Early on the morning of 29 February 1704, a French and Indian war party opened fire on the small fortified town of Deerfield, Massachusetts and took captive the eminent Puritan minister, John Williams, his wife and their five children. Two and a half years later Reverend Williams was released and returned to Boston amid public celebration but his ...
Early on the morning of 29 February 1704, a French and Indian war party opened fire on the small fortified town of Deerfield, Massachusetts and took captive the eminent Puritan minister, John Williams, his wife and their five children. Two and a half years later Reverend Williams was released and returned to Boston amid public celebration but his daughter Eunice remained behind. In The Unredeemed Captive, John Demos tells the story of the decades-long attempt to 'redeem' her. She became the subject of fervent prayer across New England and expeditions to release her but always remained out of reach until the worst fears were confirmed: Eunice became so absorbed in her new culture that she forgot her native language, married a young Mohawk and refused to return to Deerfield. Her dramatic and extraordinary story is one of race, religion, and the conflict between two cultures, it is beautifully told by Demos in this remarkable history book.
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Dr. Demos sets the story of white captives in context. The taking of John Williams and his family, among others during a raid on Deerfield, Mass. by Indians allied to the French is the beginning of the 'story.' Eunice Williams, his daughter, was not returned to New England when others in the group were traded back for Frenchmen held captive in New England or ransomed. Eunice was adopted by an Indian family when she was 'captured.' Later she married an Indian and became completely acculturated to the Indian way of life and converted to Catholicism. She chose not to be 'redeemed.'
Using Eunice and the Williams family situation as a spring board, Dr. Demos discusses the Indian way of life and that of the New Englanders. The impact of the various wars between the French and the British in North America on the situation is touched upon.
What I learned is that Eunice Williams did visit her relatives in Massachusetts after her father died. Unfortunately, the women of the family did not visit her in her home situation. Perhaps they would have seen the differences in culture and the rights of women which could have created more discord in the Protestant patriarchy of New England.
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