Keith Hunt - Religion and Profit together Restitution of All

  Home Navigation & Word Search

The Americas BEFORE the white man

Coming of False Religion, Killing, and Profit

Much of TRUE history you have probably never been taught in
school. Yet it is recorded and yes SOME people are led to dig it
out and present to us. Ronald Wright is one of those rare
individuals who in this space-age 21st century, brings us history
that has either been deliberately pushed to the back shelf, or
just ignorantly missed or cast away as "Well whose bothered
anyway about things hundreds of years ago." I'm glad some are and
some present us with the real historical facts.  This is one of
them, the truth about the people in the Americas BEFORE the white
man came. From Wright's book "What is America." And Wright backs
up all presented in his book with so many "notes" on each chapter,
it could also be described as a book unto itself, being from
page 227 to 327; and a biblography of 20 pages - Keith Hunt


(True history has often been put on the back shelf, and left out
of school history classes, or jumped over so fast most never see
it go by - Keith Hunt)

From the book "What is America" by Ronald Wright

Thou ... hast washed thy feet in the blood of those native
unnatural Traitors, and now becomest a pure English virgin; a new
other Britain, in that new other World: and let all English say

-Samuel Purchas, 1623

Indian-hating still exists; and, no doubt, will continue to
exist, so long as Indians do. 

- Herman Melville, 1857

The conquest of the earth ... is not a pretty thing when you look
into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only ... something
you can set up, and bow down before.

- Joseph Conrad,1899


EMPIRES ARE BY NATURE PARASITIC. Anglo-America was no exception.
The European invasion of North America was reminiscent of events
to the south, though with important differences: instead of a
single great conquest, there were many small ones. Yet "conquest"
is a word seldom used to describe what happened north of Mexico.
The national myth of the United States is built on softer words:
"settlement, pioneering, opening up." When Theodore Roosevelt
wrote his epic of American expansion, he called it "The Winning
of the West," as if the country changed hands in a tough yet
gentlemanly poker game. However, a century after Roosevelt, the
American historian Patricia Limerick states: "There is no clearer
fact in American history than the fact of conquest. In North
America, just as much as in South America, Africa, Asia, and
Australia, Europeans invaded a land fully occupied by natives."

Throughout the three centuries of Spanish rule in Mexico and
Peru, Europeans kept the whip hand yet never outnumbered the
descendants of the conquered. But in North America, native
peoples became so weakened by disease and warfare, and so many
newcomers poured in from Europe and multiplied, that the English
invaders form of parasitism became the kind that kills the host.

In 1867 Francis Parkman, America's popular historian of the
mid-nineteenth century, wrote, "The Indians melted away, not
because civilization destroyed them, but because their own
ferocity and intractable indolence made it impossible that they
should exist in its presence." In other words, Indians were not
merely unlucky enough to be run over by civilization's advance
but, by being both savage and lazy, were actually to blame for
their own extermination. Echoes of this blame-the-victim rhetoric
would be heard a century later in Vietnam - with the argument
that it was necessary to destroy the village, or even the
country, in order to pacify it. As Limerick adds: "It is no easy
matter to distinguish the lessons of the Indian wars from the
lessons of Vietnam."


The first successful British attempt to settle in North America
began in May 1607, in what is now Virginia, on the Powhatan
River, renamed the James River in honour of the king who had
recently succeeded the Virgin Queen. The hundred English who
landed there had some earlier intelligence, wrung from Americans
who had been taken to London on previous voyages. Even so, things
got off to a bad start. The site chosen for Jamestown, about 40
miles upstream from the south end of Chesapeake Bay, was marshy,
unhealthy and unlikely to fulfill the investors' aim of finding
"all Manner of Mines of Gold, Silver, and Copper."
During the first summer, half the English died (perhaps from
malaria, an Old World sickness spreading north from the
Caribbean). More settlers came, only to suffer hideously in the
"starving time" of 1609-10, when some were reduced to
cannibalism, eating "the very Hides of their Horses and the
Bodies of the Indians they had killed." One man, caught hoarding
the salted flesh of his wife, was burned alive for his crime. The
survivors decided to abandon the colony, but on the very day they
were leaving, ships turned up with reinforcements - a timely
deliverance attributed to God.

The local Americans belonged to the Powhatan Confederacy, a
recent alliance or conquest-state of some thirty tribes living in
two hundred towns and villages.  Their capital, Powhatan, was
eighty miles further upriver, by the falls where Richmond,
Virginia, now stands. Some 250 years later, this place would
become the capital of a much bigger but much shorter-lived
confederacy: the Confederate States of America.

The Powhatans were not entirely naive about Europeans. In the
1570s they had obliterated a Spanish fort and mission on
Chesapeake Bay, and it is even possible that their leader,
Wahunsonacock - a man in his sixties whom the English called
"King Powhatan" - had had a hand in the demise of Roanoke. He
could easily have wiped out the struggling Jamestown colony on
several occasions. But he chose not to, most likely because he
sought European weapons and goods for his own political ends.
Although the Powhatan Confederacy did not reach far beyond the
tidewater lands of Chesapeake Bay, it seems to have been
influenced by the larger polities Soto had seen on his      
rampage further inland. At the head town, the English visited a
cluster of lordly buildings on top of a steep hill or mound they
called "Powhatan's Tower," where the king, flanked by a retinue
of tattooed men and women, sat in "a great robe made of raccoon
skins." At another town, the English saw a hilltop temple nearly
a hundred feet long. The economy, as elsewhere, was based mainly
on maize. The newcomers acknowledged that without local supplies
of "Bread, Corne, Fish, and Flesh in great plentie which was the
setting up of our feeble men ... we had all perished."


