attention from historians except as the spark for the colonial insurrection known as Bacon's Rebellion, remains poorly understood. The Susquehannock-Virginia War lasted longer than the short-lived rebellion it spawned and produced more far-reaching transformations among both peoples, above all the growth of racialized divides in Virginia and the forging of new bonds between Susquehannocks and their indigenous neighbors. The key to understanding the causes and consequences of this conflict is an appreciation for Susquehannocks' and Virginians' distinct cultures of emotional experience and expression. These cultures were epitomized by the paradoxical fusion of grief and violence in the Susquehannocks' practice of mourning war and by the tangled relationship between fear and love embedded in the Virginians' patriarchal ideal. Such emotions were foundational to both peoples' conceptions of political and social order, and they shaped the pattern of conflict that continued for a decade. The fateful clash between emotional cultures reveals the centrality of grief and fear to the violent unfolding of settler colonialism.