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James Otis

The Murder of John Oldham

It was six years after we had come to live in Boston, that a most terrible crime was committed by the savages of the Narragansett tribe, for then they killed Captain John Oldham, and three other men, who were sailing on Long Island Sound. The vessel was taken by the Indians, after they had murdered all on board, and we in Boston were moved to great fear, believing the brown men around us were making ready to murder the white people.


Sir Harry Vane, the Governor, sent five of our chief men to the head savage of the Narragansett tribe, to inquire into the matter, and these messengers were told that none save the Indians living on Block Island had any hand in the matter.

Then it was that Governor Vane commanded Master Endicott of Salem, to take a large number of fighting men in three vessels, and punish the murderers as they deserved.

Master Endicott did according to the command; but when he was come to Block Island, the brown people had run away; therefore all he could do was to burn the huts, destroy the canoes, and shoot the dogs that were prowling around the deserted village.

This Master Endicott did not believe was punishment enough for what had been done, therefore he crossed over to the mainland where the Indians who call themselves Pequots live, and there he killed more than twenty of these people, besides seizing their corn. He also burned, or destroyed in some other way, all the goods belonging to the savages that he could find, and then came back to Boston, where the people of the town turned out to give him a noble welcome.

We had a thanksgiving day because of what had been done, and believed, or, at least, Susan and I did, that we need fear nothing more from the savages, for surely the brown people would not dare molest any white man again after being so severely punished.