The preceding chapter dealt with Samuel de Champlain’s and Captain John Smith’s common experiences of planting a year-round settlement in America.  This chapter will move forward some years to consider another common experience that they had.  On this occasion, instead of having freshly arrived on North American soil, both men traveled to the same region, Norumbega, or New England as John Smith called it.[1] It is in the accounting of their time in New England that the similarities between their perceptions of the aboriginal people began to change.  In this case, instead of purely narrating the chronology of events – a style that Champlain continued – Smith took on the role of colonial promoter by making a point rather than telling a story.  This key difference plays a significant role in how these documents depict Champlain and Smith’s perspectives of the aboriginal people.  For this reason this chapter is broken into three sections.  The first section fills in the blank space between their earlier voyages and their trips to New England, including a brief discussion of the aboriginal people.  The second section addresses some of the technical aspects of their works.  Finally, the third section compares Smith’s and Champlain’s actual observations and comments in these works.

At the end of the summer of 1603, Champlain sailed back to France to discover that Aymar de Chaste, who held the monopoly for the Saint Lawrence valley, had died while the voyage was away.  Conveniently for Champlain a new monopoly was granted to Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, the governor of the town of Pons in Saintonge, which was not far from Champlain’s hometown of Brouage.  Champlain would have been well known to him; not only was de Monts with Champlain during his travels in 1603, but both men had also fought in Brittany for the King at the end of the sixteenth century.  That they continued to cross paths proved to be a major advantage for Champlain’s future, as in 1604 Champlain traveled with de Monts to the shores of the Bay of Fundy.  During the next three years Champlain was able to coast the waters between the Minas Basin and Cape Cod, making maps and meeting the inhabitants.

In all Champlain took three separate voyages down the New England coast.  In September of 1604 he traveled down from the Ste-Croix River as far as the western side of Penobscot Bay – approximately the same location where Smith began his own travels a decade later. The next year, after losing half of the men to scurvy at the first French settlement on the Ste-Croix River, Champlain got an earlier start and was accompanied by de Monts as they searched for a place to build a new outpost.  They were gone for approximately six weeks, between June and August, and reached as far as Nauset Harbour, Massachusetts – which Champlain called Malle barre on account of a sand bar blocking the harbour. By the end of this trip de Monts decided not to move further south, but instead moved the outpost at Ste-Croix to the previously scouted Port Royal in the Annapolis Basin.  From there in September 1606 Champlain took his last voyage down the Norumbegan coast, but covered little new ground on account of his traveling companion, Sieur de Poutrincourt, who was appointed lieutenant-governor of Acadia that year, and wished to see much of what Champlain and de Monts had covered the year before.

The transition between Virginia and New England was not as smooth for John Smith.  When Smith wrote A True Relation he had only spent one year in Virginia.  A few months after sending this letter to England, Smith was elected as President of the colony for the period of one year.[2] However, the early years of Virginia were mired in internal disputes among the English, which plagued Smith’s ability to fully focus on the success of the colony.  The situation was only fuelled by poor communication with their homeland, which made it difficult to reprimand some of the more aristocratic antagonists.  During this period Smith had two problems on his hands: the first concerned the foul attitudes that had existed towards him from the very beginning of the Virginia venture;[3] the second was the tensions created by seeking food for the colonists from the aboriginal people.

The situation went from bad to worse in 1609 when the Virginia Company received its second charter.  This document changed the colony’s structure, and in lieu of a president Sir Thomas Gates was appointed Governor, and Sir George Sommers, Admiral.  These men sailed with a number of Smith’s rivals to Virginia once the second charter had been completed.  Unfortunately for Smith his enemies arrived safely in Virginia, and Gates and Sommers were shipwrecked off Bermuda, forming the premise for Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  Without official word of this change of leadership (which was with Gates and Sommers), and with an increasing number of influential people pitted against Smith the “remaining weeks of Smith’s presidency were… disrupted by what amounted to mutiny.”[4] By mid-August it was all over.  A spark ignited Smith’s gunpowder bag severely burning his legs.  With tensions high in the young colony, and Smith injured, the writing was on the wall.  He was sent back to England in early October, never to see Virginia again.  Between this time and his 1614 voyage to New England Smith published another account of Virginia, entitled A Map of Virginia.

Although he remained in England for a number of years his mind never left the subject of America.  During this period of repose Smith continuously attempted to return.  It was not until 1614 that he found employment with Marmaduke Rawdon, a cloth worker, who, with three associates, was planning to finance a voyage to New England.  The purpose of this voyage was strictly economic.  The vessels involved were to hunt whales and find gold, and if neither enterprise was successful they were then to resort to fish and furs.[5] This severely limited how much Smith could explore.  Nonetheless, on his only voyage to New England, and last voyage to North America, Smith, like Champlain, made it slightly past Cape Cod before needing to return to the vessels left whaling near Penobscot Bay.

Based on the existing evidence of disease and contact it seems that New England had not changed much in the seven years between Smith’s and Champlain’s visits.  Unlike the Saint Lawrence and post-Jamestown Virginia, few Europeans had come into extended contact with the aboriginal inhabitants of this region; however, the sixteenth century, and earlier, saw many intermittent contacts that helped to shape the knowledge and experience of all parties: Champlain, Smith, and the aboriginal people.  James Axtell has made the important observation that “no matter how early a European ship is known to have touched upon New England’s shores, Indian reactions or possessions suggest that it had already been preceded by others.”[6] Smith and Champlain were by no means odd sights to these people, and it seems likely that by the time of their arrival Europeans had lost much of their exotic lustre.

Not only were Europeans and the aboriginal people aware of each other’s existence, but each party also had enough experience with the other culture to be able to draw parallels between societies.  In Description of New England Smith occasionally reached back to his experience in Virginia to add the weight of authority to some of his comments.  When discussing other people’s views of his proposal to live with the natives, for example, he wrote,

And though many may thinke me more bolde then wise, in regard of their power, dexteritie, treacherie, and inconstancie, having so desperately assaulted and betraied many others: I say but this (because with so many, I have many times done much more in Virginia, then I intended heere, when I wanted that experience Virginia taught me) that to mee it seemes no daunger more then ordinarie.[7]

Champlain also appealed to the past, but rather than using it to validate a claim, he used it to aid his description.  For example, he described the people of Norumbega (the Penobscot River area) as “fort basannez, habillez de peaux de castors & autres fourrures, cōme les sauuages Cannadiens & Souriquois: & ont mesme façon de viure.”[8] By the seventeenth century it seems that the aboriginal people had also had enough contact in order to make up their minds about the new visitors.  Emphasizing the trading relationship between the French and New England natives, and citing Smith’s Description of New England as evidence, Kenneth Morrison has noted, “Although other Englishmen fished and traded among the Abenaki, they usually noted that the Indians were decided Francophiles.”[9] For the most part the evidence that Morrison used to support this claim was from after the French had established a permanent presence in Acadia.  Furthermore, as will be shown throughout this chapter, the native people around the Gulf of Maine were by no means united under a single mindset.  One group may have been francophile, while another anglophile, and many probably somewhere in between.

Although not all of the aboriginal groups were united, documented interaction in the sixteenth century helps to explain why many groups may have been francophiles.  James Axtell noted that just nine years after Columbus made his famous voyage Gaspar Corte Real kidnapped “fifty-some” aboriginal people “from what sounds like Maine.”[10] In 1524 Estevão Gomes kidnapped fifty-eight aboriginal people while sailing under the Spanish flag.  Earlier that year Giovanni Verrazzano had also encountered ‘Norumbegans’ off the coast of Maine.  They refused personal contact, preferring to trade via a cord thrown out to Verrazzano’s ship – suggesting prior negative contact.  These events cannot stand alone, however, because they occurred nearly a century before Champlain or Smith set foot on New England soil.

After a half century of silence in the documents, the English returned to New England in 1580.[11] Perhaps even more important for our purposes, however, was Bartholomew Gosnold’s (Smith’s good friend) attempt to set up a winter trading post in 1602.  He failed when the aboriginal people turned against him after a number of minor incidents between the two cultures.  Little was learned from that experience, it seems, as the next year Martin Pring went to Cape Cod and repeated Gosnold’s earlier mistakes.[12] During Champlain’s second voyage to the region in 1605, George Waymouth also visited the area, and he kidnapped five aboriginal people, one of whom would play a role in John Smith’s failed plan to build a colony in New England just over a decade later.  And lastly, in 1607 George Popham, representing the Virginia Company of Plymouth, tried to start a settlement at Sagadahoc.  Like Smith’s later plan, Popham planned on the support of two of Waymouth’s captives: Nahanada, who returned in 1606, and Skidwarres, who returned with Popham.  The settlement ultimately failed, because of “inadequate planning, factionalism, and weak leadership… [but] poor indian relations also contributed substantially to its demise.”[13] Despite these well-documented accounts fishers and traders whose names and experiences have vanished in the winds of time also frequented the waters of the Gulf of Maine, like the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and it is highly likely that they had both constructive and deconstructive experiences as well.[14]

Despite at least a century of contact with various European kingdoms not all of the aboriginal people had encountered the strangers from across the sea.  On at least one occasion, Champlain observed, “Cabahis l’autre chef peu aprés arriua aussi auec vignt ou trēte de ses cōpagnōs, qui se retirēt apart, & se riouirēt fort de nous veoir: d’autāt que c’estoit la premiere fois qu’ils auoient veu des Chrestiens.”[15] This statement and the experience of those men who had travelled in New England before, further emphasizes the dynamic context of this period.  It also highlights the varying experiences that Champlain and Smith had as they traveled along the coast of modern-day Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.  How the aboriginal people responded to each man’s arrival depended on a variety of different factors, some of which included how the explorers and their companions acted, but much also hinged on the actions of their predecessors.

