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‘Indian Forts’
From the Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, December, 1679


It is notable that the majority of fortifications in Plantation America east of the Appalachians were Indian Forts, not Colonial forts, and that these later were predominantly built to defend against seaborne attack, such as the Quaker fort in Philadelphia raised against Spanish Pirates and noted by Peter Kalm in 1748 and the Dutch-English bastion of Manhattan, which had an impressive anti-naval fortification. Obviously, the Indians, who had help fortifying their forts with canon by the English in Maryland at least, were primarily dealt with as military allies who returned runaways and served as messengers and spies and mercenaries. This situation developed a dependence on Indians for military security among the elite [which remained a chief concern of the framers of the Constitution of the United states of America] and fostered a seething resentment of Indians among the servant class who had been policed by Indians and terrorized and would then be set on the border facing the Indians as a buffer. When said Indians and freedmen had a misunderstanding [such as that which ignited Bacon’s Rebellion] or were bought off by the French as happened in Pennsylvania at the outset of the French and Indian War, the result was a flaming, homicidal hatred on the part of freedmen who now had a chance to strike back at their former prison guards.

Below is a quote from Jasper’s journal concerning how ancient this latent menace was.

“It remains to be mentioned that those persons who profess the Roman Catholic religion have great, indeed, all freedom in Maryland, because the governor makes profession of that faith, and consequently there are priests and other ecclesiastics who travel and disperse themselves everywhere, and neglect nothing which serves for their profit and purpose. The priests of Canada take care of this region, and hold correspondence with those here, as is supposed, as well as with those who reside among the Indians. It is said there is not an Indian fort between Canada and Maryland, where there is not a Jesuit who teaches and advises the Indians, who begin to listen to them too much; so much so, that some people in Virginia and Maryland as well as in New Netherland, have been apprehensive lest there might be an outbreak, hearing what has happened in Europe, as well as among their neighbors at Boston; but they hope the result of the troubles there will determine many things elsewhere. The Lord grant a happy issue there and here, as well as in other parts of the world, for the help of His own elect, and the glory of His name.”

We will now leave Maryland, and come back to Sandhoeck [Newcastle], on the South River, where, in the house of our friend Ephraim Hermans, the Lord had brought us, and our friends received and lodged us with affectionate hearts.”

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