Sunday, July 10, 2011

Readings in American History

Russell often reads me tidbits from the books he's reading. I've posted them occasionally in the past (the first that comes to mind ended up in my blogger profile), but today1 it occurred to me that maybe I should make these a more formal (if sporadic) feature. For now they'll be called "Readings in American History" (following my first-year humanities course at Chicago, Readings in World Literature). The title may change, but he's on an American (or at least North American) history2 reading kick right now so it should suffice for now.

A bit of Crucible of War: The Seven Years War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 by Fred Anderson:
Of more immediate consequence for the governments of Pennsylvania and Virginia was an event that occurred not long not long after the [treaty] conference [at Logstown, PA in the spring of 1752] ended, two hundred miles farther west, at Pickawillany--the Miami town where George Croghan and his associates maintained their trading post. At about nine o'clock on the morning of June 21, 1752, a party of about 180 Chippewa and 30 Ottawa warriors, accompanied by 30 French soldiers from Detroit under the command of a French-Ottawa office named Charles-Michel Mouet de Langlade, attacked the settlement. Most of Pickawillany's men were away hunting; most of its women, who had been working in the cornfields, were made captive. After a six-hour attack, Langlade called a cease-fire. He would, he said, return the women and spare the defenders (who numbered only about twenty) if they agreed to surrender to the traders. Lacking any alternative, the defenders agreed, then looked on while the raiders demonstrated what the consequences of trading with the English could be. First they dispatched a wounded trader "and took out his heart and eat it"; then they turned their attention to the settlement's headman, Memeskia. This chief, known to the French as La Demoiselle, had lately acquired a new sobriquet, Old Briton, from Croghan and his colleagues. Now, to repay "his attachment to the English" and to acquire his powers for themselves, the raiders "boiled [him] and eat him all up." Then, with five profoundly apprehensive traders and a vast amount of booty in hand, they returned to Detroit. Behind them lay the smoking ruin that, twenty-four house earlier, had been one of the largest settlements and the richest trading point went of the Appalachians. (28-29)
This falls into the "weren't things great back then?" category.
  1. Incidentally, today's our anniversary.
  2. A Seven Years War / War of 1812 kick to be more precise.


  1. Wow, that's pretty gruesome and brutal. Why do we never seem to learn from the past...I wish I was smart and determined enough to read books like this.

    Happy Anniversary :)

    (I'm glad that I'm not a standard blogger!)

  2. This particular book is a monster. Definitely not one that I'd attempt to read.