In Brethren by Nature, Margaret Ellen Newell reveals a little-known aspect of American history: English colonists in New England enslaved thousands of Indians. Massachusetts became the first English colony to legalize slavery in 1641, and the colonists' desire for slaves shaped the major New England Indian wars, including the Pequot War of 1637, King Philip's War of 1675-76, and the northeastern Wabanaki conflicts of 1676-1749.
Newell also explains how slavery linked the fate of Africans and Indians. The trade in Indian captives connected New England to Caribbean and Atlantic slave economies. Indians labored on sugar plantations in Jamaica, tended fields in the Azores, and rowed English naval galleys in Tangier. Indian slaves outnumbered Africans within New England before 1700, but the balance soon shifted. Fearful of the growing African population, local governments stripped Indian and African servants and slaves of legal rights and personal freedoms.
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"Margaret Ellen Newell aims to put Indian slavery into the forefront of the economic and legal history of colonial New England… and brilliantly succeeds in that goal." (Daniel Mandell, Truman State University)
"Brethren by Nature offers a well-researched and beautifully written examination of the evolution of Indian slavery in New England… This book makes an important contribution to scholarship on colonial, early national, Native American, and Atlantic World history as well as to studies of race and slavery." (Joanne Pope Melish, University of Kentucky)
"Margaret Ellen Newell's vibrant Brethren by Nature recovers an almost lost history of slavery and servitude in colonial New England. Through poignant stories and insights gleaned from legal records, she proves that unfree labor was ubiquitous in early America." (Peter Mancall, University of Southern California)
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