The image of this time period in popular culture is one of a dynamic European presence encountering a unified aboriginal community.  This was not an accurate image.  Seventeenth-century New England was a culturally diverse region with many different peoples, both ethnically and politically.  This diversity has made deciphering who the original inhabitants of New England were extremely difficult.  Nearly 400 years later scholars continue to debate the identity of the peoples these early explorers encountered.  Champlain broke them down into three distinct groupings: Souriquois, Etchemin, and Almouchiquois.[16] The Souriquois are considered to have been the people commonly called the Mi’kmaq today, and the Almouchiquois were the first people he encountered using agriculture on a permanent basis.  Bert Salwen in the Handbook of North American Indians placed their modern-day descendants’ territory beginning just south of the Saco River and extending to the modern Connecticut/New York border.  This is approximately where Champlain placed them in his Voyages.  However, Joe Armstrong noted that the Almouchiquois territory began at the Kennebec.[17] He based this statement on the fact that Champlain had a husband and wife with him as interpreters. Panounias, the husband, was Souriquois and his wife Almouchiquois, and it is she who Champlain noted as the interpreter on the Kennebec.  Interestingly, Bruce Bourque has observed that the term Almouchiquois “was dropped almost immediately after Champlain left the Gulf of Maine,”[18] leaving one to wonder whether these people fell victim to disease or if they fell into a different ethnographic category for other European travelers.

The identity of the Etchemin is even more difficult to pin down.  Although Champlain used the term Etchemin to refer to the people stretching from the Ste-Croix River to the Kennebec/Saco Rivers, these appear to be a people far from united.  Dean Snow, who was following Frank Speck, has suggested that during this period the Eastern Abenaki occupied the Presumpscot, Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Penobscot Rivers; the Etchemin (modern Maliseet-Passamaquoddy) occupied the Saint John and Ste-Croix River valleys.[19] However, Bruce Bourque has objected to Snow’s argument and the “river drainage model” made famous by Speck.  Bourque believed in taking the early sources at their word, and considered Champlain’s observance of three distinct groups to be true.  “North of the Western Etchemin and Almouchiquois,” Bourque writes, “lived the Abenaki, another horticultural group.”[20] Emerson Baker considered this discrepancy to have been caused by Speck’s reputation as a thorough scholar, and has claimed that, “so great was Speck’s influence that many of his contemporaries and subsequent scholars ignored the Etechemins sic.”[21] The works of both Bourque and Baker make it clear that it was the Etchemin and not the Abenaki who lived in this region when Champlain and Smith arrived.

Nonetheless, the sources are vague for this period, making a concrete understanding of the aboriginal people difficult.  Most likely, however, these Etchemin communities were organized into small groups who were “far from single minded.”  Kenneth Morrison told his readers: “According to Pierre Biard, Algonkian societies [such as these] hardly extended past the influence of a single sachem.”[22] However, Baker has painted a much more diverse picture by claiming, “Sometimes they lived in small bands to facilitate their hunting for moose and deer.  At other times they gathered on the coast in large groups where they could fish as well as communicate and trade with distant tribes.”[23] Much like the Mi’kmaq further north, the Etchemin seem to have been a politically diverse people, whose society interacted in a dynamic fashion.

Although these societies seem to have been fairly divided, there was also significant evidence of interaction between community groups, a fact most clearly seen through conflict.  Baker has explained  “that the natives of Maine had fought battles for generations before the arrival of Europeans.”[24] Champlain showed what this type of conflict was like when he told of a battle that Membertou (a Mi’kmaq chief) was going to fight over the death of Panounias, Champlain’s earlier interpreter.  In Champlain’s account it is possible to see tribal divisions and alliances throughout the region.  As this chapter progresses it will be shown that some of these alliances were recent creations made with the prompting of closer trade connections with the French, and others may have been relationships spanning decades or even centuries.  It is possible to get a glimpse at these relationships through Champlain who wrote:

Le 10. d’Aoust arriua de la guerre Mabretou, lequel nous dit auoir esté à Chouacoet, & auoir tué 20. sauuages & 10.  ou 12. de b[l]essez ; & que Onemechin chef de ce lieu, Marchin, & vn autre auoient esté tué par Sasinou chef de la riuiere de Quinibequi, lequel depuis fut tué  par les compagnons d’Onemechin & Marchin.  Toute ceste guerre ne fut que pour le subiect de Panounia sauuage de nos amis, lequel, cōme i’ay dict cy dessus auoit esté tué à Narembegue par les gens dudit Onemechin & Marchin.[25]

In this passage Champlain clarified that Onemechin and Marchin were fighting against Sasinou and Membertou over the death of Panounias.  What is interesting is that earlier in the work, during the voyage of 1605, Champlain explained that Sasinou and Marchin (assuming that they are the same people) were neighbouring chiefs along the Kennebec River.[26] It appears that within the three years Champlain was in the New England region the relationships between these two groups dissolved, thus showing the complex dynamics at work within aboriginal society.

Although aboriginal society changed over time, the pace at which change occurred became much more rapid in the years Champlain and Smith met the native people in New England.  Neal Salisbury has noted that “When Europeans reached North America, then, the continent’s demographic and political map was in a state of profound flux.”[27] In the Saint Lawrence, for example, the Stadaconans and Hochelagans encountered by Jacques Cartier had disappeared before Champlain visited the region in 1603.  In the years surrounding Champlain and Smith, New England was also entering a great time of change.  Just after Smith traveled through the region, for example, a number of serious epidemics swept through the area.  Ralph Pastore credited Dean Snow and Kim Lanphear with discovering “definite evidence of an initial outbreak of smallpox in 1616, and the possibility of limited outbreaks of disease during the period 1604 to 1616.”[28] Although it is difficult to judge just how much of a toll these diseases took on aboriginal communities prior to permanent settlement in New England, David Jones noted that John Smith considered New England, “well inhabited with a goodly, strong and well proportioned people,” but five years later Thomas Dermer observed “some antient Plantations, not long since populous now utterly void.”[29] Likewise in Smith’s 1622 edition of New England Trials, he told his readers: “God has laid this Country open for us, and slaine the most part of the inhabitants by cruell warres and a mortall disease; for where I had seene 100 or 200 people, there is scarce ten to be found.”[30] What this shows is that New England was significantly changed in the years immediately after Champlain and Smith visited its shores, and perhaps even before their arrival.  With the ‘hit and miss’ dynamics of both disease and contact each of Smith’s and Champlain’s individual experiences could have been very different; and although disease was not addressed in their works it does not preclude such dynamic changes having occurred without their knowing – neither man was in New England for longer than a few weeks at a time.  Unfortunately there is no evidence pointing towards any conclusion.

Nonetheless, both of these men did have significant contact with the aboriginal people, and in some cases with the same individuals.  By examining their interactions with the native people as they traveled along the coast of New England one can learn much about their attitudes towards the original inhabitants of New England. By examining their purposes for the native peoples, how they communicated, and their general impressions of aboriginal society, the points of contrast and similarity between Smith and Champlain become much more clear.

For this analysis five texts have been used. For Champlain, Book I of his Voyages (printed in 1613) provides detailed accounts of all three of his trips from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Cod.  Although the work includes the events at Ste-Croix and Port Royal, these will not be the primary focus for two reasons: first because Smith did not travel into the Bay of Fundy area, and second because they contain significantly less detail regarding the aboriginal people in comparison to the chapters relating to New England.  In order to provide a somewhat comparable body of material, four of Smith’s works have been examined.  The most important is his Description of New England, which was written while he was being held by pirates in 1615, and published in the following year.[31] This work was written just after his final trip to America, and Philip Barbour explained: “Smith seems to have moved in the Description of New England to the role of publicist.  Although he made a final (and unsuccessful) try at active seafaring life late in 1616, by 1618 he appears to have become at least halfway content with propagandizing for, and pleading the cause of, colonization.”[32] The three works following Smith’s Description of New England basically build upon each other, the first being a letter written to the recently installed Lord Chancellor of England, Sir Francis Bacon,[33] and the next two works built upon each other (almost word for word) in the New England Trials of 1620 and 1622.  These works have been used sparingly because they are even more in the genre of propaganda than Smith’s Description of New England. Adding these works to the study is important, however, because in them one can see the evolution of Smith’s thinking, for it is in his account of New England in which his writing style took a noticeable change.

