Algonquian. The term Algonquian refers both to a set of thirty related North American Indian languages and the tribes that speak those languages. Algonquian peoples live primarily in central and eastern Canada, and parts of the eastern and central United States. The Wampanoags of Martha's Vineyard are one of the Algonquian-speaking peoples of North America. See also the entry on Algonquian Texts in the Study Guide.
Anglicanism (Church of England): Anglicanism was both more hierarchical and more open New England’s congregational churches. In general Anglicans value “tradition, sacraments, and government”: indeed, during the American Revolution many of Anglicans sided with the British. Moreover—unlike Congregationalists or Baptists—most Anglicans were under the sway of English bishops. Even though they were more strictly hierarchical in structure, Anglicanism sometimes allowed for more inclusiveness than Calvinists: for example, in Newport (Rhode Island) while Congregationalists actively tried to separate sinners from the saints, Anglicans at Trinity Church considered it “inappropriate” to speculate about an individual’s salvation (Hattendorf 5).
Antinomianism ("against the law") refers to people who reject the laws, ethics, or morals of religious authorities. Groups (or individuals) who favored direct revelation were often accused of Antinomianism. The charge of Antinomianism often implied licentiousness, although many "Antinomians" were morally rigorous. In New England, Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams were both accused of Antinomianism, as were Quakers. In Indian Converts, some of the Wampanoags receive information through dreams or visions--two forms of direct revelation.
Antipedobaptist (“against-infant-Baptism”): The Gay Head Community Baptist Church in Aquinnah was originally antipedobaptist. Samuel Sewall reports that the congregation was largely what we would call Seventh-Day Baptists, in other words those Baptists who opposed both infant baptism and Sunday worship (Silverman 58, 178, 182). See also the entry on the Antipedobaptist Heresy in the Study Guide.
Apocalypse: the end of the world or a revelation in written form that often reveals truths about the past, present, and/or future events in highly symbolic terms. This revelation often comes in dreams or visions, and it may need to be interpreted with the help of an angel or other semi-divine intermediary. The purpose of the revelation is to provide hope and encouragement for people in the midst of severe trials and tribulations. It is also designed to influence both the understanding and behavior of its audience by means of divine authority. The settlement of New England was apocalyptic: settlers hoped that the very purity of the colony would bring about the Second Coming of Christ, which most New Englanders felt was imminent. Dissenters not only were not part of this plan, but also (according to the faithful) they actually impeded the coming of Christ: thus, heretics were regularly expelled from the colonies when they refused to convert or otherwise conform. See also the entry on the Apocalypse in the Study Guide.
Aquinnah (Gay Head) is a town on the southwest end of Martha's Vineyard. It is the home of the Gay Head Community Baptist Church in Aquinnah (a Wampanoag congregation) and the Aquinnah Cultural Center. During the colonial era, there was also a Wampanoag Congregationalist church in Aquinnah.
Arminianism: a heresy that fed the major controversies of the First Great Awakening and became the wellspring of what would become Unitarianism. Although Arminianism could be applied more generally to vice and social depravity, the charge of Arminianism in its more specific form connoted a rejection of the Calvinist doctrines of “election, of God's absolute sovereignty, and of innate human sinfulness. Arminians liked to stress the importance of an individual's own effort in his or her salvation and individual moral responsibility” (Christie 165). True Arminians in the eighteenth century believed in five, anti-Calvinist tenets.
Arminian Tenets (contrast with TULIP):
- Free Will with Partial Depravity: Freedom of will is man's natural state, not a spiritual gift - and thus free will was not lost in the Fall. The grace of Christ works upon all men to influence them for good, but only those who freely choose to agree with grace by faith and repentance are given new spiritual power to make effectual the good they otherwise impotently intend.
- Conditional Election: God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ, out of the fallen and sinful human race, those foreknown by him who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in Christ; but God leaves in sin those foreseen, who are incorrigible and unbelieving.
- Universal Atonement: Christ's death was suffered on behalf of all men, but God elects for salvation only those who believe in Christ.
- Resistible Grace: The grace of God works for good in all men, and brings about newness of life through faith. But grace can be resisted even by the regenerate.
- Uncertain Perseverance: Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit, sufficient to enable them to persevere in the faith. But it may be possible for a believer to fall from grace. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism)
Baptism: "a religious ceremony in which somebody is sprinkled with or immersed in water to symbolize purification. In Christian baptisms, the person is often named and accepted into the Christian faith" (Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation). Some argue that the Christian use of this ritual is related to the Jewish practice of mikveh (ritual bath). On Martha's Vineyard Congregationalists and Baptists disagreed about whether people should be baptized as infants or only once had had a conversion experience. See also Antipedobaptist.
Baptists: Martha’s Vineyard was home to a community of Wampanoag Baptists, known more formally as the “Gay Head Community Baptist Church in Aquinnah.” The Baptists serve as a midpoint between Congregationalists and Wampanoag Traditionalists: they blended the strengths of innovation while remaining more autonomous. The beginning of the Wampanoag Baptist Church on the island is a source of contention. Settlers like Mayhew traced the Baptist heresies to renegade white schoolmaster Peter Folger (1617-1690); however, Wampanoag oral tradition names Mittark, an important sachem, as the originator of the island sect. Whatever its origins, the Baptist community differed from that of Saints’ in four ways: it was more autonomous; it was isolated to Gay Head; it more openly blended Traditionalism and Christianity; and it practiced the Baptist Creed. As William McLoughlin notes, it is difficult to lump all Baptists together during this era. The Baptist Church in Newport, Rhode Island heavily influenced the Baptists on Martha’s Vineyard. While the Newport congregation was originally Calvinistic, by the 1730s the Second Baptist Church in Newport had incorporated leniencies that later historians would consider “Arminian,” even if at the time the leniencies were largely considered consistent with “liberal” forms of Calvinism. For example the Newport Baptist Church under the helm of William Peckcom held the doctrine of “Free Grace” as early as 1729. Without church records from Gay Head, it is very difficult to know if, when, and how their particular congregation might have become more lenient. (McLoughlin, Soul Liberty, 13, 124; HMV 2 [Gay Head].22; Backus 3.167-68; McLoughlin, New England Dissent, 304-05). See also the entry on Antipedobaptists in the Study Guide.