King Powhatan and John Smith, Jamestown's most famous and
possibly most able leader, were two of a kind: headstrong and
wily, with a mutual regard based on self-interest. Powhatan's
spirited daughter Pocahontas - still a girl when the strangers
arrived - spent much of her time with the English, picking up
their language and performing cartwheels in the fort. The old
tale of her saving Smith's life may be apocryphal, but she did
marry his fellow settler John Rolfe in 1614. The couple and
several leading Powhatans visited King James in England, where
Pocahontas bore a son before she sickened and died near London in
1617. This bedroom alliance helped stave off open race warfare
for several years, though there was often trouble over the
colonists' raids for food. John Smith called his unruly settlers
"ten times more fit to spoil a commonwealth ... than to begin
one." In the harsh winter of 1609-10, an exasperated King
Powhatan told him: "I know the difference between peace and war
better than any man in my country .... Why will you take by force
what you may quietly have by love? Why will you destroy us who
supply you with food? What can you get by war?" Some Englishmen
were given a practical warning: left dead beside the road, their
mouths "stopped full of Bread ... as it seemeth in Contempt."


Over the fifteen years between 1607 and 1622, as many as ten
thousand colonists may have landed, of whom up to eight thousand
died from hunger, illness and violence, worsened by bad
leadership, embezzlement and oppression. The settlement's death
rate was deemed shocking even at a time when lives were hard and
short. "Instead of a Plantation," one resident protested,
Virginia "will shortly get the name of a slaughterhouse." Others
defected to the Powhatans, risking the penalties of treason.
"Many fled for relief to the savages," said a contemporary
report, "but were taken again, and hung, shot, or broken upon the


The colony survived because of sustained, if not steady, backing
from London and a stream of hopeful incomers, not so much drawn
as driven across the Atlantic by wars and worsening conditions at
home, especially the enclosure (the appropriation by landlords)
of common lands. The ultimate success of Jamestown was determined
by a new and lucrative addictionthe famous "Sot-Weed," or
tobacco, later immortalized by the poet Ebenezer Cooke in the
1700s and the novelist John Barth in the 1960s. The colonists had
shown little interest in growing maize, but tobacco was another
matter. Like opium in Victorian times and cocaine in ours, the
weed made its own way to the purse through the brain.
In 1612, a couple of years before he married Pocahontas, John
Rolfe began to plant a mild Caribbean variety that was already in
demand in London from Spanish sources. In 1616 Jamestowners sent
more than a ton of this new crop to England; three years later,
when they shipped ten tons, the colony showed its first real
return on investment, at last turning "smoke into gold," as Queen
Elizabeth had once joked with her wily courtier Sir Walter
Raleigh. The tonnage soon soared into the hundreds and thousands.
By the outbreak of the American Revolution, about one-sixth of
the Thirteen Colonies' exports (by value) would be tobacco.


Unlike the initial trade in furs, which had required cooperation
between the old Americans and the new, tobacco demanded land -
and docile hands. Most of the early workers were indentured
whites from the London slums and Indians who had been hired or
enslaved. The forgotten story of thralldom in America is that
many early slaves were indigenous Americans, usually war
prisoners sold by their captors in return for guns, copper and
other trade goods. Another sinister precedent was set in 1619,
when the privateer White Lyon brought some twenty Africans to the
colony - the first known shipment of the millions who would be
sold in North America over the next two hundred years.
At about this time, the colony ended landholding in common, a
practice that had blunted competition with the Powhatans and
among the whites themselves. When James town's leaders converted
the prime land into private estates, lesser fry and newcomers had
to fan out into the backcountry and take what they could from the
Indians. The self-replicating machinery of encroachment and
conquest that would gnaw its way across the continent had been


The white migrants of this period were not yet "Americans" except
in a geographical sense. They were British (and a few other
Europeans), largely unchanged by their new home, behaving with
all the desperation, superstition and showy violence of early
post-Medieval Europe. (Sir Walter Raleigh's half-brother Sir
Humphrey Gilbert, for example, had been well known in Ireland for
lining the way to his field tent with a Kurtz-like avenue of
trophy heads.

The old Americans were certainly not pacifists either. Like
Europe, America had been bloodied for centuries by war among its
nations. Neither race had a monopoly on violence or on virtue;
both practised massacre, torture and differing forms of slavery.
The moral distinction between them is simply that Europe invaded
America, not the reverse. Even under the rudimentary
international law of that time, the indigenous people of the
Americas held a right to self-defence.
In 1618 old King Powhatan died and was succeeded by his brother
Opechancanough. With rising encroachment, sickness and
interracial crime, the shaky peace between locals and intruders
at last began to break down. A charismatic "prophet" arose,
calling for a return to the happy days before the English,
telling Opechancanough that the pristine world could be restored
by a mix of military and sacred power - a message much like Joan
of Arc's in fifteenth-century France. Such movements, called
"crisis cults" by anthropologists, often arise in desperate
times; this was the first of many that would inspire native
resistance in America for the next three centuries, ending in the
famous Ghost Dance on the Great Plains in the 1880s.


