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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview > Lesson 8

Lesson 8
Captivity Literature

Taken captive by Indians was a dreaded possibility during the early settlement of New England. So important were these events, that a genre know as captivity literature emerged.

The number of stories in New England such as the story of Mary Rowlandson relate these events during the 17th and 18th centuries. To be captive was often thought of as a "fate worse than death."

Among the reasons for taking the captives were both revenge and ransom. Young men were often put to death in order to diminish the strength of the hostile tribe. During the French and Indian Wars in New England, the French offered the Indians money for English captives. Ransom undoubtedly saved lives in this instance. Still another reason was for the replacement of tribal members diminished by war and disease. Captives, usually children, were usually treated well and numerous accounts remain that indicate the reluctance of captives to return to the colonies, among these was Eunice Williams of Deerfield, Massachusetts.

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