Biblical Marginalia: In the margins and blank spaces of the surviving versions of John Eliot’s Indian Bible, Wampanoags and other New England Algonquians wrote down commentaries, concerns, odd notes, and highlights of family histories. This practice was not unheard of in colonial New England: indeed the great innovation of the Geneva Bible was that it provided a model for marginalia. See also the entry on Biblical Marginalia in the Study Guide.
Britain. See England.
Call to the Unconverted: Like The Practice of Piety, the Algonquian translation of Richard Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted was an important devotional manual for Wampanoags on Martha’s Vineyard and served as a bridge between Island Christianity and mainland Puritan practice. See also the entry on Call to the Unconverted in the Study Guide.
Calvinism as a religion was born out of the crisis of modernization in early modern religion. The invention of Calvinism by John Calvin (1509-64) was a way of coping with the rise of the “pragmatic, scientific spirit that slowly undermined the old conservative, mythical ethos” (Armstrong 62); it allowed practitioners to make sense of the radical changes in society while insisting upon the efficacy of “traditional” Christianity. During the 1640s to the 1720s, Wampanoags on the Vineyard underwent similar economic, political, and theological changes to the crises Europeans had encountered a hundred years earlier. Amidst these changes, Calvinism ranked high as a religion that could plausibly explain their changing world. Although there has been some debate among historians about the Experience Mayhew's theology, I argue in Indian Converts that Experience Mayhew is a "Regular Light" Calvinist minister. See also TULIP.
Catholicism. The portion of the Latin Church that remained under the Pope and Rome after the Reformation. In 1533-34, King Henry the VIII of England broke with the Catholic Church. In the 1720s and 1730s, New England Protestants increasingly saw themselves as part of international war against Catholicism in which Protestant missionary success was an important harbinger of the second coming of Christ and the millennium. For ministers Benjamin Colman, Cotton Mather, Benjamin Wadsworth, Joseph Sewall and other backers of Mayhew’s book, Indian Converts was an essential confirmation that Protestants—not Catholics—were winning the theological war for America, and clear evidence that New England was still doing important missionary work. New England Calvinists such as Experience Mayhew not only strongly rejected Catholic church hierarchy, but also thought that Catholic rituals and symbols were corrupt. See also plain style.
Cautantowwit (Kiehtan) is the creator deity (manito) in the Southeastern New England Algonquian pantheon. According to Narragansett oral tradition, Cautantowwit had created the first humans from wood. Narragansetts communicated with this manito through "sacrifice, prayers, and praise," but he lived in an afterworld inhabited by the souls of the dead. In contrast to the Puritan God, Cautantowwit was not omnibenevolent: for example, some believed that he caused incurable illness when he was angry (Simmons 38-39, 44, 66). Bodies were placed in the grave with a southwestern orientation, the direction of Cautantowwit’s house (Bragdon 1996: 235; Simmons 1970).
Cherub: Cherubs, as defined in the Complete Christian Dictionary (1661) are “Images of men with wings and comely faces” and New Englanders believed that, unlike other types of angels, cherubs were visible to humans (Tashjian and Tashjian 83-84). During the eighteenth century, New England gravestones increasingly used cherubs rather than death's heads. Cherubs are seen as reflecting a shift from Calvinism to Arminianism, since the “cherub stones tend to stress resurrection and later heavenly reward” (Deetz and Dethlefsen 31). See also the entry on key symbols on Gravestones in the Study Guide and items relating to the Cherubs in the Archive.
Chilmark is town on the southwest portion of Martha's Vineyard near Abel's Hill Cemetery. Rev. Experience Mayhew died in Chilmark in 1758.
Christiantown was a Wampanoag community resembling a "praying town" on the Northeastern portion of the island near Tisbury and Nobnocket (West Chop).
Communion (Lord’s Supper): One of the jobs of Wampanoag ministers such as John Tackanash was to administer the “sacraments” (communion). Communion wine symbolized Christ’s blood; hence in drinking the wine, church members literally joined themselves to the body of Christ, a common metaphor for the Church. Communion was precious, hence cups were made from silver, a rare commodity in the colonies (Peterson 307-46). See also the entry on Sacraments in the Study Guide.
Confederacy. Algonquian society was made up of five levels: (1) the clan, (2) the village, (3) the district, (4) the tribe, and (5) the confederacy (Grumet 46-47). A clan was a kinship group regulated by the leader of the extended family. An example of such a clan is the Mittark family. Each village consisted of a gathering of wigwams and usually several clans. Members of a village might move seasonally to take advantage of seasonal food resources. An example of a village on Martha's Vineyard is Taacame. Villages or small groups of villages were often governed by petty sachems. Each district consisted of a "fluid combination" of villages (Grumet 46) who were governed by a sachem. On Martha's Vineyard these districts were referred to as sachemships. Beyond these districts Algonquians recognized tribal affiliations. As Grumet notes, "tribal structure was invoked when issues regarding major economic relationships, international diplomacy, and warfare were raised. Tribal constituency was not fixed and varied in direct proportion to the types of problems presented" (Grumet 47). The Wampanoag Indians on Martha's Vineyard often fixed an alliance with the Wampanoags on the mainland, particularly in Mashpee. The confederacy was the highest level of sociopolitical integration that combined resources across tribes. In times of "unusual international stress," tribes relied upon alliances with other tribes (Grumet 47). One example of such a time of stress would be King Philip's War, though notably the Wampanoags on the Vineyard supported the English during this war. Marriage was one way of helping ensure cooperation within and between tribes.
Confessions. See Conversion Narrative.
Congregationalism: the settlers in New England are often called "Congregationalists" because their churches were independent congregations that were not linked by the type of church hierarchy (bishops, archbishops) that cemented the Church of England.
Consumption ("Consumptive Distemper"). During the colonial era this term meant a “Wasting of the body by disease; a wasting disease; now applied spec. to pulmonary consumption or phthisis” (OED). Sometimes refers to what we would call today Tuberculosis (pulmonary consumption).
