Post #7: The Life of Mary Read

I am responding to the book The General History of the Pyrates  as it relates to the Life of Mary Read. This was an amazing story of which I never would have thought possible. Mary Read was a Pirate that was able to impersonate a Male for the majority of her life. Her mother was the one to encourage her to dress and act as a man so that Mary’s grandmother would pay them to help take care of the child. Mary did as her mother asked even after her mother’s death. This was to me an incredibly difficult idea to wrap my head around. It is difficult for me to believe that Mary was able to keep from blowing her cover for so long. Especially incredible, Mary served as an officer in the military and had to share a tent with a man whom she fell in love with and later married. She lived as a woman working in house-keeping until her husband died. Mary returned to disguising herself as a man once again. She resorted to life as a Pirate which was a life she hated until she fell in love and married again. An unofficial marriage took place and she became pregnant. Mary stood on trial for her crimes and was able to avoid being killed due to her pregnancy. Unfortunately, she died in prison from disease.  I found it extraordinary that at this time a woman would be able to switch genders back and forth. This concept of Mary Read’s cross dressing seems to me so far ahead of her time.

Johnson, Captain Charles. “The Life of Mary Read.” The General History of the Pyrates. 2nd

ed. London: T-Warner, 1724. N. pag. East Carolina University Digital Collections. Web. 24 Feb.



Post #6: The Black Atlantic

The Black Atlantic was an episode of a documentary series that analyzes the history of African Americans. The Black Atlantic was an in-depth account of the Transatlantic slave trade. With accounts from both the black and white perspectives, this episode was remarkably fascinating and enlightening view of the slave trade. This episode was in vast contrast to the way that the slave trade was taught in ordinary high school textbooks. This account was anything but ordinary. I was captivated by the tour through the fort in Sierra Leone, Africa where the slaves were kept before they were forced to embark on their voyages to far off lands. The crumbling walls told the story of the animalistic treatment of slaves by their traders and their buyers. For example, the men were kept in a pen separate from the women and children; thereby, separating families. Furthermore, a man analyzed the scrupulous records of the slaves of his ancestor. This led the man to find an ancestral link from a slave named Priscilla who still has a direct relative alive today. This is a particularly interesting discovery because it is very difficult for African-Americans today to find their original African ancestor. Several other topics were shared in detail through the episode but one prominent such detail was the fact that the Spanish set up a settlement for runaway slaves. This fact gave slaves hope for a brighter future and a step towards emancipation for all.

Post #5: Slavery in The West Indies

Initially indentured servants were the inhabitants of Barbados in the West Indies, but as sugar became an increasingly profitable crop, African slaves were needed to create a more powerful force of labor. Since fewer servants were willing to perform the especially difficult and dangerous tasks required in the West Indies, the market for African slaves boomed. Without a choice in the matter, African slaves could be bought and sold with very little or no rights at all and forced to work to the whim of their masters. The distinct dark color of the African slaves was important because they were easily distinguishable from Englishmen. Due to this distinct color difference, the elite whites used the strong differentiation to their advantage by oppressing black slaves and stripping them of any rights and freedoms in order to promote collective white superiority of the rich and poor thereby avoiding further rebellions. Interestingly, slaves would be rewarded for warning their masters of a misbehaving slave. This was devised by the elite to encourage subordination and division of the slaves. The Englishmen differed from the Spanish, French, and Portuguese, because of their complete refusal of evangelism. The Englishmen saw the conversion of slaves to Christianity as extraordinarily inconvenient. Conversion would mean that the slaves would need to be treated as more than beasts. All of these facts of slavery in the West Indies contributed to the incredible booming success of the trade of sugar by the colonies. Thereby success for the colonies came at a high price for the slaves.

