The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity - Chapter 4, Where is Your O God? Summary & Analysis

Jill Lepore
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King Philip's War definitely had the elements of a holy war. Due to their great losses, many New England colonists thought God was punishing them for their failure to convert the Indians to Christianity. The English had always looked for supernatural messages in the natural world, and so they saw many of the events in the war as spiritual messages; the letting of blood, for instance, represented filth and chaos. It also signaled the judgment of God. However, there was no general agreement about what the messages meant.

The Algonquian religious leaders also looked for messages from the spirit world. Both ministers and "powwaws" had a role in determining whether a war would be fought. In the 1660s, powwaw Passaconaway discouraged war, but in the 1670s the powwaws of many tribes encouraged it to preserve the Indian way of life. The colonists thought the powwaws received their orders from the...

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