Conversion Narratives refer both to the actual narratives given by Christians in order to gain church membership and to the popular genre of spiritual autobiographies that flourished in New England and elsewhere in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Early in New England's history, many congregations required a public (for men) or private (usually for women) declaration of one's personal conversion. Literary accounts of conversion were also popular and helped both inspire the reader's own conversion and provided motivation in times of trouble. St. Augustine's Confessions was an important model: it showed both the struggle to receive God's grace and the radical transformation that was possible once it was given. Moreover, Augustine's work emphasized the key role of language and reading in transformation. Experience Mayhew's Indian Converts is another example of the genre of literary conversion narratives. See more on Children's Conversion Narratives in the Study Guide.
Covenant: In English a “covenant” means a mutually obliging agreement between two parties. In Hebrew the word for covenant is brit, which implies both a pact and a separation of parts. New Englanders were interested in both the "pact" sense of covenant and how it separated sinners from the saved. There are a number of early covenants between God and mankind in the Bible (e.g. Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 9:8-17), but Protestants felt that the Christ's covenant of faith trumped these earlier covenants. "Covenanting ordinances" such as baptism and communion were seen as a sign that the individual willfully entered into a covenant of faith with the Christian God. Many New Englanders felt that it was important that only the truly saved enter into this agreement, as those who were still sinful were liable to violate the agreement through their behavior and suffer eternal damnation as a result. Thus many of the religious controversies in seventeenth-century New England focus around who should be baptized (and when) and who should receive communion.
Deacons. Second in command to the minister were his deacons, laymen who assisted the minister. An important social role of the deacon was to be part of the seating committee that mapped out the social hierarchy of the congregation: church membership, age, gender, race, wealth, public office, education, and reputation all were calculated to determine where each congregant would sit (Archer 60). The closer the person sat to the minister, the higher his social (and presumably spiritual) status. See also the entry on Church Hierarchies in the Study Guide.
Death's Head: the winged skulls popular on gravestones in early New England. They symbolize both physical death (the skull) and the possibility of redemption and resurrection (the wings). See also the entry on key symbols on Gravestones in the Study Guide and items relating to the Death's Head in the Archive.
Devotional Manuals such as Bayley’s Practice of Piety, offered practical advice for worshippers, including “prayers for many different occasions,...advice on reading the Bible, practicing closet devotions, singing psalms, and observing the Sabbath” (Hayes 43). Like the Bible and sermons, New England devotional manuals were a form of social literature, often being read within prayer groups, including all female prayer groups (Hayes 30).
Distemper generally means "disease" during the colonial era.
Elegies are poems that relate the experience of loss and search for consolation. They help the reader with the "work of mourning" by defending the individual against the anxieties associated with mortality and death. Elegies also serve a communal function: while loss may tend to isolate individuals, in the elegy mourners come together through an emotional bond of loss and concern and are reformed into a community. See also the entry on Elegies in the Study Guide.
Eliot Bible is the name given to the John Eliot’s “Indian Bible” Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe (1663), an Algonquian translation of the Bible. From the missionary perspective, the Eliot Bible was an essential means of making Algonquians into Puritans; however, one might also argue that it helped make Puritanism an Algonquian religion. Translator John Eliot was the minister for Natick, one of the key Indian Praying Towns that lay west of Boston. See also the entry on the Eliot Bible in the Study Guide.
Eliot Tracts is the name given to the eleven pamphlets published by missionary John Eliot between 1643 and the 1670s. In 2003, Michael Clark collected and reprinted them as The Eliot Tracts.
Elizabeth Islands ("Elizabeth Isles"). Islands off the southern coast of Cape Cod near Martha's Vineyard. They include Naushon. In October of 1641, Lord Sterling sold Thomas Mayhew of Watertown and his son the deed to Nantucket, Muskeget, Tuckenuck, “Martin’s” (Martha’s) Vineyard, and the Elizabeth Islands.
England. Early on New England was settled by colonists primarily from England, though they were later joined by people from other parts of the British Isles, Europe, and Africa. Although sometimes people use the term British to refer to the English colonies, Great Britain was not constituted until 1707 when England and Scotland became the "United Kingdom of Great Britain." The United Kingdom included Ireland after 1801. Today the country of England is one part of the United Kingdom, specifically the lower two-thirds of the island of Great Britain. Other countries on the island include Scotland and Wales.
Enlightenment: an eighteenth-century philosophical movement that was characterized by belief in the power of human reason and by political, religious, and educational innovations. One important idea was John Locke's formulation of the tabula rasa in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (I.iv): that is, human knowledge and identity is based on experience, not anything innately imprinted upon the mind at birth.
First Great Awakening: a period of religious awakening and reform in New England. The First Great Awakening is usually either narrowly defined as occurring between 1739-45 or more broadly defined as occurring between 1720-1760. As David Harlan notes, most historians have tended to characterize the First Great Awakening as “a conflict between extreme opposites: between formalism and enthusiasm, reason and piety, Arminianism and Calvinism, Old Light and New Light.” For both Harlan and eighteenth-century New Englanders, however, such distinctions were rarely so clear cut. As Samuel Mather, the minister of the Boston Second Church put it, most New England ministers were neither Old nor New Lights but “Regular Lights” who “understood the power and danger of revivalism” (Harlan 11).
Garden Cemeteries became popular in the second half of the nineteenth century in the United States. Famous examples include Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, 1831-present) and Lowell Cemetery (Lowell, 1841-present). These rural cemeteries were constructed as luxurious parks that represented a more Romantic vision of death. Visitors would often use the ground for picnic and as an oasis from city life. Many of these cemeteries featured highly individualistic stones. Several stones from the Lowell Cemetery are featured in the archive.
Gay Head. See Aquinnah.