The Jamestown authorities struck first: in March 1622 they killed
the agitator on a trumped-up murder charge. Days later
Opechancanough launched his well-planned attack. About 350
colonists, one-fourth of the total, died as Powhatans fighters
swept through outlying plantations. But the whites regrouped,
held the fort at Jamestown and fought back with everything they
had. They even poisoned two hundred Powhatans at a peace
conference while toasting "eternal friendship" - a deed that may
well be the first but would not be the last of its kind.

The Powhatan War was put to good use by those who had been
seeking an excuse to dispense with diplomacy and the faraway
Crown's good name. Under European concepts of Natural Law,
another people's sovereignty could be abolished by treaty, by
conquest or by declaring them to be subhuman barbarians (the
standard excuse for slavery). While American peoples stayed at
peace or allied with the English, there was no lawful way to
extinguish their title without their agreement, which the
Powhatans had been careful not to give. When John Smith had used
language suggesting that the English monarch was King Powhatans
"father" (meaning overlord), the "subtile Salvage" answered, "I
am also a king, and this my land ... neither will I bite at such
a baite."
But now, with victory, the colonist Edward Waterhouse could

     We, who hitherto have had possession of no more ground than
     their waste ... may now by right of Warre, and law of
     Nations, invade the Country, and destroy them who sought to
     destroy us: whereby wee shall enjoy their cultivated places,
     turning the laborious Mattocke into the victorious Sword ...
     and possessing the fruits of others' labours. Now their
     cleared grounds in all their villages (which are situate in
     the fruitfullest places of the land) shall be inhabited by

This is one of the clearest statements in American history of how
the land was won. Here, at that history's dawn, Waterhouse lays
bare the business end of the conquest machine: the new Americans
assault and encroach on the old Americans until they provoke a
counterattack, which is sometimes planned by the native
leadership and at other times carried out by a radical splinter
group. The white authorities then express outrage at what
bloodthirsty "barbarians" have done to God-fearing tillers of the
earth. A punitive war is then launched with overwhelming force -
a war of "civilization" against "savagery," in which the first
Americans are driven further into the "wilderness" or
exterminated on the spot.

Such rhetoric is not, of course, exclusive to America. It is
heard wherever rival peoples fight for the same turf - the Middle
East and Northern Ireland come immediately to mind. In American
expansion, such talk outlived the Indian Wars. It was heard in
the Philippines, in Korea, in Vietnam and most recently from both
George Bushes when speaking of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Waterhouse's statement also confirms that the best land was fully
cultivated by the original Americans and that they built in the
"fruitfullest" spots. Like Powhatan's capital, most native towns
soon became white ones - a transition that explains why
archaeologists find relatively few remains of ancient American
settlements, especially in the East. Absence of evidence is not
necessarily evidence of absence.


But absence was exactly what the whites now wanted. The historian
Francis Jennings has shown how English attitudes toward
indigenous Americans underwent a profound change after the
Powhatan War. Until 1622 the English had acknowledged the native
peoples to be settled agriculturalists in organized societies
with towns, leaders, customary laws and, therefore, inherent
rights of sovereignty and ownership. King Powhatan was fulsomely
described as "a great emperour," his subjects having "their own
Magistrates for good commanding ... that would be counted very
civill." But after the war, the Indians (whom Smith himself had
called "poore innocent soules" misused by his colonists) suddenly
became demonized as "Outlawes of Humanity." Their beliefs were
condemned as devil-worship and the word savages now took on its
full pejorative freight.

Demonization happens in all wars, but this propaganda lived on
and solidified into a cornerstone of white entitlement. Myths
usually enjoy a certain obscurity around their birth, and it is
not often that historians can trace a political fiction back to
the instant when it pecks its shell. Yet this one can be securely
placed in the years 1622-25 and within the influential writings
of the Essex clergyman Samuel Purchas. He never saw the New World
for himself but drew freely on information from his friend John
Smith and others who did. Purchas knew very well "that the
Virginia Indians were sedentary and agricultural and that the
Jamestown colonists had been preserved from total starvation by
Indian farm produce." In his earliest writings, published in 1613
(shortly before the wedding of John Rolphe and Pocahontas),
Purchas had emphasized the importance of fair dealing according
to "the milde Law of nature, not that violent law of Armes."

But after the war, Samuel Purchas quickly hatched a Big Lie.
America became, in his words, an "unmanned wild Countrey" that
the Indians "range rather than inhabite." At a stroke, settled
farmers were magicked into rootless nomads, and from there it was
a short step to conclude that such people, especially when guilty
of "disloyal treason" (as he redundantly put it), had no right to
the land. "Future dangers," Purchas went on, should "be prevented
by the extirpation of the more dangerous, and commodities also
raised out of the servileness and serviceablenesse of the rest."
In other words, Indians who posed a threat should be exterminated
and docile ones, enslaved. Either way, all could lawfully be


The lie grew long legs, and it is still widely believed today.
Two centuries after Purchas, President Jackson would use it to
justify his "removal" of the Five Civilized Tribes from the South
in the 1830s, describing Cherokees, Creeks and others - corn
farmers descended from the pyramid builders who had seen off
Hernando de Soto - as having "traversed but not occupied" the


The history of white America runs down through time in two
gathering streams that eventually collide in the Civil War of
1861-65. The slave-owning South flows from the Virginia
plantations, while the entrepreneurial North rises from Plymouth
and other colonies founded in New England a few years later by
Puritans and profiteers. The latter categories weren't mutually
exclusive: "religion and profit jump together," wrote one of New
England's leaders.