It is also important to note that unlike the documents studied in the previous chapter, which were published while the experience of America was fresh in the writers’ minds, all of these works spanned at least two years from experience to publication.  Champlain, for example, was not published until the outpost at Quebec was well underway, and Smith never returned to America after his short séjour in New England.  Both works are rife with hindsight.[34] Champlain’s translator, W.F. Ganong, has made these notes pertaining to the creation of Voyages:

The collective evidence would imply that Champlain in preparing his narrative for publication greatly condensed his original journals, even to the total omission of some parts.  Furthermore, it would seem that his narrative was not written direct from the journals, but from memory aided by notes: and it is probable that the journals themselves were not at the time accessible to him.[35]

The importance of this lies not in the veracity of Champlain’s tales, but rather in the precision of his descriptions.  One must bear in mind the question of whether Champlain may have mixed experiences that did not occur at the same time, for the sake of an argument or space.  This is important to remember for both men.  In Smith’s work one must evaluate whether his message was more important than his observations; in Champlain’s one must remember that he came into contact with many different people, and there is the possibility that some of his descriptions were not as accurate as they could have been.

As in earlier writings, these two writers’ styles are completely different.  For the most part Champlain has retained the detailed description of his travels.  Book I of his Voyages is quite successful in demonstrating that Champlain and de Monts met their goal of “recognoistre les terres & les peuples qui y sont.”[36] However, as seen in the last chapter, Smith’s A True Relation only accounted for his own travels.  It is more of a personal narrative, saving the more general description for his Map of Virginia published in 1612.  By the writing of Description of New England Smith’s style had changed again.  Instead of a chronological account like his previous work, this short book is based on a solid argument for colonisation – making it impossible to trace his voyage down the New England coast without consulting external sources.  What could not have been shown in Smith’s accounts of Virginia is apparent in his New England writings, and vice versa.  In the Virginia accounts Smith told his readers about what he did and saw, but in the New England works he gave a greater sense of his purpose and goals.

By putting Champlain beside Smith it is possible to see two different focuses on colonisation.  Champlain, who embodied a long-standing French policy of building trade relationships, focused more on people and places.  Smith, on the other hand, has placed his focus on the economic benefits of colonisation.  For Champlain colonisation involved learning about the land, peoples, and how to work within that system, whereas for Smith it was comprised “of charity to those poore salvages, whose Countrie wee challenge, use and possesse.”[37] In the 1622 edition of the New England Trials Smith refined this statement to give even greater insight into his feelings about North America.  He wrote: “God had laid this country open for us, and slaine the most part of the inhabitants by cruell warres and a mortall disease…”[38] The need for challenge was over, and Smith emphasized the fact that it was now an easy task to settle in New England.

The language in these documents also reflects changes in these men’s writings.  Where Champlain rarely deviated from using the word sauvage in Des Sauvages, by 1613 he employed a slightly larger vocabulary – although sauvage was still dominant.  One word that Champlain had significantly increased the use of was peuple. It appears that one way Champlain defined this word was based on a concept of civility.  This point was made most clearly at the end of his first chapter where he discussed his desires and goals:

meu aussi de l’esperance d’auoir plus d’vtilité au dedans des terres où les peuples sōt ciuilisez, & est plus facile de planter la foy Chrestienne & establir vn ordre comme il est necessaire pour la conseruation d’vn païs, que le long des riues de la mer, où habitēt ordinairement les sauuages: & ainsi faire que le Roy en puisse tirer vn proffit inestimable: Car il est aisé à croire que les peuples de l’Europe rechercheront plustost ceste facilité que non pas les humeurs enuieuses & farouches qui suiuent les costes & les nations barbares.[39]

This seems to be one of the few contexts in which the word sauvage is contrasted with an alternative word, making sauvage appear to have more negative connotations.  However, further complicating matters, peuple and sauvage appear in the same paragraph later in the work.  On one line Champlain wrote, “Ces peuples demonstroient estre fort contens…”[40] and about six lines later described “Ces sauuages se rasent le poil de dessus le crasne assez haut…”[41] Interestingly the same paragraph then ends with the statement: “Ceste riuiere s’appelle des habitans du pays Choüacoet,”[42] habitans du pays being a phrase that appears only twice in reference to the Native people.  In this short paragraph Champlain used three different terms to refer to the aboriginal people living around the Saco River, further reinforcing the need to always place the word sauvage into context before making a translation or attempting to draw meaning from a phrase.  Although there are some instances when sauvage has negative connotations in Champlain’s work, it was by no means a universal implication of the word.[43]

Champlain does, however, make use of some words that clearly have a pejorative meaning.  In one instance, just a day before Champlain and Poutrincourt lost a number of men to an aboriginal attack, Champlain wrote, “le sieur de Poitrincourt demanda si toutes choses estoient en estat pour s’opposer aux desseins de ces canailles.” [44] Although this was the only time that Champlain used the word canailles, it has clear implications and further adds to Champlain’s lexicon of terms for the people whom he encountered.  Another word, which only occasionally appears in Champlain’s text, is barbare.  Just after the conflict in which Champlain used the term canailles, he wrote, “nous ne nous retirasmes qu’auec le contentement que Dieu n’auoit laissé impuny le mesfait de ces barbares.”[45] This extension of Champlain’s vocabulary is interesting because of the lack of diversity in his word choice throughout Des Sauvages.  In that document he had only used peuple once, seemingly without reason, and the rest of the time he employed sauvage.  It seems logical, from this growing vocabulary, to suggest that for Champlain sauvage was a relatively neutral term, and that these other words were used in order to add implicit positive or negative connotations.

As with Champlain, Smith’s language changed significantly from A True Relation.  Recall, in that work he used indian forty-two times, people twenty-three times, and salvage twelve times.  In Description of New England he used indian only once, people thirteen times, salvage nineteen times, and inhabitant once.  Although the two works vary in length it is clear that the emphasis in word choice has changed over the eight years between each publication.  In Description of New England the sole use of the word indian is in reference to the Spanish, which interestingly is a similar distinction seen in Brief Discours;[46] whereas in A True Relation, indian is the general term used for the aboriginal people.

As with the word sauvage it is difficult to separate the meaning of people and salvage in Smith’s text.  In one long paragraph, for example, Smith writes, “the River ranne farre up into the Land, and was well inhabited with many people…”[47] and about fifteen lines later states, “but where the Salvages dwelt there the ground is exceeding fat and fertill.”[48] Although Smith seems to have been discussing two different groups of people there is little evidence to explain his change of words.

It is possible, however, that Smith used Salvage when referring to groups of people he knew intimately.  In the example above, Smith’s tone suggests that he did not encounter, or learn much about, the people upriver, whereas he had spent more time with those he called salvages a few lines later.  Reinforcing this interpretation is that he often employed people to associate a group of aboriginal people with a specific place, as in “the people of Pawmet.”[49] These explanations do not provide a complete answer to the problem.  There were plenty of times Smith used the term salvage to refer to the aboriginal people in general.  For example, Smith told his fellow Englishmen that he “durst undertake to have corne enough from the Salvages for 300 men, for a few trifles.”[50] It is extremely difficult to pinpoint why Smith has used people or salvage.  Therefore the reader must always bear in mind that writers, editors, and publishers all have linguistic and stylistic frameworks within which they work.  Smith’s word choice may merely be a subconscious choice that he could explain no better than anyone else.

Smith has, however, left one clue in this document that helps to explain his choice of words.  Near the end of the text Smith wrote, “Had the seede of Abraham, our Saviour Christ, and his Apostles, exposed themselves to no more daungers to teach the Gospell, and the will of God then wee; Even wee our selves, had at this present been as Salvage, and as miserable as the most barbarous Salvage yet uncivilized.”[51] This understanding of the word does not separate salvage from people; rather he can be seen as using salvage as a more descriptive term based on a notion of social evolution.  Being a Salvage, then, included aboriginal people within the realm of humanity.  However, in terms of a ‘civility scale,’ the salvage was a rank far lower than that of the English.[52]

The most important point of this discussion is not necessarily the lexicon of each writer, but rather the differences between their first works and the ones currently under study.  In both cases just under a decade had passed between their two publications, and it is clear that during that time both men had changed some of their linguistic preferences and writing ability.  In the case of Smith this change may have been reflective of his growing role as a colonial promoter.  In the case of Champlain, and no doubt Smith as well, this linguistic shift seems likely to have been more a function of his developing a greater ability to write.  Practice makes perfect.