Geneva Bible. Originally printed in 1560, the Geneva Bible was an important Protestant resource for the layperson. It was the first Bible to divide scripture into numbered verses, and it offered extensive marginal notes that helped explain its contents. Importantly it was also the first English Bible to be directly translated from Hebrew and Greek, rather than via Latin. John Eliot’s “Indian Bible” Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe (1663) and Experience Mayhew’s Algonquian translation of The Massachuset psalter (1709) reflect the Geneva Bible's goal of reaching out to the common person. These translations played a key role in island religious culture and in allowing individuals to read the Bible for themselves, since well into the early eighteenth century.
Grace. Calvinists like Experience Mayhew believed that in order to be saved, the elect ("saints") received God's "Irresistible Grace": that is, the Holy Spirit extended to such persons a special inward call to salvation. This call could not be rejected, as the Holy Spirit graciously caused the elect sinner to cooperate. In other words, God's grace cannot fail. In contrast, Arminians believed in Resistible Grace: that is, the grace of God works for good in all men, but grace can be resisted even by the regenerate (someone who has been spiritually restored). The concept of Grace is always in tension then with the notion that man has free will. Mayhew is the author of Grace Defended (1744). Mayhew connects both salvation and communion to the reception of Grace.
Great Harbour. See Edgartown.
Guardians. In 1694, colonists passed an act that allowed the colonial governor to appoint white justices of the peace (“guardians”) that would have wider and more extensive ministerial power over Native communities (Kawashima 32). These rights were extended over the course of the eighteenth-century to include the right of the guardian to take and allot Indian lands. Three of these guardians were appointed to the island of Martha’s Vineyard (Kawashima 32-33). This system led to many abuses and Wampanoags and others lodged complaints against the guardians and the system more generally both on and off the island (Kawashima 33, Campisi 83). In the best case scenario, however, guardians served as informal legal advisors and attorneys in many of the cases that arose between Wampanoags on Martha’s Vineyard and their white neighbors (Kawashima 182). See also the section on Magistrates and Guardians in the Study Guide.
Harvard Indian College: A small number of students who graduated from the Indian grammar schools on Martha’s Vineyard went on to attend the “Indian College” at Harvard University. This building was in use from 1655 to 1695. See also the section on Harvard Indian College in the Study Guide.
Half-way Covenant was invented as a means of increasing church membership and attendance. It allowed the children and grandchildren of members to obtain partial church membership even if they hadn't personally had a conversion experience, as long as they agreed to follow the Church creed and accepted the Covenant. Although half-way members couldn't vote, they were allowed to take communion. For hard line Calvinists, the opening up of communion was uncomfortably close to Arminianism. Experience Mayhew never advocated in open communion.
Hobbomock (Abbomacho, Chepi, Chepian): a manito whose names were related to the Wôpanâak words for death, the dead, and the cold northeast wind (Simmons 39). Hobbomock often appeared at night in the form of Englishmen, Native Americans, animals, and other objects. He was associated with the color black (Simmons 39). Puritans thought he was a version of Satan.
Indentured Servants were debt-bondage workers. The servant set up a contract (or had one set up for him/her by a guardian) with an employer for whom he worked for a fix length of time (often three to seven years) in exchange for basic necessities or a payment. One type of indentured servant is the "pauper apprenticeship": these servants had their bound labor arranged for them by Anglo-American officials who were responsible for the poor of the community (Herndon and Sekatau 138). Indentured servitude was not only for people of color: many poor whites got their passage to America paid in exchange for a period of indenturement. As Ruth Wallis Herndon and Ella Wilcox Sekatau point out, however, children of color were over represented in pauper apprenticeships. Moreover, not only were they bound out for long lengths of time, they received less training and payment (Herndon and Sekatau 138). During the eighteenth century, Wampanoag children on the Vineyard were increasingly devalued, restrained, and indentured as potential sources of revenue for families. The removal of children from the community during periods of indenturement decreased their ties to the community and led to an internalization of their new racialized status. See also the entry on Slaves and Servants in the Study Guide.
Indian Magistrate. See Magistrates.
Justice of the Peace ("Guardians"). In 1694, colonists passed an act in Massachusetts “for the Better Rule and Government of the Indians in their Several Places and Plantations” (Kawashima 32). This act allowed the colonial governor to appoint white justices of the peace (or “guardians”) that would have wider and more extensive ministerial power over Native communities (Kawashima 32). These rights were extended over the course of the eighteenth century to include the right of the guardian to take and allot Indian lands. Three of these guardians were appointed to the island of Martha’s Vineyard (Kawashima 32-33).Justification is a theological term that refers to the process by which God makes the sinner righteous.
King Philip's War (Metacom's War or Metacom's Rebellion) took place in southeastern New England between Algonquians and English settlers in 1675-76. The conflict was extremely violent on both sides, and losses were heavy. Before the rebellion it wasn't clear who would rule the colonies: Algonquians or Europeans. After the conflict the balance of power shifted towards the colonists.
Little People. Starting in the nineteenth-century, written transcriptions of New England Algonquian oral tradition mention the "little people." One example includes the Gay Head legend of "The Mother of the Kinky-Haired Indians"--a story that accounts for the mixing of Wampanoag and African American peoples (Simmons 235, 239-40). For more on the Wampanoag oral tradition see Wampanoag Education and the Oral Tradition in the Study Guide.
Lord’s Supper. See Communion.
Magistrates: To be an Indian magistrate entailed the power to enforce white colonial legislation upon Native communities. Native magistrates, like their white counterparts, adjudicated suits for sums under 20 shillings, punished drunkenness, swearing, lying, theft, contempt towards ministers, and church absence (Kawashima 29). In this sense Magistrates usurped at least in part the power and prerogative of the sachems and ahtaskoaog (principal men, nobles) to govern and make decisions for the Wampanoag community. See also the section on Magistrates and Guardians in the Study Guide.
Manito (Manitou): Algonquian gods, spirits, or impersonal forces that permeate the world. Directions were associated with different manitos. Traditional Wampanoags worshipped thirty-six manitos. Gift giving was one way to establish a reciprocal relationship between humans and manitos. See also Hobbomock.