In December 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers alighted from the Mayflower
at Plymouth Rock. Every American schoolchild learns this
nation-founding fact. What they seldom learn is that the Pilgrims
were soon accosted there in fluent English by a lonely,
grief-stricken Wampanoag - a member of the same people whom
Verrazzano had visited at Rhode Island nearly a century before.
On the face of it, this man, whose name was Squanto, had little
reason to be friendly. About 1615 he had been kidnapped in a
slave raid on the Massachusetts coast, probably by an associate
of John Smith - taken to Spain and sold in a Malaga slave market.
Somehow he escaped, made his way to England and returned via
Newfoundland to Massachusetts, an amazing journey that took him
four years.


When Squanto got back, he found his hometown, Patuxet, inhabited
only by the dead, "a new found Golgatha" strewn with human bones.
A plague or mix of plagues (likely including smallpox) had struck
the New England coast, killing nine out of ten in many places and
everyone at Patuxet. Smallpox was terrible enough for Europeans,
but because native Americans had no immunity, they caught it far
more easily and suffered more severely: "They lie on their hard
mats, the pox breaking and mattering and running. [And] when they
turn them, a whole side will flay off at once as it were, and
will be all of a gore blood, most fearful to behold ... they die
like rotten sheep."


Word of Squanto's town - with empty houses, worked fields and
cribs full of corn - had reached the Pilgrims during a landfall
at Cape Cod. They sailed on to Patuxet, renamed it Plymouth
and moved in. "The good hand of God favoured our beginnings [by]
sweeping away great multitudes of the natives," their leader
wrote, "that he might make room for us."
Despite the Almighty's favour, about half the would-be settlers
died that winter of hunger and scurvy. Like the Jamestowners, the
Plymouth colonists were mostly fighters, traders and townsfolk,
unskilled on the land. Late December was a bad time to turn up in
North America anyway, especially after a long crossing. Once
they'd eaten everything in the ghost town of Patuxet-Plymouth,
the Pilgrims began raiding the country for miles around. The
decimated Wampanoags were not a rich source of supply, even at
gunpoint. Meanwhile, their western neighbours and traditional
foe, the Narragansetts, had avoided the worst of the plague and
were threatening the Patuxet region. Probably for this reason,
Squanto and other survivors decided to help the newcomers. In the
spring, they made peace with the English, teaching them how to
grow maize and other American crops and later how to repay the
Earth with the autumn festival of Thanksgiving.   

(Yes, the festival of "Thanksgiving" in North America came from
the Natives, NOT from the word of God, the Bible, that these
deceived "Christians" claimed to follow. There is a whole indepth
study on this website about the truth concerning "Thanksgiving" -
Keith Hunt)

The Pilgrims thanked their God for saving them in a "wilderness,"
but the feast speaks for itself: turkey, corn, beans, pumpkin,
cranberries, potatoes and the rest came from thou sands of years
of New World civilization. It was the heathen, not the Lord, who
saved them. Without Squanto and Patuxet, the Plymouth colony
might have gone the way of Roanoke.


Although the English had at first been reluctant to grow American
corn, hunger proved the best spice. Nowadays, most maize in the
United States is processed or fed to livestock, but for the early
white farmers it became the staff of life, eaten as cornbread,
succotash and hominy, or "hasty pudding." Corn, the Iroquois
ethnologist Arthur Parker wrote in the 1920s, became "the bridge
over which English civilization crept ... to a foothold and a
permanent occupation of America." Alexis de Tocqueville saw this
process for himself when he visited the edge of white settlement
in 1831, a tiny hamlet called Pontiac in the Michigan woods
beyond an "American village" called Detroit. "Corn is
providential in the wilds," a settler told him. "It grows in the
water of our marshes and pushes up under the foliage of the
forests ... It is corn that saves the emigrant's family from
inevitable destruction."


The Pilgrims of Patuxet repaid their native hosts in two ways. In
1622 Squanto and other Wampanoags died in yet another wave of
European disease. That was accidental. The second way was clearly
intentional. About 1630 William Bradford, a leader of Plymouth,
began writing a polemical history of his flock. Although only a
decade had passed since the Pilgrims' arrival - and the help
given by the Wampanoags must still have been fresh in their minds
- Bradford didn't care about the facts. What mattered was the

     [They had] no friends to welcome them ... no houses or much
     less towns to repair to, to seek for succour [and] these
     savage barbarians, when they met with them ... were readier
     to fill their sides full of arrows than otherwise. What
     could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full
     of wild beasts and wild men ... What could now sustain them
     but the Spirit of God and His Grace?

This New England contribution to Purchas's Big Lie isn't even
internally consistent. How can a "desolate wilderness" supposedly
without houses or fields be "full of wild men"? Yet Bradford's
work made its way through the centuries into other books and has
shaped white America's perception of itself for a dozen
generations. Tocqueville himself reproduced whole pages from a
history of New England published in 1826, unaware that the author
had lifted much of it from Bradford verbatim, including the
passage quoted above. 


Although Pilgrims controlled the Plymouth colony, only
about a third of the hundred migrants aboard the Mayflower had
been card-carrying members of the Pilgrim sect. Also known as
"Separatists," these people differed from Puritans in general    
by withdrawing from the Church of England instead of hoping to
reform it. The main Puritan colony of Massachusetts Bay was
founded at Boston in 1630. Further north, up the coast at
Naumkeag, or Salem (later famous for its so-called witches), a
mixed group of settlers arrived at the end of the 1620s. In all
these places, recent plagues had greatly reduced, though not
eliminated, the original inhabitants.