Thus far little has been offered comparing both of these explorers’ perceptions of the aboriginal inhabitants of New England.  The rest of this chapter will explore the purpose and goals each man pursued in New England, how they communicated with the various aboriginal groups – especially as they traveled outside the range of their interpreters – their general impressions, and how they thought European and North American societies would interact if a permanent settlement were established.

First and foremost, any discussion of people’s perceptions must begin with their raison d’être.  Although both Smith’s and Champlain’s motives have been briefly addressed in the introduction to this chapter, they need to be explained in greater detail here.  On the surface, Smith came to North America to hunt whales, find gold, or if both failed, to bring back fish and furs.  Champlain on the other hand arrived as part of de Monts’ monopoly with the intention of founding a settlement along the Atlantic coast.  However, these reasons are fairly superficial, for it is clear by reading Smith’s text that he was interested in creating a colony.  Promoting this prospect was the purpose of his Description of New England and New England Trials.  By meeting people and creating a map while he traveled down the Gulf of Maine, Smith revealed that he was looking for a site to plant another Virginia.   Champlain too had other motives thrusting the expedition onward, as de Monts’ monopoly had to be economically viable, meaning that resource exploitation was also a primary goal of his.  Although the priorities of Smith and Champlain seem to have been different, when the whole picture is examined, the similarity of their tasks is much clearer.

Economic motives cannot stand alone, however.  Andrew Fitzmaurice has emphasized that, “The mental world of the early modern English was not, of course, entirely inhabited by dead pagans.  When colonisers argued for the pursuit of glory they usually placed the glory of God first.”[53] Religion was also a major factor in the work and writing of these two men.  Although not as clear in A True Relation, Smith’s writing about New England placed a greater emphasis on things spiritual. At the end of his call for colonisation Smith exclaimed, “And what have ever beene the workes of the greatest Princes of the earth, but planting of countries, and civilizing barbarous and inhumane Nations, to civilitie and humanitie?”[54] It is significant that Smith ended his work with a call to convert the aboriginal people into Englishmen.  By placing this type of statement at the end of his work, Smith revealed that whether he thought it important or not, it was a convincing argument for the powers in England.  That conversion was an important part of becoming English can be seen most clearly about twenty pages earlier in the text: “If hee have any graine of faith or zeale in Religion, what can hee doe lesse hurtfull to any; or more agreeable to God, then to seeke to convert those poore Salvages to know Christ, and humanitie.”[55] These statements must be seen as more than just rhetoric.  Although it may not have been the main reason for becoming involved in North America, the fact that Smith ended his work with the need for conversion emphasizes its importance in his mind.

Champlain demonstrated that he had similar ideas:

meu aussi de l’esperance d’auoir plus d’vtilité au dedans des terres où les peuples sōt ciuilisez, & est plus facile de planter la foy Chrestienne & establir vn ordre comme il est necessaire pour la conseruation d’vn païs, que le long des riues de la mer, où habitēt ordinairement les sauuages: & ainsi faire que le Roy en puisse tirer vn proffit inestimable: Car il est aisé à croire que les peuples de l’Europe rechercheront plustost ceste facilité que non pas les humeurs enuieuses & farouches qui suiuent les costes & les nations barbares.[56]

It is clear that the facility of conversion was at least a factor in deciding where the de Monts expedition would settle.  A plain distinction between Smith’s and Champlain’s contexts needs to be made.  Smith discussed conversion in a general and all-encompassing manner.  Yet, Champlain suggested a plan for conversion that was restricted to a limited group of aboriginal people – those who were ‘civilized.’  What is clear from this discussion is that not just one single factor provided the engine for expansion and settlement.  Rather, economy, faith, and civility all intertwined to prompt European activity in North America.  For Smith and Champlain Christianity was just as much a reason for involvement in North America as the economics.  And it seems that both men felt that it was a way of bringing the aboriginal people into a European framework.

Although they were both looking for a place to settle, their differing goals towards the aboriginal people are quite apparent.  While Smith ranged the coast looking for places to build a colony and eventually expand, Champlain searched for a possible place to settle while trying to bring peace to the region.  Where Smith told his readers “Virginia is no Ile (as many doe imagine) but part of the Continent adjoyning to Florida; whose bounds may be stretched to the magnitude thereof without offence to any Christian inhabitant,”[57] Champlain explained to Bashabes and Cabahis, two local chiefs along the Penobscot, “que le sieur de Mons m’auoit enuoyé par deuers eux pour les voir & leur pays aussi: & qu’il vouloit les tenir en amitié, & les mettre d’accord auec les Souriquois & Canadiens leurs ennemis: Et d’auantage qu’il desiroit habiter leur terre…”[58] Although both men emphasized Europeans inhabiting aboriginal territory, Smith made no accommodation for the native people who were already using that land.  Such an attitude led him to make later statements such as: “God had laid this Country open for us, and slaine the most part of the inhabitants…”[59] Champlain on the other hand has shown a diplomatic policy that did not discount the aboriginal people, but rather attempted to incorporate them into the French economic system.

In fact throughout Champlain’s three voyages he repeatedly made attempts at building alliances between warring aboriginal groups.  Word about this goal spread quickly as well, and over the time that Champlain was in the region many aboriginal people tried to bring peace among traditional enemies.  An example of this can be seen during his first voyage, just after he left the Penobscot: “Nos sauuages nous quitterent, d’autāt qu’ils ne vollurent venir a Quinibequy: parceque les sauuages de lieu leur sont grands ennemis.”[60] Although it is not clear whether Champlain meant his two guides or the chief Cabahis, this demonstrates that there was reluctance for peace among some members of the native community.  Interestingly, during the voyage of the following year, Champlain and de Monts were approached by a chief on the Kennebec who, “Aprochant prés de nostre barque, il fit vne harangue, où il faisoit entendre l’aise qu’il auoit de nous veoir, & qu’il desiroit auoir nostre alliance, & faire paix auec leurs ennemis par nostre moyen…”[61] On the third voyage one can see this peace making in action when Secondon and Messamouet “qui vindrent iusques à Chouacoet dedans une chalouppe, où ils vouloient aller faire amitié auec ceux du pays…”[62] In the fragmented world of tribal relations in New England, de Monts and Champlain’s policy of alliance building can be seen as a tactical manoeuvre in order to facilitate greater trade and exploration.  There were no alliances in New England like those in the St. Lawrence, where the Algonquin, Innu, and Huron would later band together to fight the Iroquois.  The French clearly felt that they could not be successful in New England without peace among the native inhabitants.

However, despite this peace, by 1607 Champlain wrote of a war that occurred in New England over the death of his earlier Mi’kmaw interpreter Panounias.  This was the battle described earlier in this chapter.  That the French were unsuccessful in attempting to bind the region together can also be seen in Smith’s writing. There he wrote: “to inhabit, and defend them against the Terentynes; with a better power then the French did them.”[63] Where Champlain sought to consolidate the peoples of the Atlantic region, Smith sought to divide.  Certainly part of this has to do with a strong French relationship created by European traders and fishers, encouraged by Champlain and his companions at Port Royal, and maintained after the English sacked that settlement in 1613 by Charles de Biencourt and Charles de la Tour at Cape Sable.  Although part of Smith’s goal had to do with developing a single alliance, he may have also been taking sides in a quickly developing conflict.  Bruce Bourque and Ruth Whitehead have suggested that “when their role as middlemen in the fur trade declined, the Tarrentines resorted increasingly to raiding voyages along the New England coast.”[64] In this light then, Smith may have seen the battle as one between the natives of New England and their aboriginal trading partners rather than a more internal fight like the one in 1607.  Taking this policy of building an alliance with one side in a conflict aligns Smith much more with Champlain’s later policy in Quebec; there Champlain took the Algonquian side in a conflict with the Iroquois.  What is clear from both Champlain’s Voyages and Smith’s works is that both men still felt a strong need for a relationship with some aboriginal groups.

The dynamics of how each man saw this relationship differ considerably.  For Champlain, one can only learn of his immediate need for the aboriginal people.  At no point did he consider (in writing) how the Aboriginal and European people would live together on a long-term basis.  What is most clear from his writing is that Champlain sought a relationship to pursue his goals of exploration and survival.  In the same manner as in Des Sauvages, Champlain took every opportunity to learn geographical information from the New England natives.  On one occasion a native told him of a large village where they used cotton thread.  Although Champlain responded, “Ie m’asseure que la pluspart de ceux qui en font mentiō ne l’ont veue…”[65]this selection still shows that from time to time during his travels he would try to glean information about places he could not go from the people who knew the area best.  These types of events occurred twice more: the first time after his meeting with Bashabes and Cabahis, and the second at Cape Ann.[66] Further cementing the relationship with the aboriginal people was his leaving a man with the aboriginal people in the Saco Bay area and taking one of their people with him.[67] Champlain does not tell us the outcome of this trade, or even whether these two men returned to their communities.  However, based on Champlain’s later decision to send people like Étienne Brûlé to live and learn from aboriginal people it seems likely that this was the purpose of the exchange, and that both men would have returned to their comrades.