Martha's Vineyard: an island off of the south shore of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and home to the Wampanoag Indians. Experience Mayhew and his family served as missionaries on the island; indeed, "vineyard" is a common euphemism for Christian missions. The term evokes both the use of the concept of a vineyard in the prophetic books of the Bible (e.g. Isaiah) and the New Testament (e.g. Matthew 20-21; Mark 12; Luke 13, 20). The Wampanoag name for the island was Noëpe.
Mashpee. A Wampanoag community on the mainland of Cape Cod. In the nineteenth century, Pequot minister William Apess ministered to the Mashpee community and wrote Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts relative to the Marshpee Tribe; or The Pretended Riot Explained (1835). Today Mashpee is the home of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The Old Indian Meeting House, the South Mashpee School, and the Indian Meetinghouse Cemetery still stand in Mashpee.
Massachusett. One of the Algonquian languages spoken in Southeastern New England. This language is closely related to Wôpanâak and was the language in which many of John Eliot's Algonquians texts were published. This is also the name of one of the Indian nations in Southeastern New England.
Massachusetts Bay Colony was a non-separating Puritan colony. Its hub was the port town of Boston. Sometimes referred to in the colonial era as "Massachusetts."
Matrilineal descent a is a kinship system in which descent is traced primarily through the maternal line. Some key Native American communities in the Southwest are matrilineal. Matrilineal descent was important for New England Algonquians in Royal Families, as in order to inherit the position of the sachem, one had to be descended from sachems on both one's mothers and father's side.
Maushop is a giant who appears in Wampanoag Oral Tradition. The tradition from Gay Head is that when the first Indians came to Martha's Vineyard, they found Maushop there with his wife Squant (Squannit) and his children. Maushop is an example of a "Cultural Hero" who kills monsters (in this case an enormous bird that ate men) and teaches people important skills like hunting and how to make fire. John Winthrop visited the Elizabeth Islands is 1702 and recorded a Maushop legend in his diary that year (Simmons 172-73). For more on the Wampanoag Oral Tradition see Wampanoag Education and the Oral Tradition in the Study Guide.
Meetinghouse: One of the great innovations of Puritan worship was the symbolic structure of the meetinghouse. Meetinghouses differ from churches in that meetinghouses are used for secular and religious purposes, while churches are primarily places of worship (Sinnott 5). Unlike Catholic and Anglican churches, Puritan meetinghouses emphasized the Puritan plain style and the distrust of church hierarchy. Puritans rejected the ornamentation characteristically found in of Catholic places of worship, as they disliked ornamentation's ties to worldly vanity and its capability to distract worshippers from God. See also the entry on Meetinghouses in the Study Guide.
Methodism is a movement within Protestant Christianity that had its origins in the First Great Awakening and John Wesley, an Anglican clergyman. Methodist Camp Meetings were important on the Vineyard in the nineteenth century, particularly in Oaks Bluff in the Wesleyan Grove (also known as the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground). Methodism was popular amongst people of color, including Native Americans in New England.
Millenarianism. A belief in a rapidly approaching and radical transformation of the world, usually in association with the arrival of the messiah. As the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation notes, "Christian millenarianism is based above all on Revelation 20, which speaks of a thousand-year period (Lat., mille anni) when Satan will be bound and Christ will reign among his people" (Barnes). See also apocalypse and eschatology.
Ministers. At the top of the Puritan church hierarchy were ministers. Most New England ministers had graduated from college, a privilege only available to the most gifted and the wealthy (Field 1-2). Their control over their flocks has been characterized as a “cultural domination”: colonists not only respected and revered ministers, but also supported them through obligatory taxes and mandatory church attendance (Field 15-16). Ministers provided advice to the General Court and governor, and their sermons played a crucial role in shaping public opinion and policy (Field 16-17). See also the section on Church Hierarchies in the Study Guide.
Modernization. “Modernity,” Charles Lamert claims, “is a state of social affairs in which the spheres of social meaning are rent asunder” (Lamert xi). These changes include “dramatic technological advances in communications, transportation, and production as well as with the creation of the nation-state" (Brown 3). Religions often emerge or adapt to meet the new worldviews that result from these changes. In the introduction to Indian Converts, I argue that Wampanoags on Martha’s Vineyard paved an alternate path to modernity that has had far reaching consequences for life on the island and for our understanding of New England Christianity.
Montauk: the Montauk Indians are an Algonquian tribe that lived on what is now Long Island. Mohegan minister Samson Occom was a missionary to the Montauk Indians and married a Montauk woman, Mary (Fowler) Occom. Many Montauks joined the Brothertown community towards the end of the eighteenth century.
Mourning Rings: While Puritans did not sanction the use of wedding rings, mourning rings were commonly used to commemorate the dead, particularly at the funerals of the wealthy. These rings were an important means of cementing ties to kin and the community on behalf of the dead and the surviving mourners: they were most commonly given to family members and to people of high social standing, though some were given to friends. See also the entry on Mourning Rings in the Study Guide.
Narrative Cycles are groups of stories that tend to focus on particular characters and include standard events and elements. Examples from the Wampanoag tradition would include creation stories, cultural hero stories, migration legends, and contact stories. Famous characters from these legends include Hobbomok, Maushop, Squant, and the “little people.”
New Lights: one of the two camps of religious revivalists during the First Great Awakening. In general New Lights supported the Great Awakening, “stressed the emotions” and were “both piestic and perfectionistic.” In contrast Old Lights “viewed revivalism as an unnecessary and disruptive element within church life” and “emphasized rationalism, which was born out of the Enlightenment and signified common sense, and self-control.” Each side saw themselves as the true inheritors of Puritan Congregationalism (Queen II.504).
Noëpe. Although white settlers called the island “Martha’s Vineyard,” the Wampanoags referred to their home as Noë-pe, meaning literally middle (noë) of the waters (pe). As historian Edward Banks rightfully points out, the name is not as generic as it sounds: there is another Algonquian word for island (aquiden), and noëpe probably refers to the fact that the island was the meeting place of currents coming from the northeast and southwest (HMV 1:32-34).
