Garcia, Nicholas A. Subdue Them Under Us: Oliver Peabody and the Limits ...

 

Garcia, Nicholas A. Subdue Them Under Us: Oliver Peabody and the Limits ...

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  • Abstract: In February 1723, Oliver Peabody became the first English pastor of the Natick Church since John Eliot, “Apostle to the Indians,” who had died in 1690. Natick, established in 1651 by Massachusetts Indians with support from Eliot, was the first of fourteen “praying towns” created as part of New England’s missionization project. In the aftermath of King Philip’s War (1675-1676) and into the early 18th-century, Natick became a refuge for Christian Indians seeking to escape the wrath of English colonizers. By 1776, however, Natick’s population was entirely white. This article explores the impact of Peabody’s tenure as pastor in Natick, arguing that his words and actions played a significant role in marginalizing Natick’s Christian Indians. From his arrival in Natick in 1723 up until his death in 1752, Peabody repeatedly admonished Christian Indians, especially some whose families held influence in the town. By delegitimizing Christian Indians and implicitly suggesting that they could never truly convert or live a fully moral life, Peabody made it easier for white colonizers to transform Natick into an English community without Indians.