Colonial Indian Wars

Preaching to the Indians

Preaching to the Indians

This alliance between Uncas and the colony lasted for more than 40 years. It placed upon Connecticut the burden of supporting a treacherous and grasping Indian chief; it created a great deal of confusion in land titles in the eastern part of the colony because of indiscriminate Indian grants; it started the famous Mohegan controversy which agitated the colony and England also, and was not finally settled until 1773, 130 years later; and it was, in part at least, a cause of King Philip’s War, because of the colony’s support of the Mohegan against their traditional enemies, the Narragansett and Niantic.

The presence of the Indians in and near the colonies rendered frequent dealings with them a matter of necessity. The English settlers generally purchased their lands from the Indians, paying in such goods or implements or trinkets. In so doing they acquired, as they supposed, a clear title of ownership, though there can be no doubt that what the Indian thought he sold was not the actual soil but only the right to occupy the land in common with himself. As the years wore on, the problems of reservations, trade, and the sale of firearms and liquor engaged the attention of the authorities and led to the passage of many laws. The conversion of the Indians to Christianity became the object of many pious efforts, and in Massachusetts and Plymouth, resulted in communities of “Praying Indians,” estimated in 1675 at about 4,000 individuals. In contact with the white man, the Indian tended to deteriorate. He frequented the settlements often to the annoyance of the men and the dread of the women and children; he got into debt, was incurably slothful and idle, and developed an uncontrollable desire to drink and steal. Where the Indians were not a menace, they were a nuisance, and the colonies passed many laws concerning the Indians which were designed to meet the one condition as well as the other.

But, the real danger to New England came not from those Indians who occupied reservations and hung around the settlements, but from those who, with savage spirit unbroken, were slowly being driven from their hunting grounds and nurtured an implacable hatred against the aggressive and relentless pioneers. The New Englanders numbered at this time some 80,000 individuals, with an adult and fighting population of perhaps 16,000; while the number of the Indians altogether may have reached as high as 12,000, with the Narragansett, the strongest of all, mustering 4,000. The final struggle for possession of the main part of central and southern New England territory came in 1675, in what is known as King Philip’s War.


French Indian War, Felix Carr, about 1870

French Indian War, Felix Carr, about 1870. Click for prints, downloads and products.

Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June 2018.

About This Article: Though part of this article was written by Kathy Weiser of Legends of America, the bottom portion was excerpted from The Fathers of New England: A Chronicle Of The Puritan Commonwealths which was edited by Charles M. Andrews, a professor of history at Bryn Mawr College. It was published by the Yale University Press in 1918.

Also See:

Indian War List and Timeline

Indian Wars of the Frontier

New England Settlements


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