Noman’s Land is an island located three miles off southwest coast of Martha's Vineyard. Although now uninhabited, it was once part of the sachemship belonging to John Philip, a relative of Jonah Hossueit (Howwaswee), the second Wampanoag Baptist minister at Aquinnah.
Nunpaug. See Edgartown.
Oak Bluffs is a town along the northeast coast of Martha's Vineyard. Today it is a ferry stop from the mainland, but in the nineteenth century it was the location of Methodist camp meetings. Many of the island's fine Victorian homes can be found in this town.
Old Lights: one of the two camps of religious revivalists during the First Great Awakening. In general New Lights supported the Great Awakening, “stressed the emotions” and were “both piestic and perfectionistic.” In contrast Old Lights “viewed revivalism as an unnecessary and disruptive element within church life” and “emphasized rationalism, which was born out of the Enlightenment and signified common sense, and self-control.” Each side saw themselves as the true inheritors of Puritan Congregationalism (Queen II.504).
Patrilineal descent is a kinship system in which descent is traced primarily through the father's line. In patrilineal systems, male descents often receive a greater share of the father's power and material possessions.
Performative: language is considered "performative" when it performs an action (rather just saying something). Performative speech is often associated with rituals and ritual acts, such as a marriage ceremony or naming ceremonies. Linguist J. L. Austin provides several examples including "I take this man as my lawfully wedded husband," when used in a marriage ceremony: these words actually enact ("perform") the marriage, rather than just being something one says. An example of performative speech by a Native American author occurs in Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Ceremony in which language of the ritual included in the book is intended to heal both the characters and the reader. Scholars of Native American studies also use the word performative to describe recitation in Native American oral tradition, even when the words aren't "performative" in Austin's sense. For example, sometimes scholars will call a story "performative" if it is intended to be performed in front of an audience and the telling of the story is shaped by the listeners present.
Petty Sachem ("minor sachems") ruled villages or small groups of villages within a sachemship. On Martha's Vineyard, these sub-sachemships were often ruled by relatives of the major sachem (Silverman 124).
Plain Style: Puritans rejected the ornamentation characteristically found in of Catholic places of worship. They feared ornamentation's ties to worldly vanity and its capability to distract worshippers from God. This distrust of ornamentation led to a “plain style” that is found in Puritan literature, architecture, furniture, and arts. Puritan divine John Cotton put it best when he proclaimed, “God’s altar needs not our polishings.”
Powwows. The word pawwaw (also powwow or powah) refers to both a religious ceremony and to the shaman who led such ceremonies. To distinguish between the two in this website and the book Indian Converts, I use the spelling pawwaw to refer to the shaman and “powwow” to refer to the ceremony. These shamans provoked great fear in the Puritan colonists who often associated their powers with witchcraft. Pawwaws were crucial leaders of Wampanoag Traditionalism on the Vineyard, though a few converted to Christianity.
Practice of Piety: First printed in 1602, Lewis Bayley’s Practice of Piety became the most popular devotional manual in seventeenth-century New England (Hayes 43). By 1753 the book was already in its 59th English edition, and John Eliot’s Algonquian translation Manitowompae Pomantamoonk had been printed twice (1665 and 1685). See also the entry on the Practice of Piety in the Study Guide.
Praying Town were an important innovation of New England’s Puritan missionaries that differed from previous Algonquian social structures. Whereas Algonquian communities generally organized themselves around tribal leaders (sachems) and kinship, the “praying towns” reorganized Algonquian social life around the body of Christ. A key example of this type of reorganization is John Eliot's Natick. On Martha's Vineyard the practice was different from in places such as Natick. Converts and their unsaved brethren lived side by side, even when Christian churches came to Wampanoag towns. In some towns such as Gay Head (Aquinnah), there was more than one denomination of Wampanoag Christianity. This meant that on the Vineyard there were always conflicting visions of how the community should be ideally organized and the bonds that held people together most tightly.
Primers are school books that not only taught taught children to read and write, but also how to save their souls. The message these books contained was not one of uplift or angels singing in the halls of celestial heavens, but rather the only possible means to escape the fiery horror of hell, whose tortures they described in lavish and loving detail (Ford 3). See also the entries on the New England Primer and Logick Primer in the Study Guide.
Protestantism rejects the authority of the Pope and attempts to reform both the rituals and hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. In New England many Protestant sects flourished including (but not limited to) Baptists, Calvinists, Anglicans, Methodists and Quakers.
Psalms: As Indian Converts attests, Psalms played a crucial place in New England devotional practice for men, women, and children alike. Psalms educated and entertained, and they were used socially at church and a home, as well as for private meditation and study. When sung, Psalms became, in minister John Cotton’s phrase, a “converting ordinance,” that is, a religious act through which God’s grace might work in the worshipper's heart (Hambrick-Stowe 113 quotes Mather’s Singing of Psalmes 5-6, 48). See also the entry on Psalms in the Study Guide.
Puritan: The Mayhews and other early settlers on Martha’s Vineyard brought with them a distinctive form on Christianity: New England Congregationalism, or at it is more commonly known, Puritanism. The Puritans were Calvinist Protestants who wanted to "purify" the Church of England from its Catholic heritage of doctrines, rites, and hierarchical organization. The settlers in New England are often called "Congregationalists" because their churches were independent congregations that were not linked by the type of church hierarchy (bishops, archbishops) that cemented the Church of England. For settlers, the colonies represented a place where they could start anew far from the corruptions of Europe. The colonies would become “a city on the hill,” as John Winthrop famously claimed, a light onto the nations. See also the entry on Puritanism in the Study Guide.
Quakers (also known as the Religious Society of Friends) is a form of Protestantism that began in England in the seventeenth century. Pennsylvania was founded as a safe haven for Quakers, who were often persecuted in Puritan colonies such as Massachusetts Bay. For many Puritans, Quakers smacked of antinomianism because they privileged of the Spirit (as revealed by the Inner Light of God within each person) over the Scriptures. Quakers also flourished in Rhode Island, which had a more liberal policy than Massachusetts regarding the separation of church and state. See items relating to Quakers in the archive.
