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Sample essay topic, essay writing: The Name Of War, Jill Lepore - 867 words
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Book ReviewThe Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American IdentityOur history books continue to present our country's story in conventional patriotic terms. America being settled by courageous, white colonists who tamed a wilderness and the savages in it. With very few exceptions our society depicts these people who actually first discovered America and without whose help the colonists would not have survived, as immoral, despicable savages who needed to be removed by killing and shipping out of the country into slavery. In her book, The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, Jill Lepore tells us there was another side to the story of King Philip's War. She goes beyond the actual effects of the war to discuss how language, literacy, and privilege have had lasting effects on the legacy that followed it.In 1675, tensions between Native Americans and colonists residing in New England erupted into the brutal conflict that has come to be known as King Philip's War, the bloodiest battle in America history, in proportion to population it was also the deadliest war in American history.
The English colonists wished to rid the country of the Indians in order to seize their land. They believed the Indians were savages and therefore were not worthy of equal rights.The English took their land and disrupted their traditional systems of trade and agriculture. As a result, the power of native religious leaders was corrupted. The Indians were understandably angered by the colonists' insensitive actions, especially since they had treated the English kindly when they first arrived on the Eastern shores.In June of 1675, King Philip, called Metacom by the Indians, led the Wampanoag, Algonquin, Nipmunk, and Narragansett Indians in massive attacks against the English in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The English colonists allied with the Mohegan, Pequot, Mohawk, and Christian Indians and fought back. There were organized raids back and forth which resulted in thousands of murders
On both sides, women and children were killed, tortured, and the survivors sold to slavery. The consequences of this war were considerable. By the time that King Philip was shot, the allied Indian nations had destroyed more than half the English settlements in New England. General devastation was so widespread, the other losses practically forced the colonists to leave New England wholesale. Yet the Indian losses were even greater than those of the English.
Three thousand Narragansett and one thousand Algonquin Indians were killed through fighting, starvation, and disease. Lepore suggests that a significant cause of the war was the fear and ignorance the two groups had for one another. The Algonquin Indians worried that they were becoming like the Europeans because they had taken to wearing Western clothes, living in houses, and reading the bible. On the contrary, the English, far from home, had adopted Native American customs and cuisine, had stopped attending church, and had moved farther and farther inland and away from European settlement. The colonists' principal fear was being mistaken for Indians; so called 'savages'. The tensions between these two groups were primarily based on a fear of their changing identities.Lepore describes how the colonists attempted to cover up their malicious behavior by blaming their wrong-doings on their allies, the Mohegans.
Records of a decapitation of a Narragansett specifically describes that the Mohegans 'delighted' at watching the killing. Their actions are described as 'savage', 'uncivilized,' and 'the perfect children of the devil.' In fact, both the Indians and English colonists participated in creating the same horrific levels of violence.Lepore takes an insightful look at how the colonists distanced themselves from their cruelty. They used their advantage of literacy to cast the war into words; to write about the war and use images and stories which favored themselves and to depict the Indians as cruel, non-human savages. During the time of King Philip's War, most of the male colonists were literate. The majority of the Indians were not because for Indians to learn to read and write they would have had to make cultural changes such as adopting English ways and living in an English-speaking town.
The Indians' illiteracy placed them at a severe disadvantage because their experiences from King Philip's War were not recorded, and if they were no documentation has ever been discovered.The Name of War examines not only names, dates, and the faces of the war, but at several points, searches out elements that are rarely discussed. Lepore's book most valuably describes how the language of war effects not only the present but what will be perceived in the future. Unlike most textbooks taking a one-sided perspective from the English or colonial perspective, Lepore exaggerates how much the Indian perspective needs hearing.Wars are usually fought for a meaningful purpose, to come to some resolution but still today 300 years after the war no resolution was achieved. Written words in American textbooks prolong the continuous strife's that Native Americans have against the English and vice versa. 'In the end, this book is just another story about just another war,' Lepore writes.
But it's more than that, it's vivid, thoughtful and a curiosity seeker for what else our history is hiding from us.
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