Apparently Champlain had at least one advantage over Smith, which came in the form of an aboriginal man who was familiar with Europe.  In his biography of Champlain, Armstrong wrote, “Like the Indian emissary at the great conference at Tadoussac in 1603, Messamouet had been to France for indoctrination in European ways.  This native seemed likely to prove useful as he dazzled audiences with tales of great chateaus and carriages drawn by strange-looking ‘deer.’”[68] Whether this is true or not is uncertain as Armstrong, like many biographers of these traditional ‘heroes,’ has included neither footnotes nor bibliography in his tome.  This information is not found in Champlain’s Voyages, making it difficult to verify Armstrong’s statement.  However, it is an interesting parallel between these men, if true, as Smith planned on making similar use of one of George Waymouth’s captives if he were to return after his visit in 1614.  Smith explained his plan:

The maine assistance next God, I had to this small number, was my acquaintance among the Salvages; especially, with Dohannida [Nahanada], one of their greatest Lords; who had lived long in England.  By the meanes of this proud Salvage, I did not doubt but quickly to have gotte that credit with the rest of his friends, and alliants, to have had as many of them, as I desired in any designe I intended… With him and diverse others, I had concluded to inhabit…[69]

Philip Barbour explained Smith’s plan in further detail in The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith:

Tahanedo [Nahanada] had been kidnapped by George Waymouth in 1605, was one of the five Indians whose part in the final colonization of America is unquestioned, and had been returned to his native shores by the Popham colony in 1606.  He had last been seen or heard of in 1607, but the absence of news did not deter John Smith.  Unless the man was dead Smith would use him.[70]

What this shows is that although Champlain most likely did not plan on meeting Messamouet (if the tale be true), and neither was Smith likely to have encountered Nahanada had he come again to New England, both men not only used the natives in North America, but also North American men who had visited Europe, and perhaps knew the European language.

Smith did not make as much mention as Champlain of using the aboriginal people to learn about the surrounding area; though based on the extensive detail and accuracy on his map and in his account it seems likely that he too traveled with aboriginal help.  However, for the most part one needs to read between the lines in order to see how Smith does this.  For example, occasionally Smith made statements such as, “the Salvages say there is no Channell…”[71] which are similar to Champlain’s statements, but do not occur as frequently.  In a similar manner, one gets the impression through his descriptions of the people and land that Smith had aboriginal aid.  For instance, Smith wrote of encountering “Bashabes of Pennobscot” while writing of the various aboriginal people and place names.[72] This is one of the few times in which the same figure is found in both Champlain’s and Smith’s works.  “Bashabes of the Pennobscot” was the same as “Bessabez” “de la riuiere de Norembegue.”[73] That both Smith and Champlain encountered the same person should not come as a significant surprise.  What is surprising is how accurate both were in naming him.  Knowledge of such things as names requires some oral contact with the native people.  Considering that it appears Smith visited a number of villages it seems likely that he had aboriginal accompaniment to make the job easier. Philip Barbour (who has also shied away from using a lot of footnotes) suggested: “There is some evidence that he [Smith] had with him an Indian who had been brought to England the year before.”[74] This would help explain how he was able to learn so much in such a short amount of time, and bring his and Champlain’s experiences closer together.

Yet before Smith is mistaken as Champlain’s English counter-part, one must also know where the two explorers part company.  Where Champlain only made his immediate intentions known (but has a record with the natives for the years that followed), Smith left only intentions for the future, which were never carried out.  In these plans his true motives are very difficult to understand.

As in Virginia, where he used the Virginian Algonquians to help supply Jamestown’s dwindling food supply, Smith had a similar plan to employ the work of the New England natives.  “I durst undertake to have corne enough from the Salvages for 300 men, for a few trifles;” Smith wrote, “and if they should bee untoward (as it is most certaine they are) thirty or forty good men will be sufficient to bring them all in subjection, and make this provision; if they understand what they doe: 200 whereof may nine monethes in the yeare be imployed in making marchandable fish, till the rest provide other necessaries, fit to furnish us with other commodities.”[75] Smith made similar statements on at least two other occasions in this work as well.[76] But what is uncertain is what this might mean for the aboriginal people if it were carried out.  On one occasion Smith explained: “the assistance of the Salvages… may easily be had, if they be discreetly handled in their kindes…”[77] This comment suggests a mutual type of assistance, rather than the subjection which appeared in the earlier comment.  This idea is reinforced by criticism he offered of Master Thomas Hunt, who commanded another boat that went to New England with Smith.  Here he laments, “after my departure, hee [Hunt] abused the Salvages where hee came, and betrayed twenty seaven of these poore innocent soules, which he sould in Spaine for slaves…”[78] Again, using the word betrayed suggests that Smith felt he, and his countrymen, had an established relationship with these people.  Essentially Smith was lamenting the poor treatment of the people he earlier suggested were “untoward” and easily brought in to subjection.  Whether Smith would advocate such harsh conditions as forced labour, or whether he would take a soft approach, it is clear that Smith saw the aboriginal people as the economic engine on which an English colony, settlement, or outpost would thrive.

Although this is a difference between Smith and Champlain, it can also be seen as a similarity, as both men saw the aboriginal people as facilitating their plan for North America.  It is easy for people to overlook this similarity because Smith sought to use the native people to serve the English directly, whereas Champlain understood the aboriginal people to serve the French economy indirectly by supplying furs.  Although the French concept may appeal more to the modern reader, it placed the aboriginal people as the foundation to French success. There is also one instance where Champlain did mention obtaining the service of the aboriginal people as one of his goals.  When discussing the merits of Ste-Croix, Champlain wrote:

Qui est le lieu que nous iugeâmes le meilleur: tant pour la situation, bon pays, que pour le communication que nous pretendions auec les sauuages de ces costes & du dedans des terres, estans au millieu d’eux: Lesquels auec le temps on esperoit pacifier, & amortir les guerres qu’ils ont les vns contre les autres, pour en tirer à l’aduenir du seruice: & les reduire à la foy Chrestiēne.[79]

However, based on the broader context of Champlain’s other voyages, both before this trip and after, it seems likely that the service that he planned to obtain from the aboriginal people was based on the fur trade, the supply of information, and friendship – the key distinction between he and Smith.  Although their understanding of European-Aboriginal relations differed, both John Smith and Samuel de Champlain were well aware that they could not accomplish their goals without the help of North America’s original inhabitants.

Since Smith and Champlain saw the aboriginal people as necessary to carrying out their plans, and since they used the aboriginal people as guides and sources of information while they traveled New England’s waters, it is necessary to also examine how these two cultures and languages communicated.  Smith provided very little information in this regard.  It is assumed that he communicated with the aboriginals who said there was no channel,[80] the people who told him Bashabes’ name, and, if Barbour is correct about there having been an aboriginal who had spent the previous year in England, then we can also assume he communicated through that person.  As Smith provided little specific insight in this area, one is left to only imagine how these encounters might have taken place.  That he would have been at a disadvantage, however, seems more than likely since he only remained in New England for one summer.

Champlain on the other hand was better equipped, in this context, to meet new people.  The year before his arrival in the Bay of Fundy he had been in the Saint Lawrence, during which time a group of explorers, headed by Sieur Prévert, had ventured into the maritime region; and furthermore the Mi’kmaq also had extensive contact with fishers and traders who may have taught Champlain something about the region. [81] More importantly, on these voyages down the coast Champlain always took translators with him.  However, this plan failed once the expeditions reached the territory of the Almouchiquois, who spoke differently from the Etchemin and Mi’kmaq.  Upon arriving on the Saco River Champlain lamented, “Nostre sauuage ne pouuoit entendre que quelques mots, d’autant que la langue Almouchiquoise… differe du tout de celle des Souriquois & Etechemins.”[82] This meant that he had as much of a chance as Smith at understanding the native people once his boats ventured past the Saco and down into Massachusetts.  Thankfully for the historian, not only was Champlain able to come up with innovative techniques to assist communication, he also recorded them in his account.  There are two encounters that give insight to the communication between these two groups of people.  In the first case Champlain received geographical information about the coast down to Cape Cod:

Apres leur auoir depeint auec vn charbon la baye & le cap aux isles, où nous estions [Cape Ann], ils me figurerent auec le mesme creon, vne autre baye qu’ils representoient fort grande [Massachusetts Bay], où ils mirent six cailloux d’esgalle distance, me donnant par là à entendre que chacune des marques estoit autant de chefs & peuplades…[83]

Champlain did not mention if he believed the information that he received.  That it was included in this work shows that he felt it was important enough to warrant being re-told, suggesting its accuracy.  Further south at Nauset Harbour Champlain had a different type of encounter.  This time instead of asking about geography he asked about climate, a necessary question for those looking for a place more hospitable than Ste-Croix:

Nous leur demandasmes s’ils auoient leur demeure arrestee en ce lieu, & s’il y negeoit beaucoup; ce que ne peusmes bien sçauoir, pour ne pas entendre leur langage, bien qu’ils s’y efforçassent par signe, en prenant du sable en leur main, puis l’espandant sur la terre, &  monstroient estre de la couleur de nos rabats, & qu’elle venoit sur la terre de la hauteur d’vn pied.[84]

Although this process may have resembled a game of charades, the information had life-and-death importance.  After visiting Tadoussac and Ste-Croix, both Champlain and de Monts were well aware of the perils of North America.  Any advice they could get was of key importance to planning future activities.  One must also remember that Champlain and de Monts were critical of those who had traveled to North America and did not take the time to learn about the people and places.  These were important reasons both for the inclusion of these tales, and Champlain’s own actions.  These examples of his communicating without the use of language reinforce the importance Champlain attributed to constructive relationships with the local inhabitants.

