Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England by Ann M. Little

By Ann M. Little

In 1678, the Puritan minister Samuel Nowell preached a sermon he known as "Abraham in Arms," within which he recommended his listeners to recollect that "Hence it really is no wayes unbecoming a Christian to benefit to be a Souldier." The identify of Nowell's sermon was once good selected. Abraham of the outdated testomony resonated deeply with New England males, as he embodied the appropriate of the householder-patriarch, without delay obedient to God and the unquestioned chief of his kinfolk and his humans in battle and peace. but enemies challenged Abraham's authority in New England: Indians threatened the protection of his loved ones, subordinates in his circle of relatives threatened his prestige, and better halves and daughters taken into captivity turned baptized Catholics, married French or Indian males, and refused to come back to New England.In a daring reinterpretation of the years among 1620 and 1763, Ann M. Little unearths how principles approximately gender and relations existence have been principal to the methods humans in colonial New England, and their buddies in New France and Indian nation, defined their studies in cross-cultural conflict. Little argues that English, French, and Indian humans had commonly comparable rules approximately gender and authority. simply because they understood either war and political strength to be intertwined expressions of manhood, colonial conflict can be understood as a competition of other types of masculinity. for brand new England males, what had as soon as been a masculinity in keeping with family headship, Christian piety, and the obligation to guard relations and religion grew to become one equipped round the extra summary notions of British nationalism, anti-Catholicism, and soldiering for the Empire.Based on archival study in either French and English assets, court docket files, captivity narratives, and the personal correspondence of ministers and battle officers, Abraham in hands reconstructs colonial New England as a frontier borderland during which non secular, cultural, linguistic, and geographic limitations have been permeable, fragile, and contested via Europeans and Indians alike.

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Military officers were elected annually, an artillery company was organized, and men of mustering age were required to attend monthly or bimonthly training exercises and present their weapons for inspection there. Despite the fact that many New Haven and Connecticut men saw action in the Pequot War, compliance with these duties was not 100 per­ cent-in fact, missing watch duty or militia training was probably the most common offense cited in early New England records. 28 Furthermore, most military historians agree that the quality of soldier produced by these hap­ hazard musters was rather poor by professional European standards.

John Davenport, who would distin­ guish himself as one of the most orthodox and longest-lived of New En­ gland's first generation of ministers, penned a pamphlet justifying a citi­ zen's militia in the year that Charles I dismissed Parliament. Davenport's A Royall Edict for Military Exercises (1629) explains that "that which tends to the Common peace, and safetie, must be practised by all: but the use of the Bow tends to the Common peace and safety: Ergo. " Bows and arrows were not literally the only legitimate weapons, however: "every Family is commanded the use of the Bow and Ar­ rowes, under a penalty: and masters are bound to teach children, and ser­ vants, from seven to seventeen therein.

Father Joseph Lafitau, a Jesuit mission­ ary in Canada from 1712 to 1717, notes that those who spoke with "wit and savoir faire . . " These talents could be turned against enemies and used skillfully to intimidate them. Taunting the enemy with words as well as arrows, har­ quebuses, and muskets was a common element in Indian warfare before the arrival of European enemies. "so Because of its importance to Native and English political cultures and constructions of masculinity, this kind of verbal jousting is characteristic of Anglo-Indian warfare through the colonial period and is evident before any shots were fired in the Pequot War.

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