Both mainstream Puritans and Pilgrims saw themselves as modern
Saints migrating from the Old World to the New (a belief system
that would eventually spawn the Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons, in
the 1830s). They were the new Israelites, a chosen people on a
divine "errand" to transform a supposed wilderness into a
promised land, as commanded by the Lord in the Book of Genesis:

"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy
father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will
make of thee a great nation." As a Puritan town meeting was said
to have voted in 1640 after becoming troubled in conscience about
taking Indian land: "1. The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness
thereof. 2. The Lord can dispose of the Earth to his Saints. 3.
We are his Saints."

If America was a second Canaan, turned over to the Saints by God,
it was also occupied by "Canaanites" - dusky descendants of Ham,
with whom racial mixing was forbidden. The Puritans' attitude
toward American Indians was therefore deeply conflicted from the
start: on the one hand, they saw it as their duty to win the
"heathen" to the God of Love; on the other they rejoiced when
Jehovah reverted to Old Testament form and smote the heathen with
plagues or intervened in battle on the invaders' behalf. The oval
seal of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay, struck in
1629, has a Latin inscription surrounding a crude image of a
naked Indian, from whose mouth issues a speech-bubble with the
words "Come over and help us." It is perhaps the first product of
the American advertising industry and by no means the least


In the end the Puritans had it both ways: they were not above
slaughtering Indians and selling them into slavery; yet they
later established small communities of "Praying Indians," whose
descendants were among the few native Easterners not driven west
by warfare or "removed" in ethnic cleansing by the early United


Both cultures became deeply changed through contact, a process
that would continue along the rolling frontier for centuries,
creating (as the historian Frederick Jackson Turner recognized in
1893) a hybrid society wherever native and white America traded
blows, goods and ideas. The well known exchange was of vices, the
new Americans taking up tobacco and giving the old Americans
liquor in return. Less well known is the degree to which white
settlers became Americanized in subtler ways. Of the hundreds of
words that passed into English, some - such as the Algonquian
"caucus" express abstractions as well as things. At the time of
the Revolution, the native language was still widely spoken, even
by whites, on the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket,
where Praying Wampanoags dominated the early whale fishery.
Massachusetts Bay used wampum, the indigenous shell currency, as
legal tender for decades. And that colony's law forbidding whites
from building wigwams instead of Englishstyle houses gives a
strikingly fresh picture of what early Boston must have looked
like. It also reveals white fears of "going native." When Thomas
Morton, a settler who enjoyed genial relations with his Indian
neighbours, invited them to a Maypole Dance at his farm near
Plymouth "to see the manner of our Revels," the scandalized
Pilgrims condemned him as a Lord of Misrule and deported him."


The greatest Puritan fears, however, lay in the spiritual realm.
In 1642 a young man named Thomas Granger was caught having sex
with a horse, admitting further pleasures with "a cow, two goats,
five sheep, two calves and a turkey." The judges wanted to know
whether he had acquired his tastes in Old England or New -
fearing the latter, because "Satan hath more power in these
heathen lands." Relieved to learn that Granger's habits hailed
from the mother country, they executed him along with all the
four-footed sinners who could be identified.

There's little doubt that the Salem witch hunt of the early 1690s
owed much of its ferocity to the Puritans' feelings of isolation
on the edge of a dark continent and their dread that Satan was
out for revenge on those who had killed or converted so many of
his native subjects. "The devil was exceedingly disturbed," wrote
the Puritan divine and prolific author Cotton Mather in his
"Wonders of the Invisible World," - "and is now making one more
attempt upon us."


The political events in early New England were complex, with
constant strife among the various English and American players.

The Plymouth colony eventually became absorbed by the Puritan
Massachusetts Bay Company, which was much bigger and better
funded. Connecticut began early in the 1630s as a dissident
offshoot of Massachusetts Bay. There were also Puritans in the
South (the law books of Jamestown were full of moral strictures),
but the dominant feeling there was "Damn your souls! Make
tobacco!" Mainstream Puritans treated other sects - Quakers,
Baptists, Antinomians and the like - as heretics and outcasts,
forcing them to make their own colonies in Rhode Island.
One of the shabbier intercolonial fights was Plymouth's overthrow
of Wessagusset, a small Anglican colony at peace with local
Indians and therefore a rival in both religion and the fur trade.
On the pretext of "saving" Wessagusset from a nonexistent Indian
plot, a Plymouth force murdered some of the colony's native
allies in cold blood and made the deed stick to the Anglicans -
who then did come under Indian attack and fled back to England.
"The trick," wrote Francis Jennings, was "diverting the blame to
the 'savages.'" It was a trick that would be played again many
times, most famously in 1773 at the Boston Tea Party, and most
bloodily in 1857 at Mountain Meadows, Utah, where more than a
hundred California-bound migrants were slaughtered by "Indians"
who were mainly Mormons in fancy dress and greasepaint.

"In our enchantment with the ideal of democracy," wrote Leland
Dewitt Baldwin in his masterly "American Quest for the City of
God," - "we have [asserted] the myth that the American colonies
were settled to ensure political and religious liberty. Doubtless
some of the colonizers did have this aim, but in by far the most
cases they refused liberty to others.... Baptists were scourged
and Quakers hanged."