For the most part these relationships were cultivated by the European adapting to the aboriginal way of life.  For the French this almost always involved gift giving.  For example, when Champlain met with Bashabes a gift exchange took place: “Bassabez nous voyant à terre nous fit asseoir, & commença à petuner auec ses compagnons, comme ils font ordinairement auparauant que faire leurs discours.  Ils nous firent present de venaison & de gibier… Apres qu’il eut  acheué sa harangue, ie leur fis present de haches, patinostres, bonnets, cousteaux & autres petites ioliuetés.”[85] This reciprocal act of giving was an essential part of building relationships between groups in this region of North America.  Every time Champlain encountered native people he nearly always pointed out in his writing that they gave them gifts.  Smith, contrarily, did not include this information in his text.  Instead, Smith alluded to gift giving, but did not come out and tell his readers whether this was what he meant.  For example, he advised his readers that “the assistance of the Salvages, which may easily be had, if they be discreetly handled in their kindes.”[86] It seems likely that by writing this Smith meant the kind of meetings that Champlain undertook, but it is difficult to be certain.

From these types of encounters both Smith and Champlain developed their own conceptions of the aboriginal people and their character.  In Champlain’s case a parallel was often drawn between the Mi’kmaq and Innu whom he had met earlier.  This can be seen in Champlain’s observance of the aboriginal people at Stage Harbour in 1606: “Pour ce qui est de leur police, gouuernement & creance, nous n’en auons peu iuger, & croy qu’ils n’en ont point d’autre que nos sauuages Souriquois, & Canadiens, lesquels n’adorent n’y la lune n’y le soleil, ny aucune chose, & ne prient non plus que les bestes.”[87] It appears that for Champlain there existed a universal aboriginal, even though he noted that the people south of the Saco River (such as those at Stage Harbour) were agricultural, and those to the north more nomadic.  Despite the similarities between these natives and the more northern Mi’kmaq and Innu, this one agricultural difference would have been grounds enough to reject such an all-encompassing mould.  That he did not make such an observation reveals much about his mindset.

Champlain very rarely discussed the character of the people whom he met.  Perhaps this has been left out from most of the narrative because of his apparent universalizing attitude, but this is merely conjecture.  In any case, the only time that he addressed the issue was when the situation turned sour.  This occurred twice in his account.  On the first occasion, a man had recently been killed while filling a kettle on a beach.  Champlain wrote: “Si peu de frequentation que l’on ait auec eux, les fait incontinent cognoistre.  Ils sont grands larrons ; & s’ils ne peuuent attraper auec les mains, ils y taschent auec les pieds, comme nous l’auons esprouué souuentefois… Il se faut donner garde de ces peuples, & viure en mesfiance auec eux, toutefois sans leur faire apperçeuoir.”[88] It seems that the attack had coloured his view of these people, which required him to highlight their character.  In a similar situation the next year Champlain also indulged in making a character assessment.  After the conflict at Stage Harbour, which ended his third trip, Champlain told his readers, “nous ne nous retirasmes qu’auec le contentement que Dieu n’auoit laissé impuny le mesfait de ces barbares.”[89] Again, after the French suffered some loss, and the bodies of the deceased Frenchmen were disinterred, Champlain unusually indulged in some characterization.  That he did this suggests that he felt the need to highlight the deviation from his previous experiences and expectations, perhaps so that anyone looking to build a settlement would be aware of difficulties that might occur at these places.

John Smith took a different approach, which is very confusing, and can only be explained by his mixing of experience and propaganda into a single work.  When Smith visited a village just north of the future site of the Plymouth colony on Massachusetts Bay he claimed: “We found the people in those parts verie kinde; but in their furie no lesse valiant.  For, upon a quarrell wee had with one of them, hee onely with three others crossed the harbor of Quonahassit to certaine rocks whereby wee must passe; and there let flie their arrowes for our shot, till we were out of danger.”[90] This is a remarkable story to follow a statement claiming that the people were kind, as it appears that they were chased out of the harbour!  How could anyone in that situation draw an association with kindness?  To answer this question, one must return to Smith’s exploits before traveling to America.  As Kupperman demonstrated in chapter one’s discussion of treachery and distrust, seventeenth-century English authors often saw the native people as they saw each other.  Kupperman explained that, “a treacherous foe or rival was capable, one to be taken seriously and not easily dismissed.”[91] In this light Smith can be seen as demonstrating a balanced perspective – one that was helpless to act otherwise, but sympathetic (in a militaristic and adversarial way) to the actions of those assaulting him.  However, it also seems more than likely that Smith’s propaganda machine sought to soften the harsh reality of New England life by paying lip service to the docile nature of the aboriginal people, without attempting to completely corrupt the truth.  After all, some of Powhatan’s people were hostile and yet Smith was still able to procure corn and carry on a relationship, so perhaps he thought a similar situation could be struck here.  Whatever the situation, Smith had to make it look workable.

The mixing of propaganda and fact also poses a problem in other situations.  Writing of the people in the Cape Cod region (near where Champlain had both of his negative encounters) Smith wrote that the region was “so planted with Gardens and Corne fields, and so well inhabited with a goodly, strong and well proportioned people…”[92] And yet just south of the harbour of “Quonahassit” Smith claimed that Accomack (presumably a native village) had “an excellent good harbor, good land; and no want of any thing, but industrious people.”[93] Smith clarified these views a little earlier in the work when he made a general statement suggesting, “young boyes and girles Salvages, or any other, be they never such idlers, may turne, carry, and return fish, without either shame, or any great paine: hee is very idle that is past twelve yeares of age and cannot doe so much…”[94] According to this line of reasoning the native people in Massachusetts Bay were “a goodly, strong and well proportioned people” who were at the same time not very industrious, idle, and unproductive.

Most likely this depiction had to do with the division of labour in many aboriginal communities.  In native villages women would be responsible for tending the gardens and fields, while the men were responsible for hunting and fighting.  For Smith, a yeoman’s son, such a division would probably have been difficult to understand.  However, this is perhaps too gentle of an explanation.  His mixed bag of statements can also be seen as meeting the needs of his message.  Remember that Smith was suggesting that the English build a colony and “bring them all in subjection.”[95] With this argument in mind he would have wanted to make the inhabitation of New England look easy, while at the same time showing that labour could be had from the local inhabitants.  And lastly, given the short period he was in New England, it is also likely that there was a certain degree of ambiguity for Smith – a combination of his background, his motives, and his uncertainty about what he saw around him.

This type of propaganda can be seen in Smith’s attitude towards aboriginal resistance as well.  When writing to pacify the fears of England, he claimed that for him “it seemes no daunger more then ordinarie” to undertake such travels.[96] Smith rarely stated in this work that he took precautionary measures when interacting with the natives.  It seems more than likely that he continued to act as he had in Virginia, and remained armed at all times, especially given the numerous occasions in the Description of New England in which he tells us of brief skirmishes.  The absence of such statements suggests that Smith attempted to downplay the violence he encountered.

In contrast, on Champlain’s first voyage up the Penobscot River he wrote: “Quelque temps aprés ie fus à terre auec deux de mes compagnons & deux de nos sauuages, qui nous seruoient de truchmēt: & donné charge à ceux de nostre barque d’approcher prés des sauuages, & tenir leurs armes prestes pour faire leur deuoir s’ils aperçeuoient quelque esmotion de ces peuples contre nous.”[97] Likewise just before the attack at Stage Harbour Champlain noted that Sieur de Poutrincourt went out walking to survey the landscape with ten to twelve musketeers.[98] This was before the conflict arose – or perhaps why the conflict arose.  In any case Champlain appeared to be quite honest about his vigilance, and for good reason.  After all, they were in a strange land trying to interact without verbal language.  The climate was ripe for miscommunication and violence on both sides.  Whether his party instigated the conflicts that he noted in his account is uncertain, but what is clear is that whatever the cause some native groups did not appreciate the European presence.

