The Bounty Teacher's Guide


The Sixth Anglo-Abenaki War

Sixth Anglo-Abenaki War (1754-1760)

aka the Seven Year’s War, French and Indian War

During this conflict, the governments of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Nova Scotia issued at least 14 bounty proclamations, including the 1755 bounty that is centered in the documentary film, Bounty. At least 14 known bounty claims were awarded payment during this time. For a detailed list see e-timeline.

Although the sixth and final Anglo-Abenaki War was partly fought in the Ohio Valley, most of the fighting took place in New England where Governor William Shirley used rumors of French maneuvers on the Kennebec River to garner enough fear and support to construct Fort Halifax above Norridgewock at Winslow. Many Penobscots withdrew from the St. Georges area when both the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the French demanded that they take up arms against other Wabanaki groups.

In 1759, English forces defeated the French at Quebec, ending the long struggle for control of North America. During the next few years Wabanaki family bands reoccupied tribal grounds on the upper Penobscot, Kennebec, and Saco rivers.

Governor Bernard banned white hunters and trappers from the upper Penobscot and sent surveyor Joseph Chadwick to mark the limits of English settlement at the falls above the Kenduskeag, but over the following years theft, murder, poaching, land encroachment, and a burst of white settlements up the river valleys undermined the aspirations of Wabanaki people to return to how their ancestors lived.

Scalp Proclamations in the Dawnland, 1750s

There were 69 bounty acts and proclamations in the Dawnland between 1675 and 1759. In this section, we will look at just two enacted in 1755, one signed by Governor William Shirley in June and the other by Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phips in November after the expiration of Shirley’s proclamation. We will explore their wording and meaning and how Shirley’s Proclamation led directly to Phips’s. There is much to be learned from these documents, which speak loudly to the present from the omitted past. It is worth noting that the town of Shirley, Massachusetts was named for William Shirley.

The precise wording of scalp-bounty proclamations merits careful examination, for it reveals the intent of the signatories and the narrative they crafted about their purpose and intended targets. Whether from the colonial era or after Independence, the choice of language to describe the “enemy” and justify the bounty, as well as the rewards stipulated by the proclamations, deserve scrutiny, as in the one signed by Governor William Shirley in “His Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts-Bay” in June 1755. [174] To help prepare for the reading of the acts and proclamations, we will examine letters exchanged between Wabanaki leaders and colonial officials.

The historical archives in Massachusetts and Maine are filled with letters written by Wabanaki leaders, as well as acts, claims, letters, and other declarations written by colonial judicial and military officials in Boston. These documents, when used chronologically, demonstrate how Wabanaki people struggled to maintain control of their homelands, voice their demands, and negotiate diplomatically, as well as the workings of colonial-era governments as officials convened meetings, kept minutes, issued declarations, passed laws, and publicized agreements.

In the archives, there is evidence that colonial authorities, military officials, and Wabanaki leaders exchanged at least two-dozen letters in 1755. There is also a hand-written document of a vote taken on June 9, in which the Massachusetts House declared war on the Arresaguntacook and all other tribes east of the Piscataqua River, except the Penobscot. This declaration is a precursor to the Shirley proclamation, which can be found on the following page.

Transcription of Shirley Proclamation, June 1755

WHEREAS the Indians of Norridgewock, Arresaguntacook, Weweenock, and St. John’s tribes, and the Indians of other tribes inhabiting in the Eastern and Northern Parts of His Majesty’s territories of New-England, the Penobscot Tribe only excepted, have, contrary to their solemn Submission unto His Majesty long since made and frequently renewed, been guilty of the most perfidious, barbarous and inhuman Murders of divers [sic] of his Majesty’s English Subjects for many Months past ; and the said Indians have fully discovered an inimical, traiterous and rebellious Intention and Disposition ;

I have therefore thought fit to issue this proclamation, and to Declare the Indians of the Norridgewock, Arresaguntacook, Weweenok, and St. John’s Tribes, and the Indians of other tribes inhabiting in the Eastern and Northern Parts of His Majesty’s territories of New-England… to be Enemies, Rebels and Traitors to his Most Sacred Majesty: And I do hereby require his Majesty’s Subjects of this Province to embrace all Opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians, the Penobscots excepted…

…I do hereby promise, That there shall be paid out of the Province’s Treasury to all and any of the said forces, over and above their Bounty upon Enlistment, their villages and subsistence, the Premiums of Bounties, following, viz.

For every Male Indian Prisoner above the Age of Twelve Years, that shall be taken and brought to Boston, Fifty Pounds.
For every Male Indian Scalp, brought in as Evidence of their being killed, Forty Pounds.
For every Female Indian Prisoner, taken and brought in as aforesaid, and for every Male Indian Prisoner under the Age of Twelve Years, taken and brought in as aforesaid, Twenty-five Pounds.
For every Scalp of such Female Indian or Male Indian under Twelve Years of Age, brought
as Evidence of their being killed, as aforesaid, Twenty Pounds.

Guidance for Teaching

Ask upper level students to make inferences about the significant spike in the bounty amount. What might explain the increase in the bounty payments promised to colonial settlers who hunted Abenaki people? Students will make their arguments using evidence provided in this lesson as well as in additional sources they find.
Part I: Provide middle and high school students with copies of the original historical document and the transcript of the Shirley proclamation of 1755. They can then follow these instructions:

1. Do a close and careful read of the document in its original format; refer to the transcript if needed. Highlight words or sentences that stand out to you, and jot down what you think they mean.

2. Write down questions you have about the content of the document. Reflect on your experience reading the document and note any thoughts you have.

3. Choose one thing to share that stands out for you in the wording of the document. Note what you learned and what you want to learn more about.

4. Upper level students can use either of the following tools to analyze the document: Stanford History Education Group’s Historical Thinking Chart or Library of Congress Teacher’s Guide: Analyzing Primary Sources

5. Team up with four other students and share your notes. Discuss what you learned; what questions you have; and what you think is the central idea of the text.
Part II: Teachers are reminded to review with students the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (page 30 in Lesson One PDF) and revisit the meaning of the word intent in the convention’s preamble.
Part III: Ask students to break into pairs for a think-pair-share to look for connections they may or may not find between the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Shirley Proclamation. After that, invite two pairs of students to merge into a foursome to see if they can reach agreement on connections that may or may not exist between these two documents. End with a whole-class discussion.
Part IV: Invite students to reread Gregory Stanton’s Ten Stages of Genocide, on page 40 in Lesson One of this guide and pose the following questions for whole group discussion:
Which, if any, of the Ten Stages of Genocide are reflected in the wording of this proclamation?
What, if anything, can you infer from the wording of the scalp proclamation about the motives of its author?
Part V: Ask for students to speculate as to why they think the Shirley proclamation did not target the Penobscot.
Part VI: Teachers could initiate a conversation about the various possible motivations of those who scalped and assign that topic as an essay topic for students in upper grades.

Digging into the Shirley Proclamation: letters

As noted above, the Shirley Proclamation named and targeted four tribal nations (Norridgewock, Arresaguntacook, Weweenock, and St. John’s Tribes). Evidence of the proclamation’s staggering impact can be inferred from the fact that the Norridgewock, Arresaguntacook, Weweenock, and St. John’s Tribes are not today part of the Wabanaki Confederacy. [175] While there used to be over twenty tribes in Wabanaki territory, today there are five. Norridgewock survivors of the Shirley Proclamation took refuge with Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe; some St. John’s survivors went to live among the Maliseet. Their descendants are the keepers of countless stories of survivance.

The targeting of Wabanaki people by those who hunted them for their scalps lasted for five months under the Shirley Proclamation, but the violence unleashed against the tribal nations it named continued for decades and, if we consider the wording of the proclamation, it could be deemed ominously effective insofar as three of the four targeted tribal nations no longer exist as such.

While the Shirley Proclamation explicitly protected the Penobscot, with that came an expectation of allegiance on the part of English colonial authorities, which the Penobscot did not fulfill according to the English. This can be seen in letters written between the Wabanaki leaders, colonial authorities, and military officials in 1755. Penobscot leaders wrote the following letter to Governor Shirley on June 27, 1755, three weeks after his war/bounty proclamation, assuring the governor and council of their willingness to fight, if their women and children are supported.

June 27, 1755
Governor Shirley brother we salute you and all the counsel, we are glad that you have kept what we agreed upon. We always thought that the Canada Indians would bring us trouble, and what you desired of us we have done. You have told us that those that came against us in a hostile manner, we must join and go against them, let us know when we must do it, they have hurt us as well as you, and __ of our men are now come up to wait on you, which will be a proof of our sincerity and we expect that our wives and children will be supported at our village till our return, they that have hurt you already are gone off and will do it no more, and we shall always let you know truly when there is danger. There shall no damage be done on this side Pemequid. You must not think that we __, if you could see our heart you know that we are true. War will hurt us as well as you, therefore we are strong against it, if there should be war between England and France and we should come over to you, our women and children must be well used. We again salute you." Wombemando, Noodagunawit and Mesel on behalf of our tribe

In a letter dated July 5, before receiving news of the massacre of Penobscot at Owl’s Head Bay (near present day Rockland Harbor, Maine), which occurred on July 2 and will be discussed in the following pages, Phips replied to the Penobscot letter of June 27, in which the tribe agreed to ally with the English against rival tribes. Phips ordered that they all go to the Fort at St. Georges, under the protection of Captain Bradbury. Otherwise, he could not guarantee their safety at their home villages, as Shirley told them in a previous letter. Phips further demanded, "I expect that a competent number of your most able men do join with the English in avenging the wrongs we have received from the other tribes of Indians...." [176] He guaranteed them pay as soldiers and that their families will be supported during their service.

It is therefore expected that all those of your tribe that would not be reputed our enemies do appear at St. Georges (within such reasonable time as Captn. Bradbury and you shall agree upon) in order to join with the English in the war.... [A]ny further delay in this matter must be looked upon as a refusal to join with us and will constrain me to treat you as enemies in common with the other tribes...."

With these words, Spencer Phips, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, set the stage for his proclamation in November, declaring war against the Penobscot.

Phips became the adoptive son of Sir William Phips in 1719. The elder Phips was born on the central coast of Maine and had been the first governor of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay (1692-94). William Phips was knighted after discovering significant treasure north of the island of Hispaniola in 1687. It was he who established the court charged with adjudicating the Salem Witch Trials. He and his wife adopted Spencer Bennett, who chose to formally take the name Phips. Spencer eventually became a landowner of significant holdings on the central coast of Maine. The town of Spencer, Massachusetts was named for Spencer Phips.

We already learned about the brutality of Captain Benjamin Church during Pometacomet’s Resistance in 1675-76 and that of Harmon and Moulton in Norridgewock and Pigwacket in 1724. Another infamous bounty-hunter bent on the destruction of Wabanaki people for personal profit was James Cargill from Maine.   Trigger Warning: depictions of scalping and murder in the following section.

Merciless Scalp-Bounty Hunter: James Cargill

According to some scholars, there was a sense of inevitability to the appearance of James Cargill as an especially ruthless scalp-bounty hunter. At the time,

… Massachusetts had forged a fragile policy, too dependent upon the goodwill of the inevitable dissenters on both sides to maintain peace. So, when Indian-hatred, lust for bounties, mistrust of governments, and self-righteousness all combined in the one person of James Cargill of Newcastle (Maine), the Massachusetts government’s Penobscot policy easily cracked apart with no help needed from the Penobscot. [177]

In response to the June 1755 Shirley Proclamation, Cargill registered with the authorities his intent to organize a scalp-hunting expedition. In spite of Governor Shirley’s orders to spare Penobscot nation, Cargill headed east to Penobscot territory, where on July 2, 1755 he assaulted two groups. The first was a Penobscot family of three near the Weskeag River and present-day Thomaston, Maine. One of those killed was a Penobscot woman named Margaret Moxa, who was a knowledge-keeper and cultural mediator engaged in diplomacy between the Wabanaki and English.

One of the crew, more ruffianly than his fellows, civilized and Christian in name, but barbarous and brutal in fact, replied to the dying mother, “every nit will make a louse,” and at a blow, dashed out the infant’s brains before her eyes! Such was the cruel fate of Margaret Moxa—a savage—but a woman and a mother, as she returned from the fort, on one of her Accustomed errands of good will, to save her neighbors—the more savage white man—from impending perils….

The cruel fate of Margaret Moxa was deeply deplored at the garrison. “Never shall I forget the deep and unappeasable grief of the women of the fort,” said one, “when they saw the scalp of her whom they had long regarded as a delivering angel;” and the more humane and considerate loudly condemned the act of Cargill, and confidently predicted that its perpetrators “would never die in their beds.” The prediction was realized in the history of those in the company from about St. George’s river.

Here is the account given by Captain Jabez Bradbury of what James Cargill and his men saw and did. As you will read, they bound Margaret Moxa’s husband, presumably before they murdered him.

As I heard of thirty men out of Captain [Nickles’] company of marchers crossed the river. And in a few miles travel came up with an Indian, his wife and a child of two months old, without any arms / and I think he also was drunk for the persons that saw him after he was dead told me who it was, and that person they told me of always used to be Drunk when he came in, which is no new thing for Indians / and these very three Capt Cargill says he took to be a decoy. Those who were at the burying of said three Indians also told me that the man was fast bound. [179]

Then near Owl’s Head, Cargill’s hunting party opened fire on an encampment of Penobscot people who were returning from a peace council at the fort, killing and scalping nine of them. The acts leading to the deaths of twelve Penobscot that day became known as the Owl’s Head Massacre. It had taken “Massachusetts leaders several months to get enough Abenaki bands to agree to attend a peace conference at Falmouth, Maine (Me HSC 4:145-167).” Those efforts at diplomacy were undermined by Cargill’s unilateral actions and the ideology of exterminationism and state-sanctioned violence that drove him, making him indifferent to the tribe his victims belonged to. [180]

Deeper Dive: Cargill’s Bounty Expedition Journal, July 1-5, 1755

Following government orders, bounty hunters were required to keep a journal of their expeditions. Cargill wrote the following account of his Owl’s Head Bay scalping attack on July 1-5, 1755.

A memorandum of my transactions with my company of volunteers: July 1st- Went from home with twenty two men with a design to March on the back of the inhabitants and got to BroadBay and stayed there all night.
July 2nd- Filled up my Company to thirty one men and set out to march all round the inhabitants of George’s to strive to come on some of the enemies lurking places and came out on the river about six miles below the fort and found there some canons and went over and marched about five miles and came up with three Indians and killed them and found their cannon and left nine men there and missed one man but found that he had refused to go any further so went on with twenty one men about five miles and about sunset came on some Indians and shot on them and killed nine of them and the rest run away so we returned to our men which we had left and rested all night. July 3rd- Went to George’s and got some men from Captain Bradbury and Captain Wilkes and his company and some more men from Georges and went out and buried the dead and brought away our cannons and luggage and then concluded to take our provisions for to march and to go to the [north?] and so to go up Kennebeck or to Machias so I went to Captain Bradbury and demanded [stors?] and he refused to let me have any. July 4th- In the morning called my men together and told them that I couldn’t get any stors for them there and so we divided our cannon and what small plunder we had got and so I told them to shift every man for himself and to set out for home.

A true copy per me James Cargill

Read on for more on James Cargill, his four-year court case, and attempt to secure payment for the scalps of those he and his men murdered at Owl’s Head.

Deeper Dive: No Bounty Payment to Cargill for Scalping the “wrong Indians”

The Memorial of James CargillHumbly ShowethThat at the last Session of this Honble. Court he presented a Memorial containing a large detail of certain facts, the proof of which depended on a number of Evidence; Said memorial was committed to the Committee of the Honble. House & by them reported on debated and accepted, sent up to the Honble. Board for Concurrence, but this happened on the last day of the said Session, and so now was passed on by the whole court, since which this Court has been prorogued five several times and the Season advancing which will render it difficult to gett [sic] Evidence to Court, and as Capt. Sanders is now bound on a Voyage to those parts. Therefore your Memorialist humbly prays that said Memorial may be revived and acted on that so he may have the opportunity to Vindicate himselfe [sic] and be entitled to the Bounty of this Government agreeable to the Tenor of the Proclamation upon the Encouragement of which he acted, and is in Duty bound your Memorialist shall ever pray.

James Cargill

Letters exchanged between Penobscot and Phips

Following Cargill’s massacre of Penobscot at Owl’s Head, a series of letters was exchanged between Penobscot leaders and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phips. In his July 10th letter, after having learned about the massacre, Phips appears more conciliatory and offers his condolences. On July 11, 1755, Cargill's arrest warrant was issued, and he was jailed in Boston for 24 weeks. Lt. Governor Phips and the Penobscot corresponded regarding the murders and what each was willing to do. Phips invited Penobscot to testify against Cargill for killing "friendly Indians," including Margaret Moxa and her family, and promised that Cargill would be brought to justice.

On December 31, 1757, two and a half years after commandeering the Owl’s Head massacre, Cargill presented the scalps of his Penobscot victims to the Executive Council Committee in Boston, which recorded, “Capt. James Cargill this day delivered us Twelve Indian Scalps, including two small Ones, which were put into a tar barrel, and in our presence consumed.” [183]

Cargill petitions the General Court again on January 2, 1758 for a scalp-bounty payment for killing Margaret Moxa, her husband, and infant son.

To his excellency the Governor and the Honr’d His Majesties Council

May it please your excellency and honours

In pursuance of your order to me by Mr. Secretary [?] I have delivered to a committee appointed by the honorable [board?] the scalps of three Indians killed by me and my company on the 2 of July 1755 in consequence of a commission received from his Excellency Governor Shirley- On the encouragement given by this government as by publick proclamation issued by Governor Shirley: and the said committee did attend the consumption of the same by time, on Saturday last agreeable to your direction. I now humbly hope after such ample proof produced relating to them. That your Excellency and Honours will be pleased to comply with the votes passed by this Government on which I placed all that confidence that may be expected from the publick faith of this Government, and which in justice I esteem myself justly entitled to receive agreeable to the tenor of said proclamation
All which is humbly submitted
By your Excellency and Honours
Most dutiful and humble servant
Boston Jan. 2, 1758 James Cargil

On January 10, 1758, Cargill is denied his bounty claim by the General Court, at the Council Chamber in Boston:

A petition of James Cargill setting forth that on the encouragement given by the General Court of this province by their vote of the tenth day of June 1755 for the Captivating and killing the Indian Enemy he obtained a commission from Governor Shirley bearing date the [blank] day of June aforesaid and that he with his Company killed twelve of the Indian enemy whose scalps he produced in Evidence thereof delivered them to a Committee of the Council in pursuance of an order therefor & that the said committee consumed the same to [  ] by virtue of said order, therefore praying that he may be allowed the bounty promised by the vote aforesaid.
The board took the same under consideration, examined the respective evidences and the matter being fully debated------- The question was put whether Captn. James Cargill & Company are entitled to any bounty for the Indians by them killed, as set forth in Captn. Cargill’s memorial? And it passed in the negative, inasmuch as it does not appear that the said Indians were such with whom this Government was then at War. [emphasis added]

At a Council held at the Council Chamber in Boston upon Tuesday the 10th day of January 1758. Sitting the General Court. Present his Excellency Thomas Pownall Esqu. Gov.

As a reverberation across time, it is interesting to note that James Cargill’s son, David, was part of a group in the late 1700s and early 1800s whose members pretended to be Indians, apparently for the purpose of scapegoating the Original peoples for acts of harm.

At that time, more English colonial settlers flooded into northern New England, many of them the children of those who scalped and hunted Wabanaki people.

As economic pressures worsened, land proprietors and their agents, and the surveyors and sheriff’s deputies who acted for them, squeezed the masses of financially broke tenants and squatters on their lands to pay up or be evicted. The targeted tenants organized fierce para-military resistance, but hid their identities by an elaborate ruse, adopted from the Boston Tea Party. They devised costumes, lingo, and rituals in caricature of Indians. After making their commando raids as Indians, they returned, metamorphosed, to be white tenants again, blaming “Indians” for the mayhem. This so called “White Indian Movement” camouflaged identities but fooled no one. No Abenaki people were officially blamed. [184]

David Cargill’s role in the “White Indian Movement” invites teachers and their students to reflect on the intergenerational transmission of hatred and prejudice, and the weaponization of cultural appropriation. It also beckons us to ask what the younger Cargill and his fellows were attempting to convey about their relationship to the land and belonging to that place.

Guidance for Teaching

Ask students to read this 1963 document written by John and Helen Cargill, descendants of James Cargill. The formatting of the document is unusual and may give students a unique reading experience. They should pay extra attention to pages 11 and 12 and write a short essay about the portrayal of Cargill and his actions as presented by his descendants.
Upper-level students can reflect on David Cargill’s role in the “White Indian Movement” through the lens of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol and the role and imagery of Jacob Anthony Chansley (aka Jake Angeli) who calls himself the Q Shaman, a QAnon conspiracy theorist who stood shirtless with a horned helmet and eagle feathers, brandishing an American flag.

Deeper Dive: Timeline of Cargill’s Court Cases: Acquittal and Penobscot Scalp Bounty Claim, 1755-1758

December 24, 1755
After serving 6 months in prison, Cargill is released on bond until June 1756, when he was scheduled to stand trial in York County Court.
January 5, 1756
Orders are given to Captain Bradbury that militia be released from the fort to testify against Cargill.
February 1756
Militiamen write to Governor Shirley denouncing Captain Bradbury and Fletcher for trading with Penobscot at Fort St. Georges
June 1756
Cargill's York County court case for murder is continued. Bradbury is the only witness to testify against Cargill and eventually, Cargill goes free.

Cargill and James Dodge are paid £300 for the scalp of a Penobscot killed near Fort Pownall.
April 1757
Cargill and others kill 3 Wabanaki men in Penobscot Bay and claim a scalp bounty for £900 in 1758, although only two scalps were turned in at the time of payment. [185]
August 1757
Cargill is acquitted by York County Superior Court of Judicature.
August 16, 1757
Cargill petitions the court accusing Bradbury of high crimes.
November 23, 1757
Cargill kept the scalps of his 12 Penobscot victims until after he was acquitted and then petitions the Massachusetts House of representatives for bounty payment. He petitions the Massachusetts House of representative to revive his former scalp-bounty claim. [see text below]

Cargill also asks that Captain Bradbury and Fletcher appear in Boston court.
December 27, 1757
Bradbury testifies in court defending against Cargill’s charges
December 31, 1757
Cargill presents Penobscot scalps to Executive Council Boston.

The General Court dismisses the case and acquits Bradbury of charges brought against him by Cargill.
January 2, 1758
Cargill petitions the court again for bounty for killing Penobscot Margaret Moxa, her husband, and their two-month old baby boy.
January 10, 1758
Cargill’s petition is denied and payment is refused.
June 1758
Cargill receives a bounty payment of £300 for killing a Native man.
May 1759
Cargill and his men scalp and kill an elder woman at Pemaquid.

Letters exchanged between Penobscot and Phips

Following Cargill’s massacre of Penobscot at Owl’s Head, a series of letters was exchanged between Penobscot leaders and Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phips. In his July 10th letter, after having learned about the massacre, Phips appears more conciliatory and offers his condolences. On July 11, 1755, Cargill's arrest warrant was issued, and he was jailed in Boston for 24 weeks. Lt. Governor Phips and the Penobscot corresponded regarding the murders and what each was willing to do. Phips invited Penobscot to testify against Cargill for killing "friendly Indians," including Margaret Moxa and her family, and promised that Cargill would be brought to justice. [186]

Brethren of the Penobscot Boston July 10, 1755
...I received a most unhappy piece of news from St. Georges which occasions this second letter. I hear that twelve Indians have been killed by a party of English who were sent out after the St. Francois and the Norridgewock tribes but as the report goes fell upon some of your tribe. Whether or no the English knew they were of your tribe I cannot certainly say. I am afraid they did. I have taken measures that the commander and several other persons who are charged with being principally concerned be secured in order to a strict inquiry being made into this affair that so such as shall appear to be guilty may be punished according to law. I am at a loss what to say to you. My grief on this occasion is very great. ...There is a great God who governs every event. He has permitted this terrible affair and suffered a great Cloud to come over us.
Sometimes your young men have done cruel things to the English notwithstanding all the endeavors of your ancient men to the contrary. Our young men I fear have now done a very bad thing, not only against the mind of the government but against the express charge of the Governour who cautioned them to be very careful of hurting any of your Tribe. I hear of a rumour that revenge has already been taken by some of your People. How it is I have no certainty. Be it as it will the Government will do nothing unjust nor dishonorable
...I give you now my Solemn Promise that if any of you will come up in order to prosecute a complaint against the English who are said to have killed your People you shall not only be absolutely secure of your lives, liberties and a safe conduct out and home but shall be kindly treated and shall have all the Justice done for the Injury received which the law will give.
I have a tender sympathy with you and am
Your Friend and Brother   Phips

In a July 12th letter to Penobscot, Phips rescinds his demand that Penobscot take up arms alongside the English if Penobscot stay east of the St. George’s River and come to the fort for protection.

Brethren                                                                                                       July 12, 1755

Since writing the foregoing I have secured the Captain of the party who has done you this Mischief and have taken measures to secure some other persons who were principally concerned in it: and I desire you would let your resentment sleep until we can concur together. You see how much you are exposed to danger while we are at war with the other Tribes of Indians; I therefore desire you would confine yourselves to the eastward of St. Georges River until we can see one another and I will give you Orders that none of our people shall do you any Mischief, so long as you continue quiet and suffer no mischief be done us on that side of the river. If you think it better to come in with your old Men, Women and Children you shall all be supported by us, and I shall not insist upon your young men going out with us against the other Indians as I proposed in my letter to you of the 5th instant.  [188]

On July 16, the Penobscot leader Umbarius writes to Phips, after sending a diplomatic delegation to Boston, that they will return to Boston again after holding council. Captain Bradbury also writes to Phips to say that the Penobscot told him that some Penobscot men were missing and that the English should be put on alert. [189] On July 25, after receiving Phips letters, "Wambemando and sundry others of the Penobscot tribe" write that they do not wish to testify in Boston against Cargill but ask that justice be served.

Brother it is very true what you have said to us in your letter, but our hearts are very sore, We thought to answer your letter but are struck with a damp, you can't think how our hearts are broken. Brother we shall say nothing further about what has been done to us, but you might make it up as you think it proper. If you see cause to make it up do so, make it up, that's all we can say. Brother I tell you I have warned all the Indians not to come this way. You know how it is and must strive to keep up love and friendship, the sooner the better.[190]

On August 18, 1755, Phips writes a threatening letter to the Penobscot leaders, demanding that they come to Fort St. Georges or be declared enemies.

…and a war between us shall be the consequence, as I think it necessarily must, the blame will be upon you for refusing the only means of preventing and not upon us who make you these offers purely for your own sake and for the preservation of your lives for the suppositions and protecting you __ occasion a great burden and expense to us… [191]

On August 18, 1755, Phips writes a threatening letter to the Penobscot leaders, demanding that they come to Fort St. Georges or be declared enemies.

You must let them know that I am obliged to the people under my government for the sake of the preservation of their lives and estates to revoke the orders which I have given to the several parties on the frontier not to march within certain limits and that I must leave them at large to pursue our enemies wherever they are to be found and that it will not be possible to distinguish the people of Penobscot from the rest and I do not apprehend that they can with safety continue any longer to come into trade with us or come to any of our forts or settlements on any other occasion or pretence. I shall in conformity hereto send you a number of printed orders revoking the former orders I have given. If the Indians determine to comply with the proposals and [leave?] pledges or certify for it in this case you are to keep private the printed orders I send you but if they shall not so determine you are then to acquaint them with these printed orders no other person except the interpreter be [?] present and to assure them that you will not suffer them to be made publick in less than eight days after the Indians departure from you and at the expiration of said ten days you are to [disperse?] the said orders in the most expeditious manner you can that they may be made publick on the several parts of the frontier. [192]

On September 6, 1755, Penobscot leaders write one last letter, reaffirming their allegiance to the English, and explaining to Phips why they cannot meet his demands:

Brother, the first time you wrote we like it well and understood there was to be a treaty here and we of Penobscot look forward for that which is best, we do not look behind, or on one side; you told us that you would do everything for the best, and that which is good, we have always strove for that which is best and you have always said that you would do the same. We think it might do well for some gentlemen to come here. We would have you strive further and we will strive for the best. The Pasamaquody [sic] Indians have done you no hurt, they want to trade here. we pray you to consider of it, they that are loving to each other will trade together; If we should come to live among you our Dogs will destroy your creatures, and when we are drunk we might sometimes treat you ill; you shall find us true and honest. We would have no lives taken away to satisfy for the wrong done us, but would have you make that matter up as you think best. We shall be glad of an answer as soon as you can. We all salute you and all the gentlemen. Squdook, Matiue, Kehooret, Sabadis [193]

Guidance for Teaching

Invite students to use worksheets from the National Archives DocsTeach [] to “meet” these letters, observe their parts, make sense of them, and use them as evidence to make an argument about their historical significance. Students can write an essay that compares both content and tone of the letters. Those in upper grades can hypothesize about shifts they see in the language.

We now learn more about the November 1755 Phips Bounty Proclamation, which is centered in the documentary film, Bounty.

Spencer Phips and his Proclamation: A Growing Threat to Penobscot in 1755

The minutes of the House of Representatives meeting on October 28, 1755 in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, toward the end of the five-month mandate established by the Shirley Proclamation (June 25-November 25), shine a spotlight on the expiration of the proclamation and the seismic quarrel with Penobscot.

The present Posture of Affairs with Regard to the Indians is such as to make it necessary to provide for the Defence and Safety of our exposed Frontiers : And as the Establishment made in May Session for the Forces to be employed in the Eastern and Western Parts of the Province, will expire on the fifth of next Month ; I must earnestly recommend it to you, Gentlemen, to make further Provision for their Defence. Council Chamber                                                                    
October 28 1755 S. PHIPS.

At the House of Representatives meeting on October 31, 1755, a motion was introduced and passed.

On a motion made and seconded by divers [sic] Members, Voted, That the same Bounty [as stated in the Shirley Proclamation] be allowed for Scalps and Prisoners of the Penobscott [sic] Tribe, as for those of the other Tribes of Indians that this Government have declared War against ; [195]

The justification for this motion, which led to a declaration of war, is clearly articulated.

For as much as the Refusal of the Indians of the Penobscot Tribe to take up arms and to act offensively with us against the Arrasaguntacook [sic], and other Tribes of Indians that have been declared Enemies, Rebels & Traitors to His Most Sacred Majesty, as by the treaties subsisting between us and the said Penobscot Indians, they were obliged to do ; and upon divers [sic] Hostilities lately committed by them, this House has desired his Honour the Lieut. Governour and Command in Chief to declare them Enemies and Rebels... [196]

Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phips signed the proclamation in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Old State House in Boston while Governor Shirley was in Wabanaki territory fighting Acadians.

It is worth recalling that while the Shirley Proclamation explicitly protected members of the Penobscot tribe, Phips subsequently targeted “the Penobscot Tribe of Indians” for the 25-day duration of his scalp-bounty act. Bounty hunters in Wabanaki territory were instructed to register with colonial officials at a garrison in Wiscasset, Maine before hunting Wabanaki people.

In the mid-1700’s several attacks on Wabanaki people took place, violating earlier peace treaties. One incident in particular occurred in Wiscasset, Maine. In what has been labeled the “Wiscasset Incident” (Ghere and Morrison 2001:378), one Wabanaki man was killed and two others wounded by a group of six Englishmen anchored at Wiscasset Harbor…. No one was ever convicted of murder….

A series of violent events followed the Wiscasset Incident and although the Penobscot Indians tried to maintain neutrality, Massachusetts declared war on them in 1755.[197]

Although historians will likely never ascertain how many Penobscot children, women, and men perished in 1755 due to the Phips Proclamation or exactly how much money colonial officials paid in exchange for the capture or scalps of Penobscot people, this proclamation is displayed in the tribal office of Penobscot Nation as evidence of their people’s genocide and survivance.[198] Wabanaki children and adults have been knowledgeable about it across a dozen generations.

A couple of years later, the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay increased the bounty for the scalp of an adult male to £300, which would today be worth approximately $72,000.

Hunting Wabanaki people became very lucrative at times. By resolution in 1757, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts raised the bounty to 300 pounds [a1] in an effort to “rid the colony of the ‘Indian enemy’” (Seybolt 1930:527). At the time, this was a considerable sum. By way of example, Seybolt notes that the annual salary of a schoolteacher in Boston was 120 pounds. The disbursement of bounty occurred under the signature of Samuel Waldo, a brigadier general who laid claim to Penobscot land that eventually became present-day Waldo County. [199]

Thirty years after the Shirley and Phips Bounty Proclamations were signed in Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts compelled the Penobscots to let go of their lands.

In the years between the end of the Revolution and the admission of Maine as a state in 1820, the Massachusetts government steadily increased the pressure on Indian lands, until the native inhabitants of Maine were confined to reservations. In 1786, Massachusetts pressed the Penobscots to give up their lands. The Indians resisted, but in years following, as it became increasingly difficult for them to make a living, the Penobscots found themselves compelled to sell off more and more of their lands. In 1796, they signed a treaty yielding almost 200,000 acres in the Penobscot Valley. Other cessions followed, until the tribe was virtually denuded of land and confined to Indian Island at Old Town and other islands in the Penobscot River. [200]

These struggles over the land continue today . This passage should help readers begin to answer the compelling question: What is the relationship between the taking of scalps and the taking of the land?

Guidance for Teaching

Guide students through a close reading of the entirety of the Phips Proclamation using tools from the Library of Congress / Teaching with Primary Sources to observe and reflect on its many features. Pay attention to the document’s different sections: preamble, justification, instructions and terms, closing.A sentence that could be easily overlooked in the Phips Proclamation due to the appalling pledges of rewards for the lives and bodies of Penobscot women, children, and men, can be found toward the end of the document.

Given at the Council-Chamber in Boston, this Third Day of November 1755, and in the Twenty-ninth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord GEORGE the Second, by the Grace of GOD of Great-Britain, France and Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith, etc
A critical reading of Spencer Phips’s claim that “our Sovereign Lord GEORGE the Second” rules over France and Ireland in addition to England may help students grasp the depth of animosity between England and France and its catastrophic impact on Indigenous peoples in the Dawnland. Such a claim by English kings dates back to 1340 when they began referring to themselves as kings of France in the dynastic struggle with the royal family of France that led to the Hundred Years’ War. “They didn’t relinquish the title until the nineteenth century when France had become a republic…. It was just an attempt to lay theoretical claim to lands and titles they [the British] couldn’t secure by force.”

After reading the Phips Bounty Proclamation, divide students into small groups and ask them to follow several instructions:

· Analyze the tone, mood, and rhetorical devices of this document;
· Make a list of three words that are new to you;
· Pick two historical facts that surprise you;
· Pick two historical facts about which you are curious;
· Choose a word or sentence that caught your attention;
· Given what you have read, how would you answer the compelling question of this lesson: What is the   relationship between the taking of scalps and the taking of land?

Deeper Dive: A Story by Penobscot Culture-Keeper Jennifer Sapiel Neptune from 1755 [202]

I made this blanket coat in memory of a Penobscot family, Margaret Moxa, her husband, her two-month-old baby; and a separate group of eight Penobscot men and one child, who were all murdered by a group of scalp-bounty hunters the evening of July 2, 1755 in what became known as the Owl's Head Massacre. The accounts of that evening are horrific, Margaret begged for her baby to be spared and brought to Captain Bradbury at the Fort, instead she was forced to watch her child's murder.

Margaret had become a friend to the English women who resided in Thomaston at Saint George's Fort, making regular visits to them. The grief of the women at the fort upon learning the fate of their friend Margaret Moxa was reported in accounts to be "deep and unappeasable." The group of Penobscot men and the child traveling with them were returning from a peace conference at the fort.

James Cargill, of Newcastle, purposely led his expedition into Penobscot territory, even though the Penobscot were exempted at that time from the bounty proclamation issued in June of 1755 that targeted the Abenaki of the Kennebec region.

When Cargill and his group reported to the Fort the following day with the scalps, they were refused supplies and were reported to the authorities in Boston on massacre charges. Cargill was arrested and jailed.

In November of 1755, Lt. Governor Phips of Massachusetts declared war and issued a scalp bounty proclamation on the Penobscot for refusing to agree to move to English forts for surveillance as the English feared Penobscot retaliation. Instead, Penobscot people living in the area moved to territories further inland for safety. Cargill was released to fight in this war, and in 1757 he was acquitted of the massacre charges by a jury in York, Maine.

In 1758 Cargill, who had kept the scalps of the 12 murdered Penobscot people, attempted to turn them in for payment. Massachusetts government debated, and ruled to deny him payment. The report stated, "And it passed in the negative, in as much as it does not appear that the said Indians were such with whom this Government was then at War."

When I heard her story
I cried myself to sleep for weeks
I couldn't stop hearing her baby crying
and her anguished wails as she pleaded for life
from 31 men who had forgotten how to be human,
with hearts that hate had turned to stone.
We have stories about those who have lost their souls
Windigo, Chenoo, kíwahkʷe,
hearts of ice, with greed and hunger
that can never be satisfied,
cannibal giants, who prey on horror.
I think of the old Passamaquoddy story of the woman who was able to
turn a Chenoo back to human with her kindness, by treating him as a relative.
I wonder if Margaret thought of that story too
as she looked into their eyes for mercy and found none.
This blanket is my prayer of transformation,
Like my ancestors have done for the past 500 years
I will take the treaty cloth, the cloth of broken promises;
the silken ribbons of deception,
the glass beads of ill intent,
and like Margaret Moxa,
and those that reached out their hands before me,
I will attempt to stitch a prayer so powerful
that it creates a blanket that melts through ice veins,
and through generations with forgiveness,
so that those that hate find their hearts,
and all men turned Chenoo rejoin the human race.
May I have stitched a prayer so full of love, tenderness, and beauty
that it reaches back 266 years
and wraps the innocent in the love of the survivors;
and with such gentleness,
that it comforts the baby's cries.Jennifer Sapiel Neptune
Penobscot Nation

In the following section we learn about the participation of clergy in the encouragement of and profiteering from scalp bounty hunting of Wabanaki people in a church in southern Maine.

Deeper Dive: Clergy Hires Parishioners to Scalp

For decades, in Falmouth (present day Portland, Maine) Reverend Thomas Smith kept a detailed journal of events impacting him and his parishioners. For example, on February 26, 1725, during the Fourth Anglo-Abenaki War, he notes that Captain Lovewell’s warring expedition “fell upon a company of ten Indians and killed them all.” On May 15, “Capt. Lovewell’s company had a bloody battle with the Indians. The Captain, Lieutenant and fifteen others killed.” 

By the 1740s, Rev. Smith had acquired considerable land holdings in Casco Bay, Maine. Among his parishioners in Falmouth was a joiner (carpenter) named Isaac Ilsley, who had been born in Newbury, Massachusetts in 1703 and moved north in 1735. “He was an active and enterprising man, and always ready to engage in expeditions against the Indians.” In an April 1747 journal entry, Reverend Smith recounts,

19. Sunday. Very thin meeting ; people fearing to come, partly by reason of what the Indians have done....21. The Indians to-day (about ten) killed Mr. Foster and carried away his wife and six children. They killed several cattle. Our folks pursued them ; they say there were fifty.23. I prayed with a company of young men (twenty-six) who are now going out under the command of Capt. Ilsley in pursuit of the Indians. May God give them success. [203]
According to a footnote in The history of Portland, from 1632 to 1864 [204], we read “Capt. Ilsley had fifty men in his company. They returned May 29, having sunk their boats in Sebago Pond. They made no discovery of Indians.” In 1759 Ilsley built an addition to the church and in 1761 erected a tall spire. Subsequent journal entries record a chain of violence with the killing of numerous Wabanaki and settlers, as well as fevers that spread all over the parish, leaving people too scared to come to church. Rev. Smith

was one of a group of gentlemen who hired a squad of hardy parishioners to go on a “Scout or Cruse for the killing and captivating of the Indian enemy.” In return for supplying the bounty-hunters with “Ammunition and Provision,” the investors received “one full third Part of fourteen fifteenths of the Province Bounty for every Captive or Scalp, and of every Thing else they shall or may recover or obtain.” In his journal for June 18, 1757, the minister recorded, “along with pious thoughts, ‘I receive 165 pounds 3-3 … my part of scalp money.’” [205]

When ministers not only looked the other way but shared in the profits from Indian deaths, the moral barometer of America dipped dangerously low.

In his journal entry for June 2, 1757, Rev. Smith records that bounty hunters Cox and Bayley “returned from their cruise after the Indians, bringing with them the scalps of two men whom they killed, two canoes and a quantity of oil, fish, and feathers.” [207]

––––  Maine Historical Society Description
The forefathers of Portland (previously Falmouth) hired mercenary scouts and paid bounties for “killing and captivating the Indian Enemy.” This contract promised a bounty “for every Captive or Scalp and of every Thing else they shall or may recover.” Those signing the agreement promised to furnish ammunition and provisions for the scouts and cruisers for 60 days.

Among signers are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s great grandfather Stephen Longfellow II, and Thomas Smith, minister of the First Parish Church in Portland from 1724 to 1795. Another signer, Samuel Waldo, was the owner of vast land claims extending to the Penobscot River, as well as lumber and mill businesses and had an economic stake in removing the Wabanaki from their homelands.

The complete list of signers of the document were: Samuel Waldo, Benjamin Aite, Thomas Smith, Jedediah Preble, Stephen Longfellow, Benjamin Titcomb, Ebenezer Mayo, Thomas Moseley, Simon Gookin, John Cochs, James Milk, William Cotton, and Alexander Moss.

Scalps of human beings were recorded in Smith’s journal, alongside names of household items like oil and fish, as if they were all items on a shopping list. He continues to write about the major events from June 7, 20, 21, and 22, which convey his sense of the times.

We hear that Capt. Whitney was killed by a number of our men who fired upon a camp where he was, supposing Indians were in it.

Capt. Waldo came home from Boston and Brings the most melancholy tidings of the drought at the westward and that the small pox is in our forts and that it is feared a great French fleet is coming to America, upon which account all hearts ache at Boston and people appear quite discouraged and disconsolate.

We had a fast upon the occasion of the distressing drought.

In 1755, Rev. Smith’s annual salary was 800 pounds. For the sake of comparison, at the time, the annual salary of a school master was 200 pounds. [209] Present-day congregants of the First Parish Church wrestle with the fact that payments from scalping Wabanaki people were used to finance the church, as seen in this newspaper article published in 2018.

The Rev. Thomas Smith wrote about the scalp bounty scheme, sponsored by the colonial Province of Massachusetts Bay, in a journal of his experience as the first ordained minister of an armed coastal outpost then called Falmouth Neck.
The journal is a benign tally of daily occurrences - births, deaths and sermons delivered - as well as a shocking record of the sustained bloody turmoil between English settlers forging a new colony and native people fighting to keep their homeland.
“People seem wonderfully spirited to go out after the Indians,” Smith wrote on Sept. 19, 1745. “Four companies in this town and many more in other towns are fitting for it. The government offer(s) four hundred pounds for the scalp of a man to those who go out at their own expense, and three hundred and ten pounds to those who have provision from the Province.” [210]

Non-Native people all over the Dawnland continue to wrestle with the violent history of the places where they live and even the institutions they revere – a history that for many has been until recently unknown. Steve Atwood, a descendant of Isaac Ilsley and present-day resident and high school teacher in Portland, Maine, reflects on the actions of his ancestor, who in addition to participating in a scalping company, went on to become a delegate to the Massachusetts Convention that adopted the U.S. Constitution and a member of Congress

When I read the [Phips Bounty] proclamation in detail, after I’d seen Dawnland and worked with the Dawnland Teacher’s Guide and started playing around with the lesson in there, after I used First Light as one of my course texts and had the students go through the Upstander Project learning resources, and after I’d attended a Wabanaki-REACH training, I turned to the blackboard and wrote: this is the value of the scalp of a 3 year-old and it was an emotional experience for me knowing that my ancestor participated in scalping to such an extent that he was noted in a primary source of the time. Now that I know this, it affects how I teach, the sense of responsibility I feel when teaching....

As someone who has lived in Maine and was educated here, it amazes me what I haven’t known. It’s hidden history and that is about erasure. Knowing what I do now about the prices for scalps of people of different ages and genders humanized the people who were killed for money because of the dirty work of extermination.... Our history is important, and it needs to be addressed. Knowing the truth isn’t going to destroy us. [211]

The process of reckoning with the past can be both a personal and a collective response to that which has been hidden. Teachers can help students learn about how to research their family history and then create space to explore what they can learn from their discoveries.

Guidance for Teaching

Middle and high school students who wish to learn more by conducting research into the journal of Reverend Thomas Smith can search the Library of Congress Journals archive and this guide.

We will now focus on the historical context for a series of bounty proclamations that targeted the Mi’kmaq in the northern Dawnland.

Deeper Dive: English Bounty Proclamations in Maritime Provinces

In 1749, far north in the Canadian Maritime provinces where the British ruled settler society, Lieutenant General Edward Cornwallis, also Governor of Nova Scotia, escalated the conflict with the Mi’kmaq by proclaiming a scalp bounty. Observe his frame of reference and choice of words about Mi’kmaq struggles to defend their homeland.

Whereas, notwithstanding the gracious offers of friendship and protection made in His Majesty’s Names by us to the Indians inhabiting this Province, The Micmacs [both spellings, Micmac and Mi’kmaq, are acceptable although the latter is preferred by Mi’kmaq people] have of late in a most treacherous manner taken 20 of His Majesty’s Subjects prisoner at Canso, and carried off a sloop belonging to Boston, and a boat from this Settlement and at Chinecto basely and under pretence of friendship and commerce. Attempted to seize two English Sloops and murder their crews and actually killed severals, and on Saturday the 30th of September, a body of these savages fell upon some men cutting wood and without arms near the saw mill and barbarously killed four and carried one away.

... [W]ith the advice and consent of His Majesty’s Council, do hereby authorize and command all Officers Civil and Military, and all His Majesty’s Subjects or others to annoy, distress, take or destroy the Savage commonly called Micmac, wherever they are found, and all as such as aiding and assisting them, give further by and with the consent and advice of His Majesty’s Council, do promise a reward of ten Guineas [roughly £11] for every Indian Micmac taken or killed, to be paid upon producing such Savage taken or his scalp as in the custom of America [emphasis added] if killed to the Officer Commanding.[212]

The Lords of Trade, a group of policymakers for the British government, which recommended all colonies in America become Royal Colonies to bolster their position in trade against the French, had a different perspective, as can be seen by their response to Cornwallis’s letter in a memo dated February 16, 1750. “They approved of but were not overly enthusiastic about the course of action chosen, for they cautioned him”:

As to the measures which you have already taken for reducing the Indians, we entirely approve them, and wish you may have success, but as it has been found by experience in other parts of America that the gentler methods and offers of peace have more frequently prevailed with Indians than the sword, if at the same times that the sword is held over their heads, offers of peace and friendship were tendered to them, the one might be the means of inducing them to accept the other, but as you have had experience of the disposition and sentiments of these Savages you will be better able to judge whether measures of peace will be effectual or not; if you should find that they will not, we do not in the least doubt your vigour and activity in endeavouring to reduce them by force. [213]
Despite the cautions expressed by the Lords of Trade, the largest ever recorded bounty reward offered by the English for Wabanaki scalps and prisoners was issued by Nova Scotia Governor Cornwallis in 1750: £500/Wabanaki scalp or captive. Lieutenant Callender received the commission to organize a bounty expedition and recruited militiamen from Boston, who would go to Halifax. [214]

In 1754 British authorities in Nova Scotia paid a reward for scalps, which was published in a Pennsylvania newspaper;

A few Days ago, a Fishing Schooner arrived here from theBanks, and by the People on board we are informed, that beingin Want of Provisions, they put into Louisburgh on the 28th ofMay past for a Supply, where they were informed by severalpersons, that some Indians had lately brought in 21 Scalps,from Canso, and that they received from the Governor £5Sterling, as a Reward for each Scalp. (By the vast Quantity ofProvisions carried to Louisburgh from this Continent, one wouldbe tempted to think, that the English take more Notice of St.Paul Advice to the Romans, Chapter 12. Ver. 20. than of anyother Part of his Writings, viz. 'If thine Enemy hunger, feedhim; if he thirst, give him Drink.') [215]

Readers might be surprised to know that Poor Richard’s Almanac, a yearly almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, included information about scalping and payment of scalp bounty rewards. It is also interesting to note that Wikipedia’s description of almanacs suggests they offered “a mixture of seasonal weather forecasts, practical household hints, puzzles, and other amusements.” [216] Teachers may want to ask students what they think about this description once they read and discuss the following text.

The conflict between the imperial powers of France and England continued to amplify as skirmishes mounted between Mi’kmaq and British forces. On May 14, 1756, British Governor Lawrence, perhaps in retaliation for assistance given by Mi’kmaq to Acadians, issued another scalp proclamation targeting Mi’kmaq.

And, we do hereby promise, by and with the advice and consent of His Majesty’s Council, a reward of 30£ for every male Indian Prisoner, above the age of sixteen years, brought in alive; or for a scalp of such male Indian twenty-five pounds, and twenty-five pounds for every Indian woman or child brought in alive: Such rewards to be paid by the Officer commanding at any of His Majesty’s Forts in this Province, immediately on receiving the Prisoners or Scalps above mentioned, according to the intent and meaning of this Proclamation. [217]

These northern military campaigns and Cornwallis’ Nova Scotia bounty proclamations provide context for the five known scalp proclamations issued in Boston in 1755, during the Sixth Anglo-Abenaki War. Although William Shirley wasn’t head of all British forces during the Sixth Anglo-Abenaki War, he was the commander that captured Fort Beauséjour, built by the French in Mi’kmaq Territory on the border between Nova Scotia and Acadia. The fort fell to the British at the war’s outset in June 1755, the same month when Shirley issued a bounty proclamation. It is noteworthy that Shirley ordered the expulsion of the Acadians and gave that deportation order without direction from authorities in England.

Deeper Dive: Contemporary Memorialization

Readers who recall the previous section on Maritime English Bounty Proclamations may be interested to know that in 2003, nearly three-hundred years after the villages of Norridgewock and Pigwacket were destroyed by Johnson Harmon and Jeremiah Moulton and their company, the Governor of Maine, John E. Baldacci, signed a proclamation declaring Norridgewock Memorial Day “to honor and commemorate those who perished during the attack as well as those who survived and their Wabanaki descendants.” It could be a useful research project for students to investigate what role, if any, descendants of the survivors of these massacres played in getting the governor to sign the proclamation and what meaning it has for them today.

It is also worth considering the Canadian Encyclopedia’s article on the contemporary impact of British General Edward Cornwallis.

In 1993, Mi’kmaq historian Daniel Paul wrote a book called We Were Not the Savages, which highlighted the Scalping Proclamation and portrayed Cornwallis as a white supremacist responsible for the genocide of Mi’kmaq people. Paul campaigned to have the statue [of Cornwallis] removed and to have Cornwallis’s name removed from schools and streets. In 2011, Cornwallis Junior High in Halifax was renamed Halifax Central Junior High. [218]
During the struggle to rename the high school in Halifax [219] and remove the statue in Halifax, articles reflecting a wide range of opinions were published about Cornwallis and the choices he made. Here are some excerpts from two diverging points of view that appear in an article by Tim Bousquet.

Canadian historian Jack Granatstein, interviewed by the Canadian Press … [stated] “[p]eople, who by our standards today, are seen as viciously anti-Indian, in the 1700s were seen as great patriotic soldiers who made it safe for whites to live in Nova Scotia…. You can’t apply today’s standards to people of the past. That just gets silly.”
This statement, by Bousquet, argues differently.

And to claim some sort of historical “objectivity” by saying, as [Atlantic Canada’s talk show host] Rick Howe does, that “in those days wars were nasty affairs with atrocities committed by all sides,” is not objective, but rather a perverse reading of history. The Mi’kmaq and Europeans did not meet on some vacant island in the middle of the Atlantic and decided to pointlessly murder each other. The Mi’kmaq did not invite Europeans to come here to conduct biological warfare against natives or put a bounty on their scalps. Rather, Europeans came here for their own geopolitical reasons of empire, and were happy to slaughter whoever stood in their way in order to control the land and all its products. The objection, repeated dozens of times on Twitter, that “the Mi’kmaq killed Europeans too!” is a suggestion that the Natives weren’t behaving kindly enough to the people slaughtering them and stealing their land. Any resistance to genocide is considered bad behaviour, still more proof that the natives are subhuman beings and deserved everything they got. This argument is, in a word, racist.
To conclude, Bousquet poses a challenge to his community.

Here in Halifax … the suggestion that we simply not honour a genocidal agent of imperialism is met with disdainful reaction, and absurd process issues: We can’t change the name to everything, so we can’t change the name of anything; Where does it stop—do we have to change the name of anything anyone objects to? Here’s a suggestion: How ‘bout we in the white community work through those issues in a spirit of kindness and cooperation with the Mi’kmaq community, give pause and deep thought to how we have benefitted from historic wrongs, and how we have a responsibility to create a better world, instead of smugly accepting our position of privilege as the natural, inviolable state of things. [220]
One of the historic wrongs referred to here is the international border, which was established by the warring European imperial powers in the Treaty of 1818. Ever since, Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy people have had to contend with a boundary inflicted upon them by foreign powers in violation of their rights as Indigenous peoples to self-determination. The border creates considerable difficulties as they practice their culture, visit family, participate in cultural and educational events, celebrate births, and attend funerals, wherever those activities may take place.

Land for Soldiers and Bounty Hunters

There is an abundance of primary and secondary sources that provide evidence of the complicated process whereby European settlers dispossessed the Original peoples of their ancestral homelands in the place now called New England. Among the most valuable sources are the Massachusetts Acts and Resolves, the official publication of the Session Laws of the Massachusetts General Court from 1692 to 1959, and the Journals of the House of Representative of Massachusetts, which were digitized between 1919 and 1990.

Regarding the period that concerns us, there are 37 volumes containing detailed information about bills and laws, petitions and reports, and thousands of votes that impacted Native and non-Native people all over the Province of the Massachusetts Bay. The records in the Journals mention “unappropriated land,” a term used by colonial authorities to refer to all Indigenous homelands for which settlers sought deeds. These authorities allocated land to individual proprietors and to towns, based on court grants and approved purchases, in some cases, citing Native deeds (most of them contested).

While the data on land grants to scalpers are likely incomplete, the Journals provide copious evidence of a large-scale and wide-ranging appropriation of land belonging to Wabanaki people and other Indigenous peoples to soldiers who fought in the six Anglo-Abenaki wars and other conflicts, and to their heirs. Notably, many of these claims were made and granted years and even decades after the conflicts, including to descendants of those who fought on the side of the English in the 1637 Pequot War.

Land grants were authorized to individual soldiers and to groups of soldiers who petitioned the colonial government for large tracts of land to found settler towns and cities in the Dawnland. Here we present a sampling of evidence about land grants approved for individual scalpers and groups of scalpers who participated in bounty-hunting expeditions and battles. More detailed information can be found about land grants to scalpers all over the Dawnland in Appendix A  and the e-timeline.

Many land grants were made to veterans of the battles that took place during Fourth Anglo-Abenaki War.

Readers may recall the role of Colonel Johnson Harmon and his company during the attack on Norridgewock in 1724. Captain Jeremiah Moulton, who played a leading role in Harmon’s company during the attack, requested and was granted 100 acres of land in York County.

We also have the record of a 1727 petition by Richard Bourne, another captain who served in Johnson Harmon’s company. He was granted 100 acres, too.
There is another record indicating that Colonel Harmon was granted 200 acres of unappropriated land in York County in 1727.
On November 30, 1727, Joseph Demmick requested and was granted 250 acres of unappropriated land for his service at Norridgewock, where he had been wounded. The land was to be for him and his five sons who do not have “any Lands upon which to settle them.”
In September 1728, Samuel Tarbell, John Goss, and 57 others petitioned the House of Representatives for a six-mile square tract of land as reward for their service fighting Native peoples.
To incentivize the founding of another settler town, on July 5, 1729, the House of Representatives of Massachusetts approved land grants to David Melvin, Thomas Richardson, and others who served under Captain Lovewell at Pigwacket, granting them six-square miles to establish a township together with 50 families on both sides of the Merrimack River near Pennacook.
A year later, David Melven [221] and William Ayer, who also served under Captain Lovewell, petitioned for and received six square miles of land to establish another settlement on each side of the Merrimack River for sixty veterans.
In February 1730, the House granted a petition for Narraganset land from heirs of soldiers who fought in what was referred to as the Narraganset War (First Anglo-Abenaki War, Pometacomet’s Resistance/King Philip’s War). The House ordered that groups of 120 people whose claims were approved each be allotted six-square miles to establish a township.
In June 1733, Jeremiah Pearley, John Bennet, Thomas Farmer, and others (72 total) who served under Captain Lovewell were granted a six-mile square township northwest of Rutland, Massachusetts.
In October 1733, Samuel Hunt and other veterans of the “Falls-fight,” including John Stoddard, Joseph Dwight, Charles Church, Samuel Danforth, and John Wainwright, petitioned for land near Deerfield, Massachusetts for their service in a fight near the Connecticut River in 1676, also during Pometacomet’s Resistance/King Philip’s War. [222]
The land north of Deerfield was granted to them the following year.
In 1734, many petitions for land were submitted to seek rewards for fighting that took place in the early 1700s during the Third Anglo-Abenaki War. Here is an image of a petition made by Richard Kent, which resulted in a grant of 300 acres in the Massachusetts Province.
As readers may recall, the Battle of Pequawket or Lovewell’s Fight occurred on or around May 9, 1725. While not officially part of the provincial military’s campaign, John Lovewell recruited volunteers to form a private squad of scalp-bounty hunters and rangers. These men chose Lovewell to lead them. Almost a decade later, Deliverence Read, whose late husband, Josiah, served under Lovewell, petitioned for land with the help of her attorney.
A large land grant was given to two men who joined Captain William Tyng’s militia and killed six Wabanaki at Winnipesaukee in 1703. Readers may recall the role of Tyng in the Third Anglo-Abenaki War, when he formed a militia known as the Snow Shoe Scouts because they wore snowshoes to hunt Wabanaki people in the winter. Among the Scouts were Ephraim Hildreth and John Shipley, who in 1735 were granted 23,000 acres (six square miles) of land on the east side of the Merrimack River, between Litchfield and Suncook (Lovewell’s town). It is worth noting that Wabanaki technology created the first snowshoes in the northeast, which the English copied. [223]
Also in 1735, nearly sixty years after their father fought the Wampanoag in the First Anglo-Abenaki War, otherwise known as Pometacomet’s Resistance/King Philip’s War, Thomas and Charles Church, sons of Benjamin Church, requested and received 600 acres “in unappropriated land of the Province” as a reward for their father’s service.
At the end of 1735, the House received a petition from Robert Hale, Esq., on behalf of heirs and representatives of Captain Thomas Lothrop, who had fought between Deerfield and Hatfield in 1675, when a hundred Indigenous people were killed. They requested bounty rewards equal to those received by English soldiers who fought against the Narragansett.
In closing, most of those who fought Wabanaki people and in some cases scalped them were lavishly rewarded with cash and land grants. Dozens of towns in New England were founded by soldiers who, upon returning from one of the Anglo-Abenaki Wars (or their heirs), petitioned the provincial House of Representations for acreage.

Guidance for Teaching

The names of towns and cities, parks and public squares, lakes and rivers, and streets and highways all across the U.S. have an important story to tell. Some have Indigenous names, while others reflect the influence of colonial powers, such as England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands, or the presence of immigrants from countless regions. The process of naming and renaming is often fraught and its outcome either recognizes Indigenous history or reinforces the settler or immigrant narrative.

Ask students to conduct research into the history of the name of their town or city. They can begin with official town or city websites and Wikipedia articles, which they can analyze and critique. Students can then write a short essay in which they argue whether their source contributes to the erasure or un-erasure of Indigenous peoples.

To prepare them for this research, work with them to critique these excerpts from Wikipedia articles about the town of Wakefield, Massachusetts and a local body of water, Lake Quannapowitt.[224]
History [of Wakefield]Wakefield was first settled in 1638 and was originally known as Lynn Village. It officially separated from Lynn and incorporated as Reading in 1644 when the first church (First Parish Congregational Church) and the first mill were established. This first corn mill was built on the Mill River on Water Street, and later small saw mills were built on the Mill River and the Saugus River.
Lake Quannapowitt (KWAN-ah-POW-it / KWAN-ə-POW-it), which was originally known as Reading Pond, has numerous nicknames today. Some area natives refer to the lake as "Lake Quannapolluted" due to their view of the state of health of the lake, but the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection handled only one isolated open case of contamination from the electric company that was remediated in 2008.

In the following section we offer a series of maps and encourage students to use their skills of observation and analysis to deepen their understanding of the movements of opposing forces throughout the vast region where the Original peoples lived and resisted attempts to exterminate them.

Work Cited

¹⁷⁴ ​​William Shirley, Esq. “A Proclamation,” (Boston: John Draper, 1755),

¹⁷⁵ ​​To learn about the Wabanaki Nations that make up the confederacy, see
¹⁷⁶ ​​Vol. 32, 649, MAC.
¹⁷⁷ ​​Ghere and Morrison, “Sanctions for Slaughter,” 105-116.
¹⁷⁸ ​​Sewall, Ancient Dominions of Maine, 289-91.
¹⁷⁹ ​​Captain Jabez Bradbury of St. George’s Fort introduced the information on December 27, 1757 during his court proceeding. Vol. 77, 382, MAC.
¹⁸⁰ Ghere and Morrison, “Sanctions for Slaughter,” 106.
¹⁸¹ ​​ Vol. 38, 167, MAC.
¹⁸² ​​Vol. 38, 167, MAC.
¹⁸³ ​​Vol. 13, 319, CER.
¹⁸⁴ ​​Vol. 77, 384, MAC.
¹⁸⁵ ​​Ghere and Morrison, “Sanctions for Slaughter,” 115-116.
¹⁸⁷ ​​Ibid, Vol. 32, 650, 653, 656.
¹⁸⁸ ​​ Ibid, Vol. 32, 653.
¹⁸⁹ ​​Ibid, Vol. 32, 656.
¹⁹⁰ ​​ Ibid, Vol. 32, 658, 659.
¹⁹¹ ​​ Ibid, Vol. 32, 661.
¹⁹² ​​Ibid, Vol. 32, 670.
¹⁹³ ​​Ibid, Vol. 32, 672.
¹⁹⁴ ​​Ibid, Vol. 32, 674.
¹⁹⁵ ​​Journals of the House – Massachusetts, v. 32, Part 1, 202 [200]

¹⁹⁶ ​​Ibid, 209 [207].
¹⁹⁷ ​​ Bonnie D. Newsom and Jamie Bissonette-Lewey, “Wabanaki Resistance and Healing: An Exploration of the Contemporary Role of an Eighteenth-Century Bounty Proclamation in an Indigenous Decolonization Process,” Landscapes of Violence 2, no. 1 (March 2012): 3.
¹⁹⁸ ​​This is how Upstander Project learned about the Phips Bounty Proclamation.
¹⁹⁹ ​​Ibid.
²⁰⁰ ​​Calloway, Dawnland Encounters, 128.
²⁰¹ ​​We are grateful to Stonehill College historian James Wadsworth for this explanation. Email correspondence received on February 19, 2019.
²⁰³ ​​ William Willis, Journals of the Rev. Thomas Smith, and the Rev. Samuel Deane, Pastors of the First Church in Portland: With Notes and Biographical Notices: And A Summary History of Portland (Portland: Joseph S. Bailey, 1849), 128.
²⁰⁴ ​​William Willis, The History of Portland, from 1632 to 1864. 2d ed., rev. and enl. (Portland: Bailey & Noyes, 1865), 418,
²⁰⁵ ​​James Axtell, The European and the Indian: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 241. 
²⁰⁶ ​​James Axtell and William C. Sturtevant, “The Unkindest Cut or Who Invented Scalping,” The William and Mary Quarterly 37, no. 3 (July 1980): 472.
²⁰⁷ ​​Willis, Journals of the Rev. Thomas Smith, and the Rev. Samuel Deane, 171.   
²⁰⁸ ​​Ibid, 171.
²⁰⁹  Ibid, 173, 123.
²¹⁰ ​​Kelley Bouchard, “First Parish in Portland wrestles with a founding pastor’s tainted past,” Portland Press Herald, July 24, 2018.
²¹¹ ​​Steve Atwood, interview, February 2, 2021.
²¹³ ​​Daniel N. Paul, “We Were Not The Savages” in Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England, edited by Siobhan Senier (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014), 74. References to the sword may remind readers of the Massachusetts state seal and flag, which show a Native man standing and holding a bow pointing downward while a disembodied colonial arm bearing a sword threatens him from above; see the Special Commission on Massachusetts Flag and Seal,”

²¹⁴ ​​The Boston Post, Sep 8, 1750, 2.
²¹⁵ ​​BOSTON, June 17. (Nova Scotia), The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 27, 1754.
²¹⁹ ​​Cassie Williams and Anjuli Patil, “Controversial Cornwallis statue removed from Halifax Park,” CBC News, January 31, 2018,
²²⁰ ​​Tim Bousquet, “Cornwallis renaming is the right thing to do,” The Coast, June 26, 2011,
²²¹ ​​We assume that David Melvin and David Melven were two different soldiers, though there may be a spelling error in one of the two archival entries.
²²² ​​Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, v. 12, 91.
²²³ ​​Allison Teague, “Art and History of Snowshoe Making in the Northeast,” Snowshoe Magazine, February 11, 2013, 

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Maps that Tell Stories