Post #4: Puritans

I was fascinated to discover that the Puritans in early America were much more feisty and provocative than I had been led to believe before this class. I was shocked to learn that the Puritans were regularly having pre-marital sex and passing it off as the babies being pre-mature. The group that I would have thought to have been extremely strict on the policy of abstinence prior to marriage was in fact not so strict about it at all. The parents of the couple likely knew and approved of this as long as the marriage was followed through. According to the lecture, illegitimacy rates at around 1600 were as high as 40%! Everything that I had known about Puritans before has been significantly influenced by this new information. Another surprising characteristic of the Puritans was “Iconoclasm.” The Puritans did not believe in the lavish and man-made parts of the church. This is in great contrast with the Catholics who filled their churches with elaborate art. As a part of Iconoclasm. the Puritans would destroy the man-made parts of the church such as stained glass windows, altars, and mosaics, preferring to keep the church simple. I disagree with this method because stained glass windows for example were a way for the illiterate to better understand church services.

Post #3: Primary Source (Bartolomé de las Casas on Spanish Treatment of the Indians)

The cruel treatment of the Indian was a threat to the conversion of the Indians to Christianity. I think the main goal of the Spanish was supposed to be to convert the Indians, however the cruel treatment was not as effective as peace. I think that Las Cases hoped to spread word to people of the harsh treatment of the Indians with the hope that the cruelty would stop and the focus on conversion could begin again. I think that Las Casas was hopeful that his words could prove to the world that the Spanish were not as noble in their endeavors with the Indians as they claimed to be; especially because few would believe the word of Indian “savages” over the “Christian” Spaniards.

The un-Christian behavior of treating the Indians like savage animals and starving them is something that according to the Christian religion, the Spaniards should be deeply punished and possibly condemned for. Las Casas writes, “This was the freedom, the good treatment and the Christianity that Indians received” as a sarcastic criticism of the Spaniards. He says this because the Spaniards were claiming to be converting and protecting the Indians when in reality they were starving and enslaving them. For example, some of the art during this time depicts the Indians casually learning about Christ as the Spaniard priests did the hard work. This is not the truth and the words of Las Casas are formed to show sarcasm in criticism of the false information that is being portrayed of the ways that the Spaniards conducted business with the Indians.

Post #2: Black Robe

Last night, as I watched the film, Black Robe I noticed several things about the movie that struck me as interesting. I was captivated by the careful yet elaborate representation of the Indians. The costuming, language, and interactions were very detailed and realistic. As I watched the film, my brain had no problem seeing it as if I was watching a documentary. It was very realistic and I really felt as if I was getting a glimpse of what life for the Indians was like during that time. Furthermore, I liked how the varying cultures and superstitions of the different groups and tribes were depicted. For example, when the Algonquian chief was telling the Black Robe of how his mother died in the prior winter and the Black Robe wrote it down and shared it with the other Frenchman who could repeat the knowledge back to the chief without the chief ever having to tell the Frenchman. It was interesting to see the Indian point of view in which the writing is magic whereas to the French it is just technology. One thing that I did not prefer about the film was the evil depiction of the Iroquoian tribe. It was difficult to watch the graphic violence that took place to the characters that I had come to support and care about throughout the movie. Moreover, the Iroquois were presented as a violent people while the Algonquian and French were seen as much more peaceful people. It felt like an overgeneralization of violence for the Iroquois and under generalization for the French.  Overall, I thought the movie was insightful and an excellent way to grasp more detailed knowledge of the people of this time. I enjoyed the movie especially because it was an interesting and unique learning experience.

Post #1: Hello World

Here I am! You have found my blog! Thank you for joining me on an adventure through time and discovery of the beginnings of the United States. I will be covering several interesting tidbits, questions, misconceptions, and anomalies of United States History. Welcome aboard, I hope you enjoy history as much as I do!

As I begin my ascension into the realm of our historical past, I have come across several myths that have become a strong part of popular culture in America still today. One of which is the idea that when Columbus was preparing to sail westward from Europe, geographers thought that the world was flat. Alan Taylor describes that this story is fictional and that Columbus and the geographers of that period were well aware of the Earth being a globe. It came as a surprise to me that this story has been so widely viewed as fact and even taught in schools to be a truth of the past when Taylor claims that it is a myth. I am shocked to be learning this for the first time now rather than in my past studies of United States History.

Thank you for reading my first blog post! Please check back in weekly to engage with me further about the happenings of early American History!