This discussion highlights the difference between these two men after their voyages to New England.  Both men were interested in promoting colonization.  However, Champlain was much more a realist and a man of reconnaissance.  With a firm base in the St. Lawrence, and a somewhat stable outpost at Port Royal, the economic possibilities were already a reality.  The French had already set up shop, and the voyages from 1604-1607 were merely hunting for a better location.  Mainly because of this situation, Champlain could be as vivid, descriptive, and as truthful as possible.  The French did not want a high maintenance and high-cost enterprise. Champlain was the eyes and ears for Henri IV and he was to be as objective as possible.  Smith on the other hand had no relationship with royalty, but he was in league with the likes of Bartholomew Gosnold, Richard Hakluyt, and Samuel Purchas, some of the period’s best-known colonial promoters.  In other words, Smith was quickly becoming more promoter than explorer.  Clearly Smith thought New England would be profitable, and instead of needing reconnaissance to make his point he needed an argument much more. Hence why Description of New England and the two editions of New England Trials do not follow chronology or geography, but rather stick together to make a point: that New England should be colonized.

Placing Smith’s and Champlain’s descriptions of New England side by side emphasizes the particularities of each document.  Through seeing how Champlain presents his narrative the reader becomes aware of the relationships with the aboriginal people that Smith must have had.  The absence of many tangible encounters in his work forces the reader to confront the argumentative nature of Smith’s work – a clear departure from his earlier narrative of Virginia.  The nature of this type of propaganda will be discussed more thoroughly in the next chapter, where Smith has fully taken on the mantle of colonial promoter.  This argumentative nature in Smith is also important because it underscores the absence of such persuasion in Champlain’s writing.  This complementary distinction stresses each author’s background and context in the sense that for Champlain, and perhaps the French in general, a year-round outpost required a well thought-out plan – nothing emphasized that more than the winter spent at Ste-Croix.  Yet for Smith, and perhaps the English, the colonial venture was something that could overcome North America and its inhabitants, as in Virginia.  There was no message more clearly presented in the Description of New England than this.

The overall division of New England into loosely knit political units also helps to further emphasize this point.  Although Smith felt that a colony would be successful, the diversity of aboriginal responses makes it clear that much was still up in the air.  This is especially the case given that both of Champlain’s negative encounters occurred in the neighbourhood of Cape Cod, where Smith’s attention seems to be focused.[99] What this political disunity really highlights is the ideal situations both found on their earlier trips to Virginia and the Saint Lawrence.  Although Jamestown was rife with problems and difficulties (80% of the population died in the first year – more than Ste-Croix), [100] the colonists there encountered a well-unified political group.  This facilitated building a relationship, regardless of how tenuous or tumultuous.  For the French the disunity of the New England nations, which resulted in some being violent and others wishing alliance, highlights the importance of the strong trader/fisher relationship with the aboriginal people in the Saint Lawrence and Acadie.  This did not exist to the same extent in New England, and in fact those aboriginals involved with Europeans (i.e. the Tarrentines) may have reciprocated their trading relationship with the aboriginal people in the Gulf of Maine.[101] Although there was most likely some contact with Europeans, it did not bear the same fruits as that along the Saint Lawrence.  Nonetheless, Smith’s and Champlain’s experiences in New England played a significant role in developing their ideas and beliefs about the European role in America, and more importantly further developed them as writers – the role in which they are cast in the next chapter.


[1] Smith is credited with first using the term ‘New England.’

[2] Smith was elected president after a number of other men proved to be useless in the position.  Alden Vaughan has described Smith’s presidency in this manner: “From the second week in September 1608, through the following August, John Smith ruled the colony almost single-handedly.  According to the royal charter he was bound by the advice of his councillors, but their rapid demise – through departure or death – removed that curb.  He was bound too by instructions from the London Company, but the colony’s needs and the slowness of transatlantic communications left him free to improvise.  That did not mean he had everything his own way: neither company nor Indians nor settlers bent cheerfully to the captain’s will.” Alden T. Vaughan, American Genesis: Captain John Smith and the Founding of Virginia, (Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, 1975), 41.

[3] Philip L. Barbour, The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith, (London, MacMillan, 1964), 112.  From the ocean voyage forward Smith had created significant enemies.  Barbour offered this 1612 account of Smith’s ship bound troubles as he traveled to Virginia in 1607: “Now Captain Smith, who all this time from their departure from the Canaries, was restrained as a prisoner, upon the scandalous suggestions of some of the chiefe [leaders] (envying his repute), who feigned he intended to usurp the government, murder the Council, and make himself king;” Whether these were true accusations or whether they were petty jealousies is a mystery.  Smith, however, was let off, and therefore we must assume that it was the latter.

[4] Barbour, (ed.) The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, vol. I, (Chapel Hill, 1986), lx.

[5] Barbour, Three Worlds, 305-306.

[6] James Axtell, Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1992), 82.

[7] John Smith, A Description of New England, in Philip Barbour (ed.), The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, vol. I, 351.

[8] Samuel de Champlain, Les Voyages du Sieur de Champlain xaintongeois, capitaine ordinaire pour le Roy, en la marine, in H.P. Biggar (ed.), The Works of Samuel de Champlain, vol. I, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), 298. My Translation: “very tanned, wearing beaver skin and other furs, like the Canadian natives and Mi’kmaq, and have the same way of life.”

[9] Kenneth M. Morrison, The Embattled Northeast: The Elusive Ideal of Alliance in Abenaki-Euramerican Relations, (Berkley: University of California, 1984), 25. Some scholars call the people under study in this chapter the Abenaki. However, there is some debate as to whether the Abenaki lived in the Gulf of Maine at the time.  The more recent consensus embodied in the work of Bruce Bourque and Emerson Baker believes that the Etchemin occupied this territory at this time. A brief synopsis of this debate follows later in this chapter.

[10] Axtell, Beyond 1492, 82.

[11] Axtell, Beyond 1492, 86.

[12] Pring’s men went as far as setting their dogs on the native people.

[13] Morrison, 24. – The Virginia Company of London was responsible for Jamestown, whereas the Virginia Company of Plymouth oversaw New England (or Northern Virginia as it was called prior to the adoption of Smith’s title).

[14] Unless otherwise noted the information in the last two paragraphs came from: Axtell, “The Exploration of Norumbega: Native Perspectives,” Beyond 1492, 75-96.

[15] Champlain, Voyages, 294. My Translation: “Cabahis, the other leader, also arrived a bit later with twenty or thirty of his companions who kept to themselves and were very pleased to see us, all the more so since it was the first time they had seen Christians.”

[16] The secondary literature calls the Almouchiquois ‘Armouchiquois.’  Almouchiquois is how Champlain recorded the name and therefore will be used throughout this thesis.

[17] Joe Armstrong, Champlain, (Toronto: Macmillan, 1987), 58.

[18] Bruce Bourque, “Ethnicity on the Maritime Peninsula, 1600-1759,” Ethnohistory, vol. 36 no. 3, (Summer 1989), 274.

[19] Dean Snow, “The Ethnohistoric Baseline of the Eastern Abenaki,” Ethnohistory, vol. 23 no. 3, (Summer 1976), 291, 294.

[20] Bourque, 259.

[21] Emerson Baker, Trouble to the Eastward: The Failure of Anglo-Indian Relations in Early Maine, (PhD. Thesis, The College of William and Mary, 1987), 16.

[22] Morrison, 35.

[23] Baker, 34.

[24] Baker, 34.

[25] Champlain, Voyages, 457.  My Translation: “On the tenth of August, Membertou returned from the war and told us that he had been at Saco, and had killed twenty men and wounded ten or twelve; and that Onemechin, the leader of that place, Marchin, and another had been killed by Sasinou, leader from the Kennebec River, who was in turn killed by the companions of Onemechin and Marchin.  This entire war was only about Panounias, Native of our friends, who I have said above was killed at Norumbega by the people of the said Onemechin and Marchin.”

[26] Champlain, Voyages, 316.

[27] Neal Salisbury, “Indians’ Old World,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, vol. 53 (1996), 449.

[28] Ralph Pastore, “Native History in the Atlantic Region During the Colonial Period,” Acadiensis, vol. 20 no. 1, (Fall, 1990), 209.

[29] David Jones, “Virgin Soils Revisited,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, vol. 60 no. 4 (Oct 2003), 721.  The statements in quotation marks were quoted by Jones but are from Smith and Dermer and are found in Smith, vol. 1, 330, and Samuel Purchas, (ed), Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrimes (1625), 20 vols, (Glasgow, 1906), 19:129.

[30] Smith, New England Trials (1622), in Barbour (ed.), The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, vol. 1, 428.

[31] Barbour, Three Worlds, 321.

[32] Barbour, Works, 374.

