Date of Award
Master of Arts
This thesis argues that native epidemics of European infections were crucial to the English colonization of New England. In the early seventeenth century, this region was densely populated with natives who were happy to trade with Europeans but prevented them from establishing permanent settlements there. But in 1616, an epidemic, probably of smallpox, killed thousands of natives along the New England coast, creating conditions that helped ensure the survival of the Pilgrims' settlement at Plymouth and facilitating subsequent English expansion in New England. Then in 1633, in the midst of the Puritan "Great Migration," another smallpox outbreak caused extensive native mortality and social disruption from Massachusetts Bay to the Connecticut Valley, initiating a series of events that culminated in the Pequot War. By fundamentally transforming the natives' demographic, social, and political worlds, these epidemics created room for English settlement in the region and critically shaped interactions between Europeans and natives.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Buckingham, Steven Charles, "Saints, "Savages," and Smallpox: Epidemic Disease and the Colonization of New England, 1616-1637" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 422.