Happy Thanksgiving! You probably know that many myths about the holiday still persist. And you probably have Thanksgiving romanticizes, to put it lightly, the history of the United States and the relationship between European and indigenous people.
Throughout history, European settlers have thanked god for help killing off indigenous populations. Because I would literally be here until the next Thanksgiving if I tried to compile all the “thanks for the extermination back up, God” quotes, I’m going to focus on the way a particular massacre inspired gratitude and thanksgiving celebration among the British.
The Mystic Massacre was part of the Pequot War (1637 and 1638), which took place between Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut and Plymouth colonies against the Pequot tribe. The Europeans (Surprise! Surprise!) took advantage of tensions among the different tribes and convinced the Naragansett and Monhegan tribes to join them. On June 5, 1637, the English, supported by the Naragansett and Monhegan, surrounded the fortified village of Mystic, burned it to the ground and killed between 400-700 Pequots. As you will see below, this massacre really added to the celebration of Thanksgiving that year.
Without any further ado, I present some extremely disturbing quotes in which Europeans thank god for helping them burn men, women and children to death.
1. Our victory is due to god, obvs, not to the fact that we set their entire village on fire, with no warning, early in the morning, while they were all asleep. In his Brief History of the Pequot War, Captain John Mason, who helped lead the attack, recalls, that he (speaking about himself in the third person as is, apparently, his wont), “immediately stepping into the Wigwam where he had been before, brought out a Fire-Brand, and putting it into the Matts with which they were covered, set the Wigwams on Fire… and when it was throughly kindled, the Indians ran as Men most dreadfully Amazed.” But it was all god’s doing, obviously:
And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the ALMIGHTY let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished… GOD was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven: Thus were the Stout Hearted spoiled, having slept their last Sleep, and none of their Men could find their Hands: Thus did the LORD judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies…
What besides god’s mercy (and fire) can explain why so many Pequot were killed.
They were taken in their own snare, and we through Mercy escaped. And thus in little more than one Hour’s space was their impregnable Fort with themselves utterly Destroyed, to the Number of six or seven Hundred, as some of themselves confessed. There were only seven taken Captive & about seven escaped.
Just do the math.
2. Sometimes god be that way, and by that way, I mean sometimes he wants you to kill women and children. In his own arson-based humble-brag News from America, Captain John Underhill agrees that using fire and sneak attack to kill men, women and children, is, actually, a very Christian thing to do. He knows people may think it’s not very Jesus like: “It may bee demanded… (as some have said) should not Christians have more mercy and compassion?” But he’s on top of it:
But I would referre you to Davids warre, when a people is growne to such a height of bloud, and sinne against God and man, and all confederates in the action, there hee hath no respect to persons, but harrowes them, and sawes them, and puts them to the sword, and the most terriblest death that may bee : sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents. some-time the case alters.
I mean, sometimes it alters? I’m going to have to say that usually, Jesus, the one you’re supposed to be obsessed with, errs on the side of not killing. But Underhill has this one figure out too: “but we will not dispute it now. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings.” In other words, moving right along… and the project was totally green-lighted.
3. The sweet smell of victory and frying bodies… is definitely god’s work. Plymouth founder and governor William Bradford, wrote the following in his History of Plymouth Plantation:
Those that scaped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces… It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stinck and sente there of; but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.
In other words, the murderers thanked god and prayed to god and god really came through. And how do we know that? Because we won! Quickly! And what else can explain that? (OK. Besides fire.)
4. Nothing says “I love you” or inspires thanksgiving like cutting off heads and hands! Philip Vincent, who may or may not have been involved in the Pequot War, wrote a book about it nonetheless, and it was a big hit, possibly because of its catchy name, A True Relation of the Late Battell fought in New England, between the English, and the Salvages: With the present state of things there. After the massacre, the captive Pequots were sold to Bermuda as slaves or used as slaves by the British and the tribes with whom they collaborated. Or… they were killed by the Mowhacks. Vincent gets all verklempt when he recalls how how this tribe trickster “salvages” crushed on the British hard by presenting them with the hands and heads of the Pequots: “These cruell, but wily Mowhacks, in contemplation of the English, and to procure their friendship, entertaine the fugitive Pequets and their Captaine, by cutting off all their heads and hands, which they sent to the English, as a testimony of their love and service.” And without missing a beat, Vincent writes, “A day of thanksgiving was solemnly celebrated for this happie successe, the Pequetans now seeming nothing but a name.”