[33] The office of the Lord Chancellor of Britain was responsible “for the supervision, preparation and dispatch of the King’s letters, which entailed the use of the Sovereign’s seal.”  The role has changed much over time, however one of the main duties of this position has been to hold the Great Seal of the Realm.  The Lord Chancellor presided over parliament when the monarch was unavailable. Government of Great Britain, Department of Constitutional Affairs, http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/lcoffice/#part5 (May 25, 2004).  Bacon took up this post in March 1617.

[34] A prime example of how hindsight impacts these sources can be found in Champlain’s initial discovery of Saint Mary’s Bay, N.S.  Champlain wrote, (My Translation) “Some leagues farther there was another river which is dry at low tide, except in its course which is very small and goes from close to Port Royal.”  However, Champlain had not yet traveled to the Annapolis Basin and therefore had not laid eyes on the future site of Port Royal.  This suggests that occasionally Champlain may have infused his account with tales from experiences other than those he was recounting.

[35] W.F. Ganong, “Translator’s Preface,” in H.P. Biggar (ed.), The Works of Samuel de Champlain, vol. I, 201.

[36] Champlain, Voyages, 230. My Translation: “to explore the land and the people who lived there.”

[37] Smith, A Description of New England, 361.

[38] Smith, New England Trials (1622), 428.

[39] Champlain, Voyages, 232. My Translation: “he also had the hope of having greater success inland where the people are civilized, and where it is easier to plant the Christian faith and establish an order, as is necessary for the conservation of the country, than by the sea shore, where the sauvages ordinarily live. And in this, the king would make an inestimable profit.  For it is easy to believe that the people of Europe would rather seek this easily than endure the envious and wild [or perhaps fierce]character which accompany these coasts and the barbarous nations.”

[40] Champlain, Voyages, 325. My Translation: “These people showed that they were very content…”

[41] Champlain, Voyages, 326. My Translation: “These sauvages shave their hair high up their head…”

[42] Champlain, Voyages, 327. My Translation: “This river is called the Saco by the inhabitants of the country.”

[43] For an extended analysis of the word sauvage see the appendix.

[44] Champlain, Voyages, 418. My Translation: “The Sieur de Poutrincourt asked if everything was ready to oppose the designs of those scoundrels.”

[45] Champlain, Voyages, 432. My Translation: “We did not leave without the contentment that God would punish the misdeeds of these barbarians.”

[46] Smith, A Description of New England, 332.  Smith wrote, “the Romanes then using the Spaniards to work in those Mines, as now the Spaniard doth the Indians.”

[47] Smith, A Description of New England, 338.

[48] Smith, A Description of New England, 339.

[49] Smith, A Description of New England, 340.

[50] Smith, A Description of New England, 334.

[51] Smith, A Description of New England, 360.

[52] For more on this subject see the appendix.

[53] Andrew Fitzmaurice, Humanism in America, (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2003), 3.

[54] Smith, A Description of New England, 361.

[55] Smith, A Description of New England, 343.

[56] Champlain, Voyages, 232. My Translation: “he also had the hope of having greater success inland where the people are civilized, and where it is easier to plant the Christian faith and establish an order, as is necessary for the conservation of the country, than by the sea shore, where the sauvages ordinarily live. And in this, the king would make an inestimable profit.  For it is easy to believe that the people of Europe would rather seek this easily than endure the envious and wild [or perhaps fierce]character which accompany these coasts and the barbarous nations.”

[57] Smith, A Description of New England, 325.

[58] Champlain, Voyages, 295. My Translation: “that the Sieur de Monts had sent me to see them and also their country; and that he wanted to remain in friendship, and to put them in accord with their enemies, the Souriquois [Mi’kmaq] and Canadians.  And moreover he desired to inhabit their land…”

[59] Smith, New England Trials (1622), 428.

[60] Champlain, Voyages, 299. My Translation: “Our natives left us, as they did not want to go to the Kennebec, because the natives of that place were their great enemies.”

[61] Champlain, Voyages, 316. My Translation: “Approaching near to our boat, he made a speech where he made his pleasure at seeing us heard, and that he desired our alliance, and to make peace with their enemies by our means.”

[62] Champlain, Voyages, 394. My Translation: “who only came to the Saco River in a rowboat, where they wished to make friends with those of this country…”

[63] Smith, A Description of New England, 351. The Terentynes [or Tarrentines according to Bourque and Whitehead] were a mixture of Souriquois [Mi’kmaq] and some Etchemin who acted as middlemen in the fur trade between Europeans and the aboriginal people of New England.  These native people are best known for having mastered sailing European shallops.

[64] Bruce Bourque and Ruth Whitehead, “Tarrentines and the Introduction of European Trade Goods in the Gulf of Maine,” Ethnohistory, vol. 32 no. 4, (1985), 337.

[65] Champlain, Voyages, 285.  My Translation: “I am sure that most of those who mention it never saw it…”

[66] Champlain, Voyages, 297, 335. Respectively.

[67] Champlain, Voyages, 323.

[68] Armstrong, 79.

[69] Smith, A Description of New England, 351.

[70] Barbour, Three Worlds, 316.

[71] Smith, A Description of New England, 341.

[72] Smith, A Description of New England, 328-329.

[73] Champlain, Voyages, 293.  On the significance of Bashabes see Snow, 293.

[74] Barbour, Three Worlds, 308.

[75] Smith, A Description of New England, 334.

[76] See Smith, A Description of New England, 337 and 343.

[77] Smith, A Description of New England, 337.

[78] Smith, A Description of New England, 352.

[79] Champlain, Voyages, 271-272.  My Translation: “Which is the place that we judged the best.  So much for its situation, the fine country, and for the communication that we were maintaining with the natives of these coasts, and of the interior, since we were in the middle of them.  With time we hoped to pacify them, and end the wars which they have, one against another, in order to put them in service in the future, and reduce them to the Christian faith.”

[80] Smith, A Description of New England, 341.

[81] Prévert was a “silver tongued promoter” and trader from Saint-Malo who explored what would soon become Acadia during the summer of 1603.  Armstrong saw Prévert as “an experienced and well-connected trader who had logged considerable mileage along the Acadian coast.”  Most importantly he was deemed responsible for feeding Champlain the tale of the Gougou (recounted in Chapter One), and telling of substantial mineral deposited along the shores of the Bay of Fundy.  (Armstrong, 42).

[82] Champlain, Voyages, 325. My Translation: “Our native could not understand some words, all the more so since the language of the Almouchiquois…completely differs from that of the Mi’kmaq and Etchemins.”

[83] Champlain, Voyages, 335. My Translation: “After having drawn for them with charcoal the bay and the cape of islands, where we were, they drew for me with the same charcoal another bay which they represented as very big, where they put six pebbles an equal distance apart.  Thereby giving me to understand that each of these marks represented so many chiefs and tribes…”

[84] Champlain, Voyages, 352. My Translation: “We asked them if they had a permanent residence in this place, and if it snowed a lot.  We could not understand well, for their language was incomprehensible, although they made an effort by sign, by taking sand in their hand, and then spreading it on the ground, and showing it to be the colour of our bands, and that it came a foot off of the ground.”

[85] Champlain, Voyages, 295-296. My Translation: “Bashabes, seeing us on shore, asked us to sit, and began to smoke with his companions, like they usually do before they begin their speeches.  They made us a present of venison and game… After he had finished his speech, I made them presents of hatchets, rosaries, hats, knives and other small trinkets.”

[86] Smith, A Description of New England, 337.

[87] Champlain, Voyages, 412. My Translation: “Regarding their police, government, and beliefs, we could not judge, and believe that they have nothing other than our natives the Mi’kmaq and Canadians, who adore neither the moon nor sun, nor anything else, and pray no more than beasts.”

[88] Champlain, Voyages, 357. My Translation: “The smallest meeting one has with them, at once makes them known.  They are great thieves, and if they cannot get something with their hands, they will with their feet, like we have experiences often… One must be on guard with these people, and live in mistrust with them, all of the time without them knowing.”

[89] Champlain, Voyages, 432. My Translation: “We did not leave without the contentment that God would punish the misdeeds of these barbarians.”

[90] Smith, A Description of New England, 340.

[91] Kupperman, Indians and English, (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University, 2000), 219.

[92] Smith, A Description of New England, 330.

[93] Smith, A Description of New England, 340.

[94] Smith, A Description of New England, 335.

[95] Smith, A Description of New England, 334.

[96] Smith, A Description of New England, 351.

[97] Champlain, Voyages, 294-295. My Translation: “Sometime after I landed with two of my companions and two of our natives, who served us as interpreters, and gave orders to those in our boat to draw near the natives [those who Champlain was meeting not the interpreters], and to keep their arms ready to do their work if they perceived some emotion of these people against us.”

[98] Champlain, Voyages, 415.

[99] It should be noted that only six years after Smith visited the region the Plymouth settlement began and survived in this region.  However, between 1614 and 1620 epidemic swept through the region perhaps blunting the opposition of the original inhabitants of the region.

[100] James Axtell, Beyond 1492, 228.

[101] See Bourque and Whitehead.

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