Racial Assignment is the process by which a community determines to which "race" members of the community belong. Use of this term implicitly argues that race is an artificial and culturally-constructed category that changes over time and place. Colonial censuses often categorized people by race, as well by age, gender, and whether they were servants, slaves, or free. As Wampanoags on the island increasingly intermarried with African Americans in the nineteenth century, racial assignment became a more vexed issue. However, even as early as the seventeenth century, racial assignment was an arbitrary fact of life for women like Ellis and Hester Daggett, who were half white and half Wampanoag. For an extensive discussion of the changes in racial assignment among Wampanoags on Martha's Vineyard, see Silverman's "Newcomers and Strangers," in Faith and Boundaries, pp. 223-73.
Reciprocity. Anthropologists and historians have suggested that Algonquian relationships between other humans, as well as with plants, animals, and spirits, were based on a notion of reciprocity not prominent in the English system (Salisbury 1982; Hamell). In his work on gift exchange, Marcel Mauss defines reciprocity as the "complex series of exchanges between individuals and villages" whereby "War, isolation, and stagnation" are replaced by "alliance, gift, and commerce" (Hulme 147-48, quotes and discusses Mauss). While useful, this definition is somewhat inaccurate for Algonquians in two significant ways: one, it tends to see reciprocity as solely occurring between humans, and two, it ignores the larger cosmological significance of these exchanges by focusing on their material aspects. See also the entry on Gift Exchange in the Study Guide.
Regular Lights: During the First Great Awakening, many New Englanders were swept up in the revivals, but others were more cautious. As Samuel Mather, the minister of the Boston Second Church put it, most New England ministers were neither Old nor New Lights but “Regular Lights” who “understood the power and danger of revivalism" (Harlan 11). Unlike either Old or New Lights, Regular Lights tended to pick and choose aspects of both camps and thereby founded a “middle-ground” between the two poles (Harlan 4). Experience Mayhew is a good example of a "Regular Light."
Resident Non-members. In Wampanoag society, resident non-members such as prisoners of war and their descendents did not have the same social status as full-fledged members of the community. These “non-members” of Algonquian communities also included servants and slaves (Bragdon 1996: 143). Social inferiors were expected to behavior in a deferential manner since etiquette was an important way of reinforcing the relative power of individuals without to having to resort to violence or threats (Bragdon 1987: 103-05, 108). See also the section on Resident Non-members in the Study Guide.
Royal Families: Persons related to a sachem. Sachems ruled by consensus, and they actively cultivated the support of their families through gift-giving, hospitality, strategic marriages, and council appointments (Silverman 124). In order to inherit the position of the sachem, a person had to be descended a member of a royal family both through his father and mother. Even after the power of sachems decreased on Martha's Vineyard, many members of royal families continued to marry one another. See also the section on Royal Families in the Study Guide.
Sabbath. The day of rest for Protestants in New England was usually Sunday. Keeping the Sabbath was an important mark of the convert’s transformation both on Martha’s Vineyard and on the Puritan mainland. Jewish thinker Ahad Ha'am once proverbially said, "More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews." Self-styled as the “new Israelites,” the Puritans would undoubtedly have seen a certain appeal in such notion, though for them the Sabbath was primarily a means of salvation rather than a way of preserving of their way of life. See also the entry on the Sabbath in the Study Guide.
Sachemship (sachemdom): On the island of Martha's Vineyard there were six sachemdoms, each controlled by a sachem: (1) Aquinnah/Gay Head, (2) Nashawakemuck (north), (3) Nashawakemuck (South)/Squibnocket, (4) Takemmeh, (5) Nunpauk, and (6) Chappaquiddick. Within each sachemship there might be several villages or districts that were ruled by petty sachems. See the Map of Martha's Vineyard.
Sachems (Sachim, Sagamores) were traditional civil leaders who governed Algonquian tribes and confederacies through consensus with their council of elders and tribe. As Robert Grumet notes, in addition to these civil leaders, there were also war captains as well as religious and political advisors (Grumet 47). See also the section on Sachems in the Study Guide.
Sacraments. See Communion.
Salvation. In Calvinist theology, Christ died to save only an elect few (the "Saints"). These elect did were not chosen based on their own merit, but rather by God's choice: man "cannot will himself to salvation." Arminians challenged this idea and argued that God "foreknew" who would accept grace, but the actual choice was man's (see Arminian Tenets). The debate over salvation is one of the key disputes during the First Great Awakening.
Satan. Andrew Delbanco and other scholars have argued that early Americans often viewed their histories--both public and private--as an epic battle against Satan. Satan was at once more corporeal and inessential (Delbanco 28). Thus, groups who threatened Puritan hegemony were often seen as allied with the devil, whether they be Catholics, women, children, or Native Americans.
Second Great Awakening (1790–1840s) was a Protestant revival movement that focused on renewed personal salvation and revival meetings. On the Vineyard, Methodist Camp Meetings were an important aspect of the Second Great Awakening.
Sermon Cycle: Although some sermons were intended to stand alone, many ministers developed a theme over many weeks or months and created a “cycle” of sermons on the same theme or biblical verse.
Sermon Structure: Eighteenth-century Protestant sermons had a triadic structure: (1) Text (or Doctrine), (2) Explication (Reason), and (3) Application (Use). Sermons also heavily relied upon Ramist logic which held that the most logical way to understand any subject was to divide it into its two subordinate parts, and then to divide each of those parts into two, and so forth (Ames 41).
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG): also know as the "Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New-England," this organization sponsored missionary activities to Native Americans in New England, including those on Martha's Vineyard. Mayhew's Indian Converts is addressed to this organization.
Squant. See Maushop.
Squa-Sachems were female civic leaders who controlled districts composed of interrelated villages. Sachems had the power to pass along their titles to family members. Usually the eldest son inherited the title (and power), but it could also pass to a "younger son, daughter, brother, or paternal nephew" if the eldest son was unsuitable (Silverman 124)
Tisbury. A town towards the center of Martha's Vineyard. Banks notes that, "The town of Tisbury, incorporated July 8, 1671, included the present town of West Tisbury, the region originally settled by the early proprietors, - and the limits of the town remained intact, territorially, until May 1, 1892, when as a result of a long continued agitation, the old town was divided. The portion formerly known as Homes Hole Neck retained the corporate name and ancient records of Tisbury, and the settlement at West Tisbury, where the town had its first beginnings, took the latter name" (Banks HMV II.Tisbury.13). Many of the Mayhews are buried in West Tisbury Village Cemetery.
