Jill Lepore's the Name of War: A Book Review

Essay by sherryshaoUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, November 2014

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From the time of their first arrival in the 1620s and 1630s, New England colonists, who

had left England and its persecutions and corruptions, were worried about losing their

Englishness and further sought to preserve this identity1. These doubts, however, only magnified

as the years passed2. They believed that the Indians living amongst them were either native to the

New World, therefore making them one with their surroundings and savage like the wilderness

they resided in, or descendents of Europeans of the Old World who had migrated over in earlier

times, therefore suggesting that the wilderness they resided in slowly led them to their

degeneration into savages3. Regardless, both hypotheses instilled fear in the colonists, especially

with the realization that they would be expected to degenerate in the same way. Contradictory to

their ideal to build "a city upon a hill" for all of Europe to admire, many feared that they would

become more and more savage with each passing year4.

King Philip's War was initiated with the discovery of John Sassamon's bruised body

floating under the ice at Assawompset Pond in February 16755. Three Wampanoag men were

charged and executed for his murder in June6. Days later, a group of enraged Indians raided the

English settlement of Swansea, followed by countless more raids from the Wampanoags,

Nipmucks, Narragansetts, Abenakis, and Pocumtucks7. English colonists retaliated by adopting

similar methods of warfare, raiding and burning villages and crops, and capturing, enslaving,

and/or murdering men, women, and children8. By July 1676, dozens of towns and villages were

destroyed, the colonies' economy was in ruins, and both English and Indian populations were 1 Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (New York: Vintage Books, a division of...