The power of faith, especially of a fundamentalist turn, in the
life and politics of the United States is unique among major
modern countries. "No Western nation is as religion soaked as
ours," writes the cultural critic Harold Bloom, adding that this
"demands some understanding, if our doomeager society is to be
understood at all." Many a conversation between an American and a
European founders on the rock of piety. In short, most Americans
believe that God takes a direct hand in human affairs; most other
westerners do not. And many in the United States, like their
Puritan forebears, are so certain they are privy to the
Almighty's intentions that they are willing to help him carry
them out: some in the positive ways of altruism; others in
bigotry and on the battlefield. With their sense of being actors
in a war between good and evil fought on Earth but directed from
Heaven, such Christians have more in common ideologically with
the hardliners of Islam than with the mainstream secular west.


To understand how this cultural gulf has developed, we must make
a brief detour to medieval Europe and its aftermath. The
Christian soldiers who fetched up in the New World were blown
across the Atlantic by the tempests of the Reformation. When
Martin Luther made a bonfire of papal decrees at Wittenberg in
1520, he ignited a great heap of ideological and social
tinder that had been building up since the high Middle Ages. 
Catholics and Protestants then descended into a pan-European
conflict that lasted nearly two hundred years, its fury and
madness foreshadowing the twentieth century's hot and cold wars
between right and left. In Britain, the storms would not die down
until the end of the Civil War in 1660.


Catholicism had wielded exclusive sway over the souls of Western
Europe for a thousand years. Reform movements had arisen from
time to time, but they were either absorbed as new religious
orders (as the Franciscans were) or brutally crushed as heresies.
There was no agreed separation of Church and State. Religious
dissent was therefore akin to treason, a challenge to the
religio-political hierarchy.

The medieval popes claimed to hold not only spiritual but also
temporal power - to be the inheritors of Roman imperial might, or
at least the arbiters of who should wield that power as Holy
Roman Emperor. This claim, both courted and thwarted by barbarian
leaders from Charlemagne onward, took a mortal blow when its
founding document, the Donation of Constantine - supposedly
transferring the Western Empire to the papacy - was shown by a
shrewd fifteenth-century scholar to be a fake. 

Donation or not, the pope was still spiritual emperor over the
"One True Faith." He and his officials anointed all Christian
kings. Catholic dogma upheld the social pyramid. Yet the pyramid
was being undermined on all sides: by the scandalous behaviour of
popes and antipopes; by the harm done to Christendom's
self-confidence by the Black Death in the midfourteenth century;
by the rise of national governments; by intellectual contact with
Islam and the rediscovery of Classical knowledge; by the
invention of printing and the spread of literacy; and by the
shock of the New World, which God had neglected to mention in the

Even so, Protestantism was a risky business. On what basis could
the law apply to folk who did not accept the holy foundation of
state power? On what moral footing could their relations with
society be built? And if they rejected interpretations of
Christian doctrine handed down by the learned doctors of the
Church, how would they know what to believe? How would they even
tell right from wrong?

As the Church Fathers knew, the Bible was explosive - a
contradictory and subversive body of writings that needed careful
handling and interpretation. Having arisen as a radical sect of
Judaism, Christianity carried within it, like a dormant virus,
the seeds of chaos. When ordinary citizens began reading Holy
Writ for themselves, they found that the early Christian
community of fishermen, misfits and outcasts portrayed in the New
Testament bore little resemblance to the vast, wealthy and
gorgeous edifice of the Catholic Church. With the revival of
Classical learning, it also became clear that the Roman Church
was more Roman than anyone had thought. Indeed, the popes' title
"Pontifex Maximus" had formerly belonged to the high priests of
pagan Rome. 


There is much to admire in the Protestant challenge to the old
order. It was taken up mainly by the lower and middle classes: by
peasants, artisans, freeholders and small business folk seeking
freedom from a top-heavy hierarchy, demanding the right to read
and think for themselves. But while some were content to ponder
the Bible quietly, others were not. Fanaticism and intolerance
soon sprang up like weeds in the liberated acres of the Lord's
garden. (As Mr. Dooley put it, "a fanatic is a man who does what
he thinks the Lord would do if He knew the facts.") Too many
people found that it was all so simple: God was speaking to them
personally, telling them what to do. Nowadays, when individuals
think that God is speaking to them, that they have been chosen
for a great purpose, that they are unquestionably right while
everyone else is mistaken or evil, they are likely to be removed
from society and treated for mental illness.
(SAD TO SAY THAT IS NOT SO! Many a religious crack-pot has risen
to deceive and lead away people after themselves, as the great
apostle Paul said would come to pass - Acts 20. And so it has
been so even into the 20th century, where vain ego-minded crazy
self-important men and women have led tens of thousands into a
cultish religion - Keith Hunt)

But when delusions of persecution and grandeur seize a whole
group, the illness is less easily dealt with. If many are
affected, who can say what is normal? At what point does one
group's religious mission become a threat to other groups? It
seems to me that the acid test for determining when a religious
community has become a peril to itself and others is when it
starts killing people on God's orders. The 1978 massacre at
Jonestown in Guyana and the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo gassing of the
Tokyo Underground are but two examples of mass psychosis - one
suicidal, the other murderous. But today's standards of
collective sanity aren't easily imposed on the past. The Catholic
Church itself had been involved in mass murder for centuries -
against heretics and infidels, and later through the Inquisition.
When religious violence occurs on such a scale, there is usually
a substantial dose of earthly politics behind the spiritual
imperative. This is true of the Crusades, the Aztec sacrifices,
the Reformation wars, the al Qaeda attacks and sectarian troubles
in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. One thread that runs
through all these cases, from the First Crusade to the World
Trade Center, is a conviction of supreme moral and metaphysical
right (or a facsimile thereof, bearing in mind that fanaticism is
often overcompensation for doubt).



The atrocities of the medieval popes and kings had been committed
under an overarching theology formidable enough to persuade most
people that Christ allowed his delegates on Earth to practise
war, torture and ingeniously painful executions on His behalf.
Protestants knew that was bunk, but were soon doing much the same
themselves. By its nature, Protestantism was fissiparous,
spawning dissidents who hived off to form rival sects. Some were
relatively harmless; others became the fascists, Maoists and
terrorists of their time. Many came to regard themselves as
Saints, above the moral run of humanity, or even as the Elect -
the only people God would save on Doomsday. One recent
embellishment, very popular in evangelical America, is the
curious notion of the Rapture, when God will beam the "saved" up
to heaven before unleashing the horrors of the Last Days on

It is no coincidence that the unravelling of the Catholic
tapestry released a host of witches and demons, descended in part
from the old heathen beliefs of pre-Christian times. One person's
God became another's Satan. Europe was gripped by holy paranoia,
exploited by rabble rousers and authorities alike. Tens of
thousands of "witches" (three-fourths of them women) were
tortured and killed, often by being burned alive."

Despite warfare and poverty, Europe's population was rising
sharply at this time. The increase was partly due to the impact
of American crops (which was just beginning) but mainly to a
general rebound from the effects of the Black Death, when a third
of the population had died, shaking up old patterns of
landholding, labour and social consensus.


By weakening the papacy and its Holy Roman Empire, the
Reformation also strengthened nation-states - especially Britain.
When Henry VIII broke with the Vatican in the 1530s (for worldly
reasons, above all to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry his
lover Anne Boleyn), the Church of England he set up was less a
Protestant body than a nationalized branch of Catholicism. He,
and his daughter the Virgin Queen Elizabeth, managed to shoo
pragmatic Catholics and Protestants (known as "High" and "Low"
Church) into one big top, with the English sovereign as
ringmaster instead of the pope.

While most people allowed this broad but flimsy tent to erect
itself over their observances, a few did not. Militant Catholics
(such as Sir Thomas More, who contested the king's right to
divorce) were liable to arrest for treason. Militant Protestants
- the Puritans - denounced High Church "superstition," wrecking
splendid stained-glass windows, statues, rood screens and other
church finery - even whitewashing over the great Doom paintings
which had cowed and titillated the peasantry with Bosch-like
scenes of God's wrath.

The political temperature rose steeply after a foiled act of
terrorism: the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and
Elizabeth's successor, the Stuart King James, in 1605. This may
have been the work of agents provocateurs. Rightly or not, it was
blamed on Roman Catholics, and, like the show trials run by
Stalin and McCarthy, became the pretext for a purge of "traitors"
and a hardening of state power.

Ironically, the plot's targets - king and Parliament - soon began
fighting each other. Throughout the first half of the seventeenth
century, James and his son Charles I were in a position similar
to that of President Bush after the 2006 midterm elections: the
king had the executive, but Parliament had the funds. Fiscal
problems were worsened by inflation caused by the flood of silver
and gold from Spanish America.

The tussle soon spread far beyond money matters. Most Catholics
threw in their lot with the nobles and the king, supporting his
claim to rule by Divine Right, while the Puritans sided with
Parliament and claimed to uphold the common law that had come
down from Saxon England and the Magna Carta. But the Puritans'
egalitarianism was undercut by their many hates and forbiddings -
no dancing, no acting, no sports on Sundays. Their project to
make England a Low Church theocracy was no more democratic, at
bottom, than Lenin's dictatorship of the proletariat. In 1633
William Prynne, a hardline Puritan lawyer, wrote against sinful
habits such as people drinking toasts, men with long hair and
women on stage - things that King Charles and his young queen,
who herself dabbled in theatre, were well known to enjoy. For
this Prynne had his ears cut off, was fined 5,000 POUNDS and
later jailed for life by order of the Star Chamber, the king's
special tribunal, which, like the arbitrary justice reappearing
today in the so-called war on terror, was beyond the law.


Open civil war broke out in 1642. From their styles of dress and
hair, the two sides were nicknamed Roundheads and Cavaliers. The
flamboyant Cavaliers, with their long hair and richly feathered
hats, were politically conservative but culturally liberal. They
supported kingship, nobility and privilege but were easygoing in
moral and religious matters. The shortcropped Roundheads were
Parliamentarians and generally Low Church, from many sects and
social factions. The radical Levellers, for example, demanded
abolition of the monarchy, a written constitution, land reform,
one-man-one-vote and other ideas that had been simmering since
the 1381 Peasants' Revolt, with its protosocialist ditty, "When
Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then a gentleman? "

The fight between king and Parliament ended, for a time, with the
beheading of Charles I and the making of the Commonwealth by the
Puritan warlord Oliver Cromwell, who took the Orwellian title
Lord Protector. Personally honest yet politically ruthless,
Cromwell tried to build a war machine strong enough to stop world
Catholicism and the return of the Stuart kings. A few years
later, in the mock epic Hudibras, Samuel Butler would make wicked
fun of "Such as do build their Faith upon The holy Text of pike
and gun."


Cromwell's dictatorship came undone soon after his death in 1658.
With Charles II returning in triumph to the throne two years
later, England awoke from the Puritan nightmare. Theatres
reopened, writers and thinkers filled their lungs, and the new
king set an example of loose living (thousands today believe
themselves, with cause, to be descended from him). The wrangling
between king and Parliament resumed for a while, to be settled by
the Bloodless Revolution of 1688, when royal power was at last
tamed by the Bill of Rights.

The day of the hardline Puritans was done. Most were eventually
drawn back into the Anglican mainstream; others would take the
more moderate path of Methodism. The wider society reabsorbed the
extremes, slowly growing more tolerant and varied in the process.
England would yet undergo many stumbles on the way to modern
democracy, but God withdrew to Heaven and forsook taking sides on

(And I do laugh at that. Many still think God is into "politics"
and is on this or that side as opposed to the "other side" -
which folly is clearly shown for if God is on this side and not
that side, and you vote on the on your side, which God is
supposed to be on, and they do not form the next Government, you
have just voted against God - ah, see the folly of such theology
- Keith Hunt)


So it went in the mother country. Not so in her colonies. In its
New World haven, Puritan zealotry not only lingered but grew
rank. The religious migrations to America had been a divorce of
convenience - the sects seeking room in which to thrive; London
happy to see them go. Low Church radicals therefore had a much
higher profile in the American population than they had at home.
As the Puritans' hopes for Britain died along with Cromwell's
Commonwealth, their dreams for the New World became grander and
more obsessive, inspired as much by the "Book of Revelation" as
by Augustine's "City of God." In his "Wonder-working Providence
of lion's Saviour in New England" (the title really says it all),
one of Boston's leading settlers prophesied that in America "the
Lord will create a new Heaven and a new Earth, new Churches, and
a new Commonwealth.... Who would not be a Soldier on Christ's
side, where there is such a certainty of victory?" Virginal
America would be "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from
God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

John Winthrop, the founder of the Boston colony, had preached in
this vein even before his ship had raised the muddy shore of
Massachusetts. "We shall be as a city set upon a hill," he
foretold, "the eyes of all people are upon us." Winthrop's words
are now lodged so deeply in the American soul that Ronald Reagan
may not have known whom (or what) he was quoting when they flowed
smoothly from his tongue three and a half centuries later.

In the Puritan view, America would purify England, Europe and the
world - a concept that "in secularized form [has] become the
vaunt of the United States." By fulfilling biblical prophecy, the
New World was hastening the end of time itself - a notion that
would rattle down the centuries until Francis Fukuyama naively
declared that history had "ended" with America's winning of the
Cold War.


Beyond the Puritans' colonial redoubt, such ideas seemed
increasingly absurd. By the end of the seventeenth century, the
European Enlightenment was dawning and Old Englanders still
outnumbered New Englanders by a hundred to one. Small, isolated
populations can evolve quickly in new directions; they also tend
to retain archaic features that fade from the larger gene pool.
In biology this process is called genetic drift; in human culture
it is called provincialism.

The English Civil War has yet to end in two places: Northern
Ireland, where it was still being fought with "pike and gun"
until yesterday, and America, where its opposing theologies
spread with the white invader across the continent. The first
case lies outside this book, and the two have grown very
different over time, but what they share is an archaic
parochialism. In Ulster the war against "popery" thrived in the
old style for ethnic reasons. In America it found new bones of
contention, transforming itself from a fight among Christians
into a cultural war between fundamentalism and humanism, faith
and evidence, Jehovah and Darwin. "The narrow conservatism and
religious bigotry of the Bible Belt," Leland Baldwin pointed out
in 1981, "are the creation of forces that emerged from the
decaying corpse of Puritanism."

(Well "no God" or "no religious belief in God and the Bible" is
certainly at odds with God and the Bible." How the Christian side
desides to fight the battle against the world of no God and no
Bible, is the important theology question, which Jesus gives the
clear answer - no force, no killing, just a steady preaching of
the Gospel - Keith Hunt)

Modern America's kulturkampf, like seventeenth-century Britain's,
is a war between regions and classes: between the sophisticated
internationalism of the seaboard and the parochial extremism of
the inland "backwoods." Ironically, Harvard College, founded by
Puritans in 1636, has become one of the world's great seats of
learning, while peculiar institutions such as Jerry Falwell's
Liberty University of Lynchburg, Virginia, nourish a mindset that
the ghost of Cotton Mather might applaud.

(And BOTH are "out to lunch" - BOTH are as deceived as each
other. One is the falsehood of modern "no God no Bible" and the
other is the falsehood of "deceived Christianity" - Keith Hunt)

At first, America had been only a refuge for the Puritans, a far 
away place in which to follow their beliefs in isolation. But the
"Soldiers on Christ's side" were nothing if not fighters, and
they soon took the chance to expand at the cost of nonChristian
neighbours ill-equipped to resist. "Ask of me, and I shall give
thee the heathen for thine inheritance," sang the Psalmist, "and
the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt
break them with a rod of iron."

Oh how the Scriptures have been used by deceived so-called
Christians down through the centuries. They were so deceived many
of those "Christians" took up the sword to wound and kill -
conquering in the name of Christ, going forth in a way that the
Lord had never sent them.





Keith Hunt

  Home Top of Page

Other Articles of Interest:
  Migration of the Nations #1 Early Britain #1 Daniel's 2300 days #1

Navigation List:

Word Search: