Friday, October 21, 2011

Indian Trader John Lawson’s Journal of Carolina, 1709

I have just taken small parts of Lawson's Journal of Carolina but the whole thing can be found on a link attached at the bottom.

"Next Morning very early, we waded thro' the Savanna, the Path lying there; and about ten a Clock came to a hunting Quarter, of a great many Santees; they made us all welcome; shewing a great deal of Joy at our coming, giving us barbacu’d Turkeys, Bear’s Oil, and Venison…Here we hir’d Santee Jack (a good Hunter, and a well-humour’d Fellow) to be our Pilot to the Congeree Indians; we gave him a Stroud-water-Blew, to make his Wife an Indian Petticoat, who went with her Husband…
Viewing the Land here, we found an extraordinary rich, black Mould, and some of a Copper-colour, both Sorts very good; the Land in some Places is much burthen’d with Iron, Stone, here being great Store of it, seemingly very good: The eviling Springs, which are many in these Parts. issuing out of the Rocks, which Water we drank of, it colouring the Excrements of Travellers (by its chalybid Quality) as black as a Coal. When we were all asleep, in the Beginning of the Night, we were awaken’d with the dismall’st and most hideous Noise that ever pierc’d my Ears: This sudden Surprizal incapacitated us of guessing what this threatning Noise might proceed from; but our Indian Pilot (who knew these Parts very well) acquainted us, that it was customary to hear such Musick along that Swamp-side, there being endless Numbers of Panthers, Tygers, Wolves, and other Beasts of Prey, which take this Swamp for their Abode in the Day, coming in whole Droves to hunt the Deer in the Night, making this frightful Ditty 'till Day appears, then all is still as in other Places…These Indians are a small People, having lost much of their former Numbers, by intestine Broils; but most by the Small-pox, which hath often visited them, sweeping away whole Towns; occasion’d by the immoderate Government of themselves in their Sickness."

Lawson's account of the Native Americans is a positive one and is written in 1709 suggesting that during this time the early settlers and the natives got on well. Throughout the passage, Lawson reveals that the native brings them food to survive and is showing Larson the way to another village to help him continue trade. The account shows that the Natives are excited to see them as they make the settlers welcome bringing them more food and drink this could be in exchange for weaponry and clothing. Lawson highly regards the natives and they hire a guide to help them, suggesting that the settlers are new and don’t know the land very well and are extremely dependant on them. This can be confirmed when they hear strange sounds and don’t know what it is. This account is very interesting as it gives a small but very valuable insight of Native Americans; it shows us that the Natives where extremely resourceful living off the land and being able to survive as long as they had meat. From Lawson’s account he does seem to be sympathetic towards the dwindling numbers of Native Americans affected by disease and small pox signifying concern and caring, suggesting that he sees them more than being savages. However, this could be due to the fact that if the Natives dye out then he can no longer trade with them. Lawson description of Carolina suggests that he is amazed at the country as he lists so many natural resources America has to offer in such a small part of the country. Suggesting that America is a land of opportunity to make yourself rich from export and trade.

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