The Factors Affecting the Relationship of the English Settlers and the Natives

Categories: Mayflower

What caused the good relationship between the natives and the English settlers to spoil? To determine this, why the relationship first formed must be analyzed. If one were to think of the two vastly different peoples as oil and water, they notice the substances’ infamous inability to mix. They can mix though, but only with the help of an emulsifier, another substance (such as egg whites in mayonnaise, composed of oil and vinegar) that essentially wraps around one substance to suspend it in the other.

The emulsifier in the instance of the natives and the settlers was their need for each other in order to survive and later prosper. According to Nathaniel Philbrick, the author of Mayflower, peace could persist only “as long as both sides recognized that they needed each other,” (Philbrick, xvi). And they did need each other, at first. The English required the assistance of the natives to learn how to survive on this new land. (In fact, they may not have survived that first year if not for the corn that they had stolen or the aid of Squanto in agricultural techniques).

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On the Natives’ side, they had their numbers severely drop due to disease previously and the threat of disease ensured that the Natives would need the English. This was notion encouraged by Edward Winslow having done “everything in his powerieven scraping [Massasoit’s] furred mouthito save his life”. In addition, Massasoit was able to take advantage of the Englishmen’s nearby trading post when he was attacked by Narragansetts at Sowams.

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Both successfully cemented the English’s friendship with the more abundant Indians by earning the sachems perpetual love for the men who saved his life on a number of accounts.

By the second generation, their “daily lives no longer involved an arduous struggle for survival, they had begun to take the Indians for granted…[and started] choosing to pursue economic prosperity at the expense of the Indians”. They were no longer working in order to survive; they were now working so as to prosperi This allowed the English population to continue to grow until “there were more Puritans in Massachusetts Bay than Native Americans in all of New England,“. This was also caused by, in part, the fact that the first generation of settlers had produced an average of 7 t0 8 children in each family, Unfortunately for the natives these children needed more land as they reached adulthood, With the crowding of New England came more pressure on the land and the further need for more of it (much like the “Baby Boomers” caused too much stress on the working class that needed to support them as they retired in great numbers in relationship to more recent occurrences), In fact, there was only about 20 percent of land suitable for agriculture; it was heavily depended upon by both groups The need for land was a major driving force in the deterioration of their relationship, Another related issue is that eventually “Philip’s generationmhad come to regard expensive western goods as an essential part of their lives,”. And to sustain this new lifestyle, natives first turned to the fur trade, and with the near extinction of the beaver they then turned to selling more of their land in exchange for these new. Injust 10 years (between 1665 and 1675) 76 land deeds were sold by the natives to the English Soon, “King“ Philip realized that the loss of their land had had “the most direct impact on his people,“. So, he tried to turn to war to “allow the Indians to get back their lands [and] it would enable them to ‘enrich themselves with (English) goods. The perceived necessity of English goods furthered the spoiling of the band.  In conclusion, need both brought the groups together and tore them apart. They were peaceful until their need for each other diminished, with this need being replaced by the wanting of land and goods. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but as the English quickly learned it can also be the Angel of Death to a once symbiotic relationship.

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The Factors Affecting the Relationship of the English Settlers and the Natives. (2022, Jul 12). Retrieved from

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