The Pequot War and the Origins of Slavery in New England
This chapter details the earliest contact between the English and Native Americans. Even before the English planted colonies in New England, they forcibly removed Indians from coastal settlements to provide labor or for sale abroad. This sporadic practice moved into a new, much more intensive stage with the outbreak of the Pequot War, the first major conflict between English and indigenous peoples in the region. Although the Pequot War began for a variety of strategic and economic reasons, for the English and their Native American allies it quickly became a conflict whose purpose was securing captives. In the context of the war English colonists saw both an opportunity to acquire captives and a legal pretext for the enslavement of Indians. After the conflict, the colonies established legal precedents that for decades defined Indian slavery and involuntary servitude.
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