- Total Depravity. All man's sense are flawed. His will is imperfect and he cannot will himself to salvation.
- Unconditional Election. God chooses certain individuals for salvation.
- Limited Atonement. Christ dies only for the elect.
- Irresistible Grace. The Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call to salvation. The external call, which is made to the saints, cannot be rejected. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate. God's grace cannot fail.
- Perseverance of the Saints. It is impossible to "fall" from grace.
See also the entry on TULIP in the Study Guide.
Typology is “the tendency of characters and scenes to mirror one another” (Holtz 51). Types refer to the way in which people serve as shadows, parables, copies, and patterns of one another. A type-scene is a “convention for telling a story, a fixed mode or sequence of action by which an event unfolds, in accordance with reader’s expectations and traditional storytelling devices” (Holtz 49). Thus Moses may be a character type that predicts later figures (Christ, William Bradford), while the exodus from Egypt may be a type-scene that predicts later reunifications with God and his chosen land. For Puritans, there were two types of typology: types found in the Hebrew Bible may be echoed in antitypes found either in (1) the New Testament or (2) current events. Puritans believed that just as the antitypes found in the New Testament revealed that Christ was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophesies about the messiah, so too the reappearance of echoes of these people, events, and ceremonies in the current era signaled the return of the messiah (Christ). See also the entry on Gravestones in the Study Guide.
Urn & willow: During the late 1700s and early 1800s, many New England communities had begun to use the symbol of a willow tree overhanging a pedestaled urn rather than cherubs on their gravestones. The willow and urn are neoclassical and reflect the rise of “less emotional, more intellectual religions, such as Unitarianism and Methodism” (Deetz and Dethlefsen). There are many fine examples of urn and willow gravestones in the Wampanoag Indian Meetinghouse Cemetery in Mashpee.
Vineyard. Shorthand for the island of Martha's Vineyard, an island off of the south shore of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and home to the Wampanoag Indians.
Vineyard Haven is a town on the northeast end of Martha's Vineyard.
Wampanoag Indians are an Algonquian Tribe have lived in what is now Southeastern New England. In the colonial era, their territories included Martha's Vineyard, sections of Cape Cod, and parts of Rhode Island. Famous Wampanoags include Massasoit, Weetamoo, King Philip, and Awashonks. Today the tribe is represented by the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah, and the Chappaquiddick Wampanoag. They also run the Wampanoag Education Site at Plimoth Plantation. James Clifford analyzed the legal battles of the Wampanoag of Mashpee in his article "Identity in Mashpee." Most of the biographies in Mayhew's Indian Converts are of Wampanoag Indians.
Wampanoag Traditionalists. Not all Wampanoags on Martha's Vineyard found Calvinism to be a useful or acceptable solution to the crisis caused by modernization and disease. Thus they continued to practice the polytheist religion that dominated island life before the arrival of the English and to follow the lead of traditional practitioners such as the pawwaws long after the Mayhews arrived. Traditionalists attempted to heal the community by restoring balance to a world disrupted by social change. Although no religion is stagnant, Wampanoag polytheism differed from Puritanism is four key ways: (1) they worshipped thirty-six manitos; (2) Wampanoag traditionalism was primarily relational, whereas Puritanism is congregational; (3) religious leaders such as powwows and pniesok played an important role in tribal politics and helped cement the power of the sachems; (4) religious credentials were gained through divine revelation, not book learning. For more on these four differences, see pages 36-37 of the introduction to Indian Converts.
Weaned Affections: one of the most important theological doctrines for Puritans was the "doctrine of weaned affections." This concept argued that the individual must learn to wean his or herself away from earthly loves (husband, children, grandchildren, material possessions), and instead focus on God. Puritans feared that if one appreciated the sensual beauty and relations of this world, one might forget the ever-lasting beauty of the world of the spirit (Tolles 485). See also the entry on Weaned Affections in the Study Guide.
West Tisbury is a town towards the center of Martha's Vineyard. West Tisbury is the region of the old town of Tisbury that was originally settled by the early proprietors. (The town was divided in 1892.) (Banks HMV II.Tisbury.13). Many of the Mayhews are buried in West Tisbury Village Cemetery.
Wheelock’s Indian School: One of the only other extensive records we have about New England Algonquian children and education from the eighteenth century are the letters from the children at Eleazer Wheelock’s “Indian School” (Moor’s Charity School) in Lebanon, Connecticut and the writings of Rev. Wheelock himself. Wheelock published nine narratives between 1763 and 1775. See also the section on Wheelock's Indian School in the Study Guide.
Wigwam. A traditional Wampanoag house. Wampanoags in colonial New England tended to build two types of wigwams: a smaller "round house" or puttuckakuan, and a larger arborlike “long house,” the neesquttow, or "house with two fires.” Puttuckakuan were most likely single-family dwellings whereas neesquttow could hold up to four families (Nanpashamet). Wigwams were an inexpensive and flexible form of shelter: built out of wooden poles and removable mats, these homes were easily transportable when the Wampanoags moved between seasonable hunting and planting grounds. Wigwams were also well adapted to the island’s climate. Wigwams could be double matted with eelgrass stuffed in between, a technique that made the houses warmer than many Puritan-style dwellings. This technique may have inspired the use of eel grass for insulation in Puritan homes on the island (Scott I. 52). European style houses also influenced wigwams: during the eighteenth century some wigwams were modified to include boards, brick, stone, glass, and other European elements (Plane 106). See also the entry on Wampanoag Style Houses in the Study Guide.
Wôpanâak is an Algonquian language spoken by Wampanoag Indians that is closely related to Massachusett, the language used in Natick and several other New England praying towns. For more information see the Offsite Resources on Algonquian Texts and the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project.