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Murder on the Saltwater Frontier: The Death of John Oldham

Andrew Charles Lipman

Title:
Murder on the Saltwater Frontier: The Death of John Oldham
Author(s):
Lipman, Andrew Charles
Date:
Type:
Articles
Department(s):
History (Barnard College)
Volume:
9
Persistent URL:
Book/Journal Title:
Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Geographic Area:
United States
Rhode Island--Block Island (Island)
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press
Abstract:
This article considers the larger material and political contexts of the 1636 murder of John Oldham aboard his boat by Narragansett-allied Indians, an event that was one of the causes of the 1636–38 Pequot War. Oldham’s slaying illustrates how the contested region between New England and New Netherland was a “saltwater frontier” where the primary arena of cross-cultural exchange was the coastline and its nearshore waters, not the land. Natives and colonists relied on each other’s maritime technologies and knowledge. At the same time the tricky logistics of their encounters made this zone uniquely perilous. Oldham’s Indian killers were also motivated by an intense trade rivalry between Native powers. A series of events caused them to harbor suspicions of Oldham and inspired them to commit small-scale piracy during his murder. The article concludes that the ensuing Pequot War should be seen as a naval war that turned into terrestrial war, reflecting the English desire to shift the frontier off the water and onto dry land.
Subject(s):
Intracoastal waterways
Borderlands
Narragansett Indians
Pequot Indians
Pequot War (1636-1638)
History
Indians
Indians of North America
Publisher DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1353/eam.2011.0013
Item views
209
Metadata:
text | xml
Suggested Citation:
Andrew Charles Lipman, , Murder on the Saltwater Frontier: